UCC minister says ads offer “false hope”
United Church of Christ News Service, July 17, 1998
CLEVELAND-“Ex-gay ministries,” promoted in national newspaper ads placed this week by the Christian Coalition and other religious-right groups, offer “false hope,” says an expert in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender ministries with the United Church of Christ.
In a statement released July 16, the Rev. Dr. William R. Johnson of Cleveland, a UCC minister with the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries, criticized full-page ads that appeared in the New York Times on July 13, the Washington Post on July 14 and USA Today on July 15.
“Tens of thousands of lesbians and gay men, and hundreds of former victims of such ‘therapies’ who learned the hard way, know that sexual orientation cannot be changed,” Johnson said. “Indeed the more truthful ‘ex-gay’ counselors privately tell their clients what they rarely acknowledge in public – that they cannot change a gay or lesbian person’s same-gender attractions.”
He said the ads seemed timed to coincide with a political effort to overturn President Clinton’s executive order banning discrimination based on sexual orientation in federal agencies and to oppose the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
“Such organizations cannot afford for the fact of the innate nature of sexual orientation – be it heterosexual, bisexual or homosexual – to be widely accepted,” Johnson said. He noted that the American Psychological Association and the American Medical Association have repudiated the claims of “ex-gay ministries.”
Johnson, whose title is Minister for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Concerns, has been an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ since 1972. He was the first openly gay person ordained to the Christian ministry in modern times.