Another Former Ex-Gay Leader Recants
April 18th, 2013
John Paulk, a former board chair at Exodus International and lead spokesperson for Focus On the Family on promoting the ex-gay movement, has renounced his ex-gay past in an interview with Portland’s PQ Monthly:
Paulk’s emailed response to PQ’s interview questions suggest that he might, in fact, be moving toward accepting who he is.
“Until recently, I have struggled all my life in feeling unloved and unaccepted,” Paulk said. “I have been on a journey during the last few years in trying to understand God, myself, and how I can best relate to others. During this journey I have made many mistakes and I have hurt many people including people who are close to me. I have also found a large number of people who accept me for who I am regardless of my past, any labels, or what I do.”
Paulk continued, “I no longer support the ex-gay movement or efforts to attempt to change individuals — especially teens who already feel insecure and alienated. I feel great sorrow over the pain that has been caused when my words were misconstrued. I have worked at giving generously to the gay community in Portland where I work and live. I am working hard to be authentic and genuine in all of my relationships.”
Misconstrued? Which words were misconstrued? Were they the messages he promoted when in 1995 he was first elected to the chairmanship of Exodus International? Or when, as an employee of Focus On the Family, he launched a traveling series of conferences called “Love Won Out” in 1998, which travelled to a half a dozen cities per year for the next decade and a half, convincing parents and teens that he and his cohorts knew how to make them straight? Was it in 1998, when Paulk and his wife, “ex-lesbian” Anne Paulk, appeared as a happy cover in a major newspaper and billboard advertising campaign to promote the ex-gay community, a campaign which culminated in them landing on the cover of Newsweek?
Or was it in 2000 when the Love Won Out was making a stop in Washington, D.C., and LGBT activist Wayne Besen took Paulk’s photo as Paulk fled a gay bar near Dupont Circle, after Paulk was spotted flirting with patrons for more than an hour?
Paulk lost his chairmanship at Exodus International, but remained on its board of directors. He also, after a probationary period, continued working as head of Focus On the Family’s Homosexuality and Gender division, and he remained the coordinator and a speaking for its ove Won Out conferences until 2003. Paulk left Focus On the Family and the couple moved to Portland, where John Paulk started a catering business, Mezzaluna, in 2005.
Paulk has more or less dropped off the map since then, although his wife continues to publish books and remain active in the ex-gay movement. In 2012, after Exodus International began acknowledging to that change in sexual orientation was not possible, Anne Paulk helped to form a break-away group comprised of former Exodus ministries. She now serves on the board of directors of that dissident group, Restored Hope Network. The Paulks are reportedly separated, and former employees of Paulk’s catering service alleged that Paulk had engaged in inappropriate conduct with his employees. Others however defend him:
“Chef John is an amazing person to work for,” said Jeremy Neel, Mezzaluna’s openly gay catering captain. “He is very compassionate, friendly, caring, encouraging, and supportive…. I love my job. It is sad that some people in the LGBT community are saying negative things about him yet have not given him a chance. One’s past should not define who they are.”
Kurt Granzow, aka “Sister Krissy Fiction” of The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, has a background similar to Paulk’s. “I was in the ex-gay movement and a conservative Christian minister for over a decade before I moved to Portland and came out,” Granzow said. “I’ve been trying to support John in his process of leaving that stuff behind. I remember what it was like to look in the mirror with shame and self-loathing. The process of learning to be who you are is tough. I’ve just tried to be a compassionate friend.”
Paulk still has his detractors. Besen has issued a list of demands, including that Paulk denounces the Portland Fellowship, an former Exodus International ex-gay ministry that is now affiliated with Restored Hope Network; embark on a speaking tour with LGBT advocates, and supporting an Oregon bill that would ban Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (SOCE) for minors. Roey Thorpe, former director of Basic Rights Oregon, told PQ Monthly:
John Paulk isn’t just a conflicted man who hasn’t been able to reconcile his sexuality with his faith — we are all sympathetic to that and many of us have had that struggle. This is different,” Thorpe said. “Thousands of young people have been forced into religious conversion programs, shamed into believing they are sinners. Families have been encouraged to reject their children, and queer kids end up on the streets or committing suicide. Others live silently, filled with shame. This is how the Paulk family has made their living. I have dear friends who have been through hell and are still exiled from their families because of John Paulk. It’s important for people to know who they are doing business with.”
Focus On the Family Promotes Breakaway Ex-Gay Group
September 24th, 2012
Jeff Johnston, Focus on the Family’s “social policy analyst,” penned a post last Friday on FOTF’s CitizenLink endorsing the Restored Hope Network, which is made up of a collection of breakaway ministries from Exodus International following the latter’s shift in messaging and tone over the past year. Johnston doesn’t mention Exodus in his post, instead commending the new network for its “solid ministries and men and women who have years of ministry experience.” He then launched into some of a bulleted meditation — a sort of a PowerPoint theology — on what he calls “sexual brokenness”:
Sexually and relationally broken – just think about it for a minute:
- Because of Adam’s sin, our whole self is impacted by sin – including our identity, our sexuality and our ability to connect and maintain healthy relationships
- After they sinned, Adam and Eve feel ashamed, hide from God and begin blaming others; their eldest boy kills his brother; relational brokenness – inside families and between us and God
- Our culture is saturated with broken sexuality, and we’re exposed to it and impacted by it from childhood on; sexual brokenness runs deep in our world; it’s so much a part of our background that we don’t always notice
- Satan roams the earth like a lion, using sexual and relational brokenness to destroy individuals, families, churches, groups, businesses…. [Emphasis added, ellipses in the original]
I’ll let that last comment stand, along with this Facebook post from Robert Gagnon, who spoke at Restored Hope’s innauguran conference in Sacramento last weekend:
There were only 7 quiet protestors. Not much of a showing. San Francisco was having a “leather” event that no doubt was a more attractive event for those with a “gay” identity! Moral of the story: schedule the meeting during homosexual debauchery events.
Johnston and Gagnon seem to go very well together.
Candi Cushman responds to GLAAD with the MSU strategy
March 17th, 2012
The new Commentator Accountability Project of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation was certainly expected to elicit reaction and some of it in objection. And there are reasonable and legitimate responses which some on the list could make.
For example, those who were included primarily due to statements of theological position could simply note that indeed they do disagree with GLAAD but that they think it unfair to be lumped in with folks like Lively or Donohue. Or some might object to specific quotes which they may have once said but no longer believe. And those are objections with which I could sympathize.
But one included party had a different response. Candi Cushman, the Education Analyst for Focus on the Family took what I call the “MSU” response. She just Made Sh!t Up.
I found it fascinating to read the announcement yesterday that I had been included in a list of 36 dangerous radicals who should be banned from national television and print outlets.
Now no doubt that would be fascinating to read. But if Candi read that, it didn’t come from our community. How GLAAD described the individuals they included is as follows:
The GLAAD Commentator Accountability Project (CAP) aims to put critical information about frequent anti-gay interviewees into the hands of newsrooms, editors, hosts and reporters. Journalists or producers who are on deadline often don’t have the time to dig into the histories of a commentator. Audiences need to be aware that when they’re not talking to the mainstream media, these voices are comparing LGBT people to Nazi Germany, predicting that equal treatment of LGBT people will lead to the total collapse of society, and even making accusations of satanic influence.
The Commentator Accountability Project is bringing all of these statements to light, while calling attention to the sentiments behind them. We will show that the commentators who are most often asked to opine on issues like marriage equality or non-discrimination protections do not accurately represent the “other side” of those issues. They represent nothing but extreme animus towards the entire LGBT community.
Radical? Didn’t see it. Dangerous? Missed that too. And there’s no mention of “banning” at all.
Although, I suppose, if Candi were speaking not of what she has been called but was instead trying to accurately assess the individuals based on the standards that her faith professes, she might conclude that these people are, indeed, dangerous radicals and that any civilized religion would renounce such persons and reject them as representatives in national television and print outlets. I very much doubt that was her intent.
Candi Cushman just wants you to feel sorry for her and to be indignant towards GLAAD. So she engages in MSU.
GLAAD didn’t call her a dangerous radical. But if they had called her a dangerous radical then she would get sympathy and GLAAD would be seen as extremist and hostile to Christians. So she MSUs.
GLAAD didn’t call for banning anyone from anything. But if they had said that these individuals should be banned from national television and print outlets then she would get sympathy and GLAAD would be seen as extremist and hostile to Christians. So she does a little MSU.
And continuing down the theme of martyrdom and how gay activists are unreasonable hate-mongers imposing on poor Candi who only has good intentions, she posts a few comments that Focus has received in the past which were nasty.
I agree with Candi that those comments illustrate hateful attitudes – but no one is inviting those idiots to speak on television about issues. They don’t represent organizations or pretend to speak for anyone but themselves. And to suggest otherwise is just to MSU.
The ironic thing is that some of Candi’s worldview is not really all that objectionable.
While it is increasingly difficult to support or convince oneself, it is not inherently “hateful” to believe that gay people could become heterosexual if they tried. Nor is it “hateful” to think of sin as “spiritual brokenness” which can be healed through faith and to have compassion for those you imagine struggle with temptation. It might be condescending, but isn’t hate to think, “Oh, they would be so much happier if they just gave all that up and got married. A family is such a blessing and joy.”
Such thinking may offend us and may be based in willful ignorance, but it need not be the product of hatred or animus. Many people who see homosexuality by these terms are not motivated by malice, they just have difficulty conceptualizing that this isn’t a matter of being “tempted” to engage in certain forbidden sexual acts but an underlying subconscious difference in how our bodies, minds, emotions and perceptions respond to the two sexes.
But it’s what Candi does with it that places her on the list and excludes others.
Candi is not satisfied with simply saying that homosexuality, like pre-marital sex or remarriage or cursing or gossiping or working on Sunday, are contrary to her beliefs about divine mandates for appropriate behavior and therefore socially unacceptable. Instead Candi creates fictional attributes of gay people to attack. Gays are mentally ill or tools of Satan or infiltrating classrooms or trying to harm Christians or trying to destroy the family.
Unwilling to limit herself to “GLAAD is wrong about me”, Candi goes with
So more than revealing anything about the spokespeople it’s targeting, GLAAD’s “project” reveals the intolerant mindset driving it: The belief that only one perspective—that which is completely aligned with homosexual activist groups—is legitimate, and that all others should be censored and eradicated from the public realm.
Which is definitely MSUing.
What she doesn’t realize is that in her MSU approach, Cushman reveals much more of what she believes about her faith than it does of what she believes about gay people.
Those who have confidence in their position, state it. They believe that the truth, when heard, is compelling. Those who do so about matters of faith believe that their God will make evident the truth of their preaching and convince the listeners of its merit. Christians call it the moving of the Holy Spirit.
But Candi doesn’t believe that her arguments are convincing. She thinks that society would hear her moral code and reject it. She believes that her god is not capable of influencing society to adopt her beliefs or is unwilling to do so. Yet, for motivations that we may never fully know, Candi can neither give up her position or find the faith to let it stand on its own.
So Candi, lacking truth or a god to defend it, is left with her only option. Candi Cushman turns to the MSU strategy: when all else fails, just make sh1t up.
. . .
[presented with apologies to the students, staff and alumni of Michigan State University]
Focus launches “religious liberty” ballot amendment in Colorado
March 16th, 2012
Somehow both OutFront Colorado and I missed not one but two articles last week announcing Focus On The Family with the help of Alliance Defense Fund, intends on creating a coalition to pass a ballot amendment in 2012 to “protect” the religious freedoms of individuals and religious groups.
Here’s the proposed wording: (source withheld)
(1) The right to act or refuse to act in a manner motivated by a sincerely held religious belief may not be burdened unless the government proves it has a compelling governmental interest in infringing the specific act or refusal to act and has used the least restrictive means to further that interest.
(2) A burden includes indirect burdens such as a withholding of one or more benefits, assessing one or more penalties, exclusion from one or more government programs, and/or exclusion from one or more government facility.
This is a seemingly new strategy and we don’t have any other states to look to for precedent where such things have been enacted. However North Dakota will vote on a similar amendment in June of this year. (The proposed Colorado amendment would be voted on in November).
As of recently Focus’ CitizenLink has had a bee in their bonnet about so called religious liberty as it pertains to reproductive freedom and health care reform here, here, here, here, here, here, and here, this week alone. In my opinion contraception mandates is merely the political flavor of the month, animus towards LGBT people is in season year round with Focus and friends. Joe.My.God has an eloquent take on the proposed amendment:
Focus On The Family has launched a ballot petition drive that, if successful, will ask Colorado voters to make it legal to deny housing, employment, and services to any person on the basis of religious objections. (Gosh, who COULD they be talking about?)
State equality org One Colorado is already responding by forming a coalition with Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains and Interfaith Alliance of Colorado. One Colorado posted an official statement this morning which reads in part:
The initiative’s language — which focuses on “religious liberty” — is incredibly deceptive. It doesn’t make clear the widespread implications of enacting this law. Implications that don’t just impact LGBT people — but all Coloradans.
Imagine a law that allows a pharmacist to refuse to fill a birth control prescription. A law that permits an employer to refuse to hire people on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity and expression. A law that gives protection to teachers who refuse to teach sex education or evolution. All for the sake of so-called religious freedom.
At One Colorado, we believe that everyone has a right to their own religious beliefs. But no one should be above the law. And we shouldn’t create a two-tiered society where the law applies only to some and not others.
One Colorado also announced they will be mounting a legal challenge to the proposed amendment, that will occur when the final wording comes before the Secretary of State’s Title Board which has the power to reject proposed ballot items. If you wish to donate to the legal fund click here, One Colorado has set a goal of collecting the $5,000 needed by Monday.
Nobody has much to say from a legal perspective yet. OutFront’s article included comment from the GLBT Community Center of Colorado’s legal director:
Mindy Barton also noted text of the measure is very broad and the potential applications are unclear.
“We are unsure of what the proposed ballot initiative mans, and we are interested to hear if Focus on the Family, whose Senior Vice President is listed as one of the proponents, will explain the intent behind it,” Barton said.
As a lay-person let’s have a look at the amendment’s wording. If allowed to actually take effect, it seems the amendment would allow someone with a “sincerely held religious belief” to disobey any law they see fit based on those beliefs. Sometimes a person breaks the law by doing something, an example of this would be a Rastafari using marijana (a Schedule I narcotic) in a religious ceremony. Other times a person would break the law by not doing something, an example of this would be “sovereign citizens” who sincerely believe they are exempt from paying taxes. Virtually any law it appears could be challenged, and the government would be obligated to justify they have a ”compelling governmental interest” in enforcing it. It could be decades of legal chaos as our courts subject thousand of laws to the compelling interest test to determine if they are trumped by “religious liberty.”
But ultimately that could work to our advantage. When the public views ballot measures as vague or creating chaos, voters tend to error on the side of rejecting them.
The Friendly Atheist blogged about the proposed North Dakota amendment back in 2010 noting how blatantly unconstitutional its implications are, citing the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) which was stuck down in Boerne v. Flores. He also has a fabulous quote from an opinion by Antonin Scalia in Employment Division v. Smith in which a Oregon man was denied unemployment benefits after using peyote in a religious ritual. Wrote Scalia:
We rejected the claim (in Reynolds v. United States) that criminal laws against polygamy could not be constitutionally applied to those whose religion commanded the practice. “Laws,” we said,
are made for the government of actions, and while they cannot interfere with mere religious belief and opinions, they may with practices. . . . Can a man excuse his practices to the contrary because of his religious belief? To permit this would be to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself.
That sums it up perfectly, Focus’ “religious liberty” amendment would allow “every citizen to become a law unto himself.”
The Daily Agenda for Saturday, November 19
November 19th, 2011
TODAY’S AGENDA (OURS):
Transgender Day of Remembrance: Several locations. While tomorrow is officially the day set aside to remember those who have been murdered as a result of transphobia, some TDoR events are taking place today. TDoR began in reaction to the brutal murder of Rita Hester, who was killed on November 28, 1998. Her murder resulted in the creation of the Remembering Our Dead web site and a candlelight vigil in 1999. In the first nine months of 2011, 116 transgender people have been killed around the world, according to Trans Murder Monitoring (TMM). They also say that there have been at least 681 murders in 50 countries since 2008. Observances for the Transgender Day of Rememberance typically consist of the reading of the names of those who have died because of their gender identity, expression, presentation or perception of gender variance. Observances are being held in cities all around the world. Click here to find an observance near you.
TODAY’S AGENDA (THEIRS):
Thanksgiving Family Forum: Des Moines, IA. The anti-gay Family Leader will host a Thanksgiving Family Forum with GOP presidential candidates Sen. Rick Santorum, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Rep. Ron Paul, former House speaker Newt Gingrich, pizza magnate Herman Cain, and Rep. Michele Bachmann “sitting shoulder to shoulder around a ‘Thanksgiving table’.” That hokey piece of stagecraft is the brainchild of organizer Bob Vander Plaats, who has this as a dress code: “the audience attire will be ‘business casual,’ but the candidates were asked ‘to dress like they’re going to Thanksgiving dinner’.” Which means that one of them will be wearing a loud green sweater with a giant white snowflake.
Noticably absent from the banquet is Gov. Mitt Romney, which has Family Leader’s Bob Vander Plaats steamed at the snub. “Mitt Romney has dissed this base in Iowa and this diss will not stay in Iowa,” he told Fox News. “This has national tentacles. … This might prove that he is not smart enough to be president. …I think what will happen is what happened in 2008. He’s been in this position before. He’s been on top of polls only to find his campaign tanking and sucking air.” Tell us how you really feel, Bob.
Family Leader promises that “ALL the questions will be centered around issues relating to the family and are designed to gauge the constitutional and biblical worldviews of the candidates.” And to make sure none of the candidates move too far from an anti-gay agenda, two ten-minute segments of the two-hour forum will be headed by Focus On the Family’s Tom Minnery, and the National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown. The remainder of the one hour and forty minutes will be moderated by Fox News’ Frank Lutz. It begins at 4:00 p.m. at the First Federated Church in Des Moines. While the event is open to the press, the latest word has it that no major network will be televising it. Thank God for small favors.
TODAY IN HISTORY:
American Council of Christian Churches Calls AIDS “God’s Wrath”: 1989. Peter Steinfels wrote in the New York Times about a gathering earlier in November of U.S. Catholic Bishops in Baltimore that had met to hammer out a document responding to the AIDS crisis. The bishops decided overwhelmingly to reject the theological proposition that AIDS was in any way a punishment from God, a position held by one in four Americans, according to a recent poll. J. Gordon Melton, director of the Institute for the Study of American Religion in Santa Barbara, had published 68 statements on AIDS from 45 different religious groups in the United States, Canada and Great Britain, and found “a remarkable” across both liberal and conservative religious groups recognizing that AIDS was not just a gay problem, and “that special ministries should be established to serve AIDS victims, their families and friends, and that the civil rights of homosexuals or of those with the AIDS virus should be protected.” But, The Times learned, that consensus wasn’t unanimous:
The Bible repeatedly describes God as employing all kinds of terrors, natural and human, to punish those who disobey his commands. These biblical accounts naturally governed the reaction of the American Council of Christian Churches, a fundamentalist group that recently expressed dismay at the consensus discovered by Mr. Melton. The council, which claims to represent about two million ”Bible Christians,” promptly went on record upholding the idea that AIDS is God’s wrath visited on homosexuals and drug addicts, although for their ultimate benefit if they turn to Jesus.
If you know of something that belongs on the Agenda, please send it here. Don’t forget to include the basics: who, what, when, where, and URL (if available).
As always, please consider this your open thread for the day.
Chik-Fil-A’s Anti-Gay Contributions
November 1st, 2011
Chick-Fil-A’s charitable arm, the WinShape Foundation, has received $7.8 million in funding from Chick-FilA, Inc. WinShape, which was founded by Chick-Fil-A’s founder and chairman S. Truett Cathy, turned around and gave more than $1.7 million to several anti-gay groups in 2009, including the Marriage and Family Legacy Fund ($994,199), Fellowship Of Christian Athletes ($480,000), National Christian Foundation ($240,000), Focus On The Family ($12,500) Eagle Forum ($5,000), Exodus International ($1,000), and Family “Research” Council ($1,000). Equality Matters has the details. Remember that the next time you’re hankering to “Eat Mor Chikin.”
Gays Are Evil
October 3rd, 2011
So says National Organization for Marriage’s new honcho John Eastman:
Those fighting for traditional marriage can feel beaten down by the culture at large. Do you feel that victory for traditional marriage is possible?
Evil will be with us always, and it requires constant vigilance to defeat. I look at it as a litigator and an educator. There will always be threats to institutions grounded in human nature by those who think human nature doesn’t define limits. We need to be involved in the immediate defense of threats against marriage, but also take a long-range view by educating the next generation about the importance of the issues we’re confronting.
And so does Focus On the Family’s Glenn Stanton:
All sexual sin is wrong because it fails to mirror the Trinitarian image, but homosexuality does more than fail. It’s a particularly evil lie of Satan because he knows that it overthrows the very image of the Trinitarian God in creation, revealed in the union of male and female.
And yet Focus On the Family’s Tim Daly complained to CNN that it’s unfair to say Focus hates gay people:
But do we, as Webster’s defines “hate,” feel “intense hostility and aversion” to gays and lesbians? Do we regard them with “extreme dislike or antipathy”? Unequivocally not.
[via Good As You]
Elaine Donnelly Still Trying To Keep Her Day Job
September 20th, 2011
It’s hard to know what the raison d’être for Elaine Donnelly’s Center for Military Effectiveness could possibly be except to hang around for a possible GOP president in 2013 who can reimpose “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” via executive order. Maybe that’s why she’s still pounding the pavement defending dead DADT. The American Family Association’s OneNewsNow commiserated with Donnelly on DADT’s passing this way:
“The law requires more than just PowerPoint presentations,” she tells OneNewsNow. “The administration is supposed to describe exactly what will happen under the new LGBT law. [But] they haven’t done that! They’re barreling ahead anyway. The president [is] just determined to impose LGBT law on the military, regardless of the concerns of Congress.”
The CMR leader predicts litigators for homosexual activists and the homosexual movement are going to have a field day. “Without the law on the books, they will go into court and challenge anything that stands in the way of what they perceive as a civil rights issue,” she warns.
Donnelly told Focus On the Family’s CitizenLink that people should “watch and report to Congress about the fallout from the repeal.”
Focus On the Family Continues to Downsize
September 17th, 2011
Focus On the Family announced yet another round of layoffs yesterday, eliminating 49 jobs and bringing its workforce down to 650. Focus has announced a steady stream of layoffs over the past several years, cutting its employment level by more than half from a 2002 peak of 1,400 people.
The Writing On The Wall
September 1st, 2011
Focus On the Family sees it, but is still in denial. This is from FoF’s CitizenLink:
The telephone survey of 3,000 Millennials, conducted between July 14 and 30, indicates 49 percent of those considering themselves Republicans favor same-sex marriage, compared to 19 percent of Republican seniors and 31 percent of all Republicans. Additionally, 44 percent of white evangelical Millennials favor same-sex marriage, compared to only 12 percent of evangelical seniors and 19 percent of evangelicals overall.
…“It’s important to make sure Christian Millennials understand the importance of a biblical worldview so they can think well about issues of marriage and sexuality,” [Dawn McBane] said. “Our desire is to encourage Millennials to think deeply about issues from a biblical worldview and then challenge them to live out their beliefs in every-day life.”
McBane is directer of Focus On the Family’s Rising Voice project to try to build millennial support for anti-gay positions. Good luck with that.
Matt Barber Says Gays Committing “Economic Terrorism” And Want To Jail Christians. Meanwhile, AFA Boycotts Home Depot And Wants To Jail Gays.
August 31st, 2011
There is a fundraising group called the Charity Give Back Group (CGBG), whose innocuous sounding name hides its political activities. When customers shop with major name-brand companies through their virtual shopping mall, proceeds go to CGBG affiliated groups including the Family “Research” Council, Focus On the Family, Liberty Counsel and others. LGBT activists have pressured companies to cut ties with CGBG, and so far Apple, Microsoft, Delta Airlines and Wells Fargo are among the big names that have withdrawn from the program.
Anti-gay groups are now crying foul over “homo-fascist” tactics, despite their own well-established pattern of boycotting companies who don’t fall lockstep into their program of anti-gay politics. Liberty Counsel’s Matt Barber calls the pressure against companies participating in CGBG “economic terrorism” with the ultimate goal of putting conservative Christians behind bars:
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it right now. The sexual anarchist lobby, this radical, militant lobby, wants three things in this order: they want to see those of us who hold traditional values and have a biblical view of sexual behavior and sexual morality; they want to see us behind bars. Absent that, if that doesn’t work, they want to see us discredited, our licenses, my law licenses revoked, unable to teach in schools and so forth. They want us completely discredited and marginalized to the fringes of society. Finally and included in that is the inability, they want to see people like us not able to make a living. And that’s why they’re going after these organizations and they’re using economic terrorism, for lack of a better phrase.
He might want to try to come up with a better phrase. In 2008, Barber joined with Peter “Porno Pete” LaBarbera and others for a bit of “economic terrorism” of their own when they announced a boycott of McDonalds and rallied in front of their headquarters. The American Family Association regularly launches acts of “economic terrorism” against such big name companies as Home Depot and Pepsi. And by the way, their jihad against Home Depot is on again, in case you’ve had difficulty keeping track.
And speaking of wanting to put people behind bars, AFA’s spokesman Bryan Fischer yesterday pined for the days when homosexuality was a felony in all fifty states and says, “There is no reason why it cannot be a criminal offense once again. Absolutely none.”
Study Author Says Franken Is Right
July 21st, 2011
“Sen. Franken is right,” the lead author of the study told POLITICO. The survey did not exclude same-sex couples, said Debra L. Blackwell, Ph.D., nor did it exclude them from the “nuclear family” category provided their family met the study’s definition.
The study’s definition of nuclear family is: “one or more children living with two parents who are married to one another and are each biological or adoptive parents of all the children in the family.”
U.S. Health and Human Services study in 2010 found better health outcomes for children in “nuclear families,” which Minnery claimed included only children with heterosexually married parents.
Sen. Al Franken Is My New Favorite Senator
July 20th, 2011
During today’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on repealing the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) eviscerated the testimony of Thomas Minnery, Senior Vice President for Public Policy at Focus on the Family. Minnery was caught red-handed what anti-gay activists reflexively do: they lie about the research:
Franken: Mr Minnery, on page eight of your written testimony, you write, quote “Children living with… their own married, adoptive or biological mothers and fathers were generally healthier and happier, had better access to health care, were less likely to suffer mild or severe emotional problems, did better in school, were protected from physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, and almost never live in poverty compared to children in any other family form.”
You cite a Department of Health and Human Services Study, that I have right here, from December 2010, to support this conclusion. I checked this study out. (Laughter) And I would like to enter it into the record, if I may. And it actually doesn’t say what you said it says. It says that “nuclear families,” not “opposite sex married families” are associated with those positive outcomes. Isn’t it true, Mr Minnery, that a married same-sex couple that has had or adopted kids would fall under the definition of a nuclear family in the study that you cite?
Minnery: I would think that the study, when it cites “nuclear families,” would mean a family headed by a husband and a wife.
Franken: It doesn’t. [Laughter] The study defines a nuclear family as “one or more children living with two parents who are married to one another and are each biological or adoptive parents to all the children in the family.” And I frankly don’t really know how we can trust the rest of your testimony if you are reading studies these ways.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) comes in at a photo-finish second in the race for my new favorite Senator:
Leahy: Are those children benefited by saying that in that family, they will not have the same financial benefits that another family, a maried couple of opposite sex would have? Are those children not put at a disadvantaved by denying those same benefits to them, and I’m talking about now a legal marriage under the state laws of the state they live in?
Minnery: No. Without question, those children are certainly better off than having no parents. But…
Leahy: Wait a minute. I don’t understand. They’d be better off if they had no parents?
Minnery: No, they’re certainly better of than if they had no home headed by parents. But same-sex marriage is a whole lot more than that, Senator.
Leahy: But I’m trying to go specifically to the financial. Are they not disadvantaged by not having the same financial benefits that in a…. an opposite sex family would have?
Minnery: Well, as I say, not knowing the details of which families you are speaking off, certainly those families are better off… children are better off with parents in the home. But what I’m saying…
Leahy: But, I’m talking about… Yes or no, it’s not a trick question. I’m just asking. [Laughter] Please. If you have parents legally married under the laws of the state. One set of parents are entitled to certain financial benefits for their children, the other set of parents are denied those same financial benefits for their children. Are not those children, at least in that aspect of finances, are not those children of the second family, are they not at a disadvantage, yes or no?
Minnery: That would be yes, as you asked the question narrowly, Senator.
Leahy: Thank you. I was asking it narrowly. I used to have a career where I had to ask questions all the time.
What’s the Difference Between Boycotting and Bullying Again?
April 29th, 2011
Focus On the Family tried to define the difference in the context over the law firm of King & Spalding’s refusal to take up the defense of the Defense of Marriage Act on behalf of the GOP-led House of Representatives. K&S backed out, citing what they called an “inadequate” vetting process for taking the case in the first place. One likely sticking points with the firm was may have been the blanket gag order imposed on all K&S employees barring all advocacy for DOMA’s legislative repeal, a provision which not only would have infringed upon K&S employees First Amendment rights, but would likely have been illegal in several states in which K&S operates.
Focus On the Family ignores that, and instead latches onto to a bragging press release from the Human Rights Campaign. HRC boasted that they had contacted several of K&S’s clients:
[HRC spokesman Fred] Sainz said his group did not ask any of the firm’s clients to drop the firm in retaliation for taking the case, as is being assumed by conservatives who are alleging an untoward pressure campaign. Rather, he said, his group informed the firm’s clients that taking the case was out of sync with King and Spalding’s commitment to diversity, which it proudly advertises on its Web site.
One of K&S’s clients, Coca-Cola, reportedly nudged K&S pointing out that K&S’s position was contrary to Coca-Cola’s “ long public history of support for equality and diversity.” K&S was also facing a growing backlash among its own employees. Focus on the Family’s Bruce Hausknecht is blind to all that, latching instead onto HRC’s boast as a clear example of “Bullying, Strong-arming, Veiled Threats, etc.”
Threats of what? You may well ask. As far as anyone can tell, the threat would be, at most, the threat of a boycott against either K&S itself, or against its clients. Threatening boycotts, according to Hausknecht, is bullying, even though Focus On the Family has threatened boycotts on any number of occasions — although, to be fair, not nearly as often as the American Family Association. But okay. Threats of boycotts is now bullying. Fine.
Now that K&S has dropped the DOMA case, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s has barred the law firm from handling any business on behalf of the commonwealth. It’s not clear that K&S is actually handling any cases on Virginia’s behalf – Cuccinelli appears uncertain and asks K&S (PDF: 176KB/2 pages) to check their records and submit any final bills accordingly — but K&S definitely will not receive any business from Virginia in the future. Cuccinelli harrumphs with a final sign-off: “For future reference, your firm is not welcome to re-apply for special counsel status at any time as long as I am the Attorney General of Virginia.”
Hausknecht cheers this act of bullying, strong-arming, and not-so-veiled threats as an act worthy of his “straight-talkin’ award.” At least I assume Hausknecht — ever the straight-takin’ guy — considers Cuccinelli’s act as an example of bullying, strong-arming, and not-so-veiled threats. Because if he doesn’t, then his distinction between boycotting and bullying rests solely on the outcome of the act, and not the action itself. And that would also mean that threatening to with draw business (what he calls ”bullying” even though no harm is actually done) is somehow worse than actually withdrawing business from K&S (where economic harm is actually done, but somehow that’s not bullying).
Come to think of it, that kind of twisted thinking does go along way toward explaining Focus On the Family’s consistent opposition to anti-bullying measures in schools. Maybe they only object to the threats, and not to the punches.
GOP Names Focus Officer to Debate Committee
April 4th, 2011
Tom Minnery, director of Focus On the Family’s CitizenLink has been selected to serve on the GOP’s committee to determine what role the Republican National Committee will play in primary Presidential debates. Says Minnery:
They wanted someone who represents social conservatives, who is not a member of the (Republican National) Committee,” he said, “and that’s why they asked me.
“The party wants the candidate forums to be driven by party activists and grassroots representatives, and less by the national media that televise these events. The idea is that the party ought to be able to have some say over who poses questions to the candidates running for the party’s nomination for president.”
Kinda explains the GOP’s sudden shift back toward social issues, doesn’t it?
Anti-Gay Activists React to DOMA Announcement
February 23rd, 2011
Brian Brown from National Organization for Marriage lost his already limited capacity for original thought and channels John Paul Jones:
We have not yet begun to fight for marriage,” said Brian Brown, president of NOM.“The Democrats are responding to their election loss with a series of extraordinary, extra-constitutional end runs around democracy, whether it’s fleeing the state in Wisconsin and Indiana to prevent a vote, or unilaterally declaring homosexuals a protected class under our Constitution, as President Obama just did,” said Brown. “We call on the House to intervene to protect DOMA, and to tell the Obama administration they have to respect the limits on their power. This fight is not over, it has only begun!”
Maggie Gallagher chimes in:
On the one hand this is a truly shocking extra-constitutional power grab in declaring gay people are a protected class, and it’s also a defection of duty on the part of the President Obama,” said Maggie Gallagher, Chairman of NOM, “On the other hand, the Obama administration was throwing this case in court anyway. The good news is this now clears the way for the House to intervene and to get lawyers in the court room who actually want to defend the law, and not please their powerful political special interests.”
Regardless of President Obama’s own ideological agenda, as President, he and his Attorney General have a duty to defend lawfully passed legislation, especially when the essence of the law has been upheld by many courts. Thirty states have passed marriage amendments affirming marriage as one man and one woman. Today President Obama has abandoned his role as President of the United States and transformed his office into the President of the Divided States. He has been the most divisive president in American history. He has today declared war on the American people and the fundamental values that are shared by most Americans. His radicalism resulted in the historical push-back in the 2010 elections. His radicalism today will come back around when the people respond to this betrayal in 2012,” said Staver.
Focus On the Family’s Tom Minnery wants Congressional Republicans to drop whatever they’re doing and pick up the flag:
“We would hope Congress uses the tools at its disposal to counter this decision and defend marriage,” Minnery said.
What should Congress do? Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins wants Congress to take Holder’s bait by dropping their “only interested in the deficit” mantra and reveal what many suspect to be their true colors:
“With this decision the President has thrown down the gauntlet, challenging Congress. It is incumbent upon the Republican leadership to respond by intervening to defend DOMA, or they will become complicit in the President’s neglect of duty,” concluded Perkins.
“I think it’s a clear sign that we simply cannot avoid engaging on the social issues,” Bryan Fischer, director of issue analysis for the group, told TPM. “Mitch Daniels has called for a truce on social issues and that would be fine if the homosexual lobby was willing to lay down arms, but they’re obviously not and this proves it. A truce is nothing more than a surrender.”
So far, House Speaker John Boehner is staying on message and has declined to take the bait:
A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, criticized the administration change of position. “While Americans want Washington to focus on creating jobs and cutting spending, the president will have to explain why he thinks now is the appropriate time to stir up a controversial issue that sharply divides the nation,” said spokesman Brendan Buck.
Update: Potential GOP Presidential candidate and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee found a clever way to blame gay marriage for increasing the deficit:
Nonetheless, Huckabee opposes gay marriage on the grounds that, according to him, it destroys traditional families. “There is a quantified impact of broken families,” Huckabee said. “[There is a] $300 billion dad deficit in America every year…that’s the amount of money that we spend as taxpayers to pick up the pieces because dads are derelict in their duties.”
Focus On the Family on DADT: “It’s Too Late To Care Now”
December 21st, 2010
Yes, that petulant schoolyard retort wasn’t an Onion headline, but CitizenLink’s. The Focus On the Family house organ posted this commentary by Bill Spencer, a retired Air Force colonel who is now a Focus employee:
I ask you, fellow citizen, after Saturday’s vote, would you give your life for our Senate? Would you give your life for our president? Or, would you go home to your family? Sadly, you know the answers already. If you never made a phone call or never entered the debate on this issue, it’s too late to care now.
Focus on the Family picks up “Day of Truth”
November 11th, 2010
The Day of Truth, conservative Christianity’s response to the Day of Silence, is moving to it’s third home in two years. While the Day of Silence has always been about recognizing the way in which gay students are silenced by culture, bullying and misunderstanding, the Day of Truth has had trouble identifying its message, meaning or audience.
The Day of Truth was originally started by Alliance Defense Fund as a tool to provoke confrontation between conservative Christian kids and their public school administrators. In 2004, Tyler Chase Harper wore a t-shirt to Poway High School on the Day of Silence which expressed his disagreement with recognizing the concerns of gay students. The front read “Be Ashamed” and “Our School Embraced What God Has Condemned,” and on the back, “Homosexuality is Shameful” and “Romans 1:27.”
When Harper was required to remove his message of condemnation, the ADF picked up his case claiming that his rights to freedom of religion and expression were being violated. The following year they rolled out the Day of Truth (“the truth cannot be silenced”) to encourage more students to protest the Day of Silence, but on the following day. A handy referral number to attorneys-standing-by was included, giving a none-to-subtle hint of the purpose of the event.
The first year was not particularly successful. And litigation on the Harper case was revealing that courts were not finding that he had a right to disparage fellow student in the public schools, so ADF decided to take a different approach.
In 2006, ADF shifted focus slightly. While their efforts continued to “counter the promotion of the homosexual agenda and express an opposing viewpoint from a Christian perspective” they also began guiding gay students towards ex-gay efforts. Softening the message of being anti-gay with a flavoring of “help for those struggling with homosexuality”, there was hope that Christian students would feel adequately justified in encouraging the culture of condemnation of homosexuality.
But “there’s hope for them” messages don’t really inspire teens. It takes stronger emotions, like compassion or contempt, to really get through. So while Day of Silence continued to spread with it’s “don’t bully” message, the Day of Truth’s vaguer “we disagree but don’t call us bigots” campaign struggled.
Contributing to DoT’s difficulties was an onslaught of competing messages from other conservative Christians. As early as 2006, those who wanted a stronger, militant, and more hostile message proposed alternative responses. That year PFOX (a sort of PFLAG for parents who refused to accept that their kids are gay) and Liberty Counsel (ADF’s wackier cousin anti-gay law firm) proposed a “Change is Possible Campaign“.
That didn’t really fly, but other alternatives were proposed. In 2008, Pastor Ken Hutchinson in Washington led a campaign to encourage students to stay home on the Day of Silence. Now “stay home from school” was a message that kids could take to heart and nearly a third of Mt Si High students played hookie. So in 2009, a number of the more extreme anti-gay activists attempted to take the stay-home protest nationwide. It failed.
But Day of Truth was hit with another challenge, one they likely did not expect. Dr. Warren Throckmorton challenged the premise that the Christian obligation was to defend bullies. He proposed that the way Christian kids should respond to the plight of anti-gay bullying is not with protest but with compassion and support. His Golden Rule Pledge allowed Christian kids to keep their religious code of sexual ethics but to pledge to treat gay kids the way they would want to be treated.
Bracketed by contrasting calls for more condemnation and more compassion, the Day of Truth was confronted by its worst enemy: a lack of interest. Secular newspapers found them slightly distasteful, but not enough to be shocking and newsworthy. And even religious news sources couldn’t find anything new or interesting to say about their efforts. So, after four years, Alliance Defense Fund had had enough.
In January 2009, ADF gifted Exodus International with the Day of Truth.
This was a bit of an awkward fit. Exodus, the umbrella ex-gay organization, was at this time going through a reevaluation of their interaction with the gay community. Although they had in the past become quite involved in anti-gay political efforts, they were recommitting their focus to those who “struggle with unwanted homosexuality” and stepping back from activism. So instead of a day dedicated to “countering the homosexual agenda”, the Day of Truth now morphed into a lukewarm ex-gay appeal. (Baptist Press)
As part of Monday’s Day of Truth students will pass out cards during non-class time with a message, which says in part, “It’s time for an honest conversation about homosexuality. There’s freedom to change if you want to.”
The 2010 Day of Truth was somewhat uneventful. Years of squabbling over the message and ownership of the opposition to the Day of Silence had worn everyone out and it may also be that by this time Exodus’ heart just wasn’t in it.
And Exodus’ continued introspection and evolution had them backing away from talk about “change”. The Jones and Yarhouse Study update had come out and it was pretty clear that “freedom to change if you want to” was no longer a viable claim. So, yet again, the message shifted – this time to mutual respect and conversation about sexual ethics.
This year’s theme for the Day of Truth is “Get the Conservation Started.” Students can wear T-shirts and pass out cards with the message: “People with differing, even opposing, viewpoints can freely exchange ideas and respectfully listen to each other. It’s time for an honest conversation about the biblical truth for sexuality. Let’s get the conversation started!”
And then came September 2010 and report after report of teens committing suicide after experiencing anti-gay bullying. It was, no doubt, extremely troubling to Exodus. Many of the leaders in Exodus have over the year expressed how they were bullied in school and I’m sure they found it easy to see themselves in these kids. And while the nation was shocked by the string of incidents, it is without doubt that Exodus found the news to be horrifyingly personal.
In October 2010, Alan Chambers, president of Exodus, jettisoned the event.
“All the recent attention to bullying helped us realize that we need to equip kids to live out biblical tolerance and grace while treating their neighbors as they’d like to be treated, whether they agree with them or not,” said Alan Chambers, President of Exodus International, the group that sponsored the event this year.
With neither ADF or Exodus wanting to continue, it was uncertain whether they would be a seventh Day of Truth or, if so, who would lead it and what the message would be. But now it appears that the Day of Truth will be picked up by Focus on the Family and renamed and repackaged. (CNN)
A major Christian group will take over an annual event that challenges homosexuality, weeks after the event’s main Christian sponsor pulled support for the student-focused program, saying it had become too divisive and confrontational.
Focus on the Family, an influential evangelical organization, will begin sponsoring the event known as the Day of Truth but will change the name of the happening to the Day of Dialogue, the group is set to announce Thursday.
And it appears that yet again, the Day’s message will change. If statements by FotF’s Candi Cushman are indicative, the Day of Dialogue will readopt strident anti-gay messaging and take a more aggressive political stance.
“We’re trying to raise awareness that more than one side needs to be heard on the issue of homosexuality, and we’re helping to ensure Christian students have the chance to express their viewpoint,” said Candi Cushman, a Focus on the Family education analyst, in the release. “What is freedom of speech, after all, but a guarantee of the right to have dialogue?”
Focus on the Family in general and Candi Cushman in particular have a long history of expressing the “Christian viewpoint on homosexuality” and it has never been in terms that were sympathetic of bullied children or tolerant of others. It is highly doubtful that respect for differing viewpoints will be the theme of the Day of Dialogue – Focus doesn’t “diologue” that way.
I hope that I’m wrong. Early press releases on their sponsorship emphasize “love” as much as they do “truth”.
As these verses demonstrate, the model Christ gave us is one of sacrificial love that lays down one’s own life to rescue others. So Day of Dialogue activities should always reflect that spirit. Any verbal and written expressions used by students participating in this event should be loving and compassionate—and never be expressed in a condemning or antagonistic way to others. Even when we disagree with others, we should always demonstrate the utmost compassion and respect for them.
But far too often, Focus’ perspective of what is “loving” and that of the target of their “love” can be diametrically opposed. And if their new Day of Dialogue is an extension of their “True Tolerance” program, we can expect a rather obvious absence of truth, tolerance and love, sacrificial or otherwise, and in their place a call to reverse and remove the anti-bullying programs that are trying to provide support to LGBT youth. While Exodus found empathy for bullied kids, Focus identifies with the bullies.
In fact, we already know pretty much what Focus has in mind – confrontation and stereotypes:
It’s very politically incorrect these days to talk about male-female differences. If you want to see a good argument develop, just ask a group of students if there even are any differences. The unique and wonderful complementary qualities of masculinity and femininity have been blurred so that many see men and women as virtually interchangeable. Or the differences get exaggerated into over-the-top caricatures. But despite these distortions, we still see God’s separation of humanity into male and female, different but complementary, and equally of great value.
That, and fun things like the assertion that no one is really gay, or that “homosexual and “transgender” rights activists continue to do everything in their power to radically deconstruct the traditional and biblical understanding of sexuality, gender and marriage across all arenas of culture.”
So it seems that the Day of Truth has come full circle, back to a day of confrontation and condemnation. I doubt that it will be well received.
Co Senate Candidate: “You Have A Choice” To Be Gay; Focus Agrees
October 19th, 2010
The Colorado Republican Candidate for U.S. Senate, Ken Buck, said in an interview on Meet the Press Sunday that he thought being gay was a “choice”:
“You can choose who your partner is. You don’t think it’s something that’s determined at birth?” host David Gregory asked. “I think that birth has an influence on it like alcoholism and some other things but I think that basically you have a choice.”
Focus On the Family’s Jeff Johnston defended Buck’s comment:
Jeff Johnston, Focus on the Family social policy analyst, said Monday, “Alcohol affects your whole body, and so does sexual behavior. The highly addictive (aspect of both) is an apt comparison.”
Focus on the Family discusses bullying with Anderson Cooper
September 2nd, 2010
Focus on the Family’s Candi Cushman thinks that Safe Schools is about homosexuality lessons in kindergarten. Yes, she truly does look like an idiot.