Local newspaper reports that Mid-Ulster Christian Helpline can “cure” homosexuals

I noticed this photo on Facebook that shows the Banbridge Leader/Dromore Leader (part of Johnston Publishing) appearing to give a platform to a counselling organisation that has probably not signed up to the kind of professional bodies Patrick mentioned in his post yesterday. To recap:

Now Britain’s biggest professional body for psychotherapists, the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) has instructed members that it is unethical for them to attempt to “convert” gay people to being heterosexual. The other main professional body for British psychotherapists, the UK Council for Psychotherapy, had issued similar guidance to members back in 2010.

The Leader ran a short piece in reaction to correspondence between the Mid-Ulster Christian Helpline and UUP MLA Jo-Anne Dobson but offered no challenge and referenced nothing about

A Christian counselling group claiming it can “cure” homosexuals through telephone prayer with the help of God has appealed for anyone with that kind of “problem” to contact them for help.

The group, which contacted Upper Bann MLA Jo-Anne Dobson to explain its opposition to legalising gay marriage and received a letter of response from her on the issue, said it has had no calls of that nature to its helpline service from this area so far, but would gladly welcome all enquiries.

Mid-Ulster Christian Helpline, run for more than 20 years by married couple Freda and William Kerr, takes calls from people on all kinds of issues according to Mrs Kerr – including people in tears saying they “do not want to practice a homosexual lifestyle anymore”.

When contacted Freda explained her beliefs on the issue to the Leader. “We get calls from all over the UK,” she said.

“We are not a helpline specifically for homosexuals – our helpline is for people with all kinds of problems.

“We are not condemning people but rather the sin to which they have got involved. People come to realise that the lifestyle they are leading is not right.

“We have to warn people of these sins that are going to take them down the wrong road.”

It is understood the letter sent from Jo-Anne Dobson to the Helpline said the MLA would continue to pray that marriage would not be redefined. The Government is currently consulting on changing the status of civil ceremonies to allow gay and lesbian couples in England and Wales to get married, and wants to make the change by 2015.

The helpline – which said it has been in touch with people in this area regarding biblical literature – has a website which cites their beliefs on the evils of Hallowe’en, Harry Potter and Aternative Therapies among others.

Freda said anyone wishing to contact them for further detail can do so on 028 7964 4499 or visit www.muchpublications.co.uk.

The Leader has been careful to put the words “cure” and “problem” in quote marks. However, with no challenge to the group’s claim to “cure” gays reported in the piece, and by advertising its contact details [Ed – which you’ve just done too], readers would be forgiven for believing that the Leader is endorsing the group and its activities that they have reported.

Small scale helplines and counselling services will never be fully regulated. But how should groups know where the limits of their expertise and knowledge lie? No doubt the Mid-Ulster Christian Helpline does some good work. But LGBT counselling may be something they want to drop.

The Leader also linked the correspondence back to Westminster rather than to Steven Agnew’s motion in the NI Assembly on Monday 1 October, though it wasn’t well publicised until very recently. For the record, Jo-Anne Dobson voted No in Monday’s Marriage Equality debate at the NI Assembly.

Perhaps next time Mid-Ulster Christian Helpline write to MLAs, they’ll include a copy of their booklet on the Good Friday Agreement, which (as a non-denominational group) they describe as a betrayal of “the people of Northern Ireland The Forces of Law and Order” and claim that “the ultimate aim of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement” is “a United Ireland”, all “part of ‘The Greater Conspiracy’ operating for world control”.

(Photo of Leader taken from a discussion on Facebook via Andrew Smyth)

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  • glenda lough

    Although Willie and Freda undoubtedly mean well I have to point out that they stand accused of dangerous liberalism for failing to condemn ‘the Twist’ dance craze, strong lemonade, crossword puzzles and Electricity in addition to the aforementioned Hallowe’en, Harry Potter (a real person, by the way) and Alternative Therapies. Having said that I am willing to reveal that I have been prayed over and hands laid on me as a result of which I no longer harbour unnatural desires for my cousin twice removed by marriage Hermione ‘Teacup’ Thudd (Mrs). Praise Jesus.

  • tomthumbuk

    It would be interesting if a gay person would put themselves up for conversion.
    It has the makings of a good TV show, a la LouisTherioux.

  • Tomas Gorman

    Can they also cure bigotry?

  • tomthumbuk – that’s what journalist Patrick Strudwick did …

  • Greenflag

    Once upon a time it was considered ‘unnatural ‘ for women to vote and perfectly ‘Christian ‘ for Africans to be slaves , and for peasants in Russia to be hanged for not doffing their caps to the local lord of the manor. It was also considered perfectly just and humane to burn non believers at the stake for their heresy .Some of us have moved on !

    The biologists tell us that ‘homosexuality ‘ is a natural condition .It does not need ‘curing ‘ no more than heterosexuality does . The fact that some of these people feel they need a cure is because they have been conditioned in their religious and social upbringing to regard themselves with ‘loathing ‘ as a result of their so called ‘illness ‘ against a wrathful God .

    It’s of course all bullshit -utter tripe . These people need to be allowed to live their lives as they see fit and as long as they can be who they are then they are less likely to suffer mental breakdowns necessitating psychological counselling.


  • The Watchman

    “… readers would be forgiven for believing that the Leader is endorsing the group and its activities that they have reported.”

    Well, yes, if the readers are dozy leftie types.

    What’s your problem, Alan? That The Leader reported this group fairly and didn’t go into a “progressive” rant at the Kerrs?

    So they offend the lefties that dominate the columns of Slugger. So what?

  • Absolutely, Greenflag.

  • Tomas Gorman

    The Watchman;

    Itching for a row with a “leftie” are we?

    The issue of sexuality is of course quite complex and I struggle to get a handle on it. Its tied in with social and psychological constructions such as gender (which isnt biological) and chemical hormone balances (which is biological).

    In my own opinion, I dont believe your born with a sexuality, nor do I believe your born with a gender but rather you form them during your life through a mixture of nurture and hormonal nature. Once settled into either, individuals generally tend to stick with it and there should be no value judgement on both to an extent.

    As per your left/right paradigm, well your just baiting for a row and talking balls to be honest.

    If you believe that opinons on the subject are split along left right lines, ask Christopher Biggins his view on the subject.

  • Tomas Gorman

    I believe that my yellow carded comment was taken completely the wrong way.

    The joke, as it were, was that those who seek to “cure” homosexuals obviously have a bigotry that they themselves could perhaps use their special superpower skills to cure.

  • andnowwhat

    Funny enough, when I think of gayness, I always think of all those Tory, public school types. Many off them are really right wing and this doesn’t even include those that think they’re in the closet.

  • Every time this one comes out of the wainscotting, I recall the famed graffito in Islington’s Camden Head pub toilet (circa 1968) : My mother made me a homosexual. To which, in another hand, was appended: If I gave her the wool, would she make one for me?

    Elsewhere, and deeper still in the shrubbery, something lurks:

    Congressman Paul Broun (R-Ga.) said last week that evolution and the big bang theory are “lies straight from the pit of Hell.”

    “God’s word is true. I’ve come to understand that. All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the big bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell,” said Broun, who is an MD. “It’s lies to try to keep me and all the folks who were taught that from understanding that they need a savior.”

    He continued:

    “You see, there are a lot of scientific data that I’ve found out as a scientist that actually show that this is really a young Earth. I don’t believe that the earth’s but about 9,000 years old. I believe it was created in six days as we know them. That’s what the Bible says.”

    You can even get that on YouTube.

    Bet that does the rounds of Banbridge and Dromore.

    It will come as no surprise that Rep. Broun is a fellow-member with Rep. Todd “legitimate rape” Akin of the House Science Committee.

    And, to round off this bulletin of the bizarre, here is a late football result: Surreal Madrid 1, Blazing giraffes 3.

  • andnowwhat

    I’m a person that seeks and loves the randomness of life and the universe, of diversity. These people seem afraid, very afraid, that there is no order, no such thing as normality.

    If they did not seek to impose their views on other and ( more importantly) have such disproportionate sway in society, I would regard them with tolerance.

  • Greenflag

    @ Malcolm Redfellow ..

    It’s even worse than ‘legitimate rape Akins 🙁

    The Republican lawmaker made those comments during a speech Sept. 27 at a sportsman’s banquet at Liberty Baptist Church in Hartwell. Broun, a medical doctor, is running for re-election in November unopposed by Democrats.

    During the remarks, Broun said that he believes the Earth is about 9,000 years old and that it was made in six days. Those beliefs are held by fundamentalist Christians who believe the creation accounts in the Bible are literally true.

    Broun spokeswoman Meredith Griffanti told the Athens Banner-Herald ( http://bit.ly/Us4O0Z) that Broun was recorded speaking to a church group about his religious beliefs. He sits on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.

    It may be that Broun is an extra terrestrial sent to confuse the Athenians of North Georgia -That may be as close as you can get to ‘deliverance country ‘ while still having paved roads .

    And the Democrats cannot find anybody to stand up to this ignoramus ?

  • ForkHandles

    It’s not really surprising that the people commenting on this topic are people who are simply anti-Christian. No real reasoned argument, just a mindless attack on things they don’t understand. Just what would be expected of people who have rejected anything more than a simple X+Y=Z type of evaluation of the world around them. Really is a simpleton’s mentality.

    There are many causes of people falling into a homosexual type of life. With help these people can be assisted in a recovery to a normal heterosexual life. The people who are providing this help deserve our support and prayers. I for one will pray for their success.

  • ForkHandles,

    Since you seem to be claiming that you are the only all knowing person around, should we be bowing to you and calling you “god”. Get a grip, man.

  • andnowwhat

    Fork handles

    I’m sure there are plenty of us who knew people at school or in our community who went through a hell of a tough time because they were gay or effeminate or whatever.

    I remember watching The Naked Civil Servant as a kid and thinking Quentin Crisp was the most heroic man I have ever heard off. To thIs day, I still think he’s one of the most heroic. I also wish these so called Christians would find their own term for themselves. They are vastly more obsessed by the old testament than they are by the teachings of Christ.

  • Dearie me: I thought we had plumbed the extreme depths of surreal nonsense, but a sportsman’s banquet at Liberty Baptist Church. It would hardly involve risqué jokes from a superannuated prop-forward, would it?

    Chaps (and chapesses, if there are any here present): the good news is these fundies will continue to provide infinite amusement … and irritation. I used to share a regular commuting rail journey with a particularly obnoxious “Are you saved? Are you born again? Do you truly know the Lord?” type. My defence against her “can I sit here?” persistence was to claim to be a member of the Extra-Exclusive Brethren, who (as I vamped) were so exclusive we were not allowed to discuss any elements of our faith. In my inventiveness was my undoing (sounds a bit sub-T.S.Eliot). For, unfortunately, it all only encouraged her. She then wanted to join.

    The bad news is that some of these Begatters get hands on the levers of power.

    Even worse, as Greenflag @ 8:20 pm could have said, in the areas frequented by such fundy types as Broun and his ilk, there may be even worse. Rank nonsense isn’t ring-fenced to the southern Republicans, any more than it is to the DUP nearer home. Ever had to fend off a rabid “Yellow Dog” Democrat? It’s degrees worse than those evangelistic nuisances along Eglinton Street, Portstewart, on a 1950s Bank Holiday Monday. Come to think of it, Portstewart 2012 still is in the 1950s.

    Hey! I should be posting this on the US Election threads! Apologies, again.

  • BluesJazz

    There are only a few parts of the world where Science and Tolerance have not yet reached. Iran, parts of Africa., parts of some southern states of USA and (parts of)Northern Ireland.
    Education just seems a pointless excercise to them. A Liberal conspiracy almost.
    Those few areas of ignorance will remain so. A bit like Westboro Baptist Church.
    However the evidence is still there that those ‘ who protest too much’….
    Well, there’s always premium rate videos available on taxpayers expenses) in hotels for MP’s who like that sorta thing.

  • Malcolm,

    Are you in law? Is it possible to get a restraining order to prevent someone praying “for” you?

  • babyface finlayson

    Tomas Gorman
    “In my own opinion, I dont believe your born with a sexuality,”
    I suppose there are some gay men who have adopted that sexuality as a lifestyle choice. Possibly some women chose lesbianism as a feminist statement, but really i don’t believe it would be common.
    In my experience event the most conservative environment does not suppress homosexuality indefinitely.
    So I think it is almost always nature and not nurture.

  • Tomas Gorman

    Babyface Finlayson


  • Tomas Gorman


    whilst I dont believe your not born with a sexuality, I dont believe you choose it as an adult. I believe your sexuality becomes as ingrained into your being as your gender. For some people it appears quite firm, for some its more fluid. The most important part of my post is that there should never be a value judgement on what gender an individual finds sexually attractive.

  • GEF

    “Cameron urged to drop gay marriage”
    (UKPA) – 45 minutes ago
    “David Cameron should drop controversial proposals to introduce same-sex marriage, according to a poll of grassroot Conservative members.
    The study, released on the eve of the party’s annual conference, found that 71% of Tory constituency chairmen think the policy to redefine marriage should be abandoned, while 47% believe the Prime Minister’s stance on the issue had cost members.?

  • Mister_Joe @12:22 am:

    What an intriguing thought!

    I do believe there is a legal precedent of some bod dying in hospital who issued (or tried to) a restraining order being against prayed over. Claimed it amounted to assault, or something.

    In the US prayers at academic commencements and graduations, especially at school council meetings and the like, in public-financed institutions are verboten — all upheld under the First Amendment.

    There’s another wrinkle here: I believe that US religious organisations may not have a “tariff” for their services. Fixing a “going rate” may amount to a breach of anti-trust laws. It may even be applied to ecumenical agreements between churches — so that (again I think there’s a precedent) it would be unlawful for one lot to agree not to proselytise on another’s natural territory.

    And shall we forget Nebraska state senator Ernie Chambers, who’d sought a permanent injunction to put an end to the Almighty’s death, destruction and terrorisation of millions upon millions of the Earth’s inhabitants? It failed, because the judge held there was no address for god, no way the injunction could be served. Chambers tried to refute that by arguing, since the Almighty was all-knowing, he would have knowledge of the case — and so the injunction had effectively been served.

  • babyface finlayson

    Tomas Gorman
    “The most important part of my post is that there should never be a value judgement on what gender an individual finds sexually attractive.”
    I agree with you there. Though I suppose individuals of a religious nature are entitled to judge away.

  • Greenflag

    For a view on not having enough religion in politics and the benefit of having more politics in religion here’s a link to provide uplift on the role of free speech and how it could work if the Churches lost their tax exempt status in the USA . Some viewers in NI especially those of a narrow sectarian mindset may find some of Colbert’s comments somewhat jarring -Apols for the first 30 secs of ads


  • Greenflag

    malcolm redfellow @ at 5:59 am

    ”It may even be applied to ecumenical agreements between churches ‘—

    That could upset this ecumenical maestro


    ”so that (again I think there’s a precedent) it would be unlawful for one lot to agree not to proselytise on another’s natural territory.’

    So any Rabbi refusing to proseltyse in Connemara or a Free Presbyterian refusing to proseltyse in Ballyfermot or an RC priest refusing to proselytse on the Shankill could be arrested for breaking the law 😉 ?

    Heh it sounds like a plan ..

    On the other hand given that Judaism is a non prosletysing faith as per one of Alias’s previous contributions then this would make Judaism ‘illegal’ ?

    But how then to square that with freedom of religion and the freedom to practice one’s faith ?

    Hey Presto -the Ernie Chambers Law of the Almighty All-Knowing answers all ye of little or no faith 😉 ?

    But then maybe thats just one of those unknown unknowns or one of the known unknowns that Donald Rumsfeld used to rabbit on about ad infinitum ?

    The contradictions mount

  • Tomas Gorman


    We all judge, but it’s when prejudices and faith based belief trespass onto law making whilst trampling over reason that it becomes a source of conflict.

  • Greenflag @ 11:58 am:

    … a view on not having enough religion in politics and the benefit of having more politics in religion …

    Somewhere in the attic of Redfellow Hovel is the script of Gore Vidal’s The Best Man (a Broadway “hit” in 1960, filmed by Franklin J. Schaffner — he of Planet of the Apes, The Boys from Brazil and Lionheart — in 1964).

    The theme is a nominating Convention, in which an intellectual and a thrusting playboy (both with cupboards of skeletons) are the main candidates for the nomination. The Adlai Stevenson clone (“William Russell”, played in the film by Henry Fonda) presents himself to the Truman/Eisenhower-esque ex-President Art Hockstader for endorsement. The interview doesn’t go too well: Hockstader has a marvellous line, recalling his days in active politics:

    “Son: in those days we poured God over everything like ketchup.”

    Hockstader is also given the cynical (it’s Gore Vidal, for heaven’s sake!) moral of the piece, again to Russell:

    “Power is not a toy we give to good children. It is a weapon. And the strong man takes it and uses it. If you don’t go down there and beat Joe Cantwell to the floor with this very dirty stick, then you’ve got no business in the big league. Because if you don’t fight, the job is not for you. And it never will be.”

  • galloglaigh

    We have two dogs in our street. Both are dogs (not bitches), and both like to ‘ride’ each other. I wonder would these people know a good Vet who could cure them? They’re an embarrassment to God’s pro-creation idea…

  • Greenflag

    Malcolm Redfellow @ 2.22pm

    Vidal may have been commenting on LBJ’s rise to power ?


    And there was worse

    On the other hand LBJ’s achievements outside the Vietnam fiasco were considerable .

    Will President Obama wield the ‘dirty stick ‘ in the coming debates or would that be a mistake ?

    By 1968 no dirty stick could have re-elected LBJ . It’s becoming impossible to distinguish the ‘dirty sticks ‘ from a decent belt of a shillelagh /boot in the nether regions in modern politics .


  • ranger1640

    have these nuns nailed where the increase in homosexuality in men is coming from?

    “A bizarre new video linking women’s use of birth control pills and other chemical contraceptives to an “increase” in homosexual activity among men is making the blogosphere rounds”.

    “Produced by a group of Roman Catholic nuns calling themselves the Children of Mary order, “You Deserve to Know the Truth: Contraception” pairs some puzzling statistics with generic clip art. The often unintentionally humorous, low-budget clip also cites a 1970s-era study in which a male monkey became “confused” when female monkeys were injected with birth control drugs, and began to have “sexual interactions” with other males in the tribe”.