The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

For One Man, ‘Highway to Holiness’ Needed an Exit Ramp

By Casey Sanchez on January 14, 2008 - 8:06 am, Posted in Anti-LGBT, Christian Right

Last year, Hatewatch brought you the story of James Stabile, a 19-year-old gay man who, in a segment aired on the Christian Broadcasting Network’s “The 700 Club,” claimed to have been converted to heterosexuality during a church’s “purity siege” outside a Dallas gay bar. The bar was located near Interstate 35, a route that an evangelistic group of churches including Heartland World Ministries wanted to reclaim as a “highway to holiness” by eradicating all manner of sin in its environs.

It’s too bad “The 700 Club” never brought us Part II. On its November segment, Heartland Ministries’ Rev. Joe Oden described how his Las Colinas, Texas, ministry had “saved” Stabile from homosexuality. What Oden didn’t mention is that Stabile had a history of mental illness and had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. And what the hosts of “The 700 Club” didn’t tell their audience after the segment aired was what happened in the next four months of Stabile’s life — wherein the young man was shipped off to an unlicensed “ex-gay” live-in center in Kentucky, with barely a phone call to his parents allowed. Financed in part with $2,100 raised by the Rev. Oden’s church, Stabile lived at Pure Life Ministries, where he was told his homosexuality would be “cured,” in a room with 15 other men. Among the center’s many bans: no handshakes, no talking to other men, no exposed skin from the neck down (even while sleeping), and no radio or television.

Oh, and one other thing. No medication, according to Stabile, for bipolar disorder.

All measures failed to convert Stabile, who is now home in Dallas and once again openly gay. Indeed, upon returning and being stabilized, Stabile said, “I’m here to say to people that I want to help prevent other young gay guys from experiencing what I experienced, because I don’t want them to be hurt, and I was hurt really badly.” He went on to tell The Dallas Voice that he spent his days in Kentucky working at a uniform rental company to pay his $150 weekly rent, plus food, laundry and transportation expenses. For his part, Stabile’s father said that he completely accepts his son’s sexuality and believes that being gay “is neither a choice nor sin.” And that’s not because he’s some kind of venomous Christian-basher. Stabile’s father is the reverend who heads the oldest Methodist church in Dallas.

Sadly, Stabile’s story isn’t all that unusual. Last fall, the Intelligence Report revealed that there are over 200 “ex-gay” ministries in operation the U.S. alone. Techniques vary wildly, from weekly prayer and counseling to extreme forms of fasting and exorcism. But nearly all therapies and ministries teach that gays and lesbians are sick individuals.

Kind of like James Stabile, back when the “ex-gay” folks had him in their power.

  • Buffy


    Go spew your anti-gay propaganda somewhere else. You’ve obviously memorized the speech well. You’d be killer in front of any group of ignorant fools who fall for that pack of lies.

    PS: Buffy’s Law.

  • Jeff

    Sexuality is definitely a choice. I choose to be straight every day of my life. Homosexuality is a sin. But it is also unnatural. If it were okay to be gay then it would have to be so for everyone; however, if we were all gay then we would die off as a species in one generation for obvious reasons. It’s not that hard to think about it analytically and see that it is wrong, regardless of the fact that it is immoral and actually dangerous (average homosexual male lifespans are significantly reduced as a direct result of their homosexual actions). Why do we trust man? God alone is holy, and He sets the rules. They are for our own good, because He loves us. Where is the hate in that message? There is none. I love homosexuals enough to tell them that they are acting immorally. This is the same logic that is used in rehab clinics or interventions.

  • christian pell

    Homophobe Rev Rick Scarborough tribute to Christian extremist scheduled march 1, 2008 in Houston, Texas.

    Come out and yell.

    A Tribute to Tim and Beverly LaHaye
    Saturday, March 01, 2008, 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM

    Location: Westin Galleria Hotel, 5060 West Alabama Houston, TX US 77056

    For full details and registration materials click here.

    To register online click here

  • Buffy

    These “ex-gay” groups need to be exposed as the psycho-spiritual terrorist organizations that they are. They prey upon the victims they create through their own hatred, then they rake in the money for their “services”, which are nothing more than abuse under the guise of therapy. The APA has stated that sexual orientation cannot be changed. It’s high time these charlatans be put out of business, “freedom of religion” be damned.

  • unlucky 13

    When gays go back in the “closet”,how will the ex-gays know anymore who is and is not gay.This group depends financially on plenty of people being gay.If there were no known gays they would go out of business.Maybe they could become the ex-gansta people or the ex-abortionist people.When there’s no one left to ex-be anything at all what will these people do?