Francis Collins to head National Institutes of Health

Those who have been reading awhile know I have not been President Barack Obama’s biggest fan. However, he hit a home run with his choice of Francis Collins to head the NIH.

President Obama on Wednesday nominated Dr. Francis S. Collins, a pioneering geneticist who led the government’s successful effort to sequence the human genome, as head of the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Francis S. Collins, leader of the federal human genome project, was selected to head the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Collins’s selection, which had been rumored for weeks, was praised by top scientists and research advocacy organizations for whom the health institute is a crucial patron.

Based in Bethesda, Md., the N.I.H. is the most important source of research money in the world; over the next 14 months it will dole out about $37 billion in research grants and spend $4 billion on research programs at its Maryland campus.

Dr. Collins wrote to XGW’s David Roberts and me to clarify his views regarding genetics and homosexuality back in September of 2008. At the time, Collins wanted to make clear his views regarding change and cause of homosexuality which he believed had been miscast somewhat by NARTH past-president Dean Byrd.

In his reply to XGW, Collins said about the NARTH article:

It troubles me greatly to learn that anything I have written would cause anguish for you or others who are seeking answers to the basis of homosexuality. The words quoted by NARTH all come from the Appendix to my book “The Language of God” (pp. 260-263), but have been juxtaposed in a way that suggests a somewhat different conclusion that I intended. I would urge anyone who is concerned about the meaning to refer back to the original text.

The evidence we have at present strongly supports the proposition that there are hereditary factors in male homosexuality — the observation that an identical twin of a male homosexual has approximately a 20% likelihood of also being gay points to this conclusion, since that is 10 times the population incidence. But the fact that the answer is not 100% also suggests that other factors besides DNA must be involved. That certainly doesn’t imply, however, that those other undefined factors are inherently alterable.

In Byrd’s article, he followed Collins’s quote with this statement:

Dr. Collins noted that environment, particularly childhood experiences as well as the role of free will choices affect all of us in profound ways.

This could easily make it seem as though Collins believed childhood experiences and choice were involved in homosexuality and thus, perhaps “alterable.”

In response to mischaracterizations of his views, he wrote the following to Robert and me:

Hello David and Warren,

I am happy to confirm that these e-mail communications from May 2007 and yesterday are indeed authentic, and represent my best effort at summarizing what we know and what we don’t know about genetic factors in male homosexuality. I appreciate your continuing efforts to correct misstatements that seem to be circulating on the internet.

Regards, Francis Collins

I wish Dr. Collins great success at the NIH.

NARTH’s new journal is not a new study

Seeing some of the press out on the recent NARTH (National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality) monograph, one might think the paper is a new study which demonstrates something that was once unclear.

Not so. The first issue of the journal is actually a three part paper which reviews a variety of research studies mixed in with website postings and newspaper articles. There is no new research in the 121 page monograph. The three parts correspond to three claims the NARTH authors, James Phelan, Neil Whitehead, and Philip Sutton, attribute to the American Psychological Association. The claims are:

1. There has been no conclusive or convincing evidence that sexual orientation may be changed through reorientation therapy.

2. Efforts to change sexual orientation are harmful and can lead to greater self-hatred, depression, and other self-destructive behaviors.

3. There is no greater pathology in the homosexual population than in the general population.

To achieve the stated purpose, one would need to limit the review to the highest quality research which directly address each of the points. Particularly on the first two points, the paper does not do this, but rather includes any paper, or even opinion piece which supports the claims. In a subsequent article, I will review the paper in a bit more detail. Suffice to say for now, that there is nothing new in this paper.

I will note one problem that jumped out at me immediately. The NARTH report begins with the claim that scientific evidence leads to

a singular conclusion: Homosexuality is not innate, immutable or without significant risk to medical, psychological, and relational health. (Emphasis in the original)

However, one aspect of this “singular conclusion” – the claim homosexuality is not innate – is not covered in the body of the paper. Despite the fact that NARTH concludes that homosexuality develops after a person is born, they provide no review of the evidence which addresses that topic. From this statement and others, one could get the impression that the conclusion was decided before the review took place.

The Pink Swastika and Hate 2 Hope

In light of my series on The Pink Swastika, I thought it would be fitting to re-post this 20/20 episode regarding the white supremacist who reformed.

You can read more about Tim Zaal and Matthew Boger at this prior post on Hate 2 Hope.

A strict application of the thesis found in The Pink Swastika would make the story of Zaal and Boger very confusing.

Prior posts in this series:

May 28 – Scott Lively wants off SPLC hate group list

May 31 – Eliminating homosexuality: Modern Uganda and Nazi Germany

June 3 – Before The Pink Swastika

June 4 – Kevin Abrams: The side of The Pink Swastika

June 8 – A historian’s analysis of The Pink Swastika, part 1

June 9 – A historian’s analysis of The Pink Swastika, part 2

June 11 – American Nazi movement and homosexuality: How pink is their swastika?

June 15 – Nazi movement rallies against gays in Springfield, MO

June 17 – Does homosexuality lead to fascism?

June 23 – The Pink Swastika and Friedrich Nietzsche

June 29 – The Pink Swastika and The Hidden Holocaust?

July 6 – The Pink Swastika and Hate 2 Hope

List of posts on Uganda and The Pink Swastika

Paul Cameron to appear in Sacha Baron Cohen’s “Bruno”

This may make it worth the price of admission.

Paul Cameron – yes, that Paul Cameron – will be in Cohen’s new film, “Bruno”, out Friday. From the NY Post, via Fox News:

The Post talked to six people involved with the film — including four victims duped into appearing — to get their stories and figure out how, even after the massive success of “Borat,” there are still people unfamiliar with Cohen’s shtick. One didn’t even know he was in the film until The Post phoned.

Victim: Dr. Paul Cameron, chairman of the Family Research Institute, Colorado

Scene: Bruno comes to him for advice on going straight.

“I did a German thing a year ago. Is that this? I wondered what had happened to that. I’m in this bloody film? Well, I’ll be jiggered. I guess you never can believe when people are in distress.

“I had to go to Kansas City. I was told that this chap was a homosexual in Germany, had a popular TV program in Germany, was perhaps suicidal and wanted to [become straight]. And I was supposed to see if I could help him in some way.

His producer was telling people what to do. He’d say, ‘Here’s the setting. This will be your office. He’ll come in, give him the kinds of advice that will be useful for him.’ It took about two and a half, three hours. To put it mildly, a few of his questions seemed strange. When he tried to sit by me and he wanted to give me a b – – w job, that kind of stuff pushed it.

“If it’s a gag, it was pretty well staged. I’ll be another laughing stock. Oh, well.”

I’ll be jiggered…

Uganda soccer association plans anti-gay campaign

A Scottish soccer coach may have to choose between his job and his beliefs regarding homosexuality. The Ugandan campaign against homosexuality now spreads to a test of belief. Read on…

Uganda FA Plan Anti-Homosexuality Campaign

Published: 4 July 2009

A Scottish football manager could lose his job as manager of the Ugandan national team unless he signs a form condeming homosexuality.

Bobby Williamson (left), the former Rangers and West Bromwich Albion star who is now head coach of the Ugandan national squad, has been asked to take part in an anti-sodomy offensive in a country where homosexuality is illegal – Uganda.

Williamson, along with every other football coach in the country, must sign a code of conduct which “denounces any support or involvement in sodomy related acts”.

The game’s ruling body acted after Isaac Omalla, a player with Horizon FC, reported his manager, Charles Ayeko, to the police, claiming to have been sexually assaulted by the older man following a match during the inter-regional championships in Lira.

Ugandan newspapers have alleged there is a homosexual culture among some players. Williamson’s employers, the Ugandan FA (FUFA), have now launched a campaign against homosexuality, insisting that all coaches take part.

Code of Conduct

“We are going to address [sodomy] in the code of conduct,” said Stone Kyambadde, the vice-chairman of the Ugandan Coaches Association. “The code will denounce any support or involvement in sodomy-related acts.”

He was backed up by FUFA spokesman, Rogers Mulindwa. “We totally condemn it,” he said. “We want evidence to pin the people involved. It’s here that we will start the clean-up.”

Williamson, who has managed Kilmarnock, Hibernian, Plymouth Argyle and Chester City, replaced Hearts manager Csaba Laszlo in the Ugandan post last year. FUFA’s document represents something of a moral dilemma for the 47-year-old Scot, who has spoken out against discrimination during his managerial career.

He is very popular in Kampala, where he lead The Cranes to victory in the Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup in January, their first such success for six years.

Hypothetical

“Sodomy is a criminal offence over there but this is the first I’ve heard of any code of conduct,” he said. “Until FUFA speak to me about that it’s a hypothetical matter and I’ll reserve my views until I’m approached.”

Click the link above to read the rest. In addition to the threats experienced by gays, freedoms are being threatened for non-gays at this point. Recently, a government minister proposed a law which would criminalize free speech regarding homosexuality and now one’s job could be threatened if one refuses to be sufficiently anti-gay.

How ironic; in this country, conservatives worry that their rights to express a belief that homosexuality is wrong might be threatened by laws favorable to homosexuality. I believe people from all sides should stand together to support freedom speech and conscience — whether here or there.

Gov. Sarah Palin to resign?

That’s what Ben Smith and Jonathan Martin at Politico are reporting.

What can it all mean? Not running for re-election, one could understand if indeed she wanted to seek the GOP nod in 2012 but why quit now?

Much of the negative said about Palin during the election was not accurate (as I documented). Since the election, she is often mentioned as a contender for 2012. However, I wonder how an early departure from Alaska will effect those plans.

The scandal of the public evangelical – Mark Galli

Good commentary today in Christianity Today from Mark Galli.

This comes near the end of the article – do read the whole thing.

Note how one writer put it in reflecting on the Gosselin debacle. (I’ll leave the writer anonymous, because my beef is not with her.) The sentiment expressed is widespread in our movement. After rightly suggesting that the flaws of Jon and Kate reflect our movement’s flaws, she says that we must do things differently: Find new role models, practice forgiveness better, and take marriage vows more seriously. Do, do, do. Then she concludes, “Then, and only then, will Christians have something to offer the world.”

The problem, of course, is that there is no empirical evidence to suggest that Christians will actually do these things consistently. Not private Christians. Not public Christians—it’s only a matter of months, maybe days (!) before another scandal will be revealed in the press.

Such moral exhortations are no doubt needed, but we must never believe that “then and only then” will we Christians have something “to offer the world.” What we offer the world is not ourselves or our moral example or our spiritual integrity. What we offer the world is our broken lives, saying, “We are sinners saved by grace.” What we offer the world is Jesus Christ and him crucified.

“Be a sinner and sin boldly,” said Martin Luther, “but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly. For he is victorious over sin, death, and the world. As long as we are here, we have to sin. This life is not the dwelling place of righteousness but, as Peter says, we look for a new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. … Pray boldly—you too are a mighty sinner.”

Make no mistake, this is not cheap grace. Not cheap at all—it’s free. And it’s the most precious thing we have to offer the world.

I might add that winning the culture war won’t help much either…

UPDATE: A reader sent along this web page with quotes from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship. Perhaps, this page balances Galli’s piece? Can these two approaches be compatible?

While we’re on the subject of the Holocaust…

David Irving has a reputation as a world-class Holocaust denier. He also has some views about gays and others which may not be as well known. In this clip from the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Youtube page (at about 7:09 and following), you get a sense of his views of blacks, gays and others.

To be clear, Scott Lively does not in any way deny the Holocaust. He makes this clear in his talks. I am only posting this because the broader topic of the Holocaust and Nazism has become of interest since I have undertaken The Pink Swastika series.

PS – David Irving is straight.