I never thought the Religious Right would endorse barebacking, but it turns out I was wrong. No, it’s not what you think, but the notion is equally bizarre.

Gay Star News reported today on research from Ned Flaherty that The Cowboy Church of Virginia, led by chief pastor Raymond Bell, believes homosexuality and other ‘addictions’ can be cured by Equine Assisted Psychotherapy. The church urged gay men to stroke horses to help them go from gay-to-straight.

We’ve have all heard of “pray away the gay” but how about the new technique of “neigh away the gay”?

‘EAP can help any person who is living the homosexual lifestyle or involved in it in anyway,’ he told Gay Star News.

‘The first common misconception is that homosexuality is genetic, or hereditary, or as some say “born this way”.

‘Homosexuality is actually a type of addiction. It is not “curable” as a disease because it is a “choice driven” by the person.’

Bell said he uses EAP to identify how a person got ‘involved’ in homosexuality to begin with. For example, because of rape, abandonment, lacking a male role model, abuse, and having low self-esteem.

He said: ‘Homosexuality is a secondary effect from a single, or multiple, primary events in a person’s life.’

Bell is parroting classic reparative therapy used by the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH). For example, Gerard van den Aardweg, NARTH Scientific Advisory Board member and author of Homosexuality and Hope: A Psychoanalyst Talks About Treatment and Change, also claims that homosexuality is a secondary effect.

“Homosexuality is just a kind of neurosis,” says van den Aardweg in his book. “The person with this complex harbors a specific ‘self-pitying’ child…I will argue that homosexual feelings spring from a special type of inferiority complex: hence innately such a person is not homosexual, but heterosexual.”

Outlandish ideas and practices are nothing new in reparative therapy. For instance, key NARTH therapist James Phelan urges clients to practice “safe driving” so they don’t get into a wreck:

“Keep your eyes on the road, not on other peoples’ cars,” the therapist warns. “Focus on driving, not having sex with other drivers.” He also urges clients to “avoid driving alone at all possible” and “avoid listening to those media trap radio stations and music that glorifies SSA.” If that isn’t enough, one is supposed to tell their accountability partner, “when you will be on the road and when you will reach your destination.”

In the Southern Poverty Law Center lawsuit against Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality (JONAH), one plaintiff alleged that in therapy  his “ex-gay” counselor used oranges as testicles.

Nonetheless, horse therapy may be the most insane “ex-gay” idea we have seen. According to Flaherty:

There are nearly 1,000 Southern Baptist Cowboy Churches nationwide, though how many sell ex-gay therapy is unclear. This ex-gay therapy is sold by the Cowboy Church of Virginia, but my research indicates that they do not have any of the 7 essentials that are needed by a reputable health clinic:

  • Informed Consent Statements
  • Accredited Certification
  • Professional Supervision
  • Government Regulation
  • Medical/Mental Health Licenses
  • Medical/Mental Malpractice Insurance
  • Consumer Fraud Insurance

At this rate, Truth Wins Out might have to change its name to “Truth Whinnies Out.” (look it up)

Note: The following video is from Fauquier Cowboy Church in Bealeton, VA, which may or may not sell the same EAP “ex-gay” therapy that is being sold at Cowboy Church of Virginia in Roanoke, VA.

** It is important to remember that every respected medical and mental health organization in America is opposed to attempts to change sexual orientation.