The top story on ABC World News With Diane Sawyer was a “scandal” taking place in a Christian counseling clinic where someone “was advised that prayer could rid him of his homosexual urges and he could eventually be ‘re-oriented.’” ABC pursued the story further later on ABC’s Nightline, and the following day on ABC World News This Morning.
Brian Ross, the top investigative reporter for ABC News, used “a new undercover video shot by a gay rights advocacy group,” now a prominent news source for ABC News, because “that footage shows another counselor at the Bachmann clinic telling a gay man posing as a patient that, with prayer and effort, he could eventually learn to be attracted to women and rid himself of his gay urges.”
According to Ross, the scandal was a connection he found between the “Bachmann clinic” and presidential candidate Michele Bachmann, whose husband has a PhD in counseling and runs the Christian clinic. To make the connection more concrete, Ross erroneously calls it “The Michele Bachmann Clinic”, although it’s her husband’s private Christian counseling practice.
“Diane, they are quite a couple,” Ross said, “and we are learning a lot about their views and how they make their money.” The report did not explain “how they make their money,” what money was involved, nor any further mention of money. How was “their money” part of the scandal, except as a propaganda stunt?
The Office on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Concerns told ABC News that, “The harm is that when people are already in distress, and feeling conflict about their religion and their sexuality, to tell them they can change if they work hard enough, when in fact they can’t do that.”
The gay advocacy group “did an exhaustive review and found no evidence that efforts to convert someone from gay to straight could succeed,” Ross reported. No scientific data was cited to support the claim, nor did Ross question the objectivity of the gay advocacy group’s “exhaustive review.”
Ross provided one interview from a gay man who said the Christian clinic did not help him. Is it possible there were no gays to interview who might have appreciated the counseling? If not, how would the clinic continue to service gays seeking help with such a dismal record?
“The controversial practice of trying to change someone’s sexual orientation was roundly discredited by the American Psychological Association in 2009 as ineffective and potentially harmful,” Ross reported. This was the same organization that listed homosexuality as a mental disorder in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
The Bachmann clinic claims it does not help gay people turn straight, or something similar, according to Ross, but the clinic was never given a chance to speak for itself in his report nor a chance to respond.
Of all the crime, injustice and suffering underway in the world, ABC’s decision to make the Christian view of gay sex its top billing is bewildering. As one comment at the ABC News site put it:
I cannot believe that this was the lead story on ABC News. Isn’t there a debt crisis, 2 wars, and attack on our embassy to report on? How disappointing that ABC turned to tabloid news as a lead story.
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