Written by Student Rights on 6 March 2012 at 3pm

Christian Concern conference at Oxford University causes anger

The news that a group which has claimed that homosexuality can be cured, and conflated it with paedophilia, will be hosting a conference at Oxford University’s Exeter College over the Easter break next month has been met with dismay by a number of students and gay rights activists.

In another recent development, a former student has now handed back his degree in protest against the decision to allow the group onto the campus. 

Christian Concern, an organisation which works “to infuse a biblical worldview into every aspect of society” and believes that “the nation has largely turned her back on Jesus and embraced alternative ideas such as secular liberal humanism, moral relativism and sexual licence” will be using the College’s facilities to hold a five day event to examine how Christian values affect life in the public sphere today.

They are firm opponents of homosexuality, arguing that it is a sin, and have a whole section of their website devoted to highlighting it’s encroachment onto modern life and detailing the ‘persecution’ of Christians who oppose the “militant homosexual lobby”.

That the university would allow such a group to use Exeter College as a venue for their conference has upset many people given Christian Concern’s intolerant and bigoted views on homosexuality.

In August 2011 the group’s website lamented lobbying efforts to classify paedophilia as a psychological condition before declaring that “homosexuality was declassified as a mental disorder in 1973 after similar lobbying efforts. As a result, academic discussion of the adverse effects associated with a homosexual lifestyle has virtually ceased amongst psychologists”.

This conflation is deeply insulting and upsetting to the LGBT community and alone should be enough to raise serious questions about Christian Concern, yet the group’s CEO, Andrea Williams, has also written of how she believes that homosexuality can be cured.

In an article in June 2011 she wrote that “homosexuals can change...let’s speak the truth in love”, and that there were attempts to silence those such as herself who suggested that “we need to turn away from sin or that sexual orientation can be changed”.             

Views such as this serve only to cause suffering amongst people struggling to accept their sexuality and can do irreparable damage to an individual’s emotional happiness. However, Williams stated in her defence that “homosexuals are displaying an extraordinary intolerance for us” and that there was “a campaign to distort what we do”.

In response to the news of the event, the gay rights group Stonewall has said that “gay students and many Christians will be deeply offended” by the decision to allow Christian Concern’s event to go ahead. Despite this, the college has released a statement saying that it would not be commercially viable to cancel the event, though they have stated that they will be reviewing their booking procedures in future.

At Student Rights we are committed to opposing the spread of any views on university campuses which could lead to the wellbeing of students being compromised and this is a prime example of that. We would hope that Exeter College’s review will highlight the unacceptable nature of Christian Concern’s attitudes towards homosexuality and ensure that such a group is not given the opportunity to use their facilities in the future.