Read the letter below, and join us for a Courage protest!
Thu, May 24, 4pm – 6pm, Wynnewood Rd and City Ave
To ensure maximum effectiveness, PAN would like to encourage participants to bring their own protest signs. Be creative! The only thing we ask is that you refrain from the use of profanity or grossly inappropriate wording. Some participants are bringing children to the event, and we want to be sure the public sees that the folks running Courage International are the crazy ones - not us! Also, you are more than welcome to bring a few extra signs for others to use as well! If you are questioning wording of your sign, need some suggestions for your sign, or have any questions about the protest in general, email Ed.
Dear Fr. Paul Check,
Our organization, Peace Advocacy Network, promotes freedom and equality for all, an idea that is clearly the antithesis of the focus of Courage International, a Catholic hate group, of which you are executive director. We would like to express our sincerest opposition to your organization and highlight a small portion of its deeply concerning problems we have observed.
We would like to begin by addressing the entire mission of your program, which is essentially a faith-based, twelve-step program that encourages those affected with "same-sex attraction" to remain celibate and repress their natural sexual orientation. Courage International claims that it does not engage in "conversion therapy," yet it's almost laughable that it could make such a statement.
Courage International's website is riddled with links to notorious anti-LGBTQ groups that do support and conduct "conversion" or "reparative" therapy, such as NARTH, and lists numerous "professionals" around the world who actively engage in these "therapies," some of whom have spoken at your meetings. In fact, you state right on your website that Courage International does not discourage program participants from seeking such "therapies" and graciously leads them to it.
As you are aware, the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association have both publicly condemned "conversion therapy" in official statements and have not only affirmed that it doesn't work, but have warned of the severe psychological harm of even attempting such an endeavor. It's clear on your website that Courage International does not believe in such fact-based evidence.
Moving forward, it's disheartening to observe what truly damaging statements and misinformation both you and Courage International have communicated (e.g., the statements you made on "Life on the Rock" on EWTN calling the act of engaging in "homosexual desires" both "disordered" and "gravely immoral"). Both of the above mentioned mental health organizations have also confirmed that homosexuality is not a disorder, as you claim it to be.
Furthermore, Courage International's website has an array of "resources" that are dripping with lies and false information. One such "resource" is your "Health Risks of Gay Sex" paper that lists a plethora of unfounded "risks," one of which is "Mild to fatal medical injuries may also occur due to the practice of various forms of sadism." Even more embarrassing for you are the "facts" you supply regarding HIV/AIDS based on information from the mid- to late-80's, at a time when the disease was uncontrolled and largely misunderstood by the scientific community.
But perhaps most embarrassingly for you, in your paper entitled, "Outreach to Homosexual Persons: The Understanding of Heart," you make great reference to the work of Dr. Robert Spitzer to support your agenda. The only problem is that Dr. Spitzer released the following statement fewer than two weeks ago: "I believe I owe the gay community an apology for my study making unproven claims of the efficacy of reparative therapy. I also apologize to any gay person who wasted time and energy undergoing some form of reparative therapy because they believed that I had proven that reparative therapy works with some ‘highly motivated’ individuals."
Of course, being based in Philadelphia, we cannot forget to address your 13th annual "Sports Camp" which will be held here later this month. According to your registration form, the program exists because "For many men with Same Sex Attractions (SSA), childhood memories of sports competition can be sparse or worse, filled with shame and trauma. It is what is called the 'Sports Wound.'" This activity is clearly rooted in ignorant stereotypes regarding gender and sexuality.
Courage International obviously strives to portray an image that it is a tolerant and accepting organization that does not attempt to change one’s sexual orientation. However, for the above-mentioned reasons, your group is clearly associated with such activities and engages in its own form of "therapy" which is equally as hateful and damaging to LGBTQ individuals.
Also, you are directly affiliated with the Catholic Church, which has held a clear anti-LGBTQ position for several decades. Just recently, the Vatican criticized a group of nuns for spending too much time helping the poor and not enough time hating homosexuals. Despite the façade you attempt to construct, it is blatantly obvious that Courage International is a socially destructive entity.
Although this letter is rather lengthy, it merely scratches the surface of the serious problems we were easily able to unearth regarding Courage International. A group that uses mental manipulation to persuade LGBTQ individuals to live a completely chaste life in total isolation is a group we have no choice but to expose and address. It is proof of nothing other than outward discrimination that you focus your efforts on enforcing a policy of chastity among LGBTQ people, yet do not do so nearly as vigorously for the heterosexual population.
Finally, we would like to share a quote from one of our volunteers, Nate Sheets, who had been involved in a similar anti-LGBTQ program. He says, "Regardless of what you think about God, the Bible or homosexuality, the fact of the matter is that programs that claim to change people's sexual orientations simply don't work. "Ex-gay" programs promote not only intolerance toward LGBT people, but they also promote self-hate in the people who are attempting to change something that simply cannot change. I know this because it was only after I left a one of these programs that I finally experienced true healing and self-acceptance."
Unfortunately, our disagreements are so fundamentally different; it’s hard to imagine that Courage International would consider ceasing activities in the near future. For that reason, we will continue to speak out against this and other activities that oppress others and spread hate like wildfire. We will be in attendance, in the form of protest, at the upcoming Sports Camp here in Philadelphia. Perhaps you may wish to discuss this further with us, in person, at that time.
With compassion for all,
Peace Advocacy Network