Despite lawsuits and controversy, young gay Mormon men struggling with their sexuality are still attempting conversion therapy.
“Conversion therapy” is a dirty word in many religious and political circles, particularly among America’s evangelical and Mormon communities. Having been taught that their faith, their communities, and even their god will reject them for being homosexuals has led American Christians to seek out conversion therapy, believing that homosexuality is not determined at birth, but rather by giving in to sin and demonic temptation.
Conversion therapy charges its “patients” an overall fee, frequently a steep one, and uses many methods to attempt to “convert” a gay man or woman back into the straight man or woman their religions think God intended them to be. Many of these conversion therapy services and centers have been investigated by local and federal governments, their alleged success rates tested, and their methods of conversion carefully reviewed and put under severe scrutiny.
There have been several lawsuits in the last 10 years from former clients of conversion therapy services and centers alleging false advertising and calling into question the moral and legal ethics of an individual subjecting themselves to conversion therapy. Minors are no longer legally allowed to be put into conversion therapy in Washington, D.C., California, Oregon, and New Jersey after lawsuits alleged that the religious conversion therapies for minors not only did not work in changing their child patients’ sexual orientations, but also further damaged the children psychologically.
Despite all of the controversy and outrage at conversion therapies across America, as well as a federal bill being introduced to the United States Congress in an effort to classify any conversion therapy services and centers as fraudulent, many young gay men in the Mormon community continue to seek out conversion therapy, the Religion News Service reported.
While no sanctioned Church of LDS-employed therapists and counselors actually perform conversion therapy services themselves, the church “maintains professional relationships with a variety of organizations to ensure the diverse needs of church members can be met in an individualized and ethical way,” church spokesman Doug Andersen stated.
Translation: While the Mormon Church does not officially endorse any sexual orientation conversion therapy services or centers for its members, it is still able to arrange that its members can have access to conversion therapy through third-party services and centers, should they desire to endure the process and pay the fees.
— Erin (@erinrenfroe) October 1, 2015
Religion News Service reported that, since the Mormon Church has taken a supposed neutral stance on the issue of conversion therapy, many conversion therapy services and centers have arisen that specifically target young, gay Mormon men. In-house counseling services, and even“retreats” have become popular ways for Mormons struggling with their supposedly sinful sexual orientations to make an attempt to change their preferences and for their lives to fall back in line with religious teachings and texts.
The unofficial Mormon stance on homosexuality is not that it is something you are born having, but that it is the result of either previous sin that has gone unchecked and unchanged, or that it is the result of underlying psychological issues that have yet to be resolved.
However, many gay Mormons who have gone through these unendorsed conversion therapy services and centers are now speaking out against these programs and the kind of mental and spiritual impact they have on their patients.