A 34-year-old gay man says a church in Sheffield, England convinced him to undergo an exorcism in attempt to eliminate his homosexuality.
Matthew Drapper first joined St. Thomas Philadelphia church in 2013. He was already out as gay but was raised with the belief that homosexuality is a sin. He had decided to live a celibate life.
In 2014, the church offered him the opportunity to “pray” his homosexuality away, which he said felt appealing at the time.
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Drapper has deemed what happened next an exorcism.
“They told me to speak against the sort of demonic hold that being gay had in my life,” he told the Huddersfield Examiner.
“I was told to renounce the belief system of homosexuality and to cancel my agreement with Satan and to break the power of homosexuality in my life through the blood of Jesus.”
Those involved told Drapper they witnessed demons leaving his body and escaping out the window.
“It was terrifying,” he said.
Afterward, Drapper dealt with feelings of trauma.
“It left me feeling totally empty and not myself really, like a part of myself had been pushed away, but was still very much there,” he told BBC.
As he became more comfortable with his sexuality, the church told him if he was going to start dating, he could no longer volunteer there.
He has since left the church, which has denied it engaged in conversion therapy, and is now living with his partner.
Drapper also issued a complaint with the Sheffield Diocese several years ago, and while the Diocese says it is launching an investigation, Drapper says it has endured “constant delays.”
The Diocese has since stated it is working to respond to Drapper’s complaint and that in accordance with the stance of the Church of England, it believes “conversion therapy is unethical, potentially harmful and has no place in the modern world.”