Hard-line “ex-gay” activists have formed a new extremist organization to escalate their campaign against the human rights and dignity of sexual minorities.
Calling themselves the Restored Hope Network, these far-right exiles from Exodus International reject humble religious faith in favor of fundamentalist self-pride; reject grace in favor of arrogant self-righteousness and defamation against supposed infidels; and reject real-world hope in favor of fictions about themselves and outright fraud against ex-gay ministry participants and their families.
RHN thus far consists of veteran ex-gay activists who have strongly supported defamation, discrimination, ostracism, bullying, and imprisonment of persons who openly practice honesty regarding their sexual orientation. Among its principals:
- Stephen Black is the head of Oklahoma’s First Stone Ministries, which withdrew from Exodus International earlier this year. Black colludes with Oklahoma state lawmaker Sally Kern, who contends that people of color are unintelligent welfare leeches; warns that gays are worse than terrorists; says that opposition to antigay bullying “will destroy our young people; it will destroy this nation”; advocates the exposure of youths to homosexual activity in order to foster disgust and hate; insists that equality under law, religious freedom, and individual privacy are “totally perverting the true intention of what our Constitution meant”; demands that all Americans agree to her notion of a “Judeo-Christian ethic”; opposes the teaching of evolution; and calls for the destruction of societies that tolerate sexual minorities.
Here’s Black, speaking at a church-sponsored campaign event for Kern:
- Andrew Comiskey is a former president of Exodus International, a longtime leader of Desert Stream Ministries and its Living Waters program which has been replicated by ex-gays around the world. Like a number of reparative therapy programs, Living Waters inflicts spiritual and sexual “brokenness” upon participants under the guise of curing them; blames parents and relatives for participants’ homosexuality; and demands that participants accept a fundamentalist cult-like distortion of the Christian faith.
Comiskey has permitted sexual abuse to occur at Desert Stream Ministries, but refused to accept responsibility. Instead, he blamed the parents of an abused boy for pursuing a lawsuit against his “ministry” and causing him hardship.
- Robert Gagnon is a newer recruit to ex-gay ideology, having spent the past decade collating butchered Bible verses which, when edited and reinterpreted to his liking, depict an angry, tyrannical, and legalistic Christian God that is bent on damning to hell anyone who disagrees with God’s-will-as-defined-by-Gagnon. He has provided verbose pseudo-Biblical rationalizations to those who condemn Exodus International’s slight turn toward a less judgmental and more grace-oriented perspective.
- Joe Dallas is an author, former Exodus International president, and longtime warrior against the presence of sexual minorities in Christian churches. Dallas contends that the extension of graceful tolerance and conversation with sexually honest Christians represents a capitulation to “gay theology.”
- Frank Worthen is a grandfather of the ex-gay movement, having co-launched Exodus International. Worthen has maintained a largely sexless marriage to wife Anita, whose son from a previous marriage was openly gay. Worthen’s behavior toward former colleagues and survivors of ex-gay abuse has been utterly graceless.
- Anne Paulk is a career “ex-lesbian” author/speaker and allegedly estranged wife of former ex-gay activist John Paulk. The Paulks were the stars of a Christian Right alliance’s 1998 ad campaign which made mainstream America aware of the ex-gay movement.
- David Kyle Foster leads Mastering Life Ministries. Like other hard-liners, Foster falsely equates any non-heterosexual orientation with sexual addiction. He has closely associated over the years with people who contend that sexual minorities are possessed by demons and with counselors who coerce patients into recovering false memories. Foster contends that while “millions of other ex-gays” exist, “homosexuals do not exist” — thus dehumanizing sexual minorities, making it easier to rationalize antigay violence and imprisonment.
- Michael Newman, a Southern Baptist minister, is founder of the ex-gay Christian Coalition for Reconciliation. Like other ex-gays, Newman falsely claims to follow the gospel while advocating reparative therapy, whose unfounded parent-bashing and discredited Freudian mistakes find no basis in either the Bible or reputable modern mental-health practice.
All of the above activists are believed to have resisted calls by international human-rights leaders to reverse Exodus’ initial support in 2009 for what quickly became a kill-the-gays campaign in Uganda. To the best of our knowledge and research, none have made statements in opposition to criminalization and imprisonment of gay people, none have supported LGBT-inclusive anti-bullying programs in schools, none have expressed opposition to antigay hate crimes and discrimination, and all are believed to favor the separation of gay couples from one another, as well as the separation of sexual-minority parents from their biological children.
We shall know more about the misnamed “Restored Hope” Network soon enough: They have already announced their first antigay conference, to occur Sept. 21-22, 2012, at Sunrise Community Church in Orangevale, Calif.
Addendum: The hard-liners’ statement of principles is obsessed with sex and legalism. Faith-seekers look elsewhere.