More than 250 conservatives are calling on the American Psychological Association to “consider religious diversity” in gay patient therapy.

In a June 29 letter, officials from Focus on the Family, Southern Baptist Convention and other groups said APA officials should instruct psychologists to weigh equally the sexual orientation and religion of patients.

“We strongly believe that psychologists can offer a valuable service if they respect the religious commitments of their clients to the same degree that they respect sexual orientation diversity,” the letter said.

The letter comes as an APA task force begins a review of current scientific research on conversion therapy, or treatment that purports to turn gays straight. A report is due sometime in 2008 or beyond.

Gay rights activists, however, are encouraging the APA to reject Throckmorton’ overture.

Wayne Besen, founder of Truth Wins Out, an organization that opposes conversion therapy, said the letter advocates “a religious exception to ethical psychology.”

He said although the letter does not mention conversion therapy, it makes a thinly veiled attempt to create a loophole through which such therapy could be advocated.

“The bottom line is your sexual orientation cannot change and your religion can,” Besen said. “This letter fails to address that simple truth.”