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Crisis line refers gay youth to discredited Exodus "Ex-Gay" ministry

If you’re a teen, scared and calling a hotline for support in coming out, here’s where you don’t want to call. The Right is now using subterfuge to reach out to vulnerable gay people with the “condemnation and conversion” approach, steering them to the discredited “ex-gay” ministry Exodus International. This is fraudulent and dangerous and needs to be widely exposed. (Houston Voice):

When teenager Jeffrey Faircloth wanted a safe place to talk about his growing awareness that he might be gay, he called the National Youth Crisis Hotline – popularized as 1-800-HIT-HOME.

What he heard didn’t surprise him. “I’d grown up in a very fundamentalist Christian family, so I wasn’t surprised that the woman I talked to said she didn’t know any gay people, but she knew they were sinners. She said she would give me the number of a group called Exodus that would help me change. I already knew the religious view, so I wasn’t interested.”

Luckily, a friend told him about HATCH, an organization in Houston that provides positive reinforcement for gay and lesbian youth. Faircloth forgot about 1-800-HIT-HOME until recently.

“I called the number last month because friends of mine heard rumors that Exodus was coming to Houston, and it seemed like the easiest way to get a phone number for Exodus so we could ask, ” he explained. Faircloth referred to the “Love Won Out” conference to be staged in Houston Feb. 19 by Focus on the Family. Graduates of Exodus, a program that claims it can turn people away from homosexuality, or ex-gays are among the speakers at the conference.

James Dobson, head of Focus on the Family and supporter of “ex-gay” ministries like Exodus International. Mike Haley, right, is chair of the Exodus board and manages the “Homosexuality and Gender” department for Focus on the Family’s Public Policy division, and also speaks at Love Won Out conferences.

I discussed the relationships between Focus on the Family, Exodus International and “Love Won Out” in an earlier post. This effort by the religious Right to recruit gays into programs like Exodus, which play on insecurities and self-loathing has been well-documented by Wayne Besen in the book Anything But Straight. The Houston Voice probed further into the murky background of this hotline.

Research by the Houston Voice shows that many Southwestern Bell phone books, including the ones for Houston, list the National Youth Crisis Hotline on the second page of the book, under the Alternate Emergency Number listings. “I wouldn’t mind if they were up front about being a Christian group, but they lure people in so they can preach at them,” Faircloth said.

When the Voice called the hotline and asked for the name of a media representative, the person who answered the phone did not seem to know whether the hotline had a media relations department. The representative indicated that calls are answered out of a church in San Diego. Asked what sort of training volunteers get, he said those who answer phones are trained at the church and given a reference book regarding homosexuality, he said, volunteers are told to inform callers what the Bible says on the subject and to refer callers to Exodus. Further research revealed that the National Youth Crisis Line is a project of Youth Development Institute in San Diego. Representatives of the organization could not be reached for comment.

The ethical breaches of this kind of counseling can be harmful, even deadly for gay teens, who may be suicidal over their family and life situations. This week, one “ex-gay” counselor, Richard Cohen, president of Parents and Friends of ExGays and Gays (P-FOX) was actually “expelled for life” out of the American Counseling Association for unethical conduct.

Chris Kerr, program coordinator for Montrose Counseling Center’s Life and Anti-Violence Program, noted, “This Youth Crisis Hotline could be deadly for teens with questions about their sexuality. We run HATCH and the Gay & Lesbian Switchboard and have intimate knowledge of what goes on when someone calls.”

Kerr said he fears that, “When a youth calls a hotline like this it’s because he or she is already full of shame and has no one he or she feels safe with. The message these people give reinforces those feelings.” He compared the 800-Hit-Home group to the anti-choice groups that seem to be like Planned Parenthood.

From a therapist’s point of view, these people are really unethical,” he said. “They are taking advantage of people at vulnerable moments. People have a right to quality care and referrals that respect who they are.

If you had any doubts about what the agenda is of the hotline, here is what is posted on the web site. Heaven help you if you’re suicidal and happen to be Jewish or Hindu, for instance. You’re S-O-L.

Why Do I Need God?
The Bible tells us that God knew us before we were in our mother’s womb. It also says that He knows the number of hairs that are on our head. Why are we telling you this?…Because God is intimate. He created you and knows everything about you. We all were born into what is called sin. Sin is when we do something against God’s will or instruction and ultimately leads us to hell. From childhood we all were given what’s called a conscience that helps us to know right from wrong. The Bible also tells us that it is God’s desire that all of us should be saved from hell and know Him. God, seeing how sinful we were, sent His Son, Jesus Christ to die for our sins. Jesus Christ is the only way to get access to God, be forgiven from our sins and escape hell. More than two thousand years ago Jesus Christ was sent by God to pay the price for all of our sins. God is full of compassion and grace! You need God to get to heaven. Contrary to the doctrine of this day and age, heaven and hell are real places and today you can decide which one you want to go to. We all die, but when you have Jesus Christ in your life and are a child of God you can have eternal life. Eternal life means that you with spend eternity in paradise (or heaven) with Jesus Christ. This is not a religion! Jesus Christ is a living person who wants to have a relationship with you. You need God because of your sins and you need God because he can help you through anything.

How Do I Get God?

1. We have all separated ourselves from God… “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” -Romans 3:23
2. But He still loves us…”For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” -John 3:16
3. So He has made a way for us to know Him!… “But God demonstrates His own love towards us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” -Romans 5:8
4. And receive His gift… “(all) are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Jesus Christ.” -Romans 3:24

To receive Jesus Christ you must do four things:

ADMIT your spir
itual need. “I am a sinner”
REPENT and be willing to turn from your sins
BELIEVE that Jesus Christ died for you on the cross.
RECEIVE Jesus Christ into your life and heart through prayer.

If you want to receive Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and savior, pray this simple prayer- “Dear God, I ask by faith that you forgive me of all my sin and come into my heart. I receive Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. Please fill me with your Holy Spirit and take over my life. Change me into the kind of person you want me to be. Thank you, Lord, for saving me.”

If you prayed that prayer or have questions about Christianity, call our hotline or visit our chat room or e-mail us.

The frightening thing is that The National Youth Crisis Hotline or 1-800-HIT-HOME can be found on many referral lists if you Google. The Houston Voice also points out that it even appears on the resource list for the National Youth Advocacy Coalition, a group that says it is focused on improving the lives of gay and lesbian youth.

Youth Development International
PO Box 178408
San Diego, CA 92177

Phillip MacIntosh
National Hotline Director
National Youth Crisis Hotline

Thanks to House Blend reader Mike in Texas for the pointer.

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