Christian ministry loses bank account after harassment campaign
24 July 2020 Issued by: Christian Legal Centre
CIT is a non-profit Christian ministry that supports men and women who voluntarily seek change in sexual preference and expression.
On Friday 3 July Tweets appeared pressuring Barclays Bank to stop providing CIT with services. On Monday 20 July Barclays appears to have agreed to this request by informing both CIT and IFTCC that their accounts will be closing in two months, mid-September. The International Federation for Therapeutic and Counselling Choice, a project supported by CIT has also received closure notice.
Barclays Bank, a top-ranking employer of Stonewall’s list has provided no explanation for the decision. Since 28 June 2020, CIT has faced a co-ordinated, aggressive campaign from activists who pejoratively label their work as ‘conversion therapy’. These incitements via social media have now been reported in detail to the Parliamentary Petitions Committee currently inviting evidence submissions of online abuse, and as Serious Incident Reports to the Charity Commission of Northern Ireland. Some of the abuse received has been reported to the police.
CIT offers talking therapy to people who want to explore moving away from unwanted same-sex attraction and gender confusions. More specifically the organisation offers ‘SAFE-T’ (Sexual Attraction Fluidity Exploration in Therapy).
Mike Davidson, CEO of CIT has said of the phrase ‘conversion therapy’:
“This is a pejorative, imposed term, coined by an American gay activist, Dr Douglas Haldeman in 1991, that names some extremes such as electro-shock and aversion techniques only ever conducted by medics, long since abandoned from the 60s, or extreme behaviours already outlawed such as ‘corrective’ rape for which there are no prosecutions in the UK. Because the term speaks of talking therapies and counselling as “pseudo-science” in association with these extremes, to be heard defending talking therapy and counselling for unwanted same-sex attractions is then taken to be a defence of the indefensible ‘Conversion Therapy’ label. We reject this accusatory term.”
Mike Davidson speaks to ITC's Paul Brand on Therapeutic Choice and peoposed therapy bans
The UK government has promised to end ‘conversion therapy’ and CIT has become a target for campaigners. These campaigners wish to outlaw conversations aimed at helping people who wish to move away from same-sex attraction and gender dysphoria.
CIT has received well over 300 nuisance phone calls and numerous hateful messages. Its email address has, without consent, been signed up to porn sites such as PornHub, UK Lads, Lesbian Videos and a range of fetish sites. Bogus claims using the CIT email address for information about surgical procedures continues. A large volume of emails from mailing lists purporting to have received requests from CIT were also received – with the intention of discrediting and blacklisting the address as spam.
On social media there has been a campaign of aggressive trolling and dehumanising of Mike Davidson, Trustee Matthew Grech and staff worker Kylie Delia – extending also to personal accounts. One text message hoped that staff family members are raped and killed. A text message with a satanic image was sent to the CIT mobile phone. Multiple complaints to social media sites were made about CIT. Videos and live broadcasts, previously reviewed and agreed as valid adverts with the platform were taken down by Facebook as was the CIT banner on more than one occasion. CIT Instagram content was also removed, despite being acceptable for more than two years. CIT staff were blocked from posting on Facebook and were unable to block trolls.
Earlier this month, Mailchimp unilaterally terminated services to CIT without any notice or explanation which made it difficult for CIT to contact its supporters. PayPal also unilaterally terminated its CIT accounts without warning and with no explanation, restricting the ability of supporters to make donations.
Mike Davidson, CEO of CIT said:
“A coordinated campaign has resulted in our ministry coming under immense pressure and key service providers cancelling their services, action which we consider to be discriminatory.
“The term ‘conversion therapy’ is being used as a catch-all phrase designed to discredit any help that people may provide to those with mixed sexual attractions who prefer their heterosexual side. This could include a listening ear, formal counselling or spiritual support.
“This amounts to mob rule. If a social media mob can cause a bank to close the account of a Christian ministry, then there is nowhere for Biblically faithful Christian ministries to go.
“The UK is now becoming an intensely intolerant country. Key service providers have cancelled their services to a Christian charity because of a social media mob.”
Andrea Williams CEO of Christian Concern said:
“If it is CIT first, it will be churches next.
“If banks and other service providers start to placate social media campaigns by unilaterally terminating their accounts then the UK will be a very difficult place for Biblically faithful Christian ministries.
“This kind of demonisation and refusing of services to a Christian ministry is reminiscent of how Jewish businesses were treated under Nazi rule.
“We call on the government to put a halt to this kind of mob rule and to assert the rights of Biblically faithful Christian organisations to be serviced by businesses without facing such intolerant discrimination.”
Notes for editors
Some of the many messages and images received by Core Issues Trust showing the harassment campaign.