Newsweek Profiles John Paulk's Move From Ex-Gay Poster Boy To Movement Critic

Newsweek is out today with a story on John Paulk, who was featured on the magazine’s cover as an ex-gay success story back in 1998, and other ex-gay activists who have since recanted and left the movement.

Newsweek’s story reveals the personal struggles that many ex-gay leaders faced, even as they aided a movement that was harmful to gay people, particularly minors. The ex-gay movement, after all, was a product of a larger Religious Right push to undermine the claims of gay rights advocates by depicting homosexuality as a choice or a set of feelings that could be easily “fixed.”

Paulk’s ex-wife, Anne Paulk, however, continues to toe the ex-gay line.

Far-right groups including the Family Research Council and the American Family Association pooled $600,000 to place ads promising the effectiveness of reparative therapy in The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, and the Chicago Tribune. Anne and John Paulk smiled from full-page newspaper spreads.

In front of the crowds and cameras, Paulk was the image of certainty. But backstage, he was faltering. More than that, he knew he was lying.

“It’s funny, for those of us that worked in it, behind closed doors, we knew we hadn't really changed,” he says. “Our situations had changed—we had gotten married, and some of us had children, so our roles had changed. I was a husband and father; that was my identity. And the homosexuality had been tamped down. But you can only push it down for so long, and it would eke its way out every so often.”

When Paulk walked into that gay bar in 2000, someone recognized him and phoned Wayne Besen, a gay rights activist who now runs the nonprofit Truth Wins Out. Besen rushed over and snapped a picture. In the ensuing scandal, Paulk initially claimed he just went in to use the bathroom, and didn’t know it was a gay bar. But really, he was aching just to be in a welcoming environment.

“I went to a gay bar—not looking for sex, which is what people thought—but because I was missing my community. I was looking to sit in a place with people I felt comfortable with, and that was other gay people,” Paulk says. Though he continued to take speaking engagements, by 2003, he was burned out.

“I would be in hotel rooms, and I would be on my face sobbing and crying on the bed,” he says. “I felt like a liar and a hypocrite. Having to go out and give hope to these people. I was in despair knowing that what I was telling them was not entirely honest. I couldn’t do it anymore.”

Even in its earliest days, Exodus’s philosophy—that same-sex attraction meant a person was “broken” and could be “fixed”—was undermined by the reality of its members’ actions. Michael Bussee and Gary Cooper, two of the co-founders, left the movement in 1979 to be in a committed relationship with one another. (Bussee has spent the decades since actively fighting Exodus’s message.) John Evans, one of the founders of Love in Action (LIA), an early ex-gay ministry that helped establish Exodus in 1974, left LIA after a friend committed suicide over his distress at being unable to change his sexual orientation. "They're destroying people's lives,” Evans told The Wall Street Journal in 1993. “They're living in a fantasy world.” (LIA has since changed its name to Restoration Path.)



First came the photo of Paulk in the gay bar. Then in 2003, Michael Johnson, founder of “National Coming Out of Homosexuality Day,” was revealed to have infected men he’d met on the Internet with HIV through unprotected sex. John Smid, who joined LIA in 1986 and eventually became its executive director, left the organization in 2008. Three years later, Smid wrote on his blog that he "never met a man who experienced a change from homosexual to heterosexual," and that reorientation is impossible, because being gay is intrinsic.

Then it crumbled further. In 2012, psychologist Robert Spitzer—one of the leaders of the successful push in the 1970s for the American Psychiatric Association to declassify homosexuality as a disease—retracted a controversial study, published in 2003, often cited by the ex-gay community that had concluded some “highly motivated” individuals could change their sexual orientation. Spitzer wrote an apology to LGBT people who “wasted time and energy” on reparative therapy.



Lastly, there’s the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), founded in 1992 by psychologist Joseph Nicolosi. NARTH considers itself the foremost secular proponent of conversion therapy; it counts hundreds of well-credentialed mental health professionals among its ranks and has issued a number of white papers on the subject. It too, however, has suffered in the public eye in recent years: In 2007, NARTH therapist Chris Austin was convicted of sexually assaulting a client, and sentenced to 10 years in prison; in 2010, NARTH board member George Rekers was found to have employed a male prostitute as a companion for a two-week European vacation; and in 2012 the Internal Revenue Service revoked NARTH’s nonprofit status for not properly filing its paperwork.

Paulk left Exodus in 2003. He cautions against “speaking for everybody,” but says in his more than two decades of watching people undergo ex-gay therapy, the “large majority” of people he met “did not change one iota.” Paulk remained silent for a decade, until he issued a formal apology last year. "I know that countless people were harmed by things I said and did in the past, " Paulk wrote in a statement. "I am truly, truly sorry for the pain I have caused.”

Rafael Cruz: Obama Promoting 'Social Justice' In Order To Create 'Vast, Dependent Society'

In a radio interview yesterday, Rafael Cruz accused President Obama of promoting the concepts of “hyphenated Americans” and “social justice” in order to “create a vast, dependent society” and establish a “permanent voting base.”

Boston radio host and Washington Times columnist Jeffrey Kuhner asked Cruz, the father of Sen. Ted Cruz and a Cuban immigrant, if he thought that immigrants today are different from those when he came to the country because they “hang on to their ethnic identity” and “don’t seem to be as grateful or as appreciative of all the benefits and opportunities and freedoms that we have here.”

Cruz agreed with Kuhner’s assessment, and blamed the supposed ingratitude of immigrants on the Obama administration and its commitment to “social justice.”

“One of the things that this administration has been doing is look at each one of those so-called groups as the victims of society and pushing them into a dependent status so that they can keep them under their thumb,” he said. “The whole concept is if they can create a vast, dependent society upon government, then they feel they have a permanent voting base to maintain them in power. “

Kuhner: When you look at America today, 2014, to when you came to the United States, how do we treat immigrants differently in terms of assimilating them? Because I listen to you and I hear a red-blooded American. I look at many immigrants who come today, and they hang on to their ethnic identity. They’re hyphenated Americans, they talk multiculturalism, they don’t seem to be as grateful or as appreciative of all the benefits and opportunities and freedoms that we have here. Have you seen a change in your lifetime over how immigrants are assimilated into the melting pot when you came and the immigrant experience today?

Cruz: Well, obviously there’s a change, but we have to realize where the change comes from. The change, it is a program change. This administration wants to promote the concept of ‘hyphenated Americans.’ This administration is bent on what they call ‘social justice.’ Now we need to define the terms. The term ‘social justice’ sounds very good, but basically, social justice is collectivism. It is the rights of the group, and it denies individual responsibility. So this whole concept of looking at all these different hyphenated groups, whether it is, and even any other groups, they even consider women as a separate group. So it is a divide and conquer concept.

And one of the things that this administration has been doing is look at each one of those so-called groups as the victims of society and pushing them into a dependent status so that they can keep them under their thumb. The whole concept is if they can create a vast, dependent society upon government, then they feel they have a permanent voting base to maintain them in power.

And I think we don’t need to be talking about hyphenated Americans, because we are all Americans and we all want the same thing.

Barton: Not Allowing Women To Vote Was Designed 'To Keep The Family Together'

On today's episode of "WallBuilders Live," David Barton explained that women were not given the right to vote when the Constitution was written because the Founding Fathers were trying to protect the institution of the family by giving every "family" a right to vote through the male head of the household.

Responding to a question from a listener who argued that the Founding Fathers denied women the right to vote not out of sexism but rather based on the biblical principle that a house divided against itself cannot stand, Barton said that this interpretation was exactly right because not allowing women to vote was designed "to keep the family together":

The family was the first and fundamental unit of all government. Actually, you have individual self government first, then you have family government second, you have civil government third, and have church government fourth.  Those are the four levels of government in the order they are given in the Bible.

So family government precedes civil government and you watch that as colonists came to America, they voted by families. You look at the Pilgrims, when they finally moved away from socialism and moved toward the free enterprise system, they called the families together and gave families plots of land. Private property given to the families. And so that's the way things work.

And you have to remember back then, husband and wife, I mean the two were considered one. That is the biblical precept. That is the way they looked at them in the civil community. That is a family that is voting and so the head of the family is traditionally considered to be the husband and even biblically still continues to be so ...

Now, as we've moved away from the family unit - you need to be independent from the family, don't be chained down and be a mother and don't be chained down and be a father and don't be chained down to your parents, you know, we've moved into more of a family anarchy kind of thing, the 'Modern Family' kind of portrayal - that understanding has gone away.

Clearly, what [the listener] has asked is a brilliant question because it does reveal that the bigotry we're told they held back then, they didn't hold and what they did was they put the family unit higher than the government unit and they tried to work hard to keep the family together. And, as we can show in two or three hundred studies since then, the more you weaken the family, the more it hurts the entire culture and society.

So they had a strong culture, a strong society and it was based on a strong family to preceded government and they crafted their policies to protect a strong family.

William Gheen Defends Don Sterling: 'I'm More Worried About The Black Mobs'

Yesterday, William Gheen of Americans for Legal Immigration PAC posted on his website a long, indignant letter to the Southern Poverty Law Center on his website, blasting the SPLC for listing his organization as a hate group, and especially bristling at any suggestion that any of his activism is motivated by racism. “No evidence exists that anyone in our organization has ever engaged in racism, hate, or violence against minorities,” he insisted. WorldNetDaily joined Gheen’s cause, quoting his letter in a fawning report later that day.

So, of course it comes as no surprise that the very same day that Gheen was on a crusade to clear his name from charges of leading a hate group, he also took the time to post on Facebook a defense of Los Angeles Clippers owner Don Sterling’s racist remarks and reported history of racial discrimination, claiming that the “black mobs” he imagines “hunting white people” across the nation are the real thing keeping the country from racial “equality.”

“I’m more worried about the new black mobs roaming many US cities targeting and beating the crap out of white people playing the Polar Bear/Knockout game than some rich old guy’s insensitive, yet 1st amendment protected, comments to his girlfriend in a private phone conversation that would be illegal to record in most states!” Gheen vented. “White guy makes a comment on the phone about blacks and the media goes crazy and everyone is out to destroy him. Black mobs form across the nation hunting white people and the media helps conceal the atrocities. Equality? Don’t think so.”

Then, for good measure, Gheen reposted his thoughts on the page of the conspiracy-theory site InfoWars.

We've frequently noted how remarkable it is that Gheen, an unhinged fringe extremist, continues to have something of a presence in the right-wing media and the GOP. For example, today, Gheen announced that he was endorsing five more candidates for Congress who had courted his favor by filling out his candidate survey, including U.S. Senate candidates Mark Callahan of Oregon and Stace Nelson of South Dakota. They join U.S. Senate candidates Matt Bevin of Kentucky, Rob Maness of LouisianaGreg Brannon of North Carolina and Lee Bright of South Carolina, who have all successfully courted Gheen’s endorsement.

New Creationist Movie Is The Latest Religious Right 'Christian Persecution' Film

Religious Right activists just can’t seem to get enough of movies about the purported persecution of Christians in America, churning out movies such as “God’s Not Dead,” “Uncommon” and “Persecuted.”

Answers In Genesis, the Young Earth Creationist group behind the Creation Museum, released a trailer yesterday for its very own persecution tale, “A Matter of Faith.”

The movie appears to center around a father who is upset that his daughter’s college biology professor isn’t giving equal time to “biblical Creation as a plausible alternative” to evolution. Like in “God’s Not Dead” — in which a student debates an atheist professor played by Kevin Sorbo — the worried father ends up debating the biology professor in a fight for his daughter’s soul.

AIG has routinely warned members that public schools and universities are leading young people away from Christianity by teaching them the science of evolution. As AIG head Ken Ham argues in his book “Already Gone,” schools and churches which don’t teach biblical accounts like Genesis as literal texts have led young people astray. 

HT: Chris Hutton.

GOPer Who Compared Food Stamp Recipients To Wild Animals Blasts Right Wing Watch As 'Dishonest'

Annette Bosworth, a South Dakota Republican Senate candidate, accused Right Wing Watch yesterday of “dishonesty” for reporting on an image she shared on her official Facebook page which compares people who receive food assistance to wild animals.

Bosworth didn’t explain how RWW’s post was dishonest, and the image in question is still on her Facebook page.

In fact, it seems that we’ve hit a nerve with Bosworth, as her page now features eight different posts with the same exact message about “being attacked by a far left wing group.”

Klingenschmitt: Transgender Teacher Is A 'Pervert' Who Trying To Recruit Kids 'Into Sexual Perversion'

Last month, a transgender teacher in Texas was removed from the classroom after parents complained and, predictably, "Dr. Chaps" Gordon Klingenschmitt fully supports the move because there is no reason to allow "transgendered perverts to stand in front of children and recruit them into sexual perversion."

While addressing the issue on his "Pray In Jesus Name" program, Klingenschmitt said there was "a demonic spirit inside of this man who is lying to you ... there's a spirit of lying when a man claims to be a woman and he's not a woman" before praying on behalf of the parents who rose up to "defend their children's right to not be violated by this pervert":

Sandy Rios Points To Tornadoes To Criticize Climate-Change Prevention

The American Family Association’s Sandy Rios is pointing to the tornado that hit the AFA’s home of Tupelo, Mississippi, yesterday as evidence that humans shouldn’t try to combat climate change.

Rios said on her radio show yesterday that tornadoes reflect the power of God, and therefore there is no point in trying to combat climate change because we are mere mortals.

“We are ants in the face of this, and so then for us to talk about controlling the weather and global — somehow if we drive different SUVs or don’t emit too much CO2 — somehow we can stop these phenomena that are so beyond our comprehension and ability we can’t do anything except film them,” she said. “What can you do, wave your fist at a tornado and say, ‘You’re not going to get me, we’re Tupelo Strong!’?”

Rios was referring to the “Boston Strong” slogan, which she recently said is mocking God and could bring about new terrorist attacks.

Actually, new research has shed light on a connection between human-influenced climate change and more intense tornadoes and severe storms.

We guess Rios prefers the approach of Pat Robertson, who believes that tornadoes can be stopped through prayer.

Peter LaBarbera Wants Ex-Gays On Fox, While Cliff Kincaid Wants Gays Out Of Conservative Movement

Appearing last week on the TV web show America’s Survival, Americans For Truth About Homosexuality president Peter LaBarbera attacked Modern Family and other TV shows for portraying gays as “the most noble” characters.

LaBarbera seemed to chide Modern Family both for including a gay couple and not focusing on the couple enough: “We see Modern Family where you’ve got two homosexual men raising an infant or a toddler like it’s nothing, like it’s nothing out of the ordinary. Of course, that’s intentional. They don’t even make that the main part of the show. This is manipulation. Americans are being manipulated on a daily basis by Big Hollywood and Big Media.”

LaBarbera also knocked Fox News for providing insufficient airtime for ex-gays. “When are we going to see a content, happy, ex-gay in a Hollywood movie?” he demanded.

“When is Sean Hannity, Megyn Kelly or Bill O’Reilly going to have an ex-gay on Fox?”

“Fox is promoting black conservatives, which is a good thing,” he added. “Why aren’t they promoting these politically incorrect people? Why have they never promoted ex-gays on Fox?”

Host Cliff Kincaid of Accuracy In Media, who last year demanded that CPAC hold a panel discussion on why gay people are “prone to violence, terror, and treason,” said that gay people or straight supporters of gay rights can’t be conservative.

After arguing that CNN host S.E. Cupp is “parading around and posing as a conservative,” Kincaid said that “you cannot be a conservative in the traditional sense and be a homosexual, you cannot be a conservative in the traditional sense and promote homosexual marriage and all these other libertine and left-wing causes.”

Co-host Jerry Kenney later said people should begin “referring to gay marriages as unnatural marriages,” but even that didn’t go far enough for LaBarbera.

“I don’t want to call it marriage,” he said. “You could look at a tree and call it a car, that doesn’t mean that’s a car.”

Tea Party Unity: Evangelical Immigration Supporters Want To Destroy Country, 'Bring America Under Godless Socialism'

This week’s Capitol Hill lobby day for evangelical pastors who support immigration reform did not sit well with Rick Scarborough and Robert Knight of Tea Party Unity. In a joint post on TPU’s website, the two write that these evangelical pastors want to “empower the Left to finally end the world’s longest experiment in liberty and self-government” and to “usher in an oppressive era that could make the current lawlessness seem like a golden age.”

“[S]ome of the pastors are spectacularly naïve while others are knowingly trying to destroy the two-party system and bring America under Godless socialism,” they write.

They also report that they wholeheartedly agree with Rep. Dana Rohrabacher’s remark to Roll Call that “if [the pastors] really wanted to help people who are here illegally or in bad situations they, they want to pay for their health insurance and everything, then I would be saying how wonderful that is. But if they are advocating that the government do that, then it will break our bank and destroy our country.”

A lot of well-meaning but frankly wrong evangelical brothers and sisters are pressuring Congress to enact what would amount to immigration amnesty. This would empower the Left to finally end the world’s longest experiment in liberty and self-government. It is that serious, friends. This is misplaced compassion at its worst, and it could usher in an oppressive era that could make the current lawlessness seem like a golden age.

...

The group is acting under the auspices of the Evangelical Immigration Table, whose leadership includes Marxist Jim Wallis of Sojourners, who World magazine editor Marvin OIasky caught in bald-faced lies denying billionaire financier George Soros’ heavy funding of the group. As such, some of the pastors are spectacularly naïve while others are knowingly trying to destroy the two-party system and bring America under Godless socialism.

Share this page: Facebook Twitter Digg SU Digg Delicious