Pat Robertson: Gays are Gay Because They Were Abused

Jim Burroway

June 10th, 2009

Televangelist Pat Robertson advised a mother of a gay son that she needs to understand what causes homosexuality before she can begin to understand how do deal with the “problem.” Robertson is convinced that most people are gay because they were abused by “a coach or guidance counselor or some other male figure.” Here’s the video and transcript:

TERRY MEEUWSEN (co-host): This is Theresa. This is difficult. She says, “How should we, as parents of a homosexual son, handle the ongoing challenges facing us, such as staying true to our faith and following the commandment to ‘love your neighbor as yourself’? This is very difficult for us.”

ROBERTSON: Well first of all, he’s not your neighbor, he’s your son. That’s a different thing. You owe him, you know, advice and counsel and guidance. You’re his parent.

First of all, you didn’t say how old he is. Secondly, I am not at all persuaded that so-called homosexuals are homosexuals because of biological problems. There may be a very few, but there are so many that have been made homosexuals because of a coach or a guidance counselor or some other male figure who has abused them and they think there’s something wrong with their sexuality.

So you need to get deep into why he is what he is, instead of just saying, “Well, he’s a homosexual so how do I handle him, and how do I be Christian?” Well, I think you ought to tell him, “Listen, son, you know, here’s what the Bible says about this, and it’s called an abomination before God, so I’ve got to tell you the truth because I love you.”

That’s what I think. All right, what else?

MEEUWSEN: And then you do that — you love him.

ROBERTSON: You love him, of course you love him and you accept him. You love him, but at the same time, you can’t let him just go, you know, he’ll wind up…

MEEUWSEN: Without knowing truth, yeah.

ROBERTSON: Well I mean, if somebody’s on their way to hell, they’ll… I mean you’ve got to love them to rescue them.

This is an extremely common belief in evangelical circles, that gays are gay because they were sexually abused. Some would have you believe that sexual abuse is a universal formative experience among gay people. Focus On the Family’s Melissa Fryrear always makes a point to tell Love Won Out audiences that:

“I never met one woman who had not been sexually violated or sexually threatened in her life. I never met one woman. And I never met one man either, that had not been sexually violated or sexually seduced in his life”.

Fryrear, of course has been told publicly and privately by many gay and lesbians that they have never been abused. But not only that, I reported on the very painful heartbreak that some parents experienced upon hearing her confident and pointed assertion that their sons and daughters have certainly been abused — even though before attending the conference these same parents had no reason to suspect that their child had been abused.

Yet that bone-chilling fear is essential to the ex-gay message. Without fear, they have nothing. And because of that, I am willing to bet a steak dinner that when Fryrear speaks at the next Love Won Out conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan this coming weekend, she will repeat those same cruel words yet again, and she will induce once again unwarrented fear and heartbreak in yet another crop of unsuspecting parents.

Not only is the myth of gays-abusing-children as a form of recruitment cruel, but it simply isn’t true. Researchers have looked long and hard at the gays-as-predators myth and have found nothing to support that belief. It’s not out and openly gay people who are abusing young boys in large numbers, it’s men who steadfastly say they are straight — and research bears them out in their claims. They are married or have girlfriends, they are fathers and step-fathers, who no one would even think twice about being gay. And when researchers look at their adult romantic sexual attachments, they are almost never interested in other adults of the same sex. Those are just the cold hard facts, whether Robertson, Fryrear, or anyone else wishes to acknowledge the truth or not.

But on a logical level, it doesn’t add up either. Dan Savage responded to Robertson’s latest tirade by blowing the myth this way:

Who’s raping all these Christian kids?

Not openly gay people. Fundamentalist Christian parents don’t allow their children hang out with openly gay men and women. Openly gay men do not get hired to work as a guidance counselors at fundamentalist Christian middle schools; out lesbians do not get hired to work as coaches at a fundamentalist Christian high schools; openly bi graduate students don’t get to serve as dorm captains at fundamentalist Christian colleges. So it isn’t out gay men and women—openly gay coaches and counselors and youth pastors—who are raping all these Christian kids and leaving them “confused” about their sexualities. Most fundamentalist Christian kids have never met an out gay or lesbian person. Which can only mean…

All these Christian kids are being raped by straight-identified, nominally-Christian coaches and counselors and youth pastors and dorm captains.

If you buy into Robertson’s theories on origins of homosexuality then you have to embrace a highly unflattering picture of Christian America.


June 10th, 2009

Very , Very sad and hurtful words that Pat says….shame on him! I’m so sick of hearing these religious leaders (sic)
preaching hate, ignorance and untruths!

Ben in Oakland

June 10th, 2009

It all defies logic. homosex is supposed to be so awful, disgusting, unnatural blah blah y blah that only the sickest possible person would ever consider it. And of course, being “raped” or “abused” while a child OUGHT to turn a kid of forever.

And yet…

and yet, at the same time, homosex is supposed to be so attractive that even HEARING that gay people exist, let alone are happy and fulfilled, is enough to turn a kid gay.

I suspect that what Ms. fryears is calling abuse is just plain old childhood sex play, not abuse, not rape, not molestation. Playing doctor is something many kids, straight and gay, do. I know I was interested in seeing other boys naked when I was no more than 5. and I know I wasn’t abused by anyone.


June 10th, 2009

….and religious fundamentalist have been abused by Aliens who strip them of any free will to think logically or for themselves!


June 10th, 2009

The whole “molestation causes homosexuality” theory turns logic inside out. They state that most molestation is done by men. So, being molested by a man is supposed to turn girls into lesbians (ie, not attracted to men) while simultaneously turning boys into gay men (ie, attracted to men). Huh?

They seriously can’t figure out the idiocy of their claim that being sexually abused will make boys say, “Wow, that was great – I’ve gotta get me some more of that!” sheesh.


June 10th, 2009

What about all the kids who were sexually abused and grew up straight? Considering about 20-30% of people suffered that, and conservatives claiming less than 2% of people are gay, makes you wonder why homosexuals and bisexuals don’t make up at least a fouth of the entire population.

Jason D

June 10th, 2009

Not only does this falsely identify gay men as predators, thus injuring us, it also does damage to children because it prevents parents from taking the proper steps to protect them from the REAL danger.

As Dan states, if we focus on Out Proud Gay men as abusers — then we’re ignoring the fact that the other 98% of the population is actually committing the crime!

If anything, the real, honest, research would suggest that your best bet for a abuse-free adult is to find yourself a happily-partnered Out, Proud Gay Man.

If we were to believe them, that a man who abuses male children is gay (which isn’t true, but lets go with this for a second) then this is just one more reason why people need to come out of the closet!

Richard W. Fitch

June 10th, 2009

[Robertson] ought to tell him, “Listen, son, you know, here’s what the Bible says about this, and it’s called an abomination before God, so I’ve got to tell you the truth because I love you.” … Robertson is absolutely correct in what he says here; the problem is that what the term means in ancient Hebrew is quite different from what it implies to a 21st century English speaking person. Without going into a complex linguistic and theological dissertation, here is the gist. Anything that prevented or disrupted the process of conception and birth of a new generation of followers was deemed unacceptable. Not only male-male sex (which was also a part of the “pagan rites”) but also masturbation and coitus interruptus wasted seed that might have borne new fruit. The Israelites were a small band and would have disappeared without “going forth and being fruitful”. Robertson and his ilk overlook the fact that ANY form of birth control is contrary to the intention of some of the OT injunctions. In a time when infant mortality was very high, especially in the brutal conditions of these desert nomads, preservation of the tribe was paramount. Is it still an “abomination” in our time? Every person of faith has to answer that for themselves, but be careful how you cherry pick.

Ben in Oakland

June 10th, 2009

Sorry, I got a rant going. On my irony horse. I do have a point to my seeming digressionary essay. You just have to wait until the end.

Back when I was fighting against the Briggs Initiative, long ago in a galaxy far, far away– I spent a week of my precious grad school time researching the issue of child sexual abuse. The figures 30 years ago and now are remarkably consistent. 97% of the perps are men, though this has been disputed and could be as low as 90%. As much as 30% of the children that are molested are boys, though the figure was 10% in 1978, but thought to be higher. This is, quite ironically, the only place where homophobia might actually serve a higher purpose, because I suspect that one of the reasons boys are less likely victims is because pedophilic men don’t want to think of themselves as… wait for it…


That is really worse, you know. It is the opposite side of the coin–double points for extra rich irony here– from the anti-gay idea that men who molest boys are ipso facto homosexual, but men who molest girls are ipso facto NOT HETEROSEXUAL. They are instead called child molesters. And that allows them to say that 3% of the child molesting men (the “”””gay”””” ones) are causing 30 times the problems, or some such utter fabrication.

The continue on in my original thoughts: It was true 30 years ago, and seems to be true now, that 50% of all child molestation, male and female, is done by the father, step-father, or father surrogate– men who identify as Heterosexual in terms of their interests and experience. (I’ve known only two men in my life who said that they had been molested as children, and in both cases, it was by their FATHERS.)

(Quick digression. One was raped REPEATEDLY by HIS FATHER because my friend was a sissy and his FATHER wanted to teach him a lesson about how being a faggot is bad and this is what happens to queer boys. It didn’t make him not gay, not that it was intended to, but it did mess him up and made him absolutely hate his father, though eventually, he got over both.)

Another 25 to 30% is done by a family member, or by a friend of the family, such as a Catholic Priest, or an Evangelical Youth Pastor. (See JoeMyGod for a weekly listing of their wacky antics. I wish he ad a similar blog for the BSA). And do you know why? In a word: ACCESS. That’s why pedophile priests and scoutmasters molest more boys than girls: not because they are gay, but because they have BETTER access. Those who get their kicks with adolescent boys are doing so because of a) access and b) they never grew up, and c) they don’t want to be gay, this doesn’t really count, no one will find out, or even suspect, because the kid is just as ashamed of being a victim and being perceived as weak, or being gay, as the perps are, even if the perps are actually heterosexual or just your garden-variety fixated pedophile.

The BSA does not allow gay Scoutmasters, or gay anything, lest their hetero cred be questioned. I suspect they prefer married men since they have their Thoroughly Heterosexual Certificates. But they also acknowledge a problem with adults and The Boys. So who is doing the molesting, then, but men who would most likely identify as heterosexual in terms of their interests and experience? And who is enabling the problem? Like with the Church, the Administration.

I worked for them in 1974. The homophobia stunk like a mildewed canvas tent. And yet gay people are the problem. Sounds to me like someone is just trying to protect their turf, possibly from perceived poachers, or just projecting. As Jason rightly points out, an out gay man is not very likely to be a molester, partly because of the self-examination that the coming out process requires and which heterosexuals do not much have any experience of, and partly because we are very conscious of this bias, and prejudiced belief, and so would be very careful to avoid even the appearance of impropriety. I know I am very conscious of it around my nephew.

The irony keeps piling up like a set in Wall-e. The really sick part of Patty’s diatribe is that he is identifying the alleged result of the abuse as a problem, and does not seem to be all the concerned about the perps, themselves victims, or something. And of course, as other have pointed out, it defies all logic, common sense, or a world more expansive than can be seen from the inside of his rectum.

Let’s return to the question: Why is it that a man who molests boys is called homosexual, but a man who molests girls– about 80% of all molestations– is called a child molester, and not heterosexual? Here we are coming to the meat of Patty’s statement that gay people are made gay because they were molested. See, they’re after your children, and they will make your children just like them, the worst of the worst, the child molesters. And gay, if you need some extra icing on that particular cake. And, even if this bald-faced lie WERE true, you could continue to believe that it was done by some stranger, some HOMOSEXUAL STRANGER, rather than the far more likely culprit, especially if the child is a boy and the family member someone who does not identify as gay, like your Thoroughly Heterosexual Husband. Or a man who claims he is a man of god, as though G is so sloppy that he grants the charisma of a vocation to men whom he knows will have their hands in a boy’s crotch.

Subtext is everything. How can you say “I HATE QUEERS” without actually having to say “I HATE QUEERS”?

Because if gay people are the problem, heterosexuals and conservatives and right-wing Christians and village idiots don’t have to question any of their assumptions, religious, social, or political, or sexual– especially sexual, because that scares the living bejeesus out of them–don’t have to actually solve a problem, don’t have to look in the logs in their own eyes, can continue to use The Children (TM) as pawns in their fear-based culture war, and all the more effective if your goal is power and/or money and/or eternal glory while you’re washing, swimming or backstroking in the Blood of the Lamb.

Can you say scapegoat? Becuase that to me is the final irony. The innocents and the minority are the scapegoat for the sins of the majority and the guilty. How could a right-wing, literalist, bible-believing Christian like Patty not get a bang out of that?


June 10th, 2009

The mother who called in is already heartbroken, scared, and confused about having a gay son. The last thing she needs to be told is that on top of everything else, her son was “probably abused” as a child. In my book, this qualifies as psychological torture.

Robertson’s advice is not only false, as Mr. Burroway and others have explained, but it’s also dangerously irresponsible. The mind represses memories of traumatic events for a reason, so if this mother “digs deep into why her son is what he is,” she can cause further emotional damage to a young man who is already being told he’s an abomination.

Pat Robertson’s ministry is fueled by the ignorance and fear of desperate people who look to him for advice and guidance. He is absolutely disgusting.

Also, Richard, that was one of the best contextual analyses of the Old Testament I’ve ever read.

Christopher Waldrop

June 10th, 2009

Ben, thank you for that analysis. The fact that you are speaking as someone who’s done research in the field lends credibility to what you’re saying, even though Patty and his followers don’t want to be confused with the facts.

You mentioned the Boy Scouts, which I also thought of. As a former Boy Scout I have a lot of problems with their attitude that gay or bisexual men are a threat. I also distinctly remember my entire troop having to watch an “educational” film about how to spot and stay away from potential predators. Interestingly the predators in the film all seemed like straight guys.

Ben in Oakland

June 10th, 2009

Christopher– you’re welcome. I hope it is useful.

Unfortunately, you can’t tell whether Patty is merely ignorant or seriously misinformed– as if either of those were some kind of excuse– maliciously lying for propaganda purposes, actually believes it, is projecting mightily, or is merely delusional– or all 6 of them. Ultimately, I don’t think it matters very much, because the obvious effect is to excite fear in the object of their affections.

Very much the same objective, ironically enough, is to be found in the fear of eternal damnation, for yourself or your loved ones, that Patty would have you believe is yours, if you don’t toe Patty’s particular party propaganda line. If Patty doesn’t know what he’s doing– if he’s the doddering old fool he appears to be– you can bet that there is a fully conscious homophobe who knows exactly what Patty is doing, and applauds it as an effective tool, much as they regard The Children (TM).


June 10th, 2009

“So, being molested by a man is supposed to turn girls into lesbians (ie, not attracted to men) while simultaneously turning boys into gay men (ie, attracted to men). Huh?”

Actually, as anti-gays tend to do, I think Robertson was per usual only talking about male “homosexuals.” As a lesbian, I never know whether to be offended or grateful that anti-gays seem to think that gay men are the only gay people that exist or matter.


June 10th, 2009

It is also Pat Robertson that “concurred” with Jerry Falwell that it was the gays that are to blame for 9-11.

As if God would contract out the job of smiting America by hiring some Islamic extremists to hijack some planes and crash them into American buildings.

Is their God so weak that he couldn’t just rain fire and brimstone on all of the major gay cities?

I guess God just found it cheaper to hire these terrorists than to do the job himself.

And people actually pay attention to what these idiots are saying?

And give them millions and millions of dollars to keep them going? Because God needs the money? Otherwise God can’t get his message out to the world without the help of man made, modern communications technology?

And these are the people that are supposed to vote in favor of my “civil” rights?

Check, please!

David C.

June 10th, 2009

Splendid analysis, Ben.

I just hope that Pat Robertson and those like him are a dying breed. It’s time for their preaching to end and for mankind to move beyond it.


June 10th, 2009

I think that everyone is overreacting on Pat Robertson’s comments. The majority of persons who are homosexual have been sexually abused at a young age. This creates quite a conflict for the pre-pubescent person who has experienced this, regardless if one is male or female. He is simply stating his beliefs based on biblical principles, while not so eloquently. I personally struggled with this issue around 12 years of age after being molested at age 3. I went to counseling and with the help of an anti-depressant, somehow everything turned around. This could have been related to OCD but have never forgotten this experience of wondering if I was gay at age 12. I relate it to obsessive thoughts but all of the past experience came crashing down on me at this time. I pulled out of this 6 months later. I am now
30 and married for 5 years to a wonderful man and have never had an issue with the past. My personal experience has left me with many questions for God on this issue. I am a devout Christian with faith in my Saviour Jesus Christ. I revel in his awe and love every day. I am so thankful I found him. He has changed my life in so many ways, and I am tearful while writing this. I do not have an answer for the judgement of homosexuals. I have only my opinion since, in my opinion, I came close to being one. Only our maker, God, can judge for this. We should show love and respect to all. It is simply my belief that this is caused from sexual abuse and that my counseling sessions combined with anti-depressants helped normalize me. Just some thoughts.

Jim Burroway

June 10th, 2009


You are flat out wrong when you claim that “the majority of persons who are homosexual have been sexually abused at a young age.” There is not one scintilla of evidence behind that statement, which is exactly the point of this entire post.

If you have any evidence for that whatsoever, then please post a link to it. Unlike other web sites, we do not allow unsubstantiated claims like that to go unchallenged. Pseudoscience doesn’t pass here.

Ben in Oakland

June 11th, 2009

Bridget– congratulations on your lovely experience with Jesus. I’m glad it works for you. But there isn’t the slightest bit of evidence about your claim that being molested almost turned you gay. you may believe it, but that doesn’t make it true. as other have pointed out, lots of people are molested who don’t turn gay. And I’ve met only a few gay people in my life– and i have many dear and close friends–who were molested.

But here is a different thought for you. Assuming that there is a little bit of truth in what you were saying, maybe you have it backwards. Being molested doesn’t turn people gay, but being perceived as gay by sexual predators is enough to get you molested. i’m fairly certain it works for catholic priests.

I doubt you know much aobut sexuality. you should probably read the part of Paul which talks aobutm istaking your ignorance for wisdom.

Ben in Oakland

June 11th, 2009

Also, i don’t think I’m “over-reacting” to Patty’s comments. I suggest you really read and attempt to understand what I wrote in my lengthy post. I’ve been hearing that garbage my whole life. It all boils down to fear– fear of hell, fear that the gays are gonna get your kid, fear of people you don’t know and xclearly know nothing about.

Please educate yourself before you add to the fear.

Priya Lynn

June 11th, 2009

Bridget, have you ever considered the possibility that if you had never been molested that you still would have been wondering if you were gay when you were 12? Maybe that’s just who you are and the molestation was irrelvant to you feeling that way and you just erroneously think the two are connected.


June 12th, 2009

Funny, being sexually abused by someone of the same sex as a child made it harder for me to acknowledge to even myself that I was queer. Even being raped by a man didn’t dislodge that.

I feel terrible for that mother who was told her son was likely abused. It’s possible it could open a conversation about abuse that really happened (which could be healing or tear the family apart; depends on who is the guilty party), but more likely he was NOT abused and she will spend days if not years beating herself up over missing the “fact” that her son was being abused and that their relationship is so fractured he won’t tell her about it. I recall hearing a few people talk about this parental trauma as a result of their participation in ex-gay ministries.

I’m with Ben on how ridiculous the Robertson hypothesis is when applied to real-world incidents instead of ideological smokescreens. And I’m very much in agreement with Fannie, wondering whether my feminist hackles are raised higher than my relief to be largely ignored by the hatemongers.

Here is some peer-reviewed research indicating the rate of childhood sexual victimization to be about 9% among LGB youth: “Childhood Gender Atypicality, Victimization, and PTSD Among Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Youth” Journal of Interpersonal Violence, Nov 2006; vol. 21: pp. 1462 – 1482. The same research group is looking deeper into the connection between gender atypicality and victimization. Preliminary findings are that the gender atypical children are much more likely to be targeted. Since gender expression starts to be apparent by age 2-3 and most victimization comes after that, it hardly takes a working brain to rule out causality there.

Regan DuCasse

June 12th, 2009

Pat Robertson’s answer to that mother will do many of several extremely destructive things:

1. It will perpetuate the stereotype and make each gay man suspect.

2. It will create distrust between these parents and innocent gay men and women who do work with the young.

3. Robertson is asserting that a CRIME has been committed on this boy. So, what are these parents to do? Who to accuse, prosecute…how to gather evidence?

Pat Robertson is engaging in the same kind of fear based political speech and advise that segregationists used against white people fearful of integration. They planted the seeds of suspicion that ALL black males were sexually predatory, aggressive and unintelligent with no more consciousness than apes, but with an uncontrollable attraction to white females.

This assertion of course, got black males lynched on the flimsiest of accusations and over the most casual of social encounters.

Gay men know ALL about that too.

This is a calculation. Just like the incitement that culminated in the deaths of G. Tiller, the security guard at the D.C. Holocaust museum and the shootings at the Knoxville church…

Robertson counts on the knuckleheads out there to do the dirty work he won’t be bothered to get his hands dirty over.
He doesn’t care about these parents, and especially not about this boy.
That kid’s parents NEVER needed PR’s permission to love him.

And the kid doesn’t need anyone’s permission to be gay and be happy.

The parents were looking for a kind of absolution if anything awful DOES happen to their boy.
The permission they were looking for, and the rationale they sought was to not be responsible for the kid’s ability to go forth, even emotionally UNMOLESTED, by their beliefs and assumptions.

Pat Robertson is counting on these parents to hurt this kid and do their utmost to pass along the guilt and shame and unhappiness.
He has a kind demeanor and sophist delivery. And these people allow him to lead them by the nose as if HE knows their boy better than THEY do.

The real shame is the boy is at highest risk of paying a heavy price for such laziness by his parents, and evil on the part of Robertson.
They SHOULD rely on the truth of the boy’s own witness to his life and experience, not Robertson.

But then, that would be a lot simpler and more logical…wouldn’t it?

James Savik

June 14th, 2009

>>Who’s raping all these Christian kids?

If you read the papers, their preachers are being rounded up and charged with sexual battery on a routine basis.

Here’s a website with all their dirty secrets.

Where better for molesters to hide than behind the pulpit of a church.

Here’s a case that Robertson would love:

JAYESS – Valley of the Kings Church patriarch David Earl King, 66, and Nathan Paul King, 32, King’s adopted son, were indicted in April on charges of sexually abusing a 14-year-old boy who attended their church and school.

The elder King was sentenced to 36 years in prison for sexual battery, conspiracy to commit sexual battery and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. He was fined $16,000 on all counts. His son received 18 years and 6 months for the same charges and was also fined $16,000.

A third man, Gary Lynn Bates, 21, of Denham Springs, La., was arrested on related charges. All three pleaded innocent.

Bates testified that he, David Earl King, and the young victim engaged in sex together, “three or four times.” Bates said Nathan Paul King joined them twice.

Bates said he was threatened with expulsion from the church by the elder King if he did not continue to have sex with the child.

Under questioning by the defense, Bates acknowledged that he was promised 5 years probation in return for cooperating with prosecutors.

The 14-year-old’s parents claim the Kings sexually abused their son and **threatened to castrate him if he spoke of it**, Sheriff Duane Dillon said. The indictment includes a second possible victim, identified as an 11-year-old boy who alleges Nathan King attempted to have sex with him.

!>>Since the arrest, the sheriff says at least 8 people from Tex., Lou., and Miss. have come forward, alleging sexual abuse by David King and church followers. Some allegations date back decades.


March 25th, 2010

Pat Robertson is a fool who has a hot seat in hell waiting for him…i was not molested, i was raised in church (southern baptist) nothing made me gay….i was born that way and i w ill die that way and if i get to meet pat robertson in heaven….im goin to do the i told you so dance!

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