The Study of Life, Part 3: On Meeting a Shaman in the Amazon Rainforest

Column by Bishop John Shelby Spong on 13 August 2009 0 Comments
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Gary Anderson from Duluth, Minnesota, writes:

I've heard of pastors in our area who tell lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people that "they can change if they turn to Jesus." What can you say to this?


Dear Gary,

What do you say to people who maintain that the earth is flat or that the moon is made of cheese? Ignorance abounds in our world and the statement you quote is profoundly ignorant. There is not a shred of medical or scientific evidence that sexual orientation, which is clearly one of life's givens, is capable of being changed. For clergy persons or anyone else to allow their prejudices to blind them to reality means that they are simply out-of-touch, religious bigots. Perhaps a lawsuit by a victim of such "pastoral counseling" would be in order, to warn clergy and anyone else functioning as a counselor that, prior to dispensing medical advice, they need to be medically trained and certified by some appropriate federal or state agency. No one in our society has the right to practice medicine without a license, not even in the name of religion.

It is worth noting that those organizations that claim to be able to change homosexuals into heterosexuals are all identified with right-wing religious movements. They also refuse to let their data be analyzed and they have a dreadful track record for failure. More importantly they victimize those who become their "patients" for their own financial gain, since they normally collect fees for their services, which are, of course, paid by their victims. This is little more than racketeering under the protection of religion. Racketeering and fraud are crimes that need to be exposed wherever they appear. Trying to cure people of homosexuality is both homophobic ignorance and fraud. I hope you and others will expose these practices for what they are.

– John Shelby Spong



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