Let's face it, I am a news junkie. I watch all sorts of news/infortainment/opinion programs every day, and I've been increasingly distressed to see the news programs degenerating into infotainment, more and more slanted to reflect the host's prejudices, and rarely being newsworthy to boot.
Well, on July 9th, 2012, I was galvanized while watching HARDBALL (with Michael Smerconish subbing for Chris Matthews). It's the second time this month that something has happened that was newsworthy that literally made me cry. And, it's something that's been a very long time coming. On June 19. 2012, Mr. Alan Chambers of Exodus International, Inc., sent out a letter to his faithful followers announcing a new direction for the organization (read it here: http://alanchambers.org/defining-exodus-letter-from-alan-chambers-for-june-2012/) that has stridently embraced a "PRAY THE GAY AWAY" approach to "curing" homosexuality through reparative therapy. On July 9, he appeared on Chris Matthews' show and discussed this with substitute host Michael Smerconish.
He chose to do this because he had talked with Mr. Smerconish several times, beginning on Mr. Smerconish's radio program 3 years ago, defending Exodus International's stand on (AND USE OF) that most disgusting of practices, reparative therapy. The complete transcript of his remarks can be read here: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/48134422/ns/msnbc_tv-hardball_with_chris_matthews/t/hardball-chris-matthews-monday-july/
Mr. Chambers said: "Well, I want to be clear about what those changes are. The fact is, my life is still as it was when I was on your radio program three years ago, and I still hold to a biblical sexual ethic where homosexuality and other forms of sexuality are concerned. But what I think what’s changed for me is, really, the overemphasis on this issue in ways that we don’t emphasize other issues in the church. And specifically, with regards to reparative therapy, that so much of that type of technique and therapy is focused on changing attraction or changing temptation, when I don’t find that there’s a biblical reality that says people will necessarily change their temptations or change their struggles. So I want to be very, very clear about that."
Mr. Chambers also stated that he thought that "praying away the gay" was a lazy approach to a complex problem. He also stated that people that were practicing "reparative therapy" and promising a 100% cure were unrealistic.
No SHIT, Sherlock!
He admitted that he still has same-sex attractions but added that he was in love with his wife and that he didn't act on those cravings - and anyway, that his cravings were always for his wife - and that he was (and this was belligerently said) very much in love with his wife and that he had a very happy marriage. The difference, he also said, was that, while he still had the temptations, he didn't act on them.
In other words - and in my opinion - he didn't say much of anything that couldn't be interpreted as his trying to defend his own personal position on "reparative therapy" (which is that it works some of the time, on some people) but that just because somebody identifies as being GLBT, that God doesn't love them, or that they have no hope of Heaven. He also said that he believes that nurture is more important than nature in how a person is shaped, and who that person turns out to be, be it GLBT or straight.
Here's what I think - and I'm certainly not alone in this - is that Mr. Chambers and his contemptible organization have finally been defeated by the mountains of scientific evidence that we are indeed born with our sexual identities, and that trying to change the hard-wiring that we are born with is an exercise in futility. Of course, over the years, that philosophy of "pray the gay away" and the use of "reparative therapy" had made him and his organization a literal Grand Canyon full of cash. Some of that cash was used to help defeat Prop 8 in California, and to push the individual states' and the FedGov versions of DOMA. which defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and that GLBT people should never be allowed to marry because after all same-sex unions can't be fruitful and multiply as all people are called to do in the Bible.
Mr. Chambers, in other words, along with all the other so-called christian movements that deny us our civil rights, still believes in the Old Covenant with an angry, vengeful God. He is just going to stop trying to force people into a form that he and the others of his contemptible ilk think we should all fit into. He's trying to cover his and his organization's collective asses. Not only did Mr. Chambers allow, encourage and endorse reparative therapy, Exodus International allowed as well as encouraged its own staff to use personal stories to promote it and their organization. They all LUUUUUUUUUUUUUURVED the sinner, and hated the sin. I still haven't figured out how being a loving, kind, compassionate human being who loves somebody of her/his own sex is sinful. This is pure Old Testament nonsense.
Know what Jesus’ big bugaboo was? Count on it, it was NOT homosexuality. Nope, it was adultery and divorce.
Andy Comiskey of Desert Stream ministries, writing in his book “Pursuing Sexual Wholeness,” called homosexuality “spiritual disfigurement” and believes that “Satan delights in homosexual perversion because it not only exists outside of marriage, but it also defiles God’ very image reflected as male and female…Another related source of demonization is the homosexual relationship itself…That attachment and communion are indeed inspired, but their source is demonic.”
However, that's not the worst thing that Exodus International has done. During the height of the AIDS crisis in the early 1908s and continuing through the 1990s, Exodus International purposely used scare tactics to recruit new clients. Fear is a great motivator, after all, and by using this abominable tactic and by subjecting terrified people to what amounted to then, and still amounts to today, public humiliation and private torture. There are a lot of GLBT people that went through the "reparative therapy" process more than once - and some of them wound up dead by their own hands, when they couldn't get rid of their temptations and cravings, as they had been promised would happen if they just prayed enough, were celibate or in a heterosexual relationship no matter how much they hated it.
If there was ever an organization that should be called a domestic terrorist organization, all of the groups that pushed "reparative therapy" should be labeled as such and prosecuted. Unfortunately, that isn't going to happen. We - and by "we" I mean everybody that finds this sort of thing completely repugnant - should never forget Exodus International's past, or that, no matter what they are saying now, they are leopards that aren't changing their spots, just their rhetoric. There is no way that Alan Chambers should be allowed to cover up Exodus International’s harmful and in a good many cases lethal history of the use of fear, intimidation, brain washing, and anti-gay propaganda since it was founded in 1976.
As I said when our first Black President was elected, I never thought that I'd live long enough to see that day. Now, here's another thing that I never thought I'd live long enough to see: A fundamentalist christian group finally admitting that they were wrong in forcing people to pretend to change, in the name of Christ and for the power of the almighty dollar.
Let's hope that this finally spells the end of that thoroughly debunked method of torture, 'reparative therapy".