POSTED: Wednesday, March 2, 2011 - 6:47pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, May 24, 2011 - 7:33pm
EL PASO— El Paso Pastor Tom Brown is never afraid to voice his opinion on gay issues. But one of his most controversial claims is that he can convert gay people back to being straight.
Some people say his teachings are harmful and dangerous. But News Channel 9's Monique Griego spoke with one man who said he's been cured by him.
“As far as homosexuality do you think your cured?” asked Monique Griego.
“Yeah I'm not going that route. No.”
But there was a time when "Joe”— as he would like to be called— did go that route. For several years in his 20's, he was gay and openly slept with men.
“It was like drugs, sex, and rock and roll were all tied into this lifestyle,” said Joe.
Joe compares the urge he had to be with men to the need a drug addict has for a fix. Then, after nearly a decade of being gay, Joe stopped being gay.
“I was able to put my foot down and say forget it step away from it,” said Joe.
How'd he do it? Joe said he found God and Pastor Tom Brown.
“It doesn't make any difference if they feel this attraction, they have a choice to make,” said Pastor Tom Brown.
Brown, who runs the word of life church in east El Paso is no stranger to controversy. But one of his most controversial teachings is that he can turn gay people straight.
“The attraction is gone. Those who I talk with, and I can only go by what they've told me, they tell me attraction gone,” said Brown.
Brown doesn't believe people are born gay. In his books he claims people are turned gay by traumatic events in their lives, like being molested, not fitting in, or like in Joe's case, men who don't have a father figure.
“He didn't have a father that raised him to be a man, and that gave him feminine characteristics that caused predatory men to come and take advantage of him,” said Brown of Joe.
Brown considers gay desires a mental disease, that God and his teachings can help heal.
“As we change our thinking God begins to change our desire and we now have new desires,”said Brown
He showed us letters and emails from people who claim it's worked.
“Thank you for prayerful support. I've come to a point where I no longer have an active attraction to men,” read Brown from a letter.
But not everyone is buying what brown is selling...
“Do any of those reasons apply to you?”asked Griego.
“No, none of those reasons. That's why I tell you they're so full of it!”
As a gay man, Pifas Silva finds the idea of a cure for homosexuality hard to believe. He says Brown's teachings are not only wrong, but dangerous.
“I think it does a lot of harm. This is a form of bullying,” Silva said. A serious claim research backs up, according to Psychologist Richard Patterson.
“I think in this particular type of therapy, that's a major concern,” said Patterson.
Patterson said the American Psychological Association did several studies on gay conversion therapy. They found not only does it not work, but that it's harmful.
Further research showed us that The American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Medical Association, the American Counseling Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Association of Social Workers, are unanimous in that so-called "reparative" therapy is not only ineffective, but potentially harmful to a person's overall well being.
“It's a line of teaching that says I'm bad, or I'm sinful, or I'm sick,” said Patterson. “Then that's going to make a negative opinion of myself,”
Patterson also said because religion is involved, people might feel pressured into saying they're cured. All these reasons are why Silva says Brown should leave psychology to the professionals.
“I think he should just back away from trying to cure homosexuals from a disorder that he thinks it is,”said Silva. “And really value people for who they are and stop being so judgmental.If anyone is judging someone it's him, and that's just evil in this world if you ask me.”
But criticism only seems to fuel Brown's holy fire. As for Joe, he maintains he no longer has any attraction to men
“Do the thoughts come? Urges come?” asked Griego.
“No, no,” Joe responded.
Joe doesn't care about the critics. He said the life he lives now is better than the one he had as a gay man. He hopes his story will help others deal with what he believes are demon desires.
“I do believe if somebody wants to change they can,” said Joe.
Pastor Brown acknowledges that some of the people he treats admit they still have sexual thoughts about the same sex, but he considers them cured if they have the strength to no longer act on those urges.
Again, critics say that's nonsense because it's the feeling inside a person that makes them gay.