Elton John tears into ‘failure’ of UK churches to tackle ‘ticking timebomb’ of spiritual abuse against LGBT+ people
Elton John has joined a chorus of queer religious leaders in calling for British churches to tackle the “ticking timebomb” of spiritual abuse levelled against LGBT+ people.
The singer threw his support to a Saturday (17 October) conference that will see around 400 church leaders across various denominations discuss how places of worship can be made safer for queer folk.
Campaigners aim to make inroads in a culture of spiritual abuse that has festered wounds in many religious queer people. Struck with Bibles during forced conversion therapies and told their existence is demonic, victims of such violence hope to ignite change.
“The failure of many churches to welcome, accept and include LGBT+ people creates stigma, loneliness, fear and denial, causing lasting damage to their wellbeing and mental health,” he said, according to The Guardian newspaper.
Queer religious charity says it’s ‘wake-up time’ for UK churches inaction over spiritual abuse.
Jayne Ozanne, a member of the British government’s LGBT+ Advisory Panel and a prominent gay evangelical, is set to speak at the conference.
“It’s a ticking timebomb,” she said. “When I first spoke out, I felt I was the only voice.
“Now I’m one of thousands, and people are feeling more and more emboldened to tell their stories.”
Ozanne’s mental health slipped into disarray when she was once hit with a Bible during “healing therapy” to “cure” her homosexuality.
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“If you are told that your desires are sinful, you desperately want it to work and your prayers to be answered,” she said.
“You submit yourself, thinking you’re doing the right thing. When it doesn’t work, when you still have those desires, the result is terrible anguish.
“People think this is only happening in developing countries, but actually it’s happening here in the UK in white, middle-class churches too.”
“Churches urgently need to wake up to spiritual, emotional and psychological abuse,” said Steve Chalke, a Baptist minister and founder of the Oasis charity.
“If they don’t protect young people, the consequences will be massive. This is coming, and it will be a disaster.”
He added: “Whether churches are driven to take action because they genuinely want to care for people, or whether this is just about self-preservation, it’s wake-up time.”