International Conference June 29 – July 1 to Address Ex-gay Ministries
SOULFORCE PRESS RELEASE: June 6, 2007
For Immediate Release
Contact: Paige Schilt, Director of Public Relations and Media
(Austin, TX) — Soulforce today expressed deep concern over the nomination of Dr. James Holsinger for United States Surgeon General.
"As the leading spokesperson for matters of public health, the Surgeon General should be guided by sound medical science, not anti-gay views rooted in religion-based bigotry," said Soulforce Executive Director Jeff Lutes.
Dr. Holsinger is the current president of the United Methodist Judicial Council. As a member of the council, he opposed the 2004 decision to allow Rev. Karen Dammann, a lesbian, to continue serving as a minister. He also upheld the 2004 defrocking of Rev. Beth Stroud, another lesbian minister, and sided with a Virginia pastor who denied church membership to an openly gay man. Soulforce stood in solidarity at the trials of Rev. Dammann and Rev. Stroud, challenging the unjust policy that bars gay men and lesbians from ordination in the United Methodist Church and the false doctrine that homosexuality is "incompatible with Christian teaching."
Holsinger co-founded Hope Springs Community Church, in Lexington, Kentucky, which operates an "ex-gay" ministry aimed at changing homosexuals to heterosexuals. Recent events have brought national attention to the existence of programs intended to modify same-sex desires, which continue to multiply in spite of the consensus of the major medical and mental health organizations that sexual orientation is not a disorder and is, therefore, not in need of a cure. The American Psychological Association identifies "depression, anxiety, and self-destructive behavior" among the possible risks associated with ex-gay therapies.
Later this month, on June 29-July 1, Soulforce will sponsor an international convention in Irvine, California, for those who have attended ex-gay ministries or reparative therapy but ultimately concluded that the programs did more harm than good. The Ex-Gay Survivor Conference will feature the testimonies of former "ex-gays," including men and women who founded and directed ex-gay programs but are now speaking publicly about the injury the programs can cause. For more information about the conference, go to www.soulforce.org/article/1226.
Soulforce Executive Director, Jeff Lutes, is a licensed psychotherapist in private practice and has treated dozens of victims of so-called "ex-gay ministries" and "reparative therapy." In a statement released Wednesday, Lutes said "America doesn’t need a Surgeon General who supports ‘reparative therapy’ and anti-gay dogma masquerading as science. If Holsinger bars gays and lesbians from his own church, how will he treat them as the nation’s chief physician? What America needs now is some ‘reparative theology’ – a force of fair-minded people of faith who will take an unwavering stand against religion gone bad and choose instead to welcome and affirm gay and lesbian people into full citizenship."
Soulforce is a national civil rights and social justice organization. Our vision is freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from religious and political oppression through the practice of relentless nonviolent resistance. For more information go to www.soulforce.org.