NEWS
15/11/2011 11:01 GMT

Liverpool Frontline Church Criticised For Pamphlet 'Helping To Convert Gay People'

A Liverpool church seeking to help gay men and lesbians "break free" with a 'Homosexuality Fact Sheet' has attracted widespread criticism.

The Frontline church said homosexuality was caused by "childhood pain" and offers advice on how to recognise someone struggling with their sexuality.

It said:

We do not believe that people are born homosexual but that it is the result of dealing with pain from childhood. In the past, they may have had no-one they felt they could share feelings with, such as confusion, anger and pain. As a result these feelings and the child’s beliefs about themselves others and God would have been buried.

And added:

Women may appear and dress in a more masculine way. Men may appear somewhat effeminate. However, this is not always the case.

With advice that could be straight from a Little Britain episode, the pamphlet had a 'what to avoid?' section.

  • Do not try to deliver a 'demon of homosexuality' out of the person.
  • Try not to patronise them or to play down their struggles.
  • Do not say 'homosexuality is just sin.' In one sense you are right because homosexuality is a sin but it is far more complex than you might imagine.

The church, which has been visited by David Cameron and Nick Clegg and received Home Office funding for its community projects, has proved controversial in the past, breaking with conservative Christian teaching to offer condoms to sex workers in Liverpool.

But it has also received praise for arranging food drop-offs, reaching out to under privileged children and its work with vulnerable young men.

The church has links to New York based Life Ministry, an institution that seeks to help Christians "overcoming homosexuality through God's truth and power".

Andrew Gilliver from the Lesbian and Gay Foundation told the Huffington Post UK the church had suffered "a real misunderstanding" and should work with homosexuality rather than against it.

"It is not possible to change sexual orientation and it is harmful to try to do so. We have to understand and help people struggling with homosexuality rather than saying it is caused by childhood pain," he said.

"Saying that is particularly unhelpful as childhood pain can be caused by not choosing the right person to come out to when you are young and vulnerable."

"If the Liverpool frontline church were going to talk about this they should have spoken to an organisation like Lesbian and Gay Foundation to understand homosexuality. Faith and LGBT dont have to be at loggerheads."

The church is at the centre of many community activities, with Merseyside police using the building for talks. But the force were keen to distance themselves from the church, saying that they would not regard any church as an 'official partner' and "the religious beliefs of the churches whose buildings we use are entirely separate to and independent of the views and policies of Merseyside Police."

They have asked their logo to be removed from the website.

Similarly neighbourhood group Plus Dane has broken off links with the church. The city's biggest housing association will continue to fund their Foodbank project, but said that it could not support an organisation with such polarising views.

"As a neighbourhood investor we work with a wide range of groups, including many faith organisations," it said in a statement.

"However, it has become apparent that aspects of Frontline's ministry are incompatible with our values, which seek to celebrate diversity and promote inclusion."

In an earlier statement, Liverpool frontline church conceded that the pamphlet was 'simplistic' and denied that they were homophobic. Speaking to Huffington Post UK, a spokesperson for the church said:

"The homosexual support group was requested by our members. It is for Christians who share the same beliefs as the church. We would never try to repress anyone's sexuality and our projects are separate to our charity projects."

The homosexual fact sheet has since been taken off the website, however it is still available on the Internet.