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Bishop of Whitby says church leaders who signed letter opposing conversion therapy 'do not have a monopoly on Christian opinion'

by Premier Journalist
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Another Church of England Bishop has spoken out against a letter signed by over 2,500 church leaders in the UK opposing the current conversion therapy ban. 

Writing in a personal capacity, Rt Rev Paul Ferguson, Bishop of Whitby, has sent a letter to his MP urging him to support "an unequivocal ban and to resist 'loophole' clauses". 

Those who oppose the ban argue the current draft would criminalise core Christian practices such as praying for someone with unwanted same-sex attraction or the teaching of traditional Christian marriage. 

They say that it "should not be a criminal offence for us as Christian ministers to persuade, to teach and to help people of every age to become, and to live as, orthodox Christians".

But for many LGBT Christian groups and clergy any practice that is done with a predetermined purpose to change someone's sexual orientation should be included in the conversion therapy ban. 

Bishop Paul wrote that while he agrees church leaders should encourage people to "live in a way that is ordered and disciplined," religious language and practices should not be used to change someone's sexual identity.
"That is very different from the use of religious language and practise, including a power imbalance, in order to convince a young or vulnerable person that their orientation and identity are offensive in themselves. 

"There have been instances of wrapping such persuasion in prayer, which is distressing for the person 'prayed for', and which increases the moral pressure on them, risking life-long damage".

Last week, Bishop of Dorchester, Rt Rev Gavin Collins also shared his disagreement with those opposing the ban saying he was "disappointed" authors had used an open letter to "diminish people who are in faithful same-sex relationships and those who are transgender".

Bishop Paul concluded his letter by saying: "When the Bill eventually makes its progress, I would ask you to be vigilant for any drafting or amendments that could create a wide loophole and allow anyone still (in the admittedly crude phrase) to try 'to pray the gay away' with another person". 

"The Writers of the 'Ministers' Consultation Response' do not have a monopoly of Christian opinion, nor do they have good safe practice or scientific evidence on their side."

LGBT Christians have written a counter letter supporting the conversion therapy ban. 

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