Although Exodus International and its affiliate ministries are often perceived by the general public as a unified entity, Exodus does not, in fact, speak for its affiliates except on a very broad level. Educational curricula and counseling techniques can vary widely from ministry to ministry, as can political stances and “non-essential” doctrinal positions.
Some curricula are available to those wishing to run an ex-gay ministry, however, including Bill Consiglio’s one-year, fifteen topic Forward Program, for which a leader training workshop will be offered in January, as advertised on Exodus’ events page.
Dr. Consiglio is a semi-retired Christian counselor and the founder and acting director of HOPE Ministries in Connecticut. He is also a past member of Exodus International’s board of directors, a popular speaker in ex-gay circles with ties to NARTH, and the author of two books, Homosexual No More (1991) and The Forward Program (2005).
Based on the sample handout included on the workshop’s web page, Consiglio’s curriculum is fairly standard evangelical fare. SSA (Same Sex Attractions, the primary term used for homosexuality in the curriculum) is presented as a polar opposite of “saved biblically faithful disciple of Christ” and a condition that the struggler must learn how to “embrace, befriend, heal, control and manage.”
The sample handout does not elaborate on how participants are to achieve the goal of “liv[ing] with SSA” (a topic reserved for future lessons), though based on Consiglio’s past advice, one wonders if it includes employment of the rubber band technique.
Again in typical evangelical fashion, all openly gay individuals are described (and summarily dismissed) as “living for SSA,” and homosexuality is equated with “sado-masochism, exhibitionism, voyeurism, pedophilia, transvestism, transexualism, beastiality [sic], prostitution, adultery [and] ephibophilia [sic].”
Consiglio is careful not to promise heterosexuality to anyone who goes through the Forward Program, though the stated goal of making “significant progress in the resolution and management of SSA” is ambiguous enough that individuals steeped in the rhetoric of Love Won Out might read such a possibility into Consiglio’s words.
Such an assumption would be easy enough to make based on Consiglio’s own statements elsewhere. Chuck Colson cites Consiglio in his book Answers To Your Kids’ Questions:
According to Bill Consiglio, director of Hope Ministries, 40 percent of homosexuals who seek change “move into full heterosexuality, with many entering marriage and parenthood.” An additional 40 percent are able to live fulfilling lives as celibate Christian singles. (pgs. 116-117)
Given the changes Exodus has made to its public statements over the last several years, it’s quite possible that Consiglio no longer stands by that assertion. Ex-Gay Watch has contacted Dr. Consiglio for clarification, and is currently awaiting a response. When asked whether he still stands by that statement, Dr. Consiglio responded that his program’s goal is to help participants resolve their underlying issues and manage their behavior, not to turn them into heterosexuals. He further stated that “Some percentage who are able to achieve these two goals (resolve and manage), have cleared the way for heterosexual interests and adoption of a heterosexual life. I have seen reports of percentages from 10 to 40%. The only group that may have accurate statistics is NARTH.”
Nonetheless, there seems to be little in his curriculum to correct the impression that already exists in the minds of many in his prospective audience.