Saturday, October 5, 2013

Time to revoke charitable status for "Living Waters" and other Christian groups like it...

I got very angry reading this investigative journalist piece today in the Toronto Star by undercover reporter Graham Slaughter. It's part one of two stories the Star is publishing this weekend into the dubious Christian program called "Living Waters," that claims to heal gay people through an intensive 22-week program that costs $550. The Toronto chapter is run out of a church in the north part of the city.

In the story today, Slaughter writes:

"During my time undercover in Living Waters’ Toronto chapter, I posed as a depressed gay man who hoped to become straight. The Star sent me inside the Toronto program because many respected psychological authorities have denounced gay conversion programs, saying they pose serious psychological risks, including depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts.

"The movement to “heal” homosexuality is on its last legs in the United States. Exodus International, an American group, shut down in July and publicly apologized to those it had counselled. Yet in Canada, similar programs still exist.

"At Living Waters Toronto, the program is led by a team of volunteers, including a preschool teacher, a personal trainer and a pastor. Leaders give hope that God can heal participants’ “sexual and relational brokenness,” an umbrella term that includes such issues as homosexuality, masturbation and pornography addictions.

"But some of those former participants told the Star stories of personal anguish and spiritual crisis when their attempts to become straight failed. (Their stories appear in Part 2 of the investigation..)

"These stories chip away at Living Waters’ facade as a healing ministry, revealing instead a religious organization that hurts some participants in its attempts to heal sexual dysfunction and relationship problems."

Despite this, this bogus Christian group continues to enjoy the benefits of charitable status in Canada, something it obtained in 1998. Slaughter's article confirms:

"Living Waters must meet certain requirements to keep its charity status, one of which is to provide a “public benefit.” In the CRA’s guidelines for registering a charity, it describes “benefit” as “directed toward achieving a universal good that is not harmful to the public — a socially useful endeavour.”

If the information in the article is to be believed, it's clear that Living Waters did not include its plans to run gay reparative therapy sessions when it applied for charitable status. The program's leaders promote lies about the origins of homosexuality in individuals and follow lines of thought in their "healing" that have proven deeply damaging to those who are unfortunate enough to come into their misguided clutches.

I'm sure tomorrow's story will detail many tragic experiences by people who have gone through Living Waters' program. If those stories are similar to many others I've read from similar Christian programs, Living Waters will be exposed as doing great "public harm" and "destruction," not the "public benefit" needed to continue its dubious charitable status in Canada, where in the past three years donations have accounted for 62 per cent of the group's total revenue.

In fact, the Star reports that Canada Revenue Agency documents show that Living Waters has grown significantly in the past nine years, more than tripling its annual revenue from $227,035 in 2003 to $769,204 in 2012. The idiots who are giving this money to this group do not deserve a tax receipt for it, that's for sure.

It is well past the time that these types of bogus Christian groups be cut off from the public trough.


As expected, the stories shared in Part Two of this Toronto Star piece by reporter Graham Slaughter illuminate further the damage being done by Living Waters and other religious programs like it. Here's how the experiences of one former participant in the program are described:

"After a year and a half in the Living Waters program — the end of a 10-year journey of denying his sexuality — [Darin] Squire left the program feeling ashamed. He said Living Waters indoctrinated him to believe that as a gay man he could be only three things: a prostitute, a pedophile or a recklessly promiscuous swinger.

“I was told there was no such thing as a healthy happy homosexual. They do not exist,” he said.

He accepted this supposed fate and descended into a self-destructive “depraved lifestyle,” he said. “No one walks out of there and says, ‘It just doesn’t work for me.’ We walk out of there broken. People go in there unhealthy and come out unhealthier.”

Clearly, there is no credible "public benefit" to this Living Waters program. I hope they and other groups like them lose their charitable status as soon as possible in Canada!

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