Is Exodus International set to rebrand?

Article at Exgaywatch this morning:

Exclusive: Secret Conference Held to ‘Save Exodus International’ from Ruin

The crux of the article is this:

Exodus President Alan Chambers called a meeting together this past November 16. The subject was quite simply how to keep Exodus International from social and financial oblivion. In attendance were Exodus leadership, prominent religious leaders (such as Gabe Lyons) and lay people. The latter were mostly those who once counted themselves in the ex-gay camp but now are either in the process of changing their views or are fully gay affirming.

Go read the details at the link above.

Gabe Lyons is the co-author of unChristian, a book which documented the widespread perception that evangelicals are known for their anti-gay attitudes.

This is worth watching.

Thomas Jefferson, civil government and religion

David Barton will be coming out with a book called The Jefferson Lies next spring. I noted here that he is skilled at spreading them which will make the book entertaining at the least.

As a service in the effort at offsetting lies about Thomas Jefferson, I thought it might be helpful to point Barton to a letter from Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Cooper. The letter, written on February 10, 1814 sets out Jefferson’s argument that British common law was not influenced by Christianity in any direct manner. Thus, any indirect claim that our law was based on Christianity indirectly via influence from Britain is also suspicious. Barton promotes the notion that American law derives from the Bible. He has also argued that Jefferson did not mean for the state to separate Christianity from the operation of the state.

Jefferson, on the other hand, wrote to Thomas Cooper that Christianity came to Britain after common law was established. Jefferson began his letter,

DEAR SIR, — In my letter of January 16, I promised you a sample from my common-place book, of the pious disposition of the English judges, to connive at the frauds of the clergy, a disposition which has even rendered them faithful allies in practice. When I was a student of the law, now half a century ago, after getting through Coke Littleton, whose matter cannot be abridged, I was in the habit of abridging and common-placing what I read meriting it, and of sometimes mixing my own reflections on the subject. I now enclose you the extract from these entries which I promised. They were written at a time of life when I was bold in the pursuit of knowledge, never fearing to follow truth and reason to whatever results they led, and bearding every authority which stood in their way. This must be the apology, if you find the conclusions bolder than historical facts and principles will warrant. Accept with them the assurances of my great esteem and respect.

Then, Jefferson included a portion of his writings on the subject from a past effort. He notes that the belief in the Christian influence on British law has been assumed by various writers, but not proven. He says they have all quoted each other as authorities.

Thus we find this string of authorities, when examined to the beginning, all hanging on the same hook, a perverted expression of Prisot’s, or on one another, or nobody. Thus Finch quotes Prisot; Wingate also; Sheppard quotes Prisot, Finch and Wingate; Hale cites nobody; the court in Woolston’s case cite Hale; Wood cites Woolston’s case; Blackstone that and Hale; and Lord Mansfield, like Hale, ventures it on his own authority.

The crux of the matter for Jefferson is that Christianity was not adopted by the British as common law. He wrote:

For we know that the common law is that system of law which was introduced by the Saxons on their settlement in England, and altered from time to time by proper legislative authority from that time to the date of Magna Charta, which terminates the period of the common law, or lex non scripta, and commences that of the statute law, or Lex Scripta. This settlement took place about the middle of the fifth century. But Christianity was not introduced till the seventh century; the conversion of the first christian king of the Heptarchy having taken place about the year 598, and that of the last about 686. Here, then, was a space of two hundred years, during which the common law was in existence, and Christianity no part of it. If it ever was adopted, therefore, into the common law, it must have been between the introduction of Christianity and the date of the Magna Charta. But of the laws of this period we have a tolerable collection by Lambard and Wilkins, probably not perfect, but neither very defective; and if any one chooses to build a doctrine on any law of that period, supposed to have been lost, it is incumbent on him to prove it to have existed, and what were its contents. These were so far alterations of the common law, and became themselves a part of it. But none of these adopt Christianity as a part of the common law. If, therefore, from the settlement of the Saxons to the introduction of Christianity among them, that system of religion could not be a part of the common law, because they were not yet Christians, and if, having their laws from that period to the close of the common law, we are all able to find among them no such act of adoption, we may safely affirm (though contradicted by all the judges and writers on earth) that Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law. Another cogent proof of this truth is drawn from the silence of certain writers on the common law. Bracton gives us a very complete and scientific treatise of the whole body of the common law. He wrote this about the close of the reign of Henry III., a very few years after the date of the Magna Charta. We consider this book as the more valuable, as it was written about fore gives us the former in its ultimate state. Bracton, too, was an ecclesiastic, and would certainly not have failed to inform us of the adoption of Christianity as a part of the common law, had any such adoption ever taken place. (my emphasis)

Then Jefferson ends his argument by noting that Exodus was meant for the Jews and the teachings of Jesus were meant to be followed as conscience dictated not by coercion of the state.

In truth, the alliance between Church and State in England has ever made their judges accomplices in the frauds of the clergy; and even bolder than they are. For instead of being contented with these four surreptitious chapters of Exodus, they have taken the whole leap, and declared at once that the whole Bible and Testament in a lump, make a part of the common law; ante 873: the first judicial declaration of which was by this same Sir Matthew Hale. And thus they incorporate into the English code laws made for the Jews alone, and the precepts of the gospel, intended by their benevolent author as obligatory only in foro concientiae; and they arm the whole with the coercions of municipal law. In doing this, too, they have not even used the Connecticut caution of declaring, as is done in their blue laws, that the laws of God shall be the laws of their land, except where their own contradict them; but they swallow the yea and nay together. Finally, in answer to Fortescue Aland’s question why the ten commandments should not now be a part of the common law of England? we may say they are not because they never were made so by legislative authority, the document which has imposed that doubt on him being a manifest forgery.

Note at the end that he denies that the 10 Commandments were ever a part of the common law of England. As for America, one cannot read this letter and think that Jefferson supported the concept, popular among proponents of a Christian America, that the “laws of God shall be the laws of their land.”

Touched: The Jerry Sandusky Story

No, that title is not a sick joke.

It is the title of a 2001 autobiography by former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky, now accused of multiple counts of child sexual abuse. Apparently out of print, you can still search inside the book on the Amazon site. I did not read it all, but the picture painted is an All-American success story. Sandusky worshiped his parents, especially his father. The elder Sandusky was heavily involved in charity work in Washington, PA, also donating time to needy children.

If any of the allegations against Sandusky are true, then the disconnect between his public and private lives is massive. Here is what the Amazon site says about Sandusky:

Jerry Sandusky retired as defensive coordinator of the Penn State University football team following the 1999 season. He spent 32 years at Penn State, all as an assistant to legendary head coach Joe Paterno, including the last 23 as defensive coordinator. Sandusky is the founder of The Second Mile, a charitable foundations that has touched the lives of more than 100,000 children. He is the author of a previous book, Developing Linebackers the Penn State Way. He and his wife Dottie are the parents of six children.

In the book, Sandusky describes his involvement in church work, volunteering time for a church in his neighborhood and as a long time member of St. Paul’s Methodist Church in State College.

Predictably, some far right pundits want to make this about homosexual predation. To my knowledge, no adult male has come forward with stories of gay relationships with Sandusky. If anything, Sandusky was living the straight lifestyle. Haters gonna hate and so culture warriors will use whatever they can get to make points. These armchair advocates are not worth the effort.

The fuller picture defies those efforts and displays a maddeningly complicated situation. Sandusky was not just married, he was a pillar in the community and church who described wonderful parents and had great success in an iconic American sport. Prior to the allegations, anyone would have wanted this guy in their church, social club or charity. How can you protect children from people like that? Complaining about gays won’t protect anyone from someone like Jerry Sandusky.

We do need to know what happened; why the signs were missed, if indeed they turn out to be as indicated in media reports. Practically, the legal process will play out and bits and pieces of the truth will get out. Ultimately, in order to prevent further tragedies, we need to know the whole truth, whatever it is.

NARTH rewards what it does

During the recent NARTH (National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality) conference in Phoenix, organization President Julie Hamilton gave an award to Michel Lizotte, a Canadian journalist. The award was given because Lizotte has been “clearly presenting the research and providing hope and help to those who are seeking such help” in Canada.

I imagine other scientific groups give awards to non-scientists if they believe the recipient is doing a good job promoting the scientific claims and aims of the group. While it is telling that NARTH could not find a researcher to honor, I am sure there is precedent for such an action. However, what says a lot about NARTH is the type of “education” Mr. Lizotte has been presenting.

A look at Lizotte’s website (translated from the French via Google translation) indicates that he promotes the reparative drive theory of homosexuality. On this page, Lizotte posted videos of Joseph Nicolosi explaining the reparative theory. Lizotte claims research on homosexuality supports his views:

Several studies 2  have been conducted to understand the origin of homosexuality. The latest research 3  continue to accumulate supporting evidence that male homosexuality is not innate but acquired, that is to say, built during life, and most of the time – without the is the only reason – because of the failure of the process of tracing the sexual identification of the young son of his father, as a result of a dysfunctional relationship between the two, as we have described above .

Examining the footnotes tells you a lot about his efforts and NARTH’s decision to promote Lizotte’s work. Footnote 2 lists:

Stekel (1930), Rubenstein (1956), Bieber (1962), Ovesey (1969), Birk (1974), Pattison and Pattison (1980), Van Den Aardweg (1986) and others.

Stekel, Bieber, Rubenstein* and Ovesey were psychoanalysts who developed their theories about homosexuality, not from studies, but from a limited number of psychoanalytic cases. Bieber’s study has recently been compromised by revelations that one co-author, Cornelia Wilbur, conspired with a journalist to distort at least two case reports, including the famous case of Sybil. Bieber’s methods had been discredited because he relied on psychoanalysts who already believed homosexuality derived from deficient parenting. Furthermore, Bieber did not include non-patients and did not ask questions of the patients, but relied on case reports of the psychoanalysts.

Van Den Aardweg’s 1986 book reports the results of his cases treated with “Anticomplaining therapy.” He reports lots of successes but essentially these are his claims with no independent verification or peer review.  Birk’s 1974 report comes the closest to a credible report of change but adds no new information about the “origins of homosexuality.” If anything, however, behavioral psychotherapist Birk would disagree with most of what is on Lizotte’s website about causes. In 1980, Birk reported that those who wanted to gain heterosexual capacity had some success but they were not free of homosexual behavior or feelings.

The reference to Pattison and Pattison is odd because the study had nothing to do with the origin of homosexuality and asked no questions about parents or causes. Instead the study claimed that 11 men had changed their orientation dramatically due to religious factors. However, that study has been compromised by revelations that at least two study participants recanted their stories of change within a year of the studies completion.

The reference number 3 lists the following as representing recent research:

Bene (1965), Biller (1974), Moberly (1983), Van der Aardweg (sic) (1986), Byne and Parsons (1993), Bem (1996), Whitehead and Whitehead (1999), Landolt (2004).

This is a very strange list. Bene’s very non-recent survey of gay and straight men found differences between gay and straight men on parental relationships. Biller’s book addresses much more than sexuality and proposes that paternal deprivation is behind a multitude of problems. These references, taken alone, support the reparative drive theory. However, as is typical of NARTH, studies which report contradicting findings are ignored in Lizotte’s list. For instance, when gay and straight men with low scores on a neuroticism scale were compared by Marvin Siegelman in 1974, the parental variables expected by reparative drive theory disappeared. More recently (2009), a Finnish study found that gay men rated their fathers as being warmer than straight men rated their fathers.

Continuing with the list: While Moberly theorized that same-sex parenting deficits caused homosexuality, she did no research to support her views. Van Den Aardweg is listed again (both old and recent research), Byne and Parsons reviewed the evidence for direct genetic factors in the development of sexual orientation but had nothing to say about the reparative drive theory. Bem proposed a theory that is a competitor to the reparative theory. Whitehead and Whitehead present no new research in their book on genetics. Reading Lizotte’s website, an uninformed reader might think that the reparative theory was well supported by research. An informed reader knows better.

The 2004 study by Landolt deserves mention since on the surface, it might seem to support reparative theory. The study examined attachment anxiety in gay men. According to the authors,

Several childhood factors are reported to be associated with a homosexual orientation in men, including gender nonconformity and rejection by parents and peers.

The authors then assessed these factors and found, among other things, a relationship between paternal and peer rejection and attachment anxiety. While this may seem like what reparative therapists would expect, it is also what one would expect in anyone, gay or straight. The study cannot be used as a support for reparative theory because the study did not use a comparison group of straights. I would expect that straight men who are gender non-conforming and rejected by their fathers would experience more anxiety in attachments. However, one cannot say anything about how gay men compare to straight men since the authors did not design the study to address causal factors in sexual orientation.

In short, Lizotte makes claims about homosexuality, supports the claims with old, poorly designed and/or irrelevant citations, fails to cite conflicting and/or newer research and then says that “the latest research” supports his position.

No wonder NARTH gave him an award.

*I cannot find a 1956 paper or book by an author with the last name of Rubenstein that would be relevant. There is a relevant paper by Rubenstein in the British Journal of Psychiatry in 1958. Even in this paper, there is no research other than case reports.

PFOX President says Wayne Besen behind threats to his life

In an interview recently with Mark Sagraves of WDCW-TV, PFOX President and lobbyist for the New Jersey Family Policy Council, Greg Quinlan, said (at 10:32 in the interview):

Truth Wins Out if you look further, including Wayne Besen. He’s asked for people, you know, somebody needs to run Greg over. He needs to be hit with a bus. Somebody should inject him with AIDS. Those are the things that Wayne Besen and Truth Wins Out says about me. That’s pretty hateful rhetoric.

Really? Besen has said some critical and dismissive things about ex-gays but I’ve never heard anything like that. Quinlan may soon have to provide proof of that since Besen absolutely denies the charges and may sue for defamation.

There are other questionable aspects to Quinlan’s claims. In the interview, Quinlan says that both APAs say that sexuality is fluid (not really, they say identity can shift but that orientation is pretty fixed). He says he is not paid to be ex-gay (sorry, I know the history there, his reputation is founded on his status as an ex-gay). He says that is acceptable for him to refer to gays as “faggots” because it is acceptable for blacks to use the “N” word referring to themselves (I’ll let readers ponder that one).

When confronted with the fact that Richard Cohen was expelled from the American Counseling Association, Quinlan said at 11:40, “But he hasn’t lost his license.” To my knowledge, Richard never had a license and he certainly does not now. Then he told Sagraves that Richard has a 90% success rate helping people change. If Richard claims that, I have never seen it.

Quinlan misrepresents Bob Spitzer. He says Spitzer says, “people can change, if they choose to change and they are highly motivated.” This is just not right. I know Bob Spitzer and he thinks change is infrequent and that such change is not just a matter of choosing to do so.

Finally, Quinlan wants civil rights for ex-gays but not for gays. He accuses Dean Hamer of lying – probably also an actionable statement if Hamer were so inclined to follow up.

In the culture war, this may be a new low. If Quinlan cannot prove his charges against Besen and Hamer, he has disqualified himself as a spokesperson. He certainly has passed along misrepresentations on the subject he claims to know when he talked about Cohen, Spitzer and Hamer.

The culture war brings out a toxicity from some who claim to be Christian as if winning the culture war at any cost is the mission. I think this story resonates with me because I have been the target of accusations and action of late. Even my children have been the target of lies about them, because of animosity toward me.

In the past, have been attacked by both Besen and PFOX over my views, but, as far as I can recall, the only personal smears about me or my family have come from those claiming to be Christian.

In addition to whatever truth comes out, I also hope that a result is reflection which will lead to a decline in personal vilification.