Metro Weekly

GOP Candidate Claims to Help People “Escape” Homosexuality

Congressional candidate Leon Benjamin has compared LGBTQ people to people with bipolar disorder and drug addicts.

Leon Benjamin, Sr. – Photo: Facebook.

A Republican candidate for Congress found himself being confronted over a more than decade-old Facebook post in which he compared members of the LGBTQ community to people who are “sick, disease[d],” suffer from bipolar disorder, or are addicted to drugs.

Leon Benjamin, the Republican Party’s nominee for Virginia’s 4th Congressional District, appeared on MSNBC’s The Sunday Show last weekend, during which he was confronted by host Jonathan Capehart, a gay man, over the post.

In the post, which was posted in January 2011, Benjamin, a senior pastor at New Life Harvest Church, encouraged people to bring those in need of salvation to an event at his church. 

“Bring you (sic) sick, disease, gay, homosexual, lesbian, transvestite, bipolar, alcoholic, drug addiction friends and love (sic) ones!!!!!!!!!!” he wrote.

But when he appeared on the January 15 episode of The Sunday Show, Capehart challenged Benjamin’s assertion that he would be a less divisive figure who could bring people together. Citing the 2011 post, Capehart asked: “How is that being a unifier for the 4th Congressional District of Virginia, that most likely has LGBTQ people in that district?”

“I think you’re looking at it in a different way,” Benjamin responded. “I think the LGBTQ are all facing high gas prices. I don’t think we should marginalize one group of people and use it for political gain. I think that the LGBTQ and the homosexuals are dealing with high gas prices, inflation, the high crime, the education. I think all of us are dealing with issues, and we shouldn’t marginalize them, and I think my compassion really shows strong enough.”

Capehart replied: “As an out, gay, married man, I have a hard time finding compassion in that 2011 Facebook post.”

Benjamin is slated faces Democratic State Sen. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond), an LGBTQ ally, in a special election scheduled for Feb. 21.

Benjamin, who ran for the 4th District seat twice before, losing to the late Democratic Congressman Don McEachin in 2020 and 2022, has been known for pushing anti-vaccine conspiracy theories and promoting claims that the 2020 election was marred by widespread fraud.

As left-wing watchdog Media Matters previously reported, Benjamin has claimed that the COVID-19 pandemic was a “cover-up” by elites seeking to push through a “new world order,” that global elites were implanting 5G nanotechnology into humans through COVID-19 vaccines, and that the 2020 election was stolen by China and other Communist nations.

Benjamin also runs a ministry, Escape Hall, that is devoted to getting people to “escape” from “homosexual and lesbian living,” according to a 2017 Facebook post

“Now that we have Transgenders, that is just another form of homosexuality or lesbianism as its roots. It’s time for the Church to be the place of deliverance for any who would desire a change and to enter into the Kingdom of God: fornication, adultery, idolatry and witchcraft are genderless- let’s go after the root and manifest the Sons of God! Amen!” he wrote in the post.

In an appearance on a right-wing talk show on Brighteon, a right-wing alternative to YouTube, Benjamin compared “healing” LGBTQ people by helping them to change their sexual orientation or gender identity to the work he does to “save” adulterers, thieves, murderers and other sinners. 

“When I’m dealing with someone in that lifestyle, it’s just like adultery,” he said. “When I see a person who’s adulterous, I got to see them as somebody that God wants to save. When I see a thief or murderer like Apostle Paul was a murderer, God saw him as an apostle.”

Benjamin gave a speech in New York as part of the ReAwaken America Tour, a far-right protest movement that promotes various anti-government and anti-liberal conspiracy theories, including about the origins of COVID-19, the alleged “theft” of the 2020 election, and the need for a Christian nationalist movement in the United States. Benjamin devoted part of his speech at the tour promoting the idea that LGBTQ people can change their identities by embracing God. 

“You’re going to get delivered. You’re going to get healed,” Benjamin says in video obtained and archived by Media Matters. “I don’t care if it’s homosexuality, fornication, adultery, lesbianism. God says he’s going to touch you today. You going get this out of your spirit. You’re going get it out of your life. And God’s going to renew your mind. And you’re going to be transformed.

“The devil lied to you and I,” Benjamin says later in the video. “He told you that you can change your sex, but he is a liar! … You got to come out of homosexuality! You got to come out of adultery! You got to come out of fornication! … I don’t care how long you’ve been a homosexual. I don’t care how long you’ve been a lesbian. The weight of the Holy Ghost is more powerful than any demon.”

Benjamin was endorsed during his 2022 run for the seat by Virginia Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who has targeted the transgender community in the name of “parental rights,” offering up policies that would out transgender students to their parents, bar transgender students from facilities matching their gender identity, and allow students who oppose LGBTQ rights based on religious or moral beliefs to misgender and harass transgender students in the name of “free speech.” Students at schools throughout the commonwealth hosted “walkouts” at the beginning of the school year, in protest of the proposed policies.

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