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Posts for December, 2011

Ex-Gay Group Warns: Change Or Die

Jim Burroway

December 6th, 2011

Phillip Lee, of Bakersfield's His Way Out Ministries

It has been reported recently that Exodus International president Alan Chambers is trying to save his organization from financial ruin by rebranding itself with some sort of a softer, kinder image. An Exodus member ministry in Bakersfield, California, however appears to have taken the opposite tack. Pastor Phillip Lee, executive director of His Way Out Ministries at Chester Avenue Community Church penned an op-ed in Sunday’s Bakersfield Californian that looks like it came straight out of 1985. The upshot is this: everyone has a choice to either become straight or die of AIDS:

While AIDS is not solely a homosexual disease, the disease was confined almost exclusively to homosexuals in the beginning years of the epidemic in the United States. I personally witnessed this horrific tragedy unfold while living in San Francisco, having several personal friends die of AIDS at the beginning stages of what is now a pandemic. Tragically, the reality and threat of AIDS has not stopped men from engaging in unprotected sex and the continued risk-taking by many does not appear to result from a lack of awareness.

There is, therefore, little to no evidence that homosexual practice can be anything other than a severe threat to the sanctity of life. That said, all efforts should and must continue to better understand and find a cure for AIDS and AIDS-related diseases. However, if the sexual behavior that is fundamental to most homosexual practice constitutes the primary means of transmitting such disease, then it only makes sense for society to do all it can to decrease such behavior, which ultimately protects the sanctity of life.

I guess gay and bisexual women are off the hook. But what Lee fails to understand is that AIDS is the result of unprotected sex — whether that sex is gay or straight. It is not the product of being gay. If it were, AIDS wouldn’t be a predominantly heterosexual disease worldwide. But there’s no sense in grounding an ex-gay message in reality when the entire ex-gay movement is predicated on training people to ignore their own reality and embark on an lifelong struggle to try to achieve what does not come naturally to them. Stigmatizing people with AIDS is no small thing for people who have still have to deal with routine ignorance, but as far as Exodus-affiliated His Way Out Ministries is concerned, that stigma is just another tool in its toolbox.

This tactic is beyond merely deplorable. It is an outrageous throwback to the hysteria of twenty years ago. If Chambers really wants to rebrand his organization’s image, he really has his work cut out for him among his own affiliates.