A documentary film crew managed to secure a place inside ‘ex-gay’ Adam Hood’s controversial talk in Queensland this week.
We are documentary filmmakers currently producing a film called The Cure about faith and sexuality, specifically exploring ex-gay ministries which claim to ‘help’ a person with their same-sex attraction.
One such individual who claims to be cured of homosexuality is Adam Hood, a charismatic preacher from San Francisco who was the source of some controversy when public venues withdrew their support for his tour last week.
Rev Dorian Ballard of Miracle Christian Centre (MCC) granted us permission to attend the session that had not in fact been cancelled but moved to another location in a community centre at Buderim. After much deliberation, we decided it was important to provide the community with an eyewitness account.
Our suspicions that the event would go ahead regardless of media pressure were confirmed when we talked to a follower before the meeting — in her words, they “had to go underground”. Despite venue cancellations in NSW and Victoria, Hood and Rev Ballard proudly declared that successful meetings had taken place in Melbourne.
First came two hours of evangelical-style worship — a band played, everyone sang, hands in the air in prayer, the name of Jesus declared innumerable times.
Then two hours of Hood. He spoke of his ‘broken family’ and his same-sex attraction which started as a child. Hood stated that while an active participant in the gay scene in San Francisco, he was “bound, demonically tormented, cursed by witches and people involved with the mafia … and taken against his will and tied down” until he reached a point where he “cried out to God to deliver him”.
The predominant focus of Hood’s testimony was his personal experience of being cured of homosexuality through his Christian faith.
Hood had come to the conclusion that he would be like Paul in the Bible — single, but not going to “give in” to his “thoughts and feelings”. He spoke of meeting his wife, and upon realising that he “really liked her” he decided he needed to join a ministry that “focused on deliverance from homosexuality and sexual brokenness”. This was a “cross-based” ministry — not psychological in nature — but purely based on scripture.
He recalled in detail his apprehension at the prospect of engaging in sexual intimacy with a woman, and his relief at enjoying heterosexual sex was such that he was compelled to cry out to Jesus during the consummation of his marriage.
Hood went on to detail his belief that the Bible is unambiguous in its condemnation of homosexuality. He personally didn’t want to change until God “showed [him] the reality of Hell … that people who continue in these ways will burn forever without any relief”.
As Hood came to the end of his speech he started ‘prophesising’ — speaking as if with divine inspiration. He spoke with passion about how homosexuals should repent. The people in the room yelled out “Amen”. There was a low murmur of people speaking in tongues. One man lay flat on his stomach on the ground.
Hood called out to homosexuals who are promiscuous, monogamous, or simply happy with their sexuality, to hear the message, repent and cry out to God for mercy.
Hood’s wife and child sat in the back of the room throughout much of the meeting. We did not see his wife participate during the worship and her reactions were hard to gauge as she wore a black hat that covered most of her face. It may have been that she was frightened to release her identity — Hood and Rev Ballard both spoke of receiving bomb and death threats amid the public backlash of the preceding week and described feeling vilified by the mainstream media.
Immediately after the event Hood was shuffled away by three security guards to his car, and with him left the vague promise of an on-camera interview.
Despite the welcome that MCC members extended to us as strangers in their place of worship, we were only too aware of the group’s firm position that homosexuality is something broken and in need of repair. We felt the profession of love for homosexuals was in direct conflict with their belief that through Christian faith, it is possible to be completely cured of homosexuality.
It is interesting Rev Ballard believed it necessary to fly a speaker like Hood to Australia at great expense to minister to a self-professed small congregation of Christians. Is it now the case that no evangelical Australian ministers are prepared to publicly advocate ex-gay programs and condemn homosexuality as a sin worthy of eternal damnation?
We were shocked to hear MCC’s claims that threats of violence have been made against the church and its associated individuals. All people, homosexual and Christian alike, are entitled to live their lives free of fear.
It is our hope that an open dialogue could be entered into between MCC and the LGBTI community in the interests of promoting understanding and respect.
Readers who are struggling in reconciling their faith and sexuality might find it helpful to access the support and resources made available by groups such as Freedom 2 b[e]. Visit www.freedom2b.org/
By Helen Kelly and Heather Vernon who are part of Rambling Women Media.
info: For more on Rambling Women Media, email firstname.lastname@example.org
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