02/07/2007 02:26 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Snake Oil for Sale!

"He [Reverend Ted Haggard] is completely heterosexual."
--Rev. Tim Ralph to the Denver Post

So Ted Haggard is completely heterosexual. And I am the Queen of England.

I'm sorry, you don't have a three-year affair with another man if you are "completely heterosexual." Mr. Haggard cannot use the time-honored frat house "Boy, was I drunk last night!" out on this one. He simply went to the well too often (or else he was on one heck of a three year bender).

I try to look at this whole sequence of events from the point of view of young people who are just coming to grips with their same-sex sexual orientations and try to understand what the impact is on them of its message. When Mr. Haggard writes "Jesus is starting to put me back together," there is a direct implication that homosexuality is a state of being "broken." In other words, there is something very, very wrong with you if you are gay. There's no way you can expect a young person who is being fed that message to develop a healthy sense of self-worth. Yet these folks continue to spread that malarkey, with its inevitable damaging effects on young people (suicidality, substance abuse, you name it), and take no responsibility for the logical outcomes of their actions. How irresponsible is that?

No credible mental health professional thinks the kind of "therapy" Mr. Haggard is being subjected to works. Nearly a decade ago a coalition of mainstream education and mental health organizations published Just the Facts About Sexual Orientation & Youth: A Primer for Principals, Educators and School Personnel, in which they made it clear that homosexuality required no "treatment" and that such "treatment" could be profoundly damaging to young people. (You can find this on the American Psychological Association's web site). As Dr. Jack Drescher said in today's New York Times, this " therapy" is "not consistent with clinical presentations, but totally consistent with [some peoples'] theological belief." But these folks continue to peddle their snake oil, putting their beliefs ahead of reality, without regard to the way it makes young people who are already struggling feel even more "broken" and wrong.

Apparently the overseers of Mr. Haggard's former church feel a bit shaky in their faith about the veracity of his protestations that he has been "cured," as they have recommended he take up "secular work" (subtext: keep him the heck away from here!). Maybe that's because they sense, deep down, that you just can't "cure" someone of who they are. Hopefully Mr. Haggard can get as far away from these people as possible so he can live an honest life. They may have done him the biggest favor of all in expelling him from their poisoned Garden of Eden. They seem to have misunderstood who the real snakes are and what they are selling.