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Fundamentalist Fanatics Meet to Promote 'Gay Cures'

Exodus International Attracts 1,200 Curious Attendees

Area Metropolitan Community Church Stages Protest

Compiled By GayToday

exgaydebate.gif - 6.23 K Wheaton, Illinois—Last summer's nationwide newspaper advertising campaign paid for by Christian fundamentalist groups and claiming success at converting homosexuals into heterosexuals may have been responsible, some believe, for the largest turn-out yet –1,200 persons attending—at this year's annual conference of Exodus International held here. Last years conference drew approximately 800.

Still, the numbers now attending are hardly greater than those found weekends in singular gay urban nightclubs. Delegates, however, arrived from sixteen nations, including the United States.

During the six weeks following the publication of its 1998 newspaper ads, Exodus claims it received 3,900 phone inquiries. Many such calls, however, were complaints about the ads from outraged gay and lesbian readers.

Exodus, the best-known among present-day "Ex-Gay" groups, is headquartered in Seattle and was founded in 1976 by two gay men from strict religious backgrounds. They later became lovers and thereupon abandoned their 'Ex-Gay' project.

Exodus teaches that "freedom from homosexuality is possible through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ'' and it members seek to provide "reparative therapy" for "men and women who desire to overcome their homosexuality."

Major mental health associations, including the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association, have issued statements condemning such therapy as is aimed against same sex affection which is neither an illness nor a malfunction of any sort, they say.

To treat homosexuality as an illness, according to the Associations, poses possible dangers to those who submit to such therapy.

The Exodus conference is hosting rallies and workshops in which anti-gay/lesbian propaganda is the predominant theme. "It's just a hate rally," says Steve Yates, an observer who stresses that gay bashing has its origins in such gatherings.

Related Stories from the GayToday Archive:
Over 3100 March On 'Ex-Gay' Newspaper Ad Sponsors

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North America's coordinator, Bob Davies, a Presbyterian, boasts that "a whole new chapter has opened for Exodus'' because of its increased visibility.

Approximately 50 Chicago-area members of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, led by the Rev. Bradley Mickelson, protested Exodus conference themes. ``Gay and Created by God'' and ``Gay Christian Called to Do Justice,'' were signs they carried.

While granting that the Exodus groups have a right to their viewpoints, UFMCC members took pride in proclaiming that God loves them just as they are—gay.

Aligned with Exodus International is Homosexuals Anonymous, a twelve-step group which takes its cues from Alcoholics Anonymous. Both refer their members to the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, composed of religiously-oriented therapists and counselors whose "curative" methodology is, say observers, akin to witchdoctory.
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