First up from the God Machine this week is a look at crumbling nature of the religious right’s “conversion therapy” campaign, once a leading priority for the movement, which continues to collapse under the weight of its own ridiculousness.
For many years, the religious right movement’s main argument against LGBT rights has been that sexual orientation is a choice, and to that end, far-right groups and leaders became heavily invested in the 1990s in an effort to convince gay people that they could be “converted” to heterosexuality. James Dobson’s Focus on the Family even created an “ex-gay” ministry and hosted “Love Won Out” conferences to promote the notion that Christian therapy could turn gay people straight.
The religious right even had a spokesperson: John Paulk, who told the world he’d been “cured” of his homosexuality. Whatever happened to Paulk? Katie McDonough reported that he apologized for his previous efforts this week, renounced the “ex-gay” movement, and admits his sexual orientation never actually changed (thanks to R.M. for the tip).
Former Exodus International chairman and conversion therapy “success story” John Paulk has written a formal statement of apology for his role in promoting Focus on the Family’s “ex-gay” ministry and for any harm his actions may have done to other gays and lesbians. […]
Paulk also addresses his legacy in the letter, as many Christians struggling to come out still view him as a poster boy for conversion therapy and, unaware of his current life as an openly gay man, may look to his example to “cure” themselves. Paulk asks that people ignore the two books and countless public testimonies he gave before coming to honest terms with his sexuality because “they do not reflect who I am now or what I believe today.”
The “conversion therapy” campaign was a cruel and pathetic initiative, which even many conservatives now prefer to forget. Paulk’s apology, long overdue, should mark the formal end of the “ex-gay” movement, and the demise of a faith-based campaign that never should have been launched in the first place.
Also from the God Machine this week:
* A Mississippi school district is now the subject of a federal lawsuit after officials coerced students to attend events that featured a fundamentalist Christian video, proselytizing, and prayer.
* A tragic story out of Pennsylvania: “A couple serving probation for the 2009 death of their toddler after they turned to prayer instead of a doctor could face new charges now that another son has died” (thanks to reader R.P. for the tip).
* The American Family Association, a prominent right-wing group, has been apoplectic of late, insisting the U.S. military and the Obama administration was blocking servicemembers’ access to the Southern Baptist Convention’s website. As it turns out, there was a technical glitch, which has since been resolved (thanks to R.B. for the tip).
* And radical TV preacher Pat Robertson this week accused Planned Parenthood of supporting genocide and inspiring Adolf Hitler. (For the record, Planned Parenthood does not support genocide and did not inspire Hitler.)