Earlier today, ThinkProgress noted that Pastor Rick Warren, who is set to give the invocation at President-elect Obama’s inauguration, told NBC’s Ann Curry recently that “it doesn’t matter” whether or not homosexuality is “part of your biology” because he believes it is still wrong. Warren added that it’s “part of maturity” for gay men and women to “reign” in their “impulses to the same sex.”
Given those views, it should come as no surprise that Warren is also a supporter of the ex-gay movement that tries to cure people of their homosexuality. A reader writes to Andrew Sullivan pointing out that Warren’s Saddleback Church operates a program called Celebrate Recovery that seeks to “help people overcome their hurts, habits and hang-ups” by encouraging people to “grow toward full Christlike maturity.”
As Sullivan’s reader notes — and the website for the program at First Baptist Church in Russellville, AR confirms — one of the “hang-ups” that Celebrate Recovery tries to cure is “same sex attraction“:
Most people probably don’t know this, but Warren’s Saddleback Church has a Friday night program called Celebrate Recovery. On the whole the program is modeled after the twelve steps, albeit with an evangelical supplement to it. There are subgroups in the program that cater to men with “addictions” to pornography, recovery alcoholics, and women with codependency issues. There is also a group for those who struggle with “same sex attraction”, the discourse of which is directly borrowed from the ex-gay movement. I know this, of course, because I was involved with the group in Spring of 2007.
In 2005, Warren told Fortune magazine that “he would counsel gays and lesbians to adopt a heterosexual lifestyle“:
Take the issue of gay rights. On the one hand, Warren says he and Kay have had dinner with gay couples who are their allies in the fight against AIDS. “I’m no homophobic guy,” he says. “I have a church full of people who are caring for gays who are dying of AIDS.” But he also says that he would counsel gays and lesbians to adopt a heterosexual lifestyle. “In looking at the hierarchy of evil, I would say homosexuality is not the worst sin,” he says. “I just believe it’s not the natural way. Certain body parts are meant to fit together. And that’s all I have to say about it.”
As ThinkProgress has noted, “most mainstream mental health professionals dismiss attempts to eradicate homosexual desires or to change someone’s sexual orientation as quackery that is potentially harmful.”
John Aravosis points out that Warren’s church doesn’t allow gay men or women who are “unrepentant” to be members.