The flawed logic of the ‘conversion therapy’ inquisition

31 July 2020

Communications Manager Paul Huxley comments on the de-platforming of groups accused of ‘conversion therapy’.

We’ve recently shared that Core Issues Trust is to have its bank accounts closed following a concerted campaign accusing the group of ‘conversion therapy’.

In reality, Core Issues Trust is a Christian ministry that helps people who want to move away from feelings and behaviours of same-sex attraction.

But it isn’t just banks that are clamping down on Core Issues Trust or similar groups. There are wider efforts to de-platform from social media sites all those who say that change is possible.

In early July, Instagram and its parent company Facebook announced plans to stop advertising and promotion of ‘conversion therapy’ on its platforms. It was around this time that Core Issues Trust started facing restrictions on their use of these sites. Other groups have faced similar pressure, with a campaign to ban the US-based Restored Hope Network from the sites.

There are very motivated, energetic – probably even well-meaning – campaigners attempting to put a stop to everything they call ‘conversion therapy’. They remind me of heresy hunters, an LGBT inquisition, certain that they’re right and determined to root out those they deem heretics.

They use the phrase ‘conversion therapy’ to conjure up a sinister picture of what groups like Core Issues Trust do – as if they are equivalent to villainous Cybermen from Doctor Who, forcibly converting innocent humans into death-dealing cyborgs.

But that’s not the only conjuring this LGBT inquisition is up to. Whether they know it or not, they’re like magicians: showing you what you’re supposed to see to distract you from how the trick really works.

Sleight-of-hand campaigning

Here’s how their trick works:

  1. They group all attempts to reduce same-sex attraction or behaviours together – labelling them as ‘conversion therapy’
  2. Then they use the most extreme forms of treatment, that are no longer practised, to establish ‘conversion therapy’ as harmful or ineffective
  3. Finally, they apply this assessment to each individual treatment – smearing talking therapies as ‘torture’.

It’s the equivalent of this flawed logic:

  1. Group all attempts to treat cancer together – calling them ‘cancer therapy’
  2. Use the existence of bogus cures found on the internet to establish ‘cancer therapy’ as harmful or ineffective
  3. Apply this assessment to each individual treatment – smearing radiotherapy or chemotherapy as abusive.

In both cases, the third statement is obviously flawed. But when these campaigners tell their stories and use emotional language, our minds can too easily be short-circuited into thinking that it makes sense.

I don’t know anyone who supports outdated or harmful practices like lobotomies, electroshock therapy or ‘corrective rape’. I’ve seen no evidence that anyone is doing this, or anything like it, in the UK. So any proposed ban on ‘conversion therapy’ only really targets voluntary talking therapies with groups like Core Issues Trust.

They are trying to ban conversations – which ought to concern us all – particularly pastors.

The tactic of lumping ordinary counselling together with extreme treatments makes it hard for sympathetic groups to stick up for Core Issues Trust, because of the risk that they will be misunderstood.

It’s been a very effective tool for keeping good people, including Christians, quiet on the subject. And that silence has allowed these campaigners to make such headway that we now face another difficulty in speaking out on the subject – fear of censorship.

Free to promote ‘judgmental’ views

The LGBT inquisition has been somewhat successful in pressurising companies to ban legitimate groups from their services. Now other sympathetic groups can see what’s happened to Core Issues Trust and will be wondering if the same will happen to them if they make a stand. They will think twice before publicly speaking about the issue on social media in case the inquisition finds and targets them.

Historically, the internet has been a bastion of free speech and expression. It has been a marketplace where wildly divergent opinions have been able to express their views and seek to persuade people. Many of these views are highly judgmental of others. But now the heresy hunters want to silence the voices of those who’ve moved away from homosexual feelings and behaviours, saying that they are harmful to others. The idea is that the existence of people who’ve moved away homosexuality is an implicit attack on gay people – an attempt to make them feel bad about themselves.

But would we silence animal rights activists for their implicit criticism of non-vegans? Would we censor one religion for contradicting another or one political view for calling another political view immoral?

The inquisition may claim that this is different – that gay people are a minority that needs special protection from an oppressive, heterosexual, sexual majority. But ex-gay, post-gay – whatever name they go by – these people are a minority of a minority. Culture screams a message of full, unquestioning acceptance of homosexuality. It is the smaller group of those who have moved away from same-sex attraction, or who resist same-sex behaviours because of their faithfulness to Christ that is forbidden from telling its stories. It is those who want or have found freedom from homosexual feelings who are told they are wrong, that they are self-loathing and that they are not allowed to seek help to change.

True change

Many people do experience a change in their sexual feelings, or gender dysphoria, over time. It can happen over long periods without deliberate intervention; it can also happen following counselling or when a person is rescued by Jesus and transformed by the Holy Spirit.

There are no guarantees – but their stories, their testimonies and yes, their counselling can be a great source of encouragement and assurance for Christians and for others who are unhappy with their feelings and behaviours.

Will some people be offended by others’ choices? Maybe. But even if that’s a problem, social media sites make it trivially easy to block the few people and organisations that put their head above the parapet and speak of freedom from sexual sin.

What can be done?

Simply, we need more people willing to speak up, more with the courage and conviction to defend the freedom to change.

Restored Hope Network’s suggestions are good for contacting Facebook about their anti-‘conversion therapy’ policy:

Please contact Facebook and Instagram. Ask them to stop banning content about change from homosexuality and gender dysphoria. Ask them to keep our page intact in the diverse global environment of their platforms. Ask them to leave us free to tell our stories. Ask them to leave alone the pages of hundreds of other ministries like ours.

To contact Facebook, you can email them. We suggest sending the same email to each address:

You can also tag FB with your message in posts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, using: @Facebook.

We suggest briefly telling your story and/or explain why you care about this issue. Offer one or two reasons why you think this policy is wrong and ask Facebook to change it.

Their web page has lots of helpful suggestions for what you might want to say.

But wherever we speak – on social media, by email or even in person with friends, family and church members – let’s be sure to be full of grace and truth.

Core Issues Trust received over 300 nuisance calls, sexual images and messages telling CEO Mike Davidson to kill himself.

Let’s show more love than they showed hate.

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