Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Chapel in Akron, OH

The Chapel is a non-denominational mega-church where they utilize the latest technology to put their brand of God's love into action. Nobody disputes Pastor Knute Larson, pictured at left with his partner Pastor Paul Sartarelli, has the gift to summon the Almighty Dollar into not only his pockets, but also the local economy through the crowd of 8,000 believers he attracts to downtown Akron. One of the dirty, albeit, not so little secret, of the beloved and charismatic Knute is his support of James Dobson's Focus On The Family to perform a miracle, and make a gay man or woman, straight. The main thrust behind the fraudulent "Ex Gay" marketing machine requires one to believe that everyone is heterosexual, and all heterosexuals have sexual thoughts for those of the same sex. And those who have sex, and claim to have actually fallen in love with someone of the same sex, well they just need to attend one of 2 support groups The Chapel advertises in their newsletter. One is called "Bonds Of Iron". Knute says the group offers "mentoring" and if you call a "confidential hotline" at 330-315-5439. The second group is called Genesis. Knute claims Genesis is a support group that offers help for those who wish to find freedom from same sex attraction. It too, wants people to call a "confidential hotline" at 330-315-5610. The Chapel doesn't say if by dialing the hotline, the caller will reach Knute for some serious hot and heavy counseling. But nonetheless, a willing and able body will be manning the phones.
The group Exodus was founded by Michael Bussee and Gary Cooper. It dramatically grew in 1998 when the politically motivated James Dobson, and his Focus on the Family jumped on the “ex-gay” bandwagon launching a multi-million dollar newspaper, television and telemarketing campaign. Their new message was a helpful sympathetic one. Quite the opposite of the traditional fire and brimstone rhetoric that made them seem mean-spirited and intolerant. By embracing the “turn them straight” message, hateful men like Rev. James Kennedy, and Pat Robertson could claim they loved gay people and were just trying to help them become the straight people they believed they could be.
Every leading medical and mental health organization says therapy designed to change a person's sexual orientation is ineffective and sometimes dangerous. The American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, The American Psychiatric Association, The American Academy of Pediatrics all have policy statements against such treatment. The APA says that attempts to change sexual orientation will lead to "depression, anxiety, and self destructive behavior."
History reinforces the findings of these health organizations. Michael Bussee and Gary Cooper, founders of Exodus, denounced the group they founded, divorced their wives and held a commitment ceremony to celebrate their love for each other. The founder of Homosexuals Anonymous, Colin Cook, was exposed as a fraud for giving nude massages and having phone sex with the very people who called his "confidential hotline".
From the prehistoric rock paintings left by the San people in what is now modern day Zimbabwe to Native American berdache who were venerated for their Two Spirit nature.
Gays have always been present and disproportionately represented among the most creative and well respected members of ancient and modern societies. One could naturally conclude that homosexuality is part of "Gods plan" and the specific nature ordained for some individuals. St Paul urged that we be and act according to that God given nature. That is the essence of his arguments in the Epistles. Being faithful to one's true nature. When truthfully applied that sounds nothing like the bigotry coming from Christian Radical groups like The Chapel.
The perversion of religion for political purposes has as its goal a theocratic state. It doesn't matter if it's Christianity, Islam or Judaism. Religion and politics is a lethal mix.


Bruce Morrow said...

I used to live in Akron Ohio and did attend The Chapel for many years.

I remotely knew Pastor Larson. He simply had no time to get to know me as a person, as a church attender.

I have my issue's with The Chapel, let that be known. I too wonder about The Chapel and Knute Larson's BIG income. I know he makes $100,000 a year and gets a brand new car every three years. That was reported in The Akron Beacon Journal about five years ago.

But let it also be known I am no anti-Christian. Even though I persoanlly had some really bad experiences with The Chapel, I neither hate the church or Knute Larson. All I wanted was to find a place to grow in my faith (since I was pretty new in faith in Jesus Christ at the time) and a place for support and real friends. I found none of these while attending The Chapel. This is more sad than something to celebrate.

To correct the writer of the article, The Chapel is NOT located in downtown Akron. Apparently the author has never been to Akron. The Chapel is located right next to The University of Akron on Fir Hill.

All I can say The Chapel caters to the rich and affluent, not to the people of the lower income bracket. That's why I was not accepted at The Chapel.

Anonymous said...

I go to the Chapel and I am not rich or affluent. I have never had any of the issues described & have had no problems ever at the Chapel. It's a great place to worship.

Anonymous said...

I also attended The Chapel and knew Paul personally and its not about money. Sure, the Chapel has problems with spiritual growth cause it is a huge church, you can feel that way if your not sociable. if you attend there you look for a small group meeting and grow from there.

Anonymous said...

To the poster who commented on Knute Larson's salary: you have to remember that this is a church whose congregation primarily consists of somewhat affluent people. As a general rule, the church is supposed to pay the pastor the same amount as the median income in the congregation. It is not right or fair to expect your pastor to live on significantly less than what the average person in the congregation lives on.

In response to the article, I agree that ex-gay programs are silly and a waste of time. But that's about all we agree on. Going to a non-Christian and trying to persuade him to denounce his homosexuality is ludicrous--it isn't going to happen. The real issue is getting people to recognize their own sinfulness against a perfect and holy God and their need for a Savior to atone for their sins. Evangelize to homosexuals, show them their need for a Savior (which we ALL need, gay or straight), and those who are regenerated will choose to give up their sin. Those who refuse to begin a relationship with Christ, have no hope of being able to give up their homosexuality--they are slaves to it, just as all of us are slaves to sin without Christ.

Unknown said...

I am siding on accepting homosexuality as a part of God's plan. The chapel is instrumental in every way for individuals of different needs or faith.
I have a rather separate issue with the chapel. It is supposed to be the house of God, a place for people to bond and attend groups after the service, but they lock the door at 1:30 and the staffs are gone, while many people are still inside with various activities. So nobody can come in unless someone is inside near the door.