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Part One

(LifeSiteNews) — A new Netflix documentary, Pray Away, is Hollywood’s and the LGBTQ lobby’s latest manipulative assault on the most politically incorrect group on the planet: men and women who have left active homosexuality or transgenderism behind to live lives consistent with their Christian faith.

Pray Away employs the usual array of editing tricks, unsubtle bias, and one-sided interviews to ram home its Sexual Left narrative that so-called “conversion therapy”—the effort to change homosexuals’ “sexual orientation”—is cruel, fraught with danger (even “deadly”), and deserves to be banned by law.

The film features several “ex-ex-gay” defectors who once led or were affiliated with prominent evangelical ministries like Exodus International, the now defunct umbrella group that helped people overcome unwanted homosexual desires—but who now crusade against ex-gay ministries and therapy.

Pray Away conveniently defines “conversion therapy” very loosely to include religious counseling because that will make it easier for emboldened LGBTQ activists to come after biblically loyal churches who counsel people to overcome unwanted homosexual and gender desires.

There simply is no greater threat to religious freedom in America today, with fewer defenders, than the lie-driven gay/transgender activist campaign to ban what is essentially talk therapy and biblical counseling that they don’t like—but which they and their media sycophants have effectively demonized as “Conversion Therapy.” Pray Away will be a major tool in their arsenal.

And let’s be clear: even if some people are never able to become fully free of same-sex desires, many Christians recognize that their identity is in Jesus Christ, rather than in proud, sinful LGBTQ lifestyles, and ask Him for help daily to overcome temptation and live holy lives.

I saw some of it up close 

As a veteran conservative Culture Warrior who has fought Big LGBTQ activists for decades, and who worked alongside several of Pray Away’s interview subjects before they jumped to the dark side, this documentary was very hard to watch but of special interest to me.

One of Pray Away’s featured pro-LGBTQ defectors is Yvette Cantu Schneider, a former lesbian with whom I worked at both Family Research Council (FRC) and Love Won Out (LWO). The latter is a project of Focus on the Family (run then by Dr. James Dobson) that brought to churches the hopeful message that people can overcome homosexual desires. Many people with family members or other loved ones caught up in homosexuality would attend.

Yvette was talented, smart, seemingly principled, and committed. She and I sometimes commiserated about the mealy-mouth messaging that emanated from ex-gay and pro-family advocates, who seemed to be no match for the cutthroat LGBTQ lobby. (Hers was the most “biblical” presentation at LWO events, I remember telling my friends). So I and my colleagues were stunned when Yvette not only turned her back on biblical truth and her own salvation story, but declared war on the Christian gospel and its promise of changed lives (2 Corinthians 5:17). Sadly, Yvette was just one of many “ex-gay” defectors, including the head of LWO itself, John Paulk, who is also featured in Pray Away. More on Yvette and John in a bit.

Anti-Christian to the core

“Pray Away” is short for “Pray Away the Gay,” a snarky, gay-activist slogan intended to marginalize anyone who comes out of homosexuality or gender confusion through faith in God. The fact that this cheap, bigoted smear is taken seriously by Netflix and “mainstream” journalists alike testifies to the media’s corrupt status as the propaganda arm of the radical LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) movement.

The whole issue of “change” for homosexuals and the gender-confused is one that has been so clouded and politicized with LGBTQ lies that to call the media’s treatment of it “Fake News” seems like an understatement. (See Christopher Doyle’s excellent book, The War on Psychotherapy: When Sexual Politics, Gender Ideology and Mental Health Collide.)

A truly journalistic, down-the-middle examination of ex-gay and ex-transgender ministry and therapeutic efforts could be compelling to both the public and lawmakers. But Pray Away, produced and directed by radical LGBTQ advocate Kristine Stolakis (the executive producer is homosexual TV writer Ryan Murphy), is not that.

The film is pretty much what you’d expect from Netflix, which carefully cultivates its pro-LGBTQ, sexually-edgy brand. In 2019, just in time for the Christmas season, Netflix aired the savagely anti-Christian Brazilian movie, The First Temptation of Christ, which mockingly imagines Jesus Christ as a closeted homosexual. Last year, Netflix’s release of Cuties drew worldwide condemnation for sexually exploiting young girls ostensibly to expose the exploitation of girls. Still another 2020 Netflix offering, Circus of Books, gave a sympathetic take on the owners of a now-closed West Hollywood homosexual bookstore in L.A. that doubled as a hard-core, gay porn shop.

Yes, you read that right: Netflix has more sympathy and respect for homosexual pornographers than for ex-gays and ex-transgender overcomers, and especially for the therapists and Christian counselors trying to help them lead better lives.

Change is not dead because God is not dead

Pray Away’s creators, perhaps to provide at least a semblance of balance, had their cameramen trail Christian evangelist Jeffrey McCall, a former “trans woman” who ditched his false female persona (“Scarlet”) to follow Jesus and share his “Trans to Christ” testimony. I suspect they thought McCall would make a good foil by portraying him and fellow once-LGBT-identified Christians as strange and cult-like compared to their supposedly rational accusers.

But if that’s the case, their plan backfired. Instead, the sold-out-for-Christ McCall’s earnestness and joy shine through Pray Away’s obfuscations. His very existence, leading a new crop of millennials and Gen-Z’ers who have chosen an identity rooted Jesus Christ over their former LGBTQ identities, embodies the failure of gay activists to squelch the inconvenient truth that people are overcoming the pull of LGBTQ sexual sin every day.

Even with homosexual and transgender activists at the height of their power, with activist-group budgets in the tens of millions of dollars and unprecedented cultural and political power, God continues to move in the lives of men and women who humble themselves and seek to honor Him.

To be sure, Pray Away carefully avoids allowing McCall to explain his Christian transformation, unlike the film’s probing treatment of other interviewees, lest viewers unexpectedly learn that God loves people enough to help deliver them from sexual sin and gender delusions.

McCall launched the “Freedom March” movement in 2018, and Pray Away “covers” one such event. It was surreal for me to watch my old friend Yvette Cantu Schneider—who once boldly witnessed to thousands Jesus’ power to transform her own life away from lesbianism—snarl on camera at the young Freedom Marchers while cynically insisting that true, lasting change is impossible. Ironically, back in 2007, after former Exodus leader Alan Chambers began questioning whether homosexuals could really change their “orientation,” Yvette gave me this statement about her own divinely-assisted walk away from homosexuality:

“I came out of homosexuality after a powerful encounter with Jesus Christ and a desire to serve and obey Him. I can say with complete honesty that I NEVER have homosexual desires of any sort – physical or emotional.”—Yvette Cantu Schneider, 2007

Today, Yvette is so blinded by her new role as a sin movement activist that she arrogantly insists that nobody can experience the same radical and permanent change in affections that she once claimed for herself! (I didn’t realize back when I worked down the hall from Yvette’s office at the Family Research Council that she possessed all-knowing powers to peer into others’ hearts and souls; I wish she had told me!)

Pray Away’s selective editing

Yvette now calls herself “bisexual” despite remaining in a marriage to her husband Paul. Her treacherous slide away from Truth began when she started having severe panic attacks after learning that her daughter had leukemia. The story is told in her 2014 book, Never Not Broken, summarized here:

“[Yvette Cantu Schneider] descends into the abyss of her own psyche after her young daughter’s leukemia diagnosis. Desperate for relief from ceaseless panic, she sees a psychotherapist who introduces her to guided imagery meditation to heal trauma. Over the course of her daughter’s 28-month treatment, Cantu Schneider encounters in meditation, animals, goddesses and other [spirit] guides who show her that it is the wounded feminine within her that pushed her to find meaning and acceptance in a rigid religious structure….”

Strangely, in Pray Away, Schneider describes her “panic attacks” as being linked to Prop 8 in California, the successful 2008 statewide ballot initiative to protect marriage as between a man and a woman. There is no mention in the film of her daughter’s leukemia. Bereft of context, the viewer is left to surmise that the panic episodes arose directly from Yvette’s anxiety over her ex-gay and pro-family advocacy. (Thankfully, Schneider’s child, Erica, survived her cancer ordeal.)

Furthermore, the Pray Away viewer is given no clue that Cantu Schneider has done a 180-degree turn away from Christianity as part of her panic-induced, New Age-inspired “transformation.” Why wasn’t this mentioned in a film that is all about religion and faith?

Nevertheless, Stolakis and crew did manage to include a few minutes of footage humanizing Yvette by filming her and her daughter cooking and laughing together in the kitchen, and hiking with her family in the beautiful Nevada mountains.

Imagine if the Pray Away team had been fair-minded enough to offer a similarly sympathetic portrayal of ex-transgender Jeffrey McCall. Of course, that would undermine their narrative, which explains why activist LGBTQ groups like GLAAD work so hard to pressure the media NOT to do any positive stories about ex-gay or ex-transgender overcomers. (GLAAD pummeled 60 Minutes’ Lesley Stahl merely for giving voice to men and women who regret their “gender transition.”)

There are so many happy former homosexuals Pray Away could have interviewed to balance the whining “ex-ex-gays” if they had the courage to buck their predictable LGBT narrative. People like my friend Charlene Cothran, who left a life as a successful lesbian entrepreneur because God convicted her of her sexual sin and saved her soul. The reason the national debate is so lop-sided is that our corrupt media ignore such people while engaging in nonstop regurgitation of LGBTQ talking points, such propaganda about the harms of “conversion therapy.” (Cantu Schneider has done some work for GLAAD since abandoning biblical moral truth.)

Next: Part Two: “Who are Pray Away’s Traitors to the Truth, and why do we listen to them?”