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WND Tries To Rebrand Conversion Therapy

Right-wing efforts to whitewash anti-LGBT efforts to change sexual orientation are getting whitewashed at WorldNetDaily -- it's now "Christian teaching" or "non-coercive prayer" or even just "conversations."

By Terry Krepel
Posted 2/26/2023

WorldNetDaily has long been a hotbed of LGBT-hating animus, and it continues to be so with its coverage of anti-gay conversion therapy -- which, of course, it doesn't see as anti-gay.

In 2018, WND tried to brand state bans on conversion therapy as "Must Stay Gay" laws (without explaining why folks must be forced to stop being gay). Now it's obfuscating about the therapy itself by calling it "gender-confusion counseling," as it did in a January 2019 article touting a right-wing legal group's latest lawsuit:

A lawsuit contends Maryland’s ban on any gender-confusion counseling that does not promote homosexuality or transgenderism violates the constitutional rights of counselors, parents and youth alike.

Liberty Counsel’s complaint seeks preliminary and permanent injunctions against the new state requirement.

The state measure prohibits minors from receiving voluntary counseling from licensed professionals to reduce or eliminate unwanted same-sex attractions or gender confusion.

Such restrictions have been adopted in several states already, but the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in large part against states taking such moves, based on the First Amendment.

Advocates for the homosexual lifestyle have worked through lawmakers to impose the restrictions, which ban any counseling that does not advocate homosexuality and transgenderism.

WND provided no evidence that conversion therapy works; instead, it uncritically quoted from Liberty Counsel's complaint to vaguely complain that "Maryland purports to try to 'protect' youngsters with its ban on counseling, but the “evidence” included in the law 'misrepresents the empirical record.' And studies that were cited were biased."

Indeed, the Liberty Counsel complaint spent a lot of time ranting about one study questioning conversion therapy. It also promotes supposed guidelines for therapy forwarded by something called the Alliance for Therapeutic Choice and Scientific Integrity -- which, it turns out, is a rebrand of the notorious anti-gay group NARTH, and which still shames same-sex attraction. Unsurprisingly, the complaint never identifies the Alliance as an anti-gay group.

A few days later, an article -- like the earlier one, anonymously written -- didn't go the rebranding route, but did promote a separate Liberty Counsel lawsuit that takes a different legal tack by claiming conversion-therapy bans violate the First Amendment. WND then misrepresented what conversion therapy bans are about:

The fight has been going on for years already: pro-homosexual activists in city and state lawmaking bodies want to ban anything that suggests same-sex relationships are not the ideal, and so they try to ban speech that carries that message.


In the counseling fight, it’s that governments are trying to censor any counseling speech that could be viewed as not endorsing same-sex relationships.

Actually, legislators see the harm that an unproven therapy can do to youngsters -- considering how they're so heavily based in shame -- and are trying to keep them from being victims of anti-gay "therapists" trying to coerce them into not being gay.

Again, WND provides no evidence that conversion therapy actually works in a consistent and replicable way.

An anonymously written February 2019 article promoted yet another Liberty Counsel lawsuit over conversion therapy, this time in New Jersey, again invoking First Amendment rights. Once more, WND didn't note that Liberty Counsel provided any evidence that conversion therapy works and again falsely claimed that "the issue is governments trying to censor any counseling speech that does not endorse same-sex relationships."

A July 2020 article by Art Moore complained that Facebook and Instagram "will ban any posts that promote so-called gay 'conversion therapy.'" He quoted the head of the anti-gay group Restored Hope Network attacking the plan and trying to redefine what they do as merely "talk therapy":

Paulk's network, like [British group] Core Issues Trust, rejects the term "conversion therapy." She describes it as "an ideological term used by the GLBTQ activist community and their supporters who seek to link compassionate spiritual care and talk therapy with horrible, clearly disreputable practices."

Mike Davidson, CEO of Core Issues Trust, said LGBTQ activists link "conversion therapy" to extreme therapies such as electroshock and "corrective" rape, which long have been abandoned and outlawed.

A total of 20 U.S. states, Puerto Rico and 74 municipalities ban "conversion therapy" for minors, and the District of Columbia also bans it for adults.

"It's all about the government dictating belief to the church," Paulk told WND. "If you can gather how that might impact things far beyond sexuality, this is dangerous."


Media Matters acknowledged that Restored Hope Network rejects the term "conversion therapy" but said the network, neverthless, "promotes the practice" using "euphemisms like 'change allowing counseling.'"

Paulk argued there's no psychological practice defined as "conversion therapy."

It was created by a gay member of the American Psychological Association named Douglas Haldeman in the 1990s, she pointed out.

"So they actually created a term and labeled a bunch of people with it," she said. "It's essentially a straw man argument that can become anything they want, from praying with someone, to talking with them, to encouraging them to abstain from homosexual behavior."

But Paulk said she and her colleagues do agree with the concept of "transformation of an individual."

An anonymously written November 2020 article touted a federal appeals court ruling on the subject:

A federal appeals court on Friday ruled that ordinances in Florida banning the licensed counseling of people with unwanted same-sex attractions are unconstitutional violations of the freedom of speech.

"We hold that the challenged ordinances violate the First Amendment because they are content-based regulations of speech that cannot survive strict scrutiny," the ruling from the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said.

The decision was the first from a federal appeals court laws against so-called "conversion therapy" – a term rejected by proponents – since a 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling. 


The licensed therapists say they provide lifesaving counseling to minors who want to conform their attractions, behaviors and gender identities to their sincerely held religious beliefs.

Unruh spent a December 2020 article complaining that more euphemistic rebranding of conversion therapy was called out:

A writer for the Guardian newspaper of London contends Christian teaching on forgiveness and redemption is a "dog-whistle for conversion therapy."

"Conversion therapy" is the pejorative term opponents use for counseling people who want to be free from same-sex attractions.

The comments by the writer, Fred McConnell, a woman who lives as a man, were accompanied by a diatribe against biblical sexual ethics recently by LGBT activist Jayne Ozanne, the U.K.'s Christian Institute noted,

"McConnell, who failed in a bid to be listed as 'father' on her child’s birth certificate last year, looked into the church's beliefs after 'hearing a rumor about a sermon being given' on 'Love the sinner, hate the sin,'" the institute said.

McConnell said: "I knew I would only ever be truly welcome if I accepted this insidious talk of 'forgiveness' and 'redemption,' which I would not be alone in hearing as a dog-whistle for conversion therapy."

Editor Joseph Farah used an April 2021 column to praise right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos for claiming to "renounce sodomy" and claiming to have "become a Catholic and embraced a gay conversion therapy clinic":

A few days ago, I was reminiscing about a time 40 years ago when it became next to impossible to talk about ridding oneself of the urge to be homosexual.

Such a transformation was nearly impossible, we were told. It just doesn't happen. It would be a cold day in hell when someone turned straight after spending any time in the gay lifestyle.

Of course, it was a lie then as it is today. Many thousands of people have turned away from homosexuality with help from God. It may be difficult, but it's not impossible.

An April 2022 article by Unruh promoted a self-proclaimed "devout atheist" in Great Britain denouncing bans on conversion therapy, insisting that "the term 'conversion therapy' is wrong, as it creates 'images of someone being tortured by being strapped to a chair with electrodes stuck on their head,'" which is already illegal. Of course, one does not need to torture to coerce; shame and hateful language do the same thing.

Moore complained about an presidential executive order on the issue in a June 2022 article:

President Biden signed an executive order Wednesday instructing his administration to explore ways it can crack down on therapy assisting people who have unwanted same-sex attractions.

The Executive Order Advancing Equality for LGBTQI+ Individuals, the White House said, addresses the "discredited and dangerous practice" of "conversion therapy."


On Twitter, Ryan T. Anderson, the president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C., called Biden's order "Orwellian."

He said it "would prevent efforts to help girls identify as girls."

"That's what they're calling 'conversion therapy,'" Anderson said. "Meanwhile it'll expand efforts to give girls puberty blockers and testosterone. That's what they're calling 'gender affirmation.'"

An August 2022 article by Unruh tried to misleadingly portray conversion therapy as "free speech":

The governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Wolf, has joined the agenda to censor Americans' free speech, unleashing an executive order banning "conversion therapy."

While that term has been used by opponents derogatorily, a common understanding is that it is talk therapy delivered by professionals to those who have unwanted same-sex attractions.

Unruh spent most of his article rehashing WND's previous attempts to downplay the harms of conversion therapy.

More whitewashing with an anti-gay activist

Rachel Alexander took her shot at rebranding conversion therapy in an October 2021 column:

It's no longer considered politically correct to discuss changing physical attraction from one gender to the other, but some are forging ahead to explore it anyway. The left preaches that people should be able to determine their own sexuality, but hypocritically doesn't defend the freedom to change from same-sex attraction to opposite-sex attraction.

A new study published in the the Journal of Human Sexuality examined 75 adult males who reported same-sex attractions and wanted to explore their sexual-attraction fluidity. Therapists skilled in reintegrative therapy worked with the men to seek and resolve past traumatic memories. The focus was on resolving this emotional pain, not actually changing attraction, which can occur naturally as a result of this therapy. One participant explained, "My therapist never tried to get me to change my sexuality, or who I was attracted to, but instead helped me to process traumatic memories from my past that had brought me shame and fear."


While there is a movement to get rid of so-called "conversion therapy," which in the past has involved aversion techniques like shame, pain or coercion to try to force people to change their gender attraction, reintegrative therapy is nothing like it. In reintegrative therapy, the patient drives the treatment; it's his choice. For whatever reason, the patients have chosen to change their sexual attraction. People on both sides are finally starting to understand that sexuality is fluid, that it's not just something that can be boiled down to either, "Are people born gay, or is it a choice?" And so far no one has discovered a "gay gene" either.

Its proponents honestly admit it doesn't work for everyone. Dr. Joseph Nicolosi Jr. is following in the footsteps of his father, who pioneered the therapy. His father readily admitted that about one-third of his clients did not change their sexual attraction. However, the therapy helped them in other areas, such as improving family and peer relationships.
Alexander didn't mention that Nicolosi is the son of Joseph Nicolosi, one of the biggest promoters of conversion therapy. She also didn't mention that the Journal of Human Sexuality is the journal of the Alliance for Therapeutic Choice and Scientific Integrity -- again, the current name of the notorious NARTH.

Alexander then worked to whitewash the image of anti-LGBT "therapists" like Nicolosi Sr. (though she never referred to him by name) and burnish Nicolosi Jr.'s rebrand:

The battle of gay rights is essentially over. Gays can marry and have children, and students are taught to be proud of being gay. So why can't gays who want to explore changing their sexuality consider becoming straight of their own volition? Wasn't the whole gay rights movement about letting gays decide what they want to do sexually?

Reintegrative therapy isn't about religion. It's about individualism, people making choices for themselves. This is why so many gays and transgenders are emerging on the right. They realize the left only allows one viewpoint about LGBT issues, and at the same time they see through the left's lies that the right is their enemy.

Meanwhile, Nicolosi Jr. gets upset whenever anyone reminds people of the legacy of his family and his harmful therapy. Bob Unruh wrote in a November 2021 article:

The Reintegrative Therapy Association and its California-based founder, Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, are suing two researchers who used their so-called scientific paper to lash out at "Reintegrative Therapy," which they claimed was a piece of the "conversion therapy" movement.

The action was filed in U.S. District Court in the southern district in California by the Thomas More Society and its supporting attorneys.

The California organization, which owns the name Reintegrative Therapy as a registered trademark, explains it is a "specific form of psychotherapy that treats traumas."

It has been known to "trigger spontaneous sexuality changes as a byproduct," the legal team explained, but it is "dangerous health misinformation by LGBT political activists" to characterize it as "conversion therapy."

However, Unruh didn't mention Nicolosi's father or the fact that his "reintegrative therapy" -- Unruh's article is such a copy-and-paste job that several references to the term still have the trademark symbol that was attached in the Thomas More Society press release -- has its roots in conversion therapy. He also couldn't be bothered to try to add journalistic balance to his article by seeking a response from the researchers Nicolosi is suing.

Meanwhile, the lie was further put to Nicolosi Jr.'s lawsuit by the website trying to keep Nicolosi Sr.'s legacy alive. A pop-up window on the site's front page links to a press release about the study promoted in Alexander's column with this text:

VINDICATED: Landmark study, just published, demonstrates sexuality change.


• Significant decrease in same-sex attraction experiences

• Significant increase in heterosexual attraction experiences

• Significant change in self-identity toward a heterosexual identity

• Significant increases in well-being, and decreases in psychological distress

Does that sound like a program that's not about conversion? Further, a video touting reintegrative therapy on Nicolosi Jr.'s website is titled, "This changed my sexuality."

Meanwhile, an observer noted that Nicolosi Jr.'s doctorate came from a school (the Chicago School of Professional Psychology) that wasn't accredited by the American Psychological Association at the time he received it, and that the Journal of Human Sexuality isn't exactly know for its peer review process.

Into 2023

WND went into 2023 still pushing the rebrand. A Feb. 2 article by Unruh used right-wing rhetoric to portray being LGBT as a "lifestyle" that one must "leave":

Pro-LGBT activists have worked with pro-LGBT lawmakers in multiple locations across the United States to create a legal ban on certain talk counseling.

Their scheme allows counselors to encourage the LGBT lifestyle, but bans any therapy that seeks to support people who want to leave the LGBT lifestyles.

Those who leave the lifestyle, of course, undermine the entire movement which is based on the ideology that people are "born that way."

Now, however, a federal appeals court has blown up that argument.

A report from Liberty Counsel reveals that the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals "has ruled that the Tampa ordinance that prohibited licensed counselors from providing voluntary talk therapy to minors seeking help to reduce or eliminate their unwanted same-sex attractions, behaviors, or identity, is unconstitutional under the First Amendment."


Jung had demolished the pro-LGBT talking point that it is "conversion therapy" involved.

That's a term that activists and the media frequently use.

Unruh was at it again in a June 27 article in which he didn't use the term "conversion therapy" at all:

For at least the fourth straight Congress, Democrats have introduced the "Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act," trying to criminalize and destroy talk therapy that offers help to members of society with unwanted same-sex attractions.

They insist that such help to those who want it is illegal.

A leftist diatribe about the issue, published online, claimed, within once sentence, the treatments are a "discredited practice" and a "discredited practice."

But what is discredited are the long-discontinued practices of forced electric shocks and the like that had been used by America's medical industry in years gone by.

The therapy now involves only talk, and that has been affirmed in some federal courts across the U.S.

Unruh is being dishonest here. Electroshock therapy has been discredited for decades; conversion therapy in recent years -- typically conducted by anti-LGBT activists who are not licensed practitioners -- has included techniques such as shaming, hypnosis and induced vomiting, and those who are subjected to it (typically minors forced to undergo it by their parents) see higher rates of depression, substance abuse and suicide. Nevertheless, Unruh kept up the charade by injecting editorial comment into his "news" story:

The report claimed it is supported by the "false belief that LGBTQ identities are pathologies that need to be cured."

However, the bigger issue is that when there are those who voluntarily leave the LGBTQ lifestyle, it decimates that community's arguments that they are "born that way," that they need privileges in society because of their status.

Unruh didn't explain how being LGBTQ is a "lifestyle," nor did he detail the alleged "privileges" they "need... in society." He also failed to explain why he avoided the term "conversion therapy" even though it was called exactly that in a Hill article to which he linked in support of his story.

Unruh tried his rebrand yet again -- this time by repeating an right-wing anti-LGBT legal group's reframing of them as nothing but "conversations" -- in a July 27 article:

Michigan has adopted a law that gives government officials the authority to censor, and actually insert themselves, into conversations between counselors and their clients.

And it's unconstitutional, according to a statement from ADF, a legal team that has argued against the ideology that allows governments to ban counseling for individuals who have unwanted same-sex attractions.

Michigan joined nearly two dozen other states with similar censorship programs, but that doesn't make it legal, according to lawyer Greg Baylor of the ADF.


Social and legacy media outlets consistently have adopted the description of such counseling as "conversion therapy," when it actually does not do any "conversion" and is not intended as such.

Its goals are to deal with the issues that a client has, and if that is same-sex attractions that are unwanted, to include those.

The dispute has had mixed results in courts around the nation, and the Supreme Court has not yet ruled whether governments have such censorship authority.


Media outlets commonly call the practice "discredited," and noted that the Michigan ban is for minors, under the plan signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

It is the 22nd state with the same, or similar, censorship ideologies now embedded in their laws.

Those laws, incidentally, often are used to promote the concepts found in the LGBT community, and counselors are encouraged to promote those lifestyle choices.

Unruh didn't dispute that conversion therapy has been discredited. But being a right-winger, Unruh made sure to maliciously insist without evidence that being LGBT is a "lifestyle choice." He concluded with more complaining:

The counseling bans have been complicated recently by those who are promoting transgenderism, mean exceptions now need to be carved out in the counseling bans to allow therapy for those who are male, who say they are women and want to "convert" to being female, for example.

He failed to mention that opposition to such bans are promoted by right-wing anti-LGBT groups, of which ADF is one. Neither Unruh nor the ADF explain why LGBT people must be forced to be heterosexual.

An Oct. 21 article by Unruh tried to rebrand conversion therapy as nothing but "everyday conversations":

LGBT activists for several years already have been on the warpath against "conversion therapy."

They contend that counselors or therapists talking with people, especially minors, about NOT pursuing any transient gender confusion ideologies must be criminal.

Actually, such therapy and counseling has helped hundreds, if not thousands, of people, including those young people who mostly resolved their issues comfortably in their birth gender if they are not led astray by adults.

The crackdown move has been evident both in the United Kingdom and the United States, and court fights continue over the disagreement.

But now the Christian Institute, in the U.K., is warning government officials they cannot use that theory to make everyday conversations illegal.

In an online announcement, the organization confirmed its readiness to take legal action against the Westminster government if it adopts the anti-"conversion therapy" ideology, because it impacts everyday religious practice.

The statement came on the heels of press speculation that the government is ready to move ahead with a draft bill that would ban such conversations.

Unruh again ignores the fact that conversion therapy tends to be involuntary and coercive. Instead, Unruh portrayed being LGBT as a "lifestyle" and something that people must be "converted" from:

The issue is important to those caught up in the LGBT ideology, as they repeatedly claim that they have those lifestyles because they were born that way.

However, counseling that, over and over, has proven effectively in ridding individuals of unwanted same-sex attractions undermines that argument entirely.

Activist Jayne Ozanne, in fact, has demanded that "gentle non-coercive prayer" be made criminal.

That statement is taken out of context from a longer statement in which she pointed out that is no such thing as "non-coercive prayer" to change sexual orientation:

Jayne Ozanne, a prominent campaigner on LGBT+ rights and the editor of ViaMedia.News, said: “I’m very grateful to Bishop David for his clear support for a ban, although I would strongly refute that ‘gentle non-coercive prayer’ should be allowed. All prayer that seeks to change or suppress someone’s innate sexuality or gender identity is deeply damaging and causes immeasurable harm, as it comes from a place – no matter how well meaning – that says who you are is unacceptable and wrong.”

All conversion “therapy” was coercive, she added. “We know that this occurs in numerous C of E churches and many other faith settings – indeed there are evangelical organisations that openly advocate it. This must stop before more lives are ruined and sadly even lost.”

Because Unruh has no interest in that larger discussion and only wants to be a stenographer for an anti-LGBT group, he omitted that context.

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