Friday, September 28, 2007

Muddy Waters in Montreal

No, not the famed late Blues singer, but something guaranteed to give folks the blues. Living Waters, an international ex-gay ministry which promises "healing for the homosexual" is setting up shop at an Anglican Church in Montreal, Canada.

Several ex-gay survivors I have met through the years and who attended the Ex-Gay Survivor Conference spent time being "ministered to" by Living Waters staff. Often Living Waters uses extreme methods that involve forms of exorcism (deliverance/healing prayer) and rely on teachings that believe that people become gay through demonic influences and the sins of ancestors. This is a simple explanation of what they believe, but you get the idea. This is a group that is far far off the radar and not based in science or reality. They also charge for their services.

Read the stories of Christine, Eric, Euguene and Tom (a former Living Waters leader) to find out a little about their times at Living Waters programs. Like most ex-gay experiences, for many people who told me about Living Waters, they say they experienced more harm than good. Vonnie Pitts, a former Living Waters leader from Australia, this summer issued a public apology, (along with two other Australian ex-gay leaders) for her role in promoting and providing ex-gay ministry.

Earl A. Love of the pro-gay Anglican group Integrity Montreal put out an open letter to the minister of the church where the program is slated to start.
Dear Revd Mr McVeigh :

It was with shock, sadness and dismay that I read the advertisement in the St. Stephen's Anglican Church bulletin of September 9, 2007 for a « Living Waters Montreal » healing program being given on your Church premises starting on October 11 and running for 25 weeks. I noted that the program promises help for those, inter alia, struggling with
same-sex attraction.

« Living Waters » is known as an American right wing evangelicalorganisation and I understand that the counsellors offering thisprogram are not qualified psychiatrists or psychologists.

As you are undoubtedly aware, the American Medical Association delisted homosexuality as a disease in 1974. What you may not know is that in 2000 the American Psychiatric Association approved a positionstatement on « Therapies Focused on Attempts to Change Sexual Orientation (Reparative or Conversion Therapies) ». The preamble states « that the American Psychiatric Association (APA) opposes any psychiatric treatment, such as "reparative" or conversion therapy, which is based upon the assumption that homosexuality per se is a
mental disorder or based upon the a priori assumption that a patient should change his/her sexual homosexual orientation. » I quote further : « In doing so, the APA joined many other professional organizations that either oppose or are critical of "reparative" therapies,including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, The American Counseling Association, and the National Association of Social Workers. » Here is a link to the complete document :

I am always dumbfounded when the Christian church acts regressively in social issues, and that we always have to leave progress in human rights to the secular fold. But I suppose that is just in keeping with the 1700 years of Church history from the time of Constantine!

Is your parish, or the Diocese for that matter, ready to accept the responsibility of the psychological damage that could be suffered by some of its members from misguided psychological advice, or heaven forbid, « brainwashing »? Does the Parish/Diocesan insurance policy provide coverage for this type of psychological damage?

I attend Christ Church Cathedral, and the message of love and compassion (as well as human rights for all) is a constant theme from that pulpit. If it weren't, I'd probably stop going to the Anglican Church. Bringing this « Living Waters » program into your parish isjust another sad example of how elements in the Anglican church continue to alienate gay and lesbian people.

Can you put a stop to this program before it's too late? I don't think that the majority of lay people and clergy who voted for the blessing of same-sex unions at the General Synod in Winnipeg would be encouraged by this program being offered in your parish. Do you thinkBishop Barry would support it? What would the local press think? All the talk we hear about inclusiveness and compassion in the church. Would they say that you can go to such and such an Anglican church and, with proper counselling, shorten your height?

I look forward to your reply.

Yours in Christ,

Earl A. Love
Hat tip to Alejandro Labonne.

And speaking of Canada, ex-gay survivor, Jacob, recently blogged about a trip to visit fellow-survivor Ken who he met at the Ex-Gay Survivor Conference this summer in Irvine, CA.

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At 12:40 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live in Montreal and I really wished it were Muddy Waters performing here. You put my hopes down Peterson. :-(

Anyway them setting up shop in Montreal doesn't make sense at all. More of 50% LGBT peeps in Montreal are francophone and are far from interested in some exgay event. Most Quebecers are anti-religion ever since the Quiet Revolution, and Montreal is sometimes called as the cemetery of cathedrals. There may be a few wackos in West Island (the more anglophone section of Montreal), but they're a near-extinct species. The only market Living Waters could get would be anglophone immigrants from Jamaica and other parts.

Anyhow, Montreal is mainly hostile territory for exgay ministries.

At 8:22 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for this.

While Montreal has a vibrant English community, Living Waters setting up shop in a conservative Anglican church isn't making much sense.

Living Waters is centred in Vancouver, literally a light year of culture away from Montreal.

Are they offering this in english only? And to whom?

While we certainly have our share conservative evangelicals in Canada, there is no economic or social stigma to being GLBT.

Xeno is right, even West Islanders don't seem like their target.

Immigrants yeah, that makes sense.

While I wish no one hostility this is disturbing news and we Canucks have a responsibility to get the word out about this 'ministry.'. If you have no objection I'd like to help myself to most of your post.

Thanks. Bene D

At 8:55 AM , Blogger Peterson Toscano said...

Xeno & Bene D, thanks for your informed contributions. Yes. Bene D use what you want. Also, I think it would be great if others wrote letters to the church to express concern over the course--not so much in protest but as a warning and witness to the dangers of ex-gay conversion therapies.

At 10:36 AM , Blogger Peterson Toscano said...

If anyone wants to write a letter to the senior minister of the church, the address is

Rev. Greg McVeigh
St. Stephen's Church
1 Weredale Park
Westmount, QC
H3Z 1Y5

This is NOT a matter of culture wars or even Biblical interpretation. It is about pastoral care. We have seen over and over that most ex-gay experiences cause more harm than good, including spiritual harm. I will write a letter this weekend.

At 2:27 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes. Thanks.

I have Living Waters Canadian site link, The Bishop and Rev. McVeigh's addy's along with some basic information on reparative therapy up at BDBO.

We've grown rather complacent north of you I think.

Timing was good, it's getting a bit of attention on a political aggregator.

Thank you for your willingness to write.

I'm still rather floored.


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