Homosexuality is the work of demons, and can be cured by the power of prayer, according to an influential member of the UK’s Conservative Party who has been credited with shaping policy.
High-flying Philippa Stroud is the Tory candidate tipped to win the Sutton and Cheam seat at the UK’s general election on Thursday.
As head of the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), a think tank set up by the former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith, she is credited with shaping many of the party’s social policies, and founded a church that attempted to “cure” gay people by driving out their “demons” through prayer.
The UK Sunday newspaper the Observer says: “The CSJ reportedly claims to have formulated as many as 70 of the party’s policies. Stroud has spoken of how her Christian faith has motivated her to help the poor and of her time spent working with the destitute in Hong Kong. On her return to Britain, in 1989, she founded a church and night shelter in Bedford, the King’s Arms Project, that helped drug addicts and alcoholics. It also counselled gay, lesbian and transsexual people.”
The paper quotes Abi, a teen whose parents moved house so they could be closer to where Stroud operated. “She wanted me to know all my thinking was wrong,” Abi tells the paper. “I was wrong and the so-called demons inside me were wrong. The session ended with her and others praying over me, calling out the demons. She really believed things like homosexuality, transsexualism and addiction could be fixed just by prayer, all in the name of Jesus.”
Stroud’s husband David is a minister in the New Frontiers Church, which is allied to the US evangelical movement. They left the project in the late nineties to establish a new church in Birmingham, UK.
In her book God’s Heart for the Poor, Stroud explains how to deal with people showing signs of “demonic activity.” She writes: “I’d say the bottom line is to remember your spiritual authority as a child of God. He is so much more powerful than anything else!”
The paper reports that she would not speak to its reporter.
The Conservatives have been trying to win over the pink vote since a faux pas by their shadow Home Secretary, Chris Grayling, who said it should be all right for owners of bed-and-breakfast accommodation to turn away gay people.
And the shadow Defence Minister, Julian Lewis, has said he was against lowering the age of consent for same-sex relations from 18 to 16 in 2000.
Also, a candidate in Scotland was suspended by Tory leader David Cameron only last week after he had said that homosexuality was “not normal.”