A Dean and Professor of Law from Jerry Fallwell's Liberty University testified before a House Committee that prohibiting gay conversion therapy is a violation of religious freedom.


California has outlawed this therapy because it has been shown to be harmful. The therapy has been condemned by many professional associations, but apparent the good dean thinks that religious freedom trumps science.

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The question then becomes, who has EFFECTIVE treatment?  What success rates does a given program have, what are the metrics by which success is measured

Agreed.  It's false advertising and misrepresentation that need to be controlled, not the right of adults to seek out whatever personality changes they like. 

People go in droves to various self-improvement type seminars, lured by the idea of wonderful changes.  They have every right to pursue this. 

Meditation can do wonderful things, unproven and unquantified. 

Indications are strong that the therapy does not work. There have been some notable failures and embarrassments for the ex-gay movement in this area.One was its poster boy John Paulk, who married a gay woman, wrote a book about his conversion, and then was discovered in a gay bar while on a speaking tour. In his apology he writes:

Please allow me to be clear: I do not believe that reparative therapy changes sexual orientation; in fact, it does great harm to many people.

What happens is that the individual is told that his orientation is unhealthy and unChristian and that God wants him to change, and is encouraged by those around him to change as a witness to God's love, but then finds out that his sexual orientation is impossible for him to change. All he has done is to add a failure to his list of supposed sins. In the meantime he may have married and fathered children with the encouragement of his therapist.

A much better use of therapy is to help the gay individual to completely accept who he is and to move on from there.

This is the kind of therapy which was extensively lampooned in the movie, But I'm a Cheerleader.  The filmmakers knew back in 1999 that the "therapy" was not just ineffective but damaging and that supposed graduates of the program were essentially faking it.  Still the evangelicals mush on, trying to assert that lead can become gold and gays can be made straight.

What was it that Einstein called doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results?

Loren, he called it insanity.

Yup, he did, didn't he.  You knew that, same as I did.  Sadly, no one can tell the christers who want to push this kind of "treatment" that and get them either to listen or acknowledge it.

A much better use of therapy is to help the gay individual to completely accept who he is and to move on from there.

It's up to an individual to decide what they want out of therapy.  For themselves.  It's not for anyone else to dictate the best use of therapy. 

People's freedom has to include the freedom to embrace values and ideas that differ from your own.  People who support freedom need to support the freedom of people who make choices we wouldn't make.

Otherwise freedom means nothing. 

Luara, I acknowledge individual rights as an axiom.  My problem is the motivation that some gays and Lesbians have for attempting to change themselves, and I'm willing to bet that too much of of that motivation stems from external societal pressure, more specifically from those who believe on scriptural basis that homosexuality is wrong, condemned by god, et cetera.  I submit that those who want to change because of societal pressure are acting from a false premise, that it is the society which promotes such change is indulging in the tyranny of the majority and is far more the element requiring change.

I further suggest that if there ARE people who are purely INTERNALLY motivated to change their sexual orientation, without pressure or coercion, there may actually be a chance for success with them.  I would wager, however, that such people are in a miniscule minority, if they exist at all.

Lots of people seeking to "go straight" surely are motivated by guilt. 

But if they choose to be motivated by religious conditioning, that's their business.  There are Christian therapists who promote Christian ideas, and people have a right to seek that out too. 

There might be other people who simply know that life is going to be easier as a straight person - again because of social pressure.  Not everyone has to be a rebel, even if gay rebels are admirable. 

Gay women seem to be more flexible about their sexual orientation - heterosexual at one time in their lives, gay in another. 

Also, this came up in early 2013 and I wrote a long post about evidence of people's sexual orientation changing over their lives.  I don't feel like looking up the original post, but if this happens spontaneously, it might happen as the result of therapy as well. 

Yes, I think you are right about the possibility of sexual orientation changing during a lifetime and Kinsey seems to have known this.

That raises a question of how malleable sexual orientation is and if it is, is the degree of malleability the same for everyone? There could be people whose orientation is fixed at birth and people whose orientation is flexible. I suspect that change before adulthood that might be easier than afterwards. Genetics definitely plays a part—this is known from twin studies.

The ethical question is whether a therapist can promise to change orientation. It seems too difficult to justify a promise. I am especially skeptical when that promise is founded on the religious notion that "with God all things are possible."

The ethical question is whether a therapist can promise to change orientation. It seems too difficult to justify a promise.

Any fundamental change is difficult in therapy.  When therapists are trying to heal damage from childhood traumas, it's very difficult. 

People take on different value systems in therapy.  They can be taught things like standing up for themselves.  Different behavior and different ways of thinking. 

But as for changing one's basic attitudes and reactions - that is very difficult. 

I am especially skeptical when that promise is founded on the religious notion that "with God all things are possible."

That is a kind of placebo effect, and I guess it can do whatever the placebo effect does in therapy.  Therapy has a large element of placebo effect. 

What an individual wants out of therapy should be based on realistic expectations of what therapy can achieve. Usually people enter therapy to resolve a particular problem. What therapy can achieve depends on the capacity of the individual and the difficulty of the problem.

Setting a reasonable goal is something the therapist and the patient together can do when all circumstances are understood. Often the problem the patient presents is revised in order to work toward a more reasonable goal. It is not responsible or ethical for a therapist to promise results that are unlikely or impossible, and that is what the California law is aimed at preventing.

The Christian therapist believes that "with God all things are possible" and believes God is a participant in the process. This does not furnish him with a realistic perspective and he may deceive both himself and the patient.



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