December 17, 2007
This is exactly why I don’t trust the “ex-gay” movement*
A couple of weeks ago, this video was going around the web:
A brief synopsis is that a group of 700 Club-approved evangelicals believe that I-35 is the highway mentioned in Isaiah, and are using it as a focal point in the fight to increase the overall “holiness” of the United States. The idea bothered me in general. You have seventeen 24-hour prayer rooms set up; might that energy better spent, say, oh, I don’t know, helping the poor? Visiting sick people in hospitals?
Then came the part that bothered me most: At about the 2-minute mark in the video we’re told of one particular “purity siege” in Dallas, at which a young man named James Stabile was converted. The voice-over in the video says that Stabile “felt God moving in him then, saving him and taking away his homosexuality.” Two things struck me as problematic in this section: first, I’m sure it’s possible that Stabile was bar-hopping without a shirt on, but the fact that he wasn’t wearing a shirt in the video footage of his conversion made me suspect that what happened was not actually as simple as Stabile and the voice-over suggest (Stabile walks by, pastor asks if he’s ever felt the spirit, Stabile says no but expresses curiosity, pastor touches him & says fire, Stabile feels the spirit). Second, this kid is 19 years old (i.e. barely an adult), barhopping specifically to get drunk and probably is either currently or has a history of doing recreational drugs (he refers to tripping on acid as if he knows what that’s like, though it’s possible he was coached to do so in order to make it sound like he was even more “fallen”), identifying as homosexual in spite of a reference to a fiancée (who is presumably a woman given that this is in Texas) — in short, even without knowing more about him, he strikes me as an easy and obvious target for evangelicals, or indeed for any group looking to recruit members by promising them The Answers.
Thus this news doesn’t surprise me at all, even as it breaks my heart:
Joseph Stabile [James’s father] said James left home to go out that Friday night and never returned. Joseph said James, or “B.J.” as his parents affectionately refer to him, is bipolar and had stopped taking his medication. . . .
Joseph Stabile said the Heartland folks also may have advised James to throw away his medication, telling him that God would cure his bipolar disorder, too.
Joseph’s parents said James has a tendency to be less than truthful, especially when he’s off his medication, and that he loves attention. They said they don’t believe he’s ever questioned his sexuality, but that the folks from Heartland manipulated and exploited him for publicity.
Heartland sent him “off to Pure Life Ministries, which operates a residential treatment program in Northern Kentucky.” Heartland’s pastor referred to Pure Life as “a program for people who’ve lived alternative lifestyles just to get totally clean;” James Stabile was more direct:
They said James has revealed little about his time at Pure Life, which he now refers to as “straight camp.” James just told them it was “horrible” and that there are some things he will never be able to share.
James’ mother, Suzanne, said he told her the people at Pure Life constantly threatened that he was going to hell.
Men in the program had to be fully clothed from the neck down at all times, including when they went to sleep, James told his parents. And they were prohibited from any physical contact, including shaking hands.
When James got kicked out [for being a compulsive liar, according to the pastor], his father asked someone at Pure Life whether they would buy him a bus ticket.
After all, James had paid $2,100 to get in to the program, plus $150 a week. But the representative from Pure Life refused.
They took his money, and they abused him, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. But it’s okay because they’re doing it for Christ, right?
[tiara-tip to Pam]
*I don’t necessarily trust hard-core evangelicals in general, but the ones who think they can cure Teh Gay are at the tippy-top of the I-don’t-trust-you list.