Saturday, 22 September 2012

Gay Conversion Therapy and the Protestant Pope

I'm just reading this BBC article on Peterson Toscano, an American who went through years of attempted conversions to cure his homosexuality.

The article seems oddly written. For example:
"Whether called straight to gay, conversion or reparative therapy, the practice... purports to help individuals change their sexual orientation."
Is it just me, or is "straight to gay" the wrong way round for what the therapy claims to be doing? Is this the reason it's been such a failure for him? Surely what they were aiming for was more "gay to straight"?

And then there is the word a gentle Englishwoman uses to describe what happens when the gay demons leave the body:
"...all right the demons are ready to come out now, all you need to do is take a very deep breath out and poof. There they go".
Could the BBC author maybe have suggested she used another onomatopoeic word representing exhalation? As it is, there is just a suggestion that she was actually being gratuitously offensive. (Don't blame me, I'm just quoting).

But I'm glad if Mr Toscano is happy now. And what I was really interested in was the description of the Evangelical Alliance as the body which "oversees the UK Evangelical community".

Oversees? As in "episcopal"? This must be a shock to UK-wide Evangelical community. If such a community really exists - which, frankly, I doubt. The definition of a "community" would seem to go against everything implied in "UK-wide" and "Evangelical". But the if "Evangelical community" exists - and the E.A. oversees it - they must be in the position of the Curia. In which case Steve Clifford is presumably the Protestant Pope.

Steve Clifford is nothing of the sort, of course. He is the director of an organisation that represents the UK's evangelicals. Not all of them, though. Some of the UK's evangelicals would not want to belong to anything as liberal as the Evangelical Alliance. And I believe the EA is in the habit of expelling member bodies occasionally when the organisations' views differ. So the EA is the body that represents some of the various UK evangelical communities that mostly subscribe to its general. Which isn't anything like as exciting or all-encompassing. No wonder it didn't want to comment on Mr Toscano's case. Some of its member bodies would definitely have disagreed. And we wouldn't want an Evangelical schism, would we?

[Late edit: Peter Ould, who is quoted in the BBC piece, has commented on it himself. And he's not very happy about it either. Rightly so, by the sound of it.


  1. Obviously the story of restorative treatment for those with same sex attractions is one that is disgraceful, but the idea that the Evangelical Alliance in the UK has been doing this for many years sounds outrageous.

    The Church needs to catch on to this now and not just ignore it by sweeping it under the carpet as they seem to do with many scandals.

    Those responsible surely shouldn't be dealing with vulnerable people and the Church needs an investigation under safe guarding measures to sort this out once and for all.

    1. The EA haven't been doing anything like this. They've just been dragged in as the BBC, for some reason, seem to think they're in charge.

  2. Hi, let me provide a little bit of explanation about the Evangelical Alliance's involvement in this story. Basically nothing. We were contacted last week for our view on both the specific case of Peterson Toscano, and 'gay conversion therapy' in general. This is not a subject about which we have any expertise to offer. We therefore told the journalist we would not be commenting but pointed her in the direction of others who might be willing to speak on this subject. While technically correct that we did not comment, the inclusion of that line seems designed to cast disrepute towards the EA.

    The description of the Evangelical Alliance is not one that we provided, nor one that we would use. While we do have a membership, we do not operate as a denomination with oversight of the churches and congregations in membership. As you say, there are churches which would consider the EA too liberal, and others too conservative.

  3. Then there's the bit that describes Toscano as a "member of the Evangelical Church" - er, right: the Evangelical Church? Refer to him as an evangelical by all means; but to posit that there's such a beast out there as "the Evangelical Church" is nothing but lazy journalism *sigh* — Karen Millington #fail.


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