Fred Hutchison said that Paul Cameron said that Alan Chambers said...
October 11th, 2007
It looks like Warren Throckmorton is on some pretty entertaining email lists. He reports on an email by Fred Hutchison, a columnist on the particularly virulent website Renew America, which has gained wider circulation among social conservatives. That email goes like this:
Ex-gay leader returns to sodomy
According to Paul Cameron of the Family Research Institute Alex Chambers, (sic) Director of Exodus International, the largest Evangelical organization for ex-gays declared that he is no longer ex-gay and is not sure he has ever met an ex-gay! He is now calling to Evangelicals to reconcile with practicing gays.
Don’t you just love it when someone takes Paul Cameron’s word for something?
Warren contacted Hutchison, who responded by citing last June’s LA Times story (which says no such thing) and Cameron again, saying, “I really thought Paul Cameron and the LA Times were adequate sources because I had no intention to publish.”
I have no idea what that’s supposed to mean. I also have no idea whether Cameron actually claimed that Exodus President Alan Chambers “returned to sodomy,” or if Hutchison quoted Cameron accurately. I am quite confident that Chambers hasn’t “returned to sodomy” — that much I can say. But is it too terribly wrong of me to think that this sounds like something Cameron might say?
Whenever Cameron has written about the ex-gay movement, he’s been particularly critical of Exodus. This goes at least as far back as his October 1998 newsletter, when Cameron zeroed in on what he sees as the essential problem of ex-gay ministries like Exodus — they’re too nice:
The result among ex-gay ministries has often been an attitude that those who engage in homosexuality are deserving of delicate treatment, precisely because they consider homosexuals “victims of circumstance.” In fact, the tactics of the ex-gay groups sometimes so avoid direct criticism of homosexual behavior that they almost sound like quasi-apologists for the gay movement. They frequently use the same words gays use, words like homophobia, etc. And these leaders are often reticent to call homosexuality what it is — deadly dangerous.
Boy, oh boy. I have no idea what ex-gay conferences or literature Cameron’s been exposed to, but I haven’t seen much evidence of “delicate treatment” from the ex-gay movement. But that might just be a matter of perspective. Maybe Cameron would be more approving if the ex-gay movement adopted some of the “proven techniques” developed by Nazi Germany which Cameron admires so much.
Anyway, Cameron continues:
This is one of the difficulties with the philosophy undergirding Exodus. FRI regards homosexuality not as a disease from which one must be cured, nor necessarily a bruise from an inadequate or defective childhood that must be healed, but a bad habit that must be broken no matter how it came to be acquired. Digging about in a person’s past often involves mining for face-saving excuses, and has no particular relevance to breaking adopted habits.
Since FRI regards homosexuality as merely a habit (Don’t you love how Cameron refers to himself in the institutional third person?), the solution to that habit is simple. Just stop doing it and move on:
But those in leadership positions in the ex-gay movement often appear unwilling to simply move on, get away from homosexuality, and get a life. Being involved with the Ex-ministry keeps them around homosexuality and homosexuals. Instead of “getting away and staying away,” they retain a toehold in the gay world.
Cameron’s opinion of Exodus hasn’t changed much since 1998. He returned to the subject last July, prompted by what Alan Chambers told the LA Times:
Alan Chambers directs Exodus International, widely described as the nation’s largest ex-gay ministry. But when he addresses the group’s Freedom Conference at Concordia University in Irvine this month, Chambers won’t celebrate successful ‘ex-gays.’ Truth is, he’s not sure he’s ever met one.
… [L]ately, he’s come to resent the term “ex-gay”: It’s too neat, implying a clean break with the past, when he still struggles at times with homosexual temptation. “By no means would we ever say change can be sudden or complete,” Chambers said.
Those comments served as a launching pad for Cameron’s long and rambling critique of the ex-gay movement which appeared in the July 2007 issue of the FRI Report (not available online). Here, Cameron loses patience with both arms of the movement – the ministerial branch represented by Exodus, as well as the clinical branch represented by NARTH and personified by one of its founders, Dr. Charles Socarides. In fact, Cameron spends nearly three pages criticizing Socarides’ psychological approaches to homosexuality.
And in the end, Cameron remains dissatisfied that nobody seems to understand what he thinks is so clear: that homosexuality is nothing more than a “habit.” And the best way to break the habit is to stay completely away from anyone else who is prone to that same habit:
‘Common sense’ holds that if one has a bad habit – involving sex or drugs or anything else that can be intensely pleasurable – that individual has got to stop feeding it. Then they must get out and stay away from those with whom they associated while indulging their habit and any of its associated pleasures….
FRI believes that the folk involved in Exodus and NARTH are sincere, caring people. But FRI, believing in ‘common sense,’ is skeptical about any ‘curative program’ that physically puts together many of those seeking healing from a particular bad habit.
After recalling Michael Bussee’s example (He was one of the original founders of Exodus before leaving with his partner and fellow volunteer, Cary Cooper, to become one of Exodus’ strongest critics), Cameron finally returns his attention the Chambers’ remarks on the fifth page. That’s where Cameron accuses Chambers of potentially making the same “mistake” Bussee made:
These ‘healing programs’ defy common sense. Instead of running away from homosexuality and those who participate in it, ex-gay movement leaders immerse themselves — albeit with a different motivation, a motivation to help their fellow former-habitué’s. Who knows how much this ‘re-immersion’ affected Bussee’s decision making?
And when it comes to Chambers, perhaps he hasn’t met an ex-gay because those who leave the lifestyle AND distance themselves from hanging around homosexuals or former homosexuals aren’t around for him to talk to. And why should they?
Perhaps Alan Chambers’ ‘spilling the beans’ might be the wake-up call that the Evangelical Church can hear. If the main defense of the Church against the homosexual movement boils down to ‘converting’ homosexuals away from participation in homosexuality, it is hard to see how victory can be denied the gay movement. Yet this very tactic is being vigorously pushed by Focus on the Family at its ‘Love Won Out’ conferences.
… Chambers is calling for the Church to abandon its historic stance against homosexuality and adopt instead the ‘insights’ of psychiatric theory. He is in step with Joe Dallas, an ex-gay who delivers the last address at many of the ‘Love Won Out’ conferences. In that address Dallas compares the Church’s treatment of those who practice homosexuality to the treatment of the Jews by the Nazis’s. That’s what FRI would call taking psychiatric theory seriously!! [Emphasis in the original]
Imagine the impertinence of Joe Dallas using the Nazi angle! Why, that’s Cameron’s domain!
Clearly Cameron is not Alan Chamber’s greatest fan, nor does he think much of Exodus, ex-gay ministries or secular “reparative” therapy. Throughout his career, Cameron has made it clear that he’d rather go the punishment route instead.
Cameron seems to think that Chambers’ continuing association with “homosexuals or former homosexuals” is flirting with danger. What’s more, Cameron is outraged that Chambers occasionally speaks out about “compassion” towards the gay community. Again, I have no idea if Cameron actually claimed that Chambers “returned to sodomy.” I personally doubt it myself. But given his writings on Chambers and the ex-gay movement, it would appear that Cameron sees little difference.
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