Anti-gay activist Scott Lively has something to say to the LGBT community he has vilified for two decades on three continents: You’re all sinners, undeserving of welcome or affirmation from any truly Christian church.
But God loves you, and you should seek help.
In an open letter to the LGBT community, published Monday on the website of his Abiding Truth Ministries, Lively claimed to have received a message from God that his approach to “the homosexual issue” had been wrong. It was not God’s role for him to smear gays and lesbians, it seems, but rather to extend them an olive branch on the way to salvation.
“I received a message known in charismatic Christian circles as a prophetic ‘word of knowledge,’ which said in essence that God would soon use me to lead some homosexuals to Him,” Lively wrote. “I love you and I want you to be saved. If you want to know more about overcoming homosexuality through Christ, I urge you to contact Exodus International.”
Exodus International is among the largest proponents of so-called “reparative therapy,” with 270 ministries in 18 countries. Based on a foundation of pseudo-science, the practice of “curing” homosexuality has been called sharply into question by virtually all major American medical, psychiatric and psychological counseling organizations. In 2006, for example, the American Psychological Association declared, “There is simply no sufficiently scientifically sound evidence that sexual orientation can be changed.” Therapies, while they vary greatly among clinics, generally focus on “correcting sexuality” through lessons that integrate Biblical teaching.
Despite the lack of evidence that someone’s sexual orientation can be changed, Lively refuses to budge on his condemnations of same-sex attraction and the false promise that therapy can turn gays and lesbians into heterosexuals.
“Mature Christians know that a sin is a sin,” he wrote. “I am appealing to you to begin to agree with God about homosexual sin, and to turn away from the seductive lie that God approves of homosexuality.”
A longtime anti-gay activist, Lively was communications director for the Oregon Citizens Alliance, which backed unsuccessful state legislation in 1992 that would have listed homosexuality as an “abnormal behavior” on par with pedophilia and masochism. He went on to serve as California director of the Tupelo, Miss.-based American Family Association, another particularly hard-line anti-gay group, whose chief mouthpiece, Bryan Fischer, has called for the criminalization of homosexuality. (The Intelligence Report, earlier this year, added both Abiding Truth Ministries and the American Family Association to its list of anti-gay hate groups.)
But Lively is perhaps best known for co-authoring The Pink Swastika: Homosexuality in the Nazi Party, which claims “the Nazi party was entirely controlled by militaristic male homosexuals throughout its short history.” (No serious historian agrees.) More recently, he has been infamously associated with efforts to lobby for legislation in Uganda that would make homosexuality an offense punishable by death – a bill that Uganda’s parliament recently voted to continue considering.
With this baggage, Lively’s outreach to those lured by the “dangerous lie” of homosexuality, quite understandably, has the pitch of just another condemnation.
“If I hated you (as the devil surely does) I would not give you this warning,” Lively wrote. “In fact, if the line into heaven was graded by one’s good works done in this life there are undoubtedly many of you who would pass through those gates ahead of me. But the standard is much higher than that.”