June 9th, 2009 by Michael L. Brown

Dear Friends,

This coming Thursday night, June 11, the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) Resource Center at Grand Valley State University in western Michigan will be hosting a panel discussion on “Religion and Homophobia: Spiritual Violence in our Community.” This event is scheduled to take place just two days before our Love Won Out conference in Grand Rapids, and the goal of the panel discussion is to discredit the notion that homosexual men and women can find freedom and transformation in Jesus.

Simply stated, those who have been invited by the university to participate on the panel share the same basic views, namely, that the Bible is not against loving, homosexual relationships and that it is “spiritual violence” to tell homosexuals that change is possible through the gospel.

As reported on CitizenLink.org , Focus on the Family is calling on Jeanne Arnold, vice president for Inclusion and Equity at the university, to include the Love Won Out perspective in its panel discussion.

“The ‘Religion and Homophobia’ panel discussion seems awfully one-sided for an event sponsored by the school’s ‘inclusion and equity’ department,” wrote Gary Schneeberger, vice president of media and public relations at Focus on the Family, in a message to Arnold. “I’m writing to ask you to extend an invitation to Dr. Michael Brown, one of the speakers at Focus on the Family’s Love Won Out conference, to bring some true diversity to this important discussion.”

May I make a personal appeal to each of you to take two minutes and send a note to the university, asking them to allow for our perspective to be brought to this discussion? Click HERE to take action now! You can also call Jeanne J. Arnold, vice president for inclusion and equity, at (616) 331-3296. (Please remember to be extremely gracious when you call, simply leaving a message requesting that I be added to the panel discussion.)

I know of hardly any group of people who are under more attack and who suffer more discrimination than those who have come out of homosexuality – often called ex-gays – and we are simply working to get their voice heard at the university in two days. It is my privilege to be asked to represent them!

So, please take this to the Lord in prayer right now, asking for His truth to triumph, and then take a couple of minutes to send a request (or place a call) to the university.

Thank you in advance for your solidarity!

In Him,

Dr. Michael L. Brown

*Be sure also to mark July 25th on your calendars and plan to join us in Charlotte as, by God’s grace, we make history together at our God Has a Better Way rally.

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April 17th, 2009 by M. French

Editor’s Note: To listen to Dr. Brown interview Jeff Johnston, the man who’s story is told in the ad, click here.

An ad submitted by Love Won Out to a San Antonio newspaper was rejected for being offensive. According to CitizenLink:

Newspaper Rejects Ad for Love Won Out Conference

Leading up to Saturday’s conference in Texas, Focus on the Family’s Love Won Out team attempted to place an ad in the San Antonio News-Express.

But the ad — which features the testimony of Jeff Johnston, who used to identify as homosexual but no longer does — was rejected and deemed offensive.

Gary Schneeberger, vice president of media relations at Focus on the Family Action, said the newspaper clearly has a double standard.

“There are a number of ads in the Express-News that are very offensive not only to Christians, but to families,” he said. “Ads for strip clubs and lingerie models, to name just two.

“With those kinds of ads, they don’t worry about the offense to the community, but in this case, the story of a man who says, ‘I used to be gay and now I am not,’ is somehow deemed to be offensive.”

There’s still time to register for the conference, which takes place Saturday at Westover Hills Assembly of God in San Antonio.

The conference is led by those who have overcome homosexuality and other experts from across the country. They will share the hopeful message that change is possible for those dissatisfied with living homosexually, and offer encouragement and practical help on how to love gay-identified relatives and friends without compromising biblical truth.

After numerous calls and emails to the newspaper from the public, Focus on the Family released the following responses to the answers the newspaper was putting out:

Paper That Rejected Love Won Out Ad Not Telling Whole Story to Readers

The San Antonio Express-News has been inundated with calls and e-mails from subscribers upset that the newspaper rejected an ad Focus on the Family sought to place announcing its Love Won Out conference this Saturday, April 18. Many who have contacted the newspaper’s publisher, Tom Stephenson, have received in return what can only be described as misleading e-mails.

To get the truth on the record, Focus on the Family Vice President of Media and Public Relations Gary Schneeberger offers the responses below to Mr. Stephenson’s claims:

Tom Stephenson wrote: Thank you for writing and for giving me a chance to set the record straight. I don’t know if you have seen the ad in question or not but I suspect you have not. I say that because none of the people I have asked had seen the ad and have been relying on information working its way thru the airways and cyber space to lay criticism at the feet of the newspaper.

Gary Schneeberger responds: It is true, many of those who contacted the paper late last week had not seen the ad. But they did hear the text of it, thanks to KSLR radio host Adam McManus, who read it in its entirety on the air. The ad is nothing more than a photo of a smiling Jeff Johnston of the Love Won Out team accompanied by his story of how he used to struggle with same-sex attractions and was able to overcome them through prayer, counseling and events like Love Won Out.

Also, it bears mentioning that it is unusual, to say the least, to criticize people for not seeing an ad – when you’re the one who refused to let them see it.

Tom Stephenson wrote: Here’s what I can share with you. We received a request to run an ad promoting a conference on April 18 for Focus on the Family. We rejected the ad as presented and offered to work with the organizers to come up with alternative ad copy. They rejected that offer.

Gary Schneeberger responds: This is not entirely accurate. It is true that the paper rejected the ad, but there was no attempt to “work with” us until after Mr. Stephenson was inundated with phone calls from upset subscribers. In fact, Mr. Stephenson initially refused to discuss the reasons for his refusal of the ad with one of our senior executives.

Tom Stephenson wrote: We reached out to them a second time and again offered to run an ad promoting the conference. In fact, we offered to run two ads for the price of one. We have not heard back from them on this most recent offer.

Gary Schneeberger responds: The “second” attempt was actually the paper’s “first.” Their offer to reconsider the ad was, according to a publisher’s representative I personally spoke to, contingent upon our “reeling in the copy” of the ad and “focusing it more on the event.” I asked if that meant removing Jeff’s personal story and the word “homosexuality” from the ad. I was told “yes.” We declined the offer because to make the changes they demanded would have rendered the ad meaningless. Love Won Out is about precisely what the ad reflects in its original form – the hope that people can overcome their same-sex attractions.

I was further told that the reason the paper wanted the changes made was because “there is a homosexual community (in San Antonio) and they will be offended” by the ad in its original form.

Tom Stephenson wrote: Sorry for all of the misinformation regarding this ad but I must tell you we have repeatedly reached out to the organizers of the conference to come up with an ad that works for both of us. We are very willing to accept advertising promoting their upcoming conference.

Gary Schneeberger responds: It is not untrue to say the paper is “willing to accept” advertising promoting Saturday’s Love Won Out event. What Mr. Stephenson is not saying, however, is that it will only accept such advertising if it does not include Jeff Johnston’s story of overcoming homosexuality – and that’s like saying he’ll only accept advertising for Wheaties if they drop their “Breakfast of Champions” slogan.

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February 25th, 2009 by M. French

On February 19, 2009, CRANE hosted Wayne Besen, author of Anything But Straight and leader of Truth Wins Out, for a presentation entitled “Pray Away the Gay.” Besen’s lecture attempted to expose what they call the “Ex-Gay Myth,” in response to Focus on the Family’s Love Won Out conference in Charlotte which occurred two days later.  About fifty people gathered to hear Besen’s presentation, which was laden with humor at the expense of the Ex-Gay Ministries (including Focus on the Family, Exodus International, NARTH, and PFOX), which he attempted to expose as hypocritical, backward, political, and unloving.

The presentation opened with a newspaper editorial by Focus on the Family leader Melissa Fryrear regarding the Love Won Out conference. In the article, she made clear that they are bringing a message of “hope, not hatred” to those who are seeking help to address their unwanted same sex attractions.  Besen then presented other quotes from Focus on the Family to show the supposed contradiction between their “real” attitude and the “nice” statement they gave to the media. The clip highlighted the ideas put forth from Focus on the Family that homosexuality reflects “bondage and sexual brokenness,” and that homosexuality causes pain to both the homosexual and his or her family.  “That’s not the kind of love I grew up with,” said Besen in response (a phrase which he repeated several times throughout the night).

His next point amounted to nothing more than the ridicule of the former president of PFOX, Richard Cohen, as Besen showed a segment of the Daily Show featuring both himself and Cohen in which Cohen and his therapies were made to look ridiculous and ineffective, even counterproductive.  It should be noted that recently, a number of leading Ex-Gay Ministries have disassociated themselves from Cohen.

Besen then proceeded to address the so-called “Ex-Gay Myth,” and attempted to prove that the therapies that the Ex-Gay Ministries use have been “discredited,” including self-talk and prayer, and that none of these ministries have any effect whatsoever on a person’s homosexual orientation, implying that rather than helping people, these therapies supposedly cause the depression and condemnation that often accompany unwanted same-sex attractions.

Interestingly, Besen condemned the Ex-Gay Ministries for “targeting children” by making information available at schools for children struggling with gender and sexual identity issues, as well as NARTH’s alleged offer of providing therapy to 3 year olds at conferences, implying that these ministries were abusive and/or harmful to developing children as they attempted to help them identify mentally and emotionally with their physical characteristics.  One wonders, however, who is really “targeting children” in a harmful manner, homosexual activists and their allies or these Ex-Gay ministries? Here is some food for thought from Dr. Brown’s recent lecture at Love Won Out:

At the Park Day School in Oakland, teachers are taught a gender-neutral vocabulary and are urged to line up students by sneaker color rather than by gender. “We are careful not to create a situation where students are being boxed in,” said Tom Little, the school’s director. “We allow them to move back and forth until something feels right.” — NY Times 12-1-06

California State Senator Sheila Kuehl has introduced legislation [Bill SB 777] that will ban textbooks and teachers from any instruction that reflects adversely upon homosexuality, transgenders, bisexuals or those with perceived gender issues.

“. . . we must dishonour the prevailing belief that heterosexuality is the only acceptable orientation even though that would mean dishonouring the religious beliefs of Christians, Jews, Muslims, etc.” — from a teachers manual in British Columbia

Children’s Book: One Dad, Two Dads, Brown Dads, Blue Dads.  From the book’s dedication:   “To Jacob, who has only one mom and one dad. But don’t feel sorry for him. They’re both great parents.”

Children’s book: Girls Will Be Boys Will Be Girls: The antithesis of the “Dick and Jane” coloring book, this is a funny, playful and provocative deconstruction of traditional gender roles. The activist authors use drawings as well as images taken from old children’s books to show how completely silly and unnecessary most common gender assumptions are

Another accusation that Besen brought against the Ex-Gay Ministries was that they were almost exclusively  concerned with politics, rather than sincerely helping and caring for those struggling with unwanted same-sex attractions, as they claim, and that the ministries’ “concern” for these people is essentially a front for their political goals, referring to these ministries as “desperate” because the GLBT community is now “winning” on most political and ideological fronts.  During the Q&A time at the end of the night, I was able to ask Besen the question “What criteria do you use to judge the privately held motivations of … these [ex-gay ministry] leaders?”  Besen responded by saying:

I believe that Ex-Gay Ministries are very sincere people… And I think they’d have a lot more credibility if they were not in Washington… Many of these organizations have little puny organizations that are starving to death, and all this money’s going on these political roadshows and big ads… If James Dobson really thought there was a cure for this, you’d see millions poured out, but we see a roadshow… But I will say that many of the people are sincere… I don’t know if they’re sincere about trying to change gay people, but nobody should ever question that they’re sincere in their beliefs. That’s what makes them very tough opponents.

While one wonders how Besen was able to draw such a matter-of-fact personal judgment from such scant evidence, it is encouraging to see his acknowledgment of the fact that these ministry leaders are “sincere,” a judgment he also stated later in the Q&A period in response to a comment from the audience that the ex-gay ministries were simply “moneymakers,” a statement which Besen disagreed with when it comes to the main ministry leaders, saying “if there’s one thing I’ve learned about Dobson is that he’s very sincere” and “Allan Chambers from Exodus International, I think he’s sincere.”

Following his analysis of the political motivations of the ministries, he went on to give a light-hearted presentation of the fall of a number of former Ex-Gay Ministry leaders who fell back into homosexuality, including whom Besen claimed were the co-founders of Exodus International who left their wives for one another, one of Focus on the Family’s first Ex-Gay leaders, John Paulk, who Besen photographed at a gay bar, and Jerry Falwell’s former Ex-Gay ministry leader.  The implication of this was that there are no true Ex-Gays, and despite everything they proclaim, the ex-gay leaders of these groups remain homosexuals.  Besen called for the Ex-Gay ministries to acknowledge the failures of their leaders, not to get involved in  politics, and not to use phrases that seem to promise to turn gays straight with no more struggles, because even many of the Ex-Gay leaders will acknowledge that change isn’t always complete, and some of the desires may still exist.  (Besen’s point that we should not gloss over these failures and the self evident hypocrisy that arises in some of the ex-gay leaders is a fair one, though it is not a subject to be laughed at or taken lightly).

Besen next argued that the statistics and studies the Ex-Gay ministries use to build a foundation for their case are either old and outdated, conducted by phony scientists, or grossly distort the conclusions of real scientists, who are very unhappy with their work being taken out of context.  He used the example of Allan Chamber’s changing the numbers of ex-gays in existence drastically each year (which can quite easily be explained by the fact that he is not specifying an exact number when he says “thousands”), and James Dobson’s quoting of two researchers offended that their studies were used in a way that they didn’t intend them to be used (a charge which again can easily be explained by the fact that facts are facts, and can be used in various ways the original researcher didn’t originally intend).

A video was played of one researcher’s response to Dobson’s statements, stating that his conclusions from her study were “caricatures” and an oversimplification of her work, that shouldn’t have been used “against” homosexuality, and then Besen made this statement:  “In fact, we’re going to really ramp up this campaign next year, we’re going to make it really hard to lie, in fact, we’re going to make it very painful to lie over the next couple of years … they’re actually going to have to rely on quacks again, and not distort real researchers.” (Emphasis added).

Besen’s apparent threat of ex-gay ministries and conservative organizations rings hollow.  Clearly studies shouldn’t be used in a false or misleading way, but Besen seemed to be going one step further when in his attempt to prove that research had been distorted, he asked researchers questions like “Is this what you meant? Did you really back James Dobson?”  Should not the question be asked in a way that removes politics, religious beliefs, and personal likes and dislikes from the equation? Should it not have been phrased in a more neutral fashion such as “Your research was said to have proved X, did your research really prove X?”

In addition, while Besen emphasized how wrong it is to take quotes out of context so they indicate something other than what was meant, he clearly participated in the same behavior in his own presentation.  Take for instance a quote he had on the screen by Melissa Fryrear that referenced homosexuals  “I never met one woman who had not been sexually violated or sexually threatened in her life. I never met one woman. And I never met one man either, that had not been sexually violated or sexually seduced in his life.” Besen responded to the quote he displayed by saying, “Not one? How honest is that? I mean, okay, you know what? [raises hand] One! So I hope we never hear that again, because I’m, as they say, living proof that’s not true.” Was Fryrear really stating that every gay and lesbian has been abused? Clearly not! At the Love Won Out conference the following Saturday, she said essentially the same thing, but made it abundantly clear that it was in the context of her own personal experience as she was working with a ministry where these people had come for help and counseling, and that she certainly didn’t mean that all people struggling with homosexuality had been abused, threatened, or seduced.  Other examples of Besen’s misquoting or misusing people to prove his point happened throughout the night.

The next set of points Besen made painted a picture of Ex-Gay ministries as sinister, “playing on the fears of people,” again blaming all unpleasant feelings that accompany unwanted same-sex attractions many people have on the “backward” and “oppressive” idea held by some parents, conservatives, and ministries like these, that they can and/or should want to change from gay to straight.  He said that every accredited association, such as the American Psychiatric Association, states that trying to change one’s sexual orientation is inherently unhealthy (and possibly immoral), and that the rejection homosexuals experience from people not fully accepting and condoning their lifestyle can make them suicidal.

He then gave a call to be involved in legal action that he is in the process of building against these ministries:

I have to deal all the time with the victims of these ministries who have had their lives shattered, they’ve been destroyed, they’re hurt … we worked with Lambda Legal on an exciting new booklet called ‘Ex-Gay and the Law…’   We’re going to go around the country and ask people this, [and] if anybody here has been through these ministries, and you’ve been harmed, you’ve been hurt, you’ve had your life upended because of this, because you received fake information, because you received bad science, or you were abused sexually … in a lot of cases we see this b/c they have these repressed therapists who are still gay acting out, if this has happened to you, you need to read this … you may have legal options, you may have legal recourse, and we want you to take a look at this, this will refer you to some of the best attorneys in the United States of America … this will be a great addition to our efforts to counter the Ex-Gay industry.

Besen then moved on to talking about “bizarre techniques” used by Ex-Gay Ministries, introducing the subject by using a video clip of a woman talking about casting demons out of various parts of the body (the woman was not associated with the main Ex-Gay organizations), which then colored all the quotes that he showed from leaders of Exodus International, Focus on the Family, etc. regarding the spiritual roots of issues and the concept that Satan is involved in the bondage of people struggling with homosexuality (which were simply phrased with standard Orthodox Christian language).  He called the idea of self-denial therapy “cultlike,” and listed several methods used by some ministries or therapies that appeared very odd, without context, and talked about Ex-Gay conferences being full of pressure and coercion.  Besen also said all these ministries are increasing the divorce problem, as people divorce their husbands or wives after “trying to be ex-gay.”

He concluded the presentation by saying that the Ex-Gay ministries actually SEPARATE people from God, because they get a negative view of God through the emotional trauma they experience by having their homosexual lifestyle called sin, and being called/expected to change their behavior and hopefully, their attractions.  His summary remarks are as follows:

The ex gay ministries are like actors playing a role.  Some of the people are very sincere … they read the lines they’ve been given, and if you read it hard enough and you’re under enough pressure, you can even believe the line, and get so into the role, you can believe you have changed.  The human mind is capable of amazing things for periods of time, but like all plays, all theatrical productions, the final curtain has to come crashing down … even these people who are in it for many years, the final curtain of reality comes crashing down.

With this quote in mind, I asked the last question of the night during the Q&A session: “The final part there you said that basically the final curtain will fall upon these leaders and were implying also people that were affected by the leaders…  my question is, are you stating that everyone who at one point in their life is gay or lesbian will eventually return to that lifestyle, and if so, how do you know that?”

In reply, Besen stated that while it is theoretically possible for people to change their sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual (citing Dr. Lisa Diamond’s research), that “There is no organization out there that can sexually engineer you to go from one sexuality to another, either gay to straight or straight to gay,” and again emphasized the unhealthy nature of repressing homosexual desires, stating “Alan Chambers said … and I’m paraphrasing …  ‘every day i get up and do what’s not natural for me,’ and if people want to do that, get up and do what they don’t feel is natural, they may have the willpower to do that for an entire lifetime,  but that’s very few people. I think … [it would] cause a lot of psychological problems [for most people].”

While Besen and other ex-gay protesters are busy demonizing these ministries, the reality is that there is a real outcry from people that are not happy with their same-sex attraction and want to change, and these ministries are simply answering that call as best as they know how. And with God’s anointing and guidance gracing these ministries, they are seeing success, whether people like Besen and CRANE (who held up signs protesting the Love Won Out conference on Saturday) want to admit it or not.

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February 19th, 2009 by M. French

Dr. Brown put out a press release this morning asking the question “Do Ex-Gays Have Human Rights?”  The press release can be found at http://www.christiannewswire.com/news/280649512.html, and is reprinted below:

Charlotte Christian Leader Asks the Human Rights Campaign, ‘Do Ex-Gays Have Human Rights?’

Contact: Eric McCoy, 704-701-2886, eric@icnministries.org

CHARLOTTE, NC, Feb. 20 /Christian Newswire/ — Dr. Michael Brown, director of the Coalition of Conscience and a speaker at Focus on the Family’s Love Won Out Conference at Central Church of God in Charlotte this Saturday, February 21, claims that the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), has a history of “discriminatory and defamatory treatment of those who choose to leave the homosexual lifestyle.” (The HRC will be holding its annual fundraising dinner in Charlotte on Saturday night, less than one hour after the conclusion of the Love Won Out Conference.)

Over ten years ago, the HRC published a 28 page booklet designed to counteract ministries devoted to helping people come out of homosexuality, claiming that, “Most people who have been through these ministries . . . refer to their experience as psychological terrorism.” In the same publication, conservative Christian organizations were described as “religious political extremist groups.” The HRC also enthusiastically backed the recent anti-ex-gay movie, “For the Bible Tells Me So,” claiming on their website that the movie “examines how a select few biblical verses are used by right-wing extremists to deny gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people their basic rights.”

Brown, however, questions how an organization which claims to stand for the rights of gays and lesbians can so strongly oppose the rights of those within that community who are not at peace with their same-sex attractions and who choose to pursue change.

“How,” Brown asks, “can they be called the Human Rights Campaign? What about the human rights of ex-gays? And how can the HRC call for tolerance and understanding and yet be so intolerant and bigoted in their treatment of those with unwanted same-sex attractions? Why heap scorn on ex-gays and deny their very existence? Isn’t this the height of hypocrisy for an organization ostensibly devoted to the basic rights of gay and lesbian people?”

Sponsors of this year’s HRC Carolinas Dinner include Bank of America, Wachovia, Duke Energy, Food Lion, American Express, and Audi. Despite this high level of corporate sponsorship, Brown claims that the HRC hardly represents mainstream America, noting that Joe Solmonese, president of the HRC, has stated that all Americans who believe that marriage should be defined as the union of a man and woman are “right-wing extremists.” The HRC also calls on businesses to have special bathroom accommodations for employees undergoing sex-change operations.

“Who are the real extremists?” Brown asks.

Dr. Brown will be available to speak with the media between 1:00-2:30 during the Love Won Out Conference (5301 Sardis Road, Charlotte, NC). For further information, contact Eric McCoy at 704-701-2886 or eric@icnministries.org.

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February 18th, 2009 by M. French

The Charlotte Observer

The Observer reported on the upcoming Love Won Out event in Charlotte, comparing it with the upcoming pro-gay Leadership Conference in Tonya Jameson’s Battle for Gay Souls article, reprinted below :

Battle for Charlotte gay souls

This weekend two religious conferences offer different takes on homosexuality and faith.

One seeks to be a refuge for homosexuals struggling with their sexuality by turning them away from homosexuality. The other seeks help homosexuals find love and acceptance.

Two perspectives on a complex issue.

Love Won out, by Focus on the Family, is part of the ex-gay movement in which people abandon homosexuality. It’s Saturday at the Central Church of God.

For people who are dissatisfied with homosexuality the conference offers an alternative, said Melissa Fryrear, who used to be gay.

“It’s a message of hope and encouragement.”

Rev. Nancy Wilson disagrees. Wilson is part of the Leadership Conference that is Wednesday-Saturday at the Omni Hotel. A focus of the conference is to show that someone can be a GLBT person of faith and feel good about themselves, and improve the community at large through volunteerism.

“People ultimately are happy if they are true to themselves,” she said. “We pick up the people who are ex-gays. It’s bad psychology. It’s bad theology they’re teaching.

“What these people need is to find a sense of self-acceptance, to be able to live healthy and good lives as gay people.”

The issue of sexuality isn’t as simple as either side frames it. It’s not as simple as we in the media frame it either. It’s not us versus them. It’s an intensely personal issue that can rip apart lives and families. Or depending on the person it can also build stronger individuals, families and communities. I know people who fit in both categories as well as people who fit somewhere in between.

The conferences are here when homosexuality is back in the local headlines. On Saturday, Charlotte Presybterians voted to end the ban on gay clergy. Earlier this year, county commissioners voted to study providing domestic partnership benefits to county employees.

At least 250 faith leaders from GLBT friendly churches will participate in the annual Leadership Conference gathering, which begins Wednesday. Participants are typically church members and leaders from area Metropolitan Community Churches, the Fellowship, and Unity Fellowship churches. Sessions are designed to spiritually and emotionally bolster faith leaders who cater to the GLBT communities.

“It’s very challenging to be a leader in our community,” Wilson said. “There are a lot of needs, a lot of brokenness, a lot of challenges. There’s a lot of healing that’s needed. You have to have strong leadership for that to happen.”

The day the Leadership Conference ends on Saturday, is the same day that the Love Won Conference takes place at the Central Church of God on Sardis Road. This is the eleventh year of the conference. Charlotte also hosted the conference in 2002 at First Baptist.

Love Won Out caters to GLBT people who want to overcome their sexuality as well as to family members of GLBT people. About 1,000 people are expected. Workshops topics include examining homosexuality, GLBT clergy, pro-gay theology and gay marriage.

No matter which side you agree with, the conferences will give you insight and likely challenge your own perceptions about sexuality and about faith. Ultimately, I hope they help individuals struggling to find peace within themselves.

It was encouraging to see such an even-handed report. The only element of the story that gave me pause was her use of the word abandon in her comment “Love Won out, by Focus on the Family, is part of the ex-gay movement in which people abandon homosexuality.”  With the word usually used to refer to something that a person has left behind but shouldn’t have (as in, abandoning a child), I was concerned that the Observer was slipping in an implied moral judgment on the subject.  According to thefreedictionary.com, the relevant definitions for the word are:

1. To withdraw one’s support or help from, especially in spite of duty, allegiance, or responsibility; desert: abandon a friend in trouble.
2. To give up by leaving or ceasing to operate or inhabit, especially as a result of danger or other impending threat: abandoned the ship.
3. To surrender one’s claim to, right to, or interest in; give up entirely. See Synonyms at relinquish.
4. To cease trying to continue; desist from: abandoned the search for the missing hiker.

WIth the primary definition corresponding to my understanding of the word’s most prevalent usage, I asked the reporter whether she was using the word in a way that was more defined by the first definition, or the third definition.  She responded by saying “No. 3 – to give it up.”  It’s encouraging to see the local media being even-handed in their reporting.

Truth WIns Out

With a decidedly different approach to reporting, Truth Wins Out, a pro-gay organization that describes itself with the catchline “Fighting Right Wing Lies and The ‘Ex-Gay’ Fraud”, reported on the Love Won Out event as well as other homosexuality-related events on their blog here.  Their original post is reprinted below:

North Carolina, National Groups to Protest ‘Ex-Gay’ Road Show

Exodus International and Focus on the Family take their exgay-for-pay road show, “Love Won Out,” to Charlotte, N.C., on Feb. 21.

The event is timed not to help Carolina ex-gays or their families, but instead to coincide with the Human Rights Campaign’s Carolinas Gala and a conference of the gay-affirming Metropolitan Community Church and Unity Fellowship

The Charlotte Rainbow Action Network plans a series of events Feb. 14-21 to raise public awareness about the ex-gay organizations’ ongoing acts to divide families and churches and to replace school science lessons with sectarian religious rhetoric. Truth Wins Out is among the invited participants.

According to Q-Notes:

In his presentation, “Pray Away the Gay,” Besen will discuss the myths and lies of “ex-gay” organizations like Exodus International. The event will be held at 7 p.m. at Charlotte’s Lesbian & Gay Community Center.

A press conference will follow the next day. Media has been invited to the Unitarian-Universalist Church of Charlotte where Besen will unveil a new Truth Wins Out/Lambda Legal booklet “Ex-Gay & the Law.” The new publication offers resources for those who might have been victimized by unscrupulous “ex-gay” ministries and therapies.

On Saturday, Feb. 21, the grassroots group’s efforts will culminate in a non-violent, silent protest of the Love Won Out conference. Members and supporters will be present outside Central Church of God on Sardis Road from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Other invitees for the events countering Exodus and FOTF include Lambda Legal, the Human Rights Campaign and Faith in America, and local and state groups such as One Voice Chorus, Gay Men’s Chorus of Charlotte, Charlotte Coalition for Social Justice, UNCC Pride and EqualityNC.

The section concerning the reasons for Love Won Out’s schedule were of particular interest.  Our February 2nd article “Love Won Out” and “Truth Wins Out” in Charlotte dealt with the timing of the events, and so I left the following comment on the Truth Wins Out article:

Your article states:

“The event is timed not to help Carolina ex-gays or their families, but instead to coincide with the Human Rights Campaign’s Carolinas Gala and a conference of the gay-affirming Metropolitan Community Church and Unity Fellowship.”

Incorrect! I’m affiliated with the ministry of Dr. Michael Brown, a speaker at the event, and this is what we published on February 2nd concerning the two events occurring on the same date:

“In addition, the Human Rights Campaign will be holding their annual Carolinas Gala, featuring North Carolina Senator Kay Hagan as their keynote speaker, on the same day as the Love Won Out Conference (though it should be noted that the conference was not scheduled in response to the Carolinas Gala, in fact, neither Dr. Brown nor the other leaders from Love Won Out were even aware of the fact that the two events were scheduled for the same day until a few months ago, well after it was scheduled).”

Please correct this in your article.

Marcus French
Editor: Voice of Revolution

While the author responded with hostility in our back and forth conversation (you can read it here), he did change the section I called into question.  The section that had previously read:

The event is timed not to help Carolina ex-gays or their families, but instead to coincide with the Human Rights Campaign’s Carolinas Gala and a conference of the gay-affirming Metropolitan Community Church and Unity Fellowship.

Now reads:

The event’s timing was suspicious, as it coincided with the Human Rights Campaign’s Carolinas Gala and a conference of the gay-affirming Metropolitan Community Church and Unity Fellowship.

The section, while still getting across the point that the timing was “suspicious” (which is a feeling TWO is clearly allowed to have, though their suspicion is unfounded), no longer states that Love Won Out is more interested in raining on HRC’s parade than “help[ing] Carolina ex-gays or their families.”  It’s encouraging that, if only in this small way, truth really did win out on the “Truth Wins Out” blog.

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February 14th, 2009 by M. French

Following the Pray Away the Gay” “protest rally” on February 19th, CRANE (Charlotte Rainbow Action Network for Equality), will be hosting “a short non-violence training” for a silent protest that will be held outside of the Love Won Out conference from 11am – 2pm on February 21st.  The Facebook event for the protest states:

CRANE will present a non-violent, silent protest of Focus on the Family and Exodus International conference, Love Won Out, in front of Central Church of God, 5301 Sardis Road Charlotte, NC 28270.

CRANE has teamed up with several local and national organizations to counter the lies and myths of the “ex-gay” industry in Charlotte.

“These programs sell false hope and take advantage of desperate and vulnerable people who just want acceptance from loved ones,” said Wayne Besen, Executive Director of Truth Wins Out. “Love Won Out’s dangerous sexual engineering campaign is ineffective, psychologically damaging and confuses stereotypes with science. We hope to educate the community and provide people with accurate and reliable information.”

Pray that God would cause a spirit of repentance to arise in protesters like these who are actively seeking to be stumbling blocks… encouraging people in their sin, and keeping people from wholeness and holiness.

Protests like these have been held before, and thankfully, some of the protesters have actually taken time to listen to the message that Love Won Out actually puts forth. Consider this story from a young gay man that was protesting outside a Love Won Out conference in San Diego:

At a conference in Pasadena, a volunteer approached one of our staff and shared how Love Won Out changed his life. Several years prior, at a LWO conference in San Diego, this young man was participating in the protest outside the church where our event was held. He wanted to hear what we were saying, so he paid the registration fee to enter the conference. As he sat through the sessions, and especially after hearing Mike Haleys personal story of walking away from homosexuality, he gave his life to the Lord and vowed to overcome this in his own life. He contacted a local Exodus ministry and began his journey. Years later, he volunteered for our event in Pasadena and shared his story with our team.

As has been said before… The Truth Will Triumph!

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February 2nd, 2009 by M. French

Focus on the Family will be holding a Love Won Out conference February 21st at the Central Church of God in Charlotte, North Carolina. In response, Truth Wins Out will be holding a “protest rally” entitled Pray Away the Gay on the 19th at the Lesbian & Gay Community Center in Charlotte.  An email sent out by Focus on the Family announcing the Love Won Out Conference, and a screenshot from the Truth Wins Out Facebook event are below:

Focus on the Family to Host
Love Won Out Conference

Homosexuality is one of the most difficult issues many individuals, families and churches face today. Popular culture tells us it’s simply an alternative way to live. Mainstream media promote it as genetic and unchangeable. And the pro-gay movement seeks to politicize the education system, alter biblical truth regarding sexual behavior and redefine the meaning of marriage and family.

If the issues surrounding homosexuality are personally relevant to you, or someone in your family or a friend is living homosexually, it’s time to make plans to attend Focus on the Family’s longest-running conference, Love Won Out. We’ll be in Charlotte, N.C. on Saturday, Feb. 21.

The Charlotte conference marks our 53rd national event. It’s led by those who have overcome homosexuality and other experts from across the country. We will share the hopeful message that change is possible for those dissatisfied with living homosexually, and offer encouragement and practical help to parents, siblings, co-workers and others who want to love their gay-identified relatives and friends without compromising their Christian beliefs about sexuality.

To learn more about Love Won Out, or to sign up for the conference, please visit our Web site.

We hope you’ll be with us.

Melissa Fryrear, M.Div.
Director of Gender Issues
Focus on the Family

In addition, the Human Rights Campaign will be holding their annual Carolinas Gala, featuring North Carolina Senator Kay Hagan as their keynote speaker, on the same day as the Love Won Out Conference (though it should be noted that the conference was not scheduled in response to the Carolinas Gala, in fact, neither Dr. Brown nor the other leaders from Love Won Out were even aware of the fact that the two events were scheduled for the same day until a few months ago, well after it was scheduled). Needless to say, these will be a key few days in Charlotte with regard to homosexual issues. Pray that the truth would triumph, and the lies that keep people in bondage to homosexuality would be exposed.

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