Wednesday, 23 May 2012

The 'duck' test and religious persecution in the UK

I get fed up with hearing people refer to the 'duck test' ("If it looks like a duck, quacks, etc..." - you know the rest).

However, I couldn't help thinking along those lines when I saw this quotation from the person who brought a complaint against the Christian therapist Lesley Pilkington who, as a result, has lost her 'senior accredited status'.
Mr. Strudwick’s complaint against Lesley was in fact highly politically motivated and aimed at exposing ‘reparative therapy’ and attacking those who practise it.
He told ‘Pink News’ on 10 Feb 2010: “We want to root out therapists and psychiatrists who are practising these techniques and ultimately bring an end to them through exposing them, as well as disrupting their meetings. The ultimate aim was to prevent religious groups from offering ‘counselling’ which aims to change sexual orientation.”
If it had merely been 'to prevent people' I might have rejected the duck diagnosis. As it is, the whiff of orange sauce is hard to deny, I would have thought.

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  1. This sends cold shivers down the spine... So the young person I know whose sexuality changed after being abused by a step-parent who was imprisoned for >10y? Who cares about this person x?? Will it become illegal to offer counselling that restores them to the pre-abused straight sexuality?? Does anyone care for these people? Or is that to become illegal? "Rights" of gay people can never transcend vast quantities of human suffering. I was shocked by the rough treatment Jon Snow gave this lady on Channel 4, interrupting her, shouting her down mid way through responses, & so on. Not much gentlemanliness there, & I do expect that from him usually. The causes of homosexuality probably well over 20, & I doubt whether they should all be treated the same, but I do worry about a society that would Raise the Right not to appreciate the other sex as important. I am with Traherne on this: the problem is never too much love, but too little and of the wrong manner(twisted if you like). Failure to appreciate the other sex is not a high moral good, but actually, ironically, politically incorrect in its own right. Like the teenager mentioned above, sometimes because of abuse, in which case compassion and counselling are the appropriate GOOD, Not evil. It feels like it is close to the sin against the Holy Spirit, "Evil be thou my good" that would deny the suffering help.

  2. So now if Martin Studwick has his way you will not be able to have prayer for the renewal of your mind for santification, just because he has no believe in God. They do not accept the testimony of those who say they have seen change - because they have no wish to see change or because they have no belief in God. He cannot even allow people the free-will to self-determination. Will they next harass people who pray for cancer sufferers saying it is offering false hope. The irony is it was the Lord who gave me (with a confused sexuality) hope when no-one else cared. Surely it is up to the individual whether he seeks change - placing His trust in God as to whether this happens. Frankly when you know that the Lord who changed water into wine lives you are more willing to wait on Him.

    It is unfortunate that Dr Keith Sharp, chairman of Changing Attitude wrote "The Gay Gospel" because he completely misses the point. The purpose of man is to glorify God the Father as well as the Son and yet the heavenly Father he chooses to describe based on heretical theology accuses the father of being a homoerotic psychopath - this is the same Father that as a professed christian he is suppose to love. So where is the love of God in this book? Doubly ironically the book was endorsed by quite a few gay activists.

    He should realise that the Father does actually live. Ironically Dr Sharp in introducing this fictitious vilified heavenly father is blinding his homosexual friends to the only true hope: that of the risen Christ, the lamb of God, who sits at the right hand of the Father.

  3. Let's all just take a deep breath and think about this sensibly. Patrick Strudwick's original complaint was to do with LP practising Reparative Therapy - that part of the complaint was dropped very quickly and in fact BACP have fastidiously refused to comment in this ruling on whether RT is or isn't a valid form of therapy.

    LP was (quite rightly) criticised by BACP for abusing her position as therapist. She did not have proper boundaries in place providing a professional environment for counselling (toilet access was shared with other people in the house), she led Strudwick on a number of occasions and when she tried to impose a particular developmental understanding on Strudwick, despite his denials she just carried on.

    This case is NOT about reparative therapy and it IS about a therapist not acting professionally. Nothing more, nothing less.

    Peter Ould

  4. Peter, the bit I'm looking at is this bit: "The ultimate aim was to prevent religious groups from offering ‘counselling’ which aims to change sexual orientation."

  5. Yes, and that aim completely failed. The BACP specifically refused to rule that LP could not practice RT.

  6. "The Appeal Panel found this week that Lesley should still lose her senior accredited status because she should not have assumed that Mr Strudwick wanted to proceed under the same therapeutic approach that she offered, despite the fact they both agreed to do so. It also found that she should not have taken his claim that he was depressed because of his homosexuality at face value."

    In other words, he repeatedly lied about himself and she is blamed for not realising this. Where is the natural justice in this? I think the BACP are making this up as they go along. Peter, don't you see this? Big deal about the loo!

    Mark B., W. Kent

    1. Where is that quote from? The BACP ruling says no such thing.

    2. Found it - it's the Christian Concern website. You need to go to the BACP ruling and see if you can find anything to substantiate that claim.

  7. I side with Revd Peter on this one. Yes, there is no doubt Strudwick acted in an underhanded way – but that is what many journalists do to get a story and we don’t bat an eyelid about it if doesn’t happen to bring a Christian into disrepute!

    I suppose because it is something I am writing about at present, but it IS an interesting question: ‘Why is it believed that just tagging the label ‘Christian’ onto yourself or what you are doing exempts you from the normal rules of society – or (if you’re a professional person) the rules of your governing or regulating authority?’ A NHS GP tells a patient that believing in Jesus will help him, he (rightly) gets a ticking off and it is seen by some as persecution of Christians. A counsellor binds herself to the professional standards of a secular organisation, she falls short of those standards and so she becomes the victim of Christian persecution.

    What I find useful – my own ‘duck test’ I suppose - is to change the religion and see if it looks the same. If Ms Pilkington was a Scientologist or a Muslim or a Jehovah’s Witness would there be the same level of outcry? Or would we be thinking to ourselves ‘A jolly good thing too, to protect vulnerable people from individual professionals who let their professional practice be influenced by their private beliefs!’.

    I think Matthew 26:52 says what needs to be said really. Miss Pilkington chose to accredit herself via a secular organisation that bound her to professional standards: she failed to meet those standards and so she was condemned by her peers. She should have thought about the implications of aligning herself with a professional body before signing on the dotted line, shouldn’t she?

    1. I have said elswhere that Christians need to be very careful before crying wolf. We are though in a society where the secular has taken control in situations where they were frequently founded by Christians.
      Hospitals and schools were established nad managed by Christians. Can imagine Florence Nightingale not praying for her paitiens when she felt the need. Why shouldn't a doctor pray for a patient? Prayer are prayed daily for people every where.
      There are clearly those who have determined that the Christian faith should have no part in what they consider to be a secular society but Jesus would have us being Christians 24/7.

    2. First this is one of the great myths that seems ever the property of Christians: that our present Welfare State rests on the work and witness of Christians. In part it is true, many of the social reforms of the late 18th and those of the 19th were rooted in Christian philanthropy, tho’ in the main this came via Non-Conformist and even non-Trinitarian Christians. Several of the large hospitals of 18th century London were founded by humanists; I would read some social history before falling for the self-congratulatory myth that hospitals and schools were set up and managed by Christians. I think the question you have to ask is why was it, in a society when church attendance was around 50% and Christian discourse was evident in British politics and her institutions, that we needed social reform that eventually led to the welfare state? Why did Parliament have to force society to be caring? The lot of the vast majority of the population (in terms of equity before the law, rights of the individual, access to medicine, decent housing, working conditions and education etc.) were far worse, in a supposedly Christian society than they are today, in a supposedly ‘Secular’ society.

      Secondly there is nothing wrong with a nurse or doctor or whomever, praying FOR a patient. The issue comes when they decide to push their beliefs onto vulnerable people (and anyone in need of their services is vulnerable in some shape or form, otherwise they wouldn’t need their services!). There are many hours in the week to do your ‘Christian’ thing... Do it outside of work time. Just claiming to be a Christian (or Jew, or Muslim etc.) doesn’t exempt an individual from professional responsibilities – nor does it make a person ‘special’ or that that person has any particular skills or abilities above another nurse or doctor or whatever.

      Lastly, what I find so curious about the whole issue of the counselling case, is that a so called Christian counsellor is wanting to claim validation from a secular governing body – and that she is using secular therapeutic tools that rely on an Enlightenment view of the individual.

  8. Martin Studwick is on record as saying that he has declaed war against praying against the gay, so expect to hear more from him. He needs to know that the Lord Jesus loves him and lives.

    It ironic that Andrew Brown in the Guardian picked up on Dr Keith Sharp's review of the Anglican Mainstream conference for ministering to homosexuals. The same DR Keith sharp who - and I quote - on page 134 and 135 of his book "The Gay Gospel" accused Yaweh of homosexual rape of Jacob and Moses. It is also ironic that the reverend Paul Perkins who co-hosted the conference was encouraging churhes to love the homosexuals. I mean, how can Dr Keith Sharp really hear what was being said if he had so little love for GOd that he would write such a description of the Father. Anglican Mainstream were also hung out to dry and vilified, when actually what they were saying was that the homosexuals were being asked to live.Is it little wonder that the Rev Perkins church feels the need to withhold contribution to the rest of the church. I had a much more favourable view of the anglican mainstream conference - and I have had confused sexuality - and I was there. There is a problem in combining prophetic and ministering ministries, but one might say that is what GOd is like where for example he sends Israel into exile for their sin but at the same time prophesize that he will redeem them from captivity.

    Dr Sharp should ask himself what he is going to say to the Lord Jesus Christ who loved him, when He asks him about the pictue of the Father that he promotes in his book the gay gospel and he finds that Jesus Christ is not just the intelligent carnal gay man that he promoted - but was in factthe messiah - his saviour. There is only one gospel that is good news for everyone, but you are call to follow him on the way of love and holiness.

    The BCAP show the same lack of love for God, other wise they would see Patrick Studwick as the liar and deceiver he was, rather than putting the burden on the Christian counsellor - who suddenly has to have second sight to see that her client was actually not genuine, but a deceiver.

    They should learn to love Jesus and His Father

  9. Peter Denshaw, my reply to you is the same as my reply to Peter Ould: "the bit I'm looking at is this bit: 'The ultimate aim was to prevent religious groups from offering ‘counselling’ which aims to change sexual orientation.'"

    That answers all your questions, I think. But why (I ask myself), oh why, don't people read carefully?

  10. Homosexual ministry seems to have taken a lot of adverse press recently. I think of Andrew Brown's article on homosexual ministry and the anglican mainstream conference and the Boris Johnson affair.

    Andrew Brown accepted Dr Sharp's version of the anglican mainstream conference - though I would say the Jim Reynold's part was to encourage churches to love homosexuals. I would have been happy for him to speak at my church. I think Andrew Brown should do an interview with Dr Keith Sharp where he can expound his gay gospel with the super-intelligent gay carnal Jesus who is merely a man who loves sinners and a (none existent) heavenly father so described in Dr Sharp's book as having raped Moses and Jacob - though if Jesus is merely a man how can he then have a heavenly father.(it is unfortunate that nobody was able to explain to this same Dr Sharp, who feels that he knows the mind of God of the bible that Sodom and Gammorah was indeed about sexual immorality (and the only sex in the account of Sodom is homosexual) as Jude's letter in the New Testament makes clear - and set down as a warning to all not to abuse the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Reverend Paul Perkins could also expound the gospel of the bible: Jesus Christ, son of God, lamb of God, who surrendered everything for sinners out of His love and His father's love (including those with fallen homosexual desires), who came to reconcile all sinners to their heavenly father who is love and call them all to follow Jesus Christ's way of love (and I stress not of money) and holiness. His readers can then ask who is really loving the homosexual in a Christian way.

  11. When Mr. Strudwick says "religious groups", I would love to see what would happen if he tried to enforce it on Muslims, so one can therefore only presume he's targeting Christians.

    As Christians, we offer the love and more importantly, the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ to all. What comes with that is His Father's creation standards, i.e. as Christians, we submit ourselves to the rules God has established, we don't make them and we can't change them; we can only try to understand them and live by them. It was once said (by a pro-gay Bishop I think) that we continue to seek new revelation from God, which was his excuse for trying to apply authority to the acceptance of homosexuality, but that is a misunderstanding of revelation. God has revealed all we need, both in the person of Jesus, and in His word, the Bible.

    The rules God set in place in all His wisdom often leads us into conflict with the 'foolish' standards of man. When this happens, we have the dilemma of whether to complain or to explain.

    In this case, whilst it's understandable to jump up and down in complaint (and I too did initially), reacting in this way rarely serves to further the Gospel. It is clear that reacting to Mr. Strudwick's hard heartedness will not achieve anything. Yes, perhaps LP did make an error of judgement. So what should our Christian response be? To make admission and ask forgiveness. What was Jesus' words on the cross? "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do".

  12. I think that there is no doubt that Strudwick's ultimate aim was to prevent religious groups from offering ‘counselling’ which aims to change sexual orientation. I don't see how anyone could deny that. However, some people see that aim as outrageous while others (myself included) see it as an understandable aim since all the reputable evidence suggests you cannot "change" sexual orientation. I am not against pastoral support and counselling that helps a gay person who believes same sex sex is contrary to their religious beliefs to be celibate. I am against "reparative" therapy because I do not believe being gay is a disease to be cured and I believe most of such therapy is damaging.
    I do not support Strudwick's methods though, it was entrapment and it makes no logical sense to me to say that he was a "real client" - although it is true to say that Pilkington thought he was and her behaviour suggested there might be a similar lack of professionalism in dealing with "real clients".

  13. Suem

    The point is his crusade is actually denying people the support that they wish within the context of their faith. That is not justice, that is not righteous.

    The "reputable" evidence? Well professor dawkins would say there is no reputable evidence for healing of any sort - he would say that in fact no miracle has ever been done through prayer - because God simply doesnt exist, and yet by faith we know he does (and some would say by experience they know He lives and see His love in action). The Lord does promise to renew your mind - but no therapist can guarantee that - indeed for borderline personality disorders - which arise from damage in the higher control functions (which is also where sexuality is controlled, I understand) - they can offer no help in those areas either - they dont call it a disease, they dont call it an illness - they simply cannot treat you in an effective way. That does not mean that the Lord will not hold you accountable for your behaviour - nor does it mean He will not help you. In that instance you also have to rely upon the Lord. If you asked a therapist if Jesus turned water into wine he would say that is a question for a vicar not for me because it is a question of faith. It does really matter what you are against,as it is not you who is asking for help - it is an established principle of therapy to take account of the clients wishes.

    My sense is that reason people deny other people this course of action is because it then reflects on others who choose not to follow that route. But the argument: because my flesh leads me that way is not actually an argument for following the Lord's ways - which as a Christian you have chosen to do by free choice. You show your love to Jesus by following His commands. Nor is it a good argument to say that Jesus never spoke against homosexual acts - because it was not exactly a common or disputed practice amongst the jews - but of course St Paul encountered it when he preached to the gentiles.

    It is ironic that according to recent research that there are more experiencing both opposite sex and same sex attraction than exclusively same-sex - and often their lives blighted - so what was the Lord's intention for them if this is His good gift, as some liberal bishops contend?

  14. Politics, ecclesiastical and secular, is not a game. As Lord Salisbury sagely observed, it is "civil war with the gloves on".

  15. When I encounter comments from those who object to healing prayer ministry and or Christ-based theology, where they denounce those who say they have seen change or say they wish to see change, I am struck by the fact that they seem more concerned that these people present a reproach to the way they have chosen – especially if the individual choosing to be Holy say they have heard from God (and I know of ex-atheist ex-gay activist – who now thinks not of his “gay identity” but the person of the new creation – who was drawn out by an epiphany and confirming dreams. Of course he keeps quite quiet because he knows how some gay activist can get carried away). This is especially the case where individuals say that in good conscious they feel led to lead a Holy life which means living celibate, or with God’s help within a heterosexual marriage. Gay Christians will mock online the husband or wife (they have obviously been coerced by the church), they will mock the individual. For these individuals the only possible Holy choice is celibacy - and the love of Jesus is more than enough – and when things are difficult they are straying from Jesus in their heart (as with any other man or woman). Medical people today do recognize that sexuality attraction can changes during life – it clearly therefore does not require a major miracle on the part of God to change the attractions – indeed if He has – in some cases – actually given over your mind to it – only He can do it. You certainly don’t snap your fingers at God or even ever necessarily see the change you hoped for. Change therefore may not come because you have “pleaded with Him” to change you but for some other reason e.g stopped thinking about yourself so much and you have sought to show the agape love to other people – and actually live - or he has dealt with your jealousy.

    I had a friend who finally left his marriage to a wife of 18 years. His gay “friends” thought he was a kidding himself being with a woman (the wife knew about his circumstances before they married – and as is often the case – he had some sexual attraction to her) and he felt a fool – but the reality was that he had little actual love – even in a conventional Christian sense for his fellow man (as yourself) for his wife – and Jesus love was in his words theoretical – but it wasn’t helped by the fact that in his words – he couldn’t really see many people in is affluent church who were actually loving and living as Jesus had called them to live and love. The irony was I bumped into him by chance one morning 2 years after he had left his wife and he didn’t expect to see me (he was just walking on the street) – he looked lost and deeply sad. Now who really loved that man – his wife ? Or the gay friends – who he later confessed to me when he said to them “it is great to have guys like you (his friends) who love me” – and there reaction was – what are you talking about? Now he sometimes wishes he was back with his wife, despite the fact that some people in the Christian gay community would mock him. Ironically those campaigning against the use of this therapy would deny him any help. Some people would like denied help because of PC correctness (though he has 2 children in his family).

    Jesus says to all those who follow Me must pick up there cross and loose their own life, he who looses life will find life. But he who tries to save his life will lose his life.

  16. Revd John – ‘The ultimate aim was to prevent religious groups from offering ‘counselling’ which aims to change sexual orientation.' So what? The problem is, when you bully someone for long enough, they have a habit of hitting you back. When you read the salacious, hate-filled sh*t that passes for Christian comment on Anglican Mainstream or the like, it surprises me that churches haven’t been burnt down and vicars aren’t swinging from lamp posts! A militant homosexual exposing a woman who has sought to be accredited by a secular body that itself calls into question therapies that seek to change sexual orientation, seems only fair to me. No doubt Pilkington has been happy to use her accreditation when it means she can charge the going rate for counselling - but then plays the martyr when that same body states she has broken its rules – rules she knew full well existed (why do some use their faith as an excuse for not having to abide by the rules?).

    Why Revd John are you getting worried about this? It’s not going to happen, there is not going to be a ban on some loonies offering a therapy of dubious results. Christians can still offer counselling if they so wish, it is just that they can’t be accredited by a secular organisation. So what? – to do so seems like wanting your cake and eating it.

    What is so special about religion, that believers should somehow exempt themselves from the requirements of secular organisations that they are a part? There is nothing to stop some Christian counsellors setting up their own governing body... It would probably mean less income because fewer people would take it seriously – and I think it is the fact that Pilkington and her like WANT secular accreditation to validate their own professional ability that is so curious here. But that is bigger discussion and I am conscious you don’t want people to go off piste.

  17. I have heard that even Christian Counsellors have to be registered to practice. As for fewer people taking Christian counsellors seriously - I can only presume that you are not a believer, or at least not in a God actually loving people and thus healing people - and that is the heart of the matter. To suggest that a secular therapist has an edge over God is simply the folly of a man with no or little faith.

    There is something I notice on the liberal web-sites when it comes to change. They will sing in unison - almost chanting - it is impossible to change. They will jump all over who actually says that they have been. They have been struck down with delusion of omniscience - and are concerned not so much with what God can do (because clearly he can do anything)but what he will do. I have read that even 2 bishops have made similar announcements. Yet there are not actually the authority on what God will do - ultimately only He is - but I look to His promise to renew my mind. The liberal Christians are merely stating a theological position of what they do not wish Him to do.

    You see there are many instances of people observing that there sexuality has changed without any therapy, just spontaneously - perhaps that was God's mercy - or a sign to people. So the switch has moved by some means. Clearly then it is not impossible. It is merely a question of why God would not. Any miracle is in God's timing not man's desire for one - yet I understand we have "Christians" who do not even believe in miracles - which is a very unbiblical unorthodox faith. I read the testimony of someone at Greenbelt who concluded that after 17 years with no change he concluded that he should live a gay life-style. However even St Paul had a thorn in his side which the Lord retained and stated that His grace was enough. Perhaps that is the example for all of us. Fortunately St Paul did not give up on his faith simply because the Lord left him with his thorn - but felt a much blessed single celibate man for who every thing else counted as lost in order to gain Christ Jesus. You have to have an eternal perspective. I also look at the Scripture in Isaiah where the Lord promised even the eunuch a name plate in heaven.

    But in any event both our nature and nurturing are fallen - so what the homosexual Has to hear is of Jesus transforming love - and leave it in the hands of the Lord as to what He does.

  18. @ Anonymous: when we see Christians able to clear the cancer wards - laying on hands and healing, as Jesus says true believers will be able to do (Mk 16) - then perhaps we can take 'Christian Healing' homos a little more seriously. You ask so much when you can give so little. Let's see orthodox Christians eschewing visits to the GP and surgery and putting their money where their mouths are. They are happy to recommend crank 'cures' from weirdos happy to marry Englightenment views of the individual, yet rarely risk putting their own lives on the line, by putting Jesus' words to the test.