Bishop condemns church leaders’ calls for barbaric conversion therapy to continue
The Bishop of Dorchester has asserted that the LGBT+ community is “safe and welcome” in church after 2,500 Christian officials objected to Britain’s conversion therapy ban.
Authored by 11 Christian faith leaders from churches across the country and addressed to minister for women and equalities Liz Truss, the letter from ministers and pastoral staff describes the horrific practice of conversion therapy as “kind and merciful”.
The letter reads: “Christianity has always held that God created humanity with the lifelong marriage of one man and one woman as a gracious gift to humanity and a central part of his design for human society.
“To violate that pattern, by sexual activity outside marriage or denial of our created sex, is sin.”
The Bishop of Dorchester, however, has spoken up against the letter, explaining that he is “disappointed” by the views expressed and that “everyone has a place at the table.”
— Diocese of Oxford (@oxforddiocese) February 16, 2022
“A letter opposing a ban on conversion therapy has undoubtedly upset a lot of people,” the Rt Revd Gavin Collins, the Bishop of Dorchester, said in a statement posted on Twitter.
“It puts out a message that people aren’t safe and welcome in our churches, and it cuts across the settled view of the Church of England that coercive conversion therapy is unacceptable and should be banned.”
The Bishop continued: “I am clear that we are all made in God’s image, that we are all welcome in His church and that everyone has a place at the table.”
The debunked practice of conversion therapy has been linked to higher risks of depression, suicide attempts, and drug addiction. However, campaigners in the UK pushing for its end have been met with years of delays.
In 2018, the British government pledged to ban conversion therapy, however, progress has been slow. In October 2021, the government opened a six-week consultation on the ban.
But the process was delayed as the government extended the consultation by a further eight weeks from December 2021 to 4 February.
The Tories, having already spent the best part of fours years teasing a ban, are yet to lay out the next steps.
Campaigners have criticised the proposed ban for “falling short” of what is needed to be effective, as a “loophole” for “religious counselling” would permit some forms of faith-based conversion therapy to continue being practised.
Though the government has already added religious exemptions to its proposed conversion therapy ban, the letter’s signatories say this isn’t far enough, and that the ban should be scrapped altogether.