‘Go and sin no more’ could land you in jail

By Bob Unruh

Actor Jim Caviezel portraying Jesus in “The Passion of the Christ.”

Christians in the United Kingdom and Canada are being warned that foundational religious beliefs and practices soon could be criminalized under laws banning the counseling of people seeking help with unwanted sexual attraction.

Activists want to ban not only the so-called “conversion therapy,” they also want to prevent people from criticizing their lifestyle.

And that includes a veto on the preaching and the practice of churches regarding sexuality, according to the U.K.’s Christian Institute.

Pastoral counseling, communion or even membership could become criminal matters.

For example: “A lesbian activist visits church on a day when the minister – who knows her personally – is preaching on sexual ethics. He teaches that sex is a gift reserved for marriage between a man and a woman, and says singleness is an honorable calling. She reports this as an attempt to change or repress her sexual orientation.”

The institute explained that citing Jesus’ admonition to an adulterous woman to “go and sin no more” to a practicing homosexual could break the law.

“The government wants to ban practices that seek to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity. ‘Conversion therapy’ is a wide umbrella term chosen by LGBT campaigners. It covers abusive practices by quack medical practitioners and charlatan preachers which are largely illegal already,” the institute said. “But the campaigners want to go much further: they want to stop people criticizing their lifestyle or theology. A conversion therapy ban could hand them a veto on the preaching and practice of churches.”

Proposals in the U.K. and Canada are similar.

One proponent of such laws, Rev. Steve Chalke, says “informal prayer and sermons that do not affirm LGBT identities are damaging and require government intervention.”

A statement from the pro-LGBT Ozanne Foundation to the prime minister said: “We urge you to ensure that the UK will not tolerate those who practice conversion therapy in any form, whether consensual or not, and that those who practice it will be prosecuted. This will have the impact of causing religious leaders to think twice, as they will be loath to risk having a criminal record that would stop them following their vocation.”

The foundation said it’s “not a matter of freedom of speech.”

“This harmful practice is unfortunately promoted and practiced primarily by religious leaders … the ban must …. [e]nsure that no loopholes are created that allow those who practice conversation therapy to offer help in ‘changing one’s behavior.'”

The Christian Institute warned that even ordinary practices, such as having members affirm their belief in a church’s theology, would not be allowed.

“An Anglican church requires candidates for adult baptism or confirmation to attend classes. These cover ‘Christian living,’ including sexual ethics. A candidate strongly objects to hearing that homosexual relationships are wrong. He is told he cannot be baptized unless he accepts the Bible’s teaching. He reports the church to the authorities for trying to change his sexual orientation.”

The campaign comes at a time when Christian beliefs have been protected by courts. But concerns remain, especially with the promotion of transgender rights, the brief said.

“A parent who complains their child has been damaged by gender ideology at school could be accused of ‘suppressing’ their ‘true gender identity,'”  the institute said.

Even those not involved could be charged.

“A Christian shares her faith with a friend at work. The colleague is interested but reacts angrily when she learns that all people must repent of sin, including sexual sins. She is in a same-sex relationship. She tracks down her colleague’s church online and reports her and the church. She claims they told her she would ‘go to hell for being gay’ in an attempt to change her.”

Even prayer could be the foundation for a complaint.

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