Glenn Stanton Responds to CitizenLink story

Jim Burroway

March 18th, 2008

I received this email this afternoon from Glenn Stanton, explaining the events surrounding the recent CitizenLink change:

Yes, it looks like Focus on the Family did a sneaky bait and switch on the anthropology article that has been discussed at the BoxTurtle. And it would be a much easier world to fight the culture war in if everyone from the religious right were slippery tricksters and all homosexuals were sex-saturated profligates. But such is not the case, we are all not so easily pigeon-holed. Reality is far less exciting than accusation.

The original article was published before I reviewed it and I was disappointed to see the final piece online. It didn’t come close to communicating my work comparing the definitions anthropologists and leading same-sex marriage advocates use for describing and understanding what marriage is. I shared my concerns with the the CitizenLink editors and they welcomed my corrections. My main concerns were that the original article didn’t link to the whitepaper that the article itself was about. Ex-Gay Watch insinuated that the paper was cobbled together quickly to answer the complaints generated from the first article. Not quite. I worked on this research for quite a few weeks.

The original title — “Anthropologists Agree on Traditional Definition of Marriage” — bothered me for two reasons. One, I appreciate that no scientists in any discipline totally “agree” on anything. Two, “traditional” is far too imprecise a term to use when talking about marriage and family as a humanly universal phenomenon. Same with the conclusion attributed to me that “there’s a clear consensus among anthropologists” on what marriage is. Admittedly, “consensus” is a word that cannot be used in relation to any community of scientists. There is not even literal consensus among scientists on Newton’s Law, for goodness sakes. Science’s strength is it’s ability to constantly question. The editors kindly incorporated the changes I recommended. The second story reflects those changes. That’s the story. Sorry to disappoint the conspiracy theorists.

I have been invited by the editors of the BoxTurtle Bulletin to respond to a critique of my paper by a real-life anthropologist, which I am happy to do and look forward to a spirited and hopefully intelligent and informed exchange.

Yes, that’s right. Glenn Stanton and real-life anthropologist Patrick M. Chapman will be discussing Stanton’s paper, “Differing Definitions of Marriage and Family” (PDF: 80KB/10 pages) on this very web site. Stay tuned.


March 18th, 2008

Has Focus on the Family issued a public correction for wrongly saying that anthropologists agree on traditional definition of marriage, even though the American Anthropological Association went on record in 2004 opposing any attempt to define marriage as such?

If they are to be above reproach, is this not necessary? They did bear false witness after all.


March 18th, 2008

There is not even literal consensus among scientists on Newton’s Law, for goodness sakes.

Perhaps. However, there is at least a consensus that Newton had lawS.


March 18th, 2008

While the upcoming discussion holds possibilities of a “lively” debate which may prove interesting… This letter in no way exculpates CitizenLink for not indicating the article was rewritten and the reasons why.


March 18th, 2008

Agreed Stefano, I second that.

David Roberts

March 18th, 2008

This is really quite disturbing, Mr. Stanton. Let’s correct a few things.

CitizenLink did more than a “sneaky bait and switch.” They posted an article that was not only contrary to the opinions of other professionals in the field, but the American Anthropological Association itself. Then, after 10 days of challenges, they replaced that article with an entirely new one, at the same URL, and with the same published date. Now perhaps if the interval had been a day, or even two, we could call it “sneaky bait and switch” (or just plain sloppy), but ten full days really can’t be explained away so easily.

Your explanation has a “dog ate my homework” air about it but let’s go on. You said that in our article, XGW insinuated that your whitepaper was “cobbled together quickly” to answer the complaints of the first article. Perhaps you are confusing XGW with someone else; we didn’t discuss your whitepaper at all, only the articles themselves. BTB is the only site I’m aware of that has even mentioned the paper, and yet you are posting a false accusation against us on their site. Anyone can verify this by reading the post.  This actually illustrates the problem highlighted, however; with XGW, you don’t have to wonder if something was in that post a few days ago, but is now gone, or has been rewritten.  From experience, we can’t say the same for CitizenLink at all.  I should think that would bother you.

All this would be much easier if someone on your end would be professional enough to respond to our email inquiries – do you think you could promise this for the future? It would also help if we did not already have a history of CitizenLink activity along these same lines. Honestly, how would you react to our doing the very same thing? And then what if we were to have explained it away with a few jokes about how scientists don’t agree on Newton’s Law[s] (there are 3 I believe)?

Readers deserve better answers because all this means something to their lives. That requires us to act as professionally as possible, esp when we claim to present fact.  Posts at XGW, as with BTB, are usually filled with links to supporting evidence yet this is rarely the case on CitizenLink, yet they call us “unprofessional.”  Should you offer, I’m happy to accept your apology for the false accusation about XGW, and look forward to a reply the next time we email Focus. If you would like to send a contact email, please feel free to send it to me at

I look forward to reading your debate with Dr. Chapman. 

Dave Rattigan

March 19th, 2008

Stefano, Emproph: Yes.

I look forward to the debate.

Glenn wrote, “Ex-Gay Watch insinuated that the paper was cobbled together quickly to answer the complaints generated from the first article.” This is untrue. The XGW article said nothing about the paper; the charge was that the article had been rewritten, nothing else. It was a commenter who suggested the paper had been written in response to the complaints.

Dave Rattigan

March 19th, 2008

I’m a bit confused now.

“Yes, it looks like Focus on the Family did a sneaky bait and switch on the anthropology article that has been discussed at the BoxTurtle.”

I read that as “Yes, it LOOKS like there was a sneaky bait and switch, but really there wasn’t,” where David Roberts read it as “A sneaky bait and switch is all it was.”

Can Mr Stanton clarify?


March 19th, 2008

Yes Dave, you read me exactly right. I was saying it LOOKED that way, not that it WAS that way. Thank you for asking. :-)

Jason D

March 19th, 2008

encouraging but suspicious nonetheless.

Stanton should be aware at this point between Cameron’s distortions and the outright lies and misinformation that gets regurgitated ad nauseum — we have reason to be skeptical. For goodness sake we have randy thomas using marketing surveys to “prove” we’re too rich to be a minority. I’ll be sure to show that article to all the homeless LGBT youth I see at the Center On Halsted here in Chicago.

Also considering that CitzenLink attempted to smear XGW is a big clue. When someone can’t counter you on your facts or your logic, they are only left with personal attacks.”Oh, you’re just a blog, not real journalists!”

Glenn seems to be quick to defend CitzenLink’s shoddy journalism, but if I were him and wanted to be taken seriously, and have my work respected, I would have my work printed by a reliable source and distance myself from anyone who makes such unprofessional errors.

Bruce Garrett

March 19th, 2008

Question: Why didn’t CitizenLink simply acknowledge the correction, if that’s what it was, in the replacement article?

If you’re fighting a culture war Mr. Stanton, then I suppose the object is simply to win it. That’s how it is with wars. On the other hand, if you are fighting for traditional values like…oh…morality, decency, integrity, truthfulness, rectitude, those sorts of things, then first you need to Be those things. Are you fighting a culture war Mr. Stanton or are you fighting for integrity and decency in a world where anything goes? Anything goes can win a culture war, but not a fight for integrity and decency.

Dave Rattigan

March 19th, 2008

Glenn, you clarified your meaning in the opening sentence, but were you planning on addressing any of the other issues raised? For example, you wrongly stated that Ex-Gay Watch made insinuations about the contents and timing of your paper.


March 20th, 2008

Yes, that’s right. Glenn Stanton and real-life anthropologist Patrick M. Chapman will be discussing Stanton’s paper, “Differing Definitions of Marriage and Family” (PDF: 80KB/10 pages) on this very web site. Stay tuned.

How can you have a discussion on anthropology when one of the participants thinks the Earth is only 6000 years old?

Wouldn’t you have to start with a discussion on geology?


March 20th, 2008

Actually Emproph, I am more of an “old-earther” and believe that the Big Bang is not at odds with how most conservative Christians understand Creation.

And as I said in my explanation, people often exceed the stereotypes others hold about them.



March 20th, 2008


And also with you.

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