Scotland: Church leaders say proposed conversion therapy ban could criminalize Christians who teach that homosexual behavior is sinful
by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) – A group of twenty Scottish church leaders have written to Scotland’s Minister for Equality expressing their alarm that a proposed government ban on “conversion practices” could result in the criminalization of Christians who teach anyone, including their own children, that the practice of homosexuality is sinful, Christian Today reports.
Following a consultation period, the Scottish government is expected to bring forward a bill to be voted on by the end of the year.
In their letter to Minister for Equalities, Emma Roddick, the church leaders said the government proposals may result in a “deeply repressive” stance toward traditional Christian views and teachings on sexuality and gender issues, CT reports.
The current proposals suggest that consequences for clergy or religious institutions which violate the ban “may include the withdrawal of the perpetrator’s professional licence as a faith leader or removal of their ability to work within Scotland in the said institution, or withdrawal of the institution’s charity status where the institution is not regulated,” CT reports. The church leaders’ letter raised particular concerns about recommendations from the Scottish Government’s ‘Expert Advisory Group on Ending Conversion Practices which suggested that even teaching “the importance of marriage” should be covered by the ban and recommended “the modification or even withdrawal” of parental rights “where parents or guardians have engaged in conversion practices.”
A co-signatory to the Church letter, Rev Dr William Philip of the Tron Church in Glasgow said in a statement about the ‘Expert Advisory Group’s report: “The presentation – as a law to protect LGBT people from abuse – is disingenuous; all such abuse and coercion is already, quite rightly, illegal…Threatening to punish church leaders and churches for upholding Christian teaching; terrorising mothers and fathers with the spectre of removing their parental rights for simply trying to help their children navigate normal adolescence – are these really the marks of a free and tolerant society?”
Emphasizing that certain “grotesque” conversion “therapy” abuses – such as ‘corrective rape’ or electric shock treatments – are already illegal, the church leaders stressed in their letter that the Scottish government would be “profoundly mistaken to conflate orthodox Christian teaching on sexuality and gender with abuse,” CT reports.
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