Evergreen Also Whitewashes Suicide of Stuart Matis, Says TWO

NEW YORK — Truth Wins Out (TWO) slammed “ex-gay” Mormon group Evergreen International today for gross violations of ethics and morality. The “pray away the gay” ministry listed convicted sexual predator therapist Christopher Austin as a resource and also covered up the suicide of Stuart Matis, a Mormon who took his own life because he could not change his sexual orientation.

“Evergreen should be ashamed and apologize for the unethical and immoral way it conducts business,” said Wayne Besen, Executive Director of Truth Wins Out. “Instead of admitting the group’ failures, Evergreen has engaged in a series of omissions and cover-ups that whitewash reality at the expense of their victims.”

The blog, Ex-Gay Watch, discovered that Evergreen listed Christopher Austin on its site. What Evergreen failed to mention was that Austin, a disgraced therapist in Irving, Texas, was convicted of sexually assaulting a male client in Sept. 2007. Austin was sentenced to 10 years in prison, but received seven years probation, had to register as a sex offender and was ordered to pay a $2,500 fine.

“Unfortunately, Evergreen continued to promote Austin’ therapy and hold him up as an example of success,” said Besen. “Under pressure, Evergreen finally scrubbed him from its website this week, but the appropriate action would have been to let people know the truth. Sadly, Evergreen’ answer is to bury the facts in order to promote their fiction that one can change from gay to straight.”

In an equally disturbing incident, Evergreen whitewashed the heartbreaking suicide of Stuart Matis. On its website, Evergreen lists Fred and Marilyn Matis as past speakers and blithely says, “Their oldest son, Stuart, had same-gender attraction.”

This, of course, leads readers to believe that their son is now “ex-gay.” What Evergreen fails to tell readers is that the dangerous “ex-gay” message led Stuart to end his life. In his suicide note, Stuart Matis wrote:

“The church has no idea that as I type this letter, there are surely boys and girls on their callused knees imploring God to free them from this pain. They hate themselves. They retire to bed with their fingers pointed to their heads in the form of a gun. I am now free. I am no longer in pain and I no longer hate myself. As it turns out, God never intended for me to be straight. Perhaps my death might be a catalyst for some good.”