From the Spartanburg Herald-Journal via an XGW reader and also blogger Pam Spaulding:

Spartanburg, S.C.-based Truth Ministry (an Exodus affiliate) has posted three antigay billboards in the Greenville-Spartanburg region.

Spaulding points to a father’s testimonial by Bill Creech, co-director of the organization’s outreach to relatives of gay persons. Spaulding practically flays Creech, but my own assessment is mixed.

Creech acknowledges feeling initial parental guilt over his son’s homosexuality, but it isn’t clear whether he still blames himself. Creech concludes that he must continue to love his son unconditionally, but he is silent about the political ramifications — does he oppose discrimination in employment and job benefits? Does he support access to marriage or civil unions? Does he view homosexuality as something worse than his own sins? Does he treat gay churchgoers as second-class Christians? Lots of questions, which seem obvious to me, are not addressed.

The ministry’s executive director, McKrae Game, is an Exodus regional representative for numerous Southern states. His testimonial is typical of exgays who are confused or lacking in self-esteem and therefore find it difficult to reconcile their sexual attraction with balanced, healthy living and mature relationships. He claims to have discovered “all that the gay life had to offer” — but it seems to me that he discovered very little if that life consisted primarily of bars and sexual encounters. Game comments, “I simply wanted to be loved and accepted, but all I was getting was being used.” His feeling is understandable, but I believe the blame is misplaced: Instead of proactively loving and accepting, and relating to other mature individuals who do likewise, it seems that Game (like many people with low self-esteem) waited for life to love him, and when it didn’t happen, he retreated to a refuge of victimhood. Again, that defense mechanism is by no means limited to exgays.

In the end, Game got married and says he’s happy. I’m glad he’s happy. But it isn’t clear from his testimonial whether, or how much, his sexual orientation has changed.

Three of four staffers listed on the ministry staff page are affiliated with the same home church, First Baptist North Spartanburg, and one of the billboards is posted outside that church. The ministry claims to have 10 additional volunteer leaders, but declines to identify most of them. One of the volunteer leaders, Rae Jean Lipscomb, is a licensed professional therapist who counsels wives of gay men. But the ministry clearly states that it has no licensed counselors on staff.

The ministry’s statement of beliefs refers to all forms of homosexuality “whether in practice or identity” as a singular sexual addiction. But none of the staff are qualified to diagnose addiction, much less treat it; Game’s own claim to have been addicted first to masturbation and then to the camaraderie of a gay bar indicates a layperson’s misunderstanding of mental health, which (I fear) is then taught to families seeking the ministry’s assistance.

The ministry’s testimonials are all positive — and there would be nothing wrong with that if this were a retail e-commerce site. But it’s not. It’s a site claiming to improve the mental health of clients, and I believe such advertising ought to meet a higher standard of accuracy. Clients should ask to be informed of a truthful range of outcomes, not just the successful ones. And clients — paying ones, in particular — would also benefit from testimonials reflecting the diverse gender roles, types of attraction, lifestyle, religion, and self-esteem of people who are same-sex-attracted. The ministry’s current testimonials are confined to the ministry’s “experience-based” counseling tactic which relies upon counselors’ personal biases rather than objective and well-informed guidance.

Addendum/Conclusion: I have few doubts that the ministry operators are sincere and well-intentioned. However, I remain skeptical of this ministry’s assumptions, outcomes, unstated politics, and its limited understanding of diverse gay populations. Without a broader understanding of gay demographics, the ministry will lack appeal among — and may inadvertently offend — the majority of same-sex-attracted persons who do not fall within the exgay target audience of individuals with low self-esteem, gender-role confusion, compulsive behavior, broken families, and limited exposure to religious faiths.

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