If coercion, abuse or torture were actually happening in your church or mine, “conversion therapy” laws would be appropriate. But those things are not happening. Conversion therapy laws are a ruse being used to restrict your freedoms.

South Australia is the latest state moving to ban “conversion therapy”—following the lead of Vic, Qld, and the ACT. Vicky Chapman, SA Attorney General, says she has already considered making conversion therapy a new criminal offence. The penalty could be 8 years in prison.

Efforts to ban conversion therapy were precipitated by a report from the Human Rights Law Centre and La Trobe University which stated,

“Harmful conversion practices emerged in conservative Christian communities in the 1970s… Our research suggests that conversion practices and ideologies are being mainstreamed within particular Christian churches. Conversion activities can constitute torture, or cruel inhuman and degrading treatment, particularly when they are administered through force, or to children.”

Let me be very clear: this is a lie.

It’s an anti-Christian dog whistle. It’s a smear campaign. There is no conversion therapy under that definition in Australia. The SA Attorney General admitted there is,

“No evidence that this practice exists in South Australia today.”

First, let’s look at the phrase, “Conversion therapy”. Those are not the words of Christians. Activists have invented those words and accused people of faith with them.

Yes, someone can be “converted” – that’s called salvation. Yes, someone can get “therapy” – that’s called medical treatment. But they’re unrelated. “Conversion therapy” is not a biblical concept. Those are not and never have been our words.

Second, to the point that torture is being applied to people due to their sexuality—if that’s what they’re banning, no problem. But that isn’t happening within churches.

Politicians are being scammed with this. They’re being hoodwinked into supporting laws on the basisthat they will outlaw torture—when the report itself admits that there is no evidence of it.

But incredibly, the report nonetheless surmises that because 10% of Australians are active Protestants, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists or Muslims (mostly Protestants), they are involved in a religion that, “may potentially promote conversion therapy.” On that basis, “up to 10% of LGBTQ Australians may be vulnerable to harmful conversion therapy practices.”

Activists who wrote the report say, “This is everywhere in Christian communities.” Here are some examples that they refer to as dangerous conversion therapy…

  • Churches that state “change is possible”
  • Churches that have a “welcoming but not affirming stance”
  • Churches that are “saturated with an exclusively heterosexual ideology”
  • The idea that same-sex attracted people are committed to celibacy
  • Discussions in faith-based settings between freely consenting adults
  • Scripture reading
  • Prayer

Christians believe and teach that we are to refrain from sexual lusts of all kinds. If Christians seek to voluntarily live out that belief, apparently that is conversion therapy.

If freely consenting adults want to talk about living out their sexuality in light of their faith, in private or in groups, that is conversion therapy.

If you affirm someone in their biological sex or heterosexual attraction, that is conversion therapy. But if you affirm someone in their transgender identity or same-sex attraction, that is NOT conversion therapy!

It seems that everyone is free to live out their own sexuality without judgment, blame or hindrance—unless you’re a Christian.

Put simply, they don’t like what Christians believe and they want to make it criminal. It’s an attack on people’s basic freedoms masquerading as a movement against torture.

We’re all against torture—that is not what this law is about. It’s a hook to get politicians to undermine what is effectively the Gospel of Jesus Christ.