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Christian group backs away from gay 'cure'

The president of the country's best-known Christian ministry dedicated to helping people repress same-sex attraction through prayer is trying to distance the group from the idea that gay people's sexual orientation can be permanently changed or "cured."

That's a significant shift for Exodus International, the 36-year-old Orlando-based group that boasts 260 member ministries around the U.S. and world. For decades, it has offered to help conflicted Christians rid themselves of unwanted homosexual inclinations through counseling and prayer, infuriating gay rights activists in the process.

This week, 600 Exodus ministers and followers are gathering for the group's annual conference, held this year in a Minneapolis suburb. The group's president, Alan Chambers, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the conference would highlight his efforts to dissociate the group from the controversial practice usually called ex-gay, reparative or conversion therapy.

by my first tryreply 3709/17/2014

Yes, they've moved on with lightning speed against gay Oreos.

by my first tryreply 206/27/2012

r1. you are an idiot. pedophilia and other sexual anomalies are MUCH more prevalent in the straight population.

by my first tryreply 306/27/2012

[quote] pedophilia and other sexual anomalies are MUCH more prevalent in the straight population.

Yeah. Think of the days when women could be married off at age 12.

by my first tryreply 406/27/2012

Omigod, it's like, so impossible to cure gayness! I totes can't believe I didn't think of that before!

by my first tryreply 506/27/2012

If they believe it cannot be cured then how can they continue to condemn. Doesn't make any sense...not that it matters.

by my first tryreply 606/27/2012

r1 must be a troll

by my first tryreply 706/27/2012

I was even reading 'coming out straight' by Richard Cohen but can't finish it I find it too much to take I will try to finish it later.

r3 I meant that gays or straights represing sexual desires is not healthy. whit that I mean acnolidging the desires accepting them and moving beyond them.

by my first tryreply 806/28/2012

Personally I think it´s extreme. if you have homosexual desires WHY woudl you marry a woman and have children who are you living for, your self? are you trying to please God?

by my first tryreply 906/28/2012

I wonder how many new Grindr profiles there are near Minneapolis right now.

by my first tryreply 1006/28/2012

....then why did you go on about pedophilia??

by my first tryreply 1106/28/2012

The body language in their pic speaks volumes. Chambers wants nothing to do with his wife. He's posing for the camera, fame, and fortune - looking away from her - and she’s aggressively latching on to him with both hands.

by my first tryreply 1206/29/2012

WHET that Kony 2012 flamer?

by my first tryreply 1306/29/2012

This week, 600 Exodus ministers and followers are gathering for the group's annual conference, held this year in a Minneapolis suburb.

No wonder the lines for the glory holes have been so long this week.

by my first tryreply 1406/29/2012

Are the Bolt & Eagle packed?

by my first tryreply 1506/29/2012

I hope R1 is a troll.

by my first tryreply 1606/29/2012

I feel some people need some curing

by my first tryreply 1707/06/2012

urf

by my first tryreply 1807/06/2012

If they are squirming away from the false notion that gay people can be "cured" to become straight - the false notion that has been their entire raison d'etre -- then what exactly *is* their mission?

by my first tryreply 1907/06/2012

I thought they always had that high allmighty 'hate the sin, not the sinner' approach where they look down on gays for giving in to temptation.

It was never about homosexuality itself but to fight that evil, evil, evil, temptation that comes with it.

Somehow for Christians that makes sense since the religion is all about resisting temptation.

by my first tryreply 2007/06/2012

[quote]Somehow for Christians that makes sense since the religion is all about resisting temptation.

It's interesting how the story of Adam and Eve has distinctly shaped Judaism and Christianity - but in two different ways. Same story.

Judaism, the focus is much more on "See! This is what happens when God gives us a very specific commandment (e.g. don't eat the fruit from Tree X) and we disobey Him!" The focus is on upholding the commandments of God.

Christianity (evangelical Christianity), the focus is on the evil serpent and the sin of Eve. "See! Satan is real, he's tricky, he tries to tempt you and drag you down to hell all the time! Don't be like that weak woman Eve who let Satan tempt her!" The focus is on sin and the temptation to sin.

by my first tryreply 2107/06/2012

[quote]If they believe it cannot be cured then how can they continue to condemn. Doesn't make any sense...not that it matters.

They believe that if you can't change your orientation, then you must be celibate forever.

by my first tryreply 2207/06/2012

If they acknowledge that sexual orientation is fixed and unchanged, do they acknowledge then that if God creates us, God creates our sexual orientations? To paraphrase Lady Gaga.

Or can they not reconcile this.

by my first tryreply 2307/06/2012

NY Times:

Rift Forms in Movement as Belief in Gay ‘Cure’ Is Renounced

By ERIK ECKHOLM

For more than three decades, Exodus International has been the leading force in the so-called ex-gay movement, which holds that homosexuals can be “cured” through Christian prayer and psychotherapy.

Exodus leaders claimed its network of ministries had helped tens of thousands rid themselves of unwanted homosexual urges. The notion that homosexuality is not inborn but a choice was seized on by conservative Christian groups who oppose legal protections for gay men and lesbians and same-sex marriage.

But the ex-gay movement has been convulsed as the leader of Exodus, in a series of public statements and a speech to the group’s annual meeting last week, renounced some of the movement’s core beliefs. Alan Chambers, 40, the president, declared that there was no cure for homosexuality and that “reparative therapy” offered false hopes to gays and could even be harmful. His statements have led to charges of heresy and a growing schism within the network.

“For the last 37 years, Exodus has been a bright light, arguably the brightest one for those with same-sex attraction seeking an authentically Christian hope,” said Andrew Comiskey, founder and director of Desert Stream Ministries, based in Kansas City, Mo., one of 11 ministries that defected. His group left Exodus in May, Mr. Comiskey said in an e-mail, “due to leader Alan Chambers’s appeasement of practicing homosexuals who claim to be Christian” as well as his questioning of the reality of “sexual orientation change.”

In a phone interview Thursday from Orlando, Fla., where Exodus has its headquarters, Mr. Chambers amplified on the views that have stirred so much controversy. He said that virtually every “ex-gay” he has ever met still harbors homosexual cravings, himself included. Mr. Chambers, who left the gay life to marry and have two children, said that gay Christians like himself faced a lifelong spiritual struggle to avoid sin and should not be afraid to admit it.

He said Exodus could no longer condone reparative therapy, which blames homosexuality on emotional scars in childhood and claims to reshape the psyche. And in a theological departure that has caused the sharpest reaction from conservative pastors, Mr. Chambers said he believed that those who persist in homosexual behavior could still be saved by Christ and go to heaven.

Only a few years ago, Mr. Chambers was featured in advertisements along with his wife, Leslie, saying, “Change is possible.” But now, he said in the interview, “Exodus needs to move beyond that slogan.”

“I believe that any sexual expression outside of heterosexual, monogamous marriage is sinful according to the Bible,” Mr. Chambers emphasized. “But we’ve been asking people with same-sex attractions to overcome something in a way that we don’t ask of anyone else,” he said, noting that Christians with other sins, whether heterosexual lust, pornography, pride or gluttony, do not receive the same blanket condemnations.

Mr. Chamber’s comments come at a time of widening acceptance of homosexuality and denunciation of reparative therapy by professional societies that say it is based on faulty science and potentially harmful.

by my first tryreply 2407/06/2012

A bill to outlaw “conversion therapy” for minors has passed the California Senate and is now before the State Assembly. Earlier this year, a prominent psychiatrist, Dr. Robert L. Spitzer, apologized for publishing what he now calls an invalid study, which said many patients had largely or totally switched their sexual orientation.

Defenders of the therapy say that it can bring deep changes in sexual orientation and that the attacks are politically motivated.

David H. Pickup, a therapist in Glendale, Calif., who specializes in the treatment, said restricting it would harm people who are unhappy with their homosexuality by “making them feel that no change is possible at all.”

Mr. Pickup, an officer of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, composed of like-minded therapists, said reparative therapy had achieved profound changes for thousands of people, including himself. The therapy, he said, had helped him confront emotional wounds and “my homosexual feelings began to dissipate and attractions for women grew.”

Some in the ex-gay world are more scathing about Mr. Chambers.

“I think Mr. Chambers is tired of his own personal struggles, so he’s making excuses for them by making sweeping generalizations about others,” said Gregg Quinlan, a conservative lobbyist in New Jersey and president of a support group called Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays.

Exodus International, with a budget of $1.5 million provided by donors and member churches, is on a stable footing, Mr. Chambers said. He said the shifts in theology had the support of the Exodus board and had been welcomed by many of the 150 churches that are members in North America, which increasingly have homosexuals in their congregations. More opposition has come from affiliated ministries specifically devoted to sex-related therapies, with 11 quitting Exodus so far while about 70 remain.

In another sign of change, the vice chairman of the Exodus board, Dennis Jernigan, was forced to resign in June after he supported anti-sodomy laws in Jamaica. The board pledged to fight efforts anywhere to criminalize sexual acts between consenting adults.

Robert Gagnon, an associate professor at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and author of books on homosexuality and the Bible, last week issued a public call for Mr. Chambers to resign. “My greatest concern has to do with Alan’s repeated assurances to homosexually active ‘gay Christians’ that they will be with him in heaven,” he said in an e-mail.

Gay rights advocates said they were encouraged by Mr. Chambers’s recent turn but remained wary of Exodus, which they feel has caused enormous harm.

“Exodus International played the key role in planting the message that people can go from gay to straight through religion and therapy,” said Wayne Besen, director of Truth Wins Out, a group that refutes what it considers misinformation about gays and lesbians. “And the notion that one can change is the centerpiece of the religious right’s argument for denying us rights.”

Many of the local ministries in Exodus continue to attack gays and lesbians, said David Roberts, editor of the Web site Ex-Gay Watch, and they often have close ties with reparative therapists. He speculated that Mr. Chambers was trying to steer the group in a moderate direction because “they were becoming pariahs” in a society that is more accepting of gay people.

Mr. Chambers said he was simply trying to restore Exodus to its original purpose when it was founded in 1976: providing spiritual support for Christians who are struggling with homosexual attraction.

He said that he was happy in his marriage, with a “love and devotion much deeper than anything I experienced in gay life,” but that he knew this was not feasible for everyone. Many Christians with homosexual urges may have to strive for lives of celibacy.

But those who fail should not be severely judged, he said, adding, “We all struggle or fall in some way.”

by my first tryreply 2507/06/2012

R26, your mistake (and the mistake of all these homophobes trying to "cure" homosexuality) is in trying to reduce sexual orientation (or at least homosexual orientation) to "the rush or whatever you get from sex."

by my first tryreply 2707/07/2012

We're not talking about just being celibate, r26.

We're talking about a form of "therapy" which has been shown to do harm and can even result in the suicide of some patients. Many patients who undergo these 'therapies' are minors who don't really have a choice in the matter and/or can't advocate for themselves or think independently in an adult way.

People need to be taught that stigmatizing gay people is wrong. People experiencing gay desires need to be taught that such desires are perfectly natural. THAT's the approach of therapy... ie HEALING the sick.

You still want to kneel to Jesus and marry a woman or never have sex your whole life? Please, knock yourself out. What's stopping you?

But don't confuse this with "therapy," science, and don't force the faces of minors into that stinking pile of shit and call it therapy.

[quote]The rush you get from religion is more lasting and more meaningfull than bodily pleasure

As a Whoopi Goldberg character once sassed back to a scolding and judgmental nun, "Penguin, how would you know?"

And here's the thing: Many adults experience love and sex as quite spiritual.

Moreover, the type in-group/out-group thinking, legalistic theology, and proscribed beliefs in supernatural powers, etc of organized religions are the OPPOSITE of spirituality in my book.

by my first tryreply 2807/07/2012

You can have both.

by my first tryreply 2907/07/2012

[quote] sex, drugs, food, exercise etc also from religion be it Abrahamic religions or Buddhism or Taoism.

It's worth pointing out the most crucial difference. Sex, drugs, food, and exercise are all real. God is imaginary.

by my first tryreply 3007/07/2012

David H. Pickup...tee hee.

by my first tryreply 3107/07/2012

A former friend, who is a "Christian," believes that gays "don't have to marry and have kids, they can just be celibate." Sex is restricted to heterosexuals that are legally married, not just engaged. While those that have low sex drives may accomplish this temporarily, it shows how unrealistic many Christians are in expecting everyone to comply. It's almost as if they feel closer to God if they deny pleasure. Many sexual practices common to straight spouses are still considered taboo in conservative religions. And it was only relatively recently that sex for non-procreation was encouraged. Hence the gay sex taboo.

by my first tryreply 3207/09/2012

Between the faction of gay Christians who are happy with their sexual identity and "ex-gays," who say they've removed their homosexual yearnings, is a third group that gets little attention. These so-called Side B Christians identify as gay and believe it's not sinful to do so. But because they see acting on their orientation as ungodly, they commit to a life of celibacy.

Now, for the first time, a sociologist has taken an in-depth look at what makes Side Bs tick, particularly how they navigate their same-sex desires and their awkward position as stuck in the middle of ex-gay groups and content gay Christians. The study is small, but finds that Side Bs experience both tension and connection with these two groups. (The origins of the "Side B" term are foggy, but the terminology seems to come from the organization the Gay Christian Network, which labels gay Christians who do not see their sexuality as sinful as "Side A" and those who do as "Side B.")

"The networks overlap with these two groups very strongly, and they did often feel kind of caught in the middle, certainly," said study researcher S.J. Creek, a sociologist at Hollins University in Virginia. [5 Myths About Gay People, Debunked]

Christian and gay

The study of Side B Christians grew out of a larger research project by Creek looking into the lives of ex-gay Christians. This movement, which centers largely around the organization Exodus International, claims that same-sex desire can be stifled and that sexual orientation can be changed — hence the term "ex-gay." Numbers on ex-gay individuals are hard to come by, but Exodus International claims 3,000 people worldwide attend one of its ministry events each week.

In interviewing people who had sought help from ex-gay groups and then left, Creek found two distinct groups: Side As, who reconciled their sexuality with their religion and believe being gay and Christian is not contradictory; and Side Bs, who accept their orientation but commit to celibacy in order to remain in line with anti-homosexuality tenets.

"How each group thought about and acted on desire was different," Creek said.

For her new study, published May 13 in the journal Symbolic Interaction, Creek interviewed five Side B Christians about their emotions and interactions. Four of the interviewees were men and one was a woman; one of the men was married to a lesbian who also struggled with her desires.

Dealing with desire

The interviews revealed that desire was a complex problem for the Side Bs. "Allen," the 30-something man married to a lesbian, noted that he'd even had gay friends try to seduce him to test his limits. Such an experience is not uncommon among abstinent people, Creek wrote. [10 Milestones in Gay Rights History]

Admitting to same-sex desires is also a problem for Side Bs interacting with ex-gays, as the ex-gay philosophy holds that even homosexual desire is not OK. Creek's interviewees reported keeping their sexuality and their celibacy closeted in many cases.

"I tend to categorize myself as a gay, celibate Christian, but I am very hesitant using that [description] because in secular society, the word 'gay' means attracted to men, and in Evangelical Christian subculture, it means ‘sleeps with everybody five days a week,’" said one interviewee, called "James" in the report. Dealing with the connotations of the term was often too much of a headache, James said, so he frequently kept the information to himself.

At other times, claiming a gay identity was a way to connect with other Christians, both gay and straight. "Erin," a celibate lesbian, told Creek she found a connection with married couples in her Orthodox Church who also tried to lead chaste lives. Allen told a story of a straight Christian retreat administrator who stood up for him, pointing out that Christian straight men and Christian gay men have similar struggles.

"Every day, Allen wakes up and looks around, and he sees guys he wants to have sex with — and he doesn't have sex with them because he's following Jesus," the male administrator said. "And every day, I wake

by my first tryreply 3305/24/2013

R6, The very religious firmly believe that the answer to same sex attraction is prayer and 100% total celibacy. This includes a prohibition on hugging and other non-sexual forms of affection. They are totally delusional in that they view themselves as very accepting, as they no longer insist that gays get married to the opposite sex and have kids. Of course since they expect complete abstinence from non-married hetero couples, which is also very unrealistic, you can see how fundies view sexuality.

by my first tryreply 3405/24/2013

R31, Did you read about Mr. Pickup's therapy, including making a group of men get naked and their "cock talk," that is talking to a wooden phallus about their sexual desires?

by my first tryreply 3505/24/2013

look at the posts on this Facebook page about 'ex gay' christian musician dennis jernigan - a documentary on him funded via indiegogo has just been released theatrically and is playing in places like AMC in San Diego etc... WTF.

by my first tryreply 3609/17/2014

AMC should be boycotted - screenings in San Diego and Sarasota set for next month. click on the 'screenings' tab at the film's official site.

by my first tryreply 3709/17/2014
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