Tony Perkins’ Strange Understanding Of Democracy
April 8th, 2009
The Vermont Senate and House today voted to override the governor’s veto and provide marriage equality for all citizens of that state. And the city council for the District of Columbia voted to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions. All three of these legislative bodies are made up of members who stand for regular free and fair elections. So how does the Family “Research” Council’s Tony Perkins react to today’s news?
“Same-sex ‘marriage’ is a movement driven by wealthy homosexual activists and a liberal elite determined to destroy not only the institution of marriage, but democracy as well”
That’s right. Overwhelming votes by representatives of the people are destroying democracy.
There are more winger reactions here.
FRC: Lesbians Led To Octuplets’ Birth
February 13th, 2009
Everyone’s talking about Nadya Suleman. She was the California single mother of six who gave birth to eight more. These octuplets were a result of fertility treatments. Comments have been all over the map. Pro-lifers questioned her decision but praised her for giving life to six more children. Ta-Nehisi Coates, on the other hand, asks us to imagine the reaction if she had been a black woman. Meanwhile, the Onion recoiled, “Uh oh. Eight Aquariuses living under the same roof for the next 18 years—yikes.”
It didn’t take long however for someone to finally getting around to blaming the gays. Leave it to Tony Perkins at the the homo-obsessed Family “Research” Council to do it:
Last week, taxpayers learned that they would be partially liable for the family’s care through hundreds of dollars in food stamps and disability payments. The news fueled even more conviction that the fertility doctor should have refused the procedure. But is he really to blame–or are our courts? In California, the state Supreme Court made it virtually impossible for a physician to exercise his own judgment after two lesbians sued in 2001 for the right to be artificially inseminated over the doctors’ personal or social objections.
Update: The problem, of course, is that the Surpreme Court only held that a physician cannot withhold treatment because of the patients sexual orientation. It said nothing about any other considers outside of the state’s protected classes of race, creed, color, sexual orientation, national origin, etc. Physicians can find many reasons to withhold treatment, including ethical ones. Discrimination however is not legal. And since Suleman’s case had nothing to do with discrimination, the FRC’s argument is utterly senseless. But you probably knew that, didn’t you?
Newsweek Essay Draws Howls of Protest
December 9th, 2008
Anti-gay activists are pulling their hair out over Lisa Miller’s essay in Newsweek, in which she lays out a religious case for same-sex marriage. She opens her essay by saying, “Opponents of gay marriage often cite Scripture. But what the Bible teaches about love argues for the other side.”
As you can imagine, that didn’t go over well with one particular segment of Christianity. Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a member of the Focus on the Family Board of Directors, wrote:
Many observers believe that the main obstacle to this agenda [of allowing same-sex marriage] is a resolute opposition grounded in Christian conviction. Newsweek clearly intends to reduce that opposition.”
That was one of the calmer reactions. Tony Perkins of the Family “Research” Council denounced it as “yet another attack on orthodox Christianity.” The Donald Wildmon of the American Family Association called it “one of the most biased and distorted pieces concerning homosexual marriage ever published by any major news organization.” Not surprisingly, he also is calling on his followers to inundate Newsweek with emails.
And Peter LaBarbera, not one to be outdone, called the essay a “scandalous hit piece” and an “embarrassing attempt to make a Biblical case for sodomy-based ‘marriage.’” (See why we have an award named in his honor?) And Peter’s pal, Matt Barber responded, “You know, scripture says woe to those who call evil good and good evil, and I say woe to Newsweek for even printing this drivel.”
Part of the outrage stems from the fact that anti-gay activists have tried for years to couch their opposition to same-sex marriage on sociological research to make their point — research that, as we have pointed out many times, they have distorted with amazing consistency. But by calling on science instead of the Bible, they seek to inoculate themselves from charges of trying to impose their religious views on others. “See? We’re not religious zealots. Science supports us,” they like to say. Richard Land, of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, repeated this line in saying, “The arguments that are used are often not biblical arguments. They are secular arguments, arguing about marriage as being a civic and a social institution, and that societies have a right to define marriage.” And Ralph Reed, former head of the Christian Coalition, claimed, “We’re not trying to take the Bible and put a bill number on it and legislate it.”
But when they are talking among themselves, religious arguments are firmly at the fore, whether it’s LDS Elder M. Russell Ballard speaking of the “central doctrine of eternal marriage” or Richard Land himself explaining with an apparently straight face that what he calls the global warning “hoax” is simply due to “cycles of nature that God has allowed in the cosmos.” Neither of these positions sound very scientific to me.
But the religious face is not the public face that these religiously-motivated leaders want to present. And by having to respond to Lisa Miller’s essay, they are forced to publicly defend the religious basis for their beliefs, which annoys a few of them to no end. Watch how Concerned Women for America’s Janice Shaw Crouse pivots when asked about the Newsweek essay:
“Beyond the Scriptural distortion, the article distorts the pro-marriage and pro-family movement that is solidly grounded on sociological research about family structures that contribute to the well-being of women and children.”
She then goes on to mischaracterize what “experts agree.”
But the other part of the outrage also seems clearly aimed at someone who really did intrude onto their home turf. After all, in the same-sex marriage debates, only one small group of Christians are presumed to be allowed to use the Bible — when they think nobody else is looking. Anti-gay activists behave as though the Bible is solely their possession and no one else’s — including other Christians who read the same Bible and come to different conclusions. It’s okay for anti-gay opponents to turn outside their own sphere of authority — science — to make their point. But now that Lisa Miller has taken them on in their own home turf, they’ve let loose with their persecution complex and complained that they– and by extension all of Christianity, since they presume to speak for all Christians – have been “attacked.”
Which reminds me of a great and appropriate graphic making its way around the Internet:
Prop 8: The End of the World
October 27th, 2008
If California’s Proposition 8 fails, it’ll be Armageddon, and all that — according to Charles Colson and Tony Perkins:
“This vote on whether we stop the gay-marriage juggernaut in California is Armageddon,” said Charles W. Colson, the founder of Prison Fellowship Ministries and an eminent evangelical voice, speaking to pastors in a video promoting Proposition 8. “We lose this, we are going to lose in a lot of other ways, including freedom of religion.”
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian lobby based in Washington, said in an interview, “It’s more important than the presidential election.”
“We’ve picked bad presidents before, and we’ve survived as a nation,” said Mr. Perkins, who has made two trips to California in the last six weeks. “But we will not survive if we lose the institution of marriage.”
Why the doom and gloom? Prop 8 proponents are now raising the scare tactic that Prop 8′s passage will mean that churches that refuse to marry same-sex couples will be sued, or ministers will be jailed if they preach against homosexuality.
This, of course, is not possible in the United States because of the First amendment. Christian Identity churches are free to preach White Supremacy and anti-semitism, and fundamentalist protestant extremists are free to call the Pope the Anti-Christ. Nobody gets thrown in jail for any of that. And the Catholic Church has been free to refuse to marry anyone who has been divorced, no matter how many divorce papers or civil marriage licenses a couple can waive in front of the priest.
More Anti-Gay Math Problems
February 26th, 2008
Perhaps we should pity the anti-gays; they have seem to have learning problems. I’m not saying that they are downright stupid, but they certainly do seem to be confused about math.
In response to a booklet created by the NEA and the APA called Just the Facts about Sexual Orientation and Youth, the usual suspects jumped in with their indignation and, well, ignorance. And the Christian Post was right there to give them a venue.
“Among the so-called ‘facts’ in the 24-page document is the opinion that homosexuality is ‘a normal expression of human sexuality,’” stated Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council (FRC), in an email to FRC supporters.
I suppose it is amusing that this statement alone is shocking, shocking I say, to FRC’s supporters. You can almost hear the froth forming at Tony’s lips when he says, “normal”.
But the gem in the piece was this:
“Despite decades of activism and media propaganda promoting acceptance and celebration of homosexuality, and a number of political and judicial victories for the pro-homosexual movement, polls show that a clear majority of Americans still believe that homosexual behavior is ‘morally wrong,” said Paul Sprigg, vice president for policy of the FRC.
Well, unless there are two wacky Spriggs, his name is actually Peter, not Paul (or Mary), and he’s the darling of anti-gays such as PFOX. Sprigg is just chuck full of opinions about gays, all of them vile.
As it turns out, not only is Sprigg a raging loon, he also doesn’t understand mathematics. This is the result of Gallup’s annual poll (May 2007) of public opinion on the morality of homosexuality:
49% believe homosexual relations are morally wrong; 47% believe they are morally acceptable; with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.
In other words, the numbers are statistically equal. But even without allowing for sampling error, 49% is not “a clear majority”, it’s a simple plurality. A “clear majority” would be a number above 50% which allows for the sampling error.
And those numbers are a year old. Which, if we look at the chart below, may well make a difference when Gallup runs its poll this May.
Poor Peter (or Paul or Mary or whoever he is). Not only is it clear that time is his enemy, but he left out the other little facts which show that his battle is nearly over and it’s time for him to start sewing the white flag:
* In general, do you think homosexuals should or should not have equal rights in terms of job opportunities? 89% yes; 9% no
* Do you think homosexual relations between consenting adults should or should not be legal? 59% yes; 37% no
* In your view, is homosexuality something a person is born with, (or is homosexuality) due to factors such as upbringing and environment? 42% born; 35% upbringing; 11% both
* Do you think marriages between same-sex couples should or should not be recognized by the law as valid, with the same rights as traditional marriages? 46% yes; 53% no.
And, as I’m sure you guessed, these trends are not in his favor either. But somehow I think that someone unable to recognize that 49% is not a clear majority also won’t recognize that his brand of demonization and loud (false) accusations is losing badly.
The LaBarbera Award: Tony Perkins
December 10th, 2007
Good Lord, what should we make of this? I received an FRC Action E-mail from Tony Perkins, as I often do. There’s an article praising Mike Huckabee, there’s another one chastising Congress, and then at the bottom, Perkins says this:
An Assault On Faith
It is hard not to draw a line between the hostility that is being fomented in our culture from some in the secular media toward Christians and evangelicals in particular and the acts of violence that took place in Colorado yesterday. But I will say no more for now other than that our friends at New Life Church and YWAM are in our thoughts and prayers.
It looks like Perkins has been chomping at the bit to pin the blame for the Colorado shootings on somebody he doesn’t like. When it comes to culture wars, nobody is safe, and no tragedy is off-limits for exploitation. Here he chose the old familiar bogeyman, “the secular media.” We’re lucky I guess. It could have just as easily been anyone else.
I’m not sure how Perkins found it so easy to “draw a line” between the secular media and Matthew Murray, the Christian-raised guy who actually did the shooting. Unlike the FRC, we won’t imagine any lines where none exist. (Update: The most direct line so far may be mental illness.) And we call on the Family “Research” Council to live up to its name and do a little research before releasing statements that are so patently moronic. Why, they’re beginning to sound like someone else we know…
Colorado Gunman Scared Co-Workers, Heard Voices
The LaBarbera Award: Tony Perkins
Prayers and Condolences for Arvada and Colorado Springs
Four Shot At New Life Church
Two Christian Missionaries Killed, Two Injured Near Denver
Family Impact Summit “Attendance Less Than Hoped”
September 30th, 2007
The American Family Association’s OneNewsNow reports on the dismal turnout for last weekend’s “Family Impact Summit” held in Brandon, Florida. The final tally was only about half of what they had hoped to achieve:
By Friday evening, just over 100 people had registered to hear speakers that included Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, Southern Baptist leader Richard Land, former presidential candidate Gary Bauer and the American Family Association’s Don Wildmon.
A workshop on grass roots activism drew a handful of people — and one was a spy, an activist for Americans United for Separation of Church and State researching the opposition.
Well, there was more than just that one “spy” there. There was also Cathy James, whose calm and measured demeanor brought low the mighty during a question and answer session. And of course, there was yours truly.
But I can vouch for the low turnout, especially during the morning and afternoon sessions. It often felt as if there were more volunteers, exhibitors and speakers milling around than actual attendees. Only during the evening hours would the audience swell to three hundred or so. On the last night of the event, the turnought might have approached four hundred to hear the much-anticipated stars of the event, Ken Blackwell and Tony Perkins. By the way, the evening events were generally free of charge to the public.
I often overheard a few speakers and volunteers grumble about the attendance during breaks and over dinner. The disappointments weren’t limited to this event either. A few complained about how difficult it was to get a decent turnout at even larger, better funded and more heavily advertised events as well.
Is this a harbinger for things to come?
Update on “The Politically Inconvenient Truth”
October 20th, 2006
Three weeks ago, I wrote about the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins going on various media outlets to claim that gays are much more likely to molest children. I examined the “evidence” that he offered and found it to be quite lacking.
When I wrote that, I had tried to contact the FRC to get some clarification on exactly what source material Tony Perkins was using when he made his claims. My e-mail went unanswered for more than a week, and when I did get a reply, they just referred me to their online tract, Homosexuality and Child Sexual Abuse, which wasn’t much help.
A few days ago, someone passed on an E-mail he received from the FRC which clarifies one point, namely the following claim:
…the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy found that boys molested by men are almost four times more likely to become homosexual or bisexual than boys who weren’t molested.
When I wrote my examination, I couldn’t find the relevant article in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy. My detective work led me to believe that claim actually came from a third-hand reference to a book written in 1979 by David Finkelhor. I now stand corrected.
According to the email I received, the claim actually comes from an article written by James R. Bramblett, Jr. and Carol Anderson Darling entitled “Sexual contacts: Experiences, thoughts, and fantasies of adult male survivors of child sexual abuse” (Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, vol 23, no. 4, Winter 1997; pp 305-316).
And right there on page 313, we read the following:
In this study, 46% of the abused men, as opposed to 12% of the non-abused men, defined their sexual orientation as either bisexual or homosexual.
This study examined two groups of men, one group of 35 men who had been sexually abused and another non-abused group of 33 men to serve as controls.
That’s right. The Family Research Council is basing its evidence on thirty-five men who somehow are to represent all men who were sexually abused — that’s not very compelling evidence.
And notice the non-abused group. Twelve percent identified themselves as being gay. Now, if this group were representative of non-abused men, would the Family Research Council concede that gay men make up 12% of the male population? I doubt it.
Another interesting fact is that the composition of the abused group broke down this way: 54% straight, 32% bisexual, and 14% gay. In other words, the number of gay men in both groups is the same. What’s more, there were no bisexuals in the non-abused group. They were either gay or straight.
So why the large numbers of bisexuals in the abused group? The authors note that “according to existing literature, gender identity confusion and gender preferences are often cited as being affected by childhood sexual abuse.” The very small number of participants makes it extremely dangerous to try to draw broad conclusions. Not all bisexuals — and perhaps not even significant numbers of bisexuals — are bisexual due to past abuse, for example. And this is not to say that bisexuals generally are “confused”, but it certainly begs the question of whether abused men suffer a greater degree of uncertainty over their sexual orientation than non-abused men.
The most this study proves is that abused men are more likely to report being bisexual than being gay. That’s an important distinction given the difficulties involved with overcoming child sexual abuse. But the Family “Research” Council won’t recognize that very important distinction. Instead, they’ll do just about anything for a smear, including misrepresenting the lives of abused men to denigrate others.
The Politically Inconvenient Truth
October 8th, 2006
Over the past week, Tony Perkins, of the Family Research Council, has tried to make himself something of a media expert on the supposed link between homosexuality and child sexual abuse. Since October 3, he appeared on CNN’s The Situation Room, MSNBC’s Hardball and MSNBC Live, Fox’s The Big Story, with Charmaine Yoest on CNBC, and all three nightly network newscasts. And wherever he’s appeared, he’s been making the claims that he made in this blurb, entitled “The Politically Incorrect Truth” that he posed on his web site:
The more recent revelation that Foley himself was molested as a teenager, and his lawyer’s acknowledgment that he is indeed a homosexual, simply reinforce a pattern well-attested in the scholarly literature. For example, the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy found that boys molested by men are almost four times more likely to become homosexual or bisexual than boys who weren’t molested. Homosexual activists don’t want you to know that, because it undermines the myth that people are “born gay.” Although homosexuals and bisexuals are less than 3% of the male population, male-on-male abuse accounts for about a third of all child molestation. The Archives of Sexual Behavior reported that “eighty-six percent of offenders against males described themselves as homosexual or bisexual.”
Three specific statistical claims, but only two cited sources. Let’s examine them one by one.
…the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy found that boys molested by men are almost four times more likely to become homosexual or bisexual than boys who weren’t molested.
I looked high and low in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy for this statistic. It was nowhere to be found. But after searching through the FRC’s website, I was able to find it repeated in another document that carried this footnote: Watkins and Bentovim (#35).
Update (10/20/2006): Almost there weeks after writing this post, I have learned the actual source for this claim. You can read that update here.
Okay. Here’s the first example of shoddy research: Tony Perkins got his source wrong. He should have referred to Bill Watkins and Arnon Bentovim’s “The sexual abuse of male children and adolescents: A review of current research”, which originally appeared in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry vol 33, no. 1 (January 1992): 197-248.
I happened to have that report on file, and this is what I learned:
Finkelhor (1984c) note it is a traditional mythology that molestation leads to homosexuality, but at the same time he found, in his college study, that boys victimized by older men were over four times more likely to be currently engaged in homosexual activity than were non-victims.
With that, I went to our local university library and found David Finkelhor’s 1984 book Child Sexual Abuse: New Theory and Research (New York: Free Press) and found this on page 195:
Boys victimized by older men were over four times more likely to be engaged in homosexual activity than were nonvictims.
For this statistic, David Finkelhor cited yet another book he wrote clear back to a book he published in 1979, Sexually Victimized Children (New York: Free Press). This book presented some preliminary results of a survey that he conducted in the mid-seventies among social science college students at six New England colleges. Notice that now we’re talking about data that is some thirty years old. And since it comes from a convenience sample of social sicence college studients, the data is not representative. David Finkelhor plainly discusses the weakenesses of his sample in pages 38-41 of his book.
But that’s not all. Finkelhor’s claim about boys victimized by men doesn’t actually appear to be in the book (I can’t find it, anyway). So how did he determine that these kids were “currently engaged in homosexuality” as he said in his later book? I found my answer in appendix B, where the questionnaire was reproduced:
In the last year, how many sexual experiences have you had with someone of your own sex?
4. 11 or more
So this is what it took for Tony Perkins to come up with his statistic that he’s so proud of. It wasn’t a comprehensive survey of adults who were molested as children. Perkins had to find an obscure third-hand reference to a thirty-year-old study that was not peer-reviewed, and was based on a convenience sample of college students taken at the very height of the sexual revolution (college students who were enrolled in social science classes in New England, no less). And that statistic included those who may only have had a single experimental experience in the past year.
How’s that for cherry picking?
Let’s skip Perkins next claim for now — that 3% of male homosexuals account for a third of all molestations, a claim we’ll come back to in a moment — and move on to his other attributed statement.
The Archives of Sexual Behavior reported that “eighty-six percent of offenders against males described themselves as homosexual or bisexual.”
This is a very poor choice of support for such a broad contention. That 1988 study (Erickson, W.D.; Walbek, N.H.; Seely, R.K.; “Behavior patterns of child molesters.” Archives of Sexual Behavior 17, no. 1 (1988): 77-88; abstract available here) consisted of a convenience sample of only 63 convicted molesters against male victims. The brief sentence of “eighty-six percent of offenders against males described themselves as homosexual or bisexual” is the only mention of sexual orientation. There was no attempt to follow up on whether any of these predators had any adult relationships, or if so, what kind of relationships they were. There was no description of how they may have measured these predator’s sexual attractions. There was no attempt to quantify their erotic age preference. Just one single sentence in passing, with no further explanation or support.
This is important. As you can imagine, it’s much easier to label oneself as a homosexual than as a pedophile. Members of the Aryan Nation, for example, call themselves Christians instead of bigots, a claim which most Christians would vehemently disagree.
I’m sure the “researchers” at the Family Research Council had to dig long and hard to find that statistic, because it runs completely counter to what the most respected experts have to say about the subject — Dr. Carole Jenny, Nicholas Groth, and the late Kurt Freund, for example. They have all found that this supposed connection between homosexuality and pedophilia simply don’t exist.
Although homosexuals and bisexuals are less than 3% of the male population, male-on-male abuse accounts for about a third of all child molestation.
Here’s a news flash: that 3% statistic only applies to men who openly acknowledge their sexual orientation. It does not include those who engage in same-sex sexual activity but identify as straight.
A recent random survey of 4,193 men in New York City revealed that among men who have sex with men, 72.8% identified as straight. And these only represent those who admit to such sexual activity when questioned.
In short, this claim is not only unsubstantiated, it is logically false and demonstrably wrong. But he’s not the only one to make it. You can read an extensive analysis of that myth in my report, Testing the Premise: Are Gays A Threat To Our Children?
Friends, this is what passes for research at the Family “Research” Council: cherry-picking of thirty-year old data, ill-supported conclusions, and statements built on faulty logic. In other words, the same old stuff. It’s time we — and specially the press — called them on their so-called “science” and exposed it for what it is: junk.
Challenging Predators Is “Gay-Bashing”?
October 2nd, 2006
Just a few moments ago, Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council just appeared on CNN’s “The Situation Room” to talk about the unfolding scandal involving Congressman Foley’s sexually explicit Instant Message exchanges with 16-year-old pages. When Perkins was asked why he thought the Republican Congressional leadership delayed so long in handling the situation, he answered that he didn’t know. But, he said, it raised a lot of questions:
Was it out of fear of pushing something too far, over-reacting, and that, uh…. because of the orientation of congressman Foley they would be seen as being ‘gay bashing’? Was that part of the decision not to act? That’s what I think we need to know.
Let’s get these two things clear right away:
- Going after sexual predators is not gay bashing.
- Equating homosexuality with sex abuse is.
Fear of gay-bashing? This congressional leadership? Give me a break. The election is down to the last five weeks. I’m surprised the gay bashing hasn’t started earlier.
Gary Bauer, who heads a group which calls itself “American Values” sent this outrageous statement out in his daily “End of the Day” e-mail this afternoon:
Groups like NAMBLA, the North American Man-Boy Love Association, continue to be given positions in “gay rights” parades and, without shame, continue to promote their governing slogan, “Sex by eight or it’s too late.”
I would like anyone who has any evidence of NAMBLA has been invited to participate in a gay pride parade to email me directly. I’m looking for photographs or mainstream newspaper articles. (Sorry, I’m afraid I won’t take Agape Press’s word for it.) I haven’t seen anything like this in at least the past ten years –- probably longer. I know I would be outraged to see such a thing, as would virtually everyone I know. If it’s happening, I want to know about it.
It looks as though this scandal will provide the anti-gay lobby plenty of ammunition to use against us. Now is the time to get informed. One place to start is by reading Testing the Premise: Are Gays A Threat To Our Children?.