Restoration Path

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Restoration Path, known as Love In Action (LIA) until March 2012,[1] is an ex-gay Christian ministry founded in 1973 by Frank Worthen, John Evans, and Kent Philpott.[2] The program was founded in Marin County, California, just north of San Francisco.


After Evans' friend Jack McIntyre committed suicide out of despair about his inability to change, Evans left the project and denounced it as dangerous. He was quoted by the Wall Street Journal (April 21, 1993) as saying: "They're destroying people's lives. If you don't do their thing, you're not of God, you'll go to hell. They're living in a fantasy world."

John Smid recounts becoming a Christian in 1982. He found that his religious conviction was incompatible with his homosexual lifestyle. He entered into a relationship with a woman and married. In 1986 he joined the leadership of Love In Action, eventually becoming executive director. Smid left LIA in 2008.[3] In 2011, on his website, he stated that homosexuality is an intrinsic part of one's being, and that "change, repentance, reorientation and such" cannot occur, and noted that he had "never met a man who experienced a change from homosexual to heterosexual".[4]

In March 2012, Love In Action changed its name to Restoration Path.[1]

Zach Stark controversy[edit]

In June 2005, a 16-year-old Tennessee boy, Zach Stark, posted a blog entry on his MySpace site, part of which includes:

Somewhat recently, as many of you know, I told my parents I was gay.... Well today, my mother, father, and I had a very long "talk" in my room where they let me know I am to apply for a fundamentalist christian program for gays. They tell me that there is something psychologically wrong with me, and they "raised me wrong." I'm a big screw up to them, who isn't on the path God wants me to be on. So I'm sitting here in tears, joing [sic] the rest of those kids who complain about their parents on blogs - and I can't help it.[5]

The program Stark noted is a Love In Action-run camp known as Refuge.

On August 14, Stark updated his blog, stating that LIA had not pressured him into doing anything and he got along well with most of the clients there. He said his parents no longer let him hang out with girls as friends because it was unhealthy and that his father had asked him to stop blogging.

Stark has since accepted his homosexuality, and appears in the documentary from director Morgan Jon Fox, entitled This Is What Love In Action Looks Like, which features an exclusive interview with Stark about the controversy.[6]

Investigation and settlement[edit]

A Tennessee investigation against the camp began shortly after Stark's story appeared online. As of June 28, 2005, the investigation has been dropped, with Tennessee officials citing a lack of evidence of child abuse at the facilities. "Department of Children's Services dispatched its special investigations unit to the facility, and after conducting a full investigation, determined that the child abuse allegations were unfounded," Rob Johnson, an agency spokesman, told the Associated Press.[7] Campaigners for the Queer Action Coalition who aim to have LIA close down, have made allegations of corruption. On September 12, 2005, the Tennessee-based Love in Action facility was determined by the Tennessee Department of Mental Health to have been operating two "unlicensed mental health supportive living facilities".[8] LIA stopped accepting the mentally ill and dispensing medications and, in February 2006, the state of Tennessee ceased legal action.[9]

Love in Action sued the state of Tennessee for discrimination against the ministry.[10] The suit was settled[11] on October 27, 2006. Tennessee agreed that Love in Action would not need licensing as a mental health facility, and LIA agreed to make sure none of its employees administered or regulated the medication of its clients. The state of Tennessee was told to pay Love in Action's legal fees.


In June, 2007, LIA discontinued the Refuge program.

On July 5, 2007, Love in Action announced the initiation of Family Freedom Intensive, a monthly four-day program for parents with teens "struggling with same-sex attraction, pornography, and/or promiscuity." Teenagers who decide they would like to join their parents may be considered for inclusion.[12]


  1. ^ a b Corman, Tommy (March 2015). "Name Change" (PDF). Restoration Path. 
  2. ^ History retrieved April 14, 2007
  3. ^ Smid, John. "A Letter Of Apology". Grace Rivers. Retrieved 2011-06-20. 
  4. ^ Smid, John (October 7, 2011). "Where is the repentance?". Grace Rivers. 
  5. ^ New York Times, Gay Teenager Stirs a Storm, by Alex Williams, published July 17, 2005, retrieved 5/22/09
  6. ^ Beifuss, John. "Memphis-based film unfurls with pride at San Francisco festival". The Commercial Appeal. Retrieved 2011-06-21. 
  7. ^ Palazzolo, Rose (2005-06-28). "Ex-gay camp investigation called off". ABC News. Retrieved 2006-04-11. 
  8. ^ Melzer, Eartha Jane (2005-07-22). "Gay teen to be released from Tenn. ex-gay facility". Washington Blade. Archived from the original on 2006-03-31. Retrieved 2006-04-11. 
  9. ^ Popper, Ben (2006-02-10). "Love in court". Memphis Flyer. Retrieved 2006-04-11. 
  10. ^ ADF attorneys take action for Love in Action
  11. ^ "Agreed order of dismissal" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2006-11-06. 
  12. ^ "Refuge Becomes Family Freedom Intensive". Love In Action. 2007-07-05. Retrieved 2007-07-12. 

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