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« on: March 05, 2006, 07:05:42 PM »

Focus, Exodus Respond to 'Gay Task Force' Criticism of Reparative Therapies

by Jody Brown
March 3, 2006

(AgapePress) - - Two conservative, faith-based organizations are responding to charges by a homosexual group that they are hurting teens who are struggling with same-sex attraction by offering parents therapies to turn their children away from homosexuality.

The research director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute believes some religious-based programs are damaging to homosexual teens. In an interview with Associated Press, Jason Cianciotto suggests that religion is being used inappropriately to help individuals overcome unwanted same-sex attractions.

"Religion cannot be an excuse for placing people in situations where they may be harmed ... particularly minors who are unable to make decisions for themselves," Cianciotto says. He claims some people who have undergone "ex-gay" conversion therapy have suffered lasting damage, including "depression and even attempted suicide or social isolation from their family and friends, and spiritual harm in terms of being excommunicated from their home churches."

In a recently released report, the Institute questions whether such therapies are ethical or effective and says officials need to ensure that those offering such therapies are licensed counselors as opposed to simply being clergy. AP says the Task Force's report was released in Florida because it is home to Exodus International, the umbrella organization for Christian ministries that offer to help people overcome homosexual desires.

Exodus is not alone in the criticism being leveled by the pro-homosexual group. The researcher takes specific aim a prominent and nationally known ministry leader, saying parents are being misled by Christian leaders like Focus on the Family's Dr. James Dobson. "He's advocating for parents to take their children to conversion therapists for something that isn't even a mental illness," says Cianciotto, "and pre-homosexuality isn't even a recognized diagnosis. We think that that's really dangerous."

Both Focus on the Family and Exodus International are responding to the report and to the criticism being launched their direction. The two ministries affirm that change is possible for anyone, including teens, struggling with homosexual desires -- and that the fashion in which they present their information is both "compassionate and appropriate."

Exodus president Alan Chambers is a former homosexual himself. "We are deeply concerned about these young men and women because so many of us, as former homosexuals, wish we had been aware of the emotional and physical devastation often found in gay life," he says in a press release. He shares that Exodus hears from "thousands" of young people every year who, because of a "one-sided 'born-gay' message that saturates our culture," are desperate for information and resources from a different perspective.

Chambers says that that environment -- one which attempts to force feed the "born-gay" myth upon teens -- is one of the major obstacles facing "ex-gay" ministries. Nevertheless, he says Exodus and Focus "will continue to be an advocate for those youth whose voices have been lost amid the inflammatory rhetoric."

As to the charges that "reparative therapy" poses a danger to teens, a spokesman for Focus on the Family replies: "This report is another attempt to silence a message that is not tolerated by America's gay activist organizations." That message? "That change is possible," says Dr. Bill Maier.

Maier, psychologist-in-residence for the Colorado-based ministry, continues. "Though the road to change can be difficult, the research is clear that many gay men and women who have sought reorientation therapy have been able to achieve fulfilling, long-term heterosexual relationships," he says. "Tragically, the NGLTF ignores this research -- and the evidence of changed lives -- in pursuit of its duplicitous social agenda."

Maier also charges the NGLTF and other homosexual advocacy groups with hiding the truth from teens who are confused about their sexual identity. He cites research showing that teens who experiment with homosexual behavior are much more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, engage in sexual activity at an early age, and face an increased risk of being forced to have sex against their will.


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