MI lawmaker wants to ban conversion therapy

State Rep. Jon Hoadley
State Rep. Jon Hoadley, D-Kalamazoo, speaks to 24 Hour News 8's Brady Gillum. (Feb. 12, 2018)


KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Some churches and other organizations say conversion therapy helps people who struggle with their sexual orientation. Critics call it junk science.

This debate got renewed attention recently after a church on the east side of the state, Metro City Church, recently offered a workshop for young girls who struggle with gender identity.

“Our culture is cheering that struggle on,” Pastor Jeremy Schossau, the lead pastor of Metro City Church in the metro Detroit city of Riverview, said in a video posted to the church’s website. “For us, for me, I believe it’s in the wrong direction.”

The paid workshop was for girls between the ages of 12 and 16 who have thoughts about being gay, transgender or bisexual.

“Not man with man,” Schossau said. “Or woman with woman. But with the opposite. That is God’s design. It’s always been that way. And for those of us who want to follow the God of the Bible, that’s what we believe.”

Others aren’t buying it.

“It’s absolutely destructive,” state Rep. Jon Hoadley, D-Kalamazoo, said.

Hoadley, who is gay, has introduced legislation that would prohibit people who hold state medical licenses from practicing conversion therapy with children.

“Every reputable medical association, all the national ones, all the psychological ones, have said that the so-called practice of conversion therapy is not based in science,” Hoadley said.

Some lawmakers, including Hoadley, are asking the Michigan Attorney General’s Office to investigate Metro City Church for “perpetuating a fraud on the families they are inducing to pay for a service that is both entirely unnecessary and impossible to deliver.”

In a separate five-minute video, Schossau distanced the workshop from the term “conversion therapy.”

“In no way, in no time do we ever force somebody’s decision or demand somebody’s decision,” he said.

On Monday, 24 Hour News 8 called Metro City Church for an interview, but nobody answered the telephone and the main office mailbox was full.

In response to the controversy, the church posted a 30-minute video to the church’s website. In it, the pastor called on his congregation to be strong and courageous.

“The heart of wanting to do a workshop like this is because we care about people,” Schossau said. “It’s because we do believe God’s direction is best.”