What George Rekers told a Florida court

The blogs continued to blow up over the continuing disclosures regarding George Rekers relationship with a Miami gay man. Apparently the young man has disclosed details of their European trip and is set to go on CNN with more.

In addition to the current event, some reports have looked into Dr. Rekers’ views and beliefs. That is more my purpose with this post. Dr. Rekers has provided controversial testimony in several court cases, the most notable Arkansas and Florida cases which contested adoptions by gay people. I saw in this report from NBC Miami that Rekers was paid between $60,900 and $87,000 to testify in favor of a ban on gay adoptions. In addition, and what really caught my eye, was his testimony that Native Americans could be excluded from adopting children. Here is the exchange included in the news article:

Q. Well, Dr. Rekers, earlier you testified that Native-Americans have a higher rate of alcohol abuse than the general population does, right?

A. Yes.

Q. It’s a very significantly elevated rate of alcohol abuse, I mean compared to the general population?

A. Yes.

Q. So if Native-Americans have significantly higher rates of alcohol abuse, and if they also have significantly higher rates of psychiatric disorders, and if they also have higher rates of relationship instability, is that enough for you to say that all of a sudden they should be categorically excluded?

The Court: I think you can add violence to that, as well.

The Witness: Yeah, violence, yeah.

Q. And violence, as well.

A. Yeah, if it turned out that a majority of the individuals in the Native-American population, that a majority of them were high risk for one of these things happening, as a lifetime prevalence, there could be a parallel rationale for excluding them, as adoptive parents, because it would be not only them, they would tend to hang around each other. So the children would be around a lot of other Native-Americans, who are doing the same sorts of things, you know. So it would be a high risk, and, in fact, since you can’t perfectly predict human behavior, the best you can do and the best the State can do is to look at risk levels, and if a particular kind of household poses multiple high risks for condition that would be detrimental for children, then that would be a rationale for excluding that group.

I was unable to find the entire transcript of the testimony, but did find the ruling from the case which initially upheld the adoption of Jane and John Doe, decided by Judge Cindy Lederman. In that case, Judge Lederman noted on pages 20-21:
There is no question that Dr. Rekers supports the continued ban on homosexual adoption and even the imposition of a ban on homosexual foster parenting based on the high rates of disorders, distressing conditions and relationship instability reported in the studies he considers telling. The witness testified that he does not support such a categorical exclusion of a demographic group based on one variable; rather, his opinion for the  exclusion is based an overall sum of variables. Thus, according to the doctor, any demographic group with overall high variable risks poses a threat to an adoptive child and should be excluded. As applied to the instant facts, the witness opines that Petitioner is in a high risk group; the majority of individuals sharing Petitioner’s demographic characteristic of homosexuality suffer from a disorder or have the propensity to suffer from a disorder; therefore, even if Petitioner is studied to determine his individual risk factor, the prediction for his propensity to succumb to a lifetime prevalence of risk cannot be overcome. Based on Dr. Rekers’ theory, as Native Americans have a high rate of alcohol abuse, substance abuse, domestic violence, depression, and a life time prevalence of these risks, Native Americans should also be considered a high risk group as prospective adoptive parents as well.

I wrote briefly about such thinking in 2006 when I received criticism from NARTH leaders over my view that homosexuals could lead normal lives. NARTH has continued to champion the view that homosexuality should be changed and opposed due to research finding higher levels of depression, anxiety and other mental health concerns. Currently, on their website, they promote an article which conflates orientation and certain sexual practices. Furthermore, NARTH leaders, including George Rekers, make up the majority of the advisory committee for the Facts About Youth website. A project of the splinter-group American College of Pediatricians, the FAY website parrots the NARTH view that “[t]here is significantly greater medical, psychological, and relational pathology in the homosexual population than the general population.” By saying in his Florida testimony that members of other groups (e.g., Native Americans) are not fit to parent based on group differences, Rekers was just taking the NARTH view to a logical conclusion — a conclusion which is shockingly elitist. 

If this view is advanced as a basis for public policy, then perhaps female physicians should not adopt since at least one study found that the rate of suicide is four times higher for them than other females. I think rather, the real basis for concern over homosexual parents relates to Rekers professed moral views which were also on display in the Florida court. According to Judge Lederman’s ruling, Rekers said psychology as a profession and the law should recognize evangelical theology:

An honest scholarly search for the truth about homosexuality should not stop with psychological or medical information alone. Wise professionals should also consider evidence for moral truth as well. The bible teaches that people are foolish if they deny God’s reality and live their lives as though he were not there…. What happens when psychologists and psychiatrists search for truth about homosexuality, but close the door to any possibility of information from the creator of the human race? What happens if scholars deliberately discard all moral evidence as irrelevant to their professional judgments? Roman’s describes the consequences in suppressing truth revealed by the creator…. Those verses indicate that the existence of God is evident within each person, so psychologists and psychiatrists who proceed as though he does not exist are deliberately suppressing truth. To search for truth about homosexuality in psychology and psychiatry, while ignoring God, will result in futile and foolish speculations.

To me, this line of thinking makes it clear why evangelical scholars must face the data with an awareness of our theological biases. Moral concerns are not irrelevant but they must not guide one to preset conclusions in opposition to data and research. To wit, Rekers also testified in the Florida case that children who were bonded to a homosexual parent should be removed from that home and placed with a heterosexual couple. Judge Lederman’s noted: 

Furthermore, according to Dr. Rekers, if children are bonded to a homosexual foster parent, such a placement may continue because the foster care laws permit regular monitoring. However, adoption should not be an option because of the absence of monitoring and safeguards. Dr. Rekers astounded the Court when he testified that he favors removal of any child from a homosexual household, even after placement in that household for ten years, in favor of a heterosexual household. To this Court’s further astonishment, the witness hypothesized that such a child would recover from the removal from his family of 10 years after one year in a heterosexual household. The Court finds this testimony to be contrary to science and decades of research in child development.

The hypotheses regarding bonding and what is better for kids were driven by Reker’s moral posturing and not research. It is not surprising that Judge Lederman dismissed Rekers’ testimony as unscientific and biased:

Dr. Rekers’ testimony was far from a neutral and unbiased recitation of the relevant scientific evidence. Dr. Rekers’ beliefs are motivated by his strong ideological and theological convictions that are not consistent with the science. Based on his testimony and demeanor at trial, the court can not consider his testimony to be credible nor worthy of forming the basis of public policy.

Dr. Rekers’ recent actions have put the spotlight on his views. While Dr. Rekers may find less personal influence in coming days, it is an open question whether his actions will cast a negative light on those who hold similar positions.

Hon. Nsaba Buturo promotes Anti-Homosexual Bill at The Call Uganda – AUDIO

What follows is audio and a transcription of a speech given by Hon. Dr. Nsaba Buturo at The Call Uganda, May 2, 2010. He spoke just after Lou Engle spoke. The audio was provided by Michael Wilkerson. The first sentence of Hon. Buturo’s speech was not recorded. Hon. Buturo’s speech is interspersed with translation into what I assume is Lugandan. Words I am guessing at are underlined.




Because of the changing circumstance we have in our day, we now feel that the laws we have are not adequate to deal with this situation we face. I know Bahati’s heard the voice of God and is now spearheading that bill in Parliament. We want to pray for the Bahatis. It is your business that you pray for him. It is your business that you pray for members of Parliament. That on the day appointed for voting, that there will be no member of Parliament who will be absent, and after there will be no debate anyway, that the bill will be passed into law without any debate. This is an opportunity that Ugandans have now to tell the whole world that our business is to do what God wants us to do, not what somebody out there says we should do.  This is an opportunity for Ugandans to tell the whole world that our allegiance is not to man, whoever that man may be; our allegiance is not to nations, however powerful, our allegiance is to God. Uganda will not accept that nonsense that says that homosexuality is a human right. It is an abomination. We are not going to accept that. We are going to tell those who care to listen that this is not a matter we put before God’s word.  That our dignity is not for sale, that our love of God is first and foremost. My brethren, you have a duty to support Honorable Bahati, to support Parliament, to support those all those Ugandans who say that homosexuality never ever in our land. We don’t oppose or hate homosexuals; actually we love them. But they are lost. We have a duty to bring them back to God. Let me remind you brethren to let your government know and pray for them anyway that we have the golden opportunity to lead the world. We have the opportunity to show the rest of the world that Uganda is right because we are for God and those out there who are forcing us to do what is wrong are actually wrong. And Uganda will not accept any intimidation. We cannot accept any threats because if God is for us, who can be against us?

But why is your country where we are now? Why is the issue of homosexuality, when two, three years ago, it wasn’t? What has happened? Why is it that witchcraft, idolatry, human suffering, prostitution, pornography, all these suddenly are impacting on our faith today? Why is corruption the topical issue in every home? Something has gone wrong and it is the duty of believers to find out what it is that has gone wrong. Answer is that we have broken that covenant that we made with God. And so we see rebellion in the making; Ugandans choosing to distance themselves from God. And immorality is a consequence of that choice we are making. Yet God is giving us advice. He’s telling us that we are able to roll back these evils if we do one thing. 2 Chronicles, you heard it several times mentioned is the key to what we should do in order for God to heal us.

So let me take the opportunity to appeal to you to do what God is saying we should do. Do what God is saying we should do on behalf of Uganda. You and me who are called by His name. Let us humble ourselves. Let us pray. Let us turn from evil. Let us seek Him. And then He is going to make this land one of milk and honey as you have never seen before. You heard at the end the problem we are having in this nation. Those we have called to be our leaders are acting timidly. Both the church and believers who we are, are acting timidly. And so there is a crisis of confidence among those who are called by His name. The Church is on the defensive everywhere you go. In America, its about to lose the battle. In Uganda, the church is not handling this battle in the way it should. But these are dangerous times. But we need not lose this battle. So let me use this opportunity to implore you citizens. The government of this country is not the responsibility of his Excellency and the President alone. Through prayer and direct participation in politics, we can do a lot to change this nation. Let me also tell you, the government of President Museveni needs you so much. Government needs your hand. Unfortunately, you and I are not sufficiently playing our role.  It is essential that we stop complaining. It is appropriate that we take appropriate direct action as we have seen today. That is why I want to commend Rev. Dr. Mulinde and his team. I want to commend you for what you have done this afternoon. Let me remind you citizens that God will give us victory if we will go to the fight. The world cannot destruct us when Christ is able to attract us. Finally, I ask you to pray for Uganda. That Uganda will be able to stand up to any nation around the world. That Uganda will not be intimidated by any nation around the world. That Uganda will be able to use our enormous resources for the benefit of our people. Let us pray that Ugandans are set free. Let me ask you also to pray for his Excellency the President, the man God has put in that position for this time we are in. that he will remain fearless of anybody around the world, except God. God bless you, God bless Uganda.

Religion Dispatches: The Call Uganda rallies support for the Anti-Homosexuality Bill

More commentary to come. For now, go read another eyewitness report from Michael Wilkerson.

The title of Wilkerson’s article seems to be an accurate description of the eyewitness accounts coming from Kampala and The Call Uganda. According Michael Wilkerson’s report, Engle did not directly mention the bill. However, to support it, he didn’t need to. He spoke in the middle of several others who did vocally supported the bill. He also provided implicit support by lauding the Ugandans in their fight against homosexuality. According to Wilkerson’s account, Engle said

I felt like The Call was to come and join with the church of Uganda to encourage you that in the nation who are showing courage to take a stand for righteousness in the earth.

Just how is the church of Uganda showing courage? Just before Engle spoke Apostle Julius Oyet told the crowd that

We call on parliament not to debate heaven. We call on them to pass the bill and say no to homosexuality…

Oyet and the organizers (i.e., the church in Uganda) preached and prayed for the passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill as an aspect of showing courage and taking a stand. What else would any person in the audience understand but that Mr. Engle supported the opinions of his fellow presenters? 

Prior to his trip to Uganda, Engle issued a statement, first published here, which stated in part:

Therefore TheCall, though continuing to be held in Uganda, will not promote this bill. In fact, we challenge the Church of Uganda to join with Christians around the world, to first examine our own moral failures, confess our own lack of love, and from that heart seek to establish true biblical standards, reflecting compassion for those struggling with same-sex attraction and equal justice for criminal offenses committed by heterosexuals or homosexuals. We believe this also reflects the heart and intent of the Christian leaders of Uganda.

Assuming the accuracy of the eyewitness accounts, it appears that the promise not to promote the bill was broken. While careful to avoid an endorsement of the bill, he encouraged the Ugandan supporters to continue their fight and provided a platform for the bill to be promoted. The Call is Engle’s brand and it was used to do what he said it would not do.

Engle could have said that the laws of man will not bring the righteousness of God. He could stood against the bill and supported the Ugandan impulse for personal righteousness. An observation about solemn assemblies in this tradition: The people who attend are repenting for sins they believe others are committing. How many practitioners of witchcraft were there repenting? How many people were there repenting of heterosexual sins? How many people were there repenting of government corruption? Calling people together to repent of personal sins seems like an appropriate aspect of Christian worship. However, this assembly called on the government to take care of the perceived sins of others.

PFOX: What’s good for the District of Columbia is not good for the nation

In 2002, the Christian support ministry, Parents and Friends of Ex-gays (PFOX) applied to the National Education Association for a booth in their annual convention exhibit hall. Despite having space at the convention and initially cashing the PFOX check for the application fee, the NEA rejected the PFOX application. The NEA said PFOX’s views of sexual orientation were at odds with those of the NEA.

Given that the NEA is based in Washington DC, PFOX filed a discrimination complaint against the NEA with the DC Office of Human Rights. The basis of the alleged discrimination was the sexual orientation of the members of PFOX. To support its action, PFOX relied on the fact that in DC, sexual orientation is included in the Human Rights Act. The definition of sexual orientation in the DC HRA is

“Sexual orientation” means male or female homosexuality, heterosexuality and bisexuality, by preference or practice.

In May, 2005, the DC OHR ruled that there was no discrimination in the NEA action. However, with an appeal from PFOX, the OHR allowed a review. After another denial, PFOX filed suit in the Superior Court of DC in May, 2008. On June 26, 2009, Judge Maurice Ross affirmed the decision of the DC OHR that there was no probable cause for PFOX’s discrimination complaint. According to Ross, the NEA had not unlawfully discriminated against PFOX by excluding the group from the NEA exposition hall.

Despite losing the case, PFOX issued a press release claiming victory. In his ruling, Judge Ross evaluated the claim of discrimination in light of the DC statute. Ross found that ex-gays are covered by the DC law due to the inclusion of sexual orientation. Ex-gay as a term did not need to be included in law since the term, however defined, relates to an adult sexual practice or preference. Continue reading “PFOX: What’s good for the District of Columbia is not good for the nation”

New York Times: First report from The Call Uganda

The New York Times has a report from Uganda on The Call Uganda and it does not sound promising.

Though not originally linked to the Ugandan legislation, Mr. Engle has long been a controversial figure in the United States for his views on homosexuality. During California’s referendum on same-sex marriage in 2008, he called homosexuality a “spirit of lawlessness.”

Before arriving here last week, Mr. Engle came out with a statement condemning the harsh penalties proposed in the bill, and said that his ministry could not support it. But when he took the stage late on Sunday afternoon, with Ugandan politicians and pastors looking on, he praised the country’s “courage” and “righteousness” in promoting the bill.

“NGOs, the U.N., Unicef, they are all coming in here and promoting an agenda,” Mr. Engle said, referring to nongovernmental organizations. “Today, America is losing its religious freedom. We are trying to restrain an agenda that is sweeping through the education system. Uganda has become ground zero.”

Lou Engle’s statement last week promised that the meeting in Kampala would not promote the bill:

Therefore TheCall, though continuing to be held in Uganda, will not promote this bill. In fact, we challenge the Church of Uganda to join with Christians around the world, to first examine our own moral failures, confess our own lack of love, and from that heart seek to establish true biblical standards, reflecting compassion for those struggling with same-sex attraction and equal justice for criminal offenses committed by heterosexuals or homosexuals. We believe this also reflects the heart and intent of the Christian leaders of Uganda.

I am aware of several sources who video taped the meeting and footage should be available sometime tomorrow. We will be able to see if the NYT report is accurate.

UPDATE: While I wait to review video of the event, I am going to post reports that come from Uganda about The Call Uganda. Another report, this time from a gay advocacy group, disputes The Call’s promise not to promote the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

UGANDA – 03 May 2010: The commencement of Uganda’s prayer crusade yesterday, Sunday 2 May became a platform for religious leaders to cast out homosexuality once more, as a Western behavior, unAfrican and unbiblical.

Reports state that Pastor Mulinde of Trumpet Church called on other pastors present to come to the floor and pray for the nation of Uganda and in his prayer he condemned ‘evils in society’, committed by both homosexuals and heterosexuals.

He further emphasized that homosexuality is invading schools, families and the entire community and that it should be stopped.

Pastor Oyet Julius pointed out that Uganda is not for sale and that western civilization should not be allowed to take over the country.

“Members of parliament should not waste time by debating the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, they should quickly make it a law”, Oyet reportedly said.

He also called upon the cabinet, media, and business community to take a firm stand against homosexuality, also accusing homosexuals of paying school fees for young children while recruiting them to ‘the act’.

“Uganda cannot be intimidated by the Western World, we cannot put our dignity for sale” He said.

Pastor Lou Engle of The Call Ministries, a movement emphasizing prayer, worship and fasting for Spiritual breakthrough, said Western countries are using Ugandan NGO’s to promote homosexuality.

“We warned the youth against the act, when America allowed homosexuals freedom, it was the end of their Nation”, he said.

Meanwhile minister of Ethics and Intergrity Nsaba Buturo said that Uganda will not listen to the “nonsense” that homosexuality is a human rights issue.

Another report from someone who says he was there. This from Ugandan blogger, wamala dennis mawejje: 

Lou engle on stage

He said he come to know Uganda through Apostle John Mulinde and knew nothing about the anti-homosexuality bill when he was being invited to Uganda hence he had a big debate on whether he should come to Uganda when there was international controversy over his trip.

They were under a lot of pressure and now they understand the kind of pressure Ugandan pastors are under.

He encouraged Ugandan pastors to stand firm because they have been chosen to lead the world in the fight against homosexuality and that they are standing for the truth.

The pastors don’t hate gays or spread hate but NGOs, UN, UNICEF, etc are promoting a homosexual agenda which is against the teachings of the church.

Uganda is a Christian nation and God loves everyone trapped in sin but marriage was established between Man and woman for the wellbeing of children.

The government of Uganda should uphold righteousness in this land.

America has lost the fight against the homosexual agenda and it has got into school. Parents are even losing power over their children as schools are teaching them that homosexuality is okay.

God is using Uganda as ground zero or a starting point for the rest of the world against homosexuality. God chose Uganda.

His son prayed for the sexually broken and then all youths below 30 years were called in front and blessed to be the front runners in the fight for morality in Uganda.

Lou Engel and crew went back to US immediately after his prayer.

Again, if accurate, this is very disturbing and would not match up with the commitment not to promote the bill. Ground zero? Reminds one of Scott Lively’s imagery of a nuclear bomb in Uganda.

Bob Hunter writes to say that 1,300 is a very small turnout for a rally of this nature in Uganda. The area in question will accommodate many times that number of people and this would have to be considered a bust.