According to Love in Action's rules, posted on Zach's blog, clients must report sexual fantasies to the staff. The program specifies the exact length of haircuts and how many times men must shave each week (seven). Love in Action bars jewelry and clothing by Abercrombie and Fitch. The rules prohibit "campy gay/lesbian behavior and talk." New clients are not allowed to talk to or make eye contact with anyone for the first three days. Clients have to wear pajamas to bed and if they get too cozy they "must always have exactly one person between them." Clients cannot keep a diary, and all their belongings are searched every morning by the "Chain of Command." All secular media, including music and movies, are forbidden. Also, during counseling -- no "disgusting" faces.
The Refuge program is "like a boot camp, but worse," Zach wrote. "What is it with these people? How could you support a program like this?"
The Tennessee Department of Children's Services investigated the Love in Action facility for possible child abuse but discontinued it because of lack of evidence. The brouhaha exposed an oddity of the ex-gay ministries, which is that they are largely unregulated. Ministries claim they are not hospitals or any other facility that would typically require regulatory oversight or licensing. Love in Action spokesman Tommy Corman says the facility does not need to be licensed by the state at all because it is not doing anything "therapeutic." A bold declaration, considering the group promotes "the prevention or treatment of unhealthy and destructive behaviors facing families, adults, and adolescents," according to its Web site.
Nevertheless, the ministries fall into a regulatory blind spot. "There has been some question of who licenses that facility," said K. Danielle Edwards, a spokeswoman for the Tennessee Department of Children's Services. "This would not be under our jurisdiction. I have not been able to ascertain who licenses that facility." On July 11, the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities sent a letter to Love in Action, warning the facility that it may be operating without a required license. Results of the investigation are pending.
This is the first really in-depth story that I've read about the Christian Conservative's movement to "deprogram" gays. No matter what stance you take on the matter, I highly recommend the article just so that you can know what it is that the group is trying to accomplish and what the hindsight view of some who have been through the program is.
There are four parts to this story - I linked to the final installment since it has links to the first three at the top of the article.