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03/09/2013

My letter to 'NY Times' regarding Focus on the Family fluff piece

by Jeremy Hooper

In reference to the piece titled "Focus on the Family Works to Invite Discussion and Transform Message" (reprinted online under the headline "Focus on the Family Works to Change Its Message")


I have watched, with incredible concern and continued frustration, at the mainstream media's willingness to foster Focus on the Family's claim to be a newer, softer organization under the leadership of Jim Daly. Concern, because I don't think reporters who are mere visitors to the "culture war" debate understand how little has actually changed in terms of substance.

On the marriage section of its official website, Focus on the Family still—right now, to this day, under the leadership of Jim Daly—runs the following claim about gay people:

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.

This is why this issue has become such a flashpoint. It will become even more contentious because nothing else challenges this image of the Triune God so profoundly and thoroughly as homosexuality. It's not what we were made for.
[Focus on the Family]

Just this past fall, Mr. Daly told far-right radio host Janet Mefferd—this media booking itself evidence of unchanged view—that gay people are upset with people like him because they are in "pain" and that gay activists are in "battle" with the "creator of the universe." In the same appearance, he talked of gay people needing to be "freed from the enemy's snare."

This is not surprising to hear or out of tune with the Focus on the Family mission. This organization still advocates the need for gay people to "change" as fully and forcefully as it ever did. Focus on the Family keeps an "ex-gay" expert on staff—one who routinely writes pieces that claim things like, "Satan roams the earth like a lion, using sexual and relational brokenness to destroy individuals, families, churches, groups, businesses" and whose job it is to frame gay relationships as contrary to reality—and so-called "ex-gay" advocacy remains at the heart of Focus on the Family's LGBT work. All Focus on the Family properties still culminate in this, the one and only supposedly plan for LGBT people's lives (see Focus' annual "Day Of Dialogue," in which they encourage students to push the "ex-gay" narrative into schools). And even Mr. Daly himself has written of this supposed need:

"[T]he message found within the lyrics of Born This Way is in stark contrast to the message of the Gospel. All of us are born into sin, the Bible tells us, with desires and resulting actions that separate us from God and put us at odds with His blueprint for our lives. But the Good News is we’re not hopelessly trapped in our sin and failure. Despite the fact that we were 'born this way,' each of us can be set free – from homosexuality, or heterosexual sex outside of marriage, or pornography, or greed, or gossip, or any other human shortcoming – to be the men and women God intended us to be."
[Note: After people like me noticed it, Focus on the Family scrubbed the post off their site; one backup copy can be found here]

They don't allow for gay people to be married, so being "set free" is the one and only plan. Again, they push it daily (/ Daly).

And of course this organization still has the very same political goals it ever did. It is still advocating against every LGBT rights policy on both the state and federal level. Focus on the Family is still co-sponsoring the National Organization For Marriage's upcoming "marriage march" in DC, where some very incendiary speakers (including Gary Bauer, one of the people with whom you pointedly/unwittingly contrast Daly in your piece) will be rallying against LGBT people's peace of mind. This is the very same Focus on the Family that it always was!

I agree that Mr. Daly comes across as a nicer person and that his organization, seeing the need to alleviate the lasting damage caused by decades of Dobson, has engaged in an aggressive PR campaign designed to make it look smarter, hipper, faster, stronger. Full disclosure: I recently had dinner with a Focus on the Family senior staffer and we had a very amiable chat. I, for one, would never deny that some very charming people dedicate their lives to the "pro-family" cause.

But at the end of the gay day, this organization would still like to see me, a legally married gay man, both divorced and "restored" into a "former homosexual." These are just facts. To be perfectly frank, I would much prefer to have this unchanged message coming from someone who owns his mission than from someone who, in a fit to be liked, continues to bear false witness about what is really driving his work.

Thank you for your time.

Jeremy

Jeremy Hooper
Good As You
www.goodasyou.org

Author, www.tinyurl.com/IfItsAChoiceBook

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