Two recent new stories both feature high profile Christians trying to intervene in matters which don’t seem directly their concern. Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, together with other prominent Church of England figures, has leapt to the defence of a therapist who claimed to ‘cure’ homosexuality, and was exposed by an undercover journalist. The therapist, Lesley Pilkington, has now been suspended by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy:
A few weeks later I was in her grand Hertfordshire home with a Dictaphone taped to my stomach. She set about trying to find the childhood “wounds” that she believes led to my homosexuality. But she found none. “There was no sexual abuse?” she pressed.
“I think there is something there . . . you’ve allowed things to be done to you.” She then prayed: “Father, we give you permission to bring to the surface some of the things that have happened over the years.” I asked who could have committed this abuse – a member of my family? “Yes, very likely,” she replied.
Was homosexuality a mental illness, an addiction or an anti-religious phenomenon? “It’s all of that,” said Pilkington. During the sessions, she recited prayers for me to say whenever I thought about a man sexually. She gave me how-to-be-heterosexual tips such as taking up rugby, abstaining from masturbation and distancing myself from gay friends.
Despite her questionable message and methods, clergymen including the Bishops of Rochester and Lewes have expressed support for Pilkington:
“Psychological care for those who are distressed by unwanted homosexual attractions has been shown to yield a range of beneficial client outcomes, especially in motivated clients … Such therapy does not produce harm despite the Royal College of Psychiatrists and others maintaining the contrary … Competent practitioners, including those working with biblical Judeo-Christian values, should be free to assist those seeking help.”
Here, for balance, is another perspective.
Peter Tatchell has been speaking out against Archbishop Dr John Semtamu’s opposition to government plans to legalise same-sex marriage. Like PT, I have no objection if the church doesn’t want to conduct such marriages itself. But I do object to its interference in a proposal which concerns civil marriages, and which is supported by 61% of the population.