ALAN SMITH reports

GBENGA Samuel, a UK pastor, was the subject of the lead report on ITV News on November 12 about the extent of abuse suffered by members of the LGBT at the hands of Christian “pray-away-the gay” zealots .

Pastor Gbenga Samuel via YouTube

The Winners’ Chapel pastor was secretly filmed as he screamed and bellowed in tongues as he tried to rid an undercover reporter of his homosexuality. The journalist was pushed to the floor and spun in circles.

Winners’ Chapel International openly claims that its mission is “liberating men everywhere from every oppression of the devil”, and at its branch in Dartford in Kent, that includes homosexuality.

ITV reported: “Our undercover reporter spent two months attending the church – one of the largest in Britain – where several pastors made clear they could help stop him being gay. He has met four in total, with a hidden camera capturing his pre-arranged appointment with Pastor Gbenga Samuel.”

The pastor “most shockingly”claimed that messages of acceptance we see and hear in modern society about gay people have been “carefully scripted” by Satan, drawing a comparison with the way Germans were brainwashed by Nazi propaganda.

The report added: “Loud, physical and exhausting, what our cameras captured hasn’t been broadcast before in Britain, but it isn’t hard to find. We’ve spent six months investigating several organisations to try and understand the true extent of so-called gay conversion therapy.

“Indeed, the government estimates that tens of thousands of LGBT people have either been offered conversion therapy or been through it. And as our series of reports will detail, the nature of it varies widely.

Most of the victims are too afraid to speak out, due to the kickback within their own communities.”

The government wants to ban “gay cure” therapies, but the challenge is policing something that is so intrinsically linked to religious freedoms.

One UK pastor who condemns conversion therapy is Paul Bailey. He says that it is common in a high proportion of Pentecostal churches. He said: “Rights come with responsibilities. There are many things we no longer do because we know better. There is clear scripture that says you should beat your children.

“We ignore that because we recognise that beating children is harmful. This is a harmful practice. Your freedom does not mean you have the freedom to negate and oppress someone who’s different.”

The Evangelical Alliance, which represents thousands of Pentecostal churches in Britain, said: “Churches and their leaders must be held accountable when they misuse their influence over others. Winners’ Chapel International is not a member of the Evangelical Alliance and we would have serious concerns regarding the behaviour depicted.”

In response to ITV’s filming, Winners’ Chapel said they would conduct an internal investigation. But they deny that they engage in any form of conversion therapy.

Meanwhile, a study in the US found that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth who experience attempts by their parents or others to change their sexual orientation report higher levels
of depression and suicidal behavior, lower levels  of self-esteem, social support, and life satisfaction, as well as lower levels of education and income in young adulthood.

According to researchers with the Family Acceptance Project (FAP) at San Francisco State University, efforts by parents, as well as external sexual orientation conversion interventions by therapists and religious leaders contribute to multiple health and adjustment problems in young adulthood.

Rates of attempted suicide by LGBT young people whose parents tried to change their sexual orientation were more than double (48 percent) the rate of LGBT young adults who reported no conversion experiences (22 percent).