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Tuesday, 02 September 2014

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South Lakes MP slams charity on ‘gay cure’ idea

AN MP who accepted an intern from a religious charity has slammed the organisation’s claims gay people can be “cured” as “grossly offensive, homophobic and wrong.”

Christian Action Research and Education has provided staff for the parliamentary offices of about 20 MPs, including Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron.

Mr Farron said he will not employ another of its interns.

The Lib Dem MP used the scheme as it allowed interns to be paid and to be given the chance to work in Parliament.

In 2009 CARE sponsored a London conference about homosexuality and Christianity which included sessions on “mentoring the sexually broken”.

It has now emerged cross party MPs employed the staff.

Mr Farron said: “I don’t agree with the idea of a gay ‘cure’ and I think it is grossly offensive, homophobic and wrong.

“As soon as I was told about the ‘gay cure’ conference, I asked my office to investigate as a matter of urgency. I am a Christian and I am also a liberal who strongly supports equality in all areas. As a result, I will not be having another CARE intern.

“I chose to participate in the CARE internship scheme because I believe that interns should not be unpaid for the work that they do on MPs’ behalf.

“As a working class lad, I am aware that most people do not get the chance to work in Parliament, unless they have connections or financial backing.

“This is something I have always been very concerned about.

“Most MPs do not pay their interns and this is something that should change – otherwise only those from wealthy backgrounds can afford to benefit from internships.

“This is wrong and the CARE scheme does allow young people to enjoy the benefits of an internship while also receiving a decent grant.

“I have never been lobbied by CARE or my intern on any issue.

“I make up my own mind and strongly value my independence.

“I am incredibly proud to be president of a party that has made a strong stand on the issue of equality and I oppose homophobia of any kind.”

Many MPs involved in accepting assistance from CARE under its educational leadership programme have severed ties with the charity.

A petition denouncing the charity for sponsoring a “gay cure” event has amassed more than 9,000 signatures.

A spokesman for CARE said the programme was “a well-respected training initiative for Christian graduates”.

Have your say

Thank you for highlighting my petition on Change.org

I have nothing against the interns at all. I set up the petition because I was shocked to discover, after writing to my own MP (David Burrowes), that my letter could have been dealt with by someone paid by a charity that sponsored two events promoting 'gay cures'.

Mr Farron says that the scheme allowed working class young people access to an internship, but the rules for the charity's "Leadership Programme" make clear that only Christians signing up to CARE's "statement of faith" would be accepted as interns. CARE's statement of faith isn't something all Christians would be willing to sign up to. Only those who believe in the literal word of the bible would be willing to sign up to the statement.

Rather than giving working class people access to parliament, the scheme only provides access to a select group of Christians, whom some people would describe as 'fundamentalist' although I would describe as 'evangelical'.

A Trustee of the charity CARE is also a Director and Trustee of Anglican Mainstream and acted as a moderator at a conference in January 2012 entitled "The Lepers Among Us : Homosexuality and the Life of the Church."

Posted by Phillip Dawson on 17 April 2012 at 18:36

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