An article by Travis Reed of the Associated Press today misreports numerous facts about the exgay movement and its critics. The story was carried by at least three central Florida newspapers — The Bradenton Herald, the Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale, and the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
Please consider writing a polite letter to AP, and to the local newspapers, to encourage fact-checking and to discourage the parroting of unconfirmed and inaccurate information in the future. Read on….
The reporter states that Matthew Walker, 34, of an unidentified location, has been
out of homosexuality for more than seven years.
He’s one of thousands of former homosexuals who enlisted the help of an Orlando-based Christian group called Exodus International, an organization with 135 member ministries in the United States that works to “heal” gays and lesbians through prayer, counseling and group therapy.
The AP story parrots many exgay claims as though they were unquestioned fact. The article makes no apparent effort at fact-checking.
- Without any substantiation, the article counts “thousands of former homosexuals.”
- The article contradicts itself regarding the mission of the Exodus national office. It first states that the mission is to “heal” gays, then says the mission is merely “reference” (referral), then says “it’s about refraining from activities that violate their beliefs — in God or anything else — and addressing ‘unwanted homosexuality.’ ” All three claims are inaccurate. Exodus commits much of its national budget and scattered local groups not to referral or spiritual ministry, but to lobbying Congress and antigay heterosexual Christians, through religious-right media, with the message that undefined “change” is possible and that, therefore (illogically) government and private concerns are morally obligated to discriminate against gay persons, ostracize gay persons from public life, and subject them to potential prosecution under sodomy laws.
- The article fails to define the “gay life” that Walker led for nine years. We have no idea whether Walker was monogamous, celibate, sexually active, spiritually involved, or involved in any social or political activities.
- The article fails to define what is meant when Walker says he “made a decision to leave homosexuality behind.” The article fails to state whether Walker is still partially or predominantly attracted to persons of the same gender, and whether he is sexually active with either men or women. The article fails to define homosexuality — or Walker’s hoped-for departure from it.
- The article quotes Exodus claiming to field 400,000 inquiries per year, but fails to define what an inquiry includes, nor to request documentation of the inquiries.
- The article quotes Exodus claiming a “one-third immediate success rate” but makes no effort to substantiate the statistic nor to define “success.”
- It is not until after two-thirds of the article, after a long series of contradictions and false statements of fact by the reporter, that we learn:
Chambers is quick to point out that Exodus isn’t about “curing” anyone or “turning people straight.” In fact, many who go through the program might never have a heterosexual relationship, he says.
- Critics of Exodus are relegated mostly to a few paragraphs at the end of the article, long after the reporter has stated many of Exodus’ controversial claims as though they were plain fact.
Please politely write to the Associated Press and make note of the report’s self-contradictions, its failure to request material proof or independent confirmation of the subjects’ claims, its failure to explain some of the intentionally elliptical language used by Exodus to exaggerate its successes; and its failure to give equal time to critics of Exodus.
Write polite messages to:
Associated Press Orlando Bureau
P.O. Box 2831
Orlando FL 32802-2831
Fax: (407) 648-8011
The Associated Press
450 W. 33rd St.
New York, NY 10001