The world an end, and faith a means

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis provide a narrative of an experienced demon, Uncle Screwtape, mentoring his nephew, Wormwood, in the family business –  luring people away from God. Lewis weaves in philosophy, psychology, theology and then-current events into his work and provides an evangelical look into temptation. Last night reading Letter #7, I came across a passage which brought to mind some of the pitfalls of the culture war for Christians. In 1942 wartime context, Lewis, via Screwtape, discusses the political debates between the Patriots (in favor of the war) and the Pacifists (those opposing Britain’s involvement in the war).  

Whichever he adopts, your main task will be the same. Let him begin by treating the Patriotism or the Pacifism as a part of his religion. Then let him, under the influence of partisan spirit, come to regard it as the most important part. Then quietly and gradually nurse him on to the stage at which the religion becomes merely part of the “cause”, in which Christianity is valued chiefly because of the excellent arguments it can produce in favour of the British war-effort or of Pacifism. The attitude which you want to guard against is that in which temporal affairs are treated primarily as material for obedience. Once you have made the World an end, and faith a means, you have almost won your man, and it makes very little difference what kind of worldly end he is pursuing. Provided that meetings, pamphlets, policies, movements, causes, and crusades, matter more to him than prayers and sacraments and charity, he is ours—and the more “religious” (on those terms) the more securely ours. I could show you a pretty cageful down here.

Your affectionate uncle, SCREWTAPE

Screwtape encourages his apprentice to foster devotion to a cause. This then takes him further away from the real encounter with God and the faith relationship. Indeed, if Wormwood’s human “patient” can put movements and organizations and crusading ahead of all else then he is of no real threat to Screwtape.

I think this passage provides caution to those who believe fighting the culture war is Christian ministry. When fighting the culture war becomes more important than a witness to the gospel, then the mischief really begins. Specifically, in the past several years, I have seen people who are so concerned with the “gay agenda” that they overlook cult involvement in people because they are “ex-gay.” Some here in the US who are willing to tolerate the very unChristian stance of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill because, in Lou Engle’s words, “Uganda has become ground zero” in the fight against the gay agenda. In the upcoming documentary from Current TV, you will hear Scott Lively say very nearly the same thing in defense of the bill.

Some might argue that I am just as guilty because of my advocacy against the Uganda bill. And I would not take that criticism lightly. My view is that freedom of conscience is necessary for the Church to have the greatest impact. Advocacy for that position is important business but it is not the main business. I doubt that such advocacy will lead anyone away from the redemptive business of the church. On the other hand, my great concern is that culture warring lulls people into feeling that that the cause justifies the considerable offense that comes with vilifying those the church yearns to reach.

LDS scholars critique Byrd, Cox & Robinson review

Monday, I posted a statement from J. Michael Bailey, prolific sexual orientation researcher at Northwestern University, regarding what he called a “blatant misquotation” and misrepresentation of his views by Dean Byrd, Shirley Cox and Jeffrey Robinson in a 2005 book review of In Quiet Desperation. Yesterday, I posted a link to the rebuttal by In Quiet Desperation co-author, Ty Mansfield.

Today, I am posting another rebuttal to the review from Byrd et al, this time from four LDS scholars who write on gay issues – William Bradshaw, Robert A. Rees, Ron Schow, and Marybeth Raynes. You can read the review and the authors’ bios on an LDS website featuring resources for same-sex attracted people.

As with the Mansfield, I want to include excerpts and make a comment at the end.

Bradshaw et al make religious critiques of Byrd et al and then note what appears to be confirmation bias emerging in the review.

It is disturbing that Byrd, Cox and Robinson, all of whom have had extensive experience in counseling, would make judgments about both Stewart Matis and Ty Mansfield that they are in no position to make. Without knowing anything about the personality or therapeutic history of either man and based only on what evidence they find in the Matis-Mansfield narratives, they draw therapeutic conclusions, characterizing Stuart Matis as having “temperamental sensitivity,” “an obsessive preoccupation with being different,” and “perfectionism.” They assert, again without having counseled with him, that Stuart’s “story may have had a much different outcome had Stuart found. . . needed help”; they challenge the Matises’ interpretation of “their son’s attraction for other boys (‘crushes’) as somehow related to his homosexual attractions,” by stating declaratively, “They are not”; they state, “What Stuart failed to secure was competent, professional help, the kind of help that could assist him deal [sic] with very chronic, very difficult challenges.”

They conduct the same kind of arm-chair psychological analysis of Ty Mansfield: “Though Mansfield notes that his homosexual feelings have remained unchanged, this is impossible”! As they do with Stuart Matis, Byrd, Cox and Robinson, pigeonhole Mansfield as suffering from “temperamental sensitivity, obsessive introspection and perfectionism.” They seem to know Mansfield’s therapeutic experience: “Rather than seeking help, however, Mansfield seems stuck in his gender confusion”; “Mansfield has simply conceded victory to his homosexuality.” Such conclusions are as irresponsible as the medical analysis of Senator Bill Frist upon viewing videotape of the comatose Terry Shiavo. If these authors are familiar with what are surely the confidential medical and psychotherapeutic records of Matis and Mansfield, they should say so; otherwise, their analysis is not only inappropriate, it is professionally irresponsible.

A common theme among reparative influenced therapists is to see nails since the tool they have is a hammer. If you think homosexuality is caused by weak fathers, temperamental sensitivity, and/or perfectionism, then that is what you see in those who are same-sex attracted. Even if you only have a bits of information about a person, it is enough because you can always fill in the blanks.

Here the authors note the lack of documentation or data for the claims of reorientation.

Without providing adequate scholarly documentation, Byrd, Cox and Robinson refer to the success of reparative therapy (although they don’t label it as such). They contend that “many men (and women),” “many individuals,” “many people,” and “many men and women” “make successful transitions out of homosexuality.” In a review critical of others’ use of scientific evidence, one would expect some reference to a scholarly study that details exactly how many “many” is. Given the fact that Byrd was the lead person directing therapy for same sex attraction at Church Social Services during a period when many hundreds of Latter-day Saints were undergoing reparative or change therapy, one would think he would cite the findings of such therapy. It is in fact scandalous that such studies either were not undertaken or have been suppressed since the findings would help enlighten our present discussion of this subject. We are acquainted with one therapist at Church Social Services during Byrd’s tenure who did a large portion of this work in that he counseled with nearly a thousand homosexuals and whose experience contradicts the point of view taken in this review.2

The footnote #2 reads:

Our informant has told us that in over a 30 year career at LDS Family Services he worked with about 400 single men, 200 of whom left therapy after 1-2 sessions. Of the remaining 200, only 20 (10%) were able to marry. Furthermore, 19 of the 20 who married identified themselves as bisexual when they entered therapy. The quality of these marriages is unknown. Another Latter-day Saint therapist with whom we are familiar reports that of the hundreds of clients with sexual identity issues she has seen only those clearly identified as bisexual are given any chance of making successful marriages.

This seems reasonable but it is unfortunate that the mystery therapist did not step forward with some verification.

It seems clear that there are some divisions within LDS circles which are similar to what occurs in the evangelical world.

The Pink Swastika and Hitler

In the hunt for the gay Nazis, the biggest prize is Mr. Nazi himself, Adolf Hitler. And Scott Lively and Kevin Abrams do not let us down. In Chapter 4, from about page 151 on, Lively and Abrams weave together various rumors to make a case that Hitler was homosexual. In fact, they have an ally of sorts with Lothar Machtan, a German historian. Machtan believes Hitler was gay and wrote The Hidden Hitler to prove it.

Machtan is a historian and his book is to be taken more seriously that The Pink Swastika. However, having said that, the book has not been well received by historians. According to critics, Machtan traffics in the same sort of innuendo and guestimation which are characteristic of Lively and Abrams.

In this clip from the intriguing documentary, Men, Heroes and Gay Nazis, Machtan briefly advances his theory and then other historians assert he lacks any evidence for the gay-Hitler thesis.

You watch the entire documentary in eight parts on You Tube beginning here.

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

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

Situation worsens in Uganda

Yesterday, a prominent Catholic priest, Anthony Musaala fought off allegations he is gay.
Today the same news service, New Vision reports the following:

MPs want gay group’s activities regulated
Thursday, 2nd April, 2009
MPs want government to regulate the activities of homosexuals who have come out publicly to defend their rights.
Kawempe North MP Latif Sebaggala says Government should not allow homosexuals to hold press conferences to iron out their issues because the vice is illegal.
However, Government Chief Whip Daudi Migereko says there are No laws that prohibit homosexuals from holding press conferences.
Migereko says that the ministry of Internal affairs will track homosexuals and take action against them.

UPDATE: Perhaps in China to learn more about oppressing people for their beliefs, Ugandan official Buturo said his government is planning more laws, especially one which would criminalize the promotion of homosexuality.

Aftermath of the Uganda conference on homosexuality

Much has happened in Uganda since the Family Life Network’s conference on homosexuality was conducted March 5-7 (All of my posts are linked at the end of this post). This post provides links to the stories and some commentary on the matter.
In short, it appears that the intent of the organizers of the conference is being realized. The conference organizers wanted to fight homosexuality and use the conference as a means of awareness for that purpose. In the days since the conference, a series of news conferences and meetings have provided a steady stream of provocative revelations involving recruiting children. As near as I can tell, none of these revelations are relevant to relationships between consenting adults. And yet, the Family Life Network is apparently calling for “urgent steps” to be taken regarding homosexuality in general.
Here is a chronology:
March 7 – The day the conference ended, this report briefly noted the formation of a group which had a goal to “one day “wipe out” gay practices in the African state.”
March 15 – A follow up meeting was held in Kampala to plan strategy in the anti-homosexuality campaign. The narrative indicates that follow up meetings would be held and that legislative strategies against homosexuality would be pursued. Read the post for a more complete view from the perspective of someone who claims to have been present.
March 23 – At the second follow up meeting (3/22), George Oundo, a former gay activist, was quoted as admitting to recruiting children into sexual activity or at least into supporting homosexuality.
March 25 – Family Life Network organizes parents to complain about homosexuality.

The parents said they are going to write to the President Museveni showing their discontent at what they call the increasing immorality levels in the county so that the government can reverse the trend.

March 25 – Eight more people came forward to say that they had given up homosexuality. The reports are very similar…

“We have been involved in recruiting homosexuals, spreading the gospel of homosexuality, and we know the operations of homosexuals,” said 27-year-old Emma Matovu, who took to homosexuality 13 years ago. “We shall do all it takes to eliminate the practice in Uganda.”
Matovu, who said he abandoned the practice two weeks ago, asserted: “Homosexuality is dangerous and dehumanising but is growing fast in Uganda.”
Langa said his group would move around the country convincing parents to sign a petition to be handed to the President and Parliament on April 7. He said the petition will demand urgent steps to be taken against homosexuality in Uganda.

Given that the high court of Uganda ruled in 2008 that gays and lesbians have the same rights as others, it is not clear what “urgent steps” will be taken. I continue to believe it was a mistake for the Americans to support what could turn into a violent situation there. No word of clarification or explanation has come from the International Healing Foundation, Extreme Prophetic and Caleb Brundidge about his calls for criminalizing homosexual relationships.
Additional links:
Uganda’s strange ex-gay conference
More on the Ugandan ex-gay conference
Ugandan ex-gay conference goes political: Presenter suggests law to force gays into therapy
Reparative therapy takes center stage at Ugandan homosexuality conference
Gay Ugandan man seeks asylum in UK: EU group condemns Ugandan ex-gay conference
Open forum: Report from the Ugandan conference on homosexuality
Christian Post article on the Ugandan ex-gay conference
Scott Lively on criminalization and forced therapy of homosexuality
Christianity, homosexuality and the law
Uganda anti-gay group holds first meeting
Follow the money: Pro-family Charitable Trust
NARTH removes references to Scott Lively from their website
Aftermath of the Ugandan conference on homosexuality

Report from the Uganda conference on homosexuality: Open forum

Frank Mugisha is the chairperson of a gay advocacy group in Uganda called Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG). An unnamed person from his group attended all of the meetings in Kampala and filed this report. Obviously, I cannot vouch for the accuracy of it and I think it should be considered one person’s impressions of the event. There are some issues raised in it however, which I am exploring and will probably post about in the future. For now, I am just going to post a link to the report and open the floor for comments.

Research note: Gay and straight men assess parental qualities

I am re-examining (in some cases examining for the first time) older studies of parenting and adult sexual orientation. This post will look at a paper from 1983 – Sipova, I., & Brzek, A. (1983). Parental and Interpersonal Relationships of Transexual and Masculine and Feminine Homosexual Men. Journal of Homosexuality, 9, 75-85.
This Czechoslovakian study claims to find differences between assessments of parents by gay, straight and MtF transsexuals. However, the actual data do not support the discussion from the authors who clearly wanted to find the traditional triad. A look at the data reveals few statistical differences. The authors reported absolute values in the direction they expected but analysis finds only a few differences and those were not supportive of their discussion.
This study is interesting in that the authors divided the homosexual group (from a clinical population) into effeminate and non-effeminate males. Self-assessments of dominance differed with gay males viewing themselves as less dominant than straight males. However, assessments of paternal dominance were not different by sexual orientation of respondent. In other words, these men did not differ in how assertive and strong they perceived their fathers to be. Relevant to the reparative drive model, the non-effeminate group of gay males did not differ from the straight group on how loving they perceived their fathers as being. However, the effeminate gay male group did differ from the straight males and non-effeminate gay males on perception of paternal love. This finding supports the idea that gender nonconformity may evoke paternal rejection rather than paternal rejection being causally related in a comprehensive way to homosexual attraction.
Now here is an interesting finding: Non-effeminate gay males differed from both the effeminate gay males and the straight males on assessments of maternal love. Straight and effeminate gay males were no different on this dimension — both saw their mothers as quite loving while the non-effeminate gay males saw them as loving but significantly less so than the other two groups. All groups saw mothers as equally dominant and all saw their mothers as less dominant than the fathers. While some differences associated with the groups, the study does not support the “classic triadic model” of a distant/hostile father and overbearing/protective mother associated with male homosexuality. It is striking how similar the assessments were.

Ted Haggard says sexuality labels "just don't work"

Ted Haggard could have been in my study last summer. Over 190 same-sex attracted men who are heterosexually married took my survey to describe their sexuality. Many of them said the same thing – that labels didn’t fully capture their experience.
Haggard told the Denver Post that labels don’t work. Read the rest at the link.
Haggard’s description is consistent with the results I found. I am still collecting data involving same-sex attracted women in straight marriages. Just a few points on the men:
-191 men completed the survey; referrals came from ex-gay ministries, bisexual groups, mixed orientation couple support groups and via this website.
-Regarding the labels issue, 33% of all respondents qualified their sexual orientation self-description because they felt the labels were not adequately descriptive.
-We found 6 groups of such men with different attaction patterns. Haggard may fit into the “spousosexual” group if his general attractions are for men, but he experiences attraction for his wife. We found 20% of the total group in that category.
-The smallest group was the “ex-gay” group. Just over 6% said they once were attracted to the same-sex primarily and are now primarily attracted to the opposite sex.
-The largest group (40%) were bisexual in their attraction patterns and about one-quarter of the men were primarily attracted to the same sex in the present.
There are many more interesting findings that I am saving for the paper on this research. It should be ready by the end of February for submission. Stay tuned…

International Healing Foundation releases infomercial; ready to heal the world

Richard Cohen’s International Healing Foundation has released an infomercial describing their services and claims. Roll the tape…

In the video, he features his three part program designed to help people go straight, help their kids go straight, and help their clients go straight. He thinks pretty highly of these resources as is apparent in his Fall, 2008 newsletter:

WE HAVE THE ANSWERS
I am proud to announce that I have completed 21 years in public service and ministry. God called me in June 1987 to reach out and help those with unwanted SSA and their loved ones, and to spread the truth throughout the world that no one is born this way, no one chooses to have SSA, and that change is possible. I have been faithful and even more so, successful in helping thousands change their orientation and parents reconcile with their SSA loved ones. Furthermore, I have trained and educated thousands of professionals, equipping them with a systematic approach to helping SSA strugglers and their families. The International Healing Foundation (IHF) is the first organization in the world to create three landmark proven successful protocols:
Coming Out Straight–book and CD/MP3 series
Gay Children, Straight Parents–book and CD/MP3 series
Counselor Training Program–manual and CD/MP3 series
These are our three Olympic Gold Medals to help heal the world! I spent a lifetime preparing and training for this moment. I fought my way out of homosexuality. Against all odds I came out straight! That was indeed a miracle of God.

And you can have this miracle too if you sign up for the three Gold Medals. The world could use a little healing but I am skeptical it will come through IHF.
Richard has big plans for 2009. In his newsletter, he details them. Here is perhaps the most ambitious:

Loving Gays the Right Way: Exposing the Homosexual Myth is the title of a new book that I will write next year. Please read more about this in the 2009 Goals and Projects section. Together we can make a difference, saving one life at a time. Thank you for all your support this year and please contribute generously and/or purchase multiple copies of our books and CD series to donate to public and church libraries. For a contribution of $40 or more, we’ll send you a complimentary copy of the school DVD upon its completion.

He also wants to produce a video for schools which he mentions in the last line.

Over the past year I have shared about our ambitious project to create a film for use in public schools. This year we have already filmed two powerful stories of change—one youngman and his parents from the Midwest, and another from the East Coast. We will film a young woman either by the end of this year, or the beginning of 2009. Each of thesemen and woman came out of homosexuality! Their stories are powerful and will speak directly to our young people in public schools that they do have a choice—either to live a gay life, or to seek change and come out straight. We will promote true tolerance, real diversity, and equality for all!

Richard appears to have a love-hate relationship with the media. He seems to love being involved in it but it has not always been friendly to him. In the latter category is his appearance on the recent documentary, Chasing the Devil. In it he walks off camera twice when asked difficult questions about asking clients to raise money for IHF and his practice of bioenergetics. In a future post, I will review that video.