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(LifeSiteNews) — See Part One of this series HERE. 

Part Two 

In Part One of my analysis of Netflix’s manipulative so-called documentary Pray Away, a show aimed at discrediting “ex-gay” change, I revealed how the film—which should be entitled Focus on the Failures—uses strategic editing and calculated omissions to advance the LGBT demonization of “conversion therapy.” 

“Conversion therapy” is one of those loaded, elastic terms (like “transphobe”) that gay and transgender activists throw around to further their totalitarian, anti-Christian agenda. In this case, the LGBTQ narrative, dutifully repeated by the media, is as follows:    

  1. Lasting change away from homosexuality is impossible (unless, of course, you’re transitioning from gay or lesbian to another “queer” identity like “non-binary” or “pansexual”); and 
  2. any effort to help someone overcome unwanted homosexual desires or gender-confusion is so harmful that it should be banned by the state. 

With the subtlety of a sledgehammer, Pray Away pushes the narrative that “ex-gay” ministries victimize LGBTQ people, especially youth. Director Kristine Stolakis ends her activist film with these words on the screen: 

“This film is dedicated to those who survived conversion therapy and especially those who didn’t.” 

Stolakis told NBC, “That was something we talked about so much in the crafting of this film … We do not shy away … from the fact that leaders of this [ex-gay] movement cause pain.” 

Pray Away relies on a cadre of “ex-ex-gay survivors,” who actually are ex-faithful Christian defectors who succumbed to the pull of sexual sin: traitors to the truth, as it were. All have turned 180-degrees from defending born-again, biblical sexual morality to attacking it in their new role as “progressive” LGBTQ activists. This provokes some questions:  

  • If they were lying and deceiving then, are they lying and deceiving now?   
  • Why should we take these reverts seriously, especially as authorities on truth? 
  • Is it fair to assail the “harm” of ex-gay therapy and counseling without consulting their leading defenders for balance: mature former homosexuals like Joe Dallas and David Pickup, who stayed the course and have benefited from, and helped others through, these practices? 

Pray Away cynically conflates secular, psychoanalytical talk therapy with Christian and church counseling that helps people overcome same-sex desires and gender confusion. The film is a made-to-order tool for fanatical, intolerant LGBTQ activists who—rather than civilly debate their religious-minded opponents—are using their immense, accumulated political and media power to ban them from helping strugglers live sexually moral lives in line with their faith. 

Pray Away’s ex-evangelical defectors, who jettisoned the real Jesus and the Bible’s moral law to shill for proud homosexuality and gender rebellion, deserve our pity and need our prayers. But it is our duty as Christians to call out their LGBTQ lies and self-centered theology, which diminishes Christ, elevates sinful feelings over Scriptural truth, and misleads sinners by promoting a false, LGBTQ-positive version of Christianity that denies the hope of the Gospel.  

Why doesn’t Pray Away tell Jeffrey McCall’s amazing life story?  

Pray Away’s treacherous “ex-ex-gays”—like their new allies on the Sexual Left—hate that Christian ex-LGBTQ ministries continue to flourish despite the implosion in 2013 of Exodus International, the one-time “ex-gay” Christian umbrella group that was taken down under the subversive “leadership” of Alan Chambers 

The film does include one faithful Christian, former homosexual/transgender Jeffrey McCall, who is leading a new effort (Freedom March) that celebrates men and women who have overcome LGBTQ identities through Christ. But Stolakis gutlessly never delves into McCall’s amazing life story, and no wonder: he went from being a drug- and alcohol-addicted male prostitute and drag queen, living in his female persona as “Scarlet” and on the verge of getting “gender transition” surgery—to someone who now devotes his life to sharing his testimony as a witness to the power and love of Jesus.   

McCall said in a YouTube interview with another formerly gay-identified man, Kyle Haley, that while Stolakis did not “intentionally manipulate” his words, she “was very strategic about what she put in the film.” 

“I notice that they never put my story in the film. I think that my story and my personal encounter with God while I was living [as] trans would have been very threatening to the objective of the film,” McCall said, recognizing that “we aren’t working for the same team” as Stolakis and her squad of pro-LGBTQ advocates. 

Indeed. Stolakis doesn’t even bother to try to hide her crew’s activist motives in making Pray Away; see this story about her “trans uncle” and this from “NBC Out”: 

Armed with a production team comprised of predominantly LGBTQ individuals—many of whom grew up in the evangelical church, survived conversion therapy or both—Stolakis sought to “ground the film in the undeniable truth that this movement, no matter the good intentions or reason for getting involved that any leader has, causes tremendous harm for people.”

“Something my team and I talked about a lot in making this film is, this really is a movement of hurt people hurting other people, of what internalized homophobia and transphobia looks like when it is wielded outward….” 

Here is a rundown of Pray Away’s “ex-ex-gay” apostates—call them Team Traitor—some of whom I worked with before they sold their souls to become a part of the media’s favorite sin movement. 

John Paulk 3.0 negates John Paulk 2.0 

Pray Away’s biggest star is John Paulk, the former “poster boy” of the Christian ex-gay movement. Paulk once spoke on behalf of the evangelical mega-ministry Focus on the Family and “Love Won Out,” its ex-gay speaking ministry for churches and of which I was a part.  

In 2013, Paulk left his wife, Anne, and three sons to return to a life of out-and-proud homosexuality. But that was not before he was exposed by homosexual activist Wayne Besen, who had learned through the gay grapevine that the hyper-promiscuous Paulk—free from the media spotlight and strictures of Christian Right employment—had been engaging in lewd and allegedly predatory pursuits of much younger homosexual men, some of whom worked for him at his new Portland catering company, Mezzaluna.  

You can read John’s self-serving and sanitized telling of his “ex-ex-gay” story in Politico HERE. 

I once worked with (and for) John, who hired me to speak at the quarterly Love Won Out (LWO) conferences on the topic of homosexual activists targeting students and children for indoctrination. 

Pray Away shows an old 60 Minutes video clip of a younger, clean-cut Paulk telling reporter Leslie Stahl that he no longer had homosexual desires, didn’t fantasize about men, and that he never would have married Anne if he had. That clip didn’t age well—but no worries: being “gay” and living out your “authentic” “sexual orientation” covers a multitude of sins! 

To her credit, John’s long-suffering wife, who came out of lesbianism, has stayed faithful to God long after her husband’s downfall. Anne Paulk is the founder and executive director of Restored Hope Network, an ex-LGBTQ ministry group that rose up after Exodus’ demise; she turned down Stolakis’ interview request.  

The scandal that took down the media’s favorite “ex-gay” 

On the night of September 19, 2000, after speaking at an LWO conference, John Paulk—the world’s most famous “ex-gay” and chairman of the board of Exodus International—was caught visiting a “gay” bar, Mr. P’s, in Washington, D.C. Wayne Besen, tipped off to John’s presence, snapped a photo of the portly Paulk running away from the bar in shame. John’s reckless and selfish act created a PR disaster for Jim Dobson and Focus on the Family. 

The next morning, arriving for work at the Family Research Council (FRC) in D.C., I had the strange distinction of being the first of John’s pro-family colleagues to be on the receiving end of his lies, as he tried explain away his gay bar stop, knowing that Besen would soon break the embarrassing story. John, in full panic mode, told me, and then others at FRC, that he had stopped at Mr. P’s only to use the restroom, but nobody was buying it. Soon he gave up on that fib, and his public “ex-gay” life only went downhill from there.  

Three years later, John left Love Won Out, Focus on the Family, Exodus, and his Christian conservative cultural colleagues, and moved to Portland, Oregon, away from the media spotlight. There he indulged his old homosexual obsession. (In his initial “gay” life as a young man, John once identified as “Candi,” a “cross-dressing and drug-using prostitute.”)  

In 2013, a decade later, John’s marriage to Anne ended as she divorced him, no longer being able to abide his use of gay porn and sexual desire for men, which he mentions in Pray Away. The pull of familiar deviance and homosexual lust was too much for this wavering soul, and he succumbed to his inner demons. (For a psychologist’s take on John Paulk’s return to homosexuality and search for “core identity,” see this analysis by his former close LWO colleague, the late Dr. Joe Nicolosi.) 

Another celebrity Christian “ex-gay” falls 

Cut to the new, hipper John Paulk featured in Pray Away with, as Besen notes, his “Fabio” hairstyle, earrings, better clothes, and a trendy, LGBTQ-celebrating worldview that looks down on biblical Christianity as a source of “bigotry” rather than of redemption and new life (at least regarding those of a certain “orientation”). Now in a “gay relationship,” Paulk is shown living out the very “homosexual lifestyle” he once rightly condemned as an “abomination” in the sight of God 

John Paulk’s self-destruction and turn to the dark side of proud, unrepentant homosexuality perfectly represents the demise of the Exodus-dominated ex-gay “establishment” with its spectacularly failed, narcissistic, craven, celebrity “leaders”—whose salaries were once paid with donations from thousands of trusting believers across the nation. (Interestingly, all of the “ex-ex-gay” turncoats in Pray Away have apologized publicly and profusely to the “gay community” but never, as far as I know, to the faithful Christians whom they deserted and betrayed, including distraught parents seeking help for their sexually confused children.) 

Naturally, the media, like Pray Away, pounced on every scandal involving prominent Christian “ex-gay” hypocrites. Meanwhile they ignore the many successes of lifelong, genuine former “gays,” such as the late Exodus ministry founder Frank Worthen, who led a consistent, godly life and was in a happy marriage for decades to wife Anita after accepting Christ and leaving behind an active homosexual lifestyle.  

Julie Rodgers’ “unnatural union”: a “marriage” not made in heaven 

For its dramatic conclusion, Pray Away shows “ex-ex-lesbian” Julie Rodgers at her 2018 same-sex “wedding” ceremony with partner Amanda Hite in, of all places, the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. (Unbeknownst to most Americans, the famous Episcopalian cathedral has long harbored homosexual activists. In 2013, it defiantly rang its bells to celebrate the Supreme Court’s initial rulings in favor of same-sex “marriage.”) 

Rodgers, in her white wedding dress, is seen standing at the altar with Hite, who is dressed in a suit like a man, in a clear imitation of normal marriage with its age-old gender “binary.”  

To get to this point, Rodgers, once recruited to work in the chaplain’s office at the storied, evangelical Wheaton College, had to renounce the Bible’s clear teachings against homosexual behavior and, by extension, same-sex “marriage.” In her newly-released book, Outlove: A Queer Christian Survival Story—filled with odd claims like, “I believe [Jesus] would side with the transgender middle schooler over the fearmongering lawmaker”—Rodgers purports to discover non “partisan” “theological humility,” even as she tries to rationalize her own proud homosexuality. 

But like her fellow counter-truth, LGBTQ-positive evangelicals, Rodgers comes up short. Professor Robert Gagnon, the world’s leading evangelical scholar of homosexuality in the Bible, ably responds to her “queer” metamorphosis HERE and HERE 

Alas, Rodgers’ lesbian “marriage” couldn’t live up to all the media hype. On August 19, less than three years  after they tied their twisted knot in such ornate surroundings and just weeks after the release of Pray Away, the self-described “Queer Christian Advocate” wrote on Facebook that she and Hite had separated and planned to end their “marriage.”  

Ironically, Rodgers’ and Hite’s break-up perfectly fits the pattern of unstable, short-lasting lesbian unions described two decades ago by Pray Away’s other female star, Yvette Cantu Schneider, who told me in 1999 that “Lesbians tend to have more monogamous relationships [than gay men], but they still aren’t long-lasting relationships. There are a few that last a long time. The longest I had was three years, and that was the average.” 

Later, Cantu Schneider, then working for Family Research Council, described to FRC’s newsletter, CultureFacts, the difference between her real, brand-new marriage to Paul and the fake, lesbian variety: 

There’s no comparison between our marriage and the lesbian relationships I had … The emotional turmoil and intense neediness isn’t there. Lesbianism is a corruption of God’s plan for the lifelong union of a man and a woman as the cornerstone of the family. 

Lesbianism is two of the same forcing an unnatural union that can never complement nor enhance. [Genuine] marriage, on the other hand, is the celebration of the joining of the sexes that God created, male and female. With Paul, I’m free to cultivate and rejoice in my femininity. 

Yvette Cantu Schneider—still married but now “bisexual”? 

As I mentioned in Part One, I worked with Yvette at both Family Research Council and “Love Won Out.” Years later, beset by severe panic attacks arising after her youngest daughter was diagnosed with leukemia, Yvette turned to some decidedly unbiblical healing approaches (e.g., Jungian meditation and listening to her internal psychic “spirit guides”). Ultimately, she renounced biblical Christianity.  

Yvette and her husband Paul also had some bad experiences with corrupt, domineering, and hypocritical church leaders, as described in her book Never Not Broken, but now she has aligned herself with some of the most radical, anti-Christian groups operating in America today. (Cantu Schneider donates 10 percent of the book’s sales to FRC’s nemesis, GLAAD, a Christian-Right bashing, LGBTQ media pressure group.) 

Yvette used to be a conservative stalwart who stood boldly against unbiblical compromise. Back in 2007, when Exodus’ feckless president Alan Chambers began equivocating on ex-gay change, Yvette provided me with a bold statement testifying to her total transformation away from her past lesbianism: “I can say with complete honesty that I NEVER have homosexual desires of any sort – physical or emotional” (emphasis hers). 

Did you get that? Complete honesty. Zero homosexual desires. 

Now the same Yvette grumbles in Pray Away, “I can’t stand that I was a part of” the ex-gay movement. “All it does is crush souls,” she fumes.  

Memo to Yvette: countless joyous, reborn Christians like Jeffrey McCall and his ex-LGBTQ “Freedom Marchers”—and mature EX-“gays” like Steve Bennett and Stephen Black; ex-lesbians like Charlene Cothran; and former “trans men” like Laura Perry and Grace Harley—all of whom have stayed faithful to God and are no longer dominated by homosexual or transgender struggles—would beg to disagree!  

But Yvette’s LGBTQ “re-conversion” seems to be ideologically driven. She curiously relabels herself “bisexual” despite her long and apparently satisfying (heterosexual) marriage—a natural union that has lasted way beyond three years—to Paul, the father of their two children, whom she describes as her “soulmate” and “rock.”  

And just as Yvette questions others’ “ex-gay” identities, I suspect that her late embrace of a “bi” self-identity—while surely an act of rebellion against God and her former affiliations—is also a way to increase her usefulness and marketability to her new LGBTQ-activist pals. The latter includes GLAAD, the vicious Besen (whose nastiness toward social conservatives, including this writer, is legendary), and, most shocking of all, the nefarious Southern Poverty Law Center, which routinely smears Christian organizations that oppose LGBTQ activism, like Yvette’s former employer FRC, as “bigots” and “hate groups.”  

(In 2012, relying on an SPLC “hate map” that listed FRC among other “hate groups,” pro-LGBTQ activist Floyd Corkins, “wielding a 9mm pistol along with two magazines and 50 rounds of ammunition,” entered FRC’s headquarters. He was thwarted in his plan to assassinate FRC staffers and later received a 25-year jail sentence.) 

We can all be glad that Yvette’s newfound, politically advantageous “bisexuality” didn’t lead her to abandon her husband. Many “gay” converts—from post-WWII homosexual-rights trailblazer Harry Hay to John Paulk—have selfishly left behind their rejected spouses as they dove euphorically into their new, proudly homosexual life. Still, I can’t imagine that Paul Schneider was (or is) happy with Yvette’s “bisexual” devolution and all the Christ-rejecting, anti-biblical beliefs that have come along with it.  

Lastly, for the record: Paul and Yvette used to support and donate generously to my organization, Americans For Truth, making Yvette’s perfidious embrace of pro-LGBTQ extremists like the SPLC—which cruelly equates sincere defenders of Judeo-Christian morality with vile racists and neo-Nazis—all the more unconscionable and personally painful.   

Troubled pasts make future ‘gays’ 

“Our findings point to the homosexual adaptation as an outcome of exposure to highly pathological parent-child relationships and early life situations.” – Irving Bieber et al, Homosexuality: A Psychoanalytic Study, 1988 (Jason Aronson Inc.) 

One of the fascinating things about most of the “ex-ex-gays” featured in Pray Away is that their highly troubled pasts actually validate the work of Joe Nicolosi, Elizabeth Moberly, Irving Bieber, and others who theorized that homosexual ideation arises from deep childhood trauma, particularly a “broken” relationship with the same-sex parent. 

Sexual abuse is also often a factor although homosexual and transgender activists vociferously and ridiculously deny any connection between that and “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.” So many modern “gays,” from historical “gay” hero Harvey Milk to CNN’s out-and-proud anchor Don Lemon, were homo-sexually molested as children.  

Trauma, dysfunction, and sexual abuse were part of growing up for Exodus’ Alan Chambers.   Christian radio host Janet Mefferd, in reviewing Chamber’s 2015 autobiography “My Exodus: From Fear to Grace,” writes: 

Tragically, Chambers also reveals his molestation at the age of 9, when, he says, “an older neighborhood boy experimented with me sexually.” Heartbreakingly, his decision to tell his parents that he was molested was met with a “No, you weren’t,” from his father. Later, we learn that his father, too, was sexually molested as a homeless youth, and that father and son were emotionally estranged for years before making peace with one another. It is difficult to take in Chambers’ truly painful-to-read reflection: “I ached for male love and affection like a starving child in Africa aches for food.”  

The Pray Away team had no interest in telling this side of the “gay” debate. As part of the media-enabled revolution to normalize All Things LGBTQ, they focused instead on demonizing opponents while whitewashing the tragic, causative factors that underlie aberrant sex-and-gender identities. In fact, another Pray Away star, longtime Exodus critic and “ex-ex-gay” Michael Bussee, long ago compared changing homosexuality to changing a black person’s skin color (see the 1993 gay activist documentary One Nation Under God). 

Sorry, Mr. Bussee: in three decades of working on this issue, I have met and interviewed dozens of successful ex-“gays,” former lesbians, and ex-transsexuals like Walt Heyer. But I have never met a single “ex-black.”  

Toxic parenting: Yvette’s abusive mom  

For her part, Cantu Schneider writes at length in her book Never Not Broken about her unloving and abusive mom, who was given to terror-inducing fits of rage, and who obviously played a huge role in driving her toward lesbianism.  

“I think for me there was something about the profound feminine lack in my life that pushed me to find what was missing through sexual relationships with women,” Cantu Schneider discloses.  

Here’s one example of Yvette’s mom’s cruel and bizarre behavior: after the birth of her second daughter (Yvette’s younger sister), she would force toddler Yvette to stay out in the backyard, alone, and remain there for long periods of time, not letting her inside except for a short lunch break.  

“My sister was a newborn, and I was two, when my mom routinely forced me to stay outside all day long,” Yvette writes, describing a scene in one of her inner-psyche meditations. “There were times when I would pound my fists on the back door and plead for my mom to let me in.”  

“I will never again be like that little girl stuck in the backyard banging on the door,” she affirms. 

Obviously, Yvette’s former lesbianism (and current “bisexuality”), like that of countless LGBTQ-identified adults, arose in part from heartbreaking circumstances in her youth.  

Alan Chambers and Randy Thomas: narcissism, instability, and really bad theology 

For whatever reason, Chambers, the man who took down Exodus from the inside by engaging in escalating “dialogue” with homosexual activists, was not featured prominently in Pray Away. In the socially conservative circles in which I labored in Washington, D.C., Chambers had the reputation of being so arrogant and self-important—and pompous and pampered—in his role as Exodus honcho that some of us joked it would be easier to get the President of the United States on the phone than Alan.  

And though he was very proud, Alan certainly was not wise. (“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”—Proverbs 9:10.) Under the tutelage of his heretical “hyper grace” pastor, Clark Whitten, Chambers exhibited a lack of discernment that could be matched in size and scope only by his poor judgment and breathtaking capitulations to strategically savvy sin advocates. (In 2015, appearing on stage with a homosexual activist, Alan actually answered glibly and affirmatively when asked if God is “cool” with same-sex “marriage.”)  

Sadly, though some evangelical Christian leaders like Professor Robert Gagnon and Stephen Black tried to sound the alarm and expose Chambers’ treachery, Exodus’ board failed to stop him from taking down the organization, thus giving a huge propaganda victory to LGBTQ activists who claim homosexuality is “who you are” and unchangeable. 

Again and again, Chambers got played by victim-mongering gay activists who excel at pointing out the perceived sins of everybody, especially conservative Christians, but never their own. Perhaps the reason Chambers was not a big factor in Pray Away is that Stolakis already had plenty of film footage of him subverting Exodus’ mission by cooperating closely with Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) “journalist” and LGBTQ cheerleader Lisa Ling and her 2011 “Pray Away the Gay” hit-piece on ex-gays. That culminated two years later in Chambers’ craven apology to homosexuals for Exodus’ “ex-gay” work, as he torpedoed his own ministry. (Ling later rewarded Chambers by writing the foreword to his book.) 

The false shame of Randy Thomas 

In retrospect, Chambers’ biggest problem is that, like the other “ex-ex-gays” in Pray Away, he never let go of his old “gay” identity.  

Ditto for his former sidekick, Randy Thomas, who went from being an Exodus leader to full-fledged “ex-ex-gay,” thus earning a major starring role in Pray Away. The guilt-ridden Thomas is shown teary-eyed in the film as he regrets his former role as an advocate of biblical morality and God-ordained marriage. Instead of feeling the shame he deserves for betraying Jesus Christ and His Word, Randy projects a false shame for once opposing the sin movement he now has joined. 

As a convert to LGBTQ-inclusive “Christianity,” Thomas now claims that God approves of homosexual relationships despite the Bible’s clear proscription. “I am a gay man, it took me a long time, 23 years, to come to terms with that. But I’m also a [Christian] believer, and I’m engaged to another man. I’m living my full truth today,” he told Wayne Besen. 

Randy epitomizes the narcissism and instability of so many “ex-gays” who betrayed God and their pro-family allies. Imagine the gall of redefining God’s Word to accommodate a sin that you struggle with. Yet this is the essence of man-centered “gay” and “transgender” theology.  

Back in the day, many of my fellow culture-warriors battling Big LGBT (the “Q” for “Queer” had not been added yet) knew that Randy and the Exodus leadership team were shaky allies, to say the least, and it only got worse as their doubts grew and “gay” pressure campaigns mounted. 

With his divided loyalties, Randy would become indignant at the mere mention of any public campaign to expose immoral homosexual behavior. 

In what seems like eons ago, I attended a pro-family leaders’ strategy meeting in D.C. that Randy and another Exodus representative also attended. Midway through the meeting, I mentioned the need for social conservatives to “re-stigmatize homosexual behavior” to counter ubiquitous LGBT propaganda in the culture. Thomas immediately threw a tantrum and started yelling in protest, to the dismay of others present in the room, who were made quite uncomfortable by his childish outburst. He described the incident, putting his indignant spin on it, in an interview with Besen (see the 35:00 mark). 

Years and years of puffing up “celebrity” ex-gays as the “ace in the hole” for pro-family activists had yielded embarrassing spectacles like this. But few of us ever thought we would witness the wholesale collapse of two major “ex-gay” ministries at the hands of unfaithful leaders who were far more fearful of a sold-out sin lobby backed by the media than they were of God.  

Like John Paulk and then his boss Alan Chambers, Randy Thomas apologized to homosexuals for his “ex-gay” work in an interview last year with former-foe Besen. In a mind-numbing reversal of historic Judeo-Christian truth, he now assails traditional biblical teaching against the sin homosexuality as “toxic theology” that causes suicide.  

As do the other “ex-ex-gays” in Pray Away, Randy’s upside-down, counterfeit gospel flips the real Gospel of Jesus on its head. They have substituted their self-serving, expedient “my truths” for God’s real Truth, which is why they—and not faithful believers who have taken up their cross to follow Jesus (Matthew 16:24)—ended up in this slick, skewed Netflix propaganda film.  

Next: Part Three: Pray Away and the Convoluted Campaign to “Cancel” Ex-Gay Therapy & Counseling