Press

National Religious Leadership Roundtable Declares

Date: 
April 24, 2001

Leaders Respond to Anti-Gay Reparative Therapy

For about the Roundtable, contact
Ken South, 202-332-6483 x3308

A national group of religious leaders today responded to the latest anti-gay "Love Won Out" conference, which was held this past weekend in Philadelphia.

The conference is part of a series of events held around the nation sponsored by Focus on the Family, a conservative religious organization. The events are aimed at convincing gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) people, as well as their clergy, family and friends, that sexuality can and should be changed through reparative therapy and a conversion to Christianity.

The National Religious Leadership Roundtable, which represents leaders from 40 faith-based traditions, denounced the anti-GLBT message being promoted by Focus on the Family. The Roundtable is convened by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and was founded with Equal Partners in Faith.

"These discredited attempts to change sexual orientation are really only suppressing behavior, not changing the natural attractions that are in a persons heart," said Rev. Bob Gibeling, program executive of Lutherans Concerned and spokesman for the Roundtable. "Any ministry that uses fear, guilt and shame to try to change someone's sexual orientation is not only unethical, but is also putting themselves and their ministry in legal jeopardy because of the professional medical associations clear stand against it."

"Many individuals in houses of worship, denominations, and religiously affiliated organizations throughout the United States, believe that gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals do not need to be repaired or saved from their sexual orientation or gender identity," the Roundtable said in a statement. "On the basis of medical opinion and our various religious beliefs, personal testimonies and first hand experience, we believe that reparative therapy is not appropriate for gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender individuals. The effects such practices have on the majority of people range from useless to extremely harmful, and may be a contributing factor to self-destructive behavior and many suicide attempts by GLBT individuals."

According to the American Psychological Association (APA) statement on homosexuality which was released in July, 1994, "The research on homosexuality is very clear. Homosexuality is neither mental illness nor moral depravity. It is simply the way a minority of our population expresses human love and sexuality. Research findings suggest that efforts to repair homosexuals are nothing more than social prejudice garbed in psychological accouterments."

The assessment of the American Psychological Association is also held by the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Medical Association. Yet, Focus on the Family continues to advance the harmful and demeaning message at their conferences that GLBT people need "treatment."

Despite repudiation from virtually the entire psychological and medical community, Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, a speaker at the conferences and president of the National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), tells parents to tell their kids that "homosexuality is really a psychological problem and that many of them, if they really work hard at it, can overcome their homosexuality, get married and have families. This is basically what we want to teach our kids."

The National Religious Leadership Roundtable considers that ex-gay testimonies featured at the "Love One Out" conferences are "based not only on the misguided belief that everyone should be heterosexual, but also that everyone should belong to the same narrow religious view." These conferences deny the reality that a broad array of religious traditions throughout time and across the world embrace GLBT people and celebrate their unique sexuality as a divine gift.

The National Religious Leadership Roundtable members are leaders of over 40 faith-based organizations including Muslim, Hindu, Catholic, Jewish, Protestant, Mormon, Black church, and other religious and spiritual traditions. Together they work in partnership with other justice-seeking groups to: amplify the voice of pro-GLBT faith organizations in public discourse; promote understanding of and respect for GLBT people within society at large and in communities of faith; promote understanding and respect within GLBT communities for a variety of faith paths and for religious liberty; achieve commonly held goals that promote equality, spirituality and justice. It is convened by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and founded with Equal Partners in Faith. For more information, visit http://www.ngltf.org/pi/nrlr.

Participants in the National Religious Leadership Roundtable include, in alphabetical order:
Affirmation: Gay & Lesbian Mormons
Affirmation: United Methodists
Al-Fatiha Foundation
American Friends Service Committee
Americans United for the Separation of Church and State
Bretheren Mennonite Council
Christian Lesbians OUT
Christians for Justice Action
Dignity/USA
Disciples Justice Action Network
Ecumenical Catholic Church
Equal Partners in Faith
Fellowship of Reconciliation
Fellowship Tabernacle
Gay, Lesbian and Affirming Disciples
Human Rights Campaign
Inner Light Unity Fellowship Church
Integrity
The Interfaith Alliance
The Interfaith Working Group
Interweave Continental
Jewish Reconstructionist Federation
Kashi Ashram
Lutherans Concerned/North America
Methodist Federation for Social Action
More Light Presbyterians
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
New Ways Ministry
People For the American Way
Parents, Friends, and Families of Lesbians and Gays
Q Spirit
Reconciling Congregations of the United Methodist Church
Reconstructionist Jewish Federation
Sacramento Grove of the Oak
SDA Kinship International
Soulforce, Inc.
That All May Freely Serve
Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches
Unitarian Universalist Association
UCCG
Woman Vision
Women's Alliance for Theology Ethics and Ritual
World Congress of GLB Jewish Organizations

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The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.