[UPDATED 2/15/13 AFTER Q & A TIME ON SUNDAY]
On Wednesday, February 6, 2013, “Ex-gay” leader Kent Paris of Nehemiah Ministries, was sponsored by Summit Student Ministries, Sparks, Nevada, to address over 200 youth (age 6th grade to high school years) with his views on the Bible and same sex attraction. Throughout the weekend, he presented at four more church services and a seminar with Q & A.
In his presentation to churches, Paris blends his testimony (you can hear most of it on this link) and Bible interpretations with opinions about homosexuality that are completely out of alignment with all professional mental and medical health organizations in the US.
Paris and his Nehemiah Ministries adhere to the National Association for Research and Therapy for Homosexuality (NARTH) model for counseling. Because they promote therapies known to be ineffective and destructive to clients, NARTH is not certified by the American Psychiatric Association. (One of the two book endorsements on Paris’ media brochure is by Joseph Nicolosi.)
Paris is also is a member of the newly formed Restored Hope Network (RHN), a collection of member ministries that sanction the unauthorized practice of reparative therapy in their counseling. I am quite familiar with RHN — I attended and reported on their September 2012 Inaugural Conference.
RHN came into being when several dozen member ministry leaders broke away from Exodus International complaining that Exodus had become too soft in work with those “struggling with homosexuality.” Exodus President, Alan Chambers, admitted publicly the “99.9%” of people coming for help from Exodus were not changing. I was there at that meeting.
Exodus is a 35-year old organization. One of my Board members, Michael Bussee, was a founder of Exodus; he left the organization in 1979 when Exodus started to entertain the suspect, even at that time, practice of reparative therapy. That is also the same year Paris joined Exodus.
“Homosexuality is the single most important issue in the church,” Paris admits, and I agree.
Controversy over the many possible Biblical interpretations of five verses used to construct theology impacting about 5% of the population is challenging enough. The entire conversation, therefore, should be carefully engaged by people who offer accurate information on the subject of homosexuality while looking at the Scriptures with integrity and wisdom.
Although Kent Paris does present a remarkable story of God’s redemptive power, having survived abandonment and severe sexual and emotional abuse throughout his youth, he should not be a candidate to bring this serious discussion of sexual orientation and faith to the church.
With 60% of gay adults describing their faith as “very important” and 70% of them self-identifying as Christian (Barna, “Spiritual Profile of Homosexual Adults Provides Surprising Insights”), Paris is not the person to broach serious, respectful and intelligent discussion on this crucial issue in faith communities. If it is our desire to see all people come to Christ and to make disciples, this will require an atmosphere of graciousness and honesty, not fear and manipulation.
To his personal history, testimony and Bible interpretations, Paris adds unauthorized psychology, inaccurate accounts of historical narratives, misleading data and even questionable representations of events from his own professional career.
Summit Christian Church is a “nice” church in my community. It is one of the larger ones in Northern Nevada. I sat with the Head Pastor, Steve Bond for over an hour of conversation alone in his office in 2011 talking about the issue of homosexuality and faith. Several gay friends had noticed the “All are Welcome” sign and wondered if it included them. Bond was polite, but clear that he believed that one could not be a “practicing homosexual and be walking with the Lord.”
When I heard Summit had invited Paris to speak, it surprised me. And it concerned me.
If “nice” churches like Summit Christian Church are framing this key topic in lies, manipulation and fear, we are moving no closer — in fact, we might be migrating further away from — productive dialogue on this key issue.
I am attending the Paris/Summit series to inform the greater church of the dangers found in this message so gently spoken by people like Kent Paris. This is about my experience at this church, but similar events are happening in other “nice” churches.
In the work that I do, damage to gay youth is my hot button. It was near torturous to listen to Paris present a murky mix of shame-based teaching to a room filled with 12 to 18 year olds. In a group that size, there may have been a dozen gay or lesbian youth and possibly one transgender child. There were countless friends, relatives and pastors of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.
As you read this, I request the same courtesy that Paris asked when he began the 70 minute read of his script. “This is a good thing. You will hear challenging things, hard things. Take the entire context of what I say and marinate on it and pray about it.”
Each person’s story is their testimony; I will not be referring to Paris’ testimony.
Following are statements made by Paris in his public talk to children, directly to me in a personal conversation, in a service or during the Q&A. All situations are clearly defined.
For the sake of brevity, Paris’ concepts are bullet pointed and italicized. My remarks follow.
“Homosexuality is a life and death issue.”
Homosexuality is a normal aspect of human sexuality. It is no more a “life and death issue” than is heterosexuality. People along the spectrum of human sexual expression make good and safe choices and others make bad and risky choices.
“The ‘gay agenda’ seeks to suppress and distort the image of God and crush Bible teachings.”
The “gay agenda” is a term created and coined by Jerry Falwell. There is no “gay agenda,” at least not one written or created by gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender people. A satirical essay written in 1987 entitled “The Gay Manifesto” and a book written by Kirk and Madsen entitled “After the Ball” are often cited as definitive source documents.
The only groups referencing these publications as a “plan” are conservative and family groups. Using them as “proof” of a “gay agenda” is laughable.
Given the statistics from Barna above, it may be more accurate to consider: “Conservative churches seek to suppress and distort the image of gay people and keep them from God and Bible teachings.”
“I was in a 4-1/2 year long lawsuit backed by gay rights advocates in San Francisco.”
The case: Johnson v. Lincoln College 1986 in which Greg Johnson, a student at Lincoln College, was enrolled in a five year program for sacred music from 1976 to 1981. During his last semester there, another student told the Dean of Students, Thomas Ewald, that Johnson might be a homosexual. Johnson was told he would not graduate unless he sought counseling from Kent Paris.
Afraid he would not be able to graduate, Johnson, at his personal expense, traveled from Lincoln to Paris’ offices in Champaign to attend private counseling sessions.
Breaking client confidentiality (violating Illinois Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Confidentiality Act , Sec. 2, 3 and 4), Paris told the Dean that Johnson was still gay after several counseling sessions. The Dean then informed Johnson that he would be dismissed with the reason for that dismissal stamped across his transcript.
Fearing this would ruin his career, the next day, in his last semester of a five-year degree, Johnson withdrew from Lincoln and, as part of his suit, sued Paris for breaking therapist-patient confidentiality.
Lincoln College reached an out of court settlement with Johnson in 1981 and Johnson never did receive his degree.
That is the story. A tad different than the story publicly framed by Paris while enumerating a list of things “gay activists” have done to him for standing up for his beliefs. In Paris’ accounts, he is consistently the victim and gay activists persecute him. This event started 30 years ago; yet Paris still talks about his trauma. I wonder however what became of Greg Johnson, denied a diploma because Paris violated his confidentiality.
“I’ve had death threats and two of my offices and my home have been vandalized.”
In each of Paris’ talks and interviews (I have watched and read several online), he regularly paints himself the “victim” of “gay activism” by recounting these incidents, slowly, for effect. Sadly, I hear manipulation.
Hey, I have had a police-documented torture and death threat definitively associated with the work I do. Further, last year I was so severely harassed by a Christian on YouTube that it resulted in my filing cyber-harassment charges in two states. That extremist obsessed about me and made twenty attacking videos in twenty-six days. Yet, rarely have I publicly spoken of these incidents, nor do I attribute them to “conservative Christian activists” while stepping into the victim role.
In a hushed room filled with teens who typically like drama, Paris slowly recounted the offenses. It was punctuated by:
“And I’m the hate monger, the intolerant one?”
The entire monologue appeared tactical in depicting gay people as bad, evil and vengeful.
Considering Paris’ characterization of himself as “victim” in the above lawsuit instead of more accurately as the one guilty of professional misconduct, I am left to wonder about the possibility of other embellishments.
“The Bible is crystal clear about First Corinthians 6: 9-10,” and Paris reads it.
I too thought the Bible was “crystal clear.” until, in the context of having gay friends and observing their lives, I studied it for myself.
The Greek word in verse 9 is “arsenokoitai”; the KJV translated it as “abusers of themselves with mankind” until 1946. Then it appeared in the updated version as “homosexual.”
This word does likely refer to some form of same-sex behavior, as it seems to have been derived from the Septuagint translation of Leviticus 18:22. However, it also almost certainly refers to pederasts (men who have sex with boys) or some equally exploitative relationship — not sexual orientation; not loving relationships. That is “crystal clear.”
“There are two events that you’ve never read about that changed the homosexual agenda in this country. In the 1960’s, a French gay man named Michel Foucault went to San Francisco and was thrilled at the political activism there. He told them, ‘if you want to transform a culture, you need to get into the seats of power.’ And the gay community embraced it and began to work their way into every level of law and power. In the last 40 years, they been wildly successful.”
Foucault was a social theorist who happened to be gay. Paris makes Foucault’s teaching sound sinister and secretive.
Try substituting the word “blacks” or “women” or any other group that was not at the same level of heterosexual white men in the 1960’s into Paris’ apparently malignant “plot to overthrow.”
Any minority group works harder to overcome discrimination and underrepresentation; LGBT people included. You would, or I would, expect to see representation of all people in all professions and arenas. And those who are discriminated against or are the minority, often do work harder.
“Psychologists changed their views on homosexuality based on political pressure and not science. After 85 years of categorizing homosexuality as treatable and falsifying research to forward an agenda, scandalous. In a closed-door session, the APA decided to remove homosexuality (from the DSM) and they went out to session, had 15 minutes to review it and rebut it. Lots of members were not present and they voted on it.“
The story of the removal of homosexuality as a mental disorder from the DSM is often portrayed by anti-gay factions in the above way or in a similar manner. It certainly always has characteristics of gay activist pressure and the unsupported by scientific evidence removal of homosexuality as a mental illness.
There is just so much wrong with Paris’ rendition. Each time he speaks, he harkens back to the way is was “for 85 years”, when homosexuality was listed as a mental disorder. The good old days, when gays and lesbians hid in shame and their mental and physical health was damaged from societal rejection.
The actual story of the removal of homosexuality from the DSM is quite moving and involves psychiatrists getting to know homosexual people within their own profession and in relationship. The best account detailing the three-year journey to the eventual removal of homosexuality from the DSM is an audio documentary produced by Ira Glass on “This American Life.” It is excellent and plays out in all its suspense on this link.
Listen or read the transcript and you will see that Paris is skipping over essential information about the decision. You will hear a quite compassionate story, not a sinister plot.
The “research project” Paris alludes to is called “Tearoom Trade.“ It was a 1970 dissertation project that involved secretly observing gay men having sex in public places. Well, news alert, people often do act in unhealthy ways when you force them to hide and strip them of venues to express their sexuality in a respectable way.
Remember, the“falsified research” that Paris is still complaining about 40 years later was a pre-1970 view of how homosexual men behaved. The data, rejected even in the 1970‘s, would be a highly inaccurate depiction of gay men today. Times have changed and people are no longer shamed into hiding their sexual orientation. Except in churches, of course.
“Gay activists have persecuted us for decades, saying ‘We are set against you and we will win.’ Behind the scenes they have lobbied and threatened.”
It is quite disingenuous to say you are “persecuted” by another group when all they are striving for is the same rights you already have. It is, however, called “oppression” when you withhold rights from others.
Oppression is not an activity Christians should participate in (Isaiah 58:6-12). No one is trying to take away rights; people want equal rights. Christians should be at the forefront of justice and fairness, not a wall blocking it.
“Are people born gay? There is no viable research that it is genetic.”
Actually, this is correct. In all likelihood, the best science indicates that it is biological and associated with the hormonal washes in the womb. Neither has a gene or genetic marker been found yet for heterosexuality.
“It (homosexuality) is probably caused by environment, the child’s family and experiences. Early sexual encounters cause confusion.”
There is no proof of this. None. Children with no sexual abuse are homosexual and children with extensive sexual abuse are heterosexual. In personal conversation with Paris, he told me “Sixty percent of all his gay clients were sexually abused as children.” That could possibly be Paris’ experience, but overall, it is a completely false statement.
Here are some facts: 16% of males and 27% of females have been sexually abused. Somewhere between 2%, and as high as 8%, of the population may be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT). If abuse and sexual orientation are associated, why are there not higher occurrences of LGBT people?
Also, why do more men identify as gay than women, when it is women that are significantly more often the victims of sexual abuse as children? Even using simple logic, it appears that sexual abuse does not lead to homosexuality.
By far, heterosexual men commit sexual abuse upon children. The “abuse causes homosexuality” people will say: “Men on boys makes them become attracted to men (their abusers) in order to fill the gender void.
[Paris uses the term “developmental reparative urge”. For this and other flawed therapy tools and terms used by Paris, NARTH and the Restored Hope Network to which he belongs. see this post.]
Continuing in the same “logic,” sexual abuse on girls should make them lesbians. But wait, if the victim attracted to the gender of the abuser, the created-by-abuse lesbians should be attracted to men, right?
If a theory is to be believable, it should work in both male and female, heterosexual and homosexual. In the reparative therapy models, there is no consistency in “causal” events.
There is however correlation between being an LGBT child and being abused. Most LGBT people report they knew as early as 5 – 8 years old that they were “different”; this often leads to social isolation and exclusion, making them more susceptible to becoming victims of sexual abuse.
Sexual abuse can interfere with a survivor’s sexual development, enjoyment, the way in which they engage in sex and the ability to know and voice what they want. It seems quite unlikely that it would play a role in attraction, passion and love for another person.
Paris’ personal story of abuse can easily fit inside the contexts presented above.
“There is a pro-gay agenda in Hollywood and in our schools.”
Some of us might call it “diversity” or teaching tolerance and acceptance of others that are not like us.
“The attraction to gender has little to do with sex in the beginning, and it means emotional needs are not being met. There is an unconscious drive to fill a gender void. This is understandable and it converts to a social need.”
Attraction to a specific gender at an early age is not about sex for either heterosexual or homosexual children. It is an emotional attraction. Kids in families where their needs are met are homosexual and heterosexual; kids in families with unmet needs are homosexual and heterosexual. There is no correlation between parenting and sexual orientation.
“Homosexuals, people with same-gender confusion, have believed a lie. They have embraced a false identity.”
Accepting the sexual orientation you have is not a lie. Trying to be someone you are not is a lie. Calling oneself “gay” is not a false identity; forcing people to conform to heterosexuality when they are homosexual is embracing a false identity.
- In personal conversation with Paris after the event, I asked: “I am trying to understand what you said and need to clarify a few points. Would that be okay with you? Are you saying that what generally causes homosexuality is either early childhood sexual abuse or dysfunctional role models and/or parenting?
Paris: “Yes, 60% of the gay men I talk to have been sexually abused.” First, this is shown to not be true, above. How much unnecessary “blaming” does this cause in a family where sexual abuse has not been present? Mom blaming Dad; Dad blaming Mom; child blaming parents. I have heard the pain of this lie often.
“Do you believe that you can be gay and Christian?” Paris answers by separating his hands shoulder wide. “No, the two cannot merge. There is no way to be both gay and Christian.” I then tell him: “The best way that I can assess the life of another person is: profession of faith, testimony, changed life, fruits of the Spirit, and evidence of the Kingdom of God, peace, joy and righteousness in their lives. I know people that qualify on all those counts and therefore, I believe they are both gay and Christian.” Paris: “You are deceived. They cannot be. You cannot habitually sin and be a Christian.”
Me: “I do not see that. I am a Christian, and I know the Law and the Prophets all hang on two commands — that I love God and keep Him first and that I treat others as importantly as I do myself. Those are the only two commands I am asked to keep, yet I know I will break the first tonight when I go home and watch another episode of “West Wing” and not talk to God or read my Bible. And, because is it already late, I might be able to keep the second one; but I guarantee, by ten A.M. tomorrow, I will break both of them. I know that is wrong and I will do it every day for the rest of my life and I will still go to heaven.” Paris, again: “You are deceived.”
Me: “Is it possible for people to change their sexual orientation?” Paris: “Yes, it is.” Me: “I am heterosexual. So if I, through a series of bad relationships with men, say: ‘That man done did me wrong.’ and I get into another relationship and I again say: ‘That man done did me wrong,’ and I do it over and over and finally decide to try a woman. Is it possible for me to change my natural attraction for a man to a woman?” Paris: “They do that in Hollywood all the time.” Me: “Don’t you think that might be because they are bisexual?” Paris: “There is no such thing as ‘bisexual.’”
Paris continuing: “Listen, you can have sex with whoever you want. A man can have sex with a man; a man can have sex with another man; a man can have sex with a dog.” At this point, I hold up a flat palm to his face and say: “Stop. I am discussing respectful adult relationships and you are dragging it into the gutter and I will not go there with you.” I motion down to the ground with my palm. Then I bring my hand back up. “Keep the conversation up here please.”
He then says, “We have hit an impasse and I’m an immovable object and you are an immovable object. It is time for this conversation to end.” Me: “No, I am only asking questions to clarify, because I know gay Christians.”
Then Paris tells me: “I know about the Gay Christian Network and Justin Lee and even read his book “TORN” and what they say about Exodus, but several dozen of the top leaders of Exodus have left and formed the Restored Hope Network.” Me: “Are you part of the Restored Hope Network?” Paris: “Yes, I am.”
Me: “Well, expect to see me over the next few meetings because I am trying to understand what it is that you think so that I might be able to relate that to the friends that I have that are gay and Christian. Thank you.”
I also went to the Saturday evening service and one Sunday morning service at Summit Christian Church. The sanctuary was filled to its 600 capacity. Paris ended his presentation to a standing ovation by saying:
“We can love people without accepting their confused identity.”
No Mr. Paris, no Pastor Bond, no church. It sounds catchy, but it does not work this way.
Sexual orientation is a part of the being of a person. Rejecting their sexual orientation is rejecting them. For 35 years, the church tried to outsource gay people to programs like Exodus. They never worked.
Highlights of Q & A from Sunday after services.
“Should homosexuality be classified once again as a mental illness?” Paris struggled to not outright say “yes”. He posed once again how the “radical gay activists” had pressured the APA to declassify homosexuality as a mental illness. Paris then entered into one of the most singularly offensive and incorrect sections of his talk. He linked sexual behaviors and acts performed by homosexuals to what he would label as signs of mental illness.
Lesbian sexual acts are never spoken of by reparative therapy proponents, nor is the fact that heterosexual people do these same awful things in sex. Paris referred to a list that appears in his book index (I read most of the book while sitting in the lobby on two occasions rather than listen to him read his testimony again. He reads his talk. Each time, he reads it.) I recognized the “statistics” and knew the source of the “study” even as Paris and Bond were shaking their heads in disgust over the information.
Paris then raised his fist and asked if it were “normal” for a person to put their fist in the anus of another person. He then ask the same of a person licking the anus of another person and ingesting fecal matter from that anus. Still not enough? The people in the sanctuary were then treated to imagining one man urinating on another for sexual pleasure. I wish I could say this is unusual behavior for reparative therapy folks, but it is not. All this data and the frequency of the activity, Paris informed us, was “from their own data, their own research.”
It is not just that gay men did these things, it is the frequency with which they did it that is to make us believe they are mentally ill. Tactics like this have had quite a bit of traction in the anti-gay conservative circles since 1992 when Paul Cameron moved to Oregon to work on an initiative to stop the introduction of anti-discrimination legislation in that state. He created a pamphlet called “Medical Consequences of What Homosexuals Do” that I have reviewed on this blog. Although completely discredited, I come across the “statistics” more often than anyone would imagine. A favorite “stat” I often debunk is the “Dutch Marriage Study”, give it a read. It really should infuriate any person that this is quoted from pulpit.
The survey that is sourced for Cameron and for Paris’ data in his book appendix is derived from a 1977 survey originated and published by “Blueboy”. The survey was sent out to the subscription list of about 500,000. A little more that 1% of the surveys, 5,400, were returned.
There is a phenomenon called “participation bias” which means people who have something unusual to share – want to and do. Those who choose not to share tend to be more middle of the road or conservative on whatever the survey issue is. With a 1% return rate, published by a magazine the equivalent in style to Playboy or Penthouse, and a participation bias, taken over thirty five years ago, this is the study of homosexual male behaviors, dismissed as accurate even at the time, is presented as what is happening today. All delivered in a presentation with the intent to make the hearer say “ick”. And they do.
That was 1977, just as gays and lesbians were coming out of the recesses and dark hiding places of society. And this is be the picture of how gay men participate in sex NOW?
The information is quite titillating and heads were shaking in horror. Too bad the information is not accurate and never was.
Shortly after this, Paris made the obligatory connection between pedophiles seeking to have pedophilia removed from the DSM, the list of mental illnesses recognized by the APA. The slippery slope of terror is a very common tactic used by those that promote reparative therapy. Most of us by now actually know gay people and we see they are just living lives like the rest of us. Homosexuality is a variation of sexual orientation; pedophilia is an age attraction. Linking the two is manipulation at its most repulsive level.
Paris offered that the most authoritative book on the subject of homosexuality and the Bible is written by Robert Gagnon. I will admit, Gagnon has packed his volume with oodles of info. But, he makes grand leaps with “therefores” and assumptions and “thuses” that are built on inferences. I often look to the person and the fruit in their life to make an assessment of: “Do I choose to revere this person as an authority?” I do not find Gagnon to be a loving and compassionate man, he has a distinct distain for all things “gay”.
Paris also was dismissive of the Gay Christian Network (GCN). “There is a group called the Gay Christian Network and 90% of them are engaged in sex and they call themselves Christians,” he informed the crowd. I am not sure where Paris got that statistic. Within GCN there are two views of same-sex relationships: Side A’s believe God blesses long term, committed, monogamous relationships and Side B believes they are called to celibacy. I have participated in GCN for over seven years and am on the Advisory Board and still, the source of Paris’s statistic is a mystery to me.
The Evangelical church and many other conservative denominations have remained in a black hole of misinformation and ignorance for the past forty years on the issue of what homosexuality is and is not. We are ill-informed, we say decidedly offensive things and don’t even realize it. We believe lies without ever checking out the sources. And enter into the desire to understand and finally talk about it, Kent Paris offers himself to churches “to speak the truth in love”. He has armed himself with slick new marketing brochures, a book and branded himself as a national speaker, author and expert on homosexuality.
My God, church, please stop this lunacy.
If churches are serious about having productive conversations about homosexuality and faith, they should carefully engage people who offer accurate information on the subject of homosexuality while looking at the Scriptures with integrity and wisdom.
People that include reparative therapy or any rejection of innate sexual orientation are not people that should be leading the dialogues about sexual orientation and faith.
At the final Q & A, I intend to ask one question and make one statement if Paris allows me to speak. [UPDATE: THIS DID NOT HAPPEN. I WAS ESCORTED OUT BY FIVE MEN.]
It is the same question I would have posed to parents who brought or sent their children to Paris’ presentation.
Do you know the consequences of rejecting your gay youth as opposed to accepting them?
If parents with gay children were to follow the teachings and therapeutic tools offered by Kent Paris, your gay youth are EIGHT times more apt to attempt suicide than those gay youth who are accepted.
They may suffer depression SIX times more often than those who are accepted.
They are THREE times more likely to get involved in drug and alcohol abuse than those gay youth that are accepted.
They are THREE times more likely to contract HIV and/or STDs than accepted gay youth
This is research; this is scientific, peer reviewed research.
If you are the parent of a gay youth, when you leave here, stop on the way home and buy a package of razors, a bottle of whiskey, a hypodermic needle and a lifetime supply of antibiotics because that is the life you will more often impose on your gay child through your rejection and shaming.
This is what you will be doing to the child you have been charged to raise in the way they should go.
Do not try to force your child to be something they are not, something to your liking. You will not only be responsible for the effects on their mental and physical health, you will also, in all likelihood, push them from God.
For Christian parents with gay children, I strongly encourage you to read “Dear Moms & Dads” for suggestions of how to appropriately engage your gay child.
When I finish my statement, [UPDATE: THIS DID NOT HAPPEN] I am going outside to the church driveway exit with several gay Christians and we will be handing out information, inviting LGBT people and their families to stay in relationship with God and holding a banner high that says:
Welcoming God’s Gay and Transgender Children into the Church
Won’t that be a beautiful day?
To the Members Summit Christian Church who have written to me saying “it wasn’t that bad” or a variation of that:
If you went to only a Saturday night or Sunday service, Mr. Paris was only able to read his testimony and spend a few more minutes on I Corinthians along with a few other items depicting the LGBT community as menacing.
If you had gone to the Youth Night or the Q & A, you would have heard the information to which this post is a reaction. If you are still comfortable after reading it all, then we are at wildly opposite ends of the spectrum of what should be spoken from pulpits and how to treat others.
A difference in theology is understandable; intentionally demonizing a group, misrepresenting historical events and misleading listeners about issues of integrity should not be sourced in a pulpit.
Then, I would point you to a story I wrote about Matthew Vines and a video he did, available on Youtube. The conversation of sexual orientation and faith is a serious one and requires productive conversation, not one that is so horribly slanted to target and misrepresent gay people.
I do not think the leadership of your church adequately researched Paris or understood the organization, Restored Hope Network, to which he belongs. I have spent approximately 25 hours listening to Paris’ audio, watching video, reading interviews, investigating a court case, attending four sessions of his at Summit and writing the report. I also attended a two day conference for Restored Hope Network in September 2012 and spent almost forty hours researching and writing a four part series about the network to which Paris belongs. My words are not frivolous and baseless.
My heart was BREAKING for gay youth subjected to Paris’s damaging untruths. My statement during the Q & A was for them and their protection. Some have criticized me for standing to speak — the lies and manipulations HAD to be countered. I saw it as a justice issue. I had a 1:30 minute timed statement about LGBT youth.
Several of your children, young adults and families that have left Summit over this issue; they have contacted me. You may not see it, but the damage to precious people by flawed teaching is endemic.
Further, I hope these posts stand as a resource to Pastors who are considering inviting Paris to their churches thinking that he can help them navigate this difficult issue.