Albany Baptist Church says it is committed to ‘Real Lives’ event

Real Lives

The Albany Baptist Church has responded to the alarm raised by local community group Albany Pride about a ‘Real Lives’ event that is being held at the church next week.

OUTinPerth has also learned that the church also plans on holding a youth version of the talk that promotes ‘counselling’ to overcome same-gender attraction or gender incongruence.

The event, which was advertised on the church’s social media platforms, is described as an opportunity for parishioners to her true stories from people who have stopped being same-sex attracted or transgender through embracing religion.

Attempts to change or alter the sexuality or gender identity have been condemned by LGBTQIA+ advocates and health professionals, and survivors are leading an international movement against such practices with the SOGICE Survivor Statement.

Warning: This article contains reference to sexual assault and conversion practices.

A spokesperson for Albany Baptist Church has said the church was opposed to coercive therapies, but would be promoting people who “share their stories of how the Gospel of Jesus Christ has brought them hope.”

“Albany Baptist Church will host an evening on Thursday 27 May called Real Lives where some Christians who experience same-sex attraction and gender dysphoria will share their life stories in the context of the church community.” the spokesperson said.

“As Christians, our belief is that God loves every person whatever their sexual attraction or however they identify. All are of equal value and dignity in His sight and in our sight.

“We do not support or condone the practice of any coercive therapies.

“We are committed to respectful conversation with people who want to tell their stories. We want to honour the request from some same-sex attracted and gender dysphoric people to share their stories of how the Gospel of Jesus Christ has brought them hope.”

The spokesperson said the church would be making no further comment on this issue, and comments were disabled on their Facebook post.

Real Lives

Youth event also on the agenda

Alongside the Thursday evening event, OUTinPerth has learned that the church will also be holding a youth focused event on the Friday evening.

The church’s youth ministry is described on their website as; “a great place to come have fun, eat good food, catch up with friends, make new friends, and most importantly, encounter Jesus through His Word.”

Real Lives

What is the Real Lives presentation?

The ‘Real Lives’ presentation is a talk delivered by West Australian based ‘ex-gay’ organisation True Identity. The organisation is headed by James Parker, who speaks about his own experiences. In his presentation Parker says he was able to leave his homosexual relationship, marry and have children, after he embraced Christianity.

Parker has written about his journey for The Spectator Australia outlining that his belief that his homosexuality was sparked by a range of childhood traumas and triggers. He also shares his experience of being sexual assaulted as a child and suggests that the affirming response he received when he came out as gay to a crisis line lead him down the wrong path.

Over the last few months ‘Real Lives’ has been delivered at many metropolitan churches including congregations in Maddington, Forrestfield, Ocean Reef, Middle Swan and Canning Vale.

It has also been delivered online and promoted by organisations including the Australian Christian Lobby, Family Voice Australia, National Civic Council, Association for Reformed Political Action, and the Australian Christians.

Parker has a long history of giving presentations alongside former Liberal MP Peter Abetz, who is now the WA Director of the Australian Christian Lobby. Together they have previously campaigned against marriage equality and the Safe Schools program. He is also a founding member of anti-transgender organisation Binary.

In 2017, as the government proposed a plebiscite to decide the issue of marriage equality, Parker went on Perth’s Christian radio station Sonshine FM and declared that gay sex leads to an early grave. Parker suggested that gay men were at risk of a new strain of HIV that progressed at a faster rate, and were also becoming immune to super-gonorrhea.

During that interview, and in subsequent presentations, Parker has outlined his belief that many gay men have been sexually abused but have repressed the memory of their abuse. He says through working with him many people have been able to discover their past abuse.

The concept of repressed memory has been widely discredited by psychologists, and experts warn of the danger of creating false memories when people are experiencing other psychological stressors.

Last year while campaigning against Victoria’s new laws which outlaw conversion practices in both psychological and religious counselling, Parker compared the laws to the Nazi Gestapo and the Stasi secret police – who operated in communist East Germany.

Graeme Watson

Do you need some support?

If you are struggling with anxiety or depression, support and counselling are available from:

QLife: 1800 184 527 / (Webchat 3pm – midnight)
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DISCHARGED: 9364 6909 / / [email protected]
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Lifeline: 13 11 14 /

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