Two days after Facebook and Instagram announced they were updating “hate speech” policies to “ban the promotion of conversion therapy services,” the group Media Matters for America (MMfA) came out with an article suggesting possible targets, “Facebook said it will ban content promoting conversion therapy. It should start by removing these pages.”
One of the groups they point to is Restored Hope Network (RHN), a Christian network of therapists, ministries, pastors and churches “dedicated to restoring hope to those broken by sexual and relational sin, especially those impacted by homosexuality.”
Anne Paulk is the Executive Director of the network. In a call to action, she’s asking people to join RHN in asking Facebook and Instagram to not ban their posts:
“Freedom of speech and civil debate are high American – and Christian – values, but Facebook and Instagram’s new decision will silence any disagreement with the celebration and promotion of homosexuality and transgenderism.
“Please contact Facebook and Instagram. Ask them to stop banning content about change from homosexuality and gender dysphoria. Ask them to keep our page intact in the diverse global environment of their platforms. Ask them to leave us free to tell our stories. Ask them to leave alone the pages of hundreds of other ministries like ours.” (Her emphasis.)
RHN and its members help individuals struggling with sexual issues live according to their Christian beliefs. They also provide information and support for churches, friends and family members on these difficult topics. On its Facebook page, RHN promotes conferences, books, webinars and testimonies of change from homosexuality and transgenderism.
RHN’s mission statement says, “We proclaim that Jesus Christ has life-changing power for all who submit to Christ as Lord; we also seek to equip His church to impart that transformation.” The group believes what Scripture teaches: Jesus Christ loves broken sexual sinners; God created us male and female in His image; marriage is a lifelong covenant between one man and one woman; and sexual sinners can find forgiveness, healing, and transformation.
Because of the work RHN and its members do, MMfA believes they are advertising and promoting “conversion therapy,” and suggests posts for Facebook to ban.
But Paulk’s call to action explains a little about “conversion therapy,” pushing back against that charge:
“The term ‘conversion therapy’ describes a non-existent psychological treatment and is a deliberately ill-defined term. It was created by those who oppose any change from homosexuality or transgenderism.
“The term is used to describe any sort of help for those wanting help with homosexuality or gender dysphoria – from prayer or simple conversation to support groups and counseling – including the work of Restored Hope Network and our member ministries.
“’Conversion therapy’ is often described as using force, abuse or aversive therapy. These are not practiced by Restored Hope Network or any of our member ministries, counselors and churches. Legitimate, licensed counselors do not use such techniques, either. Rumors of such techniques occurring today are absurd.
“Restored Hope Network and ministries like us would never use force, shame, abuse or coercion. We care deeply about those who come to us for help, and offer compassionate care to those who voluntarily seek us for help.” (Author’s emphasis.)
MMfA, on the other hand, says conversion therapy is the “discredited practice that seeks to turn LGBTQ people straight.” That may have been the goal of some ministries, counselors or strugglers, but groups like RHN have always been clear that the goal isn’t for the same-sex attracted or gender-confused “to become straight,” but to follow Christ, which involves obeying His teaching and pursuing a deep relationship with Him.
RHN-affiliated ministries and churches use traditional Christian practices to bring healing, growth and transformation. These include worship, prayer, confession, repentance, teaching and Bible reading. But in the context of dealing with homosexuality or transgenderism, these traditional Christian practices are smeared as “conversion therapy.”
RHN-affiliated counselors use a wide variety of biblical and therapeutic techniques. The client sets the goals for counseling, and none of this is forced, coercive or abusive. Yet again, such normal talk therapy is labeled “conversion therapy,” which activists seek to ban.
Along the way, many participants experience change and transformation in a wide variety of ways, including their identity, thoughts, feelings, relationships, goals and behaviors. Individuals find freedom from life-dominating thoughts and behaviors, they experience forgiveness and forgive others, and they find freedom from shame and self-hatred.
The article at MMfA lists sample RHN posts for Facebook to ban. One suggested post links to an article from The Daily Citizen, “Anti-Change Agents,” which tells the story of Ken Williams, who struggled for years with homosexuality. Now, the married father of four children ministers to men and women with unwanted homosexuality.
Another post MMfA says should be banned advertises the RHN annual conference. It shows Linda Seiler, who was featured in a 2017 Focus on the Family broadcast, “Becoming the Woman God Made Me to Be.” Seiler is an ordained Assemblies of God minister who tells her story of wanting to live as a man – finally embracing her femininity through God’s healing power. MMfA thinks that Facebook post should be banned.
Another post suggested by MMfA for Facebook to ban links to a webinar from Joe Dallas, “Why Am I Gay? Why Can’t I Change?” Dallas is an author, speaker and ordained pastoral counselor who left homosexuality and has helped thousands of others find freedom. He has also been featured on the Focus broadcast and has numerous resources available on our website. MMfA thinks this post should be banned, too.
MMfA is a web-based, non-profit “progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media.” The organization was started by political activist David Brock, who in 2011 announced “an all-out campaign of ‘guerrilla warfare and sabotage’ aimed at the Fox News Channel.”
According to Politico, MMfA has received donations or formed partnerships with several groups connected with George Soros, such as the Tides Foundation, Democracy Alliance, Moveon.org and the Center for American Progress.
In her appeal to Christians to ask Facebook to change its policy, Paulk warns believers:
“Cancel culture is now threatening Restored Hope Network and our member churches, ministries and therapists on social media platforms. Make no mistake: This silencing won’t end with us. It will spread beyond Restored Hope Network to other Christians, ministry leaders, pastors and churches. The silencing will spread to other platforms, too.” (Her emphasis.)
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