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5 Reasons the 'Pray Away the Gay' Movement Is as Vile as Ever

While some "ex-gay" leaders say they no longer believe sexual orientation can change, their organizations are just as dangerous as ever.

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At this point, Exodus has offered only the barepolitical minimum. It has spoken out against bullying, hate crimes, and anti-gay legislation in countries like Uganda and Jamaica. In other words, the group does not support violence against LGBT people. But nor have Exodus or similar ex-gay organizations participated in LGBT civil rights amendments or spoken out about the importance of second-parent adoption rights. On that issue, Chambers says only, “We don’t get into the issue of legal or political ramifications with regards to gay marriage or any other thing, so as far as that goes, I don’t have a public comment on marriage.”

In February, Truth Wins Out reported on what it called a cynical strategy at Exodus meant to “create a façade that will marginalize LGBT advocates that criticize the group’s work.” Then, Besan argued that the group and its affiliates maintained a stridently anti-gay perspective in their own house, but presented a more moderate take to the public and in the media.

4. The “sin” issue. Ex-gay leaders are still very straightforward in their belief that “homosexual behavior” (i.e., sex) is sinful. In his open letter, Chambers writes:

Exodus does not believe SSA [same sex attraction] is sinful. However, sexual expression resulting from SSA is. Making such clear distinctions has been a failure of the Church that is slowly being realized and changed. At Exodus International one of our primary missions is to communicate that we all have propensities that if indulged can lead us into sin, but those attractions or inclinations are not sinful.

Chambers tells AlterNet that it would be disingenuous for him to describe himself as gay or bisexual because, even though he continues to have same-sex attractions, he experiences sexual attraction only for his wife. But there may be something more sinister at work in phrasing. As Dave Rattigan pointsout at Ex-Gay Watch, Exodus still appears to be “at pains to distance itself from another big bad something: The word GAY.” Rattigan writes that this refusal to adopt an LGBT identity -- to couch everything in ambiguous language about “same-sex attraction” -- is part of Exodus’ long-term pattern of insisting that, “[S]imply accepting the word ‘gay’ as an accurate description of oneself means assuming a political identity that takes precedence over every other aspect of a person.”

In other words, there is only “same-sex attraction” and sinful “homosexual behavior” (sex). This helps preclude conflict with anti-gay organizations like Focus on the Family which insist that there is no such thing as LGBT orientation. Instead, the “gay agenda” is all about normalizing a “perverse” sexual order.

Though Weed and Smid do identify themselves as gay men, they are equally frustrating on the issues of “homosexual behavior” and sin. As Weed recently told Gawker, “I believe the doctrine of the Mormon Church is true. One of the key doctrines of the church is that ‘marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator's plan for the eternal destiny of His children.’” Though he claims not to judge other LGBT people, Weed says little about the LDS role in supporting Proposition 8 and other anti-gay legislation.

In 2011, Smid at least acknowledged some of the harm that he and his former organization, Love in Action, had done to LGBT Christians. But even he did not account for the magnitude of what he had done to LGBT children and their parents -- who were often taught that they were to blame for their child’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Nor has he come clean about whether or not he thinks so-called “homosexual behavior” is a sin.

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