FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 27, 2013
MRFF Contact: Bekki Miller
Tel. (337) 356-8696
MRFF Posts Billboard in
Blasting "Gay Cure" Guru at
U.S. Air Force Academy
(ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO) Responding to United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) efforts to paint a "happy face" on the widely-reported environment of fundamentalist Christian religious oppression and homophobia, on Wednesday the six-time Nobel Peace Prize-nominated Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF; http://www.militaryreligiousfreedom.org) came out swinging by posting the third billboard at USAFA's doorstep in Colorado Springs, CO., within the span of little over a month. The billboard addresses the latest controversy at the scandal-ridden Academy, which has been embroiled in damage-control efforts resulting from its controversial employment of Dr. Mike Rosebush. An allegedly "ex-gay" fundamentalist Christian whose official title, according to the Air Force's own Global Address List, is "Chief, Coaching Development" at the Academy's Center for Character and Leadership Development, Rosebush has spent his life promoting and applying the universally-debunked and pseudoscientific treatment known as "reparative" or "conversion" therapy.
The latest billboard is on the west side of the 4200 block of North Nevada Ave, a little less than a quarter of a mile north of Mt View Lane, facing south. The graphic on the billboard depicts an arched rainbow, symbolizing LGBT pride, accompanied by the words "WE ASK. WE TELL. WE 'CURE!'" The arch then transforms into a straight line depicting the American Flag, with the slogan "U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY – GRADUATE STRAIGHT" above the flag.
In a November 19, 2013 open letter demanding Rosebush's immediate termination that was sent to Eric Fanning, the openly gay Acting Secretary of the U.S. Air Force, MRFF stated:
Rosebush has devoted his entire professional career to the bullying and harassment of the LGBTQ community, carried out under the highly dubious guise of "curing homosexuality," a sexual orientation that he likens to "addiction" and disease. Rosebush is a former vice president of the rabidly fundamentalist Christian, Colorado Springs-based Focus on the Family, one of the foremost anti-gay organizations in the country. Additionally, Rosebush has also been a clinical member of NARTH (the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality). According to the promotional materials for his book "Sanctification Coaching," Rosebush is an "expert" on fighting "unwanted same-sex attractions" among Christian men "acting upon their homoerotic temptations." The man has gained fame and notoriety by taking insipid quack science to ever-lower depths of absurdity. Indeed, the American Psychological Association (APA), in its "Resolution on Appropriate Affirmative Responses to Sexual Orientation Distress and Change Efforts," has taken great pains to underscore such "therapy" as merely the expression of prejudice and discrimination, with a basis in ignorance and the distortion or active disdain of scientific data. Even Exodus International, the organization for which Rosebush served as Professional Counselors' Network director, has publicly apologized for the harm caused by the espousal of the patently false notion that homosexuals can be "cured."
On November 21, 2013, an Academy cadet client of MRFF (whose identity is being kept confidential for fear of reprisal) condemned USAFA's "self-serving" claims of providing a welcoming atmosphere for LGB cadets, staff, and faculty as a "crock" and an affront to the human dignity of LGB personnel. Countering USAFA leaders' claims, the anonymous MRFF client stated, "Those of us who are LGB live in the worst fear of being outed at any moment and suffering for it. Maybe Rosebush can magically make us all 'ungay'? Do you know how it makes us feel to know that our school has a man like that here? And how many other Rosebushes are here?"
The MRFF currently represents 435 USAFA cadet, staff, and faculty clients, 372 of whom are practicing Protestants and Roman Catholics. 27 of these clients identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual.
That same evening, the issue was addressed on national television by MSNBC television host Rachel Maddow, who asked "Why would a quack 'ex-gay therapist' with decades of experience doing that kind of quack 'ex-gay' therapy be hired to oversee anything, much less the mandatory counseling program for all U.S. Air Force Academy cadets?"
Maddow's guest in the approximately 13-minute segment was USAFA graduate and Rancho Mirage (CA) City Councilman Scott Hines, who underwent "conversion therapy" during his time at USAFA.
Explaining the circumstances of this "therapy," Hines said, "As is often the case, men who claim to be ex-gay are not ex-gay and my ex-gay therapist turned out to be not so ex-gay and became quite a predator... I've not talked to many people about this, Rachel, not my family, not others. It brings up a lot of emotions, and so you can imagine when I heard this week that a reparative therapist is heading these programs and put right in the middle of this ... given my experiences and what I suspect are probably the experiences of these young cadets, it was just horrifying."
Maddow's story on USAFA also featured an image of MRFF Founder and President Michael L. "Mikey" Weinstein, as well as a reference to the foundation.
A litany of religious liberty violations at USAFA exposed by MRFF over the last decade have led to alleged "thorough investigations" by the U.S. Air Force and supposed continued efforts to establish a "religious sensitivity training regimen." As recently as mid-October, 2013, Mr. Weinstein met personally with USAFA Superintendent Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson in her offices to inform her of several very recent unconstitutional religious civil rights violations affecting cadets, staff, and faculty at USAFA. However, Weinstein has subsequently decried the recently appointed Superintendent for her inability or unwillingness to challenge the deep-rooted Christian fundamentalist dominance existing at the Academy.
COLORADO SPRINGS INDEPEDENT:
AT AIR FORCE ACADEMY
Embattled AFA starts Rosebush reviews
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Rosebush reviews at AFA Following news that the U.S. Air Force Academy has a conversion therapist working in its Center for Character and Leadership Development ("Strange bedfellows," News, Nov. 20), Superintendent Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson has ordered a review of hiring procedures "to ensure they are legally sound, equitable and unbiased," as she puts it in a statement. The academy also will review how the therapist, Dr. Mike Rosebush, who previously worked for Focus on the Family, came on board in 2009, then as part of the academy's "plans and programs directorate."
Calling the Rosebush matter "a raw and emotional issue," Johnson says the academy had received no complaints about him and that the academy fosters "a culture of dignity, respect and inclusion for all ... whether they are LGBQ or not." The academy lined up three cadets to speak to reporters on Friday, all of whom say the academy's atmosphere is friendly to LGBQ people.
Acting Air Force Secretary Eric Fanning, who has come out as gay, and Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh said in a statement they trust Johnson to handle the issue. Meantime, several LGBTQ advocacy groups demanded Rosebush's resignation or firing.
NATION'S TOP LGBTQ PUBLICATION, THE ADVOCATE, HAILS MRFF CAMPAIGN
Progressives Lash Out
Against Air Force
Monday, November 25, 2013
Selected Article Excerpt:
Striking while the iron of public shaming is hot, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation is set to reveal its third billboard in Colorado Springs, Colo., blasting the Air Force Academy’s employment of a fundamentalist Christian and “ex-gay” therapist as the chief of the academy’s mandatory counseling program at the Center for Character and Leadership Development.
Since news broke last week that the academy hired Mike Roshbush, Ph.D., to lead the mandatory counseling program and develop the academy’s program for examining fitness of character, the Air Force Academy has been in full damage-control mode.
And the Air Force won’t be able to go off the defensive any time soon, if the Military Religious Freedom Foundation has anything to say about it. Earlier this month, the Foundation, which aims to maintain the separation between church and state in U.S. military institutions, put up a billboard in Colorado Springs exposing an academy staffer’s promise that he “will talk about Jesus Christ my Lord and savior to everyone I work with.”
And this week, the MRFF will unveil a new billboard, taking aim directly at Rosebush’s well-documented involvement in the “ex-gay” movement that aims to turn gay people straight through prayer and counseling. The practice, sometimes called “reparative therapy,” has been disavowed by every major medical and psychological organization in the country, and banned for use on minors in California and New Jersey.
Featuring a rainbow arching over the words “We Ask. We Tell. We ‘Cure!’” the rainbow morphs into an American flag, which underlines what MRFF sees as the academy’s unspoken motto: “U.S. Air Force Academy — Graduate Straight.”
ON AT USAFA
USAFA Closets Are
for Clothes, Not Cadets
By Tom Carpenter, Presbyterian elder and former Marine pilot, co-chair, Forum on the Military Chaplaincy
Monday, November 25, 2013
Selected Article Excerpt:
The Honor Code is one of the most important cornerstones of ethical development at the U.S. Air Force Academy. It sets the minimum standards of acceptable conduct for cadets. This concept is carried forward after graduation, where "an officer's word is his bond."
The revelation that an advocate of discredited "ex-gay" therapies, Dr. Michael Rosebush, had been hired and promoted by the Academy has shaken those within the Academy as much as it has shocked the nation. But from within the Academy we are hearing different words, indeed two very different versions of the situation. Whose word, whose bond, should we believe?
MRFF CLIENT'S CRY FOR HELP FEATURED BY
Gay Cadet Lashes Out At
Air Force Press Release
Gays Are Welcome
Thursday, November 21, 2013
Selected Article Excerpts:
- Amid the recent furor over the Air Force Academy’s alleged failure to uphold the law protecting gays in the military, the academy released a statement Thursday assuring the public that its culture does not inhibit gay cadets “in any way.”But it appears not all of the academy’s gay cadets are buying it. One of these cadets sent a letter on Thursday to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, a group dedicated to maintaining the separation of church and state in the United States military. At the cadet’s request, the MRFF said it would not release their name, because the cadet is not openly gay. Despite the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell more than two years ago if a cadet is gay and out at the Air Force Academy, their career is “finished,” the letter says.
“If I and the many other cadets I know who are LGB came out it would be devastating for our cadet and future Air Force careers,” it continues.
The controversy began earlier this week when news broke that Mike Rosebush, who oversees the “Character and Leadership” coaching program, previously worked as an ex-gay therapist, a controversial practice that purports to make gay people straight. He was also the vice president of the Focus on the Family Institute, an anti-gay organization that promotes the therapy.
The academy’s statement describes a meeting between its leadership and cadets that belong to Spectrum, the school’s gay-straight alliance. According to the statement, cadets in Spectrum are “proud to be in the Air Force,” and the academy is a “safe and validating place to be LGBQ.”
- Edith Disler, the director of LGBT affairs to the MRFF and a former faculty member at the academy, said that when she read the school’s description of the meeting between high-level officials and gay cadets she “laughed.”"Do you really think they’re going to have an open and engaging conversation? I don’t think so.”
We receive an enormous amount of emails at the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, both from our
supporters and detractors. "MRFF's Inbox" allows us
this correspondence with you:
Mr. Weinstein and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation:
I am writing this to you today as a client of the MRFF. I happen to be gay. Please keep all of my information confidential as you always do.
I happen to not be out and have no intention of ever being out while I attend USAFA. I am a current cadet at the United States Air Force Academy. I am a Christian. I am also an athlete on one of USAFA’s most publicized NCAA intercollegiate teams here. I have been a client of the MRFF for a while now. It’s the only help we have and it’s a great source of security for me and other gay cadets. So thank you always for that.
I saw USAFA’s self serving press release today about how “happy” all the gay cadets are here. How nice of all of the powers that be to meet with the Spectrum Club all of the sudden now that they’re in the shits with the media and getting jacked up everywhere for hiring Rosebush. Of course to be in Spectrum you have to out yourself. If I and the many other cadets I know who are LGB came out it would be devastating for our cadet and future Air Force careers. I could never stay on my intercollegiate team. Being LGB here is like not being an “all in” Christian. You’re finished.
What a crock that press release is. What a crock the academy leaders are for keeping Rosebush here. Anyways, I don’t have time to elaborate. Mikey you know how bad it is because we tell you and you have seen it. Those of us who are LGB live in the worst fear of being outed at any moment and suffering for it. Maybe Rosebush can magically make us all “ungay”? Do you know how it makes us feel to know that our school has a man like that here? And how many other Rosebushes are here? If people can’t see it now they never will. Having USAFA keep a person like Rosebush on staff at CCLD here shames all of us. He believes we made a choice to be LGB. He believes us to be “sick” with that gay disease. He believes we are sinning and will go to hell if we don’t repent through Jesus and “choose” to be straight. And he has a “counseling” plan to make us all straight? Doesn’t anyone of the higher ups here know how that makes us feel? It takes away our dignity as human beings. It takes away everything of value.
Mikey, I have to go study. Have finals. Hope this helps explain how so many of us feel destroyed now. Thank you and the MRFF for calling on the Air Force to fire Rosebush. As if that will ever happen.
(USAF Academy Cadet Client’s name, Cadet rank, Cadet Squadron Withheld)
ATTENTION FEDERAL EMPLOYEES:
THE CAMPAIGN IS NOW UNDERWAY!
Make your fully tax-deductible CFC donation
the January 15, 2014 campaign deadline
Federal Employees can now contribute to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) through the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC)!
(NOTE: MATCHING FUNDS REFERENCED ABOVE DO NOT APPLY)
PLEASE CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE
AND WATCH A VIDEO ON MRFF'S CAMPAIGN
CFC is the world's largest and most successful annual workplace charity campaign, with almost 200 CFC campaigns throughout the country and overseas raising millions of dollars each year!
Are you or a member of your family a federal employee?
MRFF is recognized as a charitable organization that is eligible to participate in the CFC. Now federal employees can support MRFF by designating their CFC donation for MRFF (CFC# 30187).
Your Generous Support Allows us to Continue
our Fight in the Courts and in the Media