Over 4000 Christian pastors in the U.S. and Canada – according to the anti-LGBTQ organization Liberty Coalition Canada – preached this past Sunday against Canada’s new conversion therapy ban.
“Our government is capitalizing on a politically expedient segment of its constituency in an effort to further dismantle Western civilization as we know it,” said Pastor James Coates of Edmonton. “To do this, it must outlaw its very foundation, which is rooted in a Judeo-Christian worldview.”
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“Biblical Sexuality Sermon Sunday,” as the event was dubbed, was intended to protest Bill C-4, a conversion therapy ban passed in Canada in December that went into effect on January 7. The bill bans subjecting anyone – adult or minor – to treatments with the intent of changing a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.
The law also bans treatments to “repress or reduce” someone’s identity, since many conversion therapists now don’t promise to turn patients straight and cis but instead promise to help them “overcome” their desires and live as if they are straight and cis.
The law explicitly provides an exemption for therapy that includes “exploration or development” of a client’s identity; it’s just about services that are “designed to” make clients stop being LGBTQ.
Coates said that the law will “shut the LGBT community off from the saving and transforming message of the gospel of Jesus Christ,” adding that the Canadian government is seeking “totalitarian authority over every aspect of society.”
Liberty Coalition Canada’s website said that the bill calls “biblical teaching” a myth. The bill’s preamble says that the intent of the bill is to fight the “myth that heterosexuality, cisgender gender identity, and gender expression that conforms to the sex assigned to a person at birth are to be preferred over other sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions.”
The Christian organization warned of “terrifying judgments” that will be “visited upon” Canada because of “this bold gesture of hatred towards the most high God.”
In the U.S., conservative Christians said that the law could be passed here.
“I think it’s reached a level there in Canada that it hasn’t yet reached here, but it’s coming,” said L.A. Grace Community Church pastor John MacArthur. “It’s coming fast.”
He said that “dissenters” of the law are “faithful to the Bible.”
“And that’s what’s already leading to laws made against doing what we are commanded to do in Scripture, which is to confront that sin. And that’s just going to escalate.”
Pastor Artur Pawlawski of Calgary, who has been arrested several times for refusing to follow COVID-19 measures in Canada, said that he was also willing to get arrested for conversion therapy, even though it’s not clear that he ever practiced conversion therapy before the law was passed.
“I will always preach the whole Bible,” he told Fox News. “And if someone comes to me asking for help, for therapy, I want the government and everybody else to know I’ll never turn that individual away. And if it costs me, so be it. But every hurting person who is asking me for help, I’ll not turn away.”
Supporters of Bill C-4 hailed it when it passed, saying that the practice leads to demonstrable harm to victims.
“The passing of Bill C-4 and the unanimous support it received from every official in Parliament sends a clear message to LGBTQ2 Canadians: you are valid and deserving of a life free from harm,” Nicholas Schiavo of No Conversion Canada said in a joint statement with The Trevor Project. “Today, as we celebrate this historic moment, we must thank survivors and their tireless advocacy to reach this moment where conversion ‘therapy’ is finally outlawed in our country.”
“The consensus demonstrated by Parliamentarians in Canada is a part of an emerging global consensus surrounding the real and life – long harms for conversion therapy victims and survivors,” said Justice Minister Justice Minister David Lametti. “Canada’s criminal laws on conversion therapy are among the most comprehensive in the world.”
Even Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole praised the Senate of Canada for “moving quickly” in passing the bill.