Pulbished in OnTopMag.com:
Amid declining revenues, Focus on the Family is getting out of the “ex-gay” business.
The AP reported the socially conservative group was facing a “serious budget shortfall.”
In a letter to donors, Jim Daly, president and CEO of Focus, explained that the group is about $6 million in the red for the year.
Focus' Love Won Out conferences will be acquired by Exodus International, whose motto is “freedom from homosexuality though the power Jesus Christ.” Focus said it will continue to support the workshop financially.
“There is no one better equipped to take over the operation of Love Won Out than Alan [Chambers] and his team,” Melissa Fryrear, gender and sexuality department director for Focus, said in a statement. “They have been with us since the beginning. They have stood alongside us in sharing the hope that, with Christ, transformation is possible for those unhappy with same-sex attractions. And we will stand alongside them as they continue to share that message as the organizer of Love Won Out.”
The group announced last February that its founder, James Dobson, and his wife, Shirley Dobson, were relinquishing control of the Colorado-based ministry. Dobson, known for his fiery anti-gay rhetoric, continues to host the group's radio broadcast and speak on behalf of the organization.
“Everyone knows these are challenging times for organizations and individuals all across the globe,” Focus Vice President Gary Schneeberger said in a statement. “It is not an inexpensive undertaking to put on a Love Won Out event; and contrary to what our detractors say, the conferences rarely have recouped the financial investment made in them. That is a cost we have always paid because of the positive impact the events have had.”
The announcement comes on the heels of a new American Psychological Association (APA) report that says reparative therapy – the controversial gay-to-straight treatment promoted by Love Won Out and Exodus International – does not work and may be psychologically harmful.
At the heart of the therapy is the notion that being gay is a choice, and sexuality can be returned to its “normal” state, mostly through religious means.
The APA also overwhelmingly (97%) approved a resolution that repudiates the therapy.
Wayne Besen, who founded Truth Wins Out to fight the “ex-gay” movement, called the news a “positive development.”
“There is a shrinking market for their product,” Besen told The Denver Post. “This is a very positive development, because it shows Focus on the Family wants to get out of the ex-gay business – though not completely. But if this were something they were really vested in, they would have kept it in-house.”
“Exodus is thrilled with this opportunity as the Love Won Out conference is a natural fit in our ongoing efforts to share the hope we've found,” said Alan Chambers, president of Exodus International, in a statement.
Focus on the Family said a November 7 conference in Birmingham, Alabama would be its last.
This news comes only days after the American Psychiatric Association declared homosexuality a normal variation of sexuality:
Associated Press- The American Psychological Association declared Wednesday that mental health professionals should not tell gay clients they can become straight through therapy or other treatments.
In a resolution adopted by the APA's governing council, and in an accompanying report, the association issued its most comprehensive repudiation of "reparative therapy" — a concept espoused by a small but persistent group of therapists, often allied with religious conservatives, who maintain gays can change.
No solid evidence exists that such change is likely, says the resolution, adopted by a 125-4 vote. The APA said some research suggests that efforts to produce change could be harmful, inducing depression and suicidal tendencies.
Instead of seeking such change, the APA urged therapists to consider multiple options — that could range from celibacy to switching churches — for helping clients live spiritually rewarding lives in instances where their sexual orientation and religious faith conflict.
The APA had criticized reparative therapy in the past, but a six-member task force added weight to this position by examining 83 studies on sexual orientation change conducted since 1960. Its report was endorsed by the APA's governing council in Toronto, where the 150,000-member association's annual meeting is being held this weekend.
The report breaks new ground in its detailed and nuanced assessment of how therapists should deal with gay clients struggling to remain loyal to a religious faith that disapproves of homosexuality.
The article goes even further adding:
The APA task force took as a starting point the belief that homosexuality is a normal variant of human sexuality, not a disorder, and that it nonetheless remains stigmatized in ways that can have negative consequences.