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Ex-Gay Ministry Admits Sexual Abuse; Grateful At Not Being Found Out

Jim Burroway

March 19th, 2010

Andrew ComiskeyAndrew Comiskey, of the ex-gay group Desert Stream Ministries, posted an admission on his blog that a staffer at DSM was found to have sexually abused at least one teenager under their “care.” But instead of an apology to either the teenager, his family, Comiskey’s church or the ex-gay movement, Comiskey pens a strange, rambling post in which he portrays himself as a victim of a blackmail attempt and expresses gratitude that the entire episode escape public scrutiny in the press:

Before we as a ministry even knew what had actually happened, one relative of the boy, savvy in the ways of insurance, insisted on a face-to-face meeting with Jonathan Hunter and I. He wrote down an astronomical figure that he insisted we pay out to him, or else. He threatened to take the case to the press and a flamboyant celebrity lawyer in LA. (He assumed that our large and prominent new home–Vineyard Anaheim—had millions for such settlements).

The post goes on to express Comiskey’s anguish over the sad affair. Not the anguish for the molestation that the teens experienced, mind you, but the anguish of the humiliating police interrogations, anguish at being interrogated by their liability insurers and their lawyers., the anguish of facing church elders at Vinyard Anaheim (with which the ministry was affiliated at the time), and the anguish of losing a valued staffer who abused the teens. Apparently, the unnamed staffer was a key player in the ministry, as well as a close personal friend to Comiskey and his wife.

But what about the anguish the teens faced? And what about the anguish they must assuredly feel again should they come across this post? If Comiskey had an ounce of compassion for what those teens experienced, it’s hard to see it here. What possible good could a post like this serve anyone, except to aggrandize Comiskey’s own standing before a god who, according to Comiskey, saved his ministry from his enemies:

At the end of 3 years, the case was settled. Our insurance covered most of the costs. Our groups were reinstated at the Vineyard, with new boundaries and requirements intact. Not one story was printed about the tragedy. God spared us. His mercy leveled and sustained DSM.

Good for you, Andy. Your god smiled upon you. But God bless the teens who were left to pick up the pieces afterward.

According to a comment by Ex-Gay Watch‘s David Roberts left at Love Is An Orientation, the incident described in the post occurred in 1997. Another allegation of sexual abuse was lodged five years later. In 2005, Comiskey moved his ministry to Kansas City, where he became associated with the extremist charismatic group known as the International House of Prayer. According to ex-gay Survivor Peterson Toscano, Desert Stream’s Living Waters program “uses extreme methods that involve forms of exorcism (deliverance/healing prayer) and rely on teachings that believe that people become gay through demonic influences and the sins of ancestors.” Desert Stream is an affiliated ministry of Exodus International.

[Hat tip: Love Is An Orientation and several BTB readers]

Comments

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mattymatt
March 19th, 2010 | LINK

Absolutely criminal — and yet also not much of a surprise.

I’ve updated Comiskey’s Wikipedia entry to reflect this information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Comiskey

William
March 19th, 2010 | LINK

Comiskey says:

“We as a ministry had committed the sin of Achan (Joshua 7). … God’s anger burned at us in the same way that God’s anger burned at the whole nation of Israel for the sin of one man (Achan). … Achan’s sin made us ‘liable to destruction.’ (Joshua 7: 12) As the Israelite’s [sic] did, we removed the violator from our midst and got low.”

Quite right that the violator should have been removed, but I wonder how exactly they went about it. Did they follow biblical precedent by taking the violator and his entire family and stoning them to death? (Joshua 7: 24-26) And if not, why not?

Candace
March 19th, 2010 | LINK

If “exorcisms” –deliverance and healing/prayer/repenting/repeated salvations/counseling/fasting/abstinence/chastity/name it and claim it/praise and worship/constant ministry to others/about a zillion hours spent working in different churches/more prayer/more repenting/etc. etc.etc. ad infinitum–worked, I would be the straightest person on the face of this earth. I was prayed over and “delivered” by some of the biggest names in the charismatic ministries, and I’m still as queer as queer can get. Apparently the GALLONS of “holy” oil and the screaming mobs that “ministered” to me by calling out my many (mostly imagined)sins publically, maybe should have spent their time on –oh, I dunno, let me think– maybe ministering to widows? Feeding the hungry? Visiting those in jail? Praying for the sick?

Nah, let those people fend for themselves. We gotta get the demons out of this queer.

I spent 20 long years in the charismatic movement, and I NEVER saw anybody change as a result of all the deliverances and emotional healings. People either prayed and repented and got saved and sinned and prayed and repented and got saved and sinned till they went mental– or they left the churches– or they learned to lie. They put on a big, fake smile and appeared perfect on the surface while they were filled with turmoil inside. And they snuck away to continue doing whatever it was that brought them to the “ministry” to begin with.

And just like the sick people who are “healed:” when they die anyway, everybody says their faith wasn’t strong enough, they had sin in their life, it was their own fault. Apparently NONE of them tried hard enough to stay healed or delivered.

The next time somebody lays this load of crap on you, check for the big, fake smile on their face. That will tell you all you need to know about their own “deliverance.” And then get the hell away from them as fast as you can.

John
March 19th, 2010 | LINK

I’m sure the Vatican would have been thankful if all the news stories about past abuses/mistakes of priests and bishops could have been so nicely kept under wraps.

I’m sure Benedict would have been really pleased if God had decided to “spare” the Catholic church the embarrassment of all this unpleasant publicity.

Looks like God is on the Protestants’ side after all!

Priya Lynn
March 19th, 2010 | LINK

“Desert Stream’s Living Waters program “uses extreme methods that involve forms of exorcism (deliverance/healing prayer) and rely on teachings that believe that people become gay through demonic influences and the sins of ancestors.””

Wow. When people are this delusional what hope is there to bring them back to reality?

Clark
March 19th, 2010 | LINK

Desert Stream Ministries & the Living Waters program helped me to walk in freedom from homosexuality to date, for nearly 25 years. I am so thankful to God for the healing through Jesus and his powerful work on Calvary’s Cross. I never saw one person try to cast demons out of anyone, but I did see a firsthand a group of people filled with compassion pray and minister God’s love to folks who wanted to be free to walk out of bondage and into God’s plan for their lives. Now I am blessed to be able to help minister to others. In addition, I know how tormented Andy Comiskey was over the abuse that occurred. Letters of apology were written to victims & their families, but rest assured that the offender did betray trust and violated ministry policy and was held to account for his actions.

Scott P.
March 19th, 2010 | LINK

Clark, just curious, are you now heterosexual, fully functional with a woman and no longer desirous of sexual relations with men?

Richard Atwood
March 19th, 2010 | LINK

Clark, I am so sorry you lost those 25 years of potential joy and meaning in your life. I hope you found some true fulfillment in some of your earlier years, before your “walk in freedom”, and that these memories may console you as eternity closes in, and as you begin to recognize your profound error. Maybe you will even find some cosmological wisdom to replace the silly superstitions to which you have been clinging these decades. You have some time left to use your gift of reason. But not that much time. So I hope you start to think. Anyway we all make mistakes. With love, Richard.

Lynn David
March 19th, 2010 | LINK

Abuse is probably more a problem with paraprofessional organizations, especially those which work less from scientific models and more from dogmatic ones.

Timothy Kincaid
March 20th, 2010 | LINK

Clark,

I’m glad that you are enjoying your life. I wish you the best.

But I am also so very thankful to God for the healing that so many former ex-gays have found in their walk away from a lifestyle that was harmful and destructive to their lives.

I guess we all have to walk in the path that brings us peace and meaning.

Ben in Oakland
March 20th, 2010 | LINK

Funny about that, clark.

Why do you need Jesus to walk in freedom? All you had to do was stop doing whatever it was you were doing before. Don’t want to be gay? Stop having sex with other men. It’s very simple. Why the drama?

Richard Rush
March 20th, 2010 | LINK

Ben in Oakland said,
“Why do you need Jesus to walk in freedom? All you had to do was stop doing whatever it was you were doing before. Don’t want to be gay? Stop having sex with other men. It’s very simple. Why the drama?”

Yes, exactly.

I “came out” in the summer of Stonewall (1969). I’ve seen lots of other homos decide to pretend they were straight, including the usual deceiving of women into marrying them, and having children. They didn’t have hand-holding “ministries,” and thus suffered alone and in silence.

Now, in recent years, I’m seeing many of these people walk away from the bondage of living to please bigots, and finally live in accordance with their natures.

In addition to depending upon perpetuating the social/religious unacceptability of homosexuality, these so-called “ministries” also depend upon Solamen miseris socios habuisse doloris.

Regan DuCasse
March 20th, 2010 | LINK

Um, Clark…
What do you mean? Are you EX-sexual, meaning that you’re a celibate person not in any relationship?

Or are you living LIKE a heterosexual? With an opposite sex significant other?

Here’s the thing, a person can be gay OR hetero whether or not they are having sex at the moment.

I’m hetero myself, and personally, I don’t know why heterosexuality is sold as THE holy grail of a BETTER life than being homosexual.

Heterosexuality only gets better socio/political status, which isn’t the same as a better life.

Be careful what you say, it’s very confusing on it’s face, and infers a LOT that isn’t true.
You feel me?

Tim
March 20th, 2010 | LINK

@ Clark:

“Letters of apology were written to victims & their families”

Well, that puts things in an entirely new light. I didn’t know that they actually wrote letters AND expended 42 cents on a stamp. So much better than an actual meeting and a long-term commitment to helping them heal from the abuse. Certainly Jesus would have gone with written letters over all of that touchy feeling stuff. I only hope that the apologies were accompanied by Christ-like disclaimers of liability.

Jeff Coe
June 2nd, 2010 | LINK

Hmm, It is interesting how reporting and interpretation is held as fact. I was there when all this happened. Even though I do not adhere to the policies of Desert Stream any longer I do know the anguish that Andy Comiskey felt as well as everyone else on staff when all this occurred. It was anger at the staffer who did this stupid thing which he did go to court on and a real grief as to what occurred with the young guy wondering how to best help him and his family.

I don’t know about the post that Andy wrote on but will have to check it out. By the way deliverance is not healing prayer two totally different aspects of prayer. I know the church world is alien to many but it would be wise if one could learn the ins and outs as well as the terminology to better inform the public.

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