‘Gaying the pray away,’ via the Washington Post

The best journalists strive to present facts without bias or editorial comment.

Then there’s the Washington Post Twitter page.

In reporting on Exodus International’s decision to shut down, whoever tweets for the Post chose op-ed cutesy over straight-news accuracy.

The Post’s tweet, sent to 1.7 million of the newspaper’s followers:

Gaying the pray away


What does that even mean?

Did the Post’s social-media gurus fear that a less-biased tweet wouldn’t draw as many clicks? This was the headline on the actual story to which the tweet linked:

Exodus International, criticized for ‘reparative therapies’ for gay Christians, to shut down

Now, that headline’s not perfect. I’d prefer one without scare quotes that describes what Exodus did in a less tilted manner. But it’s better than the tweet.

As we discussed in our previous post on Exodus last week, the media’s frequently referenced “pray the gay away” quote lacks a named source.

As our esteemed head GetReligionista — tmatt — has noted, “In all of my years covering ex-gays, I’ve never met anyone who actually claimed they could pray the gay away.”

Like the Associated Press and Religion News Service stories covered in the previous post, the Post article notes Exodus head Alan Chambers’ comments on theology and changing position on how to relate to the gay community:

In an apology to the gay community, Chambers noted that he “cannot apologize for my deeply held biblical beliefs about the boundaries I see in scripture surrounding sex” and marriage but added that he will no longer “fight you on your beliefs or the rights that you seek.”

Chambers, who says he and his wife Leslie “are more in love than we’ve ever have been” but admits to still being attracted to men, said in a nearly hour-long talk Wednesday at the organization’s 38th annual conference that he and Exodus leaders came to the conclusion that God was calling them to shut down the ministry.

The New York Times, too, notes that Chambers still believes that Scripture does not condone homosexuality.

Has anybody seen any coverage where Chambers — or any other advocates of the ex-gay movement — actually said that they can “pray the gay away?”

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About Bobby Ross Jr.

Bobby Ross Jr. is an award-winning reporter and editor with a quarter-century of professional experience. A former religion editor for The Oklahoman and religion writer for The Associated Press, Ross serves as chief correspondent for the The Christian Chronicle. He has reported from 47 states and 11 countries and was honored as the Religion Newswriters Association's 2013 Magazine Reporter of the Year.

  • Guest
  • Terry Mattingly

    Both sides face a paradox. It is clear that some gay/bisexual people are able to modify their behavior and, to some degree, their feelings. But some are not. That paradox judges the extremes on both sides.

    • http://getreligion.org/ Bobby Ross Jr.

      And your journalistic point is?

      (Sorry, couldn’t resist. :-) )

      • tmatt

        The extremes on both sides face paradoxes in their logic and in the evidence. The press is not handling that very well, Simple point.

  • Simon Sarmiento

    But at least the Washington Post didn’t use a greengrocer’s apostrophe on Chambers, as you have done.

    • http://getreligion.org/ Bobby Ross Jr.

      Fixed. Thanks.

  • wlinden

    We don’t need no stinking source, We KNOW that is what They really mean!

  • Ann Rodgers

    To the best of my knowledge, the phrase was coined by opponents of “ex-gay” ministries, as a short-hand summary of what they try to do. That is the only context in which I’ve ever heard or read anyone using that particular slogan.

  • Cathy G.

    Have you all tried a LexisNexis search?

  • tmatt

    From: dalea
    Subject: pray the gay away

    Message Body:
    Hello, I am using a public computer and can not comment. On the ‘pray the gay away’ subject, my recollection is that it is from a Robin Tyler comedy routine circa 1977. The phrase has been widely used among gay people for almost 40 years. So, I have heard this many many times. And have used the expression myself. It appears not to be used outside GL circles until fairly recently. AIR, there is also a Romanovsky and Phillips song that uses the phrase.

    For all their writing about GL people, the Godbeat reporters seem curiously uninterested in us. And not particularly concerned with learning.