A national group is warning news outlets to proceed with caution when reviewing a study that was released in Nashville on Sept. 13. 

Truth Wins Out (TWO) warned news organizations to be skeptical of a biased “ex-gay” sham study that was released by right wing therapists in Nashville, said a press release released by TWO.

"The 'research,' which was conducted by Stanton L. Jones of Wheaton College and Mark A. Yarhouse of Pat Robertson University, reportedly will show that a significant percentage of gay people can become straight through religious-based counseling," the release said.

“It comes as no shock that anti-gay ‘researchers’ at Wheaton College and Pat Robertson University would release a study that claims you can pray away the gay,” said Truth Wins Out’s Executive Director Wayne Besen. “I suppose their next study will provide support for Pat Robertson’s theory that homosexuality causes meteors and hurricanes.”

"Caution should be taken in prematurely critiquing the study until the full methodology is available. However, based on unconfirmed reports there is great concern that these notorious anti-gay researchers did little more than telephone professional ex-gay lobbyists and ministers from Exodus International and ask them if they had “changed.” If this is the case, it is likely that the study results are not only suspect, but wholly invalid, says Truth Wins Out.

“It appears as if this study is the equivalent of the Phillip Morris ‘ research’ team interviewing members of the company’s public relations team on the safety of cigarettes,” said Besen. “This study may be a deceptive sham with the goal of making it appear as if science backs fundamentalist beliefs on homosexuality.”

There is also the concern that the study sample is unusually small. Additionally, there is no indication that key physical measures or tests were included, such as a “No Lie MRI,” which is a scientific truth-detecting brain scan.

“Any ‘ex-gay’ study that does not include physical components that measure truth are essentially meaningless,” said Besen. “After several key ex-gay leaders have been caught in sex scandals, their tales of transformation lack credibility,” said Besen. “It is folly to suggest that telephone interviews can be considered genuine research. News organizations should be extremely skeptical of such a mockery of the scientific method.”

Jones and Yarhouse have made a cottage industry of attempting to mold scientific conclusions so they will conform to their devoutly held religious beliefs. Commenting on a 1991 debate over the ordination of gay Episcopal priests, Jones told the Associated Press that those who support ordaining homosexuals are trying "to normalize a pattern which is destructive and abnormal."

In a Sept. 14, 2004 interview with The Virginian-Pilot, Yarhouse explained that he tells clients that their homosexual feelings do not mean they have to identify as gay. “Christ, or God, has a pre-existing claim on their sexuality” that trumps same-sex attractions, Yarhouse said.

In an April 2006 interview for the anti-gay website NARTH.com, Jones and Yarhouse explain the motivation for their work.

“As evangelical Christians, it seemed to us that homosexuality is the area where more pressure is being put on the church to depart from the explicit moral teachings of scripture than any other area.”

The release of their study results in Nashville coincides with a regional conference of the ex-gay organization Exodus International and the American Association of Christian Counselors World Conference. The full study results will
be distributed on Oct. 10, in the form of a book by Christian publisher InterVarsity Press.

This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.

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