A BC Liberal MLA who once compared homosexuality to gambling, pornography and abortion used time in the legislature Oct 18 to promote a church whose leader believes homosexuality can be cured.
Maple Ridge-Mission MLA Marc Dalton praised the UK-based Alpha organization as “a free forum where people can meet to discuss God, the afterlife and the teachings of Christ.”
The Christian group is headed by Nicky Gumbel, whose thoughts on homosexuality were captured in an Oct 21, 2000, article in Britain’s The Guardian newspaper. “I have many wonderful homosexual friends… But if a paedophile said, ‘Ever since I was a child I found myself attracted to children’, we wouldn’t say that that was normal, would we?… Now, I am not for a moment comparing homosexuals with paedophiles, but the Bible makes it very clear that sex outside marriage, including homosexual sex, is, unfortunately, a sin,” he is quoted as saying.
“The Bible makes it clear that gay people need to be healed,” he continued. “Although I strongly advise you not to say the word ‘healed’ to them. They hate that word.”
Dalton told the legislature, “Those who are curious or struggling with questions and the notion that there must be something more to life, check out Alpha’s website — alphacanada.org — to find a course near you. It could be the start of a new fulfilling journey.”
Dalton was unavailable for an interview. “He’s exceedingly busy,” a staffer in his Victoria office told Xtra.
Alpha Ministries Canada national director Shaila Visser tells Xtra there is no teaching about homosexuality in the Canadian Alpha course.
“The Alpha course is an opportunity to explore the meaning of life,” Visser says. “It’s open to all people of any race, sexual preference, language. It’s about Christianity. It’s about who is Jesus, why did Jesus die?”
Gay Vancouver West End MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert of the NDP wants to know what Premier Christy Clark is going to do about Dalton’s comments in the legislature. He wonders why one of Clark’s MLAs is promoting a religious group — and particularly one with questionable views on gay people — in a legislature in a country where there is a separation of church and state?
“Frankly, what they are saying to gay and lesbian people is ‘Don’t ever have sex… you’re a genetic abomination,’“ Chandra Herbert charges.
“Why is the Liberal Party promoting this in the people’s house?” he asks. “Most Christians would reject this dogma.”
“Does Christy Clark and the other Liberal MLAs agree with this?” he continues. “If someone got up and promoted that a certain race was wrong, they would be rightly condemned.”
Clark was on her way to Calgary on Oct 20 and unavailable to comment, her office said.
Visser invited Chandra Herbert to take Alpha’s course.
It’s not the first time Dalton has run afoul of the gay community in promoting his religious views.
In the email released to the media in 2009, Dalton said he believes homosexuality is “a moral issue.”
“Most of us agree on many morals: respect, honesty, kindness,” Dalton, a teacher at Pitt Meadows Secondary School, wrote. “There are also many behaviours and acts that most of us would not condone: rape, robbery, assault, drunken driving, pedophilia, incest and so on. There are other moral issues that large segments of our society do not see eye to eye: gambling, abortion, adultery, pornography. I believe that homosexuality fits in this category.”
Ryan Clayton, who is spearheading the Purple Letter Campaign to get the province to introduce anti-homophobic bullying guidelines, thinks Dalton’s choice to discuss the group in the legislature was “unfortunate.”
“It’s bizarre when teachers who are on the frontlines, and they see what’s going on, and they’re promoting homophobic organizations,” Clayton says.
Jennifer Breakspear of Qmunity, BC’s queer resource centre, says it concerns her that an elected official would use legislative time to espouse views contrary to the queer community and the Charter of Rights.