Truth Wins Out:

Coming Out Ministries Promotes Video by Discredited Therapist Stripped of Credentials After Sexual Abuse Allegation

Delray Beach, FL – Truth Wins Out urged Andrews University to strongly condemn the shady conversion therapy group, Coming Out Ministries (COM), while demanding the school inform COM they aren’t welcome to house their program directly across the street from campus, where they can target students with their “ex-gay” snake oil.

Andrews University should be extremely concerned, because Coming Out Ministries is currently promoting a video on its website by discredited life coach Jayson Graves. Last month, Truth Wins Out, working in conjunction with anti-conversion therapy advocates, Matt Ashcroft and Stevie Inghram, released an investigation showing that Graves surrendered his therapy credentials in Colorado after he was credibly accused of sexually assaulting a client.

“Why is Andrews University passively standing by and allowing an organization that promotes an alleged sexual predator to set up shop across the street from the university?” asked Truth Wins Out Executive Director Wayne Besen, who is the author of a new book, Lies with a Straight Face: Exposing the Cranks and Cons Inside the ‘Ex-Gay’ Industry.  “Andrews University must consider this a very public warning, so they will not be able to bury their heads in the sand and claim innocence or surprise when tragedy inevitably occurs. How they respond is a test of the school’s integrity and morality.”

COM claims to have raised $317,000 of a $500,000 capital campaign to pay for its purchase of a building in which to disseminate its scientifically bankrupt theories demeaning LGBTQ people. Based in Berrien Springs, Michigan, Andrews University is the largest Seventh-Day Adventist University in the country.  The controversial building purchase by COM so close to campus has already unnerved some students. “They might as well call the building ‘Trauma Tower,’” Besen remarked.

Coming Out Ministries also unethically uses videos from Pure Passion, a television show started by now defunct Exodus International, which shut down in 2013 because the group’s then-leaders said no one had changed their sexual orientation or gender identity. One Pure Passion video that is posted on the group’s website features spokesperson, Kegan Wesley. 

“Homosexuality is just a rocket, it’s a rocket that is automatically going to rocket down to hell, because that cannot be in God’s Kingdom,” Keegan said. “In his Kingdom, there is not homosexuality.”

The original “ex-gay” ministries, supported by the Seventh-day Adventist church, were Homosexuals Anonymous and Quest Learning Center, based in Reading, Pennsylvania. The groups were started by Colin Cook, who eventually stepped down after having sex with his clients. In Besen’s first book, Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the ‘Ex-Gay’ Myth, Cook’s unseemly behavior was revealed:

Eleven of the fourteen erstwhile Quest members said Cook had hit on them. They claimed Cook would greet them with hugs—lasting as long as ten minutes—during which he would grind his erect member against their bodies. They also said Cook would lead mutual masturbation sessions, talk dirty to Quest members and, and give them nude massages…the Adventists withdrew their financial support in 1986.

“We’ve seen this disgusting, immoral movie before,” added Wayne Besen. “It would be unconscionable for Andrews University to stay silent and allow a sick sequel that could lead to the potential abuse of students. It’s time for the administration to act and demand that Coming Out Ministries sell its building or convert it to be used for an alternative purpose that doesn’t involve peddling guilt and shame to LGBTQ youth.”

Coming Out Ministries pretends that it does not engage in conversion therapy and isn’t a pray away the gay program, even though their website is a buffet of videos featuring conversion therapists and “ex-gay” ministers. In an op-ed in the student newspaper, Erin Beers reveals that, despite their vigorous denials, Coming Out Ministries is an old fashioned “ex-gay” outfit:

According to their website, “No greater joy has been experienced in our lives than that which has freed us from the chains of homosexuality.” The two co-founders of this ministry are Ron Woolsey and Michael Carducci, who both claim to have been saved from their gay lifestyle. They say they can do the same for others by “sharing their personal journeys, compassion, and the truth of God,” as is promised in their mission statement.

To read more about LGBTQ life on campus at Andrews University, read this essay in Time Magazine by Eliel Cruz or read Cruz’s essay in Sojourners on LGBTQ issues and the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. 

Conversion therapy is rejected by every respected medical and mental health organization in the world, including the American Medical Association, American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychiatric Association.   Truth Wins Out educates the world on the harm caused by destructive “ex-gay” conversion programs, while fighting to eliminate anti-LGBTQ prejudice and discrimination. We believe that genuine freedom and contentment derive from authenticity and living one’s truth.

3 Responses

  1. This is such an important article and information! Thank you for laying it out so clearly. I hope Andrews takes a stand to protect its students. As you said, inevitably they will have to deal with the devastation this organization causes anyway. Thank you!

  2. This well researched article does a great job of pulling together the facts. Change ministries do not work. This has been evidenced over and over in the past decades. The Adventist church should learn from it previous mistakes with Colin Cook and now the fact that the General Conference openly endorses Coming Out Ministries should be quite telling. The goal of both the SDA church and Andrews University should be to protect their students and provide an environment for them to thrive and grow in their Christian experience. SDA Kinship is the only affirming Adventist related organization for LGBTQIA+ current and former Adventists as well as their parents/families and allies. Kinship has been speaking out against COM and has to clean up the mess and mental unwellness caused by ministries like these. I hope the church will wake up and realize the damage that is being done and stop supporting COM. Without the support of the church and numerous fringe conservative SDA groups, the organization could not exist. We want to work towards wholeness and not brokenness for queer Adventists.

  3. Thaís for this thorough, well researched, and important article. as a queer ex Seventh-day Adventist, I am very concerned about young queer Adventists who live in homes without freedom to be who they are. then, when they get to university, where they have access to some degree of freedom, access to information, and even fellow LGBTQ+ students, the Coming Out Ministries (COM) vultures want to drag them back into fear, shame, loneliness, and despair.

    LGBTQ+ people are worthy just the way they are. being Queer can be amazing when a person has support and acceptance. even better if they are celebrated as they are. I have an amazing queer support system as an out intersex non-binary person. everyone needs access to a community of hope. For many, groups like SDA Kinship is that community of hope and acceptance. Kinship should be on campus, not a cult of fear and shame that COM represents.

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