When we posted the “700 Club” report on a group of missionaries who believe God is using Interstate 35 to “invade” gay bars and porn shops along the highway, many people remarked on the amateur video featured in the segment that purported to show a young man being “freed” from “the desires to be with men” through the laying of hands outside a nightclub:
CBN REPORTER: Stabile felt God moving in him then, saving him and taking away his homosexuality. JAMES STABILE: He just came in and complete transformed and radically saved me … I didn’t feel the desires to be with men like I had felt before. JOE ODEN: We laid hands on him. He was hit by the power of God and filled with the Holy Ghost, got plugged into our church, and is just living for God.
What really happened to James Stabile? John Wright of the Dallas Voice tracked him down. When Stabile was interviewed by the “700 Club,” he had already been kicked out of Heartland World Ministries’ “ex-gay treatment facility” for lying compulsively. But, as Wright reports, that did not prevent Heartland from “asking Stabile to do an interview for a segment on televangelist Pat Robertson’s ‘The 700 Club’ about the so-called purity sieges organized by the church outside gay bars.” Additionally, Stabile, who reportedly has bipolar disorder, “hadn’t taken his medication in 2 and-a-half weeks and had been drinking when he encountered the group from Heartland on the strip.” Wright also spoke with Stabile’s parents, who helped explain how their son became a Religious Right media sensation for a day:
Joseph Stabile said the Heartland folks also may have advised James to throw away his medication, telling him that God would cure his bipolar disorder, too. Joseph’s parents said James has a tendency to be less than truthful, especially when he’s off his medication, and that he loves attention. They said they don’t believe he’s ever questioned his sexuality, but that the folks from Heartland manipulated and exploited him for publicity.
They also provided a glimpse of life inside the “ex-gay” facility:
James just told them it was “horrible” and that there are some things he will never be able to share. James’ mother, Suzanne, said he told her the people at Pure Life constantly threatened that he was going to hell. Men in the program had to be fully clothed from the neck down at all times, including when they went to sleep, James told his parents. And they were prohibited from any physical contact, including shaking hands.
Speaking with Wright, Stabile “apologized to the LGBT community” and said he hopes “his story will discourage others from entertaining ideas that they can change their sexual orientations.”