LGBT activists are calling on the Northern Ireland Education Authority to sack a board member after he shared an article of a gay man’s Christian conversion.
Former DUP minister Nelson McCausland shared the testimony of Becket Cook, a former Hollywood set designer who lived a homosexual lifestyle until he encountered Jesus.
Critics accused Mr McCausland of promoting “conversion therapy practices”, although nowhere in Cook’s interview with The Gospel Coalition does he mention having undergone any such therapy – even saying attempting to force someone to change their sexuality should not happen.
In the article Cook explains: “I had done everything in Hollywood, met everyone, travelled everywhere. Yet I was overwhelmed with emptiness”.
I was overwhelmed with emptiness
A few months after his ‘is that all there is?’ moment, he came across a Bible study group in a Los Angeles coffee shop.
Fully aware that the church took the biblical view that homosexuality is a sin, he agreed to attend a service and says his whole view of religion was ‘turned upside down’.
After receiving prayer and believing in Jesus as Lord and Saviour, he was discipled by the pastor and other Christians and has put his previous homosexual lifestyle behind him.
Cook admits that he still experiences same-sex temptation but adds: “it has greatly diminished and no longer dominates my thought life like it did before God saved me”.
A powerful testimony of a life changed by God
Nelson McCausland shared the story on Facebook with the comment: “A powerful testimony of a life changed by God and some important insights into the whole ‘gay movement’ from someone who has been there.”
The post prompted an outcry from LGBT activists and a petition calling for McCausland to be removed from the Education Authority.
One councillor tweeted: “Conversion therapy is abuse. Targeting conversion therapy at young people is child abuse. There can be no excuse or ‘conscientious’ objection – it is inconceivable that a board member of the NI @Ed_Authority can advocate for conversion therapy. Nelson McCausland must resign.”
South Armagh SDLP’s Twitter account said: “The @Ed_Authority must remove Nelson McCausland as a board member with immediate effect. Do they condone one of its members advocating conversion therapy?”
Barry Mulholland, chairman of the Authority board, responded: “Personal comments or social media posts made by any member of the Authority cannot be taken as a reflection of the position of the wider Education Authority board”.
‘Single and celibate’
Mr McCausland has denied that the article he posted was related to gay conversion therapy and said those calling for him to resign “must have misread or misunderstood” it.
His response has been echoed by Cook himself who told The Newsletter: “I have no idea what this is about, but I have never had conversion therapy nor would I”.
He added: “I am happy to be single and celibate.”
Targeting Christian conversion
Simon Calvert, Deputy Director for Public Affairs at The Christian Institute, commented: “Government ministers who support banning conversion therapy need to realise that what activists have in mind is not just stopping inhumane pseudo-medical quackery.
They want to make it illegal to share the gospel with a gay person.
“They want to make it illegal to share the gospel with a gay person. There’s a reason they picked the term ‘conversion therapy’. It’s not ‘therapy’ but Christian conversion they are out to get.
“Government ministers need to ensure that any law on conversion therapy will not affect the ordinary, everyday work of churches preaching, pastoring and praying for people from every background.
This anti-Christian bigotry by LGBT activists has to stop.
“This anti-Christian bigotry by LGBT activists has to stop. They are trying to hound a Christian out of office simply for believing in the Christian message.”