Now Obama is a bigot?

We are most likely at an impasse of sorts in the culture. The Rick Warren prayer is the kind of event which brings into bold relief the issues which divide. We have discussed on this blog before whether or not the gay-evangelical divide is a zero-sum situation — for one side to prevail, the other side must be defeated. John Cloud at Time magazine gives me evidence to think the divide continues to be wide. About Barack Obama, he writes:

Obama has proved himself repeatedly to be a very tolerant, very rational-sounding sort of bigot. He is far too careful and measured a man to say anything about body parts fitting together or marriage being reserved for the nonpedophilic, but all the same, he opposes equality for gay people when it comes to the basic recognition of their relationships.

John Cloud here redefines bigot. Bigot means someone who is intolerant of others opinions and actions. Seemingly unaware of the contradiction, Cloud calls Obama a “very tolerant sort of bigot.”
I am thinking out loud here, but I wonder if the impasse comes down to beliefs and how these are properly lived out in a democracy. I don’t think it is about “being” gay/straight or being wired to experience opposite- or same-sex attraction. I say this because one may experience same-sex attraction and find that experience something unacceptable for reasons of morality, or for more pragmatic reasons. One may not value some impulses which rightly or wrongly are believed to lead to undesireable consequences. Thus, the divide may be more about ideology than ontology.
If I am right about the basic difference being ideological, then how do we regard people who disagree with us on matters of belief? Do we call them bigots? Do we say you disagree with me so you hate me and all that I am? Let’s leave “do” and go to “should.” Should conservatives say to liberals, you are bigots because you disagree with my beliefs? I do not think so. When John Cloud (who in my contacts with him seems quite tolerant of those who he apparently considers bigots) calls Barack Obama a bigot, does he not invite the same treatment? John you are a tolerant sort of bigot, I might say, when you come to an Exodus conference and converse cordially with the ex-gays.
In the newspeak, bigot means someone who disagrees with me. I doubt this will be good.

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.

Man sues Bible publishers over references to homosexuality

Actually, what I think he is saying is that the Bible doesn’t really mean homosexual when in I Corinthians 6, homosexual is listed. As I understand it, from this USA Today article, he is arguing that the publishers used the term homosexual in the translation with intent to harm him as a member of that class. I think Zondervan and Thomas Nelson will prevail…

Obama says faith-based is okay if it isn't entirely based in faith

I am not sure my headline captures it but it is close. In this New York Times article, Barack Obama is shown Zanesville, OH (near my old stomping grounds) promoting a kind of faith based initiative. After all the reading, I think the issue at odds is whether faith-based groups should be able to take Federal money if they can discriminate in hiring by only hiring people who support the faith on which the group is based. John McCain and most conservatives say such groups should be able to participate if they can control the hiring and Obama says no, groups cannot exclude people of other or no faith from working in their organizations.
I think Obama is very smart. He is courting Evangelicals by speaking an Evangelical dialect. Many rank and file Evangelicals would not support his bottom line positions but his public ideological opponents of late are attacking him without lifting up the alternative in corresponding positive tones. Until Evangelicals begin to promote McCain instead of merely attack Obama, the Illinois Senator is going to scoop up interest and possibly support among moderate Evangelicals where McCain could be strong. Mr Obama is seizing the opportunity.

David Scasta talks on NPR about the APA symposium

On NPR’s Bryant Park Project, David Scasta talked about the cancelled symposium. You will need to listen to the audio to get the discussion since the article is not a transcript.
I will have some comments about this as the day goes on…

The APA symposium on homosexuality, therapy and religion has been cancelled

What a difference a day makes.

The American Psychiatric Association program Homosexuality and Therapy: The Religious Dimension has been pulled by chair David Scasta. My understanding is that he was asked (by whom, I am still not clear) to pull the program because of increasing concerns about it. I am still hearing more about the reasons and hope to know something more clearly soon.

Dr. Scasta did tell me that the APA’s position is that the program was not pulled because gay activists were unhappy with it. At this moment, I am skeptical.

More to come…

On science and religion

In his book, Rock of Ages, Stephen Jay Gould has this to say about science and religion:

Science tries to document the factual character of the natural world, and to develop theories that coordinate and explain those facts. Religion, on the other hand, operates in the equally important, but utterly different, realm of human purposes, meanings, and values—subjects that the factual domain of science might illuminate, but can never resolve. Similarly, while scientists must operate with ethical principles, some specific to their practice, the validity of these principles can never be inferred from the factual discoveries of science.

I have been accused recently of being a religious bigot with an aim to furtively introduce religious dogma behind a scientific facade. In addition to making ridiculous and unsubstantiated claims (“…[I] criticized NARTH in order to make way for his own version of reparative therapy by another name”), Peterson says I put religious beliefs before science in thinking about matters of sexuality. I have addressed these matters before but I want to do so again in a more general manner.

Briefly and generally, about science and religion, I suggest that science concerns itself with “what is;” while religion is more concerned with “what ought to be.” Science is descriptive, religion prescriptive. As Gould notes above, values cannot be reliably inferred from the factual discoveries of science. Einstein said similarly: “For science can only ascertain what is, but not what should be, and outside of its domain value judgments of all kinds remain necessary.”

For those who believe science directs moral choosing, I would be interested in hearing how individuals should gain their moral compass from a fact or finding of research.

Pew Forum releases major study of religion in the US

The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life released a major study of religion in the US today. The LA Times has one news report summarizing the findings. Protestants are declining but overall 8 of 10 people say they are Christians. Lots of other findings at the Pew Forum website…