Charity asked to review claim man was put through 'gay exorcism' conversion therapy in South Yorkshire church

A review is set to open over a man’s claim he was subjected to a ‘gay exorcism’ at a church in South Yorkshire.

Friday, 15th April 2022, 2:18 pm

Matthew Drapper, aged 33, says he suffered long-term trauma after undergoing a form of "exorcism" at Sheffield's St Thomas Philadelphia church, on Penistone Road, eight years ago.

Now, children’s charity Barnado's says the Diocese of Sheffield has asked it to carry out a “comprehensive and independent investigation” into the claim.

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Matt Drapper (right) with his partner Pete Nixon

St Thomas church has denied it engaged in any conversion therapy.

It comes amid furious protests held over the Government’s decision not to ban conversion therapy for trans people.

A Barnardo's spokesperson said its review would look into allegations that an individual was “discriminated against at St Thomas' Philadelphia Church due to their sexuality” in 2013.

Speaking to the The Star in 2020, Mr Drapper said he was repeatedly made to shout a prayer ‘I break the power of homosexuality over me’ and ‘I cancel the agreement with the kingdom of darkness – any associated demons go in the name of Jesus’ until he was struggling to breathe.

Sheffield's St Thomas Philadelphia Church

The alleged incident took place after he was invited to take part in a Christian leadership course at St Thomas Philadelphia in 2013.

Speaking about the experience Matt said: “At the time it was such an intense system of beliefs - you totally bought into it.

“I had always felt there was something wrong with being gay but after the prayer meeting I felt empty and lost for a few months.”

He said he was one of 11 children raised in what he described as an ‘extreme Christian cult’ in his home county of Essex.

Speaking about his experience, Matt said: “They told me to speak to the gay part of myself as if speaking to a wild dog coming up to me - and for me to say to 'leave my body'.

“The people I was with told me they could see demons leave me and go out of the window.”

He said a few months after his exorcism experience and while taking a break from the Christian leadership course he started to ‘come back to life’, realising ‘what happened was not right’.

The Sheffield church has previously said it would participate with any investigation

The Venerable Malcolm Chamberlain, for the Diocese of Sheffield, said in February it was responding to Mr Drapper's complaint and had commissioned a review with his 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,” he added.

The diocese has declined to comment further while the investigation was under way.

The Government recently said it would ban conversion therapy for gay or bisexual people in England and Wales but not for transgender people.

Mr Drapper has written a book recounting his traumatic experiences - called Bringing Me Back To Me.

Speaking about the book he said: “I just wanted to get everything out there - it was just such an absurd couple of years.”