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Tennessee Love in Action 'ex-gay' camp may be shut by state

“Tennessee is rightfully and responsibly protecting its citizens from unscrupulous and unlicensed practitioners posing as genuine mental health professionals…Prayer is not a replacement for professionalism, and that is unfortunately what is happening with these faith-based ministries.”

— Wayne Besen, author of Anything but Straight, about the LIA ‘reperative’ facilities

This sick place made the headlines as the place teen blogger Zack was sent to by his parents to “de-gay” him. The Exodus International facility, Love In Action, ran the camps, and it caught the eye of state investigators. (SoVo):

Amidst the outpouring of concern for the teen, reports surfaced that Love in Action clients had been traumatized by their treatment at the program. Questions arose about whether the facility was operating within the law.

On Sept. 12, the state of Tennessee announced that its Department of Mental Health & Developmental Disabilities had determined that Love in Action is operating two “unlicensed mental health supportive living facilities.”

“The [state] went in and visited and found that they were providing room, board and personal care for mentally ill people,” said Rachel Lassiter, deputy press secretary for Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen (D). “The clients were determined to be mentally ill because some of them had been treated by psychiatrists and were on medication.”

It appears that Love in Action has taken on responsibility for the care of these people, Lassiter said, and unlawful operation of a personal support service is a class D misdemeanor in Tennessee.

Lassiter explained that the department sent a certified letter to Love in Action executive director John Smid, advising him that he must stop operating the homes or apply for a license within seven days. Smid did not respond to the letter, and a second letter was issued informing him that if he does not stop operating the homes or apply for a license by Sept. 15, the department would recommend that a cease and desist order be issued.

If the order is issued, state authorities will demand that Love in Action immediately stop operation of its residential facilities and will offer assistance in relocating the residents.

Blender Ol Cranky of The Disenchanted Forest adds this updated info:

The folks at LIA/R claimed they had just received the notification that day and would need the 7 days granted in the letter to determine how they will proceed…I’m surprised they were granted the seven day extension. It seems as though, in addition to the possible insurance fraud issue, LIA/R may have been prescribing medications without a license as well.

Earlier Blend posts on Love In Action are here.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding