Comments: Voting in the July General Synod

As a native-born Coventrian (and Freeman of the City of Coventry) I am surprised at the Bishop of Coventry's explicit refusal to repudiate the outdated understanding of psychiatric conversion therapy that has led to so much damage to gay people in the past. Of course, there has been a lot of confusion about the difference between spiritual and psychological counselling therapies. But there is no excuse for the manipulation of anyone's God-given sexual identity.

Now that there is a lot more known about the phenomenon of homosexuality, there is no excuse for using the guise of spirituality for engaging in psychological warfare on intrinsically gay people.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Tuesday, 19 September 2017 at 11:47pm BST

Good Lord...this bishop seeks to prioritize those who wish to pray with LGBTI persons who are uncomfortable with their sexualities,so that they will feel what? More comfortable deciding to live without full self-affirmation or without a loving relationship in their lives? In the name of Jesus...Then he is eager to add the issue of religious freedom to protect those who adduce religious reasons for counseling LGBTI persons to reject themselves. He is sure to tell us that he is "comfortable" with his position. I wonder who else is so comfortable: certainly not the suicidal children for whom this bishop offers no pastoral care, not the bullied, not those made homeless by their parents, not those in other Anglican provinces who live in fear of losing their jobs, their freedom, and their lives, with the full support of their condition by his fellow Anglican bishops. None of this is a priority for this bishop. Good Lord.

Posted by Karen MacQueen at Wednesday, 20 September 2017 at 4:55am BST

It's not a very good letter, is it? It boils down to "well, conversion therapy might be discredited, regarded as unethical by professionals, ineffective and often abusive, but there might be some people who want it anyway and perhaps it isn't all bad, so FREEDOM".

It smacks of the (possibly apocryphal) Victorian liberals who thought that chlorination of the water supply infringed on a man's right to catch Cholera if he so chose.

Posted by Interested Observer at Wednesday, 20 September 2017 at 8:04am BST

Bishop Cocksworth tries hard to show he's not the bad guy some have made him out to be, but the bottom line is that he wants to allow some sort of conversion therapy so long as it's 'responsibly' conducted. I find that a very doubtful position. But what worries me even more is that this is the bishop who is chairing the co-ordinating group to produce the teaching document on sexuality. That doesn't fill me with hope.

Posted by Fr Keith at Wednesday, 20 September 2017 at 8:25am BST

Yes Bp Cocksworth, it is so unjust when things get "unfairly criminalised." Im glad you can see that.

(In passing, I fail to see how canon law, or any legal system in effect in Britain, can criminalise people for activities that took place before the law changed.)

Also, the idea that "spiritual" therapies are somehow intrinsically being compared to what the psy-disciplines have to offer is naive and self-serving at least. In fact there are just two kinds of therapy: ethical approaches to helping people in need, and unethical ones. Interesting to see that the bishop is an apologist for the latter.

Posted by ExRevd at Wednesday, 20 September 2017 at 11:30am BST

As I read these various comments I am dismayed of the bias against LGBTI folk in the membership of the group authorised to produce the teaching document on sexuality. Both the chair, the Bishop of Coventry, and Bishop Musk are so profoundly against us.

Fr John Emlyn

Posted by Fr John E Harris-White at Wednesday, 20 September 2017 at 12:03pm BST

Having regard to 'conversion therapy' (sic), I did receive NHS 'aversion therapy'(sic) in my teens, in the 1960s, as a 'psychiatric out-patient'. It involved the infliction of agonising pain, from an electrode around my ankle, and involved four sessions each week.

My strong convictions as a teenage member of the Brethren, strengthened my resolve to go through with it. But who now could call it anything other than abusive ? And abuse by an instrument of the state, at that.

Those who support , let alone practise any kind of coercion of lgbti people - let alone young people-- be it physical as in my case, or emotional, psychological, or spiritual, really need to be called to task, and their efforts stopped for all time.

I must say, I find the complacency of the Church of England authorities almost unbelievable, when have they ever roused themselves to enter into dialogue with, or to support these large minority of British citizens, let alone citizens of the world ?

Posted by Laurie Roberts at Wednesday, 20 September 2017 at 3:31pm BST

Erratum: I meant "intrinsically benign" rather than "intrinsically being"

Addendum: what I've witnessed at first hand, in the CofE, in terms of spiritual therapy (exorcism of a man with learning difficulties who wanted to give up smoking; heavy handed use of Frank Lake's not-exactly-evidence-based work to explain why a person with early attachment issues would find it difficult to form an effective relationship with God) shows that while there are indeed virtuous healers within this tradition, it is not intrinsically benign at all.

Posted by ExRevd at Wednesday, 20 September 2017 at 3:59pm BST

Interesting to read this, whatever your view of the author (a somewhat polemical journalist in the UK) describing the parallel culture wars in the secular sphere.

Partly for the summary of the matter, in a nutshell, that "the idea that free speech guarantees the right to incite hatred of minorities must be resisted."

Partly because the Church of England is cited in the article, as an aside, as setting a *good* example to wider society. For a change. For now at least. Some people won't like that at all.

Posted by ExRevd at Thursday, 21 September 2017 at 7:31am BST

It's a good letter surely? He's allowing those who want to seek help,in a particular direction to be free to do so, There's no enforcement. Talk about 'bias' seems exactly that...bias.

Posted by Ian at Friday, 22 September 2017 at 6:10pm BST

"He's allowing those who want to seek help,in a particular direction to be free to do so"

The 1939 Cancer Act currently criminalises the offering of ineffective cancer "cures" [1]. It was passed because desperate people (and cancer was more of a death sentence in the 1930s with much less effective treatment available) will do desperate things, and there are always charlatans - or, in a sense worse, sincere but wrong people - to prey on such desperation. The legislation is still on the books, and regularly used by Trading Standards to deal with the promotion of herbal cures and the like. It's not always enforced, and it's a shame similar legislation doesn't operate more widely, but it does prevent the most desperate people from being exploited.

I take it you would argue for its repeal, and all a free trade in cancer "cures" to be sold to patients, irrespective of efficacy or harm, on the grounds of "allowing those who want to seek help,in a particular direction to be free to do so"?


Posted by Interested Observer at Saturday, 23 September 2017 at 8:42am BST

The Bishop's letter says that he "chose not to vote for" the amended motion. That's a bit economical with the truth---he chose to vote against it. Strange that he isn't prepared to say that. If he had "a great deal of sympathy" for it then might a recorded abstention have sufficed? He knew that his vote wouldn't make any difference, so this is all about signalling.

Posted by Bernard Silverman at Saturday, 23 September 2017 at 5:56pm BST

It is a very disturbing letter. The bishop seems to confuse "therapy" and "counselling" in his agonised argument. Cancer therapy and cancer counselling are very definitely not the same thing, and nor is conversion therapy the same as having caring or pastoral counselling conversations which he fears might come under attack. What therapy would the bishop like to recommend some-one seek who is uncomfortable with, say, their skin colour? Conversion therapy? Therapy, like surgery, seeks to actively change, counselling and pastoring seeks to do so passively. But then, maybe priests would see themselves as "God-therapists", after all, "conversion" is their business, and they might be worried that their profession could be banned?

Posted by Mother Hubbard at Monday, 25 September 2017 at 8:24am BST
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