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Gay Christian’s church forced him to undergo ‘traumatic’ exorcism

“They told me to speak to the demons of homosexuality in my life like I was speaking to a wild dog and tell them to go away from me."

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By Douglas Whitbread via SWNS

A devout gay Christian claims he underwent a “traumatic” exorcism at his local church - where he was forced to confront the “demons” of his homosexuality.

Matthew Drapper, 34, said he was “pressured” into the chilling ritual while undertaking a leadership course at St Thomas Philadelphia church in Sheffield, England.

The hotel manager said he’d joined the church, which has Anglican and Baptist roots, as a way to cope with coming out as gay to his “extremist” Christian parents.

But he alleged that religious leaders viewed his sexuality as “unhealthy” and convinced him over the course of a year to take part in the terrifying prayer ceremony.

Matthew said he agreed to undergo the disturbing ritual – which left him “exposed and scared” – fearing that he’d lose his position in the church if he refused.

He said: “I felt like if this didn’t work, then I didn’t have a life going forward, so there was a desperation to it.

“They told me to speak to the demons of homosexuality in my life like I was speaking to a wild dog and tell them to go away from me.

“They said they could see them going out the window of the room we were in, so it’s a really highly stressful situation.

He added: “Immediately afterward, I felt very exposed and scared, and very unable to connect with how I felt about things.”

Matthew – who grew up in an extreme Christian “cult” – said that he joined the church in September 2013 after he came out as gay to his family at the age of 25.

Matthew Drapper, a devoutly Christian gay man is still seeking justice after his ordeal. (Matthew Drapper via SWNS)

He said: “At that point my extremist Christian belief was that I couldn’t date or have any sort of family – that I had to choose between being a Christian and a gay person.

“So because of that, I decided I would find a church to volunteer with and give my life to god instead of a relationship.”

Matthew claims that leaders at the church promoted gay conversion, a practice where individuals are forced to suppress their sexuality, often through rituals.

He said: “They saw being gay as unhealthy, almost like a disability, and you could change to being straight through prayer, so it was very much in the environment.

“Various leaders spoke to me saying this was something I could potentially do.”

Matthew finally agreed to undergo the exorcism on a prayer weekend, between February 14 and 15, 2014, believing he would be cast out of the church if he didn’t comply with the ritual.

He said: “By the time we got around to the weekend of prayer, I was kind of like 'This is a last resort.'

“We all had a thirty-minute slot to sit down with a couple of older members of the church who led us through prayers.

“It kind of felt like the evil in the room just built up. You could kind of feel it around you."

He added: “I had a very physical reaction to the things I was saying about myself. I understand that now as a trauma reaction.”

Matthew left the church following the experience briefly, and for a time said he felt concerned he wouldn’t be able to form a “crush” on a man again.

But slowly, he began to reconcile his sexuality with his faith and rejoined after telling the leaders he wanted their policies to change so that they could accommodate him.

Two years later, when Matthew told the church he wanted to start dating, he was finally informed that he was not welcome as a volunteer anymore, leaving him “devasted."

When he made his first official complaint about the exorcism to the church in November 2019, he said the board of directors dismissed his concerns.

He then sent further responses and even hand-delivered letters to the leaders but said he was “totally ghosted” after these attempts to reach out.

He subsequently contacted the Sheffield Diocese’s safeguarding team, who now say they’ve launched an investigation into his complaint.

When approached for comment, the Ven Malcolm Chamberlain, Bishop’s Lead in Safeguarding said: “We are responding to Mr. Drapper’s complaint according to Church of England safeguarding practice guidance, and regret the length of time it has taken to reach a satisfactory conclusion.

“Nevertheless, we have sought to keep Mr. Drapper informed at all stages of our investigation and have commissioned a fully independent review of this case, with Mr. Drapper’s agreement.

“The Diocese of Sheffield believes, along with the wider Church of England, that Conversion Therapy is unethical, potentially harmful and has no place in the modern world.”

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