Sunday, 8 May 2011

Times: Homosexuals who ‘repented’ led to outcry on Facebook

May 7, 2011 , by Nikki Abela Mercieca

A Christian community meeting planned for today led to an outcry on Facebook yesterday when the event promised to present personal testimonies of homosexuals who have converted “to a life of freedom from that lifestyle”.

The Facebook page quickly went viral and a counter-protest was organised outside River of Love, where the Evangelical Christian community meeting takes place, to stand up against the claim that homosexuality was a “sin” “that could be changed.”

Although the Christian community event was taken offline a few hours later because the pastor claimed it “got out of hand” by a number of angry commentators, he mailed a copy of its contents to this newspaper.

Today’s meeting promised to present three people giving their personal testimony, “of how their lives have been turned around by the love and power of Jesus Christ, from a life of homosexuality to a life of freedom from that lifestyle”.

However, as the day evolved, it remained uncertain whether these three people would still be giving their testimonies today as they were scared after yesterday’s online reaction, pastor Gordon-John Manché said when contacted yesterday.

“Many who practise alternative lifestyles, who want to be tolerated by everyone, are possibly the most intolerant people in the world,” the pastor, who is also a ballet dancer, accused the protestors.

“In the new testament the bible makes it very clear that adultery, lying, gossip, stealing, cheating and philandering are a sin,” he said, placing homosexuality in the same category.

All those who believe the bible, he said, should believe this too.

“If I say to you I am a liar by nature, I cannot change, you would laugh at me right?”

Some people have magnified sexuality and taken it out of context, saying this was a feeling and a lifestyle and God made people this way, he said.

“But the God of the bible does not make anyone like that,” he exclaimed.

He denied, however, ever “curing” homosexuality, as some were claiming, saying simply, that five people who joined the Christian group had converted after “realising the love of God”.

“I am a pastor. I am a man of god. I help liars stop lying. I help adulterers stop committing adultery. Not by my power but by Christ’s power,” Mr Manché said.

The man, who also broadcasts programmes on Smash TV, said he does not hate anyone, including gays, because hate was a sin.

The interpretation of his feelings were divergently opposite to those sensed by the gay community and many straight people online who claimed Mr Manché was inciting homophobia by telling people they could change their ways and being homosexual was a sin.

In a statement yesterday, the National Youth Council (KNŻ) condemned the event “that sought to indicate that members of the homosexual community can somehow be ‘healed’ from their sexual orientation.”

It recognised the challenges members of this community faced on a daily basis, and believed 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.

As things progressed during the day, however, the protest against the meeting had to be cancelled as permits were not granted for people to gather outside River of Love in Żebbuġ.

The organisers claimed they were told by the police that if anyone showed up, they would be arrested.

[Click on the hyperlink above to view the comments on the Times' website.]

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