There’s a new hazard to Indian school and college students on the horizon, and it’s particularly toxic for LGBT youth and women of all sexualities. It takes the form of Abhishek Clifford, the CEO of a Mysore-based NGO named Rescue. Or, if you prefer, Paul Clifford Jacob, of Rescue ministry.
As part of the Fresher’s Orientation at SRM University in Chennai, he presented a seminar on ‘Moral Values’ on 19 August 2015 at the University’s main auditorium in Main Campus, Kattankulathur. He gave the lecture to multiple batches of 500 to 1000 students, covering about 5000 students in total. Details below are paraphrased from a report provided by members of Prism, the unofficial LGBT student group at SRM.
He started off with a rant against abortion, and attributed it to consumption of pornography by today’s (heterosexual, cis-male) youth. He claimed that porn leads men to have casual sex, leading to women getting pregnant and seeking out abortions. He spoke about how porn is also the biggest reason for divorce, as it leaves young men unsatisfied with monogamous vanilla relationships and prone to seeking out dalliances with sex workers and other men’s wives. Besides urging a ban on porn, he said traditional sex was the only safe way to have fun.
He then proceeded to show an image of two guys kissing on the screen and talked about how homosexuality is a mental disorder, and how it affects the younger generation. He said there is no possibility of traditional sex between two men, so gay students in the audience should get their sexual orientation changed at conversion therapy centres. He claimed that people could successfully get their orientations change from gay to straight, and proceeded to give an example of a young man who, prior to conversation therapy, used to like pink colour and other people of the same sex. When he turned seventeen, he changed his preferences to blue and to dating girls. Clifford claimed to personally know doctors who have cured “hundreds of homosexuals” with their therapy.
Further investigation by team Orinam shows:
Abhishek Clifford was in the news in 2014 supplying quotes based on a survey by Rescue that linked online porn to sex offences (The Hindu, The New Indian Express, Herald). Among his claims are that about 70 per cent of youth in the 18-21 age group watch four hours of sex videos per week, and that 76 per cent of students said that watching rapes leads to the desire to actually rape someone. In July 2014, Goa’s netizens had protested Clifford being allowed to preach his regressive ideas to school and college students. Rescue was one of two organisations (along with Rhoumaia) that led a protest at Cubbon Park in Bangalore on 31 Aug 2014 demanding the government ban porn sites.
In a sermon given on 30 Aug, 2015, at the Ark Victory Church in Sembakkam, Chennai, he lamented that “We live in a time and culture where pornography, pre-marital sex, LGBT relationships, abortions and many other unnatural practices are the norm of the day.” In that sermon, he proposed reaching out to colleges to initiate discussions on porn, abortion and gay issues, and “sow seeds of God’s truth”.
A Youtube video uploaded by the Eagle Missions ministry featuring Abhishek Clifford has the following blurb “his ministry team reach[es] 50,000 college students a year with the 7 Mountain Mandate, rescuing sex slaves, fighting abortion and porn businesses, while leading to many salvations. They get permission from government officials to speak in public colleges and to raid sex shops. Hear about resurrections and miracles exploding in India.”
The website of Eagle Missions refers to him as Paul Clifford Jacob, one of their missionaries, and to Rescue as a “ministry devoted to shining the light of God’s word in the power of the Spirit in the colleges and though the media in South India”, with plans of reaching 15000 students leveraging “open doors in Muslim, Hindu, Catholic, Government and RSS colleges” [emphasis ours]. Check out their website to read more of Clifford’s insidious agenda.
Students and school/college administrators: beware of misinformation, hate and fear being sown by Clifford and his ilk.
Take some time to learn about resources for educational institutions, ongoing campus LGBT initiatives, hosting LGBT-inclusive fresher orientations, and what leading doctors in India have to say about conversion therapy.
For those of the Christian faith, note that there are LGBT-inclusive churches in India that are part of the National Council of Churches of India (NCCI). Resources for LGBT Christians are here.
Watch Clifford’s SRM lecture below, if you can stomach it:
We thank Aaditya Joshi of IIT-Bombay and members of Prism, SRM University’s LGBT student group, for information.