Robert Jeffress, a Dallas megachurch pastor who is a member of Donald Trump’s Evangelical Executive Advisory Board, once advised LGBTQ youth to seek conversion therapy.
Jeffress’s anti-LGBTQ views – as well as his anti-semitic and anti-Catholic views – are well-known, but a new report from Media Matters found two instances of Jeffress supporting conversion therapy in the past.
In his 2004 book Hell? Yes! (which was re-published in 2008 under the title Outrageous Truth… Seven Absolutes You Can Still Believe) contained the “truth” that “homosexuality is a perversion.”
In that chapter, Jeffress wrote about a high school senior called “Susan” who had just come out.
Jeffress said he asked her about how “God feels about your homosexual activity?”
“I understand now that God created me with these desires, desires that I have had since I was a little girl,” she responded, according to Jeffress. “For years I have been miserable trying to deny those feelings and have seriously contemplated suicide. But now that I have accepted who I am, I am happier than I have ever been in my life!”
Most people would probably be glad that a teenager who was considering suicide was feeling better, but not Jeffress. He wrote that “homosexual relationships are neither ‘normal’ nor ‘healthy'” and that gay activists are really working “to cover over the darkest secret associated with this perversion: child molestation.”
“None of us gets a ‘pass’ from God for rebellious behavior just because it arises from our innate desires, regardless of the cause of those desires,” he wrote. “But here is the good news: Through the power of Jesus Christ, all of us can be freed from acting on those desires.”
He added that it’s a “myth” that “homosexuality is a fixed desire and cannot be changed.”
As for Susan, he concluded: “I wish I could report that after hearing the above information, she renounced her homosexual tendencies, confessed her sin to God, and left my office with a newfound attraction to the opposite sex. She didn’t.”
Jeffress has supported conversion therapy as late as 2014 when he told a local TV station that he supports conversion therapy.
“I have talked to people who have undergone therapy like this and they have said as Christians it has helped them manage their temptations,” Jeffress said. “No therapy can remove those desires that we all have in different areas of life, but as a Christian, we have the power to overcome those desires and I think that’s the true reparative therapy that only comes to those who know Jesus Christ his savor.”
Jeffress has a long history of hateful comments about LGBTQ people. In 2012, he said that gay people lead a “miserable lifestyle.”
In 2008, he delivered a sermon entitled “Gay is not OK” in which he called gay people “filthy.”
“It is so degrading that it is beyond description,” he said in the sermon. “And it is their filthy behavior that explains why they are so much more prone to disease.”
He has also said that marriage equality is a sign of the “last days” and in 2011 he said that he learned about the “brilliant plan of gay activists to normalize the abnormal practice of homosexuality using the same brainwashing techniques that had been used by the Chinese for hundreds of years.”
In 2016, Jeffress was a prominent evangelical supporter of Donald Trump’s presidential and he was named to the campaign’s Evangelical Executive Advisory Board, which he met with while in office.