Last week’s decision by ex-gay ministry Exodus International to close its doors and apologize to the gay community made a splash, even if it didn’t come as a big surprise. The 37-year-old organization had for some time acknowledged that its mission to change the sexual orientation of gays and lesbians was misbegotten.
There had to be grist for the GetReligion mill somewhere here, and sure enough, there was. Bobby Ross, Jr. takes exception to a promotional tweet from the Washington Post that went, “Gaying the Pray Away.” Pretty good, in my book. “What does that even mean?” he asks.
Well, Junior, it’s what’s known as a switcheroo — as in, instead of “pray” defeating “gay,” it’s “gay” defeating “pray.” But I think you knew that. That’s why you recur to the wisdom of your peerless leader, who takes umbrage at the original phrase. “In all of my years covering ex-gays,” quoth Terry Mattingly, “I’ve never met anyone who actually claimed they could pray the gay away.”
And yet, tmatt, Exodus International offered a (still visible) on-line form to fill out “if you would like us to pray for you.” Accompanied by that quote from Matthew 18:18: “Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Kind of an offer to pray the gay away, no?
OK, so the phrase itself belongs to opponents of ex-gay ministries. But as long as we’re on the hunt for evidence of bias, GetReligionistas, what about the Washington Times‘ approach to the Exodus International story? The headline is straight, though the scare quotes in the subhead suggest perhaps some unwarranted editorializing:
Ministry tells gays it’s sorry and closes
Exodus preached faith-based ‘cure’
But the lede goes somewhere else entirely: “Gay-rights groups are cheering the closing of a Florida-based ex-gay ministry, which was announced this week with an apology from its leader.” Evidently, this is a story about a victory in the culture wars.
Or maybe not. The last five of the story’s eight paragraphs are devoted to supporters of ex-gay ministries applauding the emergence of a new one that does what Exodus used to do. The kicker?
“I am so thankful that Restored Hope Network exists … to continue the message of transformation and new life in Christ,” said Frank Worthen, a former Exodus leader who is part of the new group.
No evidence of reportorial bias there, eh?