Wednesday, November 14, 2007

NARTH Congratulates Self

NARTH, the controversial National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, held its annual meeting last week in Dallas. A new article on the organizations website congratulates the participants for their "stellar presentations" of "convincing evidence that homosexuality is more fluid than fixed, and that indeed, individuals can make desired changes in their lives."

Wow, those are quite Narthithithtic statements! ;-)

These comments left me puzzled, especially in the face of the results of the Jones & Yarhouse study, which were discussed in Stanton Jones' plenary talk at the conference. Jones & Yarhouse reported the following outcomes for 98 ex-gay hopefuls (72 male and 26 female, 41 of whom had already participated in ex-gay ministry for 1-3 years prior to the study) over three years of Exodus ministry:
  • 33 people reported change (from homosexual/bisexual/other to heterosexual or from homosexual to bisexual/other)
  • 29 reported no change
  • 8 reported “negative change” (from heterosexual/bisexual/other to homosexual or from heterosexual to bisexual/other)
  • 3 reported uncertain change (moving from bisexual to other, or the reverse)
  • 25 dropped out of the study
source: Box Turtle Bulletin's nine-page analysis of the Jones & Yarhouse study
I am utterly baffled that NARTH could believe that these results could be accurately summarized as "convincing evidence that [homosexual] individuals can make desired changes in their lives." In my opinion, a far more accurate rendering of the study's results would go something like this: some (actually, a minority of the sample population) individuals self-report achieving desired orientation change.

In NARTH's defense, the organization presents the Jones & Yarhouse study in more accurate light later in the article--by simply adding the word "some:"
the answer to whether or not some motivated people can alter aspects of their sexual orientation through religious ministry is "Yes." (emphasis mine)
This statement seems far closer to the truth than the first--although I still question the accuracy of the word "alter." All the Jones & Yarhouse study indicates is change in self-reported orientation. No objective measures of "aspects of their sexual orientation" were used.

Two other items that caught my attention in the article:
  1. Packed inside a single sentence, I found the following strange self-contradiction regarding the Jones & Yarhouse study:
    a study that meets the high standards set by the American Psychological Association, Dr. Stanton Jones presented the results of his longitudinal, prospective study--a book just released by InterVarsity Press
    I'm stunned how NARTH can state (accurately) that the study has appeared in a book from an evangelical Christian publisher and in the same breath imply endorsement by the APA's peer-review process when the study has never been appeared in one of the APA's affiliate conferences or journals.

    Craziness! I don't oppose NARTH's stated purpose to study homosexuality and offer therapy to those conflicted gay folks who desire treatment. But I firmly oppose misrepresenting or misreporting information.

    I personally own copies of the proceedings of (that is, the collections of papers presented at) four NARTH conferences. Sadly, the credibility of their "technical" literature is not much more impressive than this article.

  2. I also found it ironic that the article lauded therapist Dr. Jim Phelan, who was publicly rebuked by Exodus the very week of the conference after he “one-two drop kicked the hell out of” (his own words) a man in the Columbus Marathon.

    Even as NARTH heaps praise upon Dr. Phelan, Ex-Gay Watch is reporting that Exodus has removed him from their referral list of therapists. The Methodist ex-gay organization Transforming Congregations has announced the resignation of Phalen from their Board of Directors, stating Board disapproval with "some of Dr. Phelan’s recent public actions and comments."
In the photo above, Jim Phalen (left) and Staton Jones (center) receive awards at the NARTH conference and pose for a picture with Joseph Nicolosi (right--or should I say, far right).

Hat tip: Ex-Gay Watch, Box Turtle Bulletin


Darren said...

haha. you said "far right". it's funny b/c it's a pun. (said in Karen voice a la Will & Grace)

Jim Phelan said...

Joe Moderate,

Thanks for the free promotion. Every little bit of free cyper space helps my cause.

Don't hate me when I am rich and famous, though.

Love you man. A big Cohen healing hug to you.


PS: Don't I look great in that photo? I like the dark blue shirt and jacket combo. Got that last time I was in NYC, down near Chelsea. Avoided the Syphilis outbreak this time, though! Thank God. Peace, Bro.