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(Video from Think Progress)
To his family, Kirk Andrew Murphy was an eccentric young boy in a society that fears eccentricity.
To the founders of what would become Exodus International and NARTH, Kirk was merely a guinea pig, a prototype for their latest “state of the art” aversion therapy.
State of the art? Not really. These were the 1970s, but the NARTH founders’ ideology was rooted in harsh 19th-century myths about child development. While the remainder of the mental-health profession was starting to view gay people as equals, people like reparative therapist George Rekers hoped to give old-fashioned abuses a sexy new image.
Couched in an amateurish veneer of clinical legitimacy, the particular aversion therapy that was inflicted upon Kirk involved outright child abuse: Weekly whippings and beatings that, if successful, would condition the child to be not who he was, but rather what a godfearing society expected him to be.
Decades later, physically abusive aversion therapies are now frowned-upon. Today’s ex-gay activists and aversion therapists have learned how to scar people without leaving physical marks.
Exodus International therefore plays word games regarding its stance on aversion. Says Exodus president Alan Chambers:
We … don’t approve of aversion or shock therapy, or the warrior therapy, where they get naked and run through the woods. We don’t allow any of those things. So we have very specific guidelines on what you can and can’t do. We do one-on-one counseling, therapy, support groups like you would find in any AA meeting, accountability groups, structured groups that are programmatic like Living Waters, which is one of the oldest programs in our ministry.
What Chambers doesn’t say is that Exodus’ one-on-one counseling and “support” groups consist primarily of defamations and humiliating caricatures of gay people and their relationships: Characterizations that are intended to avert sexual awareness in participants through relentless shame, fear, intimidation — and ostracism, should any participant not conform. Exodus program participants learn that they must pretend to be someone else — and avert sexual thought, concern for human rights, and respect for other faith perspectives — as a condition to remain in fellowship with their friends and community.
Since the 1970s, Exodus and its intellectual godfathers at NARTH have found new ways to deprive people of hope, support, and self-respect. This is their modus operandi. But why? The goal, it seems, is to tear sex- and gender-variant people down and alienate them from authentic help and spiritual support in school, home, and church, until they have no one left to turn to — except fraudulent fundamentalists who offer inclusion and companionship that is conditioned upon obedience and conformity.
But I think many of Exodus’ victims, on some level, see ex-gays for what they are: Unhappy and purposely ignorant people with exceedingly shallow notions of faith and conditional friendship. So Exodus’ evangelical ruse doesn’t work: Instead of converting to a fraudulent religious affiliation, some of Exodus’ victims simply kill themselves.
The damage lives on in ex-gay survivors — those who escape Exodus’ therapeutic fraud and seek recovery — and to stay ahead of its trail of survivors, Exodus is busily seeking new ways to damage people.
Right now, Exodus is convening its annual “Freedom Conference” and pep rally in Asheville, North Carolina. (TWO will be there with Mel White to counter the lies) It’s a slick affair, in which prosperous antigay bigots and deeply closeted Christian gays celebrate freedom from sexuality, material facts, the temptation of reality, and religious diversity. They convince themselves that “freedom” from reality is threatened by gay rights. They warn grimly about “homosexuality” (sexual honesty) “impacting” the innocent like an deadly asteroid. They promise “hope” and “compassion” (pity) to people whose hope and passion have been crushed by the defamatory preachings and discrimination of Exodus’ own antigay church network.
When Exodus markets “freedom,” what it’s really marketing is old-fashioned aversion therapy in new wrapping-paper.
(Read more about this awful George Rekers experiment at Box Turtle Bulletin. Jim Burroway has written a long, but important investigation of this case)