March 12, 2006

Child sex suspect once was in `ex-gay' ministry


By Peter Franceschina
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Posted March 12 2006

The former Summit Christian School teacher arrested last weekend after admitting having sex with a teen boy was enrolled in a controversial "ex-gay" ministry whose adherents believe people can change their sexual preference through the power of Christ.

Love in Action International in Memphis, Tenn., is the oldest and best known of the ministries that try to counsel people away from homosexuality through spirituality. With a mission at the heart of one of the nation's culture wars, it has been praised by Christian conservatives and criticized by gay-rights advocates since its 1973 inception in California.

The ministry drew scrutiny last summer when a 16-year-old boy complained on his Web site about his parents forcing him into the center. Now, Love in Action is back in the spotlight after the March 3 arrest of former Summit Christian School teacher Chad Stoffel of Palm Springs.

The "ex-gay" movement is led by Exodus International in Orlando and its some 120 North American affiliates. The ministries promote a hotly disputed concept: that people aren't born homosexual, they're made that way, often by poor parenting or sexual abuse. Since being gay is not innate, proponents say, people can change and have healthy heterosexual relationships.

Posted by kshaw at March 12, 2006 07:28 AM