creature preacher pictured here is Gbenga Samuel, a UK pastor who was the subject of the lead report on ITV News last night about the extent of abuse suffered by members of the LGBT at the hands of Christian ‘pray-away-the gay’ zealots .
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.
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.
“Most shockingly”, the pastor 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 which 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.
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.
They say they are open to all people and take “inclusion and diversity very seriously”. They say they comply with the law and follow:
Biblical teachings of love for everyone regardless of their belief, gender, background or sexual orientation.
The undercover reporter wrote:
From the first moment I mentioned my sexuality, presenting as a gay man to pastors at Winners’ in Dartford, their attitude was immediate and obvious. They told me that I didn’t need to feel guilty about what I said I was, but that wasn’t in any way reassuring.
To them, it was clear that being gay was both a sin, and in some sense a sickness that is both mental and spiritual … I went through hours of counselling and prayer sessions, all directed at ridding me of my homosexuality.
Belief in God helps many religious people in their lives in numerous ways. I grew up in the church and understand how faith can be a strength and a comfort.
But my experience at Winners’ showed that there is a disturbing ignorance around issues of sexual orientation in some churches. Some of the pastors who counselled me made highly disturbing comments, comparing me to brainwashed children in Nazi Germany. There was little sensitivity about how this could have been incredibly damaging to me.