Friday, December 19, 2008

Does Rick Warren "Celebrate" So-Called Conversion Therapy?

The Atlantic's Andrew Sullivan reports this morning that, according to at least one of his readers, Rev. Rick Warren (who was selected by President-Elect Obama to deliver the inaugural invocation on January 20th) may not just be on the frontlines of the movement to block marriage equality . . . but may also be a proponent of so-called "ex-gay therapy."

"Most people probably don’t know this, but Warren’s Saddleback Church has a Friday night program called Celebrate Recovery. On the whole the program is modeled after the twelve steps, albeit with an evangelical supplement to it. There are subgroups in the program that cater to men with 'addictions' to pornography, recovery alcoholics, and women with codependency issues. There is also a group for those who struggle with 'same sex attraction,' the discourse of which is directly borrowed from the ex-gay movement. I know this, of course, because I was involved with the group in Spring of 2007."

"I spent the majority of my Fridays as a young, 23 year old gay man sitting in a room with a group of men whose self loathing and struggle was overwhelming," the person tells Sullivan. "These were largely married men, men with children, some of them former ministers, whose entire lives became consumed with undertaking the impossible act of modifying, or at least seeking to neuter, their own sexual orientation."

So-called "therapies," of course, have not only been discredited by reputable medical organizations, but they have also proven to be harmful. In 1990, the American Psychological Association (APA) stated that scientific evidence does not show that conversion therapy works and that it can do more harm than good. These so-called “ex-gay ministries,” such as “Love Won Out,” use out-moded medical theories and radical religious beliefs to justify trying to alter gay and lesbian people's natural sexual orientation. (See PFLAG's response to the "ex-gay" movement in this video from a recent conference in Orlando, Florida.)

Rev. Warren needs to clarify if he endorses such harmful practices . . . if he sees sexual orientation as a "curable" trait . . . and if he disagrees with President-Elect Obama's belief that there should be no place for these insidious practices in true communities of faith.

There should be no room at the inaugural pulpit for a pastor who would put young people's well-being at risk. There is nothing to "celebrate" about endangering the lives of those we love.

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