On the October 11 broadcast of Today's Issues, a program on the Christian broadcasting network American Family Radio (AFR), Rev. Lou Sheldon, chairman and founder of the conservative "church lobby" group Traditional Values Coalition (TVC), suggested that Christian therapists believe exorcism is the only effective technique that can "release" a person from the homosexual lifestyle. During a conversation with host Tim Wildmon, president of the AFA, about the so-called "homosexual agenda," Sheldon claimed that he had consulted with "many psychotherapists who are Christian, and they say once you enter into that [homosexual] lifestyle ... once you enter into the culture, into the music, into the gay bars, into the gay literature, into the gay theater ... and gay travel ... you have really put yourself into a groove that only a sort of an exorcism can release you from."
In his comments, Sheldon also implied that the professional psychological community characterizes homosexuality as a mental disorder. In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association and its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual 3rd Edition (currently in its fourth edition) stopped categorizing homosexuality as a mental disorder; the American Psychological Association followed suit two years later. Also, in referring to what he called "gender identity conflict," Sheldon appeared to confuse homosexuality with Gender Identity Disorder, which a University of Maryland Medical Center website defines as "persistent feelings that your body is a different gender than your mind. It is a sense of inappropriateness of one's anatomic sex." Contrary to Sheldon's assertion, "gender identity conflict" is not "the medical-scientific name for homosexuality, where you're attracted to the same sex person."
American Family Radio, operated by the American Family Association (AFA), is a network of nearly 200 radio stations across the United States whose stated mission is to "inform Christians about what is happening in America."
According to its website, TVC, which Sheldon founded in 1980, is the "largest non-denominational" church lobbying association in the country, boasting more than 43,000 member churches. TVC states that it "focuses on issues such as education, homosexual advocacy, family tax relief, pornography, the right to life and religious freedom" and lobbies Congress on behalf of its members.
From the October 11 broadcast of AFR's Today's Issues:
WILDMON: And let me just say one other thing, and we'll go on to our next caller. And I'm not a psychologist, or a psychiatrist, or a social scientist, or anything like that. But I have heard from people who know and understand these things that two of the most difficult sins or bondage to break out of are alcoholism and homosexuality.
SHELDON: Oh definitely, because the groove is built, and I've talked to many psychotherapists who are Christian, and they say once you enter into that lifestyle -- Now, you may have gender identity conflict -- that's the medical-scientific name for homosexuality -- where you're attracted to the same-sex person, but once you enter into the culture, into the music, into the gay bars, into the gay literature, into the gay theater, and all of that kind of -- and gay travel -- once you immerse yourself into that, you have really put yourself into a groove that only a sort of an exorcism can release you from.