As a follower of Jesus who takes very seriously the commands to love, be merciful and “spend” myself on justice, I’ve struggled for a week with this post about the designation of the Family Research Council (FRC) as a Hate Group. I am a swirl of anger and shame and relief. I have waited over a week to write and post this so that I could check myself and make sure it’s the Jesus-kind of anger motivating me. By speaking out, I will be going directly against what appears to be good, sound and sacred. So be it. Deceit and hatred wrapped in a lovely robe and carrying a Holy Text is a horrible, blasphemous offense.
In December 2010, the Family Research Council (FRC) was placed on Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) list of Hate Groups. In amongst 932 designated active hate groups in the United States which include: neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klan, White Supremacists, White Nationalists, Black Separatists, Racist Skinheads, Holocaust Deniers, Neo-Confederates, Anti-Immigrationists and Anti-Gay groups, there is listed the Family Research Council.
Eighteen of SPLC’s Hate Groups are anti-gay. For absolute clarity, deeming homosexuality as “unbiblical” will not earn an organization a spot on the Hate Groups list. But, continuous dissemination of known falsehoods and the repeated, groundless demonizing of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) people will score a group an uncoveted position on the list.
I listened to Tony Perkins, President of FRC, on Fox and Friends as he responded to the dishonor announced last week on being place on the SPLC’s Hate Groups list. I talked to my computer screen and boiled at his smiling, what-me? attitude. No, Mr. Perkins, FRC is not on the list because you are a conservative group. Your actions have placed you there. No, Mr. Perkins, the left is not trying to shut down the debate or take away your freedom of religion. GLBT people are fighting for what the mascot-version-God aside you says they deserve—equality. Religious straight conservatives (and I am one) will still be able to get married, have children, serve in the military and attend houses of worship of their choice. No one wants to strip us of any of those rights; they just want the same rights, not special rights, not more rights, not gay rights—the same rights. Mr. Perkins, you drag God into your battle as an accomplice and, to me, that is even more despicable than your messages. You use God as your validation, saying you are fighting to protect His Judeo-Christian values. You and FRC deserve to be called dangerous and hateful; you and FRC have earned it.
FRC, regrettably, is not the only anti-gay group on the SPLC Hate List. They are joined, most notably, by: Abiding Truth, run by Scott Lively (outlined in a post “On Scott Lively and the “Kill the Gays Bill” (in) Fame” that I wrote after a long personal series of exchanges with him), American Family Association (AFA), Concerned Women for America (CWA) and National Organization for Marriage (NOM). All are dispensers of false accusations, myths and lies about GLBT people. I have spent over five years as an active advocate/friend of the GLBT community, especially the gay/trans Christians and, over twenty five years as a devout follower of Jesus. I have feet in both the conservative Christian world and the GLBT world. I am in a unique position to assess the controversy. The lies about gay people really hurt in a deep spot in me. Lies that substantiate the “right” to discriminate.
Here are the top ten myths and lies presented by FRC, CWA, AFA and NOM, (I won’t even touch Scott Lively’s ramblings here. Read the blogpost . He is widely agreed to be in the same special grouping with the Westboro Baptist Church). I follow each lie with a short commentary and link to where I have written about that topic in the past.
1. People make a choice to be gay. If you know any/many GLBT people and you have listened to them, you would not entertain this statement as true. This is a pivotal statement used by anti-gay groups all the time. It is simple and it is powerful. Here is why. If being GLBT is a choice, then it is a conduct. Conduct is not protected by law. But, a class of people, a status of people, is protected by law. If these conservative groups can get us to believe that being GLBT is a choice, then they can hope to withhold civil rights from gay/trans people. Again, conduct is not protected but classes of people are protected.
This house of cards and lies are starting to tumble down however. In the Supreme Court, a ruling was released on June 28, 2010 for Christian Legal Society(CLS) at University of California, Hastings School of Law v Martinez. CLS contented that they were discriminating against a behavior, the homosexuality of a perspective member, when they denied admission to the group. We are all clear that state money and property cannot be used to discriminate against a class of people, but CLS said this was about behavior. In siding with Martinez, the Supreme Court decision called GLBT people a “class”; this is huge, huge. The Supreme Court has now designated GLBT people as a class, not a behavior, not a conduct. A group of people.
Forget all the myths and bigotry some groups will use to discriminate against GLBT people, the Supreme Court (and every recognized American medical, counseling and psychiatric group) understands that homosexuality/transgenderness is not a choice. They are a class or status of people. With that designation, equality will come.
I find it exceedingly sad that the State is leading the charge for social justice when God told His people over 2,700 years ago in the book of Isaiah to “spend” themselves on justice issues. (Isaiah 58: 6-12) The courts are now leading the way to end this inequality. It should have been Christians churches. We have been here before on the issues of equality for women and Black Americans. God help us; Your people betrayed a mandate and used Your name to validate discrimination.
2. People become homosexual because they were sexually abused as children or had distant father/over bearing mother or some variation on bad parenting. GLBT children are no more abused or subject to poor role models than heterosexual children. Fifteen to twenty five percent of all girls were sexually abused and seven to fifteen percent of all boys. There is no scientific evidence to link abuse and orientation. None. This myth has burdened parents of GLBT children with a guilt and shame that they somehow caused their children’s orientation. Shame and blame. And, a lie.
3. Sexual orientation can be changed. Reparative therapy has been rejected by all the established and reputable American medical, psychological, psychiatric and professional counseling organizations. The overwhelming majority of people that have “changed” have: chosen to be celibate, were bisexual and not exclusively homosexual, or opt to live a “straight” life to adhere to strong religious and social pressures. (Read my post about Sexual Orientation .) Even the leader of the largest reparative therapy group in the world, Exodus, said just this week that he still is attracted to men. This is my personal belief, I would say, that if it were not for his paycheck, status and books, he would be more truthful. I have two close friends who were leaders/founders of Exodus and they are transparent in telling the stories of the lies and lack of integrity in the Exodus- type message.
I have personally interviewed both of them (Michael Bussee and Darlene Bogle) and this reparative sex industry is a sham and a money machine. It does not work. I do not know one, not one person who has changed sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual. Not one. Have there been cases where some sexual abuse caused a skewed sexual view that was corrected? Sure. I would place that in the less than 1% realm. Go to Beyond Ex-Gay and Box Turtle Bulletin for reparative therapy stories. The leaders of ex-gay ministries will never say you can change orientation; they appear to say that, but listen. They even know it is a lie.
4. Efforts to change someone’s sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual are not harmful nor unethical. Oh really? Being GLBT is a status, not a behavior or “lifestyle” (this word drives me batty!). Constant pressure to change the core of a person is a violation of humanity and it is an abuse. Telling someone who is same-sex attracted that they must change who they are to be acceptable to family, society, God is harmful and unethical.
Ask an alcoholic or drug addict to get clean and you will see benefit. Ask an adulterer to stop cheating and you see benefit. Go on and on down the list of “bad behaviors” and encourage folks to eliminate them and you will see life and good. Then, apply this “you must change your orientation” attitude and dictate to a GLBT person, and you will see loneliness, depression, isolation and shame. I am sure people are well intentioned in wanting others to change and live “the good life” of heterosexuality. I could not change my orientation, yet, we ask others to change theirs. For our good. For their destruction.
5. Homosexuals experience a higher level of psychological disorders than do heterosexuals. Really? Reject anyone repeatedly and from all directions and from all societal institutions and you set them up for personal destruction. We have done an excellent job of sending out a message of less-thanism from every corner of society to the GLBT community–from churches, government, military and schools. Want to decrease the shame, depression, addictions, suicidal thoughts and loneliness imposed on GLBT people? Stop the rejection. Incredibly simplistic. Be loving, be accepting, be a safe place. Love, acceptance and security. That is all we each ask for. Try extending it and watch the “psychological disorders” melt away.
6. Children raised by homosexuals are not as healthy as children raised by heterosexuals and, they suffer harm. First, all studies show children do better with two parents, two, not a male and female, two parents. Want to protect children? Start by not getting divorced and letting them have two, engaged, in-the-same-house parents. Next, the majority of the children that I personally know in gay male couple families are adopted children. Disposed-of children that exit the foster/state systems into these loving homes. In lesbian couple families, many of the children are their own children and they should be with their Mom. Let Mom have a legal partner for the security of those children. Two parents. No, none, zero studies exist to state that children raised in same-sex couple families are harmed or suffer any more than we heterosexual parents all-stars effect them.
The courts asked the plaintiffs for proof of this accusation of damage to children in same-sex parenting homes in the Prop 8 case in California. This was the big opportunity to lay it out for all to see and guess what? No evidence was presented. None. You can lie all you want on TV and in sound bites, but in court, you must bring proof. No proof was offered. Want to make the home life of children healthier? Let them have two parents. Let GLBT couples marry and create families and security for their children.
I have specifically and intentionally spent time with my GLBT friends and their children to observe. As a mother of two grown children (both straight), I am impressed with what I have seen. GLBT people do not want to destroy family, they want to create it, with their kids and with the tossed away kids.
7. Homosexuals are more likely to molest children than heterosexuals. This lie can make a person crazy because it is such an offensive lie. This repeated nonsense has damaged relationships of GLBT people within their families and extended families. “Don’t let Aunt Lesbian near the kids and surely not Uncle Gay. They will touch our kids inappropriately and use them sexually.” Molestation of children is NOT an issue of orientation. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Molestation of children is about being attracted to a child’s age, not gender of the child or the abuser. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
In a 2008 study of medical records in a Denver emergency room in cases of molestation, 1% had been attributed to GLBT people. The overwhelming majority of molestation is inflicted by heterosexual relatives and friends. This lie has to stop. FRC and the others quote and requote 87% of all cases of pedophilia involve a gay person. WHERE do they get this stuff? The one report they keep quoting with assurance has been thrown out as sloppy and false work by any expert of repute. Yet, the rhetoric they call the truth is robbing GLBT people of family, and family of their gay relatives. Destruction of family? Yes. For a lie.
8. Homosexuals are not seriously disadvantaged by discrimination. GLBT couples are denied 1,138 rights that a married heterosexual couple enjoys under the law. They are discriminated against in the military, in families, in churches and in society. That appears to be pretty serious disadvantage to me. Imagine, 1,138 rights denied a GLBT couple that wants to commit to love and marriage and cannot. Count to 1,138 and ask yourself: is this not discrimination?
9. Homosexuals are less likely to enter into a committed relationship, less likely to be sexually faithful to a partner, even if they have one, and are less likely to remain committed for a lifetime, than are heterosexuals. Chicken or egg? Tell people they are less-than and see what you get. Marriage is an institution in which couples establish state protected, church ordained, committed relationships. And it is denied to GLBT people. Take away marriage from heterosexual couples and imagine the results. Oh, we have that, heterosexual people living together. They don’t seem to have the success rate of marriage. Serial heterosexual monogamy.
Marriage brings protection, a stronger bond of commitment and the support of family and a community. GLBT people do not enjoy the security of legal marriage in all 50 states. They do not grow up thinking “who will I marry?”. Why bother, it is not a reality (yet). So, even when we do extend the right to marry to GLBT people, there will be a season of transition. And, in time, there will be the similar percentages of success/failure in same-sex marriages as in heterosexual marriages.
10. GLBT people cannot be Christians. I devote an entire blogsite Canyonwalker Connections to this issue. The best starting place is the VERSES tab. If you believe this myth, you are ignoring a movement of God that is exploding around the world. GLBT Christians are growing in number, in spiritual maturity, in gifting and it is happening fast. The best way to see proof is to visit an affirming congregation. Go to www.Welcomingchurches.org, call an affirming pastor in your area from the list and go see what God is doing in His GLBT children. Of course they can be Christians.
Lies are evil. Lies breed fear. Myths about people or groups become the basis for forming ideology about others. We have done it to Native Americans, immigrants over our own history, the Irish, the Germans, the Italians, the Jews, the Africans, the Mexicans, the Muslims, the Russians, the “others”. On and on. If we repeat the myth enough, maybe it will gain muddy traction and stick. This is what FRC and other Hate Groups do so well. They demonize the gay community. I think they actually believe they are good and fighting the good fight and hanging on to all that is sacred and holy. But, they are lying. That is discrimination. And, while they are doing it, they are causing destruction, that is hate. Maybe the public backlash of being designated a Hate Group will shame them to reassess their message.
Now, the final word as a Christian. I think there is something worse than making the SPLC’s Hate Groups List. My first concern would be “am I pleasing God?”. We all, all, have an image of God in us. We are called to love, respect and serve others. We are called to be shining lights in which others can see some piece of Jesus. Imagine a kicked-out-of-church gay man, a shamed-by-her-family lesbian, a suicidal Mormon teen who knows that honesty means losing family and church, two men that want desperately to get married and build a family, a young bisexual girl who cuts herself in the shame and pain of her sexuality and religious oppression. God loves every one of these people, the same way He loves me. God, in His Word, and Jesus, in His life, told me to treat everyone with equality and love. If the church cannot police our own, perhaps God is using secular organizations to slap His children upside the head? Would not be the first time. I will stand with, beside and in front of my GLBT fellow humans to ensure that they gain equality with me.
Family Research Council, you should be more concerned about where you are on God’s list of naughty or nice, sheep or goats. And Southern Poverty Law Center, thank you, really . . . thank you.