Facebook has removed the page of a Christian ministry that works with individuals struggling with unwanted same-sex attraction and gender confusion.
The Restored Hope Network – based in Colorado Springs – describes itself as "a coalition of ministries serving those who desire to overcome sinful relational and sexual issues in their lives and those impacted by homosexuality."
"Restored Hope is a membership-governed, inter-denominational network dedicated to restoring hope to those broken by sexual and relational sin, especially those impacted by homosexuality," the ministry says in its mission statement. "We proclaim that Jesus Christ has life-changing power for all who submit to Christ as Lord; we also seek to equip His church to impart that transformation."
No explanation has been given by Facebook for the move, but the ministry believes it is due to the nature of its work with same-sex attraction. Activists and legislators have used the term "conversion therapy" in recent years to take aim at similar ministries that focus on a historical, biblical view of marriage and sexuality.
In July, Facebook announced that it would ban any content promoting "conversion therapy" on its Facebook and Instagram platforms.
"We don't allow attacks against people based on sexual orientation or gender identity and are updating our policies to ban the promotion of conversion therapy services," said Instagram executive Tara Hopkins in July.
Restored Hope Network said in a statement that the term "conversion therapy" has been used to "deliberately" provoke attacks on ministries and churches.
"It is a deliberately and misleadingly provocative term coined by the LGBTQ activist community that does not describe any type of actual counseling assistance offered to men and women who struggle with same-sex attraction," said Anne Paulk, executive director of Restored Hope Network.
Paulk also said that Facebook's decision to remove the page from the platform with no reasoning is a "chilling example of viewpoint discrimination."
"Facebook is deciding they have the authority to silence the stories of those of us whose lives have changed," Paulk said. "Their dismissive action – canceling our page as if it never existed, leaving a vague 'the link may be broken' message in its place – is shameful. Not even extending us the courtesy of a notification, a chance to offer our side of the very politicized story, is unconscionable."
Paulk also commented on the need for awareness in cases such as this.
"We have to be wise about how we respond here," Paulk said. "Legally, it appears that [Facebook] is above the law, but keeping a record of what's happening, getting that information to legislators that care and seeing it impact a bunch of different people, which is coming, is very important to fight for your rights and not just give them away."