The Liverpool Echo reports that the Frontline Church in Liverpool is at the centre of a row over sessions it runs trying to convert gay people from homosexuality. The Frontline Church has been running groups on “helping Christian men and women out of homosexuality” at its Wavertree base.
One of the city’s biggest housing associations, Plus Dane, has broken off links over material published on the Church’s website claiming people become gay as a result of “pain in childhood”.
The “Homosexuality Fact Sheet” – which Frontline leaders say they have removed from its website – includes tips on how to spot people “struggling with homosexuality”, including how “women may appear and dress in a more masculine way” and “men may appear somewhat effeminate, although this is not always the case”. Church bosses today conceded the statements were “simplistic”, but insisted all were welcome to its Lawrence Road base and denied homophobia. They added they believed “the ways a person chooses to express their sexuality can change” and that they had had success with some congregation members.
That view was condemned by gay-rights campaigners as trying to “repress” people’s sexuality with “Dark Ages” views, while Merseyside Police has asked the Church to stop describing the Force as a partner organization.
The Church received Home Office funding in 2010 to run projects helping young men at risk, and Prime Minister David Cameron and Nick Clegg have both “met staff to discuss grass roots issues in Liverpool”, according to the Frontline Trust’s accounts.
The national Lesbian and Gay Foundation’s Andrew Gilliver said: “The issues about ‘childhood pain’ are nonsense. The pain is often caused by people who don’t understand what they’re going through. “We are born gay, but we learn prejudice. This is Dark Ages stuff.”
Housing association Plus Dane runs a Foodbank from the Church. It contacted Frontline when concerns about the L.I.F.E. sessions were raised, and today said: “We will continue to fund Food Bank, which is run by Salisbury-based charity the Trussell Trust, but staff have been told not to work with Frontline Church on this or any other project in future.
“As a neighbourhood investor we work with a wide range of groups, including many faith organisations. However, it has become apparent that aspects of Frontline’s ministry are incompatible with our values, which seek to celebrate diversity and promote inclusion.”
Liverpool council, which is listed on the Church’s accounts as a “donor”, said it had not funded any activities for five years. A spokesman added: “We would not fund an organisation or its activities where they contradicted our equalities and cohesion policy in the way alleged in this case.”
Council Liberal group leader Cllr Steve Radford said: “I think it would be entirely inappropriate to fund them just as it would be to fund fundamentalists of any faith.”
A spokesman for Merseyside Police – which in recent years was voted Second Most Gay Friendly Force in the UK and holds neighbourhood meetings in the Church – said: “We 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.”