Interfaith Alliance Calls for Renewed Activism Against Conversion Therapy

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Interfaith Alliance celebrates the inherent dignity and worth of all people, including the many beloved LGBTQ+ members of our faith communities. We recognize that religious traditions approach matters of sexual orientation and gender identity differently. The First Amendment protects these communities from governmental interference in their religious doctrines.

But religious freedom should not be used as a license to harm or discriminate. The practice of conversion therapy weaponizes religion against  LGBTQ+ people, particularly young people. Conversion therapy is a traumatizing process that attempts to change a person’s sexual oritentation or gender identity. The scientific community has widely rejected conversion therapy as a harmful and ineffective practice that leads to increased rates of depression and suicide for adult survivors. 

Documentary Sparks Renewed Debate 

There has been renewed concern about so-called “conversion therapy” promoted by some religious communities for LGBT individuals.  Interest has been piqued again following the release of “Pray Away,” a Netflix documentary chronicling the work of, among others, Exodus International, the right-wing Christian group that is the vanguard of the “ex-gay” movement. Premised on the false notion that sexual identity is divinely fixed in binary categories at birth, conversion therapy tries to enforce heterosexuality through prayer and indoctrination.

Interfaith Alliance Joins Survivors and Faith Leaders in Opposing Conversion Therapy

Interfaith Alliance has long opposed conversion therapy as discriminatory against the LGBTQ+ community.  During the 116th Congress, we endorsed the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act, which sought to hold all such therapies to a standard of accountability that would have, for all intents and purposes, eliminated the practice.  We said then:

This legislation goes to great lengths to protect the First Amendment and safeguard the rights of religious communities. When a service-provider seeks to make a profit off of its alleged treatments, it must be subject to the rules and guidelines of the Federal Trade Commission and medical and counseling standards – no matter how much the provider is cloaked in the guise of religious language. We must also remember that these peddlers of conversion therapy intentionally prey on families of faith. Barring them from selling and advertising their services will make our congregations and religious communities safer places for all.

The bill did not emerge from committee, but the activism remains.

Most recently, Interfaith Alliance president Rabbi Jack Moline has appeared in the new series of interviews focusing on survivors of conversion therapy and on the faith leaders that oppose it.  We continue to support a two-pronged approach: accountability for those who would lay claim to therapeutic practice and respect from all for every member of the human family.

Learn more about how Interfaith Alliance works to advance true religious freedom for all.