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World News

C of E launch investigation into church's alleged 'gay exorcism'

by Heather Preston

An investigation has been launched into a church in Sheffield following claims it performed a 'homosexual exorcism' on a former member.

Matthew Drapper, who attended St Thomas' Philadelphia church eight years ago says members of the congregation gathered in "intense prayer" to remove the "demons of homosexuality" from his body.

Drapper, who grew up in a Christian home, found faith in his early twenties. Speaking to ITV he explained that he was "constantly juggling" Christianity and his sexuality and often prayed to "wake up straight."

Following the church prayer session in which he was encouraged to renounce his sexual orientation, Drapper says he was left feeling empty and continues to experience trauma as a result of the event.

"They told me to speak to the gay part of myself as if speaking to a wild dog coming up to me - and for me to say to 'leave my body'," he told the BBC.

"The people I was with told me they could see demons leave me and go out of the window."

An independent review into the case has been commissioned by the Diocese of Sheffield.

St Thomas' Philadelphia church has described itself as "a caring and generous church community which does not engage in conversion therapy".

Its statement says: "We welcome the independent investigation initiated by the diocese into these allegations of eight years ago and will participate in it.

The Diocese of Sheffield said: "We are responding to Mr Drapper's complaint according to Church of England safeguarding practice guidance.

"We have commissioned a fully independent review of this case, with Mr Drapper's agreement. The Diocese of Sheffield believes, along with the wider Church of England, that conversion therapy is unethical, potentially harmful and has no place in the modern world."

A UK consultation into so-called conversion therapy is currently underway to help the government develop a legislative ban on such practices.

The consultation is due to end on 4th February.

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