How Many Lives Will Be Shattered, Families Destroyed and Careers Ruined Before Conservative Churches Accept Gay People For Who They Are? Asks TWO

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. — Truth Wins Out strongly urged conservative churches today to call off their war against homosexuals and rethink their deadly dogma after another prominent mega-church pastor was forced to step down after his sexual orientation was revealed. The Denver Post reported today that Rev. Paul Barnes, a married pastor of south Denver’ 2,100-member Grace Chapel, resigned after confessing sexual encounters with men. He was the second prominent Colorado pastor, following Rev. Ted Haggard, to step down in recent weeks because he was gay.

“After the fall of Ted Haggard and Paul Barnes, it is time for conservative churches to admit that their approach to homosexuality is an experiment that has failed,” said Wayne Besen, Executive Director of Truth Wins Out, a non-profit organization that monitors so-called ex-gay ministries. “How many lives will be shattered, families destroyed and careers ruined before the religious right accepts gay people for who they are?

“Instead of tired anti-gay apologetics, the evangelical church should offer apologies to the gay and lesbian community and move swiftly to change their out-of-touch anti-gay positions,” added Besen.

The Denver Post reported that the popular preacher resigned after a church administrator got an anonymous phone call from a person who claimed he overheard a conversation in which someone mentioned, “blowing the whistle” on Barnes. In a videotaped message to his congregation, a weeping Barnes spoke of how he had always known he was gay and could not change his sexual orientation despite copious prayer and three attempts at therapy.

“I have struggled with homosexuality since I was a 5-year-old boy,” Barnes said in the 32- minute video, according to the Post “…I can’t tell you the number of nights I have cried myself to sleep, begging God to take this away.”

This striking admission was similar to Rev. Haggard’ disclosure that he had “been warring against it for all of my adult life,” which strongly suggests that homosexuality can’t be changed. This reality contradicts the position of several prominent right wing groups, most notably Focus on the Family.

“Conservative churches have spent millions of dollars pushing the idea that if you want to be straight, then read Scripture,” said Besen. “This position has been severely undermined by living examples of spiritually gifted men, such as Haggard and Barnes, who were unable to become heterosexual, despite having everything to lose.”

Besen said he is also concerned about how such deception hurts family members who are duped into becoming props in another person’ lie. Indeed, Alan Chambers, the leader of the largest ex-gay group, Exodus International, recently claimed on NBC’ Today Show that his organization gets 160,000 calls a year from married individuals seeking to become heterosexual or their psychologically scarred spouses. Although the group keeps no reliable statistics, even if a fraction of this inflated number is true, it would mean thousands of unnecessary divorces. This means that the ex-gay message is one of the leading causes of divorce in the nation.

“So-called ex-gay groups are divorce mills that love to show the media wedding pictures, but never show them the divorce papers, which is the realistic outcome,” said Besen. “Our heart goes out to Char Barnes, who did not know her husband was a closeted homosexual until last week. It is time the right wing stops destroying families in the name of family values.”

TWO is a non-profit think tank and educational organization that counters right wing disinformation campaigns, debunks the ex-gay myth, and provides accurate information about the lives of GLBT people. Besen, the group’ founder and Executive Director, is the author of “Anything But Straight: Unmasking The Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth.”

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