There are several new items regarding Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill that I want to summarize as the week closes. After a lengthy campaign at Change.org, Barclays bank issued a statement indicating that they are quietly lobbying the Ugandan government regarding the bill. Here is the brief statement:
Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill Statement
“Barclays has a strong history of supporting all aspects of diversity, both in the workplace and in wider society. Equally, we are proud of playing our part in the development of economies across Africa, and the key role Barclays plays in the lives of millions of our African customers. “Barclays is aware of the proposed legislation relating to homosexuality in Uganda and we are engaging at appropriate levels of the Ugandan Government to express our views.”
According to this AP article, David Bahati continues to keep his bill in the news. Even though Parliament is stalled over oil and internal strife, Bahati is talking up what he claims are changes in the bill. After claims in May, 2011 about the removal of the death penalty were proven false, I won’t believe his current claims until I can check them with an official report. However, if the bill is amended by Parliament in accord with the AP article, the focus of the bill may shift slightly. According to Bahati, counseling for gays has been added. If this is true and is made to serve as an alternative to jail, then Scott Lively will likely take some credit for it. He has been promoting what amounts to coerced ex-gay counseling for gays since March, 2009. Despite the fact that even NARTH has condemned that proposal, Lively (lately joined by Bryan Fischer) continues to promote this idea. The AP article carried an encouraging sign. Apparently, at least one MP on the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee was willing to speak up for personal freedom:
One of the members, Krispus Ayena, said Friday that some parliamentarians spoke strongly against certain provisions in the bill as well as the death penalty itself.“There was a dissenting voice in the committee,” Ayena said. “They argued very forcefully that we should not do a thing like that: to regulate what goes on in bedrooms. First of all, is it practicable to regulate that? And there are those who say this is very oppressive.”
While MPs who think like this may not stop the bill, one hopes that behind the scenes there are those who are making attempts to keep the bill from the floor. Because of the recess called by the Speaker and the need to debate the oil bills, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill may not be considered before the December 15 Christmas break.
Is Barack Obama so anti-god that he refuses to thank God even on Thanksgiving? This is a theme popular among some on the religious right. David Barton issued a document before the election calling Obama the most biblically hostile president ever. I have not examined all of Barton’s claims in that document but, based on his track record, I am skeptical. Furthermore, Barton repeats obviously false claims regarding Obama including the one that Obama hasn’t mentioned God in his Thanksgiving resolutions during his four years as president. Here is Barton’s tweet:
The link in this tweet goes to an article by Steven Ertelt and the pro-life news source, LifeNews. To his credit, Steve modified his article after I pointed out the facts about Obama’s proclamations to him. Will Barton retract his irresponsible endorsement of the false story? Don’t hold your breath.
In fact, this generalization simply is not true. I have no way of knowing Obama’s real religious sentiments, but fair is fair. Even though I did not support Obama in the election, I feel it is right to demonstrate that his official actions as president do not support this particular religious right stereotype. As the Texas Freedom Network pointed out, Obama mentioned God favorably in each one of his Thanksgiving proclamations. An easy place to read all presidential proclamations is at the American Presidency Project of the University of Santa California at Santa Barbara. There one can enter a year and then read all proclamations during the year.
To demonstrate that Obama does mention and give thanks to God, here are portions of his Thanksgiving proclamation made during each year in office.
Today, we recall President George Washington, who proclaimed our first national day of public thanksgiving to be observed “by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God,” and President Abraham Lincoln, who established our annual Thanksgiving Day to help mend a fractured Nation in the midst of civil war.
Amidst the uncertainty of a fledgling experiment in democracy, President George Washington declared the first Thanksgiving in America, recounting the blessings of tranquility, union, and plenty that shined upon our young country. In the dark days of the Civil War when the fate of our Union was in doubt, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a Thanksgiving Day, calling for “the Almighty hand” to heal and restore our Nation.
As we stand at the close of one year and look to the promise of the next, we lift up our hearts in gratitude to God for our many blessings, for one another, and for our Nation.
As Americans gather for the time-honored Thanksgiving Day meal, let us rejoice in the abundance that graces our tables, in the simple gifts that mark our days, in the loved ones who enrich our lives, and in the gifts of a gracious God.
When President George Washington proclaimed our country’s first Thanksgiving, he praised a generous and knowing God for shepherding our young Republic through its uncertain beginnings.
As we gather in our communities and in our homes, around the table or near the hearth, we give thanks to each other and to God for the many kindnesses and comforts that grace our lives. Let us pause to recount the simple gifts that sustain us, and resolve to pay them forward in the year to come.
On Thanksgiving Day, Americans everywhere gather with family and friends to recount the joys and blessings of the past year. This day is a time to take stock of the fortune we have known and the kindnesses we have shared, grateful for the God-given bounty that enriches our lives.
When President George Washington marked our democracy’s first Thanksgiving, he prayed to our Creator for peace, union, and plenty through the trials that would surely come.
Let us spend this day by lifting up those we love, mindful of the grace bestowed upon us by God and by all who have made our lives richer with their presence.
In addition to his Thanksgiving proclamations, Obama issued three prayer related proclamations each year he has been president. From 2009 through the present, Obama officially recognized the National Day of Prayer, the Memorial Day Prayer for Peace and the National Days of Prayers and Remembrance in September. His language in these proclamations is enough to make atheists cringe. For instance, in his 2009 proclamation on the Day of Prayer, Obama said:
Now, Therefore, I, Barack Obama, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 7, 2009, as a National Day of Prayer. I call upon Americans to pray in thanksgiving for our freedoms and blessings and to ask for God’s continued guidance, grace, and protection for this land that we love.
On this day, let us give thanks for the many blessings God has bestowed upon our Nation. Let us rejoice for the blessing of freedom both to believe and to live our beliefs, and for the many other freedoms and opportunities that bring us together as one Nation. Let us ask for wisdom, compassion, and discernment of justice as we address the great challenges of our time.
Let us pray for all the citizens of our great Nation, particularly those who are sick, mourning, or without hope, and ask God for the sustenance to meet the challenges we face as a Nation.
Perhaps these references are not enough for some religious people, but it is wrong to say that Obama does not acknowledge thanks to God in his official statements. In his other public statements (the ones highlighted by religious right pundits), Obama sometimes leans away from obvious religious references but one cannot say that Obama’s official acts as President have omitted God. Indeed, he has maintained the pattern of his predecessors when it comes to presidential acknowledgement of God.
Yesterday on the Dr. Oz Show, Christopher Doyle and Julie Hamilton presented reparative therapy as one option for people with “unwanted same-sex attractions.” They also portrayed their position as accepting of GLBT people and urged unconditional love in response to young people who experience attraction to the same sex. At one point, Doyle sounded angry and shouted from the audience that a panelist was misrepresenting his position on the subject of acceptance.
Those opposing reparative therapy seemed astounded by the reparative therapists insistence that reparative therapy is not stigmatizing. If Doyle and Hamilton really believe what they said on the Oz Show, they displayed a jaw-dropping deficit in self-awareness. In fact, the definition of reparative therapy includes a theory of homosexuality that makes same-sex attraction the result of family dysfunction or childhood sexual abuse. On the program, Hamilton and Doyle seemed to apply their theory to only those men and women they see in counseling. However, when one reads reparative therapy literature, it is clear that they see all homosexual attraction as stemming from dysfunction of one kind or another.
When one of the panelists (Brad Lamm I believe) said that reparative therapists stigmatized gay youth, Doyle protested that his position was being misrepresented. However, in a 2010 WorldNetDaily article titled “Warning to Homosexual Youth: It Gets Worse“, Doyle’s stance was exactly as Lamm described. About gay youth, Doyle said
It’s all too typical for homosexual activists to justify their behavior by claiming “we’re born that way” and then blame the tragic consequences of their actions on an intolerant society. But pushing this lie to young people is the ultimate death sentence for those who do not want to live a homosexual life. It offers no hope to youth who are struggling with unwanted same-sex attractions, and it’s unconscionable to lure young people into behavior that has so many serious risks, and then deny them the opportunity for change.
The facts reveal that even in the most gay-friendly cultures, it’s not society that is responsible for the consequences of homosexuality; it’s the behavior. It really makes one ask the question, just what about the homosexual life gets better?
If Doyle doesn’t believe this anymore then he needs to get WND to remove the article from their website or print a retraction.
At 2:45 in this clip (videos from Dr. Oz’s site cannot be embedded; click the link to watch) GLSEN’s Eliza Bayard expresses the fact that reparative therapy by definition implies that there is something about the same-sex attracted person that needs to be changed. At 2:52, the camera moves to Julie Hamilton who is shaking her head in disagreement with Bayard.
She then says she agrees with Bayard and says at 3:10:
Reparative therapy does not tell children that there is something wrong with them.
At that point Bayard and another panelist rightly interrupt Hamilton and ask how she can suggest that reparative therapy is not trying to fix an illness or a wound. In the next clip, Hamilton says that as a starting point, reparative therapy tries to help people be more comfortable with themselves.
Hamilton’s denial of the essential tenets of reparative therapy is astounding. Until he was corrected by me in 2006, Joseph Nicolosi, one of the founders of reparative therapy, told Love Won Out audiences that homosexuality is a gender identity disorder. In his newest book, Nicolosi continues to claim that homosexuality is the result of faulty parenting. Hamilton in an article on the NARTH website paints a picture of normal, healthy development and then says gays don’t experience that:
So, what happens in the development of gender identity that might lead a child to have same-sex attractions? Typically, for this child, there is something that prevents him from attaching to the father. Either he does not have a father or a father figure, or he does not have a father who he perceives as safe and/or welcoming.
In 2009, Hamilton co-edited a book called Handbook of Therapy for Unwanted Homosexual Attractions: A Guide to Treatment. In it, Nicolosi’s chapter on the meaning of same-sex attraction has this to say:
The homosexually oriented man typically carries a deep sense of shame for his strivings to make a connection with the masculine. On some level, he believes he is defective, insignificant, and depleted in his masculinity. Homosexual acting-out seems to promise reparation of those negative feelings, i.e., attention, admiration, and masculine reassurance, adding with it the reassurance that he truly does possess a worthy male body. (p. 37)
Also in this chapter, Nicolosi contrasts the “true self” (heterosexuality) with the “false self” (homosexuality). This chapter makes it very clear, in contrast to what Hamilton said on Dr. Oz, that reparative theory does tell people that something is wrong with them. Perhaps the therapist does not use those exact words and say, “there is something wrong with you,” but given what these therapists do teach, it is no wonder that Hamilton got a shocked reaction from her opponents.
If Doyle and Hamilton really believe that their theory only covers a small subset of same-sex attracted people then the burden is on them to explicitly reject their past statements and writings which indicate they believe all homosexuality is the result of dysfunctional parenting or abuse. If they really believe that GLBT people can live healthy, functional lives, then they need to explicitly reject much of what is on the NARTH and PFOX websites and make clear statements to that effect. Until then, their claims will continue to fall on skeptical ears.
On the show, International Healing Foundation’s Chris Doyle said what he does is mainstream therapy and he said IHF doesn’t discourage gayness. This is astounding. Let’s remember what IHF does:
IHF and other reparative therapists tell clients that their same sex attraction is due to abuse or trauma at the hands of the same sex parent. I have seen families literally ripped apart by this kind of “intervention.” There is nothing supportive about these interventions.
Later Julie Hamilton came on and said that reparative therapists don’t stigmatize same-sex attraction. One of the opposing guests (Brad Lamm) said she was not being honest. He is certainly closer to correct. Just check out a few articles on the NARTH website:
Reparative therapists on this show tried to make what they do about choice of a benign option. However, their model of homosexuality renders that strategy less than honest. When one teaches that same-sex attraction is always wrapped up in abuse, and/or a dysfunctional family, one cannot expect to be taken seriously or calmly.
The Dr. Oz Show today will feature Chris Doyle from the International Healing Foundation, Julie Hamilton from NARTH and Rich Wyler from People Can Change arguing in favor of sexual orientation change efforts. You can see teasers for the show here. Others will take the alternative point of view as well and you can see some of their views at the Dr. Oz website.
This show comes as Cohen’s methods and allies at JONAH are being sued by the Southern Poverty Law Center for consumer fraud.