Church leaders have presented a letter to Downing Street, calling on the Government not to outlaw ordinary Christian activity in its proposed ‘conversion therapy’ ban.
The letter, signed by more than 2,500 Christian ministers and pastoral workers, was originally sent to Minister for Women and Equalities Liz Truss in December.
They warned the Government that, while they don’t wish to break the law, they are willing to be criminalised if an overly broad ban which covers preaching, prayer and pastoral care is introduced.
Speaking outside No 10, Revd Dave Gobbett, Lead Pastor at Highfields Church Cardiff, said: “We have no desire at all to support some of the incredibly bizarre, disreputable practices that have taken place – they seem utterly abhorrent to us as Christian ministers.
“But the loving, careful, prayerful pastoral support of those in our church families, as well as those who are seeking Christ, has to be preserved, and we’re very concerned that the current legislation will forbid us from doing that.”
Revd Dr Roberts of Trinity Church, York said: “Our concern is not that we’re trying to defend any disreputable practices, but simply the way that this has been defined would make normal Christian ministry illegal.”
He added that the thousands of leaders who had signed the letter were “the last people in the world who want to be criminalised; we are very law-abiding people” but that they would “rather go to prison for five years” than neglect to teach the fulness of the Christian faith.
Thousands in support
Earlier this month, Revd Dr Roberts invited other Christians concerned about the Government’s plans to also add their names to the letter.
He told The Christian Institute, “We were so pleased that thousands in Christian ministry and pastoral work were willing to sign our letter to the Equalities Minister on conversion therapy.
“Now we would love as many Christians as possible to add their names to show their support for protecting ordinary church ministry.”
Almost 5,000 people added their names before the Government consultation closed on 4 February.