The Rev. Steve Sprinkle

The Rev. Steve Sprinkle has written a letter to the Communities Foundation of Texas about the inclusion of Living Hope Ministries, an “ex-gay” ministry with offices in Arlington, in its recent record-breaking Giving Day.

Living Hope Ministry turned out its donor base so well that he organization supposedly qualified for additional grant funds from the Arlington Tomorrow Foundation. Arlington Tomorrow Foundation rescinded that grant after finding out Living Hope’s actual purpose, although the Communities Foundation did award extra funds to Living Hope anyway.

Tyler Curry broke the story in this week’s Dallas Voice.

Sprinkle’s letter is addressed to Carol Goglia, communications director for Communities Foundation of Texas:

Dear Ms. Goglia:

I am appreciative of our conversation about the support Communities Foundation of Texas has given to Living Hope Ministries in our recent North Texas Giving Day. I want you to know that I am speaking as a citizen of Texas, and therefore exercising my right to freedom of speech. Any institutional response from my school will have to be issued otherwise.

I also, however, hold the capacity of Theologian-in-Residence at Cathedral of Hope, Dallas, a congregation of the United Church of Christ and the largest predominantly LGBTQ congregation in the world, and as such, I feel it is my duty to speak out against the Foundation endorsing any organization that seems to endorse marginalizing practices against LGBTQ people or anyone through your prize rules with thousands of dollars.

This is a most serious matter, and as a Christian minister, theologian, and leader, I cannot remain silent about the issue of such spurious practices. Reparative or Conversion Therapy is aimed at the LGBTQ population, is potentially harmful, and has been widely discredited.

First, let me note that the Southern Poverty Law Center headquartered in Montgomery, Alabama, the nation’s foremost civil rights watchdog, has listed Hope Ministries and Living Hope Ministries as an arm of its work as a center for conversion therapy that is on their watch list:

As the SPLC article notes: “Conversion therapy has been discredited or highly criticized by virtually all major American medical, psychiatric, psychological and professional counseling organizations.”

Further, the SPLC article says, “People who have undergone conversion therapy have reported increased anxiety, depression, and in some cases, suicidal ideation. The devastating consequences of conversion therapy are why the Southern Poverty Law Center is dedicated to ending this practice and defending the rights of individuals harmed by it.”

I have personal friends, current students, fellow church members, and former students who have been subjected to this form of marginalization, spiritual and mental abuse based on false science, flawed theology, and anti-LGBTQ ideology, and for the Communities Foundation of Texas to be involved in awarding prizes to such a group undermines the credibility and integrity of your whole process. The Human Rights Campaign comprehensively details the flaws and harms associated with the practices of conversion therapists:

As HRC notes, eminent professional organizations have taken forthright stands against reparative therapy and the underlying contention that LGBTQ people are mentally diseased, such as the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Psychoanalytic Association, the American School Counselor Association, the National Association of Social Workers, the Pan American Health Organization of the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, the American Counseling Association, the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The statements of all these organization declaring that reparative therapy lacks medical justification and, in fact, leads to harming people. Two highly populated states have banned conversion and/or reparative therapy, and their bans have been upheld by the courts.

As the New York Times reports, the State of California has successfully enacted a ban on conversion or reparative therapy, and the Supreme Court declined to contest the ban, making such harmful and prejudicial practices unlawful for anyone under 18 in the Golden State:

The State of New Jersey’s ban on reparative therapy for any New Jerseyite under the age of 18 has also been upheld, according to Reuters:

In closing, let me speak as an ordained Baptist minister, a Christian of conscience, and a two-year donor to North Texas Giving Day. Should the Communities Foundation of Texas not rebut the marginalizing practices of reparative therapy, and change your rules to exclude such organizations from your appeals, I cannot personally or professionally support such efforts, and will exercise my rights to urge others to withdraw their support, as well. I await your reply with interest, Ms. Goglia.

Stephen V. Sprinkle,
Ph.D. Director of Field Education and Supervised Ministry, and Professor of Practical Theology Director of Baptist Programming Brite Divinity School
Theologian-in-Residence Cathedral of Hope 5910 Cedar Springs Road Dallas, Texas