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Religious Tolerance logo

About NARTH: The National Association for
Research & Therapy of Homosexuality

Study of homosexuality. Reparative therapy
safety & effectiveness. Racism. Rekers' incidents

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NARTH study of homosexuality:  

On 1997-MAY-17, NARTH announced the results of a two year study into the effectiveness of reparative therapy. The study included 860 clients and their more than 200 psychologists and other therapists. The study is heavily biased, because the therapists appear to have supplied data only on their "success stories." Unfortunately, NARTH did not report the only data that truly matter: their success rate at converting patients with a homosexual orientation to a heterosexual orientation that lasted for a significant interval. They did not differentiate between homosexuals and bisexuals among those entering therapy. Their report also did not differentiate between homosexuals, bisexuals and heterosexuals among those leaving therapy.

This study has not been published in a peer-reviewed journal. It probably could not be because the data appears to be entirely composed of subjective  opinions. More details.

No data is available on longer term, post-therapy results. Only a longitudinal study extending many years after the conclusion of therapy will show how effective and safe it is. To our knowledge, such a study has never been done.

NARTH offered to join with the American Psychological Association (APA) in conducting a detailed study of the effectiveness of reparative therapy. The APA refused to cooperate. A debate over reparative therapy and the changeability of sexual orientation was scheduled for the APA's year 2000 convention. However, it was cancelled at the last moment.

Effectiveness and safety of reparative therapy:

Dr. Nicolosi said that this form of therapy: "...can only be damaging if the agenda of the therapist supersedes that of the patient." He claims that among the patients at the Thomas Aquinas Psychological Clinic, of which he is founding director,

bulletOne third experience "significant improvement -- they understand their homosexuality and have some sense of control." However, they may engage in same-sex sexual behavior.

bulletAnother third are "cured;" they refrain from same-sex behavior and the strength and frequency of their same-sex desires is diminished, but not necessarily gone.

bulletThe other third fail to change.

He seems to admit that reparative therapy has a 100% failure rate in terms of converting persons with a homosexual orientation to a heterosexual orientation. All or almost all of his clinic's patients retain same-sex desires; that is, they remain either with a homosexual or bisexual orientation. However some -- presumably mostly made up of bisexuals -- do decide to abandon same-sex sexual behavior and confine their sexual activities to members of the opposite sex,

He commented: "We say to patients, 'Your true self is heterosexual'." He tells male patients: "Look at your body: It was designed to fit a woman, not a man." 1

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Race and NARTH:

About 2006-SEP-15, the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) allegedly issued a letter to NARTH, objecting to an article by Gerald Schoenewolf -- a member of NARTH's Scientific Advisory Board. The article had apparently appeared on the NARTH in web site since mid-2005. It said, in part:

"With all due respect, there is another way, or other ways, to look at the race issue in America. It could be pointed out, for example, that Africa at the time of slavery was still primarily a jungle, as yet uncivilized or industrialized. Life there was savage, as savage as the jungle for most people, and that it was the Africans themselves who first enslaved their own people. They sold their own people to other countries, and those brought to Europe, South America, America, and other countries, were in many ways better off than they had been in Africa. But if one even begins to say these things one is quickly shouted down as though one were a complete madman."

The article allegedly drew a parallel between the civil rights movement and the enslavement, destruction of families, and gross abuse of African Americans:

"The irony is that the Civil Rights Movement has been vehement about pointing out the hysterical lynchings that took place in the Old South, but completely blind to its own hysterical tactics."

NARTH apparently removed the essay from their web site, and changed their web site's disclaimer to read:

Opinions express on this web site are the views and sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of NARTH. However, NARTH values diversity of opinions and freedom of speech, and encourages individual writers."

The NBJC issued a second letter on 2006-SEP-23 which said in part:

"It has been exactly one week since Dr. Schoenewolf's article has been uncovered and no action has yet been taken on behalf of NARTH to distance itself from this divisive rhetoric. In lieu of such inaction, NBJC can only conclude that NARTH is in concurrence with such sentiments. Taking the offending article down off your web site in the dead of night is no substitute for honestly and earnestly addressing this festering issue."

"In the name of propriety, respect, common decency and professional integrity, NBJC strongly urges NARTH to issue a public apology on the front page of its web site for publishing such an outrageous and offensive article. We also hope that you reevaluate your relationship with Dr. Schoenewolf whose peculiar views have no place in civilized discourse."

"As the leader of NARTH and a prominent speaker on Focus on the Family's Love Won Out symposium, the messages imparted by you and NARTH have an impact on real people. We hope that you consider our concerns and contact us so we can hear NARTH's explanation on how such abhorrent and racially insensitive content found its way onto the group's web site." 2,3,4

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Concerning George Alan Rekers:

Rekers (1948-) is a psychologist and a Southern Baptist minister. He is an emeritus professor of Neuropsychiatry & Behavioral Science at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine. Along with James Dobson, he founded the fundamentalist Christian group Focus on the Family. He was on the founding board of the Family Research Council. He was a former officer and scientific advisor to NARTH.

According to Wikipedia:

"Rekers has testified in court on the allegedly destructive and sinful nature of homosexuality, and the unsuitability of gay and lesbian people for parenthood, in a number of court cases involving organizations and state agencies working with children. ... His testimony has been strongly criticized by a number of parties including trial judges. The American Civil Liberties Union [ACLU] has asserted that his personal beliefs regarding homosexuality interfere with his ability to give an unbiased professional opinion on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LGBT) topics, including gay adoption. ... As a member of the Southern Baptists, he believes that the city of Sodom was destroyed by God as a punishment for allowing homosexuality and that active homosexuals face "eternal separation from God", i.e. perpetuity in hell."5

Such beliefs are extremely widespread among Southern Baptists and among members of other fundamentalist and other evangelical Christian denominations.

During 2008, Rekers testified as an expert witness before a state court in Florida -- the Circuit Court of the 11th Judicial Circuit in and for Miami-Dade County. The case involved a state law that banned all gays and lesbians from being considered as adopting parents in Florida. 6

Wikipedia reports:

"The ACLU ... called expert witnesses who cited studies that found no significant differences in the stability of same-sex relationships compared to opposite-sex relationships, and no significant differences in outcomes for children raised by same-sex parents versus opposite-sex parents.

The state called Dr. George Alan Rekers, at the time an officer and scientific advisor of the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), who presented research (some of which had already been discredited) finding that gay men and lesbians suffered higher rates of depression, anxiety, affective disorders and substance abuse than heterosexuals and that same-sex relationships were less stable than opposite-sex ones. The state also called a second expert witness, Dr. Walter Schumm, Associate Professor of Family Studies at Kansas State University, who conceded that a case-by-case assessment of potential adoptive parents who are gay or lesbian would be more appropriate than the current blanket exclusion.

During the trial, Rekers testified that 'gay people [are] mentally unstable' and advised that the ban should be expanded to include Native Americans because, Rekers claimed, they are also at much higher risk of mental illness and substance abuse. However, in her ruling on the case, Judge Lederman stated that the testimony of George Rekers 'was far from a neutral and unbiased recitation of the relevant scientific evidence,' and that 'Dr. Rekers’ beliefs are motivated by his strong ideological and theological convictions. . . . The court cannot consider his testimony to be credible nor worthy of forming the basis of public policy'. ..."

"The judge stated in her decision:

'Reports and studies find that there are no differences in the parenting of homosexuals or the adjustment of their children. These conclusions have been accepted, adopted and ratified by the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatry Association, the American Pediatric Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Child Welfare League of America and the National Association of Social Workers. As a result, based on the robust nature of the evidence available in the field, this Court is satisfied that the issue is so far beyond dispute that it would be irrational to hold otherwise; the best interests of children are not preserved by prohibiting homosexual adoption." 6

On 2010-MAY-04, the Miami New Times reported that Rekers had been photographed at the local airport in the company of a 20-year-old "rent boy" who went by the pseudonym: Lucien.

"In less than a week, that picture will circulate the globe, and George Alan Rekers and his travel companion, Jo-vanni Roman, will become household names. Had it been anybody else returning from a two-week European vacation with a gay male escort, the affair probably would have stayed in the family." 7

Roman admitted that he met Rekers at the web site which bills itself as "The world's destination to meet the perfect male escort or masseur." 8

Rekers has since separated from NARTH, and is no longer on the Family Research Council board.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Sandra G. Boodman, "Vowing to Set the World Straight: Proponents of Reparative Therapy Say They Can Help Gay Patients Become Heterosexual. Experts Call That a Prescription for Harm," Washington Post, 2005-AUG-16, at:
  2. Mike Airhart, "National Black Justice Coalition Asks NARTH to Apologize," Exgay Watch, 2006-SEP-22, at:
  3. "NBJC Demands Apology from NARTH," National Black Justice Coalition, 2006-SEP-06, at:
  4. Mike Airhart, "NARTH Disavows Its Own Web Site; Black Coalition Publishes Its Protest," Exgay Watch, 2006-SEP-25, at:
  5. "George Alan Rekers," Wikipedia, at:
  6. "In re: Gill," Wikipedia, as on 2014-OCT-24, at:
  7. Brandon K. Thorp & Penn Bullock, "How George Alan Rekers and his rent boy got busted by New Times," Miami New Times, 2010-MAY-13, at:
  8. "," at:

Copyright © 1997 to 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2014-DEC-24
Author: B.A. Robinson

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