Friday, 6 May 2011

Malta Today: Updated | Activists told by police they have no permit for protest against 'gay conversion' pastor

Gordon-John Manché has cancelled a gay conversion activity after hundreds of Facebook users organised a protest against the River of Love website.

Evangelist denies his psychologist wife is practicing reparative treatment on gay patients, as protestors plan picket of River of Love fellowship.

The organisers of a protest against Smash TV’s evangelical charismatic pastor, Gordon-John Manché, have cancelled their protest after they were informed by the Zebbug police station "that anyone attending the event will be arrested because the necessary permits have not been issued."

Manché's Facebook event ‘Gay no more – Made new by the power of Christ’ was met with rage by hundreds of Facebook users which responded with plans for a protest outside the River of Love Christian Fellowship in Zebbug.

The organisers said that Sliema local councillor Cyrus Engerer, a gay activist, was helping them put the necessary permits together but when he contacted the police headquarters was told that "necessary permits must be applied for 48 hours before the protest is held".

"Soon after, the Zebbug police contacted Cyrus and informed him that any person protesting would face 'legal action'. For this reason, we have had to cancel the protest."

Manché was to present three men who claimed they were gay and then converted out of their homosexuality, something that angered the gay community and many others.

Speaking to MaltaToday, Manché said the activity had been “hijacked by people incited by others” and said his critics were being intolerant.

“It’s not therapy. It was going to be testimonials from three men who were homosexuals before giving their life to Christ. It’s got nothing to do with hating homosexuals,” Manché said.

He also denied claims that his wife Mariella Blackman, a psychologist who is known amongst TV audiences, does ‘reparative treatment’ for gay men and women. “This is untrue. We work different jobs and we’re professional about it. I’m a pastor, she’s a psychologist.”

The National Youth Council (KNZ) condemned the event for indicating that members of the gay community "can somehow be 'healed' from their sexual orientation."

"KNZ recognizes the challenges members of the LGBTQ community face on a daily basis, and believes that implying that they can or should change their sexual orientation to lead a moral life contributes to the spread of homophobia and an 'us and them' mentality," the council said in a statement.

Manché runs the Nations for Christ ministries, which he founded in 2001 after claiming to have received a vision from Jesus Christ, who appeared on a cloud, while praying. He also presents Habbejtek on Smash TV.

“I have no phobia about homosexuals, I have no problem with them living in the same street or having a coffee with them. I don’t approve of their lifestyle but nobody else is expected to approve of my lifestyle,” Manché told MaltaToday.

When asked why gay people should be converted by Christ, Manché said that Christians believed that homosexuality was a sin, quoting 1 Corinthians 6.

The passage states: ‘Do you not know that the iniquitous will not possess the kingdom of God? Do not choose to wander astray. For neither fornicators, nor servants of idolatry, nor adulterers, nor the effeminate, nor males who sleep with males, nor thieves, nor the avaricious, nor the inebriated, nor slanderers, nor the rapacious shall possess the kingdom of God. And some of you were like this. But you have been absolved, but you have been sanctified, but you have been justified: all in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.’

“All these people have different lifestyles which were converted by Jesus,” Manché said. “We’re not saying homosexuality is any worse a sin. God loves homosexuals so much that he changed them.”

The organisers of the protest against Manché’s activity, Jonathan Muscat and Pia Micallef, say on Facebook that they will “stand outside [Manché’s] house and protest against this filth.”

Micallef said Manché's claims that they were being intolerant was "hypocritical". "He claims to have a spiritual cure for homosexuality as though it is a disease of some sort. In his posts yesterday he referred to homosexuality as a 'sin' and 'perversion'. We simply believe this is wrong, and it is the type of attitude that leads hundreds of young men and women all over the world to commit suicide every year."

Micallef also claimed Manché is "notorious" for visiting the families of gay teens with his message of conversion. "We aren't doing anything wrong, except taking a stand on behalf of people who need all the help they can get because they are a minority in a society that often neglects their rights."

[Click on the hyperlink above to view the comments on Malta Today's website.]

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