A lesbian teenager who was “seriously considering suicide” was advised to “change her sexuality” when she came to her minister for guidance, reports Media Matters.
That minister, Robert Jeffress, would later become a member of President Donald Trump’s Evangelical Executive Advisory Board.
Jeffress, a Fox News contributor and a member of the Trump campaign’s “Evangelicals for Trump” coalition, has a well-documented history of making anti-LGBTQ remarks. He once claimed that gay people “molest children,” called gay people “filthy” and wrote that “homosexuality is a perversion.”
The Dallas megachurch pastor has also frequently promoted conversion therapy, a harmful and discredited practice also known as reparative therapy that seeks to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of a person.
Medical groups such as the American Psychiatric Association denounce the practice, with the APA writing that “there is no published scientific evidence supporting the efficacy of ‘reparative therapy’ as a treatment to change one’s sexual orientation” and noting that risks include “depression, anxiety, and self-destructive behavior, since therapist alignment with societal prejudices against homosexuality may reinforce self-hatred already experienced by the patient.”
“I have talked to people who have undergone therapy like this and they have said as Christians it has helped them manage their temptations,” Jeffress told a Dallas-Fort Worth’s CBS affiliate in 2014. “No therapy can remove those desires that we all have in different area’s of life, but as a Christian we have the power to overcome those desires and I think that’s the true reparative therapy that only comes to those who know Jesus Christ his savor.”
In his 2004 book, “Hell? Yes!”, Jeffress wrote that he counseled an LGBTQ teenager with a history of suicidal ideation to change her sexual orientation.
In that chapter, Jeffress wrote that he asked the recently out high school senior, named Susan, how “God feels about your homosexual activity?”
“I understand now that God created me with these desires, desires that I have had since I was a little girl,” she responded, according to Jeffress.
“For years I have been miserable trying to deny those feelings and have seriously contemplated suicide,” she told him. “But now that I have accepted who I am, I am happier than I have ever been in my life!”
He then explains that “homosexual relationships are neither ‘normal’ nor ‘healthy’” and that gay activists are really working “to cover over the darkest secret associated with this perversion: child molestation.”
“None of us gets a ‘pass’ from God for rebellious behavior just because it arises from our innate desires, regardless of the cause of those desires,” he wrote. “But here is the good news: Through the power of Jesus Christ, all of us can be freed from acting on those desires.”
He added that it’s a “myth” that “homosexuality is a fixed desire and cannot be changed.”
At the end of the chapter, Jeffress returns to the story of Susan: “I wish I could report that after hearing the above information, she renounced her homosexual tendencies, confessed her sin to God, and left my office with a newfound attraction to the opposite sex. She didn’t.”