Update: Truth Wins Out press release

About.com is a struggling online reference website which dates back to the early dot-com days. Its latest owner, the New York Times Company, just agreed to sell About.com to IAC — which already owns okCupid, Chemistry.com, and other popular dating and trivia sites.

For $300 million, IAC will receive a few hundred gigabytes of amateur-created content, including a section for “Christian Teens.”

That section includes a self-help page titled Praying to Come Out of Homosexuality: Understanding Deliverance.

Like other pages within the Christian Teens section, this page is painfully shallow. It lacks basic hard facts which might help teenagers but upset certain culture warriors. That timid approach might be reasonably harmless for pages involving doctrinal or denominational disputes. But when youth are in crisis — when they are stalked by a religious movement that practices involuntary detention, relentless shaming, abuse, and alienation of family members — such ignorant timidity can cause serious and lasting harm to teenagers, their parents or guardians, and their siblings.

About.com’s pray-away-the-gay page for teenagers sells the benefits but not the dangers of the ex-gay myth:

  • the page implies that spending one’s life praying away the gay is harmless
  • the page offers no alternatives to praying away the gay
  • the page presumes to know God’s priorities, especially where (we are told) those priorities differ from those who don’t pray away the gay or shame gay family members
  • the page repeatedly refers to sexual orientation as something to receive “deliverance” from
  • the page doesn’t ask teens to seek God for guidance unless they first have decided to “come out of homosexuality”
  • the page does not disclose that many families have been permanently harmed by ex-gay therapy, and several “Christian” ex-gay leaders have sexually abused clients.

It’s surprising that the New York Times permitted such one-sided, uninformed, potentially harmful, and inaccurate information on its site.

Christians may disagree about matters of sexual morality. But Christians of different backgrounds need no longer tolerate ex-gay molestation; ex-gay lies about mental-health science; ex-gay distortions of Christian doctrine; ex-gay counselors’ efforts to make teenagers blame their parents and to make parents blame each other; the promotion of sexless and loveless ex-gay marriages; and, perhaps most important, the vile and immoral teaching that gay people are unworthy, broken, incomplete, and disappointing to God and society.

We have written to About.com’s medical review board to inquire about the appropriateness of this content. You may wish to do the same (politely). Ask why About.com is promoting the medically harmful myth that sexual orientation can be changed, and failing to warn of the potential harm.

Faith-based ignorance is not a sound substitute for factual and life-saving information about health, science, and a balanced view of the limitations of religious doctrine.