Alan Chambers on It Gets Better: Life Comes First

In a blog post today on the Exodus International site, Exodus President Alan Chambers walked back from earlier criticism of the “It Gets Better” campaign a bit. Chambers writes:

A few months ago I went on record criticizing the “It Gets Better” campaign that has gone viral with an anti-bullying message for LGBT teens.  My criticism was over the use of “Woody,” the fictional star from the box office smash Toy Story trilogy.  I reacted because I hate when iconic children’s heroes are used to further what I perceive to be adult causes.  With further reflection and thought, though, I have to admit that I was wrong to question their marketing strategy without expressing my full support for what is the heart of their campaign – encouraging LGBT teens to choose life.
I know I am going to get a barrage of emails, calls and letters about this from those who think that I am caving to pressure.  Truth be told I am pressured daily by both pro-gay and pro-Church groups (and everyone in between).  I don’t listen to all of the “advice” or “criticism” that is offered, but I do review most it.  And, I pray about it. It keeps me up at night as I weigh the impact my opinions and words have on others globally. I don’t want to ever be guilty of towing a “party” line, whether that party is political, social or religious, just because that’s what’s expected or because it garners a donation.  I want to live out my biblical beliefs in a way that draws people to Christ.  When it comes to kids killing themselves, I can’t justify criticizing a campaign that, at its deepest core, is most about saving the lives of LGBT kids.  I care MORE about a kid choosing life than whether or not he or she embraces a gay identity. Life comes first.  Living out our biblical convictions means fighting for the lives of young people at all cost.  Can any of us actually say we’d rather our teens, neighbors, friends or complete strangers kill themselves than be gay?  I certainly can’t.  Regardless of where someone falls on the debate over sexuality, I hope we can all agree to move the issue of bullying and suicide, especially where kids are concerned, to a non-polarized, non-politicized and non-divisive issue.

I appreciate Alan’s statement here. I think this needs to be made known to folks in the Anoka-Hennepin School District who are resisting bullying prevention programs.
Alan goes on to describe his experience as a child who was bullied. He has an experiential perspective that many social conservatives ignore. A middle school kid who is being harassed with anti-gay slurs and threatened with violence because of a perceived orientation doesn’t care about your religious beliefs. He just wants help to make it stop. In Anoka-Hennepin, for instance, the Parents Action League puts ideology before kids, in my opinion. Alan’s statement is something that I hope they see.
UPDATE: The Christian Post just published an article about Chamber’s statement prominently on their front page.

Straw Poll Results Make Values Voter Summit Look Fringe

Here are the results of today’s Values Voter Straw Poll:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) has won Family Research Council Action’s fourth-ever Values Voter Summit Straw Poll. Businessman Herman Cain finished in second place and former Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) finished third.
The following are the straw poll results:
Presidential Candidate Name Total Votes Percentage:
Michele Bachmann 157 8%
Herman Cain 447 23%
Newt Gingrich 54 3%
Jon Huntsman 2 0%
Ron Paul 732 37%
Rick Perry 167 8%
Mitt Romney 88 4%
Rick Santorum 323 16%
Undecided 13 1%

Does anyone think Ron Paul is going to take the GOP nomination? Is Rick Santorum really third in the race? Romney and Cain lead the polls I have seen and Cain did well here. Romney however, is going to do much better in the GOP primaries than he did here.

Hannity guest says Obama bigger disaster than 9/11

Last night, I was flipping channels looking for the Yankees-Tigers playoff game (Go Tigers!) and as I went through FOX, I heard this guy say that President Obama is a bigger disaster than 9-11. I didn’t recognize him but later found out his name is Neal Boortz, apparently a talk show host. I figured someone would have the footage up this morning and here it is:

 Boortz said:

Killing three thousand people is a tragedy, Sean. It is a real tragedy. But, killing the individualism, the self-reliance, and the self respect of the American people like Barack Obama has done is much more of a tragedy.

Conservatives have such a short memory. Remember the Bush is Hitler controversies that conservatives rightly decried? Boortz’s comments are on the same order and should have been confronted immediately by Hannity.
What an offensive comparison; mostly to anyone who lost a friend or family member on 9/11. However, Boortz also offends Americans in general. By his comments, Boortz demonstrates such a low view of Americans. Obama’s term has not been a good one on balance in my view, but are American virtues so fragile that a one-term President can kill them?

Wretched Radio Listeners Express Disappointment Over Decision to Stay With American Family Radio

Last week, the American Family Association issued an ultimatum to two hosts of radio shows on the American Family Radio network – either stop speaking at events hosted by Brannon Howse or be removed from the AFR network. AFA decided that people who help Howse and his Worldview Weekend organization are not welcome to be a part of their lineup. Leading up to The Response prayer meeting, convened by Texas Governor Rick Perry, and paid for by the AFA, Howse had criticized the prominent participation of members of the New Apostolic Reformation in The Response. The AFA President, Tim Wildmon told me last week that “AFR is under no obligation to run programs of individuals who are going to help Brannon when he is attacking our friends. We make programming decisions all the time.”
On Friday, one of the hosts, John Loeffler, decided not to continue with AFR. On Tuesday, just ahead of the Wednesday deadline for a decision set by the AFA, Todd Friel, host of Wretched Radio issued a statement on their group’s Facebook page announcing intention to continue with AFA and drop out of a prior commitment to speak at a Worldview Weekend in 2012. The note elicited many comments from fans, some of whom seemed confused about what the announcement meant. Once other commenters explained the situation, many Wretched fans expressed disappointment in the decision. Here are some of those comments:
Cathy Blackerby Mathews asked:

My question is this: Will Wretched cover the NAR movement? They clearly proclaim a false gospel. The AFA has made it pretty clear that they will not tolerate this. I just don’t understand how the Wretched gang does not see that they have ti…ed their own hands here. This movement is huge- it’s tentacles are moving into all kinds of areas- conservative politics, Word-Faith, church growth, territorial demons/spiritual warfare, IHOP, missions. It is all about power and alliances for the NAR- their theology dictates that this be the case. Please Wretched gang- look into this stuff. Herescope has done extensive documented research -as well as Brannon obviously.

Greg Harrison said:

I am not going to stop listening to Wretched, I am still a fan, but I think I have to take Todd’s advice: when someone makes a less than biblically informed decision then my discernment radar has to go up. I never thought I would have to us…e that for Wretched. I am very saddened by this decision and wonder how your ministry will be weakened if you have to censor yourself so as not to offend your network. I also wonder, as Howse pointed out, how you can justify your recent comments on James MacDonald (with which I whole-heartedly agreed) in the light of your decision to agree to AFA’s demands when they are aligning with and protecting heretics. On another note: Chris Rosebrough (who was recently interviewed on Wretched) is heard in 57 countries and has a very large audience for Fighting for the Faith without the aid of a large network like AFA. I am sure Wretched could survive without AFA.

Joy Wenning said she will stop following the show, saying

Personally, I prefer listening to Wretched, BUT. will no longer. I know Brannon is being gracious, however, I have much more respect for Brannon and John. Wretched, you have an extremely weak reason(s). It is clear you didn’t act on principle…but went to every extent possible to find an out. You have to think a whole lot to come up with your list. One normally does that when they want to hang on to something bad enough and are willing to ignore the obvious. Do a heart check. You are willing to let AFA snap you into submission. I can no longer in good conscience listen knowing you have compromised on this large of an issue. The times are a changing and we will be pressured more and more to compromise. I think you are really inconsistent in what you’ve done.

Earlier today on the same thread, Wretched Radio’s Joel Anderson responded to those who expressed disagreement with the decision saying:

Wretched ?(Joel) Cathy, Angie, Joy, everyone – Let me be clear. This has absolutely nothing to do with what we do or don’t speak out against. Nothing. Wretched will continue to speak out against NAR [New Apostolic Reformation], IHOP [International House of Prayer], etc. The controversy will not affect our… programming in the least bit. We have not changed anything content-wise on Wretched. If we get bounced from stations and networks (and we have countless times) for what we air…so be it. We stand behind what we say.

After this comment, Jim De Arras asked:

Joel, Will Wretched remain free to speak out against AFA’s association with NAR in the Rick Perry event or praise Brannon for his stand? If not, you are compromised.

Prior to the ultimatum, Wretched had not discussed the criticisms of Howse on the show. Given the AFA’s decision, doing so now would invite retaliation.
Despite the majority of comments being negative on the decision, a few promised to keep listening.
Teresa Atkins said:

Love you guys!!! We support you Friel and staff. We don’t support AFA. We will keep listening via your Wretched club. Praying for you all. Grace and peace to you and your families.

For his part, Howse encouraged Friel’s listeners to continue with the show, but expressed disappointment over the decision on his website:

Brannon encourages his audience to continue listening to & learning from Wretched Radio & his friend Todd Friel. Brannon does lovingly explain why he is disappointed in the excuses given by Wretched Radio in their statement & explains why their statement claiming there is not a theological issue at stake is wrong.

The American College of Pediatricians versus the American Academy of Pediatrics: Who leads and who follows?

Just for fun, let’s compare the American College of Pediatricians with the American Academy of Pediatrics.
In August, David Barton and Rick Green at Wallbuilders said the ACP is the leading association of pediatricians in the nation. Even after their error was pointed out by the AAP and a reader of this blog, Rick Green said yesterday on air that the AAP “has more members and has been around a little longer” but both Barton and Green stuck by the story that the ACP was the leading group. However, ACP’s own comparison demonstrates significant differences between the two organizations. The following chart comes from the ACP website:

Note that the ACP does not provide Continuing Medical Education or a professional journal. Access to other professional programs (Red Book, Prep program) is offered via higher fees, but the AAP or affiliated groups actually provide the services. In other words, if there was no AAP, there would be no continuing education or professional publications.
A hallmark of a profession is the provision of training, certification, and continuing education. The ACP does not none of this independently. The ACP has been around since 2002 and the AAP since 1937. Annually, the AAP spends millions on professional publications and continuing education; the ACP receipts in 2008 were less than $60,000.  The AAP has over 60,000 members, the ACP about 200.
Specialty groups have a long history in the professions and they can have a place, but it is not in the lead. If the ACP disappeared, members of the group would probably miss it, but nothing would change about pediatrics as a medical specialty. The ACP relies on the AAP for the CMEs and research information required to stay in practice.
Who is leading and who is following?
Additional information about gender identity issues and ACPed:
ACPed leaves out crucial information on gender dysphoria
Interview with Kenneth Zucker on gender identity issues
Common sense on gender identity dysphoria
Interview with mother of child with gender dysphoria
ACPed removes member who called for gender disorder treatment

Wallbuilders Tells Audience One Thing and Pediatricians Another Thing

Yesterday, I posted a note from Wallbuilder’s Caroline Henry to the American Academy of Pediatrics. The note addressed a previous Wallbuilder’s show during which David Barton claimed that the leading association of pediatricians in America warned schools to stop indoctrinating students into homosexuality. See the original post for details; in short the real leading association (the American Academy of Pediatrics) did not issue any such warning. The American College of Pediatricians a small group of socially conservative pediatricians and related professionals did so over a year ago. They are not a leading group of pediatricians.
The AAP wrote to Barton in order correct him and and via Caroline Henry, he wrote back to the AAP with the following message:

Hi Debora (sic),
Thank you for your email to WallBuilders Live, I apologize for the delay in response but I hope I can address your concerns!
After airing the episode about ACP David and Rick were informed that the news source they quoted during the episode was mistaken. David and Rick sent a letter to the news source addressing the mistaken information in the story. We apologize for the mix up and appreciate your notification as well.
If you have any further question or concerns please feel free to contact us. Many blessings!
Caroline Henry

However, today, David Barton and co-host Rick Green addressed their earlier error but did not blame a faulty news source. Instead, they did not admit the error and declined to retract their earlier statements. You can hear the entire segment at the Wallbuilder’s site here; listen between 10:00 and 12:35. Right Wing Watch has most of the audio segment transcribed which I reproduce here:

Green: Actually David I got a—actually it’s not a retraction at all actually—we got a letter that wanted a retraction. Remember when we did the show? There was a great paper that was put out by the American Academy—I mean the American College of Pediatricians, and they were saying look some of this stuff you’re doing on homosexuality in schools is dangerous for kids, this homosexual agenda is not a good idea and bringing it into the classroom and that sort of thing. We did a whole program on this. In the program we talked about hey this is one of the leading pediatric associations in the nation, and we got a letter from one of the other pediatric associations, let’s see the American Academy of Pediatrics, which has more members and has been around a little longer and they I guess took offense to that so they sent us a letter and they said they wanted to make sure we knew that the ACP was not the leading pediatric association in America and they put some of their papers in here and there position is a little different I would say—
Barton: Oh yeah, oh yeah.
Green: Much more liberal on this. As we pointed out to them directly and we’ll put it out here on the show: leading does not mean largest, leading means, sometimes it takes a newer, leaner more responsive organization—
Barton: And they are one of the leading organizations. Now the fact that this other organization may not like them and may disagree with them doesn’t mean they’re not a leading organization. They are a credentialed organization made up of credentialed people and the fact that they don’t agree with them doesn’t make them less than leading. And if they’re expecting a retraction, sorry, ain’t happening!

Then, at 11:56, Barton says, “We didn’t get this one wrong.”
The closest thing to the sentiment expressed in the email to the AAP was this statement at 12:19, from Rick Green:

No, we do apologize if the American Academy of Pediatrics was offended by us calling the American College of Pediatricians a leading pediatrics association, but uh, sorry that you were offended, but we still think they’re leading and love the good work they are doing.

In their note to the AAP, Wallbuilder’s Caroline Henry called the earlier broadcast an error based on a faulty news source. On their broadcast to listeners, however, Barton and Green said there was no error. Which is it?
If Barton and Green were referring to the ACP all along, then they needs to issue a retraction to the ACP. About the ACP, they said:

Barton: What’s interesting is, you know medical groups do not tend to be very conservative. Any professional medical group, the American Psychiatric Association, the association of psychologists, even the American Medical Association is a particularly friendly conservative group, they’re not a pro-life group and what’s really interesting is the American College of Pediatricians; now think about that, is that a conservative group?
Green: You’d think they would be, looking out for the kids, right?
Barton: But yeah, don’t spank your kid, don’t touch your kid, you know, and think of the way pediatric stuff has gone, and you don’t want to help shape these kids, let ‘em be what they want to be. And so, all that anti-parental influence, and it’s remarkable that you have the American College of Pediatricians, who has just, they sent a letter to all 14,800 school superintendents in the United States and it’s a letter warning about what’s happening in the schools and the American College of Pediatricians is cautioning educators about what they do with same-sex attraction or symptoms of gender identity confusion in schools.
Green: You’re kidding, this is the pediatric association?
Barton: The American College of Pediatricians is cautioning educators about what they do with same-sex attraction or symptoms of gender identity or gender confusion in schools.
Green: You’re kidding, this is the Pediatric Association?
Barton: Got it, get this. The letter reminds school superintends that it is ‘not uncommon for adolescents to experience transient,’ that’s a big word, ‘transient confusion about their sexual orientation,’ and is telling 14,800 superintendents that ‘most students will ultimately adopt a heterosexual orientation if not otherwise encouraged.’ And they’re saying, guys, back off. This indoctrination you’re doing—
Green: You plant that stuff in their minds, your leading them down that path.
Barton: If you’ll just let this develop naturally, they’ll end up being heterosexual unless you force them to be homosexual. Well that’s a remarkable letter coming from the leading pediatric association in America. And this is what it says, ‘for this reason schools should avoid developing policies that encourage non-heterosexual attractions among students who may be experimenting or experiencing temporary sexual confusion.’ The discouraging program, so all this bullying stuff–

(emphasis mine)
A visit to the ACP website will make it clear that they are pro-life and not anything like the picture painted by Barton about medical groups. Since the ACP had been taking the same position on homosexuality from the beginning of the group, the letter to superintendents was not at all remarkable. It was just par for their course. It is also clear that Barton referred to the ACP as the leading group not just one of several groups.

Wretched Radio host stays with American Family Radio

Ahead of Wednesday’s deadline for a decision, Todd Friel, host of Wretched Radio, opted to stay with American Family Radio instead of speak at an event hosted by Brannon Howse. Last week, American Family Radio’s program director, Jim Stanley sent a letter to John Loeffler and Todd Friel, informing them that if they spoke at an event hosted by Brannon Howse, they could not continue on AFR. See the details here and here.
On the Facebook page for the show, Friel posted a vague statement giving defense for staying with AFR despite the ultimatum:

Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a difficult situation not of your own doing and forced to make a decision you didn’t want to make? That’s what happened to us. We were minding our own business when we were asked to make a decision to speak at one conference or continue to preach the Gospel on 130 stations.
What would you have done? 
More than that, can you understand how two different people might make two different decisions and neither are sinning?
We are not choosing sides.  We are simply trying to do what we exist to do: preach the Gospel on radio and TV. 
Feel free to disagree with us, but please keep these things in mind:

  • If you are a parent or if you have ever been in a spat with your spouse, you know that there are two sides to every story.
  • We encouraged reconciliation between the two parties.
  • We are certainly not Dominionists….yikes.
  • There is a theological term called Adiaphora: things neither commanded nor forbidden by God.  We believe this situation is an adiaphora.  Two different Christians can make two different decisions.
  • This is not a heretical issue.
  • Do you really think we have jumped ship by making this painful decision?
  • We received much unanimous Godly council.  The options for us were not good, but they were relatively clear.
  • We do not hate either party.
  • This is a wonderful chance to understand the difference between sinful decisions and preferential decisions.
  • We don’t have a number ten, but a top 9 list seemed silly.
  • So, there you have it.  You may feel we’ve made a mistake; but please remember, we are not your enemy.   We have always said, when it comes to heretics, the gloves come off.  When it comes to a brother, we should treat each other charitably and with love assuming the best. 
    Thank you for reading and pondering this.
       – The Wretched Gang

    Since this statement was posted late yesterday afternoon, 117 comments have been made, most of which criticize the AFA and/or Friel for his decision. Here is a recent one which seems to sum up the mood:

    For those that keep asking what happened: AFR sent John Loeffler and Todd Friel notices that either they cancel their appearances at Brannon Howse’s Christian Worldview Conferences or their radio shows would be booted off the air. John Lo…effler chose to side with Brannon, and had his radio show pulled from AFR. Todd Friel apparently decided to keep his show on AFR and has chosen not to participate in Brannon’s conference. If you go to Brannon Howse’s FB page you’ll see more info on this. AFR is coming out against Brannon due to his speaking out against many Word of Faith folks that AFR has association with or joined with in The Response. HTHs for those of you who are asking! I pray that the Wretched gang can find a new media outlet. I understand that it is important to keep their show on the air to get the Gospel to as many people as possible, but to still be associated with AFR after behaving in such a dirty, underhanded way is really sad. AFR just proved that they are not a true Christian organization-if they were, they would not have resorted to such tactics.

    When asked for a comment about the situation, Friel pointed me to the Facebook note mentioned above. The other host targeted by the AFR for associated with Brannon Howse, John Loeffler, decided Friday to sever ties with the AFA.
    Additional note: Perhaps the reason the AFA decided to try to hurt Howse by attacking friends of Howse is that they could be feeling some pain from the loss of supporters. Here is a note, again from a supporter of Todd Friel, that makes me wonder if the work with NAR apostles is hurting the AFA:

    Excellent comments Shirley! We learned this summer that AFA was promoting Dominionism and pulled our financial support. When God reveals the truth about a situation it is wise for a Christian to respond in obedience to HIS Word. Honestly, my husband and I had been troubled about the direction AFA was heading for some time, but upon that revelation it was obvious that we could no longer support them.

    Wallbuilders blames unnamed news source for error about pediatricians

    Remember when David Barton and Rick Green told their audience that the leading pediatricians association in the nation urged school staff to stop indoctrinating kids into homosexuality? The initial response from Rick Green to a listener was to claim that there was nothing wrong in what they said on the broadcast when they referred to the American College of Pediatricians as the leading group. Of course, the real leading group, the American Academy of Pediatrics, denied giving any such advice.
    Today, I received an email from the American Academy of Pediatrics, alerting me that Wallbuiders had retreated from their earlier position. Here is the email forwarded by the AAP and reproduced with permission:

    Hi Debora (sic),
    Thank you for your email to WallBuilders Live, I apologize for the delay in response but I hope I can address your concerns!
    After airing the episode about ACP David and Rick were informed that the news source they quoted during the episode was mistaken. David and Rick sent a letter to the news source addressing the mistaken information in the story. We apologize for the mix up and appreciate your notification as well.
    If you have any further question or concerns please feel free to contact us. Many blessings!
    Caroline Henry

    I took a quick look through Google for anyone else who might have called the American College of Pediatricians the leading association of pediatricians. Can’t find it. If anyone sees something to that effect, let me know.
    I wonder if this news will make it on WallbuildersLive.

    Michael Brown: Here is a taste of next month's NARTH conference

    The National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality claims to be a scientific organization. However, a review of their website finds lots of anti-gay advocacy. In the past, when I bring this up with NARTH supporters, what I have been told is that they do it because the APA does it.
    While I don’t deny that the mental health groups lean left and this bias comes out at their conferences at times, I wonder why NARTH makes any pretense of being distinct from the APA when they feature non-scientists in prominent speaking spots. Cases in point: this year’s conference features advocate of keeping homosexual criminal Sharon Slater who will speak in an applied workshop (I wonder what application NARTH wants participants to take from Slater’s workshop?). In addition, minister Michael Brown will speak in a plenary meeting to all participants. Brown has a book out called A Queer Thing Happened to America. It is not a science book.
    You can hear a little of what he might have to say next month here, courtesy of Right Wing Watch.

    There will always be extremes in any social group who want to say, ‘off with their heads’ to people not in the club. We got our reconstructionists and dominionists and the gays may have them some gay dominionists somewhere. I don’t really think I should be judged by the reconstructionists. Should we judge all gay folk by Brown’s gay dominionists (if they exist)?