MIA for about 3 hours

Sorry, gentle readers, if you tried to visit the blogstead from about noon to 3pm or so, you would have found a nasty “account suspended” page.

Scary. Nasty. Let’s just forget it ever happened.

We are still figuring out the problem, or I should say the experts are trying to figure it out.

For awhile, some of the features of the blog will not work – commenting features and the like. If you see anything disturbing lurking about, please email me at warrenthrockmorton at gmail dot com.

UPDATE: If you have been trying to access the site, you will know that the site is erratic today. Apparently, there is an attack of some kind on the site which is creating problems. We are tracking this down but the site may be spotty for awhile.

Seton Hall professor: NARTH member “misreported and misrepresented” my research

Another researcher has issued a statement accusing a member of the National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) of misrepresenting research. In a statement first issued to blogger Rob Tisinai yesterday, Theodora Sirota, a professor of Nursing at Seton Hall University, said, NARTH advisory board member Rick Fitzgibbons “mis-reported and misrepresented the results of my 2009 research.” At issue is a 2009 Archives of Psychiatric Nursing article* authored by Sirota about attachment in daughters of gay or bisexual fathers. In November, Fitzgibbons used Sirota’s research in an article on  Catholic website, MercatorNet, to make the claim that “children raised by same sex couples fare less well than children raised in stable homes with a mother and a father.”

Dr. Sirota told me today by phone that her study could not be used to make a generalization about same-sex couples because the participants in her study did not grow up in same-sex homes. Instead, they grew up in what she called, “heterosexually-organized families where fathers were gay or bisexual.” In other words, the parents were in a mixed orientation marriage, where the mother was straight and the father was gay or bisexual.

In his MercatorNet article, Fitzgibbons refers to Sirota’s article in a section titled, “The children do suffer” and claims that “There are strong indications that children raised by same sex couples fare less well than children raised in stable homes with a mother and a father.” As Sirota points out, her research does not support Fitzgibbon’s claim. He compares apples and oranges.

The women surveyed by Sirota were in families with a mother and father, not same-sex couples as implied by Fitzgibbons. Fitzgibbons improperly generalizes from mixed orientation marriages to same-sex couples. Sirota pointed this out to Fitzgibbons in the comment section of his article, but he declined to retract his incorrect use of her study.

Another factor pertinent to the findings of attachment problems in women is the frequency of divorce in mixed orientation marriages found by Sirota. Parental divorce was reported more frequently by women who grew up in mixed orientation homes than by the women with two straight parents. Sirota describes these differences in her dissertation (the 2009 study was based on her PhD dissertation research conducted in 1996). On page 81, Sirota wrote,

Daughters of gay or bisexual fathers reported significantly higher rates of divorce among their parents than daughters of heterosexual fathers (x2( 3, N = 112) = 22.53 p .001).  These data are presented in Table 18.  Mean age at parents’ separation or divorce was 12.8 years for daughters of gay or bisexual fathers (n = 39) and 9.4 years for daughters of heterosexual fathers (n = 16).


Note that 57.4% of the group with gay fathers reported divorce or separation compared to only 25% of the group with straight parents. Divorce is known to be a relevant factor in attachment formation and the group with gay or bisexual fathers reported significantly more of it. One cannot say that the orientation of the men was the factor which led to the poorer attachment reported by the participants in Sirota’s study. In fact, it makes more sense, especially given the average age of the daughters when the divorce took place (12.8 vs. 9.4), to propose that divorce and related instability is more the culprit for the poorer attachment results than the sexual orientation of the fathers. In any event, without controlling for divorce, one cannot reasonably isolate the father’s sexual orientation as the sole factor relating to differences in attachment, if it is a factor at all.

Having discussed divorce as a confounding variable, the main objection of Dr. Sirota remains. Her study cannot be generalized to say anything about same-sex couples and attachment dynamics in their children. Dr. Fitzgibbons makes an improper generalization in his article and adds insult to injury by defending his treatment of the study when the misuse was pointed out.

There are other studies in the MercatorNet article which are stretched too far (e.g., Sarantakos) and I may come back to the topic in a future post.

*Sirota, T, (2009) Adult attachment style dimensions in women with gay or bisexual fathers. Archives of Psychiatric Nursing, 23, 289-297.

Perry to stay in the race?

Rick Perry went out jogging and apparently that was all the reassessment he needed. Just a bit ago, Perry tweeted:

And the next leg of the marathon is the Palmetto State…Here we come South Carolina!!! yfrog.com/odz8ujrj

See this and this.

Either he is going to continue his campaign now that Bachmann is out or he really means he is running a marathon in South Carolina.

Iowa Caucus Results by County, Romney squeaks out of Iowa

UPDATE: Romney by 8 votes over Santorum with Paul third. Perry goes home to Texas to reassess his campaign, Gingrich goes negative and Bachmann soldiers on.

A really nice county map of Iowa is up at Talking Points Memo.

You can see the results for the state and each county as they come in.

The Iowa GOP site has a nice state map too

NARTH burnishes science credentials by promoting Torah Declaration

In other news…

Leaders of the National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) like to say that the group is a scientific organization. Past president and current board member, Dean Byrd, told me that NARTH would not take a position on the criminalization of homosexuality because it is a scientific organization.

However, NARTH will promote the Torah, or at least the understanding of the Torah that requires reparative therapy. On the NARTH website, a link to the Torah Declaration is provided. This statement, by what appear to be a collection of Orthodox rabbis, and mental health professionals, relates to their view of the Torah requires of a person who is attracted to the same-sex:

The only viable course of action that is consistent with the Torah is therapy and teshuvah. The therapy consists of reinforcing the natural gender-identity of the individual by helping him or her understand and repair the emotional wounds that led to its disorientation and weakening, thus enabling the resumption and completion of the individual’s emotional development. Teshuvah is a Torah-mandated, self-motivated process of turning away from any transgression or sin and returning to G-d and one’s spiritual essence. This includes refining and reintegrating the personality and allowing it to grow in a healthy and wholesome manner.

These processes are typically facilitated and coordinated with the help of a specially trained counselor or therapist working in conjunction with a qualified spiritual teacher or guide. There is no other practical, Torah-sanctioned solution for this issue.

According to this group, NARTH is doing God’s work. Even more specifically, therapy must  repair gender wounds which are assumed to cause the attractions.

The declaration takes the position that same-sex attraction can’t be anything other than what the declaration says it is because that is what the Torah says. No science is offered, no research.

As one might imagine, NARTH is represented in this group with Arthur Goldberg, and Norman Goldwasser listed as signers. MassResistance’s Brian Camenker is also a signer.

To be clear, I have no problem with the Rabbis teaching their congregations what they believe the Torah teaches. I post this because this is one more indication that NARTH is not a science group. Rather, they hold a religious view about homosexuality and bend research to promote that belief.

The Daily Beast examines Ron Paul’s Reconstructionist roots

Last week, I reported that Ron Paul hired Mike Heath (is he still AFTAH board chair?), and that Ron Paul touted an endorsement from an Omaha pastor who wants to implement Mosaic law, complete with executions for gays, adulterers and delinquent children.

Today, the Daily Beast’s Michelle Goldberg examines the topic and notes that many evangelicals who are coming Paul’s way today in Iowa lean toward the Reconstructionist side of the evangelical world.  The other interesting aspect of her article is the brief examination of the difference between dispensational and covenant theologies. The covenant folks believe that the Church is a replacement of sorts for Israel and that the Church will bring back the Kingdom of God on Earth. Dispensationalists believe that God will keep his promises to Israel and will remove the Church from the Earth during the “rapture” thus setting the stage for the coming Kingdom of God.

Often dispensationalists think political action is pointless since the world is coming to a bad end. Covenant adherents, among which are Reconstructionists, think that political takeover is necessary. One can see how the New Apostolic Reformation can work with the Christian Reconstructionists. However, as I pointed out last week, they part company over political ends. Reconstructionists favor a decentralized central government which would allow them to set up enclaves where Christian law dominates. New Apostolic Reformationists (e.g., Lou Engle, Peter Wagner, Cindy Jacobs) want the law at the Federal level to reflect Christian teaching in order to offset the judgment of God on the nation.

Does it seem odd and perhaps disconcerting that one must understand the nuances of Christian eschatology in order to understand what is happening in the GOP race for the nomination? Some reporters, like Goldberg, Pema Levy and Benjy Sarlin at TPM are getting it. I know Sarah Posner with Religion Dispatches is in Iowa today and she gets it. The gentlemen over at Right Wing Watch get it.

Do evangelical writers get it? Gentle reader, please enlighten me if I have missed it, but I cannot recall an evangelical writer or news source examining end times theology (and all it involves) as an influence on political theory.


Anti-gay politics and Ron Paul: A match made in Iowa

While Ron Paul’s personal beliefs about gays are hard to discern, his strategy in Iowa has been to make the most of anti-gay sentiment there. All last week, I pointed out the work of Mike Heath, Paul’s Iowa state director, to bring in Christian conservatives to the Paul fold. On Friday, I interviewed Brian Nolder, a pastor serving in Pella, IA who has endorsed Paul. Nolder noted that the Paul support among Christians has grown this election season but remains sharply divided between Christians looking for a candidate who will implement conservative positions on social issues from Washington and those who seek a weaker Federal government which will leave those decisions with the states.

With fine reporting, Talking Points Memo picked up on my posts last week about the Kayser endorsement and Mike Heath’s work there. This morning, TPM’s Benjy Sarlin explores Ron Paul’s support among Christian conservatives in Iowa. As I did last week, Sarlin found Christians there divided between those who want a perfect ideological candidate and those who want the Federal government to leave matters to the states.

Sarlin also highlights the work of Mike Heath who is selling Ron Paul as a conservative on gay marriage and abortion. The pro-life argument seems easier, but when it comes to gays, Heath has had a harder sell. In Iowa, Heath has worked to make Paul appealing to both ideological purists and state’s rights conservatives. In his TPM article, Sarlin points to Paul’s Defense of Marriage poster at events (see here) and various pastoral endorsements mentioning Paul’s opposition to gay marriage.

If anti-gay politics and Ron Paul have married in Iowa, then the matchmaker is clearly Heath. TPM reports that Heath had a “stint” as chair of the three-man board of the Americans for Truth About Homosexuality but that barely scratches the surface. While in Maine, Heath said it would be “prudent to reinstate Maine’s anti-sodomy law…” and called homosexuality “a sickness.” Heath opposed basic protections for gays including equal access in housing and employment.

Despite these appeals in Iowa to state’s rights, the prospects are slim that a Paul Presidency would rollback Federal civil rights protections very much. However, if Ron Paul is somehow successful and secures the nomination and then Presidency, he will have to fill an administration with people who think like him. One way to evaluate who a candidate would bring into his administration is to examine his campaign.

Do I need to say more?