Pro-exgay pundit and college professor Warren Throckmorton reports today:
NARTH has had some changes in recent days. A. Dean Byrd, PhD, CEO of the LDS affiliated Thrasher Research Fund was appointed President-elect of NARTH and I heard through a friend who attended the conference that David Pruden, Executive Director of Evergreen International, was appointed Executive Director of NARTH. Dr. Byrd (ProCon bio) is also a clinical professor in the medical school at the University of Utah and was formerly the Director of Clinical Training for the LDS Social Services. No word on when Dr. Byrd’s term will begin.
No word on the fate of Joseph Nicolosi, the organization’s longtime president.
Under Nicolosi, NARTH grew from a mere answering machine in an antigay therapist’s office into a flagship of the ex-gay movement. But the organization also strayed from its conservative scientific roots into cultural warfare. Its unaccountable advisory-board members and crackpot web team issued statements that affirmed child abuse and defended racism and slavery. Nicolosi himself recently encouraged ex-gays to abhor themselves, and his Love Won Out keynote speeches in recent years were lacking in constructive advice and peppered with angry comments about effeminate ex-gays and their parents.
The Nicolosi era may have passed, but his successors bring some controversy of their own.
A. Dean Byrd was criticized last year for clinical bias when he advocated for patient freedom to choose ex-gay therapy but not, apparently, for the freedom to choose therapy that would help a patient co-exist and be healthy with one’s sexual orientation.
David Pruden has an established history of using misleading language in media communications:
- He said, “Absolutely, one can change one’s sexual identity” — sidestepping the entire question of sexual orientation.
- He misrepresented the scientific research of Simon LeVay and others on the biology and genetics of sexual orientation.
- He misrepresented the research of Dr. Robert L. Spitzer regarding success/failure rates in ex-gay programs.
- He participated in the AFA exgay political video “It’s Not Gay.” This video relied not upon reputable medical or scientific sources, but rather upon false medical claims derived from antigay activist Paul Cameron. The video also relied heavily upon the un-Christlike testimony and culture-war politics of one HIV-positive ex-gay activist, Michael Johnston, who was soon revealed by AFA to have been having unsafe-sex orgies with men at the time of the video’s production.
NARTH has long marketed itself as a professional and conservative mental-health organization, not a religious group. Its choice of new leaders seems to confirm the organization’s transition from a mission of academic inquiry to one of revising science in pursuit of religious orthodoxy.