Russell Moore

Russell Moore


CHICAGO — Truth Wins Out today commended comments made by Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Church’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, denouncing “ex-gay” or “reparative” therapy as ineffective and wrongheaded. Moore was speaking to a Southern Baptist conference on homosexuality in Nashville, and Sarah Pulliam Bailey of Religion News Service reports that Moore said the following, both in interviews with journalists and to the larger conference:

“The utopian idea if you come to Christ and if you go through our program, you’re going to be immediately set free from attraction or anything you’re struggling with, I don’t think that’s a Christian idea,” Moore told journalists. “Faithfulness to Christ means obedience to Christ. It does not necessarily mean that someone’s attractions are going to change.”

Moore said evangelicals had an “inadequate view” of what same-sex attraction looks like.

Moore later acknowledged that many gays and lesbians had been hurt by the church’s actions toward the community:

“The idea that one is simply the sum of one’s sexual identity is something that is psychologically harmful ultimately,” Moore said. “And I think also we have a situation where gay and lesbian people have been treated really, really badly.”

Moore said the ERLC is working with parents of those who are gay and lesbian.

“The response is not shunning, putting them out on the street,” he said. “The answer is loving your child.”

“When a senior Southern Baptist leader makes such statements to fellow Baptists, that is progress,” said Truth Wins Out Executive Director Wayne Besen. “While we anxiously await the day when conservative Christians like Moore preach full acceptance and inclusion for LGBT people, we would be remiss not to acknowledge the significance of a Southern Baptist leader calling for a more loving approach and rejecting solidly discredited junk science.”

Moore’s predecessor Albert Mohler also reportedly said that he was wrong when he previously expressed support for the idea that people could change their sexual orientations.

TWO’s Besen added, “This should be a profound wake-up call to ‘ex-gay’ dead-enders like Christopher Doyle, Richard Cohen, Anne Paulk and the staff of NARTH.  When you’ve lost Russell Moore and Albert Mohler, it’s time to start looking for real jobs.”

On top of his denunciation of “ex-gay” therapy, Moore “condemned anti-gay bullying and called on Christians to address the problem of homelessness for gay and lesbian youth as ‘a human dignity issue.'” Moore added, “You’ve been given a mission of reconciliation. Jesus is not afraid to speak with truth, but Jesus is not shocked by people or disgusted by people.”

The Southern Baptist Church still preaches against LGBT people and families, and is certainly nowhere near being a safe place for the LGBT community, but these acknowledgements of reality signify an important baby step for the organization.

“Ex-gay” therapy is roundly rejected by all major medical and mental health associations, which state that the practice, sometimes known as “conversion” or “reparative” therapy, is ineffective at best, and can cause great harm to patients.

Many who were among the most prominent spokespeople and apologists for the “ex-gay” movement have recanted their views and expressed deep sorrow for the pain their work caused over the years. Alan Chambers, who ran the now defunct Exodus International, admitted that 99.9% of those he encountered in the movement never changed their sexual orientation. John Paulk, who was once the poster boy for the movement, appearing on the cover of Newsweek in 1998 with his then wife, now is living as an openly gay man, and is doing the hard work of apologizing to those who were hurt by his work. Indeed, the only public “ex-gays” left seem to be those who are currently making money promulgating the “ex-gay” lifestyle.

Despite the fact that there is no mainstream, scientifically valid argument for reparative therapy, and despite the fact that there is no morally valid argument for the hate and mistreatment of the LGBT population by extreme conservative religious groups, Moore faces opposition on his own side, seemingly for suggesting that the LGBT community should be treated like human beings. Erik Stanley of the anti-gay Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) hate group reportedly repeated to the group the discredited myth that Matthew Shepard’s murder was not a hate crime. The ADF was most recently in the news for their part in fabricating a story of anti-gay discrimination regarding an Idaho couple who run a roadside wedding mill who refuse to perform same-sex weddings.

Bryan Fischer, the firebrand spokesperson for the virulently anti-gay American Family Association hate group, was enraged by Moore’s expression of human decency, tweeting, “Southern Baptist spokesman Moore flatly rejects the biblical truth that homosexuals can change.” There will likely be many more forthcoming condemnations from Moore’s erstwhile allies in the coming days, as anti-gay Christian extremists grapple with these comments.

“The Southern Baptist Church is nowhere near reparing the damage they’ve done to LGBT people and families over the decades, but this is a baby step in the right direction,” said Truth Wins Out Associate Director Evan Hurst. “What’s more is that, with these statements, it comes into clear focus that the most important parts of this conversation are no longer happening in the mainstream American public. Marriage equality is basically settled law, supported by solid majorities of the population. Now the conversation is happening among conservatives, between those who bitterly cling to ideological hate, and those who are willing to grapple with hard questions and reexamine their preconceived notions. We know from the arc of history who will win that argument.”

Truth Wins Out (TWO) is a non-profit organization that works to demolish the very foundation of anti-gay prejudice. Our philosophy is simple: We attack the underpinnings of homophobia by debunking harmful lies, discrediting hateful myths, and countering anti-gay organizations. By chipping away at the underlying ignorance that fuels anti-LGBT attitudes, we can ultimately win our fight for fairness and achieve full equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people worldwide.