Study supporting gay conversion challenged
October 4th, 2011
07:35 AM ET

Study supporting gay conversion challenged

A study designed by professors from two religious universities says that some people can change their sexual orientation after undergoing years of a ministry program.

“Evidence from the study suggested that change of homosexual orientation appears possible for some and that psychological distress did not increase on average as a result of the involvement in the change process,” wrote the authors of a study published in The Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy.

The authors are both psychologists who work at religious universities. Stanton Jones is a psychology professor and provost at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois, and Mark Yarhouse is a professor of mental health at Regent University, in Virginia Beach, which was founded by televangelist Pat Robertson.

Their study findings have been challenged by other researchers who say that the bulk of the existing evidence indicates that sexual orientation does not change. Gay advocacy blogs have also disputed the findings.

Jones and Yarhouse's study followed 65 participants over a course of six to seven years as they attended Exodus Ministries, a religious program for “individuals and families impacted by homosexuality.”  The individuals who attend the program seek to achieve “freedom from homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ,” according to Exodus.

“It’s a study for people who are highly religious who are distressed by the experience of attraction,” Yarhouse said.  “They want to know, is it even possible?  What might I experience if I go into religious-based ministry?”

Initially, the study enrolled 98 individuals, but 35 dropped out of the program. Some who quit the study said they had been “healed of all homosexual inclinations,” and one person had re-embraced his gay identity, according to the study.

The courses were offered in 16 locations around the United States and met in small groups, spending time in prayer and reading the Bible.

The study authors followed "the change process" of the participants by conducting annual interviews, asking the same questions about sexual attraction, emotional or romantic infatuation and sexual fantasies.  They used scales devised by sex researcher Alfred Kinsey and another measure called Shively-DeCecco scale.

Jones and Yarhouse's hypothesis was that sexual orientation is changeable.

After following the participants for six to seven years of the religious program, they concluded that 23% of the remaining people in the study were successful in changing their sexual orientation toward heterosexuality.  And 30% turned toward chastity, which Yarhouse said was “a reduction from homosexual attraction.”

Also, 23% did not respond to the ministry’s treatment, 20% embraced their gay sexual orientation and the remaining percent reported confusion.

“The findings of this study appear to contradict the commonly expressed view that sexual orientation is not changeable,” the authors wrote.

The American Psychological Association declared in 2005 that homosexuality was not changeable. The association had also stated that there was no evidence that conversion or reparative therapy aimed at changing sexual orientation was safe or effective.

“The APA was making pretty strong statements that orientation really doesn’t change and that attempts to do so would be harmful,” said Yarhouse. “They were presenting absolutist claims about this immutability of orientation and great risk of harm.  They were ideal questions for research.  Can people change? Or is it truly an immutable characteristic?”

Eli Coleman, professor and director of Human Sexuality at the University of Minnesota Medical School was skeptical about the findings.

“We’ve been through this over and over,” he said.  “You can get behavioral changes, but that’s not orientation change. You can get short-term behavioral change. It’s not sustained.”

Yarhouse emphasized that his findings followed the participants for several years.  He acknowledged that there are many in the LGBT community who find religious conversion programs “deeply offensive.”  But he said there are gay people who wish to change and do not embrace the gay identity or the gay community.

“I’d like to see mental health organizations to show greater respect for diversity for how a person chooses to live their life and live this out,” Yarhouse said.

The study could be confusing sexual identity and sexual orientation, which are distinctly different, said Dr. Jack Drescher, an associate professor of psychiatry at New York Medical College.

Sexual orientation refers to whom a person is attracted to, and in most cases, does not change, he said.  But sexual identity is how a person feels about his or her orientation and sexual feelings, Drescher said.

For example, a man may feel strong attraction to males, but he may not self-identify as gay.  He could change the way he identifies himself, whether it’s gay or straight throughout his life.  But his sexual orientation does not usually change.

"I don’t think we have anything really new here," said Coleman.  "We have known for sometime that some people are able to shift their behavior and their perception of their sexual identity through these attempts at conversion."

Drescher said the majority of the existing scientific evidence doesn’t support the latest study's findings.

“I think the authors have a bias and I have a bias,” Drescher said.  “Everybody has a bias. That’s why we have accumulation of data – and that doesn’t support their data.”

“There are peer-reviewed studies in the literature and the sum of all the literature does not indicate these treatments are effective,” he said.  “If one study comes out that seems to contradict the bulk of the scientific research that proves that people can change - that’s interesting, can they replicate it?”

Drescher also said that the study doesn’t explore whether bisexuality played a role in the reported sexual orientation changes.

He disagreed with the findings that religious therapies do not harm people, saying he had several patients who blamed themselves after failing programs and fell into depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts.

“They’re told it’s up to them if they don’t change,” Drescher said. “When it fails, as it fails in majority of cases, they feel like failures, after they’ve spent time and effort and money.

“Some of these people, on the advice of therapists, get married, then they have kids.  Gay people have been getting married.  When they get married, they don’t change. What do they do, stay married?  It’s a complicated issue.”

soundoff (640 Responses)
  1. mikel

    Even if you don't believe it, is it not the right of people to try? Probably not as if someone else can make a conscious choice, then perhaps you could too and your brainwashed into thinking you born that way, so you can't change, so why bother trying....

    October 4, 2011 at 08:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Lexagon

      Do people have the right to buy snake oil?

      Yes, they do.

      Does that make the propagation of a culture that browbeats certain people into believing that they need snake oil and/or the sale of same less reprehensible?

      No, it doesn't.

      October 4, 2011 at 10:42 | Report abuse |
    • Hawk

      Answer me this- is it right for someone to try, get married, have kids, and then realize that they have failed, so they then divorce their spouse and cause emotional distress for the spouse and the children? Or should they try, but remain single and just "fool around"? Because it is unrealistic to expect a person who is trying to "change their orientation" to remain celibate.

      October 4, 2011 at 14:03 | Report abuse |
    • cmxsmitty

      Born that way or choice – why do others feel that they need to meddle in other people's lives. Let them be happy regardless of orientation.

      October 4, 2011 at 15:32 | Report abuse |
    • cmc

      It's like when my mom was in Catholic school in the '50's and they literally hit her when she wrote with her left hand. She WAS born a leftie and she died a leftie. She was just made to feel like an inferior, evil loser that deserved to be berated and abused because she was different. It's the same thing.

      October 4, 2011 at 16:07 | Report abuse |
    • period pie

      I'd say that gay people who want to try this only do it because becoming "straight" is the only way they will gain accepatance from their family, friends and peers. If everyone around you rejects who you are, and thinks you're worthless for being gay, then the inclination would be strong to attempt to "change". The problem stems from a lack of empathy, and this causes immeasurable suffering for gay people.

      October 4, 2011 at 21:48 | Report abuse |
    • Phil

      Wow, what a stupid study.

      October 5, 2011 at 02:57 | Report abuse |
    • ardie

      Phil, that is a really stupid study!

      October 5, 2011 at 03:23 | Report abuse |
    • Doug

      I'm amazed at some on the comments here.. First I will tell you, I am gay and 58 years old.. I find it weird to see others comment on what is inside of me when you have not one idea of that.. NOT ONE ! Secondly, since you believe you can change me, tell me, what do you think it will take to change you ??? Think about that !

      October 5, 2011 at 03:49 | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      "Religious" University,.....enough said.
      Nullifies all merit in a scholarly debate

      October 5, 2011 at 03:50 | Report abuse |
    • Jesus

      This is like those 19th century snake oil salesmen that have a "cure" for all kinds of perceived ailments. Here these charlatans presume that being gay is a choice. IT IS NOT! Of course one can exercise denial and force yourself into doing acts that are not consistent with how you are wired. That is not a "cure".

      October 5, 2011 at 07:40 | Report abuse |
    • TG

      Looks like CNN has lied by pre-screening comments with filters. How one sided is that!

      October 5, 2011 at 08:05 | Report abuse |
    • TG

      CNN are you filtering out Bible Scripture Quotes? I would like a response.

      October 5, 2011 at 08:07 | Report abuse |
    • TG

      CNN appears to be filtering out any comments with the word H_O_M_S_E_X_U_A_L_I_T_Y in it. Let's see if this makes it.

      October 5, 2011 at 08:14 | Report abuse |
    • TG


      I guess we now know CNN does not support an open lively discussion as much as one thinks! Seems to be leaning toward the Gay community. Oh and CNN I would like a direct response from you since you do state the following on your website.

      CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

      October 5, 2011 at 08:19 | Report abuse |
  2. Tom of Indiana

    So if you can "turn" Gay people Straight, can you, by the same token, "turn" the Straight Gay?
    I'll bet not.
    And this business of "Oh, look, you got married to a woman and had kids with her, you're not Gay anymore" is Bee Ess. Ask anybody who's ever been surprised when their spouse came out.

    October 4, 2011 at 10:15 | Report abuse | Reply
    • PushingBack

      I don't know if we can convert straight to gay but i think we need to build a camp to try. And by camp I mean like summer camp but with only the hottest straight guys. Dumpy straights need not apply. Men that do not convert well will not be released until they have been fed enough to take them out of the "hot" bucket.

      October 4, 2011 at 14:17 | Report abuse |
    • ted

      It is called prison, lol!

      October 5, 2011 at 03:45 | Report abuse |
    • Jerry

      Of course you can, Tom. It's called "prison".

      October 5, 2011 at 03:50 | Report abuse |
  3. MN

    Just be yourself and be a good person. This is a waste of time. There's so much more to life. If you're gay be gay and do things that matter. Why get married and lead someone on if you are gay too? That's not fair to them. This is a dumb waste of time. There's other important things that need to be done in this world. You only live 80 years. Pointless.

    October 4, 2011 at 10:27 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ardie

      amen to that message. "Try to be the person that your dog thinks you are."

      October 5, 2011 at 03:08 | Report abuse |
    • mike hudgins

      Meh, we may only be here 80 years but everyone needs to spend that time doing something, you may not like what some do with it but it is their right to do it. As for the gay issue...who cares? It honestly escapes me why this is in the news ALL THE TIME, if only 10% of the population is gay why is it such a big issue? It makes sense to me that some are 'born that way' and some 'chose it', therefore some can change and some can't, but it honestly should not be this big of a deal in our society. There are real issues to deal with.

      October 5, 2011 at 06:06 | Report abuse |
  4. pmmarion

    Tom, actually it is very easy to turn str8's gay. Just look at our prison system.

    October 4, 2011 at 10:35 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Vegdaze

      A simplistic and untrue argument.

      October 4, 2011 at 13:02 | Report abuse |
  5. blf83

    A person can change behavior, but not orientation. Claiming a change of orientation is lying to ones self and to others.

    October 4, 2011 at 10:37 | Report abuse | Reply
    • SmartDood

      Well said!

      October 4, 2011 at 11:30 | Report abuse |
    • Jen

      When I told my folks I was a lesbian, one of them suggested I try marrying my ex-boyfriend and "giving it a chance." They had hated the guy when I was dating him, but now suddenly he was okay because he had a p*n*s. That's how crazy this issue makes people. Instead I married a lovely lady. We've been together 15 years and now I think they like her better than me.

      October 5, 2011 at 06:46 | Report abuse |
  6. Jim

    If this were true, there wouldn't be any gay priests in the catholic church. I mean who gets more religious training than them? And we all know how that's worked out ...

    October 4, 2011 at 10:58 | Report abuse | Reply
    • cworr

      That's funny. But the Catholic Church created that problem by forcing a celebate priesthood. It is no secret among even Catholic Priests themselves that large numbers of gay men (and probably pedophiles) intentionally "hide" in the priesthood with the intent to continue that behavior regardless of the amount of training they receive.

      October 4, 2011 at 11:21 | Report abuse |
    • Josh

      This is true for a lot of denominations, its only "big" for the catholic church for 2 reasons.
      1. its the largest denomination of any Christian religion, therefore the numbers weill be high, but as a % of total priests the number is actually low.
      2. Church Leaders tried to cover it up and didn't remove the priests from the order or turn them over to the police when it was discovered.(this coupled with the size of the Catholic Church is most likely the reason TBH)

      October 4, 2011 at 12:07 | Report abuse |
    • mike hudgins

      For clarity, what happens in situations like the priesthood has nothing to do with being gay, it is all about control and power.

      October 5, 2011 at 06:09 | Report abuse |
    • Mama of three

      And just to clarify, pedophilia and child abuse are NOT the same as being gay. Gay men are attracted to MEN, not children. Just like lesbians are attracted to WOMEN, not little girls. If their attraction is to children, then they're pedophiles.

      October 5, 2011 at 07:21 | Report abuse |
  7. JustBe

    Stop trying to change people just because they don't meet the norms of society! I mean seriously! Just be!

    October 4, 2011 at 11:31 | Report abuse | Reply
    • TheTruth72

      Who's trying to change a person's orientation? Who are you referring to? I'll take a guess and go along with it. My guess is your talking about religious folk. Maybe Christians perhaps? Well, as a true Christian, it is not my job to change any person's orientation. I can present the truth based on the Bible and it's up to God to convict that person. It's still the person's choice. I'm not forcing in any way. This is how Christians should be. I do see some out there that condemn people and that's not how the issue should be approached.

      October 5, 2011 at 03:03 | Report abuse |
  8. Voltairine

    I happen to believe that a person is born gay, etc., but it shouldn’t matter. Gay people, regardless of why or how or whatever should be able to enjoy all of the rights as anybody else regardless; anything short of that is hateful bigotry and all of these studies and opinions on the matter are irrelevant. There is no difference between refusing to let gay people marry and denying the rights of African-American people and not letting women vote, etc. It is all boldfaced bigotry.

    October 4, 2011 at 12:19 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ally

      I agree with you that it shouldn't matter. But I don't read this article as a rights issue. I see nothing wrong with scientists studying the fact that we have gay and straight people on this earth and discovering new information of how someone identifies themselves. All the study participants were voluntary.

      October 4, 2011 at 13:04 | Report abuse |
    • Carrot Cake Man

      How do we know all the participants in the study volunteered, Ally? We know parents force their children into such programs. The Des Moines Register carried an article about a young man essentially blackmailed into joining Exodus at the cost of thousands of his own dollars. The young man's minister said, "Join and pay them this money or I will tell your family!"

      October 4, 2011 at 15:54 | Report abuse |
    • Ally

      Carrot cake man, in the article it talked about the participants wanting to try the program. It's possible that behind the scenes some of these people were forced to join by family or other people in their lives, but the study itself was voluntary. My only point was I don't see the harm in science learning more about why certain people have different orientations.

      October 4, 2011 at 16:57 | Report abuse |
    • Sean

      I think that whether a person is gay happens so early in life that we say that someone is "born gay".

      October 5, 2011 at 03:47 | Report abuse |
  9. Amunaka

    Jeeeze ,,and all you need to turn a straight guy gay is a couple shots of Jack and a six pack...

    October 4, 2011 at 13:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Karen

    Please don't take this as offensive. I really don't understand. Gay just doesn't seem to make sense to me. Why would a person be attracted to someone of the same gender? If you are religious, it goes against the standards of every religion, if you believe in evolution, it doesn't make sense there either. I don't hate gay people. I just don't understand. Maybe this is why they used to treat it as a mental illness and why some people seek to find a "cure".

    October 4, 2011 at 13:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Flora

      Of course you don't understand it – you're not gay. And although I'm supportive, I'll never quite understand either. You will never understand how it is to be something you're not. You will never understand wha it's like to be a different race, you'll never understand what it's like to be a dog, so on and so forth.

      The thing is, no ones asking you to understand, they're just asking that you don't try to stand in the way of them living their lives simply because you don't understand/believe in it.

      October 4, 2011 at 14:02 | Report abuse |
    • J.R.

      Stop "not understanding" and start learning. I don't know why I am attracted to guys – i just am. I'm not a "recruiter" and we're not "out for your children". I am Agnostic and don't believe in Organized religions that do nothing but bring fear, scare tactics, myths and lies to control mankind. If anything, THAT's what un-natural about this world. I am 100% Catholic & Christian-Free and I've never been happier with a mind that is so free.

      October 4, 2011 at 15:59 | Report abuse |
    • Kris

      If you're not gay, what are you concerned about? If you don't understand, do some research into the matter and LEARN something about why people are gay instead of wringing your hands and asking 'why?'. DON'T blindly assume that religion offers any workable solutions; most religions are about control and vilify anything and anybody who is "different." As far as being gay being contradictory to elvolution, there are more than enough straight folk to assure the survival of humanity–and surprise! Even gays can and do have kids!

      October 4, 2011 at 18:05 | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      I've heard people say they can't help needing to cheat on their wife regularly, or they can't help being attracted to an underage kid. Really? We have no control over anything? That seems to be the defense, we are just what we are no matter what the perversion.

      October 5, 2011 at 07:53 | Report abuse |
    • mishi

      Funny, Bob, but I've heard people equate love and/or s*x between consensual adults with r*ping kids. I guess you folks aren't real big on moral distinctions?

      October 5, 2011 at 13:45 | Report abuse |
  11. Flora

    While I agree that asking if certain things in one's metal makeup can be changed isn't a bad idea (has led to some important discoveries over time), using it as an excuse to push a form of therapy that has proven not only to be ineffective, but to cause the subject more harm is simply unethical and should be stopped. Yes, the subjects walked into the door willingly, but if you neglect to tell them that there's most likely a bear trap hidden on the other side, you're just as accountable as they are.

    October 4, 2011 at 14:07 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Marco Luxe

      Of course I question the motivation of any study with connections to televangelist Robertson's Regent "University", or Fallwell's Liberty U etc. The authors of the study unwisely chose a topic that they knew would strain credibility with the secular academic world, as it supports the ideology of their employer. The only surprise is that the failure rate of achieving "normal" @ 83%, including the drop out, isn't more prominently reported.

      October 4, 2011 at 14:59 | Report abuse |
    • ardie

      what's a metal make-up?

      October 5, 2011 at 03:09 | Report abuse |
  12. dg

    When did you decide to be straight, ga.y, or bi? I doubt most anyone has made this choice as a conscious decision. There is a video out on the net that poses the question "when did you decide to be straight?" And those that believed that se.x.ual attraction was a choice were thrown into a state of cognitive dissonance that appeared to have them questioning their belief.

    October 4, 2011 at 14:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. doug

    I spent years trying to be straight. I went through loneliness, guilt, suicidal thoughts and my life was going nowhere. My career suffered. I was also a Christian and I went through their "reparative" therapy, which was based on a 12 step program similar to AA. After 5 meetings with them, and having seen so many have little slips, including the national and local director, I realized that this was folly.

    Today, I am accepting of myself but still damaged. My career was never what it could have been had I not obsessed with trying to be straight. It is bitter-sweet for me to see young gays having a high school relationship, but I am sad and angry that I missed that (until I was 35 years old!).

    So what if one person out of 1000 actually changed and became straight? (I doubt it). Would that be worth all those who continue to suffer attempting to change? I think not.

    October 4, 2011 at 14:30 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Basil999

      To GayandProud and to Doug...I hope you find the peace your so well deserve. Don't listen to anyone else except your inner voice. Who the heck are we to dictate the lives of others? Gay is gay and straight is straight and several flounder around in the middle somewhere. Just be happy with yourself. That's what counts. I've had gay friends and gay roommates and they were all beautiful people who I was very close to...and I am straight. I wish people would just leave each other alone.

      October 4, 2011 at 14:45 | Report abuse |
  14. Gayandproud

    I am one of those gay people that has tried to change for years. I've come to the conclusion after tirelessly trying to change for so long that its pointless. I may be able to fool myself into changing my behaviour but changing my core is not possible. I've come to terms with. I just wish people who dont understand or dont believe in it would just let us be. You can believe in stones for all i care! As long as you dont throw them at me.

    October 4, 2011 at 14:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Teri

      Well said! I am beginning to wonder if people are so clueless they don't accept/understand gay people (with ONE exception) are the same as everyone else. Do the clueless masses need to be born with a gay twin as I was to actually comprehend this simple insight?

      October 4, 2011 at 15:06 | Report abuse |
  15. Teri

    Insanely simple; stop studying this BS to death and accept gay people same as heteros; ONE difference and it's inborn, 2011 and our pathetic hateful society can't just accept gay people...

    October 4, 2011 at 14:58 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ardie

      Many people can accept the facts of life. Look at the source of this silly study.

      October 5, 2011 at 03:16 | Report abuse |
  16. J.R.

    And just one more thing: How come no one points out the blatant hypocrisy of these "conservatives" when the bible is nothing more than a book that contradicts itself and cancels itself out??! Aside from the gay stuff, have you really read and took thought in all the OTHER stuff it said that you do every day and not think of ?! READ IT THOROUGHLY, think of your own life and what you do that violates it and then tell me you can judge someone who is gay, obeys the law, pays taxes and just wishes for the same happiness you are pursuing.

    October 4, 2011 at 16:02 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ardie

      If you take everything out of context, then the Bible says whatever you want it to say. No wonder so many people do not participate in organized religion. Just follow the GOLDEN RULE and life is good.

      October 5, 2011 at 03:19 | Report abuse |
  17. Dan Halen

    Just more "married men" hanging out at the interstate rest areas.

    October 4, 2011 at 17:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. CharlieInVA

    At the least, this is foolishness. At the worst, you're putting peoples' mental health (and lives) at risk. The fact that this came from two doctors affiliated with religious organizations makes it even more suspect.

    Foolishness ...

    October 4, 2011 at 17:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Bill

    "A study designed by professors from two religious universities..."

    Enough said.

    October 4, 2011 at 17:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Lily

      Bill, that doesn't invalidate the study. Actually, if it uses the same scientifically verifiable processes as any other university or academic research, it would make the study just as valid. I think your bias against religion may actually invalidate your ability to discern research that may actually showcase good points. You don't want the religious to be closed minded? Maybe it starts with you.

      October 4, 2011 at 18:04 | Report abuse |
    • ardie

      I disagree about your statement about the study. The professors are biased and they want to prove a fact. This is by no means scientific.

      October 5, 2011 at 03:31 | Report abuse |
    • mishi

      Lily, any supposed scientist who believes in talking snakes, eternally burning bushes, pregnant virgins, and corpses zombie-ing up from the dead – or is in the pay of those who do – has immediately lost credibility in my book.

      You may think that makes me "closed minded." I prefer to think of it as "at least minimally rational."

      October 5, 2011 at 03:48 | Report abuse |
  20. farie710

    The drop out rate alone makes me feel this study has Zero credibility as a study...

    Then again I think the findings in this study are a joke anyways LOL

    October 4, 2011 at 18:42 | Report abuse | Reply
    • farie710

      Not to mention:

      The participants are not a random sample,
      Not sure if the scales are at all or even somewhat standardized or worded with biases,
      and finally less than 70 people remaining in the full study is not a large enough sample size.

      October 4, 2011 at 18:47 | Report abuse |
  21. Zoe

    This is 2011. Anyone can produce any "study" or "data" to support any conclusion they want, this doesn't mean there's any truth to it. There's no way you can test or prove someone's orientation, nonetheless how it can or cannot change. Another lame study to satisfy the sheep.

    October 4, 2011 at 19:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • mishi

      Actually, a significant proportion of bighorn sheep are gay...and none of them seems to want to change.

      October 5, 2011 at 03:43 | Report abuse |
  22. Lily

    why aren't my posts showing up?

    October 4, 2011 at 19:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. LouAz

    Just Bat Sh!t Crazy. Foxes counting chickens . . . just before they bugger them !

    October 4, 2011 at 23:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. LouAz

    If this is true then all the Dems are doomed as Frau Backmann and Snooki Palin are conspiring to PRAY you into being a TPer !

    October 4, 2011 at 23:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ardie

      That is one very dangerous group of people!

      October 5, 2011 at 03:15 | Report abuse |
  25. Don't let Tolerance become Intolerant

    Repectfully, I have read the comments on this post and I am willing to acknowledge that each has their own perspective and believe it as strongly as the next. I work with mental health care workers and this debate comes up quite often, and also, in my doctorate program. I believe the zeitgeist of our times influences our beliefs. It did in the past when the Catholic church controlled education, religion, and thoughts. It does now when individualism, humanism, and tolerance are the popular view of the age. Then, restrictions needed to lift become more open to other ideas. Now, it appears that those that believe in the more vocal views are not always accepting of those who hold other beliefs, almost to the point of being intolerant.

    October 4, 2011 at 23:58 | Report abuse | Reply
    • mishi

      So if I refuse to respect those who believe – as many of Yarhouse's fellow travelers sincerely do – that gays are the spawn of Satan, Jews damned to Hell , and the Pope is the Antichrist, does that make me intolerant?

      October 5, 2011 at 03:54 | Report abuse |
  26. Not Fat

    Then let's take straight people and make them gay! Haven't you right-wing nuts heard about over-population? Let's reduce the number of breeders!!

    October 5, 2011 at 02:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Spades

      You first.

      October 5, 2011 at 02:47 | Report abuse |
    • ardie

      Their philosophy is that the straight conservatives should be reproducing frequently due to the lack of good people on this earth. Kind of scary stuff!

      October 5, 2011 at 03:13 | Report abuse |
  27. Jeff

    I see these researchers trying to change gays into straights but I don't see anybody trying to actually find a cure for it. I don't think it is something that you can just get people to snap out of with therapy. It's more biological that that.It apparently develops sometime early in life. If we could figure out a way to prevent it before it develops in a child, then the problem would be solved. It's something the medical establishment should spend a lot more time and money on.

    October 5, 2011 at 02:46 | Report abuse | Reply
    • mishi

      Um, I don't have a problem. I just have a boyfriend whom I love, and with whom I have lovely s*x. Does that sound like a problem ?

      Well, maybe, as the S*x Pistols said, "The problem is YOU."

      October 5, 2011 at 03:20 | Report abuse |
  28. sweet

    we get all the chicks

    October 5, 2011 at 02:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Joshua

    “We’ve been through this over and over,” he said. “You can get behavioral changes, but that’s not orientation change. You can get short-term behavioral change. It’s not sustained.”

    Yes, we can get short-term behavioral change with adulterers too – but that's not orientation change. Give me a break, people can recover from a perverse lifestyle. Insisting that they continue therein without hope is demeaning.

    October 5, 2011 at 02:59 | Report abuse | Reply
    • mishi

      Joshua, darling, my life is swell, I'm in a decades-long relationship with another man whom I adore, and, oh, 90% of the time, I can't imagine my life could be any better or more fulfilling. The very idea that I long to give that up so I can be more like you is risible. One current "hope" i have is to be free of patronizing judgments from folks like you. I don't find them demeaning, though, simply irritating.

      October 5, 2011 at 03:28 | Report abuse |
  30. Bob

    They might as well have published a finding saying "2+2 sometimes equal to 5" and state that they got 30 people out of 100 to say 2+2=5 after they locked them up, kept them away from their families, starved them, and wouldn't let them leave until they would repeat 2+2=5. Sure you can brainwash somebody into most any behavior, but that doesn't make the behavior natural and that it won't be undone by time and reason.

    October 5, 2011 at 03:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. fjawodfc

    This lacks any credibility coming from a religious school. Anyone working at or attending one is brainwashed and ignorant by definition.

    October 5, 2011 at 03:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ardie

      Total waste of time. Let people be comfortable in their own skin. It works quite well.

      October 5, 2011 at 03:14 | Report abuse |
  32. Gary

    Gays, as a group, are richer (no children) and more well-educated than average. They are loyal American citizens who never learned to depend on the govt. which shunned them. They have few offspring and contribute much to American society. They are the ideal minority, if only some would not worry so much about their bedroom activity.

    October 5, 2011 at 03:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Carla

      I agree 100% with you.

      October 5, 2011 at 06:53 | Report abuse |
  33. hical

    not surprising ... the scriptures support this as well.... even the book of Hosea .... teaches that when an individual or nation deliberately continues unrepentently in a sin will be given over to the sin.

    October 5, 2011 at 03:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • mishi

      Ah yes, the Scriptures. I do hope you're following the dictates of your deity: killing blasphemers and fortunetellers, for instance, and freeing your slaves every seventh year. And hey, I'm way sure that if I went up to you and slapped your face, you'd turn the other cheek so I could slap it, as well. Suuure...

      October 5, 2011 at 03:33 | Report abuse |
    • jp

      Exodus 21:20-21 And if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be surely punished. Notwithstanding, if he continue a day or two, he shall not be punished: for he is his money.

      October 5, 2011 at 03:58 | Report abuse |
  34. prommy

    i feel that not all of them who claim to be gay are not gay.

    October 5, 2011 at 03:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. mishi

    I have it on good authority that people are able – yes! – to permanently change their religious orientations, exodus-ing from "I believe a ghost got a virgin pregnant" to "I'll go with science and reason, thanks" with nary a sign of resulting psychological damage. Indeed, in the past 20 years, nonbelief in America has doubled, and I'm thinking in part it's because of loudmouths like Pat Robertson and bullies like the antigay folks. Why doesn't Robertson's "university" commission a study of THAT?

    October 5, 2011 at 03:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Pray the gay away!

    Bachmann said she and her husband can pray the gay away.
    It's so sad that all american GULLIBLE christians believe these crooks and Pastor Long Dong.

    October 5, 2011 at 03:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • jp

      marcus bachmann doesnt pray the gay away. he absorbs it into his own body.

      October 5, 2011 at 04:00 | Report abuse |
  37. Observer

    Here's the most significant part. The study claim that more gays will turn to chast-ty than change to hetero. It's easy to guess how long the chast-ty part will last either.

    October 5, 2011 at 03:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Observer

    Using the study's statistics, they had an 85% failure rate in conversions.

    October 5, 2011 at 03:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Gary

    American Indians called their gays Two Spirits. They were integrated into Indian society, not harmed or mocked. Indians also sat around the campfire and debated if a Two Spirits was born that way or if it came to them in a dream-vision later in life.

    October 5, 2011 at 04:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • dg

      in shamanic cultures it wasn't unusual for the gay or mentally ill of the tribe to become the shamans because they were different and were thought to have powers others did not.

      October 5, 2011 at 04:31 | Report abuse |
  40. Tom

    The research authors admitted that there was a low success rate, however, it's the SAME rate as addiction treatment, and that's because many people relapse, and yet we still provide addiction treatment by certified/licensed professionals. The research authors PROVED their point that people CAN change, despite the assertions that people cannot. The study's point is this: sure, it's difficult, but NOT impossible.

    October 5, 2011 at 04:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Observer

    "The research authors PROVED their point that people CAN change"

    Wrong. The issue is for how long. There were more gays saying they'd practice chast-ty than convert to hetero. So does anyone think that 30% figure for chast-ty is a PROVEN point?

    October 5, 2011 at 04:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Gabriel

    If Jesus Christ can turn me straight through this program, then he must be able to turn a straight guy, gay right?

    October 5, 2011 at 04:53 | Report abuse | Reply
    • mishi

      Sure worked for Ted Haggard.

      October 5, 2011 at 06:19 | Report abuse |
  43. Martin

    Of course. Brainwashing will eventually work on anybody. Ask Patty Hearst.

    October 5, 2011 at 04:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Tron

    Being gay or lesbian has always been a choice, the therapists back in the day called it a mental disorder, this has been known for years, look it up if you don't believe me. Keep listening to Lady Gaga if you think your born that way, she is another disorder to this world.

    October 5, 2011 at 06:02 | Report abuse | Reply
    • mishi

      Um, anyone who equates "mental disorder" with "choice" is clearly not the sharpest knife in the drawer. You CAN'T have it both ways, sweetie...especially as being LGBT is neither.

      Plus: Lady Gaga dresses a whole lot better than you do.

      October 5, 2011 at 06:19 | Report abuse |
    • Sam

      Tron, with all due respect, that's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. For many, many years the medical profession used leeches to try and cure people of all kinds of diseases. We now realize that wasn't so bright. As a society, black people were viewed as not being people. The same goes for women. This persisted for hundreds, in some cases thousands of years. Just because a view has been held for a long time doesn't make it right. A true critical thinker understands that as we learn and gain new information, we need to reevaluate our views. Of course, those in your camp don't care about facts or critical thought, do you?

      October 5, 2011 at 06:45 | Report abuse |
  45. sdgfman

    Of course this is a valid study done by an unbiased third party.

    October 5, 2011 at 06:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. James

    I am gay by choice. I was straight until I turned 30, but then had some life-changing moments. I hate when gay advocates say that this is not possible, because it is.

    October 5, 2011 at 06:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Jonathan H

    "Genetic Fallacy. This is a special type of reductive fallacy in which the single issue focused on is the source or origin of an idea. The argument demands, "Something (or someone) should be rejected because it (or he) comes from a bad source."(1)

    Please approach all studies objectively

    (1)Ronald Brooks;Norman Geisler. Come, Let Us Reason: An Introduction to Logical Thinking (p. 86). Kindle Edition.

    October 5, 2011 at 06:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Alex

    Just because nuns and school teachers could make kids who were naturally left handed write with their non-dominant hand doesn't make them right handed. That was done because left handedness was perceived as inferior and sometimes evil. What is the point of the study except to argue a change for something obviously perceived by the researchers as wrong. Have they tried a study to see if they can make sighted people blind, or ambulatory people bedridden? Of course not, those are less desirable changes. The researchers were professors of religion....get it?

    October 5, 2011 at 06:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Eli

    Reading through all of these comments I cannot help but see the same hypocritical slogans passed over and over again as genuinely inspired insight. Usually the comment starts out alright with something like "accept gays as they are." I can accept this, because it is basically saying "accept people as they are." The next thing that is said; however, reads something like this "people of religion are bigoted, ignorant, and trying to ruin the lives of the gays." Logically, this does not follow. How can a person tell others to accept a people group while telling them to ignore and hate a different people group?

    I am a man of faith. I don't have faith in mankind or its kindness but in Jesus. I have been fighting America's wars for nine years now, so I know that people and society are not be placed in faith. I do; however, believe in a person's right to live, work, and do as he/she pleases. Jesus Christ was accepting of all people. He did not accept their actions, but he always accepted the person even though people did not accept him.

    Christianity is not about changing you to be moral or good or a person with great deeds. In fact, it has nothing to do with you at all. Christianity is about dying to yourself to love and trust in God completely. By dying to ourselves we are given life. Jesus came to give life, not to put a burden on people that they cannot handle.

    To all who have made comments to the effect of "have you ever actually read the bible?" only to be followed up with completely un-biblical assertions, I urge you to not only actually read the bible that you claim to have knowledge of, but ask a Christian you know to explain what the bible means to them. At least this way you'll have a leg to stand on when you write in a forum, or talk to a troubled friend.

    October 5, 2011 at 06:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • mishi

      Sorry, but you fall down on the Moral Equivalence front. Disliking someone for what they do is different from hating them for what they are, and not all dislikes are equal. All around the world, monotheists are using their faith as a pretext for persecuting, even killing, gays.GLBT people, however, do not go around physically assaulting Christians for their faith, nor militate for their practices to be made illegal because Christianity is merely a "lifestyle choice." The only "right" I think Christians should be stripped of is the ability to discriminate against others. To argue that, oh, Jews shouldn't hate Neo-Nazis or blacks not disdain the Klan is taking the idea of tolerance to a perhaps admirable but unrealistic extreme. After all, you yourself go around killing folks because your government tells you to, though Jesus advised you to simply turn the other cheek, no?

      I'd point out that if what you truly seek is the taming of the ego and the promotion of compassion, you could become a non-theistic Buddhist – all the enlightenment without the mythological hoo-hah. But – face it – your holy book begins with a tribal deity slaughtering the enemies of his chosen people and ends with a bloody fantasy of apocalytic punishment for those who don't toe the Yaweh line. Candy-coat it with selective citing of Jesus' love all you want, the mythological mish-mash that is Judeo-Christianity is a gore-soaked mess. Jesus, after all, did not merely come to "give us life." He came, we're told, because his Daddy was still miffed that Eve ate the apple, and figured the demi-human sacrifice of his kid would mitigate Original Sin.

      I find the whole thing one-sidedly icky. Or perhaps you could come up with a widely-followed gay text in which "Sodomites" celebrate the wholesale incineration of Yaweh followers?

      October 5, 2011 at 13:36 | Report abuse |
  50. Jonathan H

    People of any background can objectively study a subject without letting their bias taint the results. Of course there will be limitations to their ability to be objective, but to negate the affirmations of a study the negation has to be more plausible than what has been affirmed. If not, the affirmed stands as long as it is cogent and the premises are true.

    October 5, 2011 at 06:45 | Report abuse | Reply
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