Year in review: Top ten stories of 2008

As in year’s past, I have enjoyed reviewing the posts from the year and coming up with the top ten stories.

1. Cancelation of the American Psychiatric Association symposium – Amidst threat of protests, the APA pressed to halt a scheduled symposium dedicated to sexual identity therapy and religious affiliation. Whipped up by a factually inaccurate article in the Gay City News, gay activists persuaded the APA leadership to pressure symposium organizers to pull the program. Gay City News later ran a correction.

2. The other APA, the American Psychological Association, released a task force report on abortion and mental health consequences. Basing their conclusions on only one study, the APA surprised no one by claiming abortion had no more adverse impact on mental health than carrying a child to delivery. I revealed here that the APA had secretly formed this task force after a series of research reports in late 2005 found links between abortion and adverse mental health consequences for some women. New research confirms that concern is warranted.

3. Golden Rule Pledge – In the wake of Sally Kern saying homosexuality was a greater threat to the nation than terrorism, I initiated the Golden Rule Pledge which took place surrounding the Day of Silence and the Day of Truth. Many conservative groups were calling for Christian students to stay home. This did not strike me as an effective faith-centered response. The Golden Rule Pledge generated some controversy as well as approval by a small group of evangelicals (e.g., Bob Stith) and gay leaders (e.g., Eliza Byard). Some students taking part in the various events were positively impacted by their experience.

4. Exodus considers new direction for ministry – At a leadership training workshop early in 2008, Wendy Gritter proposed a new paradigm for sexual identity ministry. Her presentation was provocative in the sense that it generated much discussion and consideration, especially among readers here. It remains to be seen if Exodus will continue to move away from a change/reparative therapy focus to a fidelity/congruence ministry focus.

5. New research clarifies sexual orienatation causal factors – A twin study and a study of brain symmetry, both from Sweden and a large U.S. study shed some light on causal factors in sexual orientation.

6. Letter to the American Counseling Association requesting clarification of its policies concerning counseling same-sex attracted evangelicals. Co-signed by over 600 counselors (many of whom were referred by the American Association of Christian Counselors), I wrote a letter to the ACA requesting clarification regarding how counselors should work with evangelicals who do not wish to affirm homosexual behavior. The current policy is confusing and gives no guidance in such cases. Then President Brian Canfield replied affirming the clients self-determination in such cases. He referred the matter back to the ACA ethics committee. To date, that committee has not responded.

7. Paul Cameron’s work resurfaces and then is refuted – resurrected Paul Cameron’s work in an article on their website about gay lifespans. The article was later altered to reflect more on HIV/AIDS than on homosexual orientation. Later this year, Morten Frisch produced a study which directly addressed Cameron’s methods.

8. Mankind Project unravels – This year I posted often regarding the Mankind Project and New Warriors Training Adventure. Recently, I reported that MKP is in some financial and organizational disarray.

9. Debunking of false claims about Sarah Palin’s record on support for social programs – I had lots of fun tracking down several false claims made about Sarah Palin during the election. Her opponents willfully distorted her real record to paint her as a hypocrite. I learned much more about Alaska’s state budget than I ever wanted to know but found that most claims of program cuts were actually raises in funding which not quite as much as the agencies requested. However, overall funding for such programs increased.

10. During the stretch run of the election, I became quite interested in various aspects of the race. As noted above, I spent some time examining claims surround Sarah Palin’s record. I also did a series on President-elect Obama’s record on housing, including an interview with one of Barack Obama’s former constituents.

I know, I know, number 10 is an understatement. (Exhibit A)

Happy New Year!

8 thoughts on “Year in review: Top ten stories of 2008”

  1. Mary: EXODUS may not be the “be all and end all” of being “ex-gay”, but EXODUS is the first, largest and most well-known when it comes to the real “ex-gay movement”. They have a responsibility — and they have a voice.
    In over thirty years, they have failed to use it powerfully to (1) get truly honest about what “change” and “ex-gay” really mean, (2) firmly and specifically denounce hatemongers and bigots, (3) speak with a clear pastoral.ministerial voice — staying out of politics and sticking to ministry and (4) offer any sincere words of remorse for the harm they may have caused along the way.
    Readers will remember that on his personal blog, EXODUS President, Alan Chambers, actually scoffed at the idea that EXODUS owed anyone an apology in spite of the many heartfelt personal stories of pain told by “Ex-gay Survivors”.)
    The other more moderate voices of compassion and reform, most notably Wendy Gritter’s, were largely ignored by EXODUS. Yes, at first EXODUS uttered received warm praise for her suggestions — promising to try to undertake her reforms — and then did practially nothing to really change their tune.

  2. You did include in you statment reparative therapy. It’s always difficult to know just which statemnt or article you will take out of your last post to argue with someone.

  3. Mary. I was not talking about experiences with my therapist(s) over the years. Most have been very competent, caring and ethical and have helped me over some very rough spots — my divorce, the death of three partners to AIDS, the murder of my friend at the hands of gay bashers — and some “everyday” issues, like dealing with stress, career choices, coping with Bipoloar Disorer, etc.
    I was speaking specifically of EXODUS, not individuals therapists. I am speaking of :
    (1) EXODUS’ persistent failure (as an organization) to be completely honest with the public,
    (2) its suggestion that “real” or “true” Christians would (should) agree with them that homosexuality is a sin the can (and should) be “changed”,
    (3) it’s failure to fimly denouce the hatemongers and bigots who seem drawn to the “reparative therapy movement” and
    (4) EXODUS’s ill-advised alliances with right-wing politics — insead of “sticking to ministry” as EXODUS was created.
    It sounds like to have a very good therapist. Until EXODUS makes some major changes and whole-heartedly adopts Wendy Gritter’s very wise and love suggestions for reform, I will have to withhole praise for them.

  4. Wow – I think a lot has changed since your days in therapy. Or maybe I have a good therapist??
    However, I sincerely think that politics should stay out of the therapy room. And I do know that many ex gays abhor themselves to the point of becoming gay bashers. That’s sad.

  5. Concerned: Perhaps all my typos threw you off, but I did NOT say that the EXODIUS/Reparative Therapy approach is always harmful or that no one has derived any benefit from it.
    I do believe, however, that it is usually harmful and has been harmful to many — I would suspect that more have been harmed than “helped”. Specifically, I think it is very harmful to:
    (1) tell someone they that can and should “change” or become “ex-gay:” — and then never define what those terms really mean.
    (2) insist that there is only ONE correct way to interpret Scripture and that anyone who disagrees with you is “not a real Christian”, is not “really saved” and may be demon-possessed.
    (3) make good parents feel guilty that they somehow “caused” their kids to be gay — as if being gay were some sort of shameful and horrible disease.
    (4) cloud “ministry” by mingling it with right-wing politics — and then suggest that “real Christians” should hold the same political views that you do — as if Jesus was Republican or something.
    (5) make “overpromises”, use “Christianese” or sling “hype” — including language deliberatley designed ro “provoke” or “vex” the media — essentailly engaging in false-advertzing to try to win souls. Really BAD form, in my opinion.
    (6) fail to clearly denounce wackos and hate-mongers who latch on to the “change” movement — at times even defending their bigoty and pseudo-science just becuse they are “on your side” of the “change issue”. (Kern, Cameron, Berger, Schoenewolf, et al)
    (7) refuse to admit that for the overwhelmiing majority of peiople who seek “change”, very, very few (if any) really change from gay to straight.
    Put all of that together, add a heap of religious guilt if you don’t “change” and the threat of comlete rejection and you will see how and why this approach has harmed so many.

  6. Michael,
    I have to question the validity of any statement that generalizes that the reparative approach is always harmful to those who under take it. It may not be for everyone who embarks in it, but it is far from damaging all, as you are suggesting. There are some whose lives have been changes a great deal by the work that has been done through a reparative approach and if there are those who are unable to accept that, then they do not have the right to damage the process for others.
    We still have the right to make choices in our life and in no way should that be stifled. I can respect that this approach may not work for some and I can accept that the process is a very difficult one, but when we give into the idea that life should always be easy we stop growing and that is a shame.

  7. Regarding Wendy Griiter’s suggestion tat EXODUS should undertake a “paradigm shift”, it seemed to me that Warren was doubtful that EXOUDS might actually move “away from a change/reparative therapy focus to a fidelity/congruence ministry focus.”
    Many, including past and present EXOUDS leaders — whether supportivve of EXODUS (like me) very ciritical of it — agree that this SHOULD be done and without delay! The “change/reparaitive therapy” model and harmed many people pscyhologically and spiritual and has no real “scientific” basis.
    The “fidelity/congruence” model is more humane, more “doable”, more repectful of the reality of people’s ACTUALexperience. Futhermore, it is more respectful of the right of “true belivers” to disagree on certain matters (for example whether or not all homosexual behavior is “sin”) and still be brothers and sister who hold Christ as Lord!
    For EXODUS to adopt the seond approach, EXODUS would have to admit that it was wrong, very wrong to sell its soul to Right-wing, Evangelgical Republican Extremists. Frankly, I don’t think EXODUS has the courage to do that.

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