Incongruence on UK ex-gay website

Last week, a British ex-gay group, Core Issues, hosted an ex-gay conference in Belfast, NI. One of the people involved with Core Issues is Paul Miller, a psychiatrist who was identified in 2008 by NI member of parliament Iris Robinson as a psychiatrist who works with gays to help them go straight.

Now Dr. Miller is facing more scrutiny due to a complaint from journalist who posed as a client and then wrote about the therapy experiences with Miller. The General Medical Council is hearing the complaints. The Independent article is here and Dr. Miller’s work is referenced as “David” in the article and conducts the therapy over Skype.

My intent is not to reflect on Miller’s problems. He is a devotee of Richard Cohen and the UK representative of NARTH. As such his methods and views are predictable. What I want to point out is that the website Core Issues has a link to the Sexual Identity Therapy Framework. I have asked them to remove the link and they have not answered my requests. I want to make it public that the SIT Framework contradicts the rest of the website and is not there by the permission of Dr. Yarhouse or me.

Given the links to NARTH and involvement of Miller, it is hard to understand links to the other resources including ours. Andrew Marin’s book is featured prominently as is Yarhouse’s Institute for the Study of Sexual Identity. In the SIT Framework, we specifically mention Richard Cohen’s book, Coming Out Straight as an approach which is inconsistent with the framework. Explaining a client’s experience as being a reparative drive is something we discourage as well.

There are two broad paradigms in sexual identity ministry – change and congruence. The change paradigm sees homosexuality as a treatable disorder and encourages the use of therapy and religion to change orientation. The congruence paradigm takes no strong position on what causes homosexuality. Change is not the objective but congruent living with a chosen value position. The website Core-Issues is a collection of references and resources which include both models. They certainly are free to put anything on a website which is public domain but I am also free to point out that the SIT Framework is within the congruence paradigm and inconsistent with most of what was described in the Independent article as well as what seems to be the focus of the Core-Issues organization.

The Days are coming…

After March Madness – which I am looking forward to – the month of the Days will be here. April 15 (or 12th if you listen to the PSA on the website) is set as the Day of Truth with April 16 being the Day of Silence. The boycotters will also be pursuing their mischief. This week, the Illinois Family Institute sent out an email asking for supporters to find out if their local school would be taking part in the Day of Silence. Soon after, Exodus sent out an email promoting the Day of Truth.

In response to the boycott and the Day of Truth, I will again support the Golden Rule Pledge. For more on that, go on over to the Golden Rule Pledge site.  And consider joining the Facebook group supporting the GRP.

Also, this week, fellow Crosswalk.com blogger, John Shore posted on the GRP. His initial reaction to the GRP was not positive and his readers are giving me some tips.

NARTH: Does the research speak for itself?

Writing in defense of unnamed NARTH leaders, Julie Hamilton recently said on the NARTH (National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality) website:

NARTH will continue its mission as a scientific organization despite the propaganda, and the research will continue to speak for itself.

However, then just across the page, one encounters a “NARTH Research Report” titled, Health Risks: Fisting and other Homosexual Practices. NARTH authors Michelle Cretella and Philip Sutton suggest that gay advocacy group GLSEN is currently teaching high school kids that fisting is safe practice. However, the authors fail to say that the incidents provoking their article happened 9 and 10 years ago. The NARTH article begins by framing the concern over those incidents as being in “recent weeks” but the incidents are old news. I am no fan of GLSEN’s conferences or reading list, but why use old news as a hook?

Furthermore, the article is a clear effort to associate risky practices with gays in a way similar to that being used now by Martin Ssempa in Uganda. However, the title and tone of the article overlooks an important fact – some heterosexuals also engage in those practices. In fact, if you go on Amazon.com and look up the practices referenced in this article, you will find how-to books written for straights (actually just take my word for it). Would a scientific organization claiming to provide science on sexuality overlook such things?

Now after a brief selective review of opinion and some studies, the authors determine that all things gay are harmful and lead to dysfunction. The studies don’t actually say that but most studies do find that homosexuals as a group report more psychiatric problems than straights and that there are risks associated with some sexual practices. However, the scientific train goes off the track with the conclusion.

Conclusion: An adolescent’s desire to prevent or cease experiencing serious medical, psychological, and relational health risks is sufficient reason for him or her to seek and receive competent psychological care to minimize or resolve the desires, behaviors and lifestyles associated with such increased risks.

Translation: If you experience same-sex attraction, better get some reparative therapy quick so you can avoid all the nastiness.

A scientific organization would then offer research the benefit of reparative therapy for mental health outcomes. The claim in the conclusion above is that changing orientation will allow you to avoid the problems NARTH finds with being gay. However, the problem with the claim is that those studies have not been done. To evaluate Cretella and Sutton’s conclusion, one would want to assess the mental health of ex-gays and gays and see who has the best outcomes.* Or one would expect to see large gains in mental health outcomes as the result of the therapy NARTH proposes. Where are the studies?

An author Cretella and Sutton quote is David Fergusson. Last year, Fergusson had this to say about a similar NARTH review of homosexuality and health risks:

While the NARTH statement provides a comprehensive and accurate analysis of the linkages between sexual orientation and mental health, the paper falls far short of demonstrating that homosexuality should be classified as a psychiatric disorder that may be resolved by appropriate therapy. To demonstrate this thesis requires an in depth understanding of the biological and social pathways that explain the linkages between homosexual orientation and mental health. At present we lack that understanding. Furthermore it is potentially misleading to treat what may be a correlate of mental disorder as though it were a disorder in its own right.

Fergusson also told me that studies designed to demonstrate positive changes in mental health via reparative therapy have not been done. In other words, there are no guarantees that changing orientation, if it could be accomplished in the manner suggested by Cretella and Sutton, would alter the mental health differences currently observed between gay and straight groups.

Julie Harren-Hamilton says the scientific research will speak for itself. However, just across the page, we have two authors providing a conclusion without adequate research. Apparently, on the NARTH website, the research needs a little help to speak in advance.

*There was a study which found better mental health outcomes among a sample of gays than an Exodus sample but this has not been replicated to my knowledge. Nottebaum, L. J., Schaeffer, K. W., Rood, J., & Leffler, D. (2000). Sexual orientation—A comparison study. Manuscript submitted for publication. (Available from Kim Schaeffer, Department of Psychology, Point Loma Nazarene University, 3900 Lomaland Drive, San Diego, CA 92106).

Another study of some relevance is the study of Exodus participants from Jones and Yarhouse. They found that their entire group of participants experienced enhanced mental health over the study period. Inconvenient for the NARTH claim is that the entire sample, whether gay or ex-gay, experienced improved health from Time 1 to Time 6.

Martin Ssempa defends gay porn presentations

The following news release is Martin Ssempa’s attempt to justify his recent pornography presentations in Uganda (here and here). I received this from Rev. Ssempa’s supporting church, Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas. Canyon Ridge supports the Ssempas as missionaries to Uganda.

On Screening Gay Porn1

You can also view this statement here.

Rev. Ssempa is either unaware or unconcerned that heterosexual people also engage in the practices he is displaying to his audiences. By his logic here, one should seek an Anti-Heterosexuality Bill as well.

It is hard to understand why Hon. Bahati and Rev. Ssempa continue to say that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill only relates to “paedophiles and those who raped the handicapped.” A reading of the bill reveals otherwise.

CPAC in civil war over homosexuality

The Conservative Political Action Conference is meeting now and really went viral today with Ryan Sorba’s rant about homosexuals and natural law. Here is the exchange. Surprising to me, he was booed off the stage.

I want to address this issue further but for now, my observation is that this episode is a data point supporting my contention that conservatives are on civil (ok, uncivil) war over homosexuality. Some want to make demonization of gays a litmus test for being a social conservative and others want to get away from this stance.

Check out this reaction from the conservative blog Hot Air.

BBC News: Ssempa shows porn to church audience

The leader of the Ugandans for Truth About Homosexuality Pastor’s Task Force Against Homosexuality, Martin Ssempa decided to take his pornography show to church, according to the BBC.

A Ugandan clergyman’s decision to show gay pornography to his congregation has been labelled as “twisted, homophobic propaganda” by a gay rights groups.

Behind the Mask told the BBC the stunt, by anti-gay Pastor Martin Ssempa, equated homosexuality to paedophilia.

The pastor showed the pornography in an attempt to gain support for a proposed law which would see some gay people facing the death penalty.

Earlier this week, I reported the reactions of some Pacific Lutheran University students who were in a similar presentation last month in Kampala. The students were not impressed and the presentation did not encourage them to favor harsh punishments for homosexual behavior.

Ssempa has divided his American supporters over his methods and views. Rick Warren and WAIT Training have severed ties with Ssempa. However, he represents Oral Roberts University in Uganda and is financially supported by Canyon Ridge Christian Church (Las Vegas).

UPDATE:

Next he wants to take the show to the Parliament.

The photos above were provided anonymously by someone who attended one of the presentations over the past few weeks. I have more but I am unsure whether to post them. Suffice to say they are troubling but not in the way Pastor Ssempa hopes. This is leather S&M which of course is unrepresentative of the population he hopes to demonize.

A view inside Martin Ssempa’s anti-gay campaign

Since October of last year, Uganda has been the focus of international attention due to a proposal in their Parliament which would ban homosexual behavior of any kind via the death penalty for HIV people who engage in homosexual behavior and life in prison for others who attempt such behavior. One of the chief supporters of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill has been Martin Ssempa, a pastor in Uganda’s capital city of Kampala and well-known among Western evangelicals. Rev. Ssempa this week has called for a “million man march” which he hopes will bring large crowds out to support the harsh legislation. In addition, Ssempa has organized several news conferences in order to rally support among Ugandans for the bill. On such conference was reported in Uganda’s Daily Monitor. Reporter Rodney Muhumuza described the scene. 

Pastor Martin Ssempa on Tuesday plumbed the depths of notoriety when he offered graphic images of gay sex as proof of the need for tough penalties against homosexuals. 

The images were disturbing enough that an American college group visiting in Kampala, left in the middle of his presentation.

But midway through his presentation, saved on a computer, most of his audience walked out, some visibly disturbed, leaving him to wonder if he had done anything wrong. The cleric seemed genuinely rattled when he asked: “Why should I be traumatised?”

One man, who was part of a group of American students invited to the press conference by Rubaga North MP Beti Kamya, was seen crying, his colleagues consoling him as the group left the National Theatre.

The college group was from Pacific Lutheran University studying in Kampala. One student, Kelsey Hartsell, was in the presentation and gave me a brief description of the slide show.

Pastor Ssempa also crossed a line when he decided to display pornographic pictures of two white men from about the 70’s doing what he considered to be dangerous acts in the bedroom as to why homosexuality is dangerous.

In other presentations like this, Ssempa has shown pornographic images of men engaged in various sadomasochistic activities, while alleging that all gays do the activities depicted. He also accused gays of raping boys in order to turn them into homosexuals. Ms. Hartsell continued:

Pastor Ssempa’s main argument was that homosexual cults were kidnapping children and raping them and drugging them to brainwash them and turn them gay. He also used the words sodomy and rape as if they were equal. He accused same sex boarding schools and promoting homosexuality. As far as I know the cults have never been found or proven to exist.

I have asked Hon. Bahati and Pastor Ssempa for evidence of these allegations but nothing has materialized. Even if they were true, the gay advocacy groups agree with all others everywhere that any such cults or activities should be aggressively prosecuted. Ssempa’s rhetoric had a very negative effect on Ms. Hartsell and her classmates. She said,

I can’t speak for everyone, except that everyone was upset and for all different reasons. Regardless of my position on homosexuality and/or the [Anti-Homosexuality] bill I can tell you what upset me was that ‘Pastor’ Ssempa was preaching against people encouraging hate and intolerance. He shamed himself as a pastor by disregarding what he thought of as sin as an action, and turned the people doing what he calls the sin into something less than human. From where I stand a pastor should be teaching forgiveness because no person as the right to judge another so even if he disagreed with their actions that doesn’t disqualify them from humanity.

Rev. Ssempa did not reply to my inquiries about the news conference. When the Anti-Homosexuality Bill was first introduced, he told me,

I am in total support of the bill and would be most grateful if it did pass.

It is very clear that Pastor Ssempa endorses the harsh tenets of Ugandan proposal. What is not clear is how it furthers the Gospel for ministers to demonize homosexuals. Such stereotypes are rarely ever correct, and are harmful because they hinder an engagement of others as humans bearing the image of God. To at least one American student, Pastor Ssempa’s campaign backfired.

Here is another eyewitness account from a student on the PLU trip.

And another…

Now he has taken his show and tell program to church.

Ssempa’s “million man march” halted – UPDATED

UPDATE: A “hundreds person march” was held in Jinza. Video is at the end of the post and the Daily Monitor has an article about it.

It may be temporary but the Uganda version of the “million man march” on Kampala may be off. The Daily Monitor reports:

On Sunday, Police moved to halt a planned demonstration in support of the controversial Anti-Homosexuality Bill saying that the government is still sorting ‘issues out’ as pro-gay activists under the Unitarian Universalist Church of Kampala secretly met to condemn the same bill.

“It is true Gen. Kayihura sent us a text message that he hasn’t cleared the demonstration. He said we should meet him on Tuesday to forge a way forward,” Pastor Ssempa said.

Pastor Martin Ssempa, one of the organisers of the demonstration confirmed that the Inspector of Police Major General Kale kayihura had contacted them and proposed a meeting on Tuesday before the Wednesday demo.

Meanwhile a Tulsa, OK MCC pastor was in Kampala to support those targeted by the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

The Unitarian Universalist Church of Kampala, one of the few religious organizations in Uganda that is supporting the gay community held a conference on Sunday to ‘highlight the need for an end to discriminatory treatment of the gay population in uganda.
According their website, Reverend Marlin Lavanhar, President of Tulsa Metropolitan Ministry and senior minister at All Souls Unitarian Church, arrived in Uganda on Thursday last week to launch a campaign against the Bill.
Be careful, pastor, you might get an advanced taste of the AHB:
However, Gen. Kayihura said he was not aware of the meeting and vowed to arrest them. “I am not aware of this meeting. But if we get them, we shall arrest them,” he said.
UPDATED: He moved it to Jinja, another large city about 100 km from Kampala.

Christianity Today stands somewhere on Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill

In a “Where We Stand” editorial, Christianity Today urged readers to “Listen, then Speak.” 

Overall, I am disappointed and puzzled by the editorial. The closest the writer gets to telling us where CT stands is near the end of the article:

We join many other American voices in our concern over the way the proposed legislation can hamper ministry and harm children of God. But we are also grateful for the African voices who are calling us to pay attention to how Western society may be undermining our own zeal for preserving God’s gift of sexuality.

I am unclear how the Ugandans are calling us to see sexuality God’s way when they swallow the camel of polygamy and strain at the gnat of homosexuality. Perhaps this way of ending the article seemed balanced to the writer; give a little here, take a little there, but I am unclear what the writer thinks we can learn from the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.  

To get to the conclusion, the article meanders through some thoughts on cultural relativism, pointing out some conflicting possible reactions from Western Christians.

Now Uganda’s proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill has put Western Christian leaders in a bind:

(1) The leaders’ commitment to human rights (based on the Golden Rule and the image of God) leads them to oppose harsh penalties for consensual adult homosexual activity; (2) their belief in the traditional family leads them to support Ugandan Christian resistance to sexual liberation movements imported from the United States and Europe; (3) their belief that churches need to minister to homosexuals leads them to oppose legal penalties for those who don’t report homosexual activity; (4) their belief that the fight against HIV/AIDS requires confidential testing leads them to oppose laws that could expose HIV-positive people to harsh penalties; (5) their belief in the ability of African churches to make mature decisions prompts them to remain silent on legislation that African churches are still pondering; (6) their commitment to ongoing engagement in missions and social service with African churches makes them extremely cautious to interfere in general.

I suspect these possible reactions do seem confusing for many evangelicals. However, it is clearly possible to respect the Ugandan’s right of self-determination while at the same time, disagreeing with the proposal before their Parliament. I also take issue with what is listed as the first possible response and would say it this way:

The leaders’ commitment to human rights (based on the Golden Rule and the image of God) leads them to oppose harsh any penalties for consensual adult homosexual activity.

Responding to the Ugandan bill, I believe Rick Warren had it absolutely correct when he wrote about criminalization of homosexuality:

I oppose the criminalization of homosexuality. The freedom to make moral choices is endowed by God.  Since God gives us that freedom, we must protect it for all, even when we disagree with their choices.

We know where Rick Warren stands. Where does CT stand on criminalization? To me, it is not clear.

The editorial continues:

For American Christian leaders, both silence and open condemnation end up violating important missional and human-rights principles. There is no escaping this dilemma, but several points are worth reflection.

What missional and human rights principles? I don’t think it is difficult to say that the sentence of a life time in jail for touching “another person with the intention of committing the act of homosexuality” is wrong. What missional or human rights’s principles are violated by saying what Rick Warren said to his Ugandan brothers and sisters?

Then adding insult to injury, the CT writer uncritically invokes Scott Lively’s reckless charge of racism toward those who found fault with the Americans who spoke at the March anti-gay conference in Kampala. 

First, when American media reported on the proposed legislation, they assumed an inordinate amount of American influence. Media outlets tried to “expose” the power of American evangelicals who had spoken about gay issues in Uganda. Such assumptions were racist, said Scott Lively, one of the speakers. If anything, Ugandan legislators did not follow his advice: He had urged them to favor rehabilitation rather than imprisonment in crafting a new law on homosexuality.

If I understand CT here, I think this is more a criticism of the reporting by American media than a vindication of the March, 2009 ex-gay conference in Uganda. However, as presented, that distinction is vague. One could interpret this paragraph as agreement with Scott Lively’s charge of racism, obfuscating the Americans’ responsibility for what was presented at the conference. This, of course, is offensive and fails to confront the substance of Scott Lively’s remarks to the 10,000 or so people he claims to have addressed. Yes, Lively advised rehabilitation (as if that is an enlightened option) in the context of continued criminalization, but in no particular order, he also said that

  • Nazi atrocities were animated by homosexuality,
  • amoral homosexuals were probably responsible for the Rwandan holocaust, and
  • homosexuals prey on vulnerable children.

Hearing this, it is not a surprise that the Ugandans did not heed his call for rehabilitation. Nor is it a surprise that Christians are horrified that such slander was presented in the name of Christ.

CT’s advice is much less specific:

We counsel patience as Ugandan leaders sort out among themselves the best way to preserve their culture’s sexual mores. We also caution them against punitive strategies, as we believe that capital punishment for homosexual behavior goes well beyond the limit.

The reference to capital punishment is pretty safe since even proponents of the bill suggested the removal of the death penalty in December, 2009. However, is life in prison a “punitive strategy?” What is the limit? I think it is, but from this article, I cannot tell where CT stands.

I know where I stand.

American Psychiatric Association’s DSM 5 draft is now available for review

The draft of the APA Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, 5th edition is now available for review and comment.  

A Message from the DSM-5 Task Force Chairs

Dear Reader,

Welcome to the DSM-5 Development Web site.  This site provides information culminated from over 10 years of revision activities, made possible thanks to the generous dedication of more than 600 global experts in the field of mental health. 

The DSM-5 Task Force and Work Group members are working to develop criteria for diagnoses that not only reflect new advances in the science and conceptualization of mental disorders, but also reflect the needs of our patients. We encourage you to delve into the wealth of information contained within this site to become familiar with some of the advancements in scientific and clinical knowledge that will assist in making diagnoses more accurate, valid, and clinically useful.  We also hope that this knowledge will pave the way for further research in these important areas. 

Your input, whether you are a clinician, a researcher, an administrator, or a person/family member affected by a mental disorder, is important to us.  We thank you for taking part in this historic process and look forward to receiving your feedback. 

David J. Kupfer, M.D., DSM-5 Task Force Chair

Darrel A. Regier, M.D., M.P.H., DSM-5 Task Force Vice-Chair

Sure to be controversial, the Task Force will accept comments until April 20. I will accept comments starting now and never ending…