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10/12/2010

And now in undeserved credence news: WaPo gives anti-bullying ink to man who says gays 'are held captive by the enemy'

by Jeremy Hooper

On numerous occasions, we've mentioned how bizarre/frustrating/unacceptable it is for the mainstream media to continue to put Family Research Council president Tony Perkins on TV and in print, citing him as little more than a mere "pro-family" voice of dissent on LGBT issues. After all, we are talking about a man who has claimed in more than one sermon that gays are "held captive the enemy," and who's accused this nation's Commander in Chief of being "willing to jeopardize our nation’s security to advance the agenda of the radical homosexual lobby" (among so many more comments). In fact Tony, working with a prolificacy that outpaces most of his peers, churns out the largest volume of the most reliably hostile rhetoric of any of the top "pro-family" group presidents. Daily.

And it's not just Tony himself. When considering his career, one must also look to the organizational subordinates who work directly under Tony's watch. People like FRC's Senior Policy FellowPeter Sprigg, who has pointedly stated that LGBT people should be either criminalized! or exported! from the United States, or Vice President for Government Affairs Tom McClusky, who just last week used the Family Research Council's communications channels to support Sen. Jim DeMint's belief that gay teachers should be fired. Again: You really won't find any organization that is more resoundingly (/frighteningly) against basic LGBT rights.

Then one must also look to the outside"experts" that Tony & Co. use to support FRC's agenda. Figures like the American Family Association's Bryan Fischer, a man who has claimed that only gays were savage enough for Hitler and that because of this, "homosexuals in the military gave us...six million dead Jews" (among many other outrageous claims). Just this past summer, FRC booked the very same Fischer as an "expert" voice on Don't Ask Don't Tell. Perhaps it was the time that Bryan directly compared laws against gay soldiers to those that apply to bank robbers that qualified him for the FRC gig.

So yea, in short: FRC's body of work is made up of some enormously jaw-dropping charges, the likes of which unabashedly dehumanize LGBT people and their allies. Charges that have all gone down under Tony's watch/embrace. Yet despite the record, Tony is constantly afforded the opportunity to throw on a suit, fire up the talking point machine, and take to one of our nation's esteemed mainstream media outlets, identified as little more than a "from the right" voice of political dissent. On "Face The Nation." On CNN. And now in The Washington Post's "On Faith" column, where Tony has been granted a forum to peddle his views about homosexuality itself being the reason why so many gay kids suffer, and that "change" through Jesus is the best remedy for bullying/suicide/crimes of bias. A snippet:

Where bullying has occurred, the blame should be placed on the bullies themselves--not on organizations within society who clearly oppose bullying. I suspect that few, if any, such bullies are people who regularly attend church, and I would not be surprised if most of the "bullies" did not have the positive benefit of both an active mom and dad in their lives. Religious faith and a return to traditional family values are more likely to be a solution to the problem of bullying than a cause.
...
Some homosexuals may recognize intuitively that their same-sex attractions are abnormal--yet they have been told by the homosexual movement, and their allies in the media and the educational establishment, that they are "born gay" and can never change. This--and not society's disapproval--may create a sense of despair that can lead to suicide.

The most important thing that Christians can offer to homosexuals is hope--hope that their sins, just like the sins of anyone else, can be forgiven and their lives transformed by the power of Jesus Christ. Jesus' command to love our neighbor clearly embraces the homosexual as well. But love does not require affirming every behavior in which an individual engages. For a parent to encourage a child to indulge their every desire would not be love, but its very opposite. The same is true of self-destructive behaviors in which adults may engage--whether it is the excessive use of alcohol, drugs, reckless driving, or heterosexual activity outside of marriage.
...
The model for a Christian response to homosexuals may be the story of the woman caught in adultery. When the crowd responded with violence, by gathering to stone her, Jesus said, "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone." Knowing that they were all sinners, the crowd melted away. But Jesus' words to the woman he saved were crucial. He did not say, "Go, for you have not sinned." Instead, he said, "Go and sin no more."
FULL PIECE: Christian compassion requires the truth about harms of homosexuality By Tony Perkins [WaPo]

It's appalling, really. We of course know what Tony's agenda is all about. But the average Washington Post reader doesn't. Many see this and think, "Oh, it's the Washington Post -- it's not like some crazy blog. Surely they are giving us credible experts who care about truth more than their own cause, political movement, or wallet." The average reader trusts outlets like WaPo to dig a little deeper, give a little more, and be responsible about what kind of information they disseminate.

But in this case, WaPo has failed on all accounts. In terms of the claims Tony makes: The evidence doesn't at all bear out Tony's claims, as LGBT researcher Jim Burroway ably shows here. In terms of background: There is nothing to identify Tony more than a simple mention that he's from the innocuous sounding Family (good thing) Research (sounds smart) Council (sounds diverse). And in terms of information dissemination: Tony's piece is presented as a standalone, not as one view paired with a pro-equality (i.e. pro-fact) submission that directly challenges Tony's dangerously disingenuous professions (There is a pro-LGBT piece from Equally Blessed, but not on the topic of bullying or in response to Tony's claims).

There's absolutely no reason why Tony should be allowed such an open forum. NONE. The gig is not based on merit, but rather because we still live in a skewed world where (a) LGBT people are the one kind of vulnerable population sect whose lives remain subjected to back-and-forth public debate, (b) anti-LGBT discrimination is still passed off as a "family value", (c) anti-LGBT groups like the Family Research Council are able to maintain a place in conservative politics by virtue of their connections and financing, and (d) these same groups are given platforms in the name of "objectivity" and journalistic "fairness." It doesn't happen to any other kind of people. Anti-science about ethnic or religious minorities is not typically printed. Yet even the most disproven of anti-gay/pro"ex-gay" claims gets ink. Even the most basic of civil rights is presented as controversial. Even the most obvious of anti-gay responsibilities is passed off as an unknown.

What's it going to take?

***

**SEE ALSO: Chris Geidner: Wash Post "On Faith" Op-Ed: "Homosexual Movement" May Be to Blame for Suicides [PoliGlot]
Jim Burroway: Family “Research” Council Gets It Wrong On LGBT Mental Health [Box Turtle Bulletin]

***

**EARLIER: Last week, Tony and Peter "criminalize/export gays" Sprigg shared this exchange:

(click to play audio clip)
(Tony Perkins speaks first, Sprigg second)
*AUDIO SOURCE: Washington Watch Weekly [FRC]
***

**UPDATE, 10/13: A positive step: Sirdeaner Walker posts a response: Squashing Tony's negligence, from a mom who knows the danger all too well [G-A-Y]

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