Bishop Gene Robinson backs out of APA symposium

Today, the Washington Blade reported that Bishop Gene Robinson backed out of his scheduled presentation at the American Psychiatric Association conference. He was scheduled to present about “A Pastoral Approach for Gay & Lesbian People Troubled by Homosexuality.”

Bishop Robinson provided the following explanation:

“Conservatives, particularly Focus on the Family, were going to use this event to draw credibility to the so-called reparative therapy movement,” Robinson told the Blade. “It became clear to me in the last couple of weeks that just my showing up and letting this event happen … lends credibility to that so-called therapy.”

This is quite troubling and not at all accurate. Since no one on the panel planned to speak about reparative therapy, it is clear to me that the Bishop was misinformed. The symposium was approved by the APA in October of 2007 and nothing has changed in the descriptions, personnel or intent of the symposium since then. The meeting is not going to endorse reparative approaches, or advocate for any change in APA policy.

20 thoughts on “Bishop Gene Robinson backs out of APA symposium”

  1. LOL. I had a number of theories myself. It’s happened to me at least 8 times now. I sent Warren an e-mail about it and he’s got his web guy looking into it. I had one go through normally a bit ago.

    LOL. NO, I had to do the trick to this one too! But I forgot about ‘refresh page’, I was bouncing to another topic and back.

  2. Eddy,

    I am having to copy my text and refresh the site and then post. I thought Warren was out to get me!!! LOL!!!!!!

  3. LOL. In post 98984, Wayne wonders where his missing post is, judges that Warren has blocked it and calls him a hypocrite. Yet, post 98981 is a link to Wayne’s own website where we can read Wayne’s thoughts and converse to our hearts content.

    (I’ve been having trouble posting for the past few days and I’ve seen several other responses where people were having trouble. My first thought was a ‘site glitch’ but Wayne’s version does sound more incendiary.)

    Gene Robinson’s cancellation is a real tragedy. So what if “Focus on the Family” put their spin on it; didn’t activist individuals and groups suggest that it was a secret attempt to set Warren up for much needed ridicule? Such a historic meeting would naturally set folks on all sides spinning–and wondering–and concluding. My hope for the meeting was that it would go on in spite of the flurry and buzz around it and that it would hold to David’s vision. Beyond that, I didn’t know what to expect or hope for.

    Warren, I’m sure you and David will discuss further over the next week. I like Ann’s idea of another meeting that remains a secret until after it’s happened. LOL! But some, of course, would diminish its significance since it was ‘secretive and closed door’ and some would still worry that you’d add your spin and they’d add theirs in the reporting.

    (Note: due to site glitch, I had to switch out of this thread in order to come back and post…just saw the headline that the symposium has been cancelled.)

  4. That misunderstands the objection to the panel. Nowhere did the purpose or subject matter of the panel change. The point made by Robinson and Drescher is that the panel, as originally planned, was going to (1) provide fodder to anti-gay PR campaigns run by Focus on the Family, etc.


    I understand what you are saying – I can see how groups from all sides and the media would use this for their own promotions – I just wish it didn’t have to be that way. The next time perhaps four great minds can meet anonymously and all this will be avoided.

  5. Some of the biggest nay sayers have asked for this to be cancelled and then put pressure on others to decline attendance and then makes claims about others not wanting conversation?? That sounds strange. Do only some people speak for the gay community?

  6. Ann writes:

    I think it would send a strong message to the media and opposing groups if the four participants could rise above all the noise on the outside and proceed with what they and the moderator initially planned.

    That misunderstands the objection to the panel. Nowhere did the purpose or subject matter of the panel change. The point made by Robinson and Drescher is that the panel, as originally planned, was going to (1) provide fodder to anti-gay PR campaigns run by Focus on the Family, etc., and (2) provide a mainstream platform and thereby lend credibility to marginal or discredited views. (The second objection is more clearly articulated by Drescher than Robinson.)

  7. Glad to hear it was cancelled. The APA should not lend its name to bigotry or dangerous attempts to change people’s orientation.

  8. I think it would send a strong message to the media and opposing groups if the four participants could rise above all the noise on the outside and proceed with what they and the moderator initially planned. It would be a show of solidarity that could set an exemplary tone and demonstrate that pro-active steps to understanding and reconciliation is far better than the prevailing contention that has hurt so many for so long.

  9. Thank you Kevin – I appreciate your answer. Do you think Pastor Robinson has all the correct information now regarding the other participants and the purpose of the symposium? If so, then whatever decision he makes is the right one for him. If not, and his decision is based on incomplete or inaccurate information regarding the participants and/or the purpose of the symposium, then we all lose without him there and the value he could add. I certainly respect his decision either way but am concerned that the information he has is correct and from the source rather than outsiders.

  10. Ann,

    It wasn’t my intention to argue for or against the symposium — I can see arguments on both sides. I just wanted to correct Warren’s misstatement that Gene Robinson had his facts wrong.

  11. Kevin,

    Do you think Pastor Robinson knows that Dr. Throckmorton is not a reparative therapist and that he does not endorse this form of therapy nor is it the purpose of the symposium? If not, do you think in knowing this accurate information it could change his mind? I saw it as four professionals coming together to discuss and exchange ideas, without the outside noise. I think the complications are coming from people other than the four participants. I do understand what you are saying about how it can be used to bolster and support a one sided view but I also see that it is now being used for that from both sides and that was not the intention of the four participants in forming symposium. If left alone, it could be a conduit of reconciliation and understanding rather than contention.

  12. Yes, activists can “make anything out of anything.” But that is a response to Robinson that is very different from your initial comment that he got his facts wrong or has been misled.

    You’re right that I mistakenly assumed you were talking about Drescher — I made that assumption because he’s been the most publicly vocal critic of the symposium. Even setting that aside, my initial criticism stands that you’re comment was ad hominem and a straw man. Pointing to ad hominems made by the other side doesn’t excuse that.

  13. Kevin – Activists can make anything out of anything. He knew what this symposium was 6 months ago. And yet he waits until the last minute to express these concerns.

    Accusing me of an ad hominem is humorous compared to what has been said about David Scasta and me the last couple of weeks. People who I believe to be in the know have been clear to me about the kind of pressure being applied. I was not talking about Jack Drescher when I said “afraid of a conversation.” Why would you think I was talking about him?

  14. You continue to say that Robinson was “misled” about how Focus on the Family was going to make use of this conference, but your argument misses the point. Even if you weren’t going to advocate for reparative therapy, etc., Focus on the Family can still turn around and use the conference in a PR campaign for their “Love Won Out” conferences wherein they present “experts” who believe they can “help” people “overcome homosexuality.” Further, Focus on the Family has already done that (see the editorial I linked to above). That kind of behavior is why Robinson backed out.

    Also, I think you’re making an ad hominem attack and a straw man when you say “gay activists are applying much pressure and apparently afraid of a conversation.” Jack Drescher has argued at length why the symposium is a bad idea ( ) . You might disagree with him, but his position is clearly more nuanced than being “afraid of a conversation.”

  15. Warren:

    The bishop was not “mislead” – he just saw through the spin. Obviously, Focus on the Family did capitalize from this quack forum, as pointed out by Kevin.

    While you say “reparative therapy” won’t be espoused, what you promote is just as bizarre. You seem to suggest that homosexuality, in some cases, is caused by anxiety. I’m sorry, but if you beleive this you should have your license revoked. Whoops, you don’t have one. But, no serious person would suggest such idiocy and expect to be taken seriously.

    What I find hypocritical is that you offer to “help” gay people with their assertiveness, then you turn around and claim we have a zero sum game. Seems contradictory. If we really played such hard ball, I suppose we’d naturally turn straight according to your crackpot theories.

    Warren, I also disagree when you say that activists beleive that “religion must join them or be marginalized.” This comment smacks of religious bigotry and sectarian supremacy on your part. No one objects to the religious beliefs of Gene Robinson and others who are tolerant and demonstrate genuine love. What people rightfully object to is right wing marginalization of gay people in the name of faith. This was not acceptable when women, Jews, and blacks were oppressed. It is still unacceptable when it comes to gay people. This is a lesson you simply refuse to learn.

    Indeed, it is appropriate and a moral imperative to marginalize such anachronistic beliefs in favor of either no religion – or a healthier version of faith. But for you to portray this as a war against all religion is inaccurate and a canard that does not conform to reality. (much like your so-called therapy).

    Finally, I thank you for your interview with the Blade. Your radical comments have made it much easier for gullible individuals to see through your facade. The GLBT community witnessed just how radical and out of touch you truly are.

    Warren, your time would be better spent helping GLBT people accept themselves, rather than inventing elaborate mind games that only lead to pain and suffering. What you do is truly destructive. No matter how much perfume you put on the pig called Sexual Identity Therapy it harms gay people, is psychologically unhealthy and serves as an unnecessary roadblock to genuine acceptance and fulfillment.

  16. This is a program of the APA convention and approved by the APA program committee.

    The APA is nervous because gay activists are applying much pressure and apparently afraid of a conversation. Bishop Robinson may have been misled but those who misled know exactly what this program is. They know that I do not advocate reparative therapy; they know that no one is going to advocate a revision of the APA policies on homosexuality.

    One of my commenters here once commented that for some gay activists the struggle with religion is a zero sum game – for gays to reach some desired status point, religion must join them or be marginalized. Right now, I am wondering if the people who influenced the Bishop believe that.

    This is a very concerning and troubling development.

    So in answer to the question, the APA approved this program in Oct of 2007. Hit the link and scroll about half way down to see it in the APA program.

  17. By the way, Robinson’s comments may have been fueled by this editorial, wherein Focus on the Family does exactly what Robinson accuses them of doing — citing the symposium, then shifting the conversation to “helping” people “understand that same-sex attractions can be overcome.”:

  18. Warren,

    The Blade article also states that “Although the event is scheduled at the same time as the American Psychiatric Association (APA) annual meeting and is taking place in the same city, APA is emphasizing that the forum is not an official event.”

    Is that true? Your previous post explicitly said that the APA was hosting the symposium. Which is it?

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