TWO URGES RELIGIOUS RIGHT TO RETHINK DESTRUCTIVE ANTI-GAY POLICIES AS MEGA-CHURCH PASTOR RESIGNS
How Many Lives Will Be Shattered, Families Destroyed and Careers Ruined Before Some Churches Accept Gay People For Who They Are? Asks TWO
MIAMI BEACH, Fla. - Truth Wins Out strongly urged conservative churches today to call off their war against homosexuals and rethink their deadly dogma after another prominent mega-church pastor was forced to step down after his sexual orientation was revealed. The Denver Post reported today that Rev. Paul Barnes, a married pastor of south Denver's 2,100-member Grace Chapel, resigned after confessing sexual encounters with men. He was the second prominent Colorado pastor, following Rev. Ted Haggard, to step down in recent weeks because he was gay.
"After the fall of Ted Haggard and Paul Barnes, it is time for conservative churches to admit that their approach to homosexuality is an experiment that has failed," said Wayne Besen, Executive Director of Truth Wins Out, a non-profit organization that monitors so-called ex-gay ministries. "How many lives will be shattered, families destroyed and careers ruined before the religious right accepts gay people for who they are?
"Instead of tired anti-gay apologetics, the evangelical church should offer apologies to the gay and lesbian community and move swiftly to change their out-of-touch anti-gay positions," added Besen.
The Denver Post reported that the popular preacher resigned after a church administrator got an anonymous phone call from a person who claimed he overheard a conversation in which someone mentioned, "blowing the whistle" on Barnes. In a videotaped message to his congregation, a weeping Barnes spoke of how he had always known he was gay and could not change his sexual orientation despite copious prayer and three attempts at therapy.
"I have struggled with homosexuality since I was a 5-year-old boy," Barnes said in the 32- minute video, according to the Post "...I can't tell you the number of nights I have cried myself to sleep, begging God to take this away."
This striking admission was similar to Rev. Haggard's disclosure that he had "been warring against it for all of my adult life," which strongly suggests that homosexuality can't be changed. This reality contradicts the position of several prominent right wing groups, most notably Focus on the Family.
"Conservative churches have spent millions of dollars pushing the idea that if you want to be straight, then read Scripture," said Besen. "This position has been severely undermined by living examples of spiritually gifted men, such as Haggard and Barnes, who were unable to become heterosexual, despite having everything to lose."
Besen said he is also concerned about how such deception hurts family members who are duped into becoming props in another person's lie. Indeed, Alan Chambers, the leader of the largest ex-gay group, Exodus International, recently claimed on NBC's Today Show that his organization gets 160,000 calls a year from married individuals seeking to become heterosexual or their psychologically scarred spouses. Although the group keeps no reliable statistics, even if a fraction of this inflated number is true, it would mean thousands of unnecessary divorces. This means that the "ex-gay" message is one of the leading causes of divorce in the nation.
"So-called ex-gay groups are divorce mills that love to show the media wedding pictures, but never show them the divorce papers, which is the realistic outcome," said Besen. "Our hearts go out to Char Barnes, who did not know her husband was a closeted homosexual until last week. It is time the right wing stops destroying families in the name of family values."
TWO is a non-profit think tank and educational organization that counters right wing disinformation campaigns, debunks the ex-gay myth, and provides accurate information about the lives of GLBT people. Besen, the group's founder and Executive Director, is the author of "Anything But Straight: Unmasking The Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth."
Oddly enough, I didn't feel much sympathy for Haggard. This one, I do. I feel that he is a victim as is his family. I hope that they can get through this. I hope that someone reaches out to this man; someone who is not going to help him try to continue this farce and self hatred.
posted by jekelhyde, at
12/11/2006 8:49 PM
Yes, I agree he is morally superior to Haggard. Barnes was mostly apolitical and did not actively gay bash.
wayne the person who most needs to be exposed is Peter LaBarbera, his obsession with homosexuality is worse than all the other so-called pro-family people combined. I should know I was as anti-gay and obsessed over the evil gays before I accepted myself. I believe if he was exposed then with him being more high profile than haggard it would cause the christian rights house of cards to tumble down.
posted by Adam Kautz, at
12/12/2006 2:24 AM
Unfortunately, I'm sure Exodus and their ilk will see this as a strong reason to ramp up their efforts to harm gay teenagers.
After all, they gotta find 'em, get 'em to those camps and cure 'em before something like this happens again.
posted by Mike, NY, at
12/12/2006 8:47 AM
Wayne, your remarks mark you as one of the "reality-based" community. Many of the Religious Right loons aren't living in the same mental universe as the rest of us. Why should they change their minds when secular concepts like "facts", "evidence", and "logic" mean nothing to them?
posted by rational man, at
12/12/2006 9:37 AM
a weeping Barnes spoke of how he 'had always known he was gay and could not change his sexual orientation despite copious prayer and three attempts at therapy'....We should carry this quote on huge signs when protesting at NARTH, Exodus and other quack therapy conventions and meetings. BTW...the gay hooker who outed Ted Haggard was on the TV show Dr. Keith Ablow yesterday. B. Queer
posted by Anonymous, at
12/12/2006 9:41 AM
The evangelicals will never change. They will simply become further marginalized like they have in Europe, where thinking people have moved away from them en masse. The only responses that I hear from them now are "we can't change what the Bible says". They will never give up on their idea that the Christian Bible is somehow supernatural. If the Bible is inerrant, who are you going to believe, scripture or your lying eyes?
posted by Chris L., at
12/12/2006 10:34 AM
Only the 'literalists' are these whack jobs caught between a rock (of ages) and a hard place. Progressive/liberal denominations who live in the 21st century recognize that *some* of the Bible is history, while much of it is metaphor and symbol (like the creation story); while other parts, like Leviticus, were written for and by an ancient desert dwelling culture that needed to follow 'purity laws' like kosher foods to keep themselves alive and healthy. Anyone interested in a gay friendly, science friendly version of *modern* Christianity should go to the website www.crosswalkamerica.org
posted by Anonymous, at
12/12/2006 12:00 PM
Barnes knew...since he was five. How poignant, as it is for all gay people who have always known, but couldn't always acknowledge it. I try to imagine that feeling and knowlege in a child.
But that's the difference between me and my straight self, and the OTHER straight folks who interfere with young gay person's psyche and growth.
I BELIEVE what gay folks tell me. And I am in no place to challenge or disavow what gay folks tell me. Now should a gay child carry such a weight and for so long. Straight folks place the stones in the path, and then wonder or admonish at why gay folks trip on them. This is not truth, this is arrogance. This is not compassion, this is cruelty. And this isn't love, it's control.
I love to challenge straight people every day about this intellectual, if not moral failure. Gay men and women giving a LIFETIME to the service of straight egos and sensibility. The fatigue from this is effecting me also and I resent it. Even worse, what ever this man's family is feeling will be directed at HIM as being the primary betrayer, when all along it's the religion does that. I wish him well too. But as the Chinese proverb goes...when we see a nail that sticks out, we hammer it down. More of the same that got Haggard and Barnes there in the first place. How dumb...if this was such a choice, and so casual an enterprise to engage in... Then WHY all this work, and discipline and threat? And obviously the 'choice' to be straight isn't HIS.
And as I say, a choice between and rock and a hard place, is the only choice at work in these cases.
posted by Regan, at
12/12/2006 5:53 PM
Let's see now-the very pastors of Evangelical persuasion, who vehemently put down Gays, they even go as far to as to use hate speeches, and the many priests, and Bishops and clergy in general who put gays down now seem to be GAY themselves, you know the old adage "Thee protest too much" thing. Now I'm going to have to say, these people, then, are doing it for the love of money NOT for the Love of God. They get paid BIG bucks to preach what their flocks WANT to hear, not what they should be hearing!! AND what they should be hearing is that Homosexuals have a right to be here and to be exactly who they/WE are..
So now we have yet another pastor, Evangelical pastor that is, who is coming out and coming to terms with who he really is. AND you know what? GOD isn't striking him down dead BUT in his openness he certainly will be Free and for certain God will still love him!