Christian groups helping gay people “recover”

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Two Christian groups who say they help people “recover from homosexuality,” are holding an event in St Louis, USA.

Exodus International, had billboards installed along St. Louis roads last week. Focus on the Family, the other group, will host the meeting Feb. 25 at the First Evangelical Free Church in Manchester.

The billboards say, “I questioned homosexuality. Change is possible. Discover how,” and lists the Web site for Exodus.

Focus on the Family, an evangelical organisation calls its conference “Love Won Out.” This will be its first session in St. Louis.

Melissa Fryrear is a Focus staff member and calls herself a former lesbian, said: “We provide help and hope to people who want to leave homosexuality, and we try to do it in a grace-filled and compassionate way,” said Fryrear.

Julie Brueggemann, director of the gay rights group PROMO in St. Louis, said the conference theme conflicts with mainstream medical opinion and is “harmful to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community.”

“Saying it can be cured makes it sound like there is something wrong with being gay or lesbian, which we believe to be normal,” Brueggemann said. “Their message is based on intolerance and miseducation.”

Exodus and Focus were founded separately in the 1970s and consistently disagree with gay rights groups on the origin of sexual orientation and whether people can change. Ms Fryrear and Alan Chambers, Exodus president, call themselves living proof of Bible-based change.

“Homosexuality is not a genetic predisposition,” Mr Chambers said. “If someone is happy living that way, you can’t force them to come out of it. But we give hope to thousands like myself.”