More on Lesley Pilkington

The Christian Legal Centre have issued an open letter updating on the Strudwick BACP case.

Dear All,

Many thanks for your prayers and encouragement in these difficult times. There is some information about my case on the website of Christian Concern (here), but in the light of developments, I would like to give some additional information.

Private Statement in Response to the BACP and the Guardian Article

I have decided to appeal the BACP’s decision. I know you will understand that I need to act confidentially with respect to a ‘live’ case.

The Decision of the BACP and the article by Mr Strudwick

The article by Patrick Strudwick in The Guardian newspaper is inaccurate.

Reparative Therapy for unwanted Same Sex Attraction (SSA) remains an appropriate treatment for individuals seeking re-orientation therapies for those who are distressed by their unwanted homosexuality. Counsellors or therapists who provide this therapy are still acting professionally and in the best interests of their clients.

A Biased Decision Against Me

The BACP made a number of professional malpractice findings against me that are unsustainable and could have a ‘chilling effect’ on practitioners in this field. It appears that there is a degree of bias by the BACP.

Patrick Strudwick is a journalist who was seeking a sensationalist story. He engaged in deceit and deception by pretending to be a Christian with unwanted SSA. Patrick had a microphone strapped to his chest and told lies about himself.

In short, the BACP found that a homosexual political activist (who had no unwanted SSA) who was targeting a Christian counsellor was a ‘client’. How can he really have been a ‘client’ when the BACP also found that he had misled me and manipulated the sessions? If you look up SCOTT (Stop Conversion Therapy Taskforce) on Facebook you will clearly see Patrick’s agenda: i.e. to expose all therapists who work in this field and to force professional bodies to end this type of therapy.

The situation was very difficult. If I had not offered the contractual service of Reparative Therapy then I would have breached my ethical commitments that Patrick and I had agreed; and when I did provide Reparative Therapy, the BACP would not take into account the Christian framework. So I was condemned for what both Patrick and I had agreed at the beginning. Confusing!

The BACP chose to ignore the bigger picture, saying it was not the focus of the hearing. Patrick told me that he had made four tapes, one made during the initial meeting at the conference, where we agreed that I would be working within a biblical Christian framework, two made during the so called ‘counselling’ sessions and another made during the phone call in which he revealed his true identity. The BACP only wanted the recordings of the counselling sessions.

I was not allowed to call any witnesses, including Dr Byrd, the leading expert on SSA, religious counselling and ethics. He would have been able to address these matters in my favour. It was professionally discourteous for the BACP to decide that they did not need to hear from him.

Every allegation made by Patrick against me was upheld. The BACP found against me because our first appointment overran the usual hour. However, I had already explained to Patrick during this appointment that the Christian model can take more than an hour and he accepted that. The BACP also found against me because Patrick met my husband on an unforeseen visit to the toilet (in order to change his tapes!). The BACP said I was unprofessional as I did not address this incident.

Conclusion

My grave concern about this decision is that it undermines the special confidential relationship between a counsellor and a client. It will prevent frank and open discussion on sensitive issues as a client can report the counsellor for having the ‘wrong’ views.

This is a spiritual conflict and we are in a battle. We must stand our ground. We are not downhearted but we are deeply disappointed with the BACP. We want to ensure client self-determination – that individuals have the opportunity to choose reparative therapy if they feel it is appropriate for them. We also want therapists to be free to provide this therapy without being opposed by activists who insist that homosexual behaviour cannot and should not be changed. Finally, we want to uphold freedom of speech on these matters, so that we are ‘included’ in an inclusive and diverse society.

Please pray that this case will be used to totally change the homosexual agenda in this nation for the good of all. Please pray that we will continue to proclaim the love, forgiveness, hope and true freedom that is found only and supremely in the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

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67 Comments on “More on Lesley Pilkington

  1. >>>> homosexual political activist (who had no unwanted SSA) who was targeting a Christian counsellor was a ‘client’.

    This, characteristic language certainly speaks volumes about Ms Pilkington's "fairness" and "professionalism", albeit not in the manner she thinks.

    • Well, just for once I completely disagree with you. The facts are:

      Strudwick IS a homosexual political activist

      Strudwick did not have unwanted SSA

      He specifically targeted Lesley

      He therefore was not a genuine "client"

      Which of those four facts is incorrect?

      • Wrong.

        1) Strudwick is actually an award winning journalist, "homosexual political activist" is dehumanising, hot-button language and by definition not fair and balanced.Given that your calling/profession is that of Priest (or low church Vicar, but the point's the same!) would you have no problem being described as a a "homophobic" or "anti-gay activist"? That's the closest ideological match to the description of Strudwick.

        2) True, but that's because he's a gay man, not someone who fits into the unprofessional, pseudo-religious frameworks behind terms like SSA. Does

        "This is a spiritual conflict and we are in a battle. We must stand our ground. We are not downhearted but we are deeply disappointed with the BACP."

        REALLY sound like someone fairly executing the duties of a mental health professional?

        3) Strudwick was and is exposing unprofessional practise; he might be "targeting" 'Lesley' in a whistleblowing sense but he, not she, was the 'victim' here.

        4) Indeed, he was exposing how Pilkington would unprofessional "treat" genuine clients; this is hardly a point in her favour. Someone who refers to "the homosexual agenda" does not, to say the least, burnish her claims to treat gay people with necessary fairness and professionalism. Alarm bells would, rightly, go off at someone who referred to the "Jew agenda" offering conversion advice under guise of "therapy"

        Pilkington also says : "Reparative Therapy for unwanted Same Sex Attraction (SSA) remains an appropriate treatment for individuals seeking re-orientation therapies for those who are distressed by their unwanted homosexuality. Counsellors or therapists who provide this therapy are still acting professionally and in the best interests of their clients."

        Surely you see the problems with someone self-admittedly predisposed to regard all homosexuality as something that *should* be unwanted? And note also Pilkington essentially trying to get all the relevant councilling tapes "struck from the record" due to 'doctor'/patient confidentiality concerns; significantly, this is not the same thing as defending her revealed words and actions. Wonder why.

        • 1) "Homosexual political activist" is not dehumanising. Strudwick, whilst as you rightly point is being an award winning journalist, IS an activist. Even I who cringe at expressions like "gay agenda" can see very clearly that he is not impartial in this matter. His intention in this issue was less to do with impartial journalism and far more to do with scoring particular political points.

          2) Lesley's theological understanding of this issue has no bearing on the issue at hand. Strudwick did NOT have unwanted ssa. The right and wrong of what to do with unwanted ssa is neither here not there, the issue is that he did NOT have unwanted ssa.

          3) Once again, you conflate the issue. Whether Lesley was or wasn't the victim is irrelevant to the issue that Strudwick deliberately targeted Lesley.

          4) He was not a genuine client. That doesn't excuse any malpractice in terms of the handling of particular counselling sessions, but that doesn't dilute the fact that Strudwick was not a genuine client.

          Ryan, you have a habit of going off-topic. My criticism was not of any of the extra stuff you raised in your last comment, but your rejection of a specific sentence in Lesley's open letter. You need to learn to stick to the issue at hand.

          • Peter

            I picked a sentence that I said showed the "This, characteristic language certainly speaks volumes about Ms Pilkington’s “fairness” and “professionalism”, albeit not in the manner she thinks." . You responded with your list of what you take to be the four key facts of the statements above. You'll appreciate that, even if I conceded all these, that does not mean that there are not objectionable, representative claims in the statement that do indeed warrant my quoted characterisation. Here's Stradwick's piece that quotes the BACP's judgment :

            http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/may/27/gay-c

            And features telling phrases like : "The panel asked her if it was good practice to say to someone who had stated they had not been sexually abused: "You've let things be done to you." "

            Isn't that a pretty significant 'fact'? It's a hell of a lot more important that whether Strudwick is gay activist or not, especially since you seem to think that 'gay activist' someone negates Strudwick's journalistic chops, whereas its obvious that this case is him using classic, laudable undercover techniques to expose malpractise.

            Similarly, the theological position is important – irrespective of what you or Lesley THINK should be the BACP's view on reparative therapy and how Lesley went about offering.

            I think its entirely legitimate to ask on what basis YOU think your four chosen facts supercede e.g. the horrendous unprofessionalism of *encouraging* a client to falsely believe that they have been sexually abused? I would maintain that Lesley's statement above, mixing as it does flat statement of opinion on how BACP *should* view homosexuality, theological opinions and apparently objective descriptions of the case is indeed revealing in the manner my original comment described. As such, any OT is unintentional and I'd reiterate that your opinion on the four most pertinent facts is exactly that.

            • Isn’t that a pretty significant ‘fact’?

              Suggesting to a client that they have been sexually abused? Yes, but that wasn't what I was picking you up on, so don't come back at me claiming I'm ignoring it.

              You made four statements in your original comment which are patently untrue. None of the other stuff you have since then brought up (which is all valid criticism) changes any of that. You need to learn to debate better.

              • I said : >>>> homosexual political activist (who had no unwanted SSA) who was targeting a Christian counsellor was a ‘client’.

                This, characteristic language certainly speaks volumes about Ms Pilkington’s “fairness” and “professionalism”, albeit not in the manner she thinks.

                ———————

                Which I stand by. 'Homosexual political activist' is being used to discredit some fine undercover journalism; leading and suggesting a client in manner that Lesley did is indeed unprofessional, so the "unwanted SSA" is in some ways a red herring ; 'targeting' is similarly emotive.

                That said, it was perhaps an error of me to respond to what you take to be the four most pertinent facts (you'll note that I merely said the sentence 'spoke volumes') at face value. I stand by #1, and you objected to #2,#3, and #4 because they're OT – hardly the same thing as "patently untrue" (I'm assuming you're referring to the numbered list as obviously I didn't make four points in my original post).

                That said, am duly chastened, an shall adopt more of an Admiral Ackbar approach in the future ;-)

                • Ryan – why is this even a news story? They met at a Christian conference on dealing with homosexuality issues?

                  What else would she do but try to pray away his homosexual desires? He went with the intention of giving someone – Jesus really – a verbal kicking. There are people who testify their desires have changed. Who is he to say they are a liar. Of course, for the journalist it is simply impossible because he believes Jesus is dead, but some of us know that is not true. What he really is saying is Jesus is dead and she believes He lives. Are we going to have a law suit and a story in the national paper every time a Christian counsellor prays, as well as speaks to the client, or is it only on the gay issue. What gives you the right to deny Christians to follow their concious before God. You denying them the right to express that and seek what they consider appropriate support. The journalist of course wants to stamp it out. When I prayed about it, what came to me clearly was they mock the Christians in these ex-gay ministries, as they hang on their crosses. You may say God says something else to you. But that is between your concious and God.

                  So she went over the alloted time slot – this is news worthy? She gave him time for free out of love. I personally have benefited from such sessions, but was finally released by His love.

                  A good queston to ask, is why you actually live

                  • Why do I actually live? Give it a rest,eh? I've no intention of killing myself anytime soon.

                    Christians can believe anything they want (and there's obviously pro-homosexuality Christian 'conferences') Are you really saying that the end – presumed gay cure – justifies the means – encouraging a patient to FALSELY THINK THAT THEY HAD BEEN SEXUALLY ABUSED? Do you seriously not see the problem with that? If the end justifies the means then should we return to the good old days of electroshock? Is there no such thing as professional misconduct as long as one means well? If you believe that malpractise is a 'right' then ON WHAT BASIS DO YOU DO SO? Do you really see no difference between offering to pray for someone IN THEIR AND YOUR OWN TIME and engaging in MALPRACTISE in a THERAPY session?

                    Technically the 'law of the land' applying as it does to everyone, restricts EVERYONE's right to do what they like on their 'concious' (sic). Why do YOU think that this shouldn't apply to Christian professionals?

                    Seriously, give your head a shake.

                  • Oh, and accusing this gay man of wanting to give Our Lord a kicking (albeit just verbal….don't the homos wear skin-head style Doc Martins these days?) is one of the most inane forms of demonisation I've ever heard. I know lots of Christian professionals – including many an evangelical – and I'm pretty sure that they do what they are *paid* to *do* within the *laws and frameworks* *required* by their post. Why bother? Should they just act on their conscience instead of prescribing medication? If not, why not? It sounds like you, not me, are the one making exceptions for gays (and not in a good way)

                    • Ryan

                      I suggest you read Patrick's own article again. He saw the case as a victory in a 2 year battle to discredit, Praying away the Gay. Unlike Patrick I know the Lord lives.

                      As for leading the client, I would need to read the transcipts of whether she persisted, once Patrick corrected her in her mistake that he had been abused. It may reflect the fact that she often finds that the case, and she simply got confused. Also often people will use that language to soften the guilt someone has for choosing to do something i.e. the other party seduced you. From my own experience I wanted to confess visiting prostitutes and the reaction from the cousellor was these women seduced and deceived you, but the sin was still mine.

  2. I can no longer find this letter on Christian Concern / legal centre's website? (Could they have realised that the language speaks for itself and decided to remove it?) Could you provide a direct link, Peter?

  3. Hello all…

    – Mrs Pilkington's open, public letter is a funny kind of "Private Statement" isn't it?

    – "The article by Patrick Strudwick in The Guardian newspaper is inaccurate." Presumably that would be his article of 27 May, to which ryan gave a link? Would that she'd said how exactly it's inaccurate…

    – "Reparative Therapy for unwanted Same Sex Attraction (SSA) remains an appropriate treatment for individuals seeking re-orientation therapies for those who are distressed by their unwanted homosexuality". I still haven't (quite) tired of saying that the question of truth is central to all this. After all, "Only what is true can ultimately be pastoral"… The disagreement over what's true about homosexuality underlies this case – it wouldn't've been brought if Lesley Pilkington believed it true that being gay is no disorder, or equally if Patrick Strudwick really had 'unwanted ssa' as he claimed and agreed that homosexuality is a pathology.

    But if that's valid, then it's problematic to "want to ensure client self-determination – that individuals have the opportunity to choose reparative therapy if they feel it is appropriate for them". If someone were alcoholic or anorexic, nobody would want that person to have therapy which affirmed them in alcoholism or anorexia, even if that person felt it was "appropriate for them". The question of what is true about homosexuality comes prior to any 'right' one might have to "client self-determination". That in turn might well put in question whether therapists should simply "be free to provide this therapy" without question (which isn't necessarily a ringing endorsement of the way Patrick Strudwick's gone about this).

    – "we want to uphold freedom of speech on these matters…" well, fine, but is there any evidence that Mrs Pilkington has been silenced in some way on this? If it's true that she has been on radio shows, and given the public nature of this letter, then I wonder what this sentence is aimed at…

    in friendship, Blair

    • Hi Blair,

      First, nice to see you again. Glad that you're back commenting!

      I happen to think that this case has nothing to do with freedom of speech or the right to undertake reparative therapy (even though Strudwick did set out to "expose" this kind of therapy) and everything to do with correct therapeutic practice.

      • Thank you Peter :)

        So would it be fair to say that your disagreement with Mrs Pilkington would be not that she was offering 'reparative' / reorientation therapy (not sure what i should call it), but that her conduct and manner with Patrick Strudwick were unprofessional?

        in friendship, Blair

        • Let me be absolutely clear on this. I have no problems with reorientation therapies of some kinds being offered, but they must always be offered within an appropriate therapeutic framework. A classic example of the kind of thing that is good practice is the Living Waters model – 30/35 minutes of teaching followed by non-directive group therapy.

            • Blair

              We have a different understanding of a godly response to homosexual responses. I read recently that psychology teaches that the oedipus complex is a very typical and normal stage of sexuality. Yet God would say that is a godless, twisted desire – one more reason why he says dont trust your deceiptful desires.

              I am amazed at the number of people who cite the Kinsey report as the justification for their behaviour. It sheds no light on the morality of any sexual practice, but merely reports the frequency of practices in society at large which is godless and has no wish to live. Jesus loves the homosexual, as much as any other man, but he asks you to follow him in the light, by following His ways. His way was to give up everything to love us and His Father, to be faithful to His will.

              • >>>>>We have a different understanding of a godly response to homosexual responses. I read recently that psychology teaches that the oedipus complex is a very typical and normal stage of sexuality.

                Freudian cliches have very little to do with contemporary psychology, and normal does not mean 'morally neutral'. Stereotypical adolescents certainly have many immoral features! And surely a good Christian like you believes that man's heart is evil from his youth, making it strange that you attack negative psychological drive. Doesn't the 'flesh' have all sorts of negative desires that we're supposed to overcome? For example, you might think that masturbation is wrong, but it's manifestly still 'normal'.

                >>>>I am amazed at the number of people who cite the Kinsey report as the justification for their behaviour.

                >>>>

                I'm even more amazed at the notion that gay men need to cite a report to 'justify' their behaviour. The point about the Kinsey report is prevalence i.e. that homosexuality is more popular and so 'normal' than in the old stereotypes still invoked by the anti-gay cause.

                • A secular gay man doesnt have to cite anything in his defence, but a person who proclaims himself a Christian and following a Christian life, and asking others to follow in their steps, and who make them self a light to others should explain the biblical reason for their behavior. What is their light?

                  • Why should he? Are secular gay men innocent until proven guilty? of what, pray tell? And who is he defending himself to? Me? You? Why? God will judge them as he judges everyone else, no?

                    Again : THE MISCONDUCT WAS, IN PART, *ENCOURAGING A CLIENT TO FALSELY BELIEVE THAT THEY HAD BEEN SEXUALLY ABUSED* ***NOT*** 'RUNNING OVER THE ALLOTED TIME'

                    You might want to reread that, say a hundred times, until it sinks in.

                    • I agree on the wording here – having read the article. But we dont have the complete context. I agree she pressed the point – perhaps confused – and Patrick said nothing to correct her – possibly thinking – I have got you now. But if you read the rest of the article – the issue is not that a counsellor wanted him to think he had been abused, but that he objects to praying away the gay full-stop. You must see it as part of an on-going war that Patrick has by his own admission decided to wage. Clearly,if Parick was clear and corrected her, and she continued, then yes then was a malpractice. Of course I had a secular therapist who told me I should not go to church and another that I should hate my father (neither of course Christian). When I was told to hate my father I checked out and went to church. It has been a hope filled blessing – now that I know the Lord lives.

              • Hi David,

                "We have a different understanding of a godly response to homosexual responses"… indeed yes ;) but I'm slightly bemused by the rest of your comment, as I didn't refer to Kinsey or Freud anywhere above.

                Also, this is a bit picky, but you say below that you "think that it is now the case that someone who offers councelling services within a Christian context, is legally obliged to belong to a secular professional counselling body". Patrick Strudwick's article however says, "Anyone can claim to be a therapist in Britain because there is no state regulation of the profession. "Psychotherapist" and "counsellor" are not protected titles. The BACP is a self-regulating, independent body. No one has to be a member". If this is correct then Norm was right to state below that Mrs Pilkington "voluntarily chose her profession and to submit her practice to the BACP" – and in fairness to her she was acting professionally in being a member and in thus submitting her practice.

                in friendship, Blair

                • Blair, may I just commend in general the way you engage on this blog. It's a model of fair-mindedness and moderation. You (and on the other "side", Philip) are my exemplars of how to debate in a civilised fashion.

                  I think it's true that membership of the BACP is not mandatory, but it is advisable to gain and keep a good reputation. There is a pressure, if not a legal requirement, for counsellors and psychotherapists, to belong.

  4. I was almost sympathetic to Mrs. Pilkington's letter until she claims, "…This is a spiritual conflict and we are in a battle. We must stand our ground…" No, this is conflict about Mrs. Pilkington's professional conduct. Her view that she is in a spiritual battle with her professional organization and society at large completely undermines her claim of being a professional therapist.

    "…We want to ensure client self-determination – that individuals have the opportunity to choose reparative therapy if they feel it is appropriate for them…" Claiming a client has self-determination doesn't absolve a therapist from providing professional therapy or engaging in unproven, controversial, highly-experimental therapy.

    "…We also want therapists to be free to provide this therapy without being opposed by activists who insist that homosexual behaviour cannot and should not be changed…" Those of us who have been harmed by reparative and other anti-gay 'therapies' certainly have an obligation to warn others and challenge the unfounded merits of the so-called therapies.

    Mrs. Pilkington is confusing her religious and professional practices. Worse, it seems she is arguing that any therapy with a religious-basis should be free of any professional accountability or criticism.

    "…Finally, we want to uphold freedom of speech on these matters, so that we are ‘included’ in an inclusive and diverse society…" Despite Mrs. Pilkington's flair for the dramatic, no one is challenging her freedom of speech. She voluntarily chose her profession and to submit her practice to the BACP. There is no freedom of speech when she is practicing her trade.

      • I think that it is now the case that someone who offers councelling services within a Christian context, is legally obliged to belong to a secular professional counselling body.

        The journalist's issue was not that she ran over the alloted time, it was the very fact that she would believe in someone who was dead, and offered to ask Him to help, to change desires he loves and says defines him. Running over time hardly seems grounds for striking someone off. If my doctor appointment ran over, or they were called out to deal with something and they were struck off, when all they were showing was love – I would have to say the law was an ass. I would have been glad getting 10 minutes for free.

        I would like to thank Lesley, as someone who has benefited from such services in the past from other counsellors, for standing up for her faith and, for those who seek you follow Jesus according to their Christian conscious. Why shouldnt a Christian be allowed to seek this counselling. The journalist has mis-represented himself – he should have said I am an aethiest who hates what you do and want you stopped and I will have you publically vilified and struck off. Now that would be honest.

        • >>>>Running over time hardly seems grounds for striking someone off.

          Are you taking the piss? Nobody is indeed saying that Lesley should be struck off for running over the alloted time – and she's not been struck off.

          Oh, and whether the journalist is an atheist, Christian, muslim, Mormon, etc, that doesn't change the fact that trying to get a patient to falsely believe that they have been sexually abused. Are you really saying that if a patient misrepresents themselves that any behaviour from a therapist is justifiable? No offence, but it's you – not me – that seems to be saying that Lesley shouldn't have to abide by professional codes of conduct. People who flaunt such codes do indeed, correctly tend to get struck off.

          And you might want to note Peter saying (bottom line):

          June 11, 2011 at 11:15 am · Reply to this Comment

          Leading and suggesting a client is indeed unprofessional

          And if Lesley did that she should be retrained.

          ———————————-

          So it's not just liberals who know malpractise when they see it. Reality is always worth identifying in my view, irrespective of whether it suits your ideological team, or makes you feel bad.

        • Hi David,

          "I think that it is now the case that someone who offers councelling services within a Christian context, is legally obliged to belong to a secular professional counselling body…"

          As I understand from Sturdwick's article, Pilkington is not legally required to join the BACP or any professional organization to provide counseling services: "…Anyone can claim to be a therapist in Britain because there is no state regulation of the profession. 'Psychotherapist' and 'counsellor' are not protected titles. The BACP is a self-regulating, independent body. No one has to be a member. Thus you can't stop a bad therapist seeing clients any more than you can a fortune-teller…"

          Whether Pilkington provides counseling from a 'Christian context' is irrelevant. A counselor and client identifying the same religious values doesn't excuse the counselor from good counseling practices — especially when charging a fee and identifying as a trained professional.

  5. >>>>>>Ryan

    I suggest you read Patrick’s own article again. He saw the case as a victory in a 2 year battle to discredit, Praying away the Gay. Unlike Patrick I know the Lord lives.

    ——–

    Grown-ups are judged on actions, not motivations. The fact that you disagree with Patrick's motivation and agree with Lesley's ideological basis in no way means that she must be innocence of the exposed malpractice. You do not do your 'argument' any favours by boasting of your own piety and Patrick's depravity.

    >>>>>As for leading the client, I would need to read the transcipts of whether she persisted, once Patrick corrected her in her mistake that he had been abused. It may reflect the fact that she often finds that the case, and she simply got confused. Also often people will use that language to soften the guilt someone has for choosing to do something i.e. the other party seduced you. From my own experience I wanted to confess visiting prostitutes and the reaction from the cousellor was these women seduced and deceived you, but the sin was still mine.

    The 'therapy' offered was highly controversial and unproven. If the ends justify the means then why not go back to the old days of electroshock and hormone treatment as anti-gay therapies? It would be nice if you could stop ducking such pertinent questions in favour of more excerpts from your spiritual autobiography.

    And claiming that Lesley may well just 'get confused' about whether or not a client has been sexually abused (!) is not, to riot in understatement, much of a point in her favour.

  6. "I agree on the wording here – having read the article. But we dont have the complete context. I agree she pressed the point – perhaps confused – and Patrick said nothing to correct her – possibly thinking – I have got you now. But if you read the rest of the article – the issue is not that a counsellor wanted him to think he had been abused, but that he objects to praying away the gay full-stop.>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Yes, and he's upfront about that, which makes it ridiculous that you assume he's automatically discredited because he's an evil gay and Lesley's a Good Christian. Strudwick is using classic journalistic techniques to *discover evidence*. That this evidence suits his ideological agenda and does not suit yours in no ways means that it should be discounted.

    >>>You must see it as part of an on-going war that Patrick has by his own admission decided to wage>>>

    Lesley's statement is big on the War rhetoric too. Again, the fact that you view Lesley as the Good Guy and Patrick as the Baddie in a wider culture war *IN NO WAY* changes the facts of the situation. I saw a Christian councilor who was far from useless. I think the automatic defending of Lesley's actions because she's a Christian – and irrespective of the actual facts – does a grave disservice to those many other councilors who conduct sessions in an appropriate and professional manner. As for your own experience with anti-Christian councilors : two wrongs don't make a right, surely?

  7. "the automatic defending of Lesley’s actions because she’s a Christian"

    Irony is something that happens to other people, isn't it?

    Ryan, I must say that of all the revisionists who regularly comment here, you are one of those who can be relied upon to presume, and suggest, the worst of conservative Christians, and I can remember no occasion on which you have criticised revisionists without hedging that criticism round with qualifications and special pleading. So I'm not sure that you're on particularly secure ground with the above comment.

    Motes, beams etc.

  8. is it ironic to note ur lack of examples? For the record, I wouldn't defend a 'revisionist' who encouraged a client to falsely believe that they had been sexually abused. I'm against people kicking puppies too. And torture. And strawmen. Etc

  9. Peter, thanks for posting on this issue (and thanks, Wicked Conservative, for your kind comment). Living in Africa, I'm not close enough to the issue to be well-informed about the personalities involved. It's also not yet very clear what the BACP actually decided and both 'sides' seem to be trying to spin it for all that it's worth.

    But I think that Norm got it spot on with the statement that:

    >>Mrs. Pilkington is confusing her religious and professional practices. Worse, it seems she is arguing that any therapy with a religious-basis should be free of any professional accountability or criticism.<>I have no problems with reorientation therapies of some kinds being offered, but they must always be offered within an appropriate therapeutic framework.<<

    Mrs Pilkington seems to have erred in two main areas:

    1. Not making the spiritual and therapeutic basis of her counselling ultra-clear in her introductory session, which should include fully informed consent and a signed statement of commitment to the therapeutic approach.

    2. Assuming that she actually said this, she stepped over the boundary in claiming that the 'client' had been sexually abused. Sexual abuse is difficult to identify and prove and therapists should be very wary of claiming that a client has been abused until the evidence is very strong.

    But Patrick Strudwick was primarily behaving as a 'gay activist' rather than an 'award winning journalist'. His behaviour was completely unethical. He masqueraded as a Christian (or at least Christian sympathetic) person seeking therapy for unwanted same-sex attraction. Mrs Pilkington may have been unwise and have gone too far in some of the diagnoses that she offered. She did however clearly respond on the basis of the request for therapy made by Patrick Strudwick, a request which was completely fictitious. No professional therapist should be struck off simply for responding to a request for therapy that was based on a complete lie.

    Patrick Strudwick's actions only make sense if sexual orientation is impossible to change, that therapies that offer to do so are always an abuse of the client and that gay sexual desire is always to be affirmed. That is a position that is clearly in conflict with orthodox religious belief. It is also an opinion, not a fact. There is evidence that is well rehearsed on Peter's site that some people at least are able to successfully change their sexual orientation thorugh a mixture of professional therapies and divine healing.

    Gay rights organisations are right to point to the spiritual abuses of some unprofessional and poorly informed ministries. But their attempts to use the mistakes of the few to ban all therapies that address unwanted same-sex attraction are both profoundly illiberal as well as being not evidence based. And, whatever mistakes Mrs Pilkington has made, Patrick Strudwick's campaigning should be seen in this light.

    • Hi Philip,

      "…Mrs Pilkington may have been unwise and have gone too far in some of the diagnoses that she offered. She did however clearly respond on the basis of the request for therapy made by Patrick Strudwick, a request which was completely fictitious. No professional therapist should be struck off simply for responding to a request for therapy that was based on a complete lie…."

      I have mixed feelings about Strudwick's tactic. Obviously he was not passively reporting on Pilkington's counseling practice, but purposely entrapped her to expose her controversial counseling technique. However, there are situations in which investigative journalism requires a reporter to lie in order to reveal a secret information. I doubt Pilkington would have been so insistent on assessing that Strudwick was repressing sexual abuse if he had honestly said he was a gay journalist investigating her practice.

      "…Patrick Strudwick's actions only make sense if sexual orientation is impossible to change, that therapies that offer to do so are always an abuse of the client and that gay sexual desire is always to be affirmed. That is a position that is clearly in conflict with orthodox religious belief. It is also an opinion, not a fact. There is evidence that is well rehearsed on Peter's site that some people at least are able to successfully change their sexual orientation thorugh a mixture of professional therapies and divine healing…."

      I'm not aware that Strudwick or anyone else is arguing that sexual orientation is impossible to change. Rather the issue is whether a professional therapist should provide unproven, experimental therapies that are known to cause harm to treat a sexual orientation that health professionals don't recognize as needing treatment.

      While there may be anecdotal evidence that some people claim gay-to-straight change, it is insufficient to base a therapy upon and even reckless considering many (if not more) report harm from such therapies and techniques. Most 'ex-gay' groups I'm aware of avoid citing statistics regarding changing sexual orientation and carefully disclaim any promise of changing sexual orientation.

      Orthodox religious beliefs regarding homosexuality often isn't that believers should seek pseudo-psychotherapy to change their sexual orientation, but rather to seek sexual abstinence. There is no biblical guarantee of heterosexuality. The danger of Pilkington's practice is that she confuses professional, evidence-based therapy with blind religious faith.

  10. Norm

    Thanks for your well-considered reply – Ryan please take note and model accordingly! I have a couple of responses …

    It seems to me that there is a certain amount of common ground between us in that we would both want sexual orientation change effort (SOCE) ministries to be properly regulated for professionalism and integrity, either internally (preferably) or externally if that can't be accomplished. Where we part company is on the potential and advisability of pursuing sexual orientation change (SOC). To respond to a couple of your specific points …

    >>However, there are situations in which investigative journalism requires a reporter to lie in order to reveal a secret information.<>I’m not aware that Strudwick or anyone else is arguing that sexual orientation is impossible to change.<>While there may be anecdotal evidence that some people claim gay-to-straight change, it is insufficient to base a therapy upon and even reckless considering many (if not more) report harm from such therapies and techniques.,,

    It's alot more than anecdotal evidence. The Spitzer and the long-term Jones and Yarhouse Studies are often discussed on Peter's site so I won't post a link this time. I will however to an excellent article by Andrew Goddard on the Fulcum website at http://www.fulcrum-anglican.org.uk/page.cfm?ID=47…. He argues in a thorough review of the recent American Psychological Association (APA) report of its 'Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation' (2009), that the Task Force ignored or minimised much of the evidence on the reality of SOC that was presented to it.

    The article is well worth a read for its dispassionate assemment of the reports merits and demerits. It is undoubtedly an important report but its much cited executive summary conflicts with its own text. The section of the Goddard article on the weaknesses of the APA is especially accurate.

    Its worth citing a paragraph from the conclusion of the Goddard article in full:

    'Although the authors’ review of the relative stability of patterns of sexual desire across the lifecourse is a brief narrative summary, this does not prevent them making some fairly confident assertions about sexual orientation as a fixed and enduring characteristic. Strictly, this is not part of the systematic review at all but needs to be considered as a summary of the authors’ personal opinions about what the research is saying. It is in fact quite possible to cite a range of studies that find evidence of plasticity in the patterning of sexual desire over the life course, as opposed to the assertions of fixity made in this report'.

    I'll close by repeating a couple of points I've made before on Peter's site. There are for me three interesting questions about SOC to which I give the following answers.

    1. Does sexual orientation (SO) change? We're now starting to have the benefit of long-term trend research on SO which clearly shows change in all directions for many, possibly most, people through their lifetime. The wiser heads in the gay rights movement, notably Peter Tatchell, seem to have accepted that sexual orientation is plastic for many and rather embraced it is an opportunity to explore, in Gene Robinson's infamous words, "many different sexualities". Orthodox Chrisitanity cannot of course take this position. But the idea that SO is always fixed, based on the research at least, is essentially dead.

    2. Can sexual orientation be changed? The evidence here is more mixed and the APA Task Force report is but the latest in a long-running battle over the research. I think that it is fair to state that SOC is complex and that we do not know everything about it. I also think that it is fair to state that many people seeking SOC have been hurt and damaged, especially in the past, through amateurish and poorly conceived SOCE ministries run by unqualified people. It is not however accurate to state that people in SOCE ministries are always hurt, as it runs contrary to the evidence (see above) that, at least for some people, SOCE ministry is effective.

    3. Should sexual orientation be changed? Essentially this is a values question, the answer to which will depend on your worldview, beliefs and ideology. It cannot be answered as a normative statement in this form. For me, it becomes a normative question if asked in the form: "Should SO be changed under proper regulation/safeguards/fully informed consent, etc". I would also argue that SOCE ministry should never be attempted without both fully informed consent and at least a clear understanding of (and preferably commitment to) the biblical worldview underlying the ministry (incidently ruling out Patrick Strudwick's participation immediately!) SOCE ministry and hard and complex work at the best of times and the prospect for success is greatly reduced if, for example, the client does not believe in the power of the in-dwelling Holy Spirit for starters!

    The problem however is that, for the gay rights movement, this third question IS a normative question. They cannot conceive that anyone same-sex attracted person would want to pursue SOC except under coercion and/or internal or external homophobia. Apart from indicating a worrying lack of imagination, this viewpoint is also profoundly illiberal. When the gay rights movement argues, as in the case of Patrick Strudwick, that it should be applied to informed adult people who voluntary desire SOC to deal with unwanted SSA. they should always be strongly opposed, based on both the evidence and fundamental human rights of self-determination.

    • Hi Phillip,

      "…It seems to me that there is a certain amount of common ground between us in that we would both want sexual orientation change effort (SOCE) ministries to be properly regulated for professionalism and integrity, either internally (preferably) or externally if that can’t be accomplished…."

      I agree that SOCE ministries should be regulated, but regulation is difficult because these ministries often operate in a murky area between psychology and theology. Are they providing professional psychological therapy or pastoral counseling? Are their counselors required to have any accreditation or training? The largest SOCE ministry Exodus International has yet to publish criteria for it member ministries and their counselors. Even a professionally accredited therapist like Pilkington seems quick to claim religious persecution for being held to her profession's standards.

      "…It’s alot more than anecdotal evidence. The Spitzer and the long-term Jones and Yarhouse Studies are often discussed on Peter’s site so I won’t post a link this time…"

      Spitzer's and Jones & Yarhouse's telephone surveys are deeply flawed and the APA was correct in dismissing them. Even though the methodology of both surveys favored SOCE ministries, the self-reported 'success' of those seeking SOC were surprisingly low and, I assume, insufficient to base an effective therapy upon.

      What undermines SOCE ministries and counselors is that they have already concluded that homosexuality is unnatural, unhealthy, and/or immoral and are therefore drawn to nearly any theory and sketchy evidence that supports their conclusions. The danger of basing a therapy on poor evidence is that it can lead to counselors like Pilkington to harmful therapy. The tragic story of Kirk Murphy's harmful experimental therapy is another example of the danger of SOCE.

      "…I would also argue that SOCE ministry should never be attempted without both fully informed consent and at least a clear understanding of (and preferably commitment to) the biblical worldview underlying the ministry (incidently ruling out Patrick Strudwick’s participation immediately!) SOCE ministry and hard and complex work at the best of times and the prospect for success is greatly reduced if, for example, the client does not believe in the power of the in-dwelling Holy Spirit for starters!…"

      The murky combination of psychology and theology is troubling to me. Does religious-affiliation and informed consent relieve Pilkington and other SOCE therapists of all professional oversight? Since a client seeks therapy from a professional instead of a pastor, it is assumed that the client expects a therapist to call on psychological expertise instead of the Holy Spirit.

      From my own struggle reconciling faith and sexual identities, people who seek SOCE are often desperate and vulnerable to any one offering guidance regardless of their credentials. Requiring a client to provide informed consent in the midst of their struggle seems more about protecting the therapist than truly informing a client that SOCE is unproven, controversial, possibly ineffective and even harmful.

  11. Very astute, Philip. I would only add that "orientation change" can be a red herring to some extent; not every SSA person has a vocation to eventual marriage. Sometimes good Christian therapy in this area is about preparing someone for a life of Christ-centred celibacy, and supporting them in that undertaking (on a related point, this is one advantage of a celibate priesthood – when someone is struggling with lifelong celibacy, a celibate priest can be right there with him/her in a way that a married person just can't be).

    This is where the skill and pastoral sensitivity of the minister/priest is important – in answering the twin questions, "is it possible and desirable for this person to form a marriage?" And "is that in accordance with God's will for this person?" – and this is why it is so difficult to make rules and regulations in this area. What is appropriate will vary from person to person, and may change during that person's exploration of their vocation.

    • Hi Wicked conservative,

      "…I would only add that 'orientation change' can be a red herring to some extent; not every SSA person has a vocation to eventual marriage. Sometimes good Christian therapy in this area is about preparing someone for a life of Christ-centred celibacy, and supporting them in that undertaking…"

      I agree. I would have far less criticism of the Christian 'ex-gay' movement if celibacy was truly advocated. However, in my 'ex-gay' experience, celibacy was considered an unfortunately compromise and never advocated with the same enthusiasm as heterosexual marriage. I was even privately counseled to not "settle for celibacy" and urged to consider the possibility of (heterosexual) marriage.

      Since conservative Christian culture practically idolizes heterosexual marriage, it is no wonder that some Christians with same-sex attractions would seek professional counseling to specifically change their sexual orientation as opposed to celibacy.

  12. Wicked conservative

    I fully agree with you and thanks for adding this vital supplementary point. In our over-sexualised culture celibacy has been denigrated and seen as a cover for something being 'wrong' with someone for far toolong. What nonsense! Committed and well-considered celibates have been some of the finest people that I have yet met.

    • Thanks Tom.

      I’ll reserve judgement until I read the actual ruling. Strudwick has a habit of ignoring the bits of judgements that don’t favour him (like when the GMC dismissed another complaint of his).
      FWIW, we should distinguish between BACP rejecting the actions of one individual counsellor and the separate issue of therapy as a whole. The GMC refused point blank to condemn this kind of therapy the last time there was a similar case.

  13. Maybe so, but surely you respect Max Pemberton? – and he’s not writing in the Grauniad either but in the Telegraph.

      • You are right, but I thought you’d take Pemberton’s views (especially in the Telegraph! ….and recent, too) more seriously than Strudwick’s – nothing more than that.

        Don’t know if Mrs Pilkington has appealed, do you? Or is she biting the bullet getting on with retraining, or is she showing two fingers to the professional body and continuing practising anyway? Because as Strudwick says, there is nothing to stop any untrained person setting up shop as a therapist anymore than telling fortunes on Blackpool sea front. The whole thing should be regulated, surely, when you are messing with people’s minds, don’t you agree? A piece of anecdotery for you – I have a friend who as a psychiatrist used electro-convulsive therapy at the Maudsley in the 50s to turn gay people straight. I t didn’t work and he’s deeply ashamed now. I don’t suppose Pilkington et al. would want to return to that, anymore than they would approve of the hormone “treatment” Alan Turing received, but as with cults like Scientology and Branch Davidianism, you can do a lot of damage using mere psychological means without the use of chemicals or electricity…even more so if you are dealing with vulnerable people. Time for the government to get the whole thing regulated?

        • The problem with regulation is that you would have to prove these therapies work (Gestalt, CBT etc). Go an search out the literature that tries to do that and you’ll suddenly start thinking Jones and Yarhouse is a robust piece of work!

  14. The guardian report is completely inaccurate.  Pilkington is not being told to retrain for attempting to help somebody with unwanted same-sex attractions, she is being told to retrain for letting her preconceived ideas get in the way of listening to her patient.  From the reports, it seems that this is a fair assessment of her approach to her client.  The problem I have with this is that I’ve never met a doctor or psychotherapists who WASN’T guilty of letting their preconceived ideas get in the way.  Some are better listeners than others (and older counsellors like Pilkington tend to be the worst), but they seem to be trained to fit you into some text book example rather than really engaging with where you’re coming from.  Sometimes their suggestions can be helpful, but often you go away imagining you have problems that you don’t eg. as a Christian you’re often told that you feel guilty about sex, when actually you just don’t want to have sex because you’re not in a stable relationship (ie. marriage).  There’s a false perception that not being religious is somehow a neutral position, whereas everybody has their own preconceptions and pet theories that they can be very dogmatic about.  In other words, it seems to me that the problem is with the psychiatric profession and they’re being hypocritical singling Pilkington out.  The SSA angle is a complete red herring.

    • I certainly picked that up from the Guardian report (that she let her preconceived ideas get in the way of listening to her patient). As far as the psychiatric profession singling her out, have you ever seen the woman? She was on Nicky Campbell’s Big Questions sometime after all this blew up (let alone other multiple appearances on radio reported in the Guardian article) and she came across then as completely intolerant, hardly letting anyone get a word in edgeways and certainly gave no impression that she was listening to other people’s points of view as they were put to her. In fact by appearing on such programmes she probably did herself no good whatsoever but rather exposed the fact that she was probably very doctrinaire and autocratic – the very last kind of thing a vulnerable person needs. Presumably anyone who seeks psychotherapy is vulnerable but People seeking help with SSA are especially so, so I do not agree with you that that aspect of what she was doing is a red herring. In fact it is quite germane.

  15. On the other hand, I do think this is a wake up call to the Church to clean up its act on SSA therapy and counselling/prayer ministry in general.  It’s not only homosexuals who have been damaged by the tendency to create false memories of abuse.  There needs to be some way of communicating when mistakes have been made, learning from them, and apologising to victims. 

  16. I saw her on Nicky Campbell.  Actually, I thought it was Nicky Campbell who wasn’t so good at listening, as he didn’t let her finish her point.  I’ve also heard her on the radio.  I’ll admit that I wouldn’t choose her as a counselor myself.  She shows what I would call naivety and possibly a lack of empathy.  I don’t think she really understood, for instance, why the Rabbi felt scared by the word ‘sin’ and didn’t approach this very tactfully.  I cringe when I hear her telling homosexuals over the radio that she loves them and desperately wants to help them get over their problems.  Andrea Williams can be a bit cringey like this as well.  You can’t claim to love/respect people if you’re not prepared to listen to them and treat them like children.

    I’m not saying that she gives the impression of being a particularly good, intelligent and perceptive counselor.  What I am saying is a) unfortunately, I’ve met others like her in the profession.  This has nothing to do with her being a Christian, and everything to do with personality and lack of good training  b) I wouldn’t want to go to her with ANY problem, given her inability to understand another person’s point of view.  Therefore this has NOTHING to do with SSA.

  17. Actually, that whole Nicky Campbell debate was just painful.  The Liberals trashed the other side because nobody had the common sense to point out the difference between ‘fundamentalism’, that takes tiny irrelevant parts of scripture and makes them into necessities (like the Pharisees) and the ‘fundamentals’ of the faith (like the concept of sin, for instance).  So Nicky just kept on asking his inane questions about obscure bits of the Bible, while the Liberals talked about big principles, like social justice and love.  Of course, the reason for this is that anybody with any sense when asked if they’d like to appear on a show entitled ‘Is fundamentalism undermining faith’ as a shiny, happy example of a ‘fundamentalist’ told the producers to get on their bikes.

  18. If you like torturing yourself, watch it here: 
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JkFyr8GwzeY  I felt particularly sorry for the poor Imam being drilled on what he would advise a woman to wear.  What did they expect him to say?  ‘Islam would prefer her to go topless on a beach in Spain’?  He’s an Imam, for flips sake!

  19. If you like torturing yourself, watch it here: 
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JkFyr8GwzeY  I felt particularly sorry for the poor Imam being drilled on what he would advise a woman to wear.  What did they expect him to say?  ‘Islam would prefer her to go topless on a beach in Spain’?  He’s an Imam, for flips sake!

  20. Another gem is Nicky Campbell’s oh so balanced introduction, which tells you what to think before the debate even begins.  This is followed by a long essay by the liberal vicar on the nature of ‘fundamentalism’ (which she also called ‘evangelicalism’) that sounded more like an undergraduate essay on poststructuralist theories of ‘othering’ than the real-life observations of a mature woman.  Go on … watch it … put yourself through a whole hour of agony and get better acquainted with Lesley Pilkington into the bargain.

    • Actually it is a very annoying programme generally. People talk over each other and though Nicky Campbell sometimes does his best to control it he is not always successful or doesn’t try hard enough. Then they keep on inviting the same people with predictable views like Cristina Odone or that incredibly repressed looking woman from General Synod or that creepy solicitor young-earthist creationist from Christian Concern none of whom knows anything much about the history of religion….Why do I watch it? For the same bad reasons that it gets ratings I suppose. I generally like the Jews on it – the woman rabbi on your clip is a delight and even the orthodox rabbis who might be expected to be unbendingly hard-line come over as much more profound in their knowledge and interpretation of the Old Testament – it’s their scripture after all. They seem more humane than many of the fundamentalist Christians and Muslims wheeled on for a bit of dogmatic overstatement….

      • Nicky Campbell is a nice, community minded guy, but not such a great talk-show host.
        Sometimes it’s a great laugh, though.  Like the time they were talking about whether Church could be fun.  Some enthusiastic woman piped up about how exciting and creative the parables were, to which Peter Hitchens replied: ‘Most of the parables end with people being thrown into outer darkness with grinding and gnashing of teeth: how on earth is that fun?’.  It is the my all time Peter Hitchens moment.  Peter Hitchens: self-appointed destroyer of fun.  You can always rely on him to ruin a party!

  21. Nicky Campbell is a nice, community minded guy, but not such a great talk-show host.

    Sometimes it’s a great laugh, though.  Like the time they were talking about whether Church could be fun.  Some enthusiastic woman piped up about how exciting and creative the parables were, to which Peter Hitchens replied: ‘Most of the parables end with people being thrown into outer darkness with grinding and gnashing of teeth: how on earth is that fun?’.  It is the my all time Peter Hitchens moment.  Peter Hitchens: self-appointed destroyer of fun.  You can always rely on him to ruin a party!

  22. Christian Concern have posted their own analysis of the case: 
    http://www.christianconcern.com/our-concerns/sexual-orientation/appeal-panel-rules-on-lesley-pilkington-case

    For me I think the key points are:

    “Although Mr Strudwick initially tried to use his complaint against Lesley to stop reparative therapy taking place in the UK, he was later forced to drop this approach and he told the BCAP in the appeal hearing that he was not seeking to challenge the efficiency of therapy for same-sex attraction. He had no evidence to establish that such therapy is not beneficial to some clients.This leaves councillors free to continue providing this therapy to motivated clients.” 

    In other words, Strudwick has failed in what he was seeking to do.

    And:

    “Now that the appeal panel has decided that Mr Strudwick was a real client, concerns have been raised over the vulnerability of all Christian councillors, as they are now open to harassment from undercover journalists and gay activists approaching them pretending to be clients.”

    This is Strudwick’s real victory – not that he’s succeeded in discrediting reparative therapy, but that counsellors will now be scared stiff of even touching the topic.  This is what people mean when they refer to the ‘aggressiveness’ of the gay lobby – that they’re achieving what they want through intimidation.  They’re as doctrinaire about sexual orientation as any right wing Christian group.  In fact, the way they behave sometimes reminds me of Christian cults – at first, warm and supportive towards the vulnerable who turn to them for help, threatening and manipulative towards any within their group who become disillusioned, question the agenda, or attempt to leave.

    Like a lot of these recent legal cases involving Christians vs. homosexuals, the issue is not so much what you think of the particular person that the case was brought against, or the judgements made against them, but the worrying, and surprising conclusions that the adjudicators come to that set precedents that impinge upon people’s freedom and their blind belief that the gay lobby’s agenda is all about freedom and human rights, rather than a utopian revolution with dangerous, experimental elements.

  23. “They’re as doctrinaire about sexual orientation as any right wing Christian group.”  Excuse me, but they have to live with it – and the consequences of religious bigotry – so what do you expect? Christians of the CC variety want the right to discriminate and they start using the victim card when they are told they can’t. When did anyone in this country refuse to serve Christians, refuse them a bed in a B&B, refuse to marry them, fire them from a job, beat them up when they were going about their lawful business? The victim meme may kid the Daily Mail readership but actually it is an own-goal and contaminates all Christians as whining and self-serving. If gay people post the Stonewall Inn riots seem too vigorous in challenging corporate and individual inequalities religious people might take (carefully and selectively!) a leaf out of Sentamu’s book when he says that the Church has been “complicit” in “discrimination and sometimes worse” against gay people in the past.“There is much penance to be done before we can look our homosexual brothers and sisters in the eye,” he writes.
    (Most gay people would find his use of the past tense a trifle disingenuous – he should be saying “is complicit in discrimination…..as it has been in the past”.) But he goes on “but that baleful history does not diminish the need to speak the truth in love.” Again most gay people find that wearisome – they would consider the Church lost any moral authority to deny equality to gay people as much as it has the right to tell slaves to obey their masters. (And as for the “speaking in love” meme – that many find as sickening as the love-the-sinner-hate-the-sin trope.  While on the subject of Sentamu’s latest statement have you seen this response in the New Statesman?

    http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/religion/2012/05/john-sentamu-and-acceptable-face-bigotry

    • Tom, I think you misunderstand me.  I wasn’t referring to the stance of Stonewall on B&B cases etc. (in fact, I can well understand why the ‘couldn’t they just find another B&B’ (having already booked that one) didn’t wash).  I’m referring to the attitude of gay movements to people who decide that, for whatever reason, they don’t want to enter into a gay relationship, even though they experience same-sex attraction.  Or to people who have been part of the gay scene and then enter into a heterosexual relationship, whether they regard their past behaviour as wrong or not.  Or choose to remain celibate.  Especially if these people speak negatively about their experience of same-sex relationships, but even if not, they often experience the kind of abuse, accusations and animosity that I see as similar to how cults behave towards people who leave.  For instance, a cult might say that that person has been seduced from the truth, or is being influenced by demons.  For the gay lobby (especially in the US culture wars) the ‘demon’ is some kind of internalised homophobia (which Peter has often been accused of).  For me this kind of behaviour discredits them.  In my experience, people who attack others aren’t happy and secure in themselves.

      By ‘doctrinaire’, I mean they stick to the ‘born this way’ claim, even when it’s clear that for many people sexuality is more complicated than that, and people can experience change.  I think this is much more complex than the catch-all concept of ‘bisexual’.  They stick to this in the same way as some Chrisitans refuse to accept that sexuality does seem to have some biological component for some people.

      The way I see it is this: there’s a tug-of-war going on between Christians that have an agenda to prove that homosexual desires can be changed and between gay lobbyists who claim that they are a fundamental part of personhood that should not be resisted or denied.  The result of this is casualties on both sides as political agendas are placed above people’s welfare (and I would agree that, to some extent that was what Lesley Pilkington was doing with her ‘client’).  But the gay lobby is seen at the moment as the ‘goodies’ and the Christian right as the ‘badies’.  I’d say that it’s much more complicated than that.

      That’s why Peter’s question is such a good one: ‘If your feelings for the same-sex don’t change, what are you going to do about it?’.  In other words, not what do you really believe about yourself and your sexuality, but what do you really believe about God?  If Pilkington had asked her client that question before launching in with her own agenda, she wouldn’t have ended up in court.

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