According to the American Psychological association, conversion therapy is ineffective and possibly harmful.

Peter Sprigg
Peter Sprigg – The hate group’s anti-LGBT specialist

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Monday, Peter Sprigg writes: Allied for Truth and Freedom Regarding Unwanted Same-Sex Attractions for Family Research Council’s blog. Family Research Council is an anti-LGBT hate group. Peter Sprigg is FRC’s anti-LGBT specialist.

What is FRC’s stake in promoting conversion therapy?

Family Research Council’s only interest in conversion therapy is the justification of discrimination. If conversion therapy worked (and there is no peer-reviewed research in support of that contention) then FRC can claim that sexual orientation is a choice. Thus it is not an immutable condition that should be protected by nondiscrimination laws.

“Unwanted same-sex attractions” is conservative-Christian-speak for homosexuality. It is used to alter the fact that sexual orientation is an important part of who we are. It is also employed to liken an orientation that they disapprove of to a bad habit.

And who is Sprigg carrying water for?

Some of the most compassionate and courageous—and least politically correct—people in the country are mental health providers who assist clients with unwanted same-sex attractions. I had the privilege of spending time with some of them on October 5 and 6 in Orlando, at the annual conference of the Alliance for Therapeutic Choice and Scientific Integrity (“The Alliance,” formerly known as the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, or “NARTH”).

The reality is that these are some of the least professional behavioral health providers in the country. There is no evidence that conversion therapy is either safe or effective. They are not practicing counseling. These are religious zealots.

Although LGBT activists have been critical of sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) for decades, the threat to such therapy has become an existential one only in the last six years, as several states have enacted laws prohibiting licensed mental health providers from engaging in SOCE (often referred to by critics and the media with an outdated term, “conversion therapy”) with minors.

Forget those ubiquitous “activists” that are the perpetual bogeymen of hate groups. Virtually the entire medical community has determined that conversion therapy is neither safe nor effective. Don’t like the term “conversion therapy?” How about pseudoscience? Crackpottery? Snake oil? Does religious BS float your boat Mr. Sprigg?

The conference featured a variety of presentations and workshops touching on medical, clinical, and cultural issues, as well as research. Attorney Geoff Heath gave an overview of the therapy bans—including several different arguments as to why they should be found unconstitutional. He touched on ways in which they infringe freedom of speech and the free exercise of religion, in addition to noting the more technical legal principle that they may be “void for vagueness.”

Where is the medical or clinical evidence? I hope that was not the Geoff Heath who is with the Dept. of the Interior. He should know that the United States Supreme Court has twice held that such bans are valid. The two cases are Pickup v. Brown and Welch v. Brown and the Supreme Court declined review. Free exercise of religion extends to belief, not conduct (Reynolds v. US, 1879).

It is ironic that attacks upon such therapies have grown ever more extreme, even as the therapists themselves are becoming ever more scrupulous about following “best practices” that avoid the kind of behaviors (such as “coercion” of clients or “guarantees” of complete transformation) of which they are regularly accused.

“Best practices” are to refrain from engaging in conversion therapy to start with. There is no best practices for lobotomy either.

Christopher Rosik, Ph.D., introduced an updated set of Guidelines for the Practice of Sexual Attraction Fluidity Exploration in Therapy (or “SAFE-T,” an acronym coined by the Alliance to better describe the actual focus of such therapy). This carefully reasoned and thoroughly documented 62-page document (not yet available on the Alliance website, at last check …)

Rosik earned his PhD at Fuller School of Psychology which is part of Fuller Theological Seminary. It is “…the school that pioneered the integration of psychology and Christian theology.” Psychology is a science. Science is based on evidence. Theology is a belief system based on faith. The two cannot be merged.

Where is Rosik’s peer reviewed research published to a respected academic journal if he is such an expert?

Several sessions addressed research questions. Philip Sutton, Ph.D., gave an introductory presentation with the explanatory title, “Are Same-Sex Attractions and Behaviors (SSA) REALLY Innate, Inconsequential, and Immutable? What Research and Demonstrable Clinical Experience Does and Does Not Show.” Key research findings he explained show that:

  • SSA is not innate.
  • SSA is consequential (that is, it does have many significant negative consequences and co-occurring difficulties—undermining claims that it is a “normal, positive variant of human sexuality”).
  • SSA is mutable (that is, it can change).
  • Some intended and beneficial changes in SSA (often along a continuum) occur through professional and pastoral assistance.
  • Therapeutically assisted change is not invariably harmful.

Sprigg doesn’t cite any research. Besides, where is Sutton’s peer reviewed research published to a respected academic journal if he is such an expert? Where? Sutton, a conservative Catholic, is completely at odds with his own professional organizations. He is also intellectually dishonest in that no one has claimed that conversion therapy is “invariably harmful.”

One of the conference keynote speakers, the Rev. D. Paul Sullins, Ph.D., discussed several research questions. He described existing research showing that the genetic influence on the development of homosexuality is relatively small, while showing that the influence of being a victim of child sexual abuse on developing a later same-sex orientation is significant…

Sullins is a dishonest retired Catholic priest known for his distortions of science. He has published research in pay-to-play journals of no significance (most recently one in Egypt). There is no evidence that child abuse has any effect on sexual orientation. Sullins is currently associated with Ruth Institute, an anti-LGBT hate group.

Carolyn Pela, Ph.D., provided useful training on how to evaluate published research studies. She noted the existence of several different types of studies—exploratory, observational, quasi-experimental, and experimental.

Pela’s PhD is BS. It is from a for-profit online school (Capella U.). She is currently with Arizona Christian U. Since she is such an expert on research, where are her peer-reviewed studies?

One of the clinical presentations was offered by Joseph Nicolosi, Jr., Ph.D. His father, one of the founders of the Alliance, died suddenly in 2017.

Nicolosi is genetically predisposed to be a charlatan and an idiot. Nicolosi also obtained his PhD online. Where are his peer-reviewed studies?

Two films were also screened at the conference. One, Voices of the Silenced, is an international effort produced by British expert Michael Davidson. It features personal testimonies from clients as well as from experts about the potential for sexual orientation change, while also placing the issue in a larger cultural and historical context, noting how the sexual revolution represents an effort to undo the advances made by Judeo-Christian culture and return to the pagan worldview of ancient Greece and Rome. The other, Free to Love (a 38-minute documentary that can be viewed free online), presents an overview of the debate over SOCE in the American context, and includes interviews with four ex-gay men as well as the views of attendees at a Gay Pride event.

The first of those films (pay-per-view) wants to criminalize homosexuality. Films? Where is the peer reviewed research to support conversion therapy?

Although geared largely for therapists, the Alliance conference is an important event every year for public education and networking as well. With the freedom to seek change ever more under attack, the Alliance is a vital ally in promoting the truth and protecting clients’ rights to self-determination.

Ask the Sprigg about freedom and self-determination when it comes to women’s bodies or physician assisted suicide. Any “therapist” who would attend such an event is unprofessional per se. As the beginning of this post, Sprigg referred to unwanted same-sex attractions. People rebel against their own sexuality due to religious shame. It is a shame that these people are unwilling to accept settled science.

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By David Cary Hart

Retired CEO. Formerly a W.E. Deming-trained quality-management consultant. Now just a cranky Jewish queer. Gay cis. He/Him/His.