N.B. retreat with controversial views on gay marriage scrapped amidst LGBTQ backlash

Courtesy: Global News
A Christian retreat has been scrapped.
A Christian retreat planned for later this summer has been scrapped after severe criticism from the LGBTQ2 community. Vancouver-based Christian group, Journey Canada, had advertised a retreat at Villa Madonna Retreat House which its website says would have been focused on healing the “relationally and sexually broken.” The Villa Madonna Retreat House is owned by the Catholic Diocese of Saint John.But some members of the local LGBTQ2 community were outraged by the retreat, claiming Journey Canada was engaging in what it called conversion therapy. Conversion therapy is the controversial practice of trying to influence change in a person’s sexual orientation
Graeme Lauber, a spokesperson for Journey Canada, denies any such claim saying the organization has never made changing someone’s sexual orientation one of its goals. “We’ve never insisted that people change their sexual orientation. If people are looking for help, they can come to us and we’ll provide a safe and supportive environment.” St. Thomas University sociology professor Erin Fredericks organized a protest against the retreat, which she says could have increased the risk to participants from certain types of mental illness.
“There’s an increased risk of self-harm, and the lasting effects of being put through one of these treatment programs can include other mental illnesses like anxiety and PTSD,” Fredericks noted. The diocese quietly cancelled the event on Wednesday, a decision which Fredericks applauds “We hoped from the beginning this was an oversight. Villa Madonna hosts a number of events by different organizations. It’s quite possible that they weren’t aware of the controversy around Journey Canada when they booked this event.”
Judith Meinert’s son revealed he was gay 36 years ago at the age of 17, changing her views on homosexuality. She’s now an LGBTQ2 community activist and has been the honorary leader of the Saint John Pride Parade three times. “Nobody comes to us because we’re straight people and says, ‘I’m going to convert you,’” says Meinert. “Nobody is trying to convert me to be gay, nobody should be trying to convert anybody who is gay to be straight.”

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