Will we soon see state surveillance of Christian ministries?

Oct 10, 2021 by

by Carys Moseley, Christian Today:

The government should arrange for ‘intelligence gathering’, i.e. spying on ‘repeat offenders’ of ‘conversion practices’ (aka ‘conversion therapy’). This is what the Ozanne Foundation recommends in its Cooper Report, published on 1 October.

Targeting ‘conversion practices’

The Cooper Report defines ‘conversion practices’ as ‘attempts to suppress, “cure” or change sexual orientation or gender identity’. It calls on the UK government to ban ‘conversion practices’ without delay. The authors prefer the term ‘conversion practices’, which is used in the criminal law passed in Malta in 2016. The switch in terminology means that Christian ministry broadly conceived is being targeted.

Appendix 1 of the report provides ‘definition illustrations’ of supposed scenarios of ‘suppression’, ‘cure’ and ‘change’. The illustration for ‘suppression’ is a teenage girl who experiences same-sex attraction. The pastor is said to offer to pray for her and to pray ‘that she will have the strength to not ever act on her feelings.’ This is the criminalization of prayer for the exercise of virtues such as chastity and self-control.

Criminalizing prayer and exorcism

The Cooper Report demands that the UK government should criminalize prayer and exorcism. It says that “exempting prayer … would lead to a significant loophole that would be open to abuse.” Regarding compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights, the authors say this:

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