Posts his explanation on Facebook

Cobourg Pastor’s e-petition explained as the reason

Article by Sue Dickens

Controversy has erupted because of the tabling of a petition by MP Philip Lawrence in the House of Commons.

He tabled the petition in his capacity as the Northumberland-Peterborough South MP because it was brought to him by riding religious leader Cobourg Pastor Chad Houghton of the Fellowship Baptist Church.

The Pastor’s e-petition wants Bill C-6 “fixed” so religious leaders and others can intervene with counselling during LGBTQ conversion therapy.

He writes about this in his blog on the church’s website (see below).

Pastor Chad Houghton

Here is Cobourg pastor’s e-petition which demonstrates his rationale for wanting pastors and others to be able to provide counselling without their actions being considered a crime.

It states:

Whereas:

  • Conversion therapy has historically referred to coercive, degrading actions that seek to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity which are wrong and should be banned;
  • Bill C-6 defines conversion therapy as “a practice, treatment or service designed to change a person’s sexual orientation to heterosexual, to change a person’s gender identity or gender expression to cisgender or to repress or reduce non-heterosexual attraction or sexual behaviour or non-cisgender gender expression”;
  • This broad definition wrongly applies the label “conversion therapy” to a broad range of practices, including counsel from parents, teachers, and counsellors encouraging children to reduce sexual behaviour; and
  • Bill C-6 expressly allows counselling, medical, and surgical efforts to change a child’s gender, but prohibits support for a child seeking to de-transition to his or her birth (cis) gender;

Houghton’s e-petition calls on the House of Commons to do the following:

  • ban coercive, degrading practices that are designed to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

And the pastor presents an amendment which states:

– Amend Bill C-6 to fix the definition of conversion therapy by adding (to Section 320.01) to the expression of views on sexual orientation, sexual feelings or gender identity, such as where teachers, school counsellors, pastoral counsellors, faith leaders, doctors, mental health professionals, friends or family members provide support to persons struggling with the sexual orientation, sexual feelings or gender identity, thus banning conversion therapy without banning voluntary counselling or criminalize conversations.”

– allow parents to speak with their own children about sexuality and gender and to set house rules about sex and relationships.

The controversy over the MP’s tabling of the petition followed the publication of an article by PressProgress.ca. To read that article go to: https://pressprogress.ca/conservative-mp-sponsored-petition-from-anti-lgbtq-pastor-who-is-calling-for-civil-disobedience-to-oppose-conversion-therapy-bill/

In response to concerns raised in the community MP Lawrence has posted an explanation of his actions on his Facebook page defending why he tabled Houghton’s e-petition.

In his post he acknowledges he tabled the petition but says he did not sign it.

This is Lawrence’s statement on the matter on Facebook: “The last few days I have heard concerns from members of the community regarding a petition. As I have previously said, I am here to represent ALL constituents from Northumberland-Peterborough South.

A constituent in my riding asked me to table a petition calling on amendments to Bill C-6 to incorporate a Liberal press release that said that the Bill will not infringe on private conversations.

As a member elected to represent all residents of Northumberland-Peterborough South, I feel it is my duty to introduce all petitions brought before me.

I stand strongly opposed to conversion therapy in all forms, and my introduction of any petition is never an endorsement of the originator of the petition or the contents therein.

Unfortunately, not mentioned in the article (by PressProgress) was the fact that I did vote in support of Bill C-6. I will continue to stand in support as an ally to my friends in the LGBTQ2 community and invite you to reach out anytime should you have any questions or would like to chat.”

Pastor Houghton’s Blog:

In his blog online Pastor Houghton talks about the “anti-Conversion Therapy Bill C-6, encouraging people to disobey the government if the Bill passes.

He writes:

“While on the surface this Bill only seems to prevent the involuntary forcing of individuals to conform to the Judeo-Christian ethics around gender, the Bill has elements in it that will greatly affect the church and our ability to parent as Christians.

He continues:

“André Schutten a constitutional lawyer and Director of Law & Public Policy with the Association for Reformed Political Action, writing for the Gospel Coalition writes, ‘This bill would make it a criminal offence to help – through conversation and prayer – a person struggling with their sexual orientation (e.g. a same-sex attracted Christian) or sexual thoughts or behaviour (e.g. watching gay pornography) or gender identity (e.g. believe they are a man trapped inside a female body) to bring their thoughts, words, and deeds into conformity with the Word of God… If Bill C-6 passes unamended, aspects of the church’s ministry (to youth in particular) in an age of sexual confusion would be criminalized. Church leaders and professional counsellors could face fines and prison time should they continue with biblically faithful counselling. Through all this, the gospel witness would be marginalized, preventing more from hearing and experiencing the joy and freedom found in Christ Jesus.’

Pastor Houghton speculates: “Should this Bill pass, it would give grounds for authorities to try to limit the scope of discipleship.”

He encourages readers to follow a link he provides in his blog that leads to his e-petition that, as he notes, “will not stop this Bill but refine it, so that it is not illegal to continue to disciple and hold up God’s Word in this area. …I would encourage you to please read the petition and sign it. https://petitions.ourcommons.ca/en/Petition/Details?Petition=e-3220

As well, Pastor Houghton notes that if the Bill passes “I believe this is an area where to honour God we will be forced at times to disobey the government, regardless of the consequences.”

Source: Pastor Houghton’s blog at: https://fbcchurch.ca/blog/2021/5/2/the-time-for-disobedience

Editor’s Note: The wrong image of Chad Houghton was included when this post was entered. It has been corrected. Apologies to Mr. Houghton.