April 6th, 2008
Last summer we noted that the leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) had issued a statement which appeared to represent an small, incremental improvement on the church’s stance towards homosexuality. Now we learn that Mormon church officials have agreed to meet with leaders of Affirmation, a gay Mormon support group.
Affirmation had repeatedly tried to meet with church leaders. Their last invitation to meet was turned down last August. Then in February, just three days after Thomas S. Monson was named church president following Gordon B. Hinkley’s death, Affirmation invited Monson to meet. Monson accepted the invitation for an August meeting.
Among the specifics Affirmation wants to address: the historical treatment of gays by the church, including recommendations for aversion therapies to “cure” homosexuality; recommendations for more effective counseling methods; ways to avoid family break-ups; and a change in the honor code at church-owned Brigham Young University that can result in expulsion for sexually active gay students. The same standard applies to straight students.
“None of this requires a change in doctrine,” said [Affirmation assistant executive director Dave] Melson. “They’re good for both gays and the church.”
Melson added, “We would like to start a dialogue, even if it isn’t immediately fruitful.”
The church has come under fire as gay members have come forward with allegations that they were subjected to electric shock aversion therapy at the behest of their spiritual leaders. Playwright John Cameron used his own experience with electric shock aversion therapy as the basis for his play, “14” (for the number of men in an LDS study) which debuted at the University of Iowa in February:
His harrowing, powerful play, “14,” was inspired by his experience undergoing electric shock treatment in a 1976 research study at BYU. As a college student, Cameron volunteered for the experiment, conducted by then BYU-graduate student Max Ford McBride, hoping it would alter his same-sex attraction. Instead, the psychological and emotional wounds nearly crippled him, once leading him to contemplate suicide.
Church leaders acknowledge that abusive therapies were deployed by the church in the past, but contend that they have been discontinued. Leaders also say that they will accept no responsibility for these treatments, even though gay Mormons were “prescribed” these treatments by church leaders.
Affirmation was started by Stephan Zakharias in 1977 after two friends of his committed suicide after undergoing electric shock therapy experiments administered by BYU’s Psychology Department.
In this original BTB Investigation, we unveil the tragic story of Kirk Murphy, a four-year-old boy who was treated for “cross-gender disturbance” in 1970 by a young grad student by the name of George Rekers. This story is a stark reminder that there are severe and damaging consequences when therapists try to ensure that boys will be boys.
When we first reported on three American anti-gay activists traveling to Kampala for a three-day conference, we had no idea that it would be the first report of a long string of events leading to a proposal to institute the death penalty for LGBT people. But that is exactly what happened. In this report, we review our collection of more than 500 posts to tell the story of one nation’s embrace of hatred toward gay people. This report will be updated continuously as events continue to unfold. Check here for the latest updates.
In 2005, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that “[Paul] Cameron’s ‘science’ echoes Nazi Germany.” What the SPLC didn”t know was Cameron doesn’t just “echo” Nazi Germany. He quoted extensively from one of the Final Solution’s architects. This puts his fascination with quarantines, mandatory tattoos, and extermination being a “plausible idea” in a whole new and deeply disturbing light.
On February 10, I attended an all-day “Love Won Out” ex-gay conference in Phoenix, put on by Focus on the Family and Exodus International. In this series of reports, I talk about what I learned there: the people who go to these conferences, the things that they hear, and what this all means for them, their families and for the rest of us.
Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"
Using the same research methods employed by most anti-gay political pressure groups, we examine the statistics and the case studies that dispel many of the myths about heterosexuality. Download your copy today!
And don‘t miss our companion report, How To Write An Anti-Gay Tract In Fifteen Easy Steps.
Anti-gay activists often charge that gay men and women pose a threat to children. In this report, we explore the supposed connection between homosexuality and child sexual abuse, the conclusions reached by the most knowledgeable professionals in the field, and how anti-gay activists continue to ignore their findings. This has tremendous consequences, not just for gay men and women, but more importantly for the safety of all our children.
Anti-gay activists often cite the “Dutch Study” to claim that gay unions last only about 1½ years and that the these men have an average of eight additional partners per year outside of their steady relationship. In this report, we will take you step by step into the study to see whether the claims are true.
Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council submitted an Amicus Brief to the Maryland Court of Appeals as that court prepared to consider the issue of gay marriage. We examine just one small section of that brief to reveal the junk science and fraudulent claims of the Family “Research” Council.
The FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics aren’t as complete as they ought to be, and their report for 2004 was no exception. In fact, their most recent report has quite a few glaring holes. Holes big enough for Daniel Fetty to fall through.