LEADING human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has slammed a Sevenoaks pastor who said homosexuality is a choice and intelligent gay people can be “persuaded” to be straight.
The Redeemed Christian Church of God, founded in Nigeria in 1952, has come under fire across the world for its stance on homosexuality after denouncing it as a “sinful impulse”.
The controversial movement has opened a branch in Sevenoaks and held its first service in the town council offices on Bradbourne Vale Road on Sunday – but nobody turned up.
Its pastor, mother-of-three Tinuola Adeyemi from Thamesmead, told the Chronicle she believes homosexuality is a choice and that the gospel can “persuade” gay people otherwise.
And after reading the story on our website, Mr Tatchell said: “I felt absolutely offended when I read the report of this woman’s views and am grateful this issue has been raised.
“The pastor is very misguided in saying that a person’s sexuality is wilfully chosen.
“It’s clear that nobody sits down and decides to be gay and more than they sit down and decide to be straight.
“It’s scientifically inaccurate to say that it is. It’s clear from scientific evidence that homosexuality is based on a person’s genetics.
“Homophobia is not compatible with support for human rights. There are many good gay Christians in the world and these sorts of statements are offensive.”
On one of the Redeemed Christian Church of God’s official American websites a page labelled “position on homosexuality” states: “We believe there is hope for the person with a homosexual orientation and that Jesus Christ offers a healing alternative in which the power of sin is broken and the person is freed to know and experience his or her true identity in Christ and in the fellowship of his Church.
“We believe that this freedom is attained through a process which includes recognizing (sic) homosexual behavior (sic) as sin, renouncing the practice of homosexual behavior (sic), rediscovering healthy, non-erotic friendships with people of the same sex, embracing a moral sexual lifestyle, and in the age to come, rising from the dead with a new body free from every sinful impulse.”
Mrs Adeyemi, who told the Chronicle she has gay friends, defended the church’s stance, saying: “I do believe homosexuality is a choice.
“With certain choices we create problems for ourselves and for others. Intelligent people listen to new information and can change their minds and beliefs – they can be persuaded.
“It’s entirely between the homosexual person and God – the Lord may want you to change certain things.”
But Mr Tatchell, one of the world’s leading voices on LGBT rights, dismissed the idea that gay people can be ‘converted’.
He added: “Exodus International used to try to convert gay Christians but it shut down because it was clear that it wasn’t possible.
“To say that a gay person can be persuaded to be straight is just wrong.
“This church has long-standing allegations of homophobia, both in Nigeria and abroad, and has a negative stance against gay people. Homophobia is a fundamentally un-Christian value.
“It would be great if the pastor was to issue a clear declaration of her stance on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender human rights.
“I would appeal to her to make a clear statement that she accepts the scientific evidence that homosexuality is not a choice and that she supports the LGBT community’s human rights.”