The Maritime Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church has invited “ex-gay” speakers for their upcoming Campmeeting conference, taking place at Camp Pugwash in July 2018. The speakers, Mike Carducci and Danielle Harrison from “Coming Out Ministries”, share personal stories involving and encouraging a process of ridding oneself of being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender through prayer and religious devotion. They describe themselves as “redeemed” and able to change through faith. Their approach is based in shame, stigma, and treating sexual orientation and gender identity as a sin, and “unhealthy”. In the past, Carducci has even described non-heterosexual people as “demon possessed”.
These are strategies and approaches found within the harmful practice of conversion therapy. With these therapies being widely discredited and recognized as harmful, Coming Out Ministries carefully avoids this language, but clearly the intent of these speakers remains the same.
Both The Youth Project and Halifax Pride have reached out to the organizers to express their concern about the harm caused to youth and adults by this process. We have called upon the Seventh Day Adventist Church to cancel the speaking engagement from Coming Out Ministries, and they have refused. We now must reach out to our community for their support in reinforcing the reality that “praying away the gay” will create inaccurate beliefs among youth, their parents and friends around ability to change sexual orientation or gender identity through dedication to faith, creating a sense of failure when this doesn’t occur, and increasing the stigma and shame felt by LGBTQ2+ youth. There is significant risk to causing anxiety, distress and mental health challenges including the possibility of suicidal thoughts or actions.
Please sign this petition if you do not want Coming Out Ministries to speak at this upcoming event, and if you call upon the Maritime Seventh Day Adventist Church to uninvite them.
You cannot change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity, and you do not need to. You do not need to be heterosexual to have a relationship with your faith or spiritual community. You should be welcome as your whole self, and LGBTQ2+ people do not need to be shamed into changing something wonderful about ourselves!
For further information and supporting documents, please read the following: