PCUSA at Risk of Leading People Astray in Gay Conversion Therapy Vote, Says Counselor

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) holds its 220th General Assembly June 30-July 7, 2012, in Pittsburgh, Pa.
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) holds its 220th General Assembly June 30-July 7, 2012, in Pittsburgh, Pa. | (Photo: PCUSA)

The Presbyterian Church (USA) is at risk of leading one of its "most vulnerable populations into deception" if it votes to denounce gay conversion therapy at their General Assembly in Portland, Oregon, later this month, says one conversion therapy practitioner.

Titled "On Therapies Purporting to Change Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity," the resolution from the Synod of the Covenant going before the largest Presbyterian denomination in the country argues:

All mainstream professional organizations hold positions against sexual orientation change efforts; over the years since, that consensus has only been strengthened. It is time for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to be more clear and vigorous in protecting LGBTQ individuals and their families from the harm inflicted by these discredited programs, and to take positive steps to minister compassionately to families by providing them with accurate information.

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The resolution will first go to the PCUSA's Social Justice Issues Committee during the the 222nd General Assembly on June 18-25.

Christopher Doyle, head of Equality And Justice For All and a conversion therapy practitioner, told The Christian Post that he believes PCUSA leadership is "in danger of leading one of its most vulnerable populations into deception and alienation from biblical sexuality."

"Unfortunately, it is not surprising that once gay marriage was blessed by PCUSA last year, that activists within the Church would be intolerant toward any other perspective for those who struggle with their sexuality but to embrace an LGBT identity," said Doyle.

"While gay activists demand tolerance and love to achieve their political goals, they are quickly shutting the door to those sexual minorities who do not confirm to their ideology. Let's pray that PCUSA does not abandon those members with unwanted [same-sex attractions.]"

New York City gay pride parade crowd in this undated photo.
New York City gay pride parade crowd in this undated photo. | (Photo: REUTERS/Joshua Lott)

The Synod of the Covenant's overture draws its authority in part from a 1999 resolution passed at that year's General Assembly, which denounced the concept of sexual orientation change therapy.

"… no church should insist that gay and lesbian people need therapy to change to a heterosexual orientation, nor should it inhibit or discourage those individuals who are unhappy with or confused about their sexual orientation from seeking therapy they believe would be helpful," read the 1999 resolution.

"The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) affirms that medical treatment, psychological therapy, and pastoral counseling should be in conformity with recognized professional standards."

Also known as reparative therapy, conversion therapy seeks to change the sexual orientation of an individual from homosexual to heterosexual.

As American law and culture have become more accepting of homosexuality, the therapy has garnered much antipathy, with some states banning the practice for minors.

In recent years, PCUSA General Assembly has passed various resolutions in support of the LGBT movement, including allowing for the ordination of openly gay, non-celibate clergy and the blessing of same-sex unions.

This increased support for homosexuality has come at a price, as hundreds of congregations have voted to disaffiliate from the Mainline Protestant denomination in protest.

PCUSA's consideration for the anti-conversion therapy overture comes as Vermont becomes the fifth state in the nation to ban the therapy for minors.

"It's absurd to think that being gay or transgender is something to be cured of," said Vermont's Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin in a statement late last month.

"At a time when the rights of LGBT individuals are under attack in other parts of the country, Vermont will continue to stand up to hatred and bigotry and show the rest of the country what tolerance, understanding, and common humanity look like."

PC(USA) membership chart.
PC(USA) membership chart. | (Photo: Courtesy of The Presbyterian Lay Committee)

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