Man tells of 'absurd' gay exorcism experience at Sheffield church

A gay Christian has told how Sheffield church leaders persuaded him to undergo an ‘exorcism’ - renouncing his sexual orientation as an ‘agreement with Satan’ and ‘the kingdom of darkness’.
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Matt Drapper says the bizarre ritual came about during an ‘intense prayer team meeting’ when he was volunteering as a church youth leader for university students.

Former University of Derby student Matt was studying at Buxton’s Devonshire Dome campus when he became involved with Sheffield church St Thomas Philadelphia - where the unsettling incident happened.

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Hospitality worker Matt told how he ‘floated, disembodied’ above his own ‘shaking body’ as was told to ‘shout at demons, telling them to go’.

Matt Drapper (right) with his partner Pete NixonMatt Drapper (right) with his partner Pete Nixon
Matt Drapper (right) with his partner Pete Nixon

During the prayer he was told to ‘shout’ ‘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.”

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.”

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Having moved to Buxton as a ‘naive’ 19-year-old Matt was a regular church-goer in the town while studying.

Notes taken during Matt's gay exorcismNotes taken during Matt's gay exorcism
Notes taken during Matt's gay exorcism
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He was one of 11 children raised in what he described in an ‘extreme Christian cult’ in his home county of Essex.

Matt, now 33, told how he had known he was gay from the age of 15 but as a Christian had made his peace with ‘never coming out and staying single’.

In 2013 he was invited to take part in a Christian leadership course at St Thomas Philadelphia in Sheffield.

Sheffield's St Thomas Philadelphia ChurchSheffield's St Thomas Philadelphia Church
Sheffield's St Thomas Philadelphia Church
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As part of the course Matt held social events with other young students from Sheffield Hallam University and the University of Sheffield.

Now aged 25, Matt had decided to come out as openly gay but would remain celibate as the church opposed gay relationships at that time - as it still does to this day.

However 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’.

He said: “I decided it was fine for me to be gay and a Christian - so I went back and worked with St Thomas Philadelphia for another two years.

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“But when I told them I was going to start dating they told me I could no longer be part of the student team but that I couldn’t tell anyone why.”

After breaking ties with the church, Matt made an official complaint to St Thomas Philadelphia.

The church replied with a brief statement from Dr Ade Adebajo on behalf of its board - saying his reports of the exorcism were not ‘substantiated’.

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

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

“The book’s quite life-affirming and the process of writing it has really helped me."

St Thomas Philadelphia have been contacted for a comment.

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