Focus on the Family extended its ex-gay political campaign to Singapore late last week with seminars marketing “recovery therapy.” And already the lead speaker faces professional criticism for misstating his training and credentials.
The Focus on the Family campaign consisted of several seminars.
A three-hour seminar for “Christian professionals” titled “Preventing Homosexuality” is described as follows:
Homosexuality – Is it learned, biological … or both? Many would have us believe that nothing can be done to foster the development of healthy heterosexual orientation in children. But clinical evidence and experience indicate otherwise.
This seminar aims to help concerned educators and youth workers uncover the most significant factors that contribute to children’s healthy sense of themselves as male or female, and provides clear insight and practical knowledge for identifying potential developmental roadblocks and detecting early warning signs of homosexuality.
The workshop description begins with false assertions about the mainstream health community’s findings on development of orientation, then proceeds to sell the workshop to educators and youth workers without specifying what “clinical evidence,” “factors” and “warning signs” will be promoted. To find out whether the workshop consists of sound peer-reviewed information or quackery, educators and youth workers are expected to subsidize Focus on the Family to the tune of S$50 per person.
Another, all-day workshop titled “Caring for Homosexuals” exhibits a clear intent to manipulate health science to serve a political and religious goal of “change,” not to treat a person according to the individual’s unique circumstances and health needs:
This full-day training aims to equip psychologists, social workers, professional counselors, and others in the helping profession with the necessary framework and skills to guide homosexuals towards an understanding and recognition of their condition so to encourage and facilitate change.
Focus on the Family offers the following profile of its main speaker, Melvin W. Wong (Google search):
Melvin W. Wong, Ph.D
Licensed Clinical Psychologist, California, USA
The Speaker has been in private practice in San Francisco and Fremont for over 15 years, dealing mainly in the areas of family, forensic and neuropsychology. Bilingual, bi-literate and bicultural, Dr. Wong has published more than thirty articles and research reports about mental health in English and Chinese and spoken in the US, Canada, England, Australia, Hong Kong, Taipei and Singapore. His 20 years of cross-cultural experience spans clinical psychology, counseling, psychiatry, therapy and teaching. He was appointed assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine and attending psychologist at the San Francisco General Hospital in-patient psychiatric unit.
Six years ago, Dr. Wong began to take a keen interest in Gender Issues and Homosexuality and has since been actively engaged in recovery therapy for homosexuals. He is affiliated to the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH). He is married for 20 years and has a 15-year-old daughter.
Neither Focus on the Family’s profile nor the psychologist’s own online profile mention where Wong obtained his education, nor do they indicate any clinical training or certification in treating same-sex-attracted individuals. In fact, a professional group warns that Wong’s college was unaccredited and that his teaching ties to the University of California-San Francisco are far weaker than Focus on the Family implies.
Nevertheless, Exodus International refers Californians and Pacific islanders to him.
Wong is not the only speaker for the seminar series. The Focus on the Family/Singapore web site links to PDF files listing panels of additional speakers.
The speakers for the seminar for Christian professionals include Focus on the Family/Canada president Darrel Reid (Google search) and Singapore constitutional law scholar Thio Li-Ann (Google search). The seminar’s PDF brochure reveals a partisan political motive behind the seminar:
A liberal view of homosexuality actually harms our families, churches, schools, businesses, government and the media. The truth is that people can escape from the bondage of homosexuality – it is both preventable and treatable.
An evening forum for “Pastors, Elders and Lay Leaders” promises to “deal honestly and compassionately with homosexuality from various perspectives while presenting a biblical basis for better understanding its causes and conditions.” But despite the claim to offer various perspectives, the speakers appear to be antigay evangelicals: Wong, Reid, Victor Roh of Nanyang Technological University, and author/lecturer Tom Harvey.
Strangely, a Google search for Victor Roh turns up nothing relating to homosexuality. And the staff directory for NTU does not even list Roh. Are Roh’s credentials as wobbly as Wong’s?