Baptists hesitate to enforce sex-abuse policies, reaffirm abuse of transgender Christians

The Southern Baptist Convention in June 2019 passed a resolution condemning sexual abuse, and voted to amend the denomination’s constitution to remove churches that mishandle sexual abuse.

But as the Washington Post reports, the denomination has yet to finalize the amendment. And the SBC is already stalling efforts at enforcement. One well-regarded abuse survivor was denied admission to the committee that reviews church misconduct, and another abuse survivor said that church leaders ignored her requests to disfellowship a Texas church that she says mishandled her abuse.

While the SBC moves sluggishly to address sexual abuse, it remains aggressive in mischaracterizing and ostracizing LGBT Christians.

Two Southern Baptist officials — ethicist Andrew Walker and longtime gender-issues specialist Bob Stith — declared the SBC’s support in 2017 for President Donald Trump’s efforts to remove transgender servicemembers from the U.S. armed services. Walker and Stith provided false and unsubstantiated assertions:

  • that gender identity is determined solely by DNA,
  • that all transgender people have standard XX or XY chromosomes and standard genitalia

Walker accused transgender persons of rejecting a “truthful expression of one’s identity.” Stith, meanwhile, denied the existence of Biblical passages that recognize gender variance and, without explanation, insinuates that transgender people are unfit for military service.  Both men reiterated the denomination’s 2014 statement that “[W]e continue to oppose steadfastly all efforts by any governing official or body to validate transgender identity as morally praiseworthy.”

More recently, in October 2018, Southern Baptist officials again mischaracterized transgender advocates as defining sex solely on the basis of self-perception. R. Albert Mohler of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary said that honesty about one’s genital and brain variance from genetic gender is “unworkable” for society. Mohler further ridiculed those who choose honesty about one’s body as “moral and sexual revolutionaries.” Meanwhile, Stith claimed to support an undefined “compassion” for transgender people — but he still supported false characterizations and discrimination.

Over the past year, the SBC has also withheld from its membership and its public communications the news that transgender people possess the brain activity and structure of their gender identity, not their genetic gender.

So long as the Southern Baptist leadership embraces erroneous and abusive notions about gender identity, it seems unlikely that the denomination will cope successfully with sexual abuse that is driven by the same misogyny that guides the denomination’s policies toward transgender people.

McEwen: Family Research Council’s expert Peter Sprigg has no expertise

Veteran LGBT activist Alvin McEwen notes that the Family Research Council’s longtime point man for homosexuality and conversion therapy, Peter Sprigg, has no expertise whatsoever in his primary areas of focus, mental health and sexuality.

Despite being an ordained evangelical pastor, Sprigg’s focus at FRC is consistent not with pastoral ministry, but with his bachelor’s degree in political science and economics. Given his decades of political extremism and hostility toward much of the faithful, it is questionable whether Sprigg is still welcome in pastoral ministry circles.

Amazon still selling anti-LGBT conversion therapy books

Despite rumors to the contrary, Amazon.com still sells most of its library of books that promote “ex-gay” conversion therapy.

The bookseller recently withdrew from its marketplace the books of a single author, Joseph Nicolosi, godfather of the now-discredited reparative therapy movement which falsely teaches that same-sex orientation and “confused” gender identity are both determined by poor parenting or abuse. A handful of books by other authors were removed, but many of those authors’ conversion-therapy books are still available for purchase.

Searches for books about curing homosexuality finds hundreds of offerings on Amazon.com, authored by longtime leaders of the ex-gay movement, including Alan Chambers (who has since renounced conversion therapy), Bob Davies, Joe Dallas, and Anne Paulk.

Nicolosi’s books were the focus of the Amazon action, and the books were withdrawn solely for violating Amazon.com product guidelines, which forbid:

  • Products that promote, incite, or glorify hate or violence towards any person or group. This includes products that contain violent or offensive material that has no historical significance. Amazon reserves the right to make a determination on the historical value of the item.
  • Products that promote or glorify suicide
  • Products that promote intolerance based on race, religion, and sexual orientation.

Books are, according to Amazon, exempted from these product guidelines. Nevertheless, Amazon still declines to sell literature that is, for example, virulently anti-Semitic or racist, or that describes how to commit illegal acts such as suicide or terrorism.

Critics contend that Nicolosi advocated self-destructive activities that increased the risk of suicide; offered unprofessional, unscientific, and hostile advice to patients; and presented as fact a number of malicious falsehoods relating to sexual minorities and transgender/intersex people.

Racine, Wis., considers ordinance to ban anti-LGBT conversion therapy

The LGBT Center of Southeast Wisconsin has brought before the Racine City Council a proposal to locally ban conversion therapy for minors.

The Journal Times of Racine, Wisconsin, reports:

According to the proposal, which cites research from 12 different medical, counseling, health and psychology organizations, conversion therapy has been found to be largely ineffective and also “creates a potential risk of serious harm to those who experience it.”

According to the American Psychological Association Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation, conversion therapy has been linked to patients developing symptoms of depression, suicidal thoughts or actions, and substance abuse.

“This is not therapy. It is abuse,” 13th District Alderman Natalia Taft said before asking to become of the proposal’s co-sponsors.

Racine’s proposed ordinance would only outlaw conversion therapy for those under 18 years of age, since LGBT youth are sometimes forced to go to conversion therapy by adults. If an adult chooses to enter conversion therapy (also referred to as reparative therapy), they would still be able to do so.

Wisconsin’s conservative state legislature is considering a statewide ban.

 

Vancouver, B.C.-area Pride Society seeks ban on anti-LGBT conversion-therapy

Tri-Cities Pride Society, serving eastern suburbs of Vancouver, British Columbia, has called for a ban on anti-LGBT conversion therapy across all of Canada. (Source: Tri-City News)

The society sent an open letter to legislators:

Open Letter from Tri-Cities Pride Society

The open letter reads:

Tri-Cities Pride Society acknowledges the harm conversion therapy has caused, and continues to cause, LGBTQ2+ people. Medical professionals, including the Canadian Psychological Association and the Canadian Psychiatric Association, condemn conversion therapy as a harmful practice. There is no credible scientific evidence to indicate that a person’s sexual orientation, or gender identity, can be changed. Furthermore, attempts made to force someone to live contrary to their identity are abusive and trauma-inducing. There is no place for discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression as outlined in the (British Columbia) Human Rights Code and the Human Rights Act of Canada. As such: Tri-Cities Pride Society calls on the Government of British Columbia, as well as the Government of Canada, to end this archaic and unscientific practice; sending the message that our country and province will no longer tolerate these attacks on LGBTQ2+ people.

Advocates such as Peter Gajdics say existing city-specific bans leave rural LGBTQ Canadians unprotected from abusive therapists.

“When you move out of the core of Vancouver, you get into those questionable belief systems against LGBTs, against SOGI (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity),” he said. “I think the cities out in the [Fraser] Valley are the ones that are the most concerning.”

But even in urban areas, Gajdics says he’s not confident the ban is preventing people from practicing conversion therapy. Because conversion therapy works as an umbrella ideology that says LGBTQ people are inherently broken, that ideology can spring from anywhere, he said.

Antigay conversion therapy is the practice of attempting to “cure” homosexuality or “confused” gender identity by falsely accusing patients’ parents of overmothering and distant fathering, and then shaming the patient through religious practices or discredited forms of psychological counseling.

CBC News: The painful toll of going through conversion therapy

Those who’ve experienced antigay conversion therapy often describe it as difficult and painful. Canada’s CBC News reached out to Matt Ashcroft and Peter Gajdics, who have gone through conversion therapy and they agreed to share their experiences with conversion therapists.
Conversion therapists promise to reduce same-sex sexual attraction and make people asexual. But they only succeed in shaming and silencing people, and turning friends and family against one another.

24 former ex-gay leaders unite in opposition to conversion therapy

Open Letter:

Conversion Therapy, also known as “reparative therapy”, “ex-gay therapy,” or “sexual orientation change efforts” (SOCE), professes to help lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people to change or overcome their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The majority of those who practice this “therapy” often do so with little or no formal psychological training, operating instead from a strict religious perspective, believing homosexuality to be a “sin.” At one time, we were not only deeply involved in these “ex-gay” programs — we were the founders, the leaders, and the promoters.

Together, we represent more than half a century of experience, so few people are more knowledgeable about the ineffectiveness and harm of conversion therapy. We know first-hand the terrible emotional and spiritual damage it can cause, especially for LGBTQ youth.

We once believed that there was something morally wrong and psychologically “broken” about being LGBTQ. We know better now. We once believed that sexual orientation or gender identity were somehow chosen or could be changed. We know better now. We once thought it was impossible to embrace our sexual orientation or sexual identity as an intrinsic, healthy part of who we are and who we were created to be. We know better now.

Looking back, we were just believing (and sometimes teaching) what we had been taught—that our sexual orientation or gender identity needed mending. We grew up being told that being LGBTQ was disordered, sick, mentally ill, sinful, and displeasing to God. We grew up being told that loving, same-sex relationships were shallow, lust-driven, deceived, disordered, and impossible.

We grew up with the repetitive message that LGBTQ people were not enough — not straight enough, not Christian enough, not manly or womanly enough, not faithful enough, not praying enough. Never, ever enough. “Toxic” probably sums it up best. That message is poison to the soul. Especially a child’s soul. It can take a lifetime to get rid of that old programming and replace it with healthy, non-toxic views of yourself.

Recovery from conversion therapy is difficult at best. Some remain forever scarred, emotionally and spiritually. Conversion therapy reinforces internalized homophobia, anxiety, guilt and depression. It leads to self-loathing and emotional and psychological harm when change doesn’t happen. Regrettably, too many will choose suicide as a result of their sense of failure.

In light of this, we now stand united in our conviction that conversion therapy is not “therapy,” but is instead both ineffective and harmful. We align ourselves with every major mainstream professional medical and mental health organization in denouncing attempts to change sexual orientation or gender identity.

We admonish parents to love and accept your LGBTQ children as they are. We beseech the church to accept, embrace, and affirm LGBTQ persons with full equality and inclusion. We stand for equal treatment under law, including the right to marry.

As former “ex-gay” leaders, having witnessed the incredible harm done to those who attempted to change their sexual orientation or gender identity, we join together in calling for a ban on conversion therapy. It is our firm belief that it is much more productive to support, counsel, and mentor LGBTQ individuals to embrace who they are in order to live happy, well-adjusted lives.”

‘Conversion therapy’ is not a thing

“Conversion therapy” is not a thing.

That is, there is no legitimate therapy that converts gay people into straight people, or transgender people into non-transgender people. For most people with a religious affinity, there is prayer to remain celibate, or prayer to accept one’s orientation — and nothing more.

Some evangelicals claim that there is such a therapy, but all of their claims have been disproven, and all but a handful of their attempts have failed. Dozens have “changed” their orientation; tens of thousands have not, through no fault of their own.

Evangelicals continue to market and sell mental-health malpractice as if it were legitimate. Medical malpractice is illegal for good reason. And evangelicals’ efforts to weaken laws against malpractice and consumer fraud serve as compelling evidence that they know there is no religious or “Biblical” basis for their fraud — none whatsoever. Not one Bible verse says that sexual orientation or gender identity can be changed, and certainly not through the bizarre methods that are marketed by evangelical groups.

Medical malpractice is not protected by the “religious freedom” of a disreputable doctor or counselor, and it is sadly necessary for laws to be passed to stop religious organizations from attempting to circumvent laws against malpractice and consumer fraud.

If someone chooses to be celibate or to enter a sexless marriage, that is their personal and religious freedom. If they seek religious counsel to remain celibate, that is their freedom as well.

But if someone chooses to defraud families by offering abusive snake-oil remedies that cause greater harm, we now have laws in 15 states to stop such con artists from abusing the religious freedom and consumer rights of others.

Thank you, New York, for being the latest U.S. state to ban the fraud of “conversion therapy.”