Lisa Ling's "Ex-Gay" Puff Piece



WAYNE BESEN X390For example, Ling allowed Chambers to appear tolerant and suggest that openly LGBT people might possibly get into heaven. But this was Alan Chambers at his best, ­ charming gullible reporters in the mainstream media who don't research how his organization speaks to Christian audiences. For instance, in the very e-mail where Chambers praises Ling, he also writes, "Remember, the opposite of homosexuality, or whatever sin struggle one brings to the foot of the cross, is holiness."

In 2007 at the Family Impact Summit, Chambers told a crowd of social conservatives, "We have to stand up against an evil agenda. It is an evil agenda and it will take anyone captive that is willing, or that is standing idly by."

Exodus also has a television show, Pure Passion, geared toward fundamentalists that regularly claim LGBT people are "sexually broken" and "perverse." For years Chambers has offered up such "red meat" and portrayed homosexuality as evil to his evangelical base but softened the message for the mainstream media. Why didn't Ling do her homework and ask the "ex-gay" activist this question: "You allow that gays might go to heaven, yet you also say that the opposite of homosexuality, ­ which you call evil and perverse, is holiness. Does there not seem to be an incongruity in the way you speak to different audiences?"

Some of Ling's mistakes were prosaic yet annoying, such as using the term "gay lifestyle," even though the 1980s have been over for quite some time. I'm surprised she didn't regress even further and refer to gay people as "inverts." Ling's excuse was that she was trying to make the "ex-gay" activists comfortable by speaking their lifestyle lingo.

I'm curious if she would extend the same courtesy to a white supremacist group while they politely discussed other minorities in a pejorative way. Furthermore, even if the phrase was uttered within a conversation, it should never have made it out of the editing booth. The fact that Ling and her assistants did not pick up on the obnoxious "lifestyle" phrase and leave it on the cutting room floor suggests a surprising cluelessness.

However, it was not the style (or lifestyle) of the report that was so upsetting, but the lack of substance. Ling shamefully allowed herself to be used by Exodus International, an extreme "ex-gay" group that desperately wanted an image makeover after being tied to the deadly Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda. Sadly, Ling never mentioned that Exodus board member Don Schmierer joined a Holocaust revisionist at a conference in Kampala to drop what was called "a nuclear bomb on the gay agenda."

The enterprising reporter also omitted any reference to the spiritual warfare ­ commonly known as the exorcism ­ that is a major part of "ex-gay" programs. Exodus president Alan Chambers has said, "One of the many evils this world has to offer is the sin of homosexuality. Satan, the enemy, is using people to further his agenda to destroy the Kingdom of God and as many souls as he can."

Why did Ling conveniently overlook such disturbing views? Couldn't she at least have asked Chambers why many of his inflammatory statements in support of spiritual warfare were at odds with the milquetoast image Exodus was peddling in the mainstream media?

Ling was completely uninterested in Exodus's nefarious lobbying efforts, including the group's work to pass Proposition 8 in California and enthusiastic support of the Federal Marriage Amendment, which would ban marriage equality in the United States Constitution. Could Ling not have taken a moment to explain how Exodus vigorously opposed federal hate-crimes legislation, was in favor of sodomy laws, and is still fighting against all efforts to protect students from bullying in schools?

Tags: Media