Christian Concern’s policy researcher Carys Moseley comments on the recent letter from senior church leaders which stated that being transgender is “to enter a sacred journey.”
Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury has followed the lead of Steve Chalke in demanding that the government bans ‘trans conversion therapy’.
Steve Chalke originally organised a letter to the government, signed by a small number of mostly Anglican clergy, complaining about the Prime Minister’s double U-turn on the matter. Whilst both Rowan Williams and Steve Chalke are already on record as supporting a ban, the content of the letter is nevertheless very illuminating. It requires closer reading to understand what sort of belief is influencing both churches and society today.
The letter is also deeply concerning as it causes serious confusion among the wider public as to what Christian moral reasoning really involves.
Conversion without repentance
These clergy redefine Christian conversion to exclude repentance from sin:
“Conversion to Christianity is the event or process by which a person responds joyfully to the glorious embrace of the eternally loving and ever-merciful God.”
Absent from this statement is anything about God forgiving our sins, and thus by implication repentance is not really in the picture.
These clergy say that conversion “has nothing to do with so-called conversion therapy.” This is how they define conversion therapy:
“pressure put by one person on another to fit their expectations; the attempt to induce vulnerable and isolated people to deny who they truly are.”
How have these influential clergy assumed that the opposite of affirming transgenderism as God-given can only be pressurising someone to ‘fit your expectations’? This is highly manipulative language, calculated to smear Biblically faithful pastors and counsellors.
Pretending gender transition is sacred
These clergy then idolise gender transition:
“To be trans is to enter a sacred journey of becoming whole; precious, honoured and loved, by yourself, by others and by God.”
This really is quite extraordinary as a statement of belief. Gender transition and gender reassignment are a ‘sacred journey’ with ‘becoming whole’ as the outcome.
What exactly is ‘sacred’ and holistic about denying puberty, taking cross-sex hormones and undergoing surgery that mutilates your sexual characteristics? What is ‘sacred’ and holistic about women growing beards and men feminising their faces? What is sacred and holistic about intentionally deceiving other people as to which sex you belong to? What is sacred about a man fetishising himself as a woman, and forcing his wife to cater to this?
This is a grave misuse of the term ‘sacred’ to call what is evil (lying, deceit, destruction of the body) good and good evil. It is also a way of bullying people into not being allowed to reject any of this as untrue.
Defaming Biblically faithful and orthodox pastors
These clergy then attack faithful pastors:
“To allow those discerning this journey to be subject to coercive or undermining practices is to make prayer a means of one person manipulating another. It is a wrong-hearted notion of care and a wrong-headed understanding of conversion.”
Once again, here we have the false dichotomy between religious trans-affirmation on the one hand and ‘coercive conversion therapy/practices’ on the other. This is flatly dishonest.
This also wrongly assumes that praying for or with someone else – obviously here to pray for God to take away the lies of transgenderism from a person’s life – is ‘coercive’, ‘undermining’ (of what exactly?) and manipulative. The language of ‘undermining’ strongly suggests that Chalke, Williams et al. assume there is an illegitimate undermining of the True Trans Self. This putative True Trans Self has been enthroned with the absolute authority that is only rightly accorded to God.
Safe-spacing the church for lies and deception
This loud insistence on the putative authority of the True Trans Self as beyond criticism easily lends itself to safe-spacing the church for it.
Once again, these clergy affirm their gnostic belief in a ‘True Trans Self’ with this ‘be who you are’ mentality:
“Every church should be a safe space that affirms people in being who they are, without fear of judgment.”
A few weeks ago, the Global Interfaith Commission on LGBT rights, led by Jayne Ozanne, published safeguarding principles that were drawing upon the Care Act 2014 for social care in England. Was the real intention to produce ‘soft law’ that would make churches come under the law for social care and social work? This would be an entirely reasonable conclusion to draw, given that the Ozanne Foundation chairs the Ban Conversion Therapy (BCT) Coalition.
The BCT Coalition’s response to Question 14 of the conversion therapy consultation recommended that the government draft guidance based on existing legislation in various spheres, if a parliamentary bill could not be passed. Safeguarding guidance – long an obsession of Ozanne – fits right into this ‘Plan B’ to enact a ban. But this could open the door to the state extending its control into churches and treating truth-telling about sex and gender as ‘attacks on safeguarding’.
Rowan Williams tries to manipulate churches
Rowan Williams first publicly waded into the conversion therapy debate in April 2021, in a meeting for MPs organised by Alicia Kearns MP and hosted by the Albany Trust. Williams spoke towards the end of the meeting about how a conversion therapy ban could be enacted within churches, in relation to “informal counselling and prayer” and “pulpit preaching.” He wanted to frame this in terms of how we think of religious abuse (spiritual abuse), echoing Jayne Ozanne’s campaigning.
Rowan Williams asked, “is the CofE properly capable of monitoring its own practice without external input?” The pretext for this was the recent work of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse investigating religious bodies. He went on to say this:
“We should be able to say to religious professionals, it is not within your scope to deny certain kinds of information and access.”
What he seems to be saying is that if someone with issues around sexuality or gender comes to a pastor, that pastor should be obliged to refer them to LGBT-friendly organisations’ resources for help. This is as if somehow this kind of information was not already available everywhere, especially online. Has he no concern about all those teenagers who have developed gender problems whilst accessing social media?
What this shows is that Rowan Williams is treating churches whose pastoral care on sexuality is Biblically-based as if they were cults completely closed to the outside world. This harks back to how the Humanists started referring to the Christian ex-gay movement as a ‘cult’ in 2000.
Humanists and liberal Anglicans have treated the ex-gay movement as a ‘cult’
The similarity between how Rowan Williams thinks about churches and how the Humanists consider the ex-gay movement to be a cult is not merely a coincidence. The Humanist perspective and that of liberal Anglicans have become intertwined since 2000. It is this that led to the fact that the current proposed ‘conversion therapy’ ban will target churches. In May 2009, the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association picketed the conference with reparative therapist Joseph Nicolosi in London, a major supporter of the ex-gay movement. This is the conference that was infiltrated by a journalist who entrapped Christian counsellor Lesley Pilkington. That in turn spearheaded the campaign for a ‘conversion therapy’ ban in the UK.
Then in March 2010, Sarah Harvey from INFORM – the anti-cult charity based at the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies in King’s College London – gave a talk to the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association (now LGBT Humanists) about the Alpha Course. The reason is that at the time the Alpha Course supported the ex-gay movement. (King’s College London has released the PowerPoint to me under Freedom of Information law.)
It is highly relevant that at that time, the Church of England was donating £5000 a year to INFORM, and the Archbishop of Canterbury (who was then Rowan Williams) was donating £1000 a year. This means they were effectively funding an organisation that was colluding with the attack on the Christian ex-gay (and by extension ultimately the ex-LGBT) movement as a ‘cult’.
Then the Ozanne Foundation worked alongside Humanists UK to produce the flawed Faith and Sexuality Survey in 2018, which has informed government policy on banning ‘conversion therapy’. Jayne Ozanne’s self-description as a ‘survivor of conversion therapy’ in that survey echoes the anti-cult reasoning first put forward by the Humanists.
This is deeply ironic given just how cultish and controlling much of the LGBT movement really is. It’s not an accident that parents of children caught in the transgender movement increasingly refer to it as ‘the trans cult’.
Using citizenship as an excuse for undermining churches
All this sheds light on Rowan William’s comments in the meeting with MPs in 2021. There, having quickly pretended to support religious freedom by saying that “we should not restrict ethical teaching” (in churches), Rowan Williams continued with a rather revealing statement:
“Can there be a model of agreement about training of religious professionals, codes of conduct, so that mental health professionals don’t seek to prescribe content of teaching, but that religious communities have to allow access, redress and protection of a kind which simply as citizens they are entitled to.”
Again, this is using anti-cult reasoning to erode the corporate religious freedom of Christian churches. It is insinuating that churches are closed to the outside world and that the secular state really knows best morally speaking about matters of sexuality and gender. It clearly does not. It is not the churches’ job to bolster the state’s ‘morality’ and interests when these contradict and undermines Christian doctrine and ethics, and when this is confirmed by the all-too-evident picture on the ground.
The consequences of colluding with the trans cult
Just taking the Church of England alone as a case study, it is evident that the former and current bishops’ collusion with the cult of transgenderism has had very grave consequences. Liturgies blasphemously celebrating gender reassignment have been approved by the bishops. Several Christian Legal Centre cases advocate for clients standing up to the cult of transgenderism: Nigel and Sally Rowe, Rev. John Parker and Rev. Dr Bernard Randall.
Each of the three legal cases here are not just shocking, they have widespread repercussions and have been reported in the press internationally.
Treating faithful pastors as extremists
The consequence of sacralising the trans cult, and with it LGBT ideology, is the treatment of faithful Anglican clergy as non-violent extremists. Rev. Dr Bernard Randall, a Church of England priest, was reported to Prevent for giving a sermon criticising LGBT ideology at the school where he was a chaplain. Randall was from the ‘high church’ wing of the Church of England, the same as Rowan Williams and most other signatories to the letter.
Who came to help Bernard Randall when he was maliciously treated as an extremist for preaching tolerance and defending people’s right to uphold Biblical doctrine? Not the high church Anglican clergy. Not the former Archbishop of Canterbury. Their silence speaks volumes.
Bernard Randall’s case has received international coverage. He revealed to the Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination in Europe that he had been unable to get work in ministry since his dismissal. This is the consequence of sacralising the LGBT cult.
Stop colluding with the cult of trans
Would Christians and others who refuse to sacralise gender fantasies be sinning according to Steve Chalke, Rowan Williams, et al? Should we draw a line between supposedly harmless transition, and transition that is highly likely to be motivated by the propensity to commit sexual offences? If not, why not? Why do these ‘Christian’ clergy treat the Cult of Trans as the new state religion that must be submitted to on pain of criminalisation?
Do they really think that defending biology – creation, ultimately – is wrong, and that those who do so are not worthy of commendation and support from supposedly Christian clergy? Can these clergy not see that non-religious people increasingly look aghast at the transgender movement as a closed cult contradicting all tangible evidence? Colluding with the trans cult IS eroding trust in churches and in Christians as having vital contributions to make on these matters. We must shift churches and society away from cowardly capitulation to this cult that is harming so many people’s lives.