Amnesty International has suggested Christianity must be criminalized in Australia because it is harmful to individuals who identify as LGBTQA+.
Martyn Iles, the Managing Director of the Australian Christian Lobby, shared on social media yesterday a graphic produced by the international organization. The image was designed to outline the experience of “modern survivors of conversion practices.”
According to Amnesty International’s info-graphic, examples of modern-day conversion practices in Australia include reading the Scriptures, prayer, teaching abstinence, and encouraging repentance from what the Bible defines as “sin.”
“Note the theme,” Iles said in response to the graphic. “Christianity is harmful. Christian teaching, Christian communities, and Christian expression must be criminal.”
The image, titled “Conversion Practices in Australia,” is a nine-frame comic that follows the “common experiences” of “modern survivors of conversion practices.”
The graphic explains that while the conversion movement is broad and can include children, healthcare professionals, and paid services, these forms are “extremely rare in Australia.”
Instead, it’s argued that for legislation to be “truly effective” it must address the “far more prevalent experiences” outlined in the graphic, namely, Christian expression.
Each frame reads as follows:
“What does a typical modern survivor of conversion practices look like in Australia? An LGBTQA+ adult who has grown up in, or joined a faith community…
“From a young age they absorbed messages about LGBTQA+ people…
[Pastor: “Being LGBTQA+ is a form of brokenness”; Christian: “I prayed for a lesbian to be healed from her past trauma.”]
And began to realise that the messages applied to them…
[LGBTQA+ character: “Am I one of those people? There must be something wrong with me… I’m sick… I need to be fixed. Why can’t I feel the right feels?”]
“After becoming frightened over time, they sought help from a religious or pastoral leader.
[Pastor: “Being LGBTQA+ is a sign that you are really not healthy.”]
“They met from time to time before they were referred to someone else for more unpaid ‘help’…
[Pastor: “Dear Lord, health the trauma that caused this brokenness. Help them to be who you made them to be.”]
“Conversations may have included childhood issues, past ‘sins,’ how to manage celibacy or gender expression…
[Counsellor: “Let’s talk about your parents.”]
“They read books that explored these things more and listened to ‘success’ stories of people who claim to have become straight or cis.
[Video testimony: “God healed me!”]
“Over time, the psychological, emotional and spiritual damage affected their ability to function and live.
[LGBTQA+ character: “Why isn’t this working? I need to try harder. I don’t want to lose my family or faith. Maybe it would be easier if I wasn’t here…”]
“Those who survive the LGBTQA+ conversion movement report ongoing trauma, requiring significant long-term peer and psychological support.”
Amnesty International has created a petition calling on the Australian government to ban “conversion practices” nationwide. The petition has so far attracted just over 22,600 signatures.
Yesterday, legislation was introduced in the Victorian Government that could see those found guilty of practising “harmful” conversion practices hit with a $10,000 fine and up to 10 years in prison.
Iles went on to say: “La Trobe University found 15 people to tell stories like the one [pictured], for its report to the government. I guarantee I can find far more who will proudly tell you that they were changed by the power of the gospel, and it was the best thing that ever happened to them. But the government is erasing them, along with their faith.”
Iles also went on to accuse the government of “irrational hatred” towards Christianity after Attorney-General Jill Hennessy described such practices as “bigoted quackery.”
The Australian Christian Lobby is planning to run a campaign against the bill, however, if legislation does pass, there’s only one solution, according to Iles: break the law.
“I will break the law,” Iles said, “and I hope that many will join me. If we don’t, an entire demographic will be cut off from the freedom found in the gospel of Jesus Christ. ‘We must obey God rather than men.’ (Acts 5:29).”
Earlier this year, Dr Stephen Chavura spoke at the ACL’s “Not Ashamed” conference where he answered the question, “Is Christianity Harmful?”
According to Dr Chavura, recent LGBTQ issues, such as same-sex marriage and transgenderism, signify a cultural shift that has taken place over the past 50 years.
Attitudes towards Christianity have changed. The critique is no longer that Christianity is irrational, but that it is harmful to people’s mental health, and the LGBTQ “community”, in particular.
“This is the shift that we’re seeing happening right now,” Dr Chavura said. “That is the argument that Christians, that clergy, and that churches need really to start thinking hard about.”
Is there any basis to the claim that Christianity is harmful to people’s mental health? Dr Chavura’s lecture can be viewed below: