A local church recently hosted a study called “Hard questions Bible Study on Sexuality and LGBTQ.” Prior to this, they prayed that LGBTQ people would be drawn to their church. You might think, how sweet of them to be so kind they would want folks from the queer community to be a part of their congregation and even have a Bible study to learn how to support them.
Included in this Bible study was a video titled In His Image, produced by American Family Studios, self-described as advancing a Christian worldview. Behind this is American Family Association, the group that promotes “traditional moral values” in media. A large part of that work involves “combating the homosexual agenda” through various means, including publicizing companies with pro-gay policies and organizing boycotts against them. In short, they’re an LGBTQ hate group.
By now, you will have realized that wishing for LGBTQ people in the congregation and having a Bible study geared toward them wasn’t designed to be accepting and supportive. It was designed to convert them, truthfully known as conversion tactics and practices.
Any decent human being who watches this video will be sickened. The messages in it are clear. Gay people are broken sexually and turn gay based on childhood trauma. Homosexuality is referred to as a gay-identified lifestyle choice that can be cured by devoting your life to Jesus and turning away from a sinful life. An ‘expert’ even claims that intersex people are born defective because of Eve’s original sin. It includes a long rant from various aspects of the ills of being transgender.
Now imagine being a queer couple in this local church. When you advise them you’re hurt and disgusted by the homophobia, instead of comforting you, they send you Youtube videos about people who are now ex-gay and living a wonderful life and tell you they’re happy that Jesus is coming alongside you to show you the way.
This is happening right here in the Okanagan at Lake Country Alliance Church. At a time when the country has been debating banning conversion therapy, the practices and efforts to have the queer community convert to being cisgender and heteronormative are very real. Step into any of the evangelical style churches in the Okanagan and across Canada, and you will face the same experience, where if you’re queer, you’re broken and need fixing.
The hard questions these churches need to be studying is how they can say they’re in agreement with banning some conversion practices and not all of them? When it is clear these debunked practices are harmful and cause long-lasting mental and emotional pain, why do they insist on continuing them? What do they say about the link between homelessness and suicide rates in LGBTQ youth with these practices?
It’s time to root this out of society. These wolves in sheep’s clothing and their toxic love should have no place, authority, or influence in our community.
Wilbur Turner (he/him), who identifies as gay and queer, lives in Kelowna on the unceded traditional land of the syilx peoples and has contributed on many levels to LGBTQ2S rights, both locally and internationally.