Evergreen International, Inc. was a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization located in Salt Lake City, Utah, whose stated mission was to assist "people who want to diminish same-sex attractions and overcome homosexual behavior". It adhered to Christian and particularly LDS teaching and was endorsed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). The organization stated this task could be accomplished with the help of the Lord and, in some cases, psychological counseling. Evergreen was founded in 1989 as a grassroots organization by men who were seeking to deal with their homosexual feelings in ways congruent to the teachings of the LDS Church.
"We believe that to be successful in diminishing erotic same-sex attractions and overcoming homosexual behavior, you must be willing to make a total commitment to the change process. It is our testimony that when you do all that you can and are willing to employ all the resources that are available to you, God's grace will make up the difference."
"This "map" outlines the major areas that most people have to address to diminish their same-sex attraction and successfully overcome homosexual behavior.
- Read books on same-sex attraction, masculinity/femininity, addictions, and related subjects from LDS authors, Christian authors, and professionals.
- Personal prayer.
- Develop personal relationship with God and Jesus Christ.
- Develop one-on-one, nurturing relationships with family, close friends, and acquaintances.
- Provide service to others, both inside and outside Evergreen.
- Experience activities as a bridge to the real world (for example, ski trips with men/women who don't experience SSA)."
General Authority Addresses
General LDS church leaders have spoken at every Evergreen Annual Conferences since the 2000 conference (with the exception of 2002).
- 2000 – Elder Alexander B. Morrison of the First Quorum of the Seventy addressed members of Evergreen at their 10th annual conference which was held in the church's Joseph Smith Memorial Building and stated, "Avoid as the plague social interaction with persons who justify, encourage or engage in homosexual behavior. Stay away from places where those challenged by same-gender attraction congregate."
- 2005 – At the 15th annual conference Elder James O. Mason of the Second Quorum of the Seventy directed, "Can individuals struggling with some same-gender attraction be cured? “With God nothing should be impossible” (Luke 1:37) ... The right course of action remains the same: eliminate or diminish same sex attraction." "Feelings of attraction toward someone of the same gender should be eliminated if possible or controlled."
- 2009 – Elder Bruce C. Hafen of the First Quorum of the Seventy gave an address at the 19th annual conference promising, "If you are faithful, on resurrection morning—and maybe even before then—you will rise with normal attractions for the opposite sex. Some of you may wonder if that doctrine is too good to be true. But Elder Dallin H. Oaks has said it MUST be true...."
- 2010 – Keith B. McMullin of the Presiding Bishopric addressed the 20th annual conference and counseled that if someone says they are homosexual, lesbian, or gay that they should be corrected since it's "simply not true" and God "doesn't speak of His children this way". He further teaches that the "such limitations" as same-gender attraction won't exist after death, though it is not "in and of itself ... neither evil nor sinful".
"Evergreen does not advocate any particular form of therapy" but did provide suggestions on how to choose a therapist and information on individual and group therapy. Evergreen stated that some people had lessened their same sex attractions by using the following therapies: gender wholeness, reparative, reorientation, and re-education. The website specifically mentioned the works of Joseph Nicolosi who says reparative therapy can help people "explore the source of their problem, develop nonerotic same-sex relationships that diminish the sexual attraction they feel toward men, become more secure in their gender-identity, and enjoy heterosexual relationships." The therapy is based on the view that homosexual attractions develop because of incomplete gender-identity development and defensive detachment from other males.
While some of these therapies offered to reduce same-sex attractions, Evergreen made clear that "therapy will likely not be a cure in the sense of erasing all homosexual feelings, but would "strengthen masculine identification" for men. The LDS Church has stated that it does not have a position on "scientific questions" such as the cause of homosexuality. Evergreen followed this stance.
Association with NARTH
The National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), also known as the NARTH Institute, is an organization that (since 2014) functions under the Alliance for Therapeutic Choice and Scientific Integrity (ATCSI). It offers conversion therapy and other regimens that purport to change the sexual orientation of people with same-sex attraction. NARTH was founded in 1992 and has been described as "a multi-disciplinary professional and scientific organization dedicated to the service of persons who experience unwanted homosexual (same-sex) attractions (SSA)".
The Evergreen website officially endorsed the therapeutic methods of NARTH founder Joseph Nicolosi as "beneficial". Nicolosi worked with A. Dean Byrd (an Evergreen Board member, Director of Clinical Training for LDS Social Services, and Brigham Young University professor) to author several papers on reparative therapy. Byrd also served as president of NARTH and also published an article in the LDS church's September 1999 Ensign. Additionally, David C. Pruden served as director of Evergreen and as an officer for NARTH. Likewise, Director of LDS Family Services Jerry Harris served in NARTH leadership.
Participants in Evergreen programs claimed success in diminishing same-sex attractions and overcoming homosexual behavior. As many as 40% of Evergreen members were in heterosexual marriages. Warren Throckmorton reviewed Understanding the meaning of change for married Latter-Day Saint men with histories of homosexual activity by J. W. Robinson. Robinson interviewed seven heterosexually married men who had been through Evergreen and previously identified as gay. They believed that they had a spiritual transformation which changed their orientation. They also stated that they were no longer troubled by feeling different or rejected by heterosexual men, emotional attraction to men, sexual attraction to men, feeling bad about same-sex desires, social isolation, or compulsive sexual thoughts and behaviors. Robinson found that their change came from a new understanding that prior same-sex attractions did not require them to be gay.
Relations with the LDS Church
Although it functioned independently of any church, Evergreen was religiously based on the teachings of the LDS Church. The organization adhered to its teachings "without reservation or exception." Evergreen had LDS general authorities on its board of trustees and taught LDS Church principles to Latter-day Saints and ecclesiastical leaders by coordinating with the Church as well as by hosting various events, such as firesides (informal evening gatherings of church members), workshops, and conferences. General LDS church leaders have spoken at every Evergreen Annual Conferences since 2000 (with the exception of 2002).
Closure and transition to North Star
- Affirmation: Gay & Lesbian Mormons
- Criticism of Mormonism
- Homosexuality and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
- Sexual orientation change efforts
- "A Christ-Centered Approach". EvergreenInternational.org. Evergreen International. Archived from the original on 24 July 2012. Retrieved 29 October 2016.
- "Map of the Way Out". EvergreenInternational.org. Evergreen International. Archived from the original on 24 July 2012. Retrieved 29 October 2016.
- "Evergreen Annual and Regional Conferences". conference.northstarlds.org/evergreen. North Star International. Retrieved 29 November 2016.
- Morrison, Alexander. "Some Gospel Perspectives on Same-Gender Attraction". EvergreenInternational.org. Archived from the original on 24 July 2012. Retrieved 29 October 2016.
- Mason, James. "The Worth of a Soul Is Great" (PDF). EvergreenInternational.org. Archived from the original on 24 July 2012. Retrieved 29 October 2016.
- "Elder Bruce C. Hafen Speaks on Same-Sex Attraction". Mormon Newsroom. Retrieved 29 October 2016.
- "Remarks by Bishop Keith B. McMullin to Evergreen International". LDS Church. Mormon Newsroom. 20 Sep 2010. Retrieved 29 November 2016.
- "Myths", EvergreenInternational.org, archived from the original on 2012-07-24
- "Therapy", EvergreenInternational.org, archived from the original on 15 April 2005
- Park, Jason. "Therapy". Evergreen International. Archived from the original on 15 April 2005. Retrieved 29 November 2016.
- "Additional Resource", Mormon Newsroom, LDS Church, 12 December 2012
- "The Alliance for Therapeutic Choice and Scientific Integrity". The Alliance for Therapeutic Choice and Scientific Integrity. Retrieved 29 November 2016.
- Sutton, Philip M. (November 2015). "Professional care for unwanted same-sex attraction: What does the research say?". The Linacre Quarterly. 82 (4): 351–363. doi:10.1179/0024363915Z.000000000147. Retrieved 29 November 2016.
- "Recommended Friends". desertstream.org. Desert Streams. Archived from the original on 21 May 2015. Retrieved 21 May 2015.
- Nicolosi, Joseph; Byrd, A. Dean; Potts, Richard W. (June 2000). "Retrospective self-reports of changes in homosexual orientation: A consumer survey of conversion therapy clients". 86. Psychological Reports: 1071–1088.
- Byrd, A. Dean. "When a Loved One Struggles with Same-Sex Attraction". lds.org. LDS Church. Retrieved 16 November 2016.
- "Controversial Leader of 'Ex-Gay' Therapy Group Steps Down as Criticism Mounts". NBC29 News WVIR Charlottesville, VA. 7 Dec 2006. Retrieved 29 November 2016.
- "Narth Officers". narth.com. NARTH. Archived from the original on 3 August 2004. Retrieved 29 November 2016.
- "FAQs (Frequently-Asked Questions)", EvergreenInternational.org, archived from the original on 2012-07-24
- Park, Jason, "Can I Resolve my Same-sex Attractions?", EvergreenInternational.org, archived from the original on 2012-07-24
- Winters, Rosemary (September 16, 2009), "Words of love: 'I don't care that you're gay'", The Salt Lake Tribune
- Throckmorton, Warren (June 2002). "Initial empirical and clinical findings concerning the change process for ex-gays". Professional Psychology: Research and Practice. American Psychological Association. 33 (3): 242–248. doi:10.1037/0735-7028.33.3.242.
- Stack, Peggy Fletcher (January 2, 2014), "Longtime support group for gay Mormons shuts down", The Salt Lake Tribune
- Latter-day Saint (LDS) Resources About Same-sex Attraction, by Century Publishing at CenturyPubl.com, which includes an archive of LDS general authority addresses given at Evergreen conferences.