The AFTAH Anti-Gay-Rights Academy: From the Perspective of Two Who Attended, Day 3 of 3

Two months ago, I posted that Americans for Truth About Homosexuality was holding a “Truth Academy” in order to train the next generation of anti-gay-rights activists. Attendees needed to pay a registration fee and get a “recommendation” from a pastor. I wrote that I would gladly pay the fee for anyone who wanted to go.

Ultimately, two people — Maria Pahl and “Perry D’Olia” (a pseudonym) — were accepted into the Academy. They did this using their real names and providing the requested documents. Both were present for the entirety of the academy, with any exceptions listed below.

The opinions expressed are entirely their own. Since there was a lot of overlap in their experience, I’ve used Maria’s writing as the basis for their perceptions of the day itself while Perry’s writing is the basis for the specific lectures.

This is Part 3 of 3. Part 1 can be read here. Part 2 can be read here.

Perry:

Maria was late to the Academy this morning. LaBarbera spoke about the two pro-gay people who got into the event. Apparently, the guy who was recording the event posted information about the event already. The spy had said, “I would rather turn Bill Gates’ vast fortune into a giant mountain of pennies and count them, than endure one more tedious anti-gay seminar.” These are the types of comments that I do not feel are constructive. Preston Noell indicated that his recording of the event is a felony. LaBarbera said that it looked like Maria would not be returning and then explained the ‘great lengths’ she went to to get in (a letter from a pastor). He used this as evidence that the opposition will lie and cheat to get ahead.

Maria:

The trains run later on the weekends, which I hadn’t really realized before Saturday morning. As a result, I found myself running from the train station to the conference at full tilt in order to not be any later than I already was. I took my seat, a little warm from my rush over in the hot weather. I started fanning myself with my binder.

One of the women I had talked to several times over the last couple of days got up from her seat. She grabbed a water bottle from the back of the room and gave it to me, whispering to me that I looked warm, and I should drink something. I smiled and thanked her.

A few minutes later when I had cooled down a bit, I got out my computer to start taking notes. Immediately, an older man tapped me on the shoulder.

“We’re not allowing blogging today,” he whispered. “Please put your computer away.”

I was a little confused, because I hadn’t even begun to type anything yet, but I put my computer away and asked if I could write my notes down instead.

“I’ll have to check on that,” he said.

A minute or so later he came back and with a self-deprecating chuckle he told me, “I don’t know why I even thought that wouldn’t be okay. Of course you can take notes.”

During the breaks in between lectures, lots of people who had never talked to me before were calling me by name and asking to talk to me. But instead of what most had talked to me about at breaks the previous two days (namely, homosexuality, how it’s immoral, and how dangerous it is), I found that everyone was suddenly asking me about my life, the weather, where I was from… just basic pleasantries. A couple asked me where I’d been that morning, and when I explained the train situation to them, a little bit of a hesitant air seemed to go out of their expressions.

Apparently, as I found out later, since I’d shown up an hour late, Peter LaBarbera (and I suppose everyone else) assumed I wasn’t coming. So he explained to everyone that I and the other young man had been recording the previous day, that we were infiltrators from the gay rights movement, and that this is just the type of underhanded tactics one should expect from the LGBT side.

I guess it was a bit of a shock to everyone when I showed up.

The older man who had asked me to put away my computer came up later and asked me what I needed the computer for. I got to explain myself more fully: no, I wasn’t live-blogging, just taking notes, and I hadn’t been live-blogging the previous day either. He seemed satisfied with the explanation and told me it would be fine if I used the computer to take notes.

“Really though,” he said amiably, “do you think if the positions had been reversed, if one of us had gone to an LGBT meeting without identifying ourselves, do you think we would have been allowed to come back?”

I think it was supposed to be a rhetorical question, but I answered anyway.

“Yeah,” I said. “I mean, as long as you weren’t being disruptive or anything. I don’t think anyone at any of the LGBT activist meetings I’ve been to would’ve had a problem with it.”

He gave me a bit of a confused and surprised look. But maybe I’m reading too much into it.

Even though I had been ignored by the speakers on previous days (not that it was on purpose or anything; I just hadn’t really gone to strike up a conversation with any of them), Laurie Higgins and Greg Quinlan both made a point to come and talk to me. Both of them were very pleasant, and I really enjoyed speaking with them. Greg mostly asked me questions about my laptop and whether or not I really liked Macs better than PCs. Laurie broached the subject of why I was there, and when I explained to her that I thought people were too quick to dismiss their arguments offhand and that I thought part of intellectual discourse was understanding your opponent’s point of view, she seemed really happy I was there.

At the end of the day, Peter LaBarbera even apologized for “calling me out” in front of everyone. I told him it was fine. I apologized for seeming to be deceptive. I explained to him that I’d never outright lied, but I had just thought that if he knew I didn’t agree with them, I wouldn’t have been let in to the conference. He admitted that maybe they’d been a bit too harsh in trying to keep disruptive gay activists out. I told him I would e-mail him the article when I finished writing it. All in all, it was quite a nice interchange.

I’d like to think it showed them that there are pro-LGBT people who want to attend their conferences who aren’t disruptive liars and Communists trying to infiltrate and conquer while we twirl our curled mustaches and cackle maniacally.

At the very least, I hope it makes them question some assumptions just a little bit.

Perry:

Overall, the speakers were quite knowledgeable, although misguided. There really seemed to only be one or two genuinely hateful people there (Kincaid and possibly LaBarbera). The vast majority were loving, but with the presupposition of their religion. I thanked everyone before I left.

The Lectures:

[Because there was so much repetition of points made in the previous two days, the notes for these lectures are relatively thin.]

Robert Gagnon, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary: “But Jesus Never Said Anything About Homosexuality: Answering ‘Queer Theology’ — New Testament

Perry:

Gagnon, once again, was all Bible, all the time. There’s nothing more to add from before.

Robert Knight, Coral Ridge Ministries: “Destructive Legacy: Alfred Kinsey and the (Homo)Sexual Revolution

Perry:

Knight’s talk dealt largely with the flaws in Alfred Kinsey’s studies. He started by saying that “sexual orientation” is a term made up by the psychiatric community which implies that gays are born that way. He then discussed how Friedrich Engels predicted the demise of the family and the rise of state-raised children, which Engels said would create equality.

He said that the free-market system requires family to function. In history, human cultures that respected marriage thrived while those that didn’t fell apart. He referenced the way that Kinsey’s experiments were immoral and how they have been used to defend homosexual behavior. The reports also influenced pro-gay laws. He then discussed fraudulent science and called to take children out of public schools.

Greg Quinlan, Pro-Family Network: “The Big, Pink Plan for a Lavender Culture

Quinlan discussed what he believes to be the actual set-in-stone gay agenda. For some reason, I doubt that the gay community is behind this…

  1. Take over the military
  2. Redefine marriage
  3. Take over the educational system
  4. Change the church
  5. Take over corporate America

A few notes on some of those points. For (2), he said they want to redefine marriage to undermine the family unit. For (3), he said they want to change sex education and health classes to promote acceptance of homosexuality. They also want to create bullying rules that explicitly protect gays and create discrimination laws that promote gay teachers. How would they (4) change the church? Gays want to change the religious community’s opinion on homosexual marriage. For (5), gays want to impose homosexuality regulations that will force companies to hire gay employees.

Quinlan added that apostasy rates are up (true, and a good thing, I feel). He then discussed the amount of money that the gay community has — about $800 billion in the community altogether.

He then said that pro-gays will lie to achieve these goals and said, “When you live a lie, you’ll tell a lie.”

There were a couple Orwellian statements, displayed in all caps on his PowerPoint: EQUALITY IS CONTROL. EQUALITY IS DOMINANCE.

He finished with, “Truth is not a word. Truth is not an idea. Truth is a person. Jesus Christ is Truth.”

Cliff Kincaid, America’s Survival and Accuracy in Media: “Can You Be In Support [of] Homosexual Activism and be ‘Conservative’? Confronting the Pro-’Gay’ Right

Perry:

Cliff felt that what happens in Canada will directly affect what happens in America. He pointed out how accepted homosexuality is in Canada and that the government funds gay activities. He again called out multiple conservatives for being pro-gay.

When discussing the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill, he didn’t explicitly say he supported the bill, but clarified it as not a “kill-the-gays” bill. Rather, the death penalty would only apply in cases of “aggravated homosexuality.” These offenses include: same-sex relations with those under age 18, same-sex relations while being infected with HIV, multiple offenses, and use of force or drugs.

Even Libertarians were not with them on social issues, he complained. When asked about Bill O’Reilly, he said that he was not a conservative but rather a “windbag.” He also dismissed all Libertarians because of their support for the legalization of drugs.

Robert Gagnon, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary: “Agreeing with God: A Truly Biblical Approach Toward ‘Out and Proud’ Homosexuality

Perry:

One of the interesting things he said during this talk is that the greatest thing would not be to eliminate homosexual urges, but to keep the urges and still follow God.

Also, he stated that the pro-gays use the arguing method of just throwing too many incorrect facts to respond to in the time allotted.

This was interesting to me because this is what Creationists constantly do during debates. There’s even a name for it — the Gish Gallop. They then film the babbling skeptic who is simply baffled at the stupidity of the arguments and cannot think of where to begin.

Ryan Sorba, Young Conservatives of California: “Confronting the Zeitgeist: New Strategies to Turn Around Younger Americans on ‘Gay Rights’

Perry:

Sorba gave accounts of gays disrupting conferences and speeches at which he was present. Again, I feel this does not apply to the arguments. He indicated that if you ask a homosexual what their story is, it will always be the same because they have been told to have a “normal” story at “gay training camps.”

During this talk, he did outline a plan that might be used to spread the conservative viewpoint. He said that they need to start 100 campus groups over the next 1-2 years, each of which would have four events per year.

He also wanted to find out if kids believed in the “politically correct” view of South Park. (This entirely confused me; I think South Park is one of the least politically correct shows ever.)

Sorba also mentioned wanting to poll psychiatrists to see if they thought homosexuality was a mental disorder. If they say it is, they want to use this as publicity for their cause. Pro-gays want to rebrand the anti-gay movement as the “counter-culture” in order to attract rebellious teens. Sorba also wanted to have a good list of refutations for kids arguing the gay agenda.

Matt Barber, Liberty University: “Don’t Ask, Don’t Bleed: Stopping Obama’s Campaign to Homosexualize the U.S. Military

Perry:

I didn’t take very many notes during Barber’s talk. Not to say that he was boring, just that his points were less clear and I was counting the minutes to the end.

He made another call to love gays, but we had to be forceful in that their lifestyle was wrong. Religious arguments would work with good people, but society embraces evil and rejects good. Finally, he noted that his side would lose in the short run, but God will ultimately win.

Closing thoughts/summaries from Maria:

Though they themselves were not outwardly hateful, many of the attendees and speakers completely lacked any understanding of how the vocal espousal of their views directly contributes to the views of others who do wish active harm upon homosexual people.

This is not to say that they shouldn’t be allowed to express their beliefs as often and as loudly as they want, or that they are fully responsible for the actions of fag-bashers, but I would have liked to see a little more sensitivity or realization of how they are contributing to the discourse in some very negative ways. Most lack any conception that their belief system is not, or even that it may possibly not be, an objectively truthful one. They don’t seem to understand that it’s not realistic or acceptable to impose their belief system on all Americans in the same way it wouldn’t be realistic or acceptable for Muslims in America to pass legislation prohibiting everyone from drawing Muhammad.

Most of the speakers were not fans of citation. The citations they did use were either citing themselves as the authority (as was almost always the case with Cliff Kincaid), citing psychoanalytic theories (as was the case with Arthur Goldberg), or citing natural law and metaphysics of philosophical theory (as was the case with Ryan Sorba). Most often, they simply didn’t cite their sources at all, but merely stated “studies show,” or “you can find this all on the Internet.” There was no real citation to peer-reviewed, scientific studies.

On Thursday, when any study was brought up that seemed to favor homosexuality as being a perfectly healthy or natural behavior, it was scoffed at and immediately refuted as being a “flawed” or “biased” study, without much explanation or any scholarly rigorous documentation to prove that this was really the case.

There was some citation (by Sorba) of the writings of certain homosexual activists and writers, such as Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen (again, two men I had never heard of until this day), but this citation of a specific individual’s opinion was fallaciously applied as evidence of the opinion and goals of the gay movement as a whole. In some cases, the opinions quoted were purposefully misconstrued and taken out of context to seem more alarming than they actually were.

Homosexuals (or at least homosexuals who commit homosexual acts) were alternately cast in the role of immoral sexual deviants, aggressive liars, Communists, Fascists, and oppressors of Christians, intent on imposing their lifestyle upon all Americans — OR — as confused, sexually abused, disenfranchised victims who have been lied to by a larger pro-gay society, falsely told they couldn’t change their orientation, and taken advantage of by the militant gay movement. Practically every mention of transgender individuals was met with a smirk from the speaker and a rumbling chuckle from the audience. This was in spite of the fact that the argument being put forth was that transgendered people were suffering from a mental disorder.

I’ve never heard any group of people laugh so scathingly at any other mental disorder. No serious-minded, concerned person in a professional setting should be overcome with mirth when someone starts talking about people who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or obsessive compulsive disorder.

Some of the speakers (Sorba, Higgins, Gagnon, and Lindevaldsen in particular) were obviously highly intelligent individuals. It was clear that they had studied their subjects extensively. Their arguments were internally consistent. This is not to say that their arguments were wholly academic or unflawed (perhaps with the exception of Gagnon), but I truly enjoyed listening to them speak, in spite of my disagreement with them (though I must say I don’t disagree with Gagnon on the Bible’s proscription of homosexuality).

Sorba‘s arguments relied almost exclusively on natural law philosophy. However, I feel compelled to point out as someone who has some philosophical training (my BA is in Philosophy from the University of Michigan) that, in my opinion, philosophy is interesting, but 90% of it is BS. Most of philosophy is ultimately untestable. You can use it to create theories about the nature of reality, but you shouldn’t make the mistake of applying a priori non-evidential philosophical systems to the real world to inform you about how it works. That’s a bit backwards; the evidence should inform the structure of the representational system, not the other way around. As such, most of Sorba‘s arguments came across as clever Sophistry.

The majority of Peter LaBarbera‘s statements were anecdotes about how he has personally been threatened and mistreated by gay activists. These stories, whether intended to have this effect or not, cast the homosexual as the aggressive, hateful antagonist and LaBarbera as the peaceful, befuddled victim completely unaware of why these vicious activists would insult and threaten him. If he was so mistreated, it’s regrettable, and those who treated him that way acted wrongly. However, LaBarbera‘s experiences are certainly not representative of all LGBT individuals, nor do they make any statement on the moral question of whether or not homosexuality is reprehensible.

His argument would have been served better if he hadn’t constantly told stories that seemed calculated to demonize all LGBT people. The stories had the effect of fear-mongering among the attendees, suggesting that all LGBT people (or at least all LGBT activists) were angry, hateful individuals of a militant organization who would probably have no compunctions about lying to, manipulating, and even raping children if it would help them to gain their political aims. LaBarbera and the other speakers seem to disapprove of how liberals equate their entire movement with whack-jobs like Fred Phelps, but then the same argument is made with the respective whack-job analogues within the LGBT activist movement.

The totality of Cliff Kincaid‘s lectures were rife with arguments from emotion and fear (“Look at this photo of AIDS lesions. Horrible things will happen if the gay movement gets the rights it asks for!”), and he spent the majority of his time slandering the character of specific members of the gay community and giving examples of sex predators (many of whom probably didn’t even identify themselves as gay) to extrapolate upon the whole of the gay community (“Look at this specific gay activist who is a Communist and look at this pedophile; the entire gay movement is made up of Communistic and pederastic ideology!”).

In addition to this, he constantly asserted the information was available “on the Internet,” only sometimes referring people back to a website he or a like-minded colleague ran or was affiliated with, maybe occasionally to a legitimate news article (like from the New York Times) but usually to highlight a point that was not integral to the greater argument. It seems like he didn’t think about, or blatantly ignored, that all the examples of what he no doubt saw as a typical gay man were in no way typical. The examples were of sex predators and criminals who any decent person would condemn, whether or not they were LGBT or otherwise. The entire presentation came off like a hysterical Glenn Beck conspiracy theory. Within five minutes or so, it was as if a low-level buzz of panic was coloring all of his statements and underlying every phrase was a tiny voice shouting, “All homosexuals are Communists! They’re pedophiles with no moral character! We have to DO something! They’ll come for us all! AAAAHHHHHH!!!!”

Arthur Goldberg also didn’t cite sources very often, if at all. He said the phrase, “Studies show that…” at multiple times throughout his speeches, without going on to explain which particular studies he was referring to. When he did refer to how a particular statistic was found, it was usually by the American College of Pediatricians, a non-profit organization that recognizes the basic mother-father unit within the context of marriage as being the optimal situation in which to raise a child. They are in no way an accredited or official medical organization and make it obvious through their mission statement that they’ve already concluded homosexual parents are bad parents and then have set out to discover evidence for how this is true. In the scientific community, that’s a big no-no, and goes quite a ways to discrediting Goldberg‘s entire argument.

By the same reasoning used to poo-poo the twin studies (namely, that unless 100% of identical twins are both gay, it shows that homosexuality isn’t caused only by biology, and is therefore not an immutable trait), we can make the argument against the supposed moral bankruptcy of gays. According to many of the lectures, homosexuality directly causes substance abuse, promiscuity, etc. By their line of reasoning used to discredit the twin studies, unless you can show 100% of homosexuals are substance abusers and/or promiscuous, there is not a causal connection between the two, but rather, it’s a combination of factors. Even if we were to say there is a correlation between homosexuality and substance abuse/promiscuity (which I think is debatable), this still does not in any way prove that homosexuality directly leads to substance abuse.

Most arguments presented about the correlation between homosexuality and moral vices such as drug use were not rigorous enough to prove causality, and at the very least they may be reasonably doubted if not outright dismissed.

One of Ryan Sorba‘s main arguments was that there is a fundamental difference between men and women. He says this difference is complementary, and that it is sinful or morally reprehensible to use your sex organs for something other than heterosexual attempts at procreation within the context of marriage. He argues that the sex organ’s function is procreation, which is why this is so.

Basically, the strictly classic purpose or function of your body parts determines what you should be doing with them. If I follow this line of reasoning, it turns out my mouth, lips, and teeth have a strictly classical function of speaking and eating. So kissing, biting my nails, or chewing on my lip are all just as morally reprehensible as having homosexual sex, if the functionality of the organ determines a particular action’s moral status.

The fatal flaw in Sorba‘s, Higgins‘, Gagnon‘s, Quinlan‘s, and Lindevaldsen‘s arguments was the necessary requirement of the belief in a Judeo-Christian conception of God and an acceptance of the Bible as wholly true.

These were the propositions upon which all their other arguments hinged. For example, Sorba needed to presuppose a “design” in his arguments about how the genders are complementary, and it is only moral to act in accordance with our “design” in terms of sexual practices. Higgins also gave the complementary genders argument. The only other real argument I heard her give for why homosexuality is immoral is that it is said to be immoral in the Bible (though I tend to agree with her in thinking both sides of an argument should be presented in schools as long as the books available are of a high, scholarly rigorous standard. We may disagree about what constitutes “scholarly rigorous,” however).

Lindevaldsen argued that it’s rational to conclude that if God says the action is sinful, it’s not good for you. Gagnon kept his argument fully within the context of the Bible; it was merely a refutation of moderate, pro-gay Christian theology in the sense that one can’t truly believe in the scripture as truth without also believing that the scripture proscribes homosexuality. I tend to agree with him on this point.

In order to be successful in their goals, the attendees and speakers would need to prove their viewpoint is demonstrably true for everyone, not just for Christians. It was obvious they were at least cognizant of this fact; it was mentioned a couple times, especially on the last day. But to most (if not all) of the people at the conference, Christianity is the only truth.

Greg Quinlan in particular was very clear on this point. Lindevaldsen stated in her lecture entitled “The Zero Sum Game” that, “When they ask me to be secular in my argumentation, they’re asking me to give up Truth. They’re asking me to give up my best weapon which is the absolute reality that I know from God. They’re asking me to go over onto their playing field and use their weapons that they chose for me.” The argument necessarily breaks down there for non-Christians or even Christians who don’t believe the same way that AFTAH does. It’s an intellectual impasse. If you can’t accept their premise of truth in scripture (which many people can’t), it’s impossible to accept the rest of the argument.

Question the validity of their specific worldview, and the entire house of cards comes tumbling down. For their view to apply to the whole of society, they would need all of society to believe in God and the Bible in the sense that they do. It’s perfectly rational for them to believe what they believe if they assume the existence of God and their interpretation of the Bible as truth. What is not rational is for them to make those two assumptions in the first place. They are faith-based propositions and can’t be expected to apply to people of different faiths or non-faith.

Purely secular arguments deny them what they think is their ultimate trump card: their religious truth as revealed by their faith.

Until we can come to a consensus on what “truth” and “evidence” should be defined as, this argument is never going to be resolved. I don’t hold out much hope that it will be.

Most of the speakers’ worldview is dichotomous; it’s Us vs. Them. It’s absolutist. Everything is black and white and there are no shades of gray. It’s radical. Sorba supported the re-criminalization of sodomy (albeit with a fine as punishment instead of imprisonment), and Lindevaldsen said there can be no compromise on issues like civil unions or any gay rights cases. To her, and from what I can gather, to the rest of the speakers, “gays” do not have any civil rights beyond those they can “freely choose” if only they would give up their “homosexual lifestyle” and live according to AFTAH’s brand of Christianity.

This is disturbing to me for a number of reasons, not least of which is the heavy-handed arrogance involved in wanting to write legislation that controls the private lives of others. If they truly believed in the truth of their statements, they should be able to eventually win everyone over to their side on the merits of their argument alone, without any need to force compliance through legal means. But I suppose if, in the minds of these folks, the stakes are as high as eternal damnation, their position is understandable. If that’s truly the case for them, though, there’s no more that can really be said in the way of intellectual discourse. There is no ability on their part to agree to disagree, or to live and let live. They need to battle for their point of view on this issue, because in their opinion, to do less would be to betray their faith and allow countless souls to slip into Hell. Though I believe their concern is incredibly misguided, I don’t doubt most of the people at this conference truly care. They want to help; they’re just, in my opinion, going about it in entirely the wrong way.

  • flawedprefect

    Perry, Maria – I wish one day we’ll know who you really are. If only to buy you a beer, or equivalent beverage of your choice. You have represented us well, even when called out (I especially enjoyed the reaction you elicited from the older man, Maria, when asked how the LGBT would react should they choose to infiltrate their meeting).

    And you have reported well. It angers me; it disgusts me, and it makes me think of wild things like what the Nazis must have reasoned their hatred for the Jews in WWII, or how people justified segregation in the 1960s. I take small comfort in knowing these people are a very vocal minority, but that they attempt to justify their wrong-headedness in the name of free speech illustrates just how they misunderstand the value of the very concept.

    I will be re-reading the three posts again. I look forward to hearing reactions to these posts, as no doubt some folk will discover these blogs.

    Seriously, I wanna buy you guys beer. :)

  • http://booksidontlike.wordpress.com Sean Wills

    He indicated that if you ask a homosexual what their story is, it will always be the same because they have been told to have a “normal” story at “gay training camps.”

    Uh…what? What the hell is a ‘gay training camp’?

  • VXbinaca

    Even Libertarians were not with them on social issues, he complained. When asked about Bill O’Reilly, he said that he was not a conservative but rather a “windbag.” He also dismissed all Libertarians because of their support for the legalization of drugs.

    Why is his name in a paragraph about Libertarianism? Bill O’Reilly is not, and never will be, a Libertarian.

    He also wanted to find out if kids believed in the “politically correct” view of South Park.

    Hahahahahaha. Oh wow.

    I’m glad they were nice to you guys and gals.

  • Russ Greene

    He indicated that if you ask a homosexual what their story is, it will always be the same because they have been told to have a “normal” story at “gay training camps.”

    Uh…what? What the hell is a ‘gay training camp’?

    Oh, I gagged at that statement as well. Who would even run a gay training camp? Where would they get funding? How would singular individuals in small, rural communities find said camps and then supposedly break the hearts of their families by announcing their orientation?

    Maria and Perry, you are far far braver and stronger individuals than I. I applaud you both. I would have most likely been frothing at the mouth before too long after hearing so many blatant lies and falsehoods flung about willy-nilly. Didn’t God say something about false witness or something like that?

  • Stan

    I just couldn’t contain my laughter at the mention of “gay training camps”. They seriously think we go to camps to receive official training and a solid backstory? Sorry. I’ve never been molested, both my parents cared for me equally as a child, I had both male and female friends, and I never did drugs or contemplated suicide. Guess I’m just a heterosexual in disguise, then.

  • David W

    Really fascinating stuff, well done for sitting through it.

    It’s really interesting to see how this group have created a Self which has access to the truth and an (unrecognisable) Other which threatens to undermine the very society in which they live.

    It’s a really fascinating social structure.

  • ButchKitties

    “Even if we were to say there is a correlation between homosexuality and substance abuse/promiscuity (which I think is debatable)”

    In the case of homosexuals having higher rates of drug abuse or promiscuity, I think we have a case of: “taller children have better vocabularies”

    It’s true that tall children generally have better vocabularies than short children, but it’s not because of their heights. It’s because taller children are also older children who have had more education.

    There might be a statistical link between homosexuality and drug abuse or promiscuity, but like Maria said, it’s a huge leap to assume it’s a causal link. I think a much, MUCH more likely culprit is depression brought on by bullying at school, being rejected by one’s parents, societal marginalization, etc. Studies have already established that there is a causal link between depression and drug abuse.

    If there is a statistical link between homosexuality and drug use, there is a strong possibility that the anti-gay movement and all the attending misery it inflicts on people is the real cause.

  • cathy

    “There really seemed to only be one or two genuinely hateful people there” No, every speaker on this list is genuinely hateful. These are grown ass people who perpetuate and spread bigotry. They are responsible for their actions and the damage that they cause. Thinking that a group of people are evil, inferior, dirty, etc. is hateful. Fuck the ‘hate the sin love the sinner’ rhetoric. If you think I am inferior, evil, etc., you hate me. These are the people who throw us out of schools, work,home, take our kids, beat us to death. This is hate.

  • Kevin S.

    Wow, these gay training camps must be super-duper top secret – I mean, we have no problem discovering the conversion therapy centers and anti-gay conferences you seek to hide from the world. I guess LGBT people are just more competent than the homophobes.

    And no, we Libertarians are not with you on social issues. We happen to think the government should stay out of our wallets AND our bedrooms, thank you very much.

  • Claudia

    I’ve noticed that a lot of the more extreme anti-gay bigots dislike O’Reilly. It turns out that his record on gays is…well lets say it’s uneven. On the one hand he’s said some predictably despicable things on the subject. On the other hand he’s sometimes said he doesn’t care if someone is gay, has never that I know of affirmed it was a choice and has come out pretty forcefully against DADT, all unforgivable in the eyes of these people.

    I wonder how many of these people realize that a prohibition on sodomy covers not just anal but also oral sex and that it does not mention the gender of the participants. Tell your average homophobic (straight) male that outlawing sodomy means no more BJs for you and you’ll see them change their tune pretty quickly.

    I do wonder about the hateful vs. “loving” thing. I am willing to believe that many of your average homophobes may not be hateful but merely grossly misguided and hence unaware of how harmful they really are (much like many racists in the 50s). However that raises the question of how, if at all, that should change our strategy. My feeling is that we aren’t going to win over someone invested enough in this lie to go to Porno Pete’s homophobia academy. We’re going to win by convincing well meaning people in the middle and by sheer demographic shift. Knowing that those opposing gays in many cases don’t hate them personally…does it change the strategy at all?

    Thanks again to Maria and Perry for an awesome job and a truckload more patience than I think I could have.

  • http://hoverFrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    Interesting. They seem to be doing a terrible job of attacking a straw man. The obvious response is “but that isn’t true” whcih of course they’d never believe.

  • beckster

    They need to battle for their point of view on this issue, because in their opinion, to do less would be to betray their faith and allow countless souls to slip into Hell. Though I believe their concern is incredibly misguided, I don’t doubt most of the people at this conference truly care. They want to help; they’re just, in my opinion, going about it in entirely the wrong way.

    I have never bought this line of reasoning. I don’t think they care about who is or is not going to hell or that they are trying to help. I think they simply enjoy feeling morally superior to other people. If gay people ceased to exist, they would just find something else to chastise others about so they could continue feeling morally superior. I think this is a basic human trait and something we all do in one way or another, but there comes a point where someone’s moral chastising starts to infringe on the rights of others and that should be unacceptable.

  • Tim Harris

    Well done, all of you. Ignore VX. He’s a liar, a slanderer, and a self-professed bigot (the only bit of honesty about him).

  • Steve

    Ironically, the people who do have training camps for children are Christians

  • JT

    Uh…what? What the hell is a ‘gay training camp’?

    Oh, I gagged at that statement as well. Who would even run a gay training camp? Where would they get funding? How would singular individuals in small, rural communities find said camps and then supposedly break the hearts of their families by announcing their orientation?

    Clearly they are operated and funded by the gay elites who have at their disposal billions of dollars. And individuals don’t find the camps. WE find YOU. I know I’m recruiting all the time. The mall, military bases, playgrounds…hell, even the internet.

    I just couldn’t contain my laughter at the mention of “gay training camps”. They seriously think we go to camps to receive official training and a solid backstory? Sorry. I’ve never been molested, both my parents cared for me equally as a child, I had both male and female friends, and I never did drugs or contemplated suicide. Guess I’m just a heterosexual in disguise, then.

    Gooooood. Just like we trained you to say.

  • Silent Service

    It’s a bit presumptuous of some here to assign motives to the wingnut bigots. Like Maria, I think most of the people at this conference really do believe that they are helping and doing the right thing. I believe that because I’ve known and worked with enough of the hard core haters to know that they don’t bother to hide their feelings when they are in what they would consider friendly company. Current military rules prohibit gay bashing, physically or verbally, but that doesn’t stop them. Nobody is willing to file complaints for fear of being labeled a “fag”. The day when the real haters will be called to the carpet is still a few years away due to the current climate of religious intolerance in some sectors of the military.
    That doesn’t mean I approve of their bigotry though. Their failure to publically condemn the hard core haters and the physically violent acts is why the hard core haters are able to be so open and in many cases to get away with acts of violence. I think the best way to deal with them is to show them how the hard core haters use their rhetoric to support acts of violence. They may not want to be associated with Fred Phelps and company, but until they join the effort to further marginalize the hate and stop the violence against us in the LGBT communities, they just as well join the haters.

  • Silent Service

    Oh, and the only camps I went to as a kid were run by the Boyscouts and I missed out on any gay training badge. I doubt that my conservative midwestern parents would have sent me if there’s beem gay training.

  • Siobhan in Vermont

    Just a note here, the bible doesn’t actually proscribe homosexuality as we know it today. You simply cannot divorce the historical context of the “homosexual behaviour” being proscribed from the very brief mentions of it in the bible.

    Loving, monogamus relationships between folks of the same gender simply didn’t exist, and are NOT what is being proscribed in the bible. So I fully disagree (and did when I was a christian) with the idea that you can’t be a believer in the bible and think homosexuality is ok. It simply isn’t true.

    Context is important, and I actually studied the context, the words, the meanings, and came to the conclusion WHILE I was a born again christian, that not only was homosexuality as it is practiced in our culture not prohibited by the bible, neither is abortion murder.

    There are millions of christians who have actually bothered to study, to understand, to accept the historical contexts in which the book was written, and who fully recognize that they actually pick and choose which parts of the bible they think are relevant to their modern lives ALL the TIME. They eat pork, they wear mixed fibers, and you can bet those women don’t closet themselves away from the men when they’re having their periods.

  • bernerbits

    He also dismissed all Libertarians because of their support for the legalization of drugs.

    How do fundamentalists have so much influence when they insist on burning all their bridges like this? Honestly, it’s baffling to me and I really hope someone can explain.

  • Dygal

    It’s great to hear how Maria’s being “outed” on the previous day ended up being a positive thing. For these fringe people, simply having to face “The Opposition” in person and realizing that whether they like it or not, we DO have kind, tolerant people on our side who do not fit any of their bigoted stereotypes (no matter how obvious that fact already is to us!) has got to make them at least reconsider some of their opinions, if only for a moment.

    I only wonder how Maria might have been treated if she had told LaBarbera she was a lesbian. Would they have been so friendly with her on the following day?

    On another note, it’s important that the strong link between fundamentalist Christianity and the anti-gay movement was mentioned (though I guess anyone could have seen that coming on this blog!). I agree with Claudia that our efforts to engage with the “other side” need to focus on the middle… While it’s important to keep an eye on the fringe, it’s not worth our time to argue with them any more than it is worth their time trying to convince us the Rapture is coming.

  • alex

    In other words, most of their argument is, teh Bible says it, I believes it, that settles it. Good to know, because if that’s their main reasoning, then this shit will never hold up in courts. First amendment and all.

    Also, I like the bait-and-switch where they say that “a family headed by a mother and a father is best for children”. Okay, even if it’s true, the choice is not between a heterosexual couple and a homosexual one, but rather between two parents of the same sex and no parents at all (orphanages and whatnot — do they seriously think kids are being adopted by pulling them away from their biological parents by force? and where that’s the case, the kids are better off without parents than with the real ones). Single parents, anyone? And yes, it’s all about the children. Can’t forget the children. Would anyone PLEASE think of the children?!!11

    P.S. Oh, did I mention the children? Children. There, now I mentioned the children.

  • alex

    Er, perhaps more of a red herring than bait-and-switch. Mea culpa.

  • maddogdelta

    The majority of Peter LaBarbera‘s statements were anecdotes about how he has personally been threatened and mistreated by gay activists

    I’m sure Matthew Shepard will cry this dude a river.

    Oh, wait. He can’t. Because he’s dead.

  • Steve

    Loving, monogamus relationships between folks of the same gender simply didn’t exist

    There were same-sex marriages or similar ceremonies in ancient Rome and that practice went on for some time until Christianity really took a hold. The Theodosian Code specifically outlawed it in 4th century AD, which wouldn’t have been necessary if hadn’t existed.

    That said, it wasn’t necessarily widespread or socially accepted. And you’re of course right that the concept of sexuality as an identity didn’t exist back then.

  • Siobhan in Vermont

    There were same-sex marriages or similar ceremonies in ancient Rome and that practice went on for some time until Christianity really took a hold. The Theodosian Code specifically outlawed it in 4th century AD, which wouldn’t have been necessary if hadn’t existed.

    That said, it wasn’t necessarily widespread or socially accepted. And you’re of course right that the concept of sexuality as an identity didn’t exist back then.

    I meant more in the same way that we have it today.

    But more to the point, even if what you say happened (I’m not saying it did or it didn’t, I hadn’t heard it mentioned prior to this and I have actually done some reading on this but not for a long time, so it could be ‘newer’ information than I’m working from), the prohibitions in the bible have nothing to do with it. (not being argumentative, just trying to be clear)

  • grazatt

    Just a note here, the bible doesn’t actually proscribe homosexuality as we know it today. You simply cannot divorce the historical context of the “homosexual behaviour” being proscribed from the very brief mentions of it in the bible.

    Loving, monogamus relationships between folks of the same gender simply didn’t exist, and are NOT what is being proscribed in the bible.

    So you think people of the same-gender didn’t love each other back then? Never? and do you think the ancient Israelites would have cared if they did? They weren’t exactily the nicest kindest most tolerant people the world has ever known!

  • Greg

    Clearly they are operated and funded by the gay elites who have at their disposal billions of dollars. And individuals don’t find the camps. WE find YOU. I know I’m recruiting all the time. The mall, military bases, playgrounds…hell, even the internet.

    Don’t forget the black helicopters. Or was that some other group of conspirators?

    @Claudia: I didn’t realize that the ban on sodomy included oral sex – it makes sense given the time period that the ban was introduced in – I can’t imagine that people in 3000 B.C. were regular bathers, for starters. To an extent, banning anal sex may have made some sense (although there are several very valid arguments against it) in more recent history, before the advent of condoms, antibiotics/antivirals (increased risk of transmission due to increased risk of tears – not trying to put any Disease=Gay thing forward here), and artificial lubricant – but now, between consenting partners, no reason whatsoever it should be banned – treat it the same as intercourse.

    @Alex: You make a great point about looking at historical context (in the Bible, but equally I would think in any historical writing, religious or secular). Kosher laws then made sense – sanitation wasn’t exactly the best, pigs are a physically dirty animal… probably best not to eat them. Now – that doesn’t make sense. Not coveting your neighbour’s wife – made sense then, and with the advent of the 12 gauge shotgun – makes more sense now :)

    @Cathy: The “Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin” concept is nowhere close to being applied here – and to my mind is generally misapplied. IMO, that means that we accept and love the person for who they are – not saying ‘Yes, we love your lifestyle choice’, but saying ‘We love you as a person however will not participate in your lifestyle choice, and do not agree with it at all’ – and leaving it at that. No active or even passive attempts to change the person’s mind (short of living and leading a different lifestyle).

    In my mind, a secular argument will never defeat fundamentalism. The ‘attack point’ needs to operate within the basics of their faith system – guiding them to a different interpretation of the Bible. The part that’s really tough is that, most of the people that presented at this conference seem to be financially supported by the attack on homosexuality… that will be the hardest part to break.

  • Steve

    I think the prohibition against pork had a lot to do with spoiled meat. You leave pork lying around in the sun and it spoils quickly – leading to disease and all kinds of nasty stuff. So it made sense to prevent its use for health reason. Today we have methods of preservation and proper cooling though.

  • Claudia

    @Siobhan in Vermont, not that I don’t appreciate the attempt to make the Bible kinder and gentler, but I can’t help but think that this “look at the context” argument is faulty, even when it’s being employed for a good cause.

    I’ve read Leviticus. The whole damn, dreary and vicious thing. There is no context to be had. You cannot engage in male homosexual acts, full stop. Of course, there is no mention of love and also no mention of female homosexuals. The Bible accepts slavery as a given and promotes the inferiority of women. I like the liberal Christian cherrypicking of the Bible a lot better than I like the conservative cherrypicking of the Bible, but it’s cherrypicking either way.

    I guess that liberal cherrypicking can be useful for convincing Christians that they can let gays have rights without contradicting their holy book, but at the end of the day, it should be irrelevant to the law. In our secular society “its says so in the insert-personal-holy book” is an invalid argument for anything, including good things. One conservative Catholic who I respected a great deal always said that she was pro-life because of her religion but she recognized that she had to find rational, secular arguments for her position because that would be the only valid way to justify them becoming law.

  • Kevin S.

    Claudia, the reason context is important for understanding Leviticus is not for trying to determine what something says, but why it’s said. For example, every single law in Leviticus regarding sexuality had to do with maximizing reproduction. Makes sense for an underpopulated people in a hostile environment. A rational person can recognize what they were trying to do there while realizing that certain proscriptions are no longer relevant. Obviously we’re not always talking about rational people here, but some will see it.

  • Siobhan in Vermont

    So you think people of the same-gender didn’t love each other back then? Never?

    No. I’m saying that the bible isn’t prohibiting that sort of relationship.

    Clearly I’m not stating things appropriately, I’ll fall back on something I read recently about this issue:

    http://www.soulforce.org/article/homosexuality-bible-gay-christian

    And that’s where I’ll just leave it. I’m bowing out now.

  • http://blaghag.blogspot.com/ Jennifurret

    I laughed out loud at “I would rather turn Bill Gates’ vast fortune into a giant mountain of pennies and count them, than endure one more tedious anti-gay seminar.” If being able to tell a joke isn’t constructive, well, I give up. Rather be a funny asshole than a complete milquetoast =P

  • http://blog.cordialdeconstruction.com Karl Withakay

    But I suppose if, in the minds of these folks, the stakes are as high as eternal damnation, their position is understandable. If that’s truly the case for them, though, there’s no more that can really be said in the way of intellectual discourse. There is no ability on their part to agree to disagree, or to live and let live. They need to battle for their point of view on this issue, because in their opinion, to do less would be to betray their faith and allow countless souls to slip into Hell.

    An therein lies the problem. Certain people possess an absolute certainty about what is acceptable and moral for anyone. For them to sit back and allow homosexuality in others is as reprehensible to them as allowing adults have sex with 5 year olds is to me.
    I don’t know there’s any way to deal with those kinds of people other than to reach out to everyone else in an attempt to marginalize them. The only way to achieve a secular agenda is if we have some (many) theists on the side of secularism because we can’t win by ourselves with our numbers.

  • Siamang

    “Most of the speakers were not fans of citation. ”

    “he constantly asserted the information was available “on the Internet,” ”

    “Arthur Goldberg also didn’t cite sources very often, if at all. He said the phrase, “Studies show that…” at multiple times throughout his speeches, without going on to explain which particular studies he was referring to.”

    More and more, with this, the lack of supporting data on the pro-Prop 8 side of the court case, etc, I have come to a conclusion:

    These folks are the exact sort of people who in college never did a bit of homework, argued with the teacher, took the final and used it to write a political tyrade and/or philosophical speech, then demanded an “A” at the end of the term.

    Their demands to be taken seriously, when they haven’t done their homework, and refuse to do their homework, are staggering.

    Their sense of entitlement is breathtaking.

    Spoiled brats who should grow up, stop whining and actually do the fucking homework.

    (Analogy holds with creationists, too.)

  • Claudia

    @Greg just to be absolutely clear, by the “ban on sodomy” I mean the American law that was taken down in Lawrence vs. Texas, not whatever the Iron Age authors of the Torah meant, though I’m pretty certain they’d disapprove too.
    Sodomy is defined as anal or oral sex between any two persons. I think prohibition had to do less with disease (there was no HIV and in any case the least risky sex is Lesbian sex) and more to do, as Kevin said, with maximizing reproduction. Also the ability to control fundamental behaviors is key to religions.

    I do understand how someone could in good faith try to discard the non-useful bits of the Bible and rationalize it with “it was a different time”, but I think you can only do that if you have a diminished view of its divinity. I think we can safely say that slavery is wrong and has ALWAYS been wrong. You can’t really say “well in the context of the time the rules about slavery made sense”. Lots of things make no sense whatsoever even given the context of the time, so I can see where fundamentalists are really uneasy about “let’s just get rid of the bits that don’t make sense or aren’t useful”. If you really do that, you get a rather thin book indeed.

  • Physicalist

    Thank you, Maria and Perry, for attending, conducting yourselves well, and writing up these reports. Well done.

  • Siamang

    Lots of things make no sense whatsoever even given the context of the time,

    Like Jesus cursing a fig tree. That’s important. Sure, it made no sense to anyone at the time.

    But now we know clearly that when Jesus said “fig tree”, he meant “Israel.”

    Surely this is the crystal-clear communication of a perfect being.

  • ihedenius

    There’s been a terrible misunderstanding.
    http://www.godhatesfigs.org/

  • http://gaytheistagenda.lavenderliberal.com/ Buffy

    A hearty Thank You to Maria and Perry for enduring that bilge. My wife and I read that sort of tripe every day, but neither of us could stomach a three day live conference–not with the world’s largest supply of anti-emetics.

  • christopher

    thought they did a wonderful job of summing up a lot of hogwash (ftards). Does anyone want to politely debate these in hopes of establishing a dialog of understanding and reason? Does almost all their arguments dissolve for lesbians as they do not have the macho army problem or the AIDS factor?

  • Iason Ouabache

    Shorter Ryan Sorba:

    Anything that makes me feel icky is unnatural.
    Homosexuality makes me feel icky.
    Therefore homosexuality is unnatural.

    QED!

  • marcus

    You guys can pick apart everything at this conference you want to. The overiding fact is that none of these people have any idea what it is like being gay, and they never will. Hell, most of the people who love and accept us don’t. Bitching to these people is useless.

  • Kagehi

    Gagnon kept his argument fully within the context of the Bible; it was merely a refutation of moderate, pro-gay Christian theology in the sense that one can’t truly believe in the scripture as truth without also believing that the scripture proscribes homosexuality. I tend to agree with him on this point.

    Of course, the much ***bigger** flaw in this argument is that they take a few bits out of the Bible that says this, and then ignore everything else around it. So, by their own logic, if you believe that the Bible proscribes homosexuality, on the basis that it is absolute truth, then you ***must***, by the same standard, agree that the Bible is right about stoning to death children that do no obey their parents, among other idiocies in the parts that speak on the subject. You don’t get to claim that one things is absolutely undeniably true, but the rest either isn’t, or the god decided to keep one thing out of 50, and they **personally** are all absolutely sure the Biblical view of homosexuality is one of the ones he decided to keep.

    Not that logic, as applied to religion, has ever been a strong point with… anyone religious, pretty much by definition, given how they come to conclude that *any* of it is true in the first place. Hint – Its not by learning it from personal experience, or examining actual, verifiable, evidence.

  • Dan W

    Good reporting, Perry and Maria. You’ve both provided me with some very interesting insight into the bizarre worldviews of anti-gay bigots. Now if only these bigots would use their ability to reason, and exercise some logic and critical thinking skills…

    Somehow I doubt that will happen anytime soon.

  • Dan W

    Oh, and by the way, I personally think the best way for an anti-gay bigot to change their views is for them to actually get to know someone who’s gay. I doubt that any of these speakers really were good, close friends with any gay people. It’s hard to hold hateful views against a minority group of people when you’ve befriended some people in that minority group.

  • http://www.correntewire.com chicago dyke

    These are the types of comments that I do not feel are constructive.

    sorry, pal. you lost me with that one. constructive in what way? what are you imagining can be “constructed” with these people? a new way? a new religion? a new gender identity? better laws relating to equality? please, don’t make me laugh.

    i guess if you feel like three days in a conference like this accomplishes something, that’s great. it’s been fun to skim your notes. but you haven’t changed anything, these people aren’t going to stop bashing gays and having paranoid fantasies about how out gays live our lives. and now they can say that they “know” that atheists are liars and swindlers, not that they didn’t say that already but you’re *helping them* more than you’re advancing the cause of reason.

    i guess the word i’m looking for is “grifter.” that’s all these people really are, other than homophobes and closet cases who show up drunk in gay bars once in a while, cruising for a hook up. cause, yeah, they do that too. anyway, the rest of it is all about MONEY. being on TV shows. getting suckers to pay 50 bucks a year to their bullshit organizations. going on the road and eating food provided by churches and blue hairs. getting paid to look at gay porn, “to protect the children,” of course. etc.

    there’s really no need to do more than just dismiss these people as grifters and liars. carnival barkers. morons. like the outed blogger who couldn’t stand another day of this shit, i really don’t need to know the ugly details of their lies. and i’m with Cathy (above): these people HATE me. they don’t love me. they don’t want to “save” me. if it were legal to string me up by my neck and have a picnic watching me die, they would. for fun! because they hate themselves, for not being able to come out, or have orgasms, or because they were sexually molested, or some other fucked up reason. but there is absolutely no point trying to do anything with these people other than document, and then mock them, and then ignore them. you’ll never, ever get them to vote for nor support efforts to grant gays like me full and equal rights. sorry, if they did that, they wouldn’t get paid. and that’s really all they care about.

  • http://www.correntewire.com chicago dyke

    The overiding fact is that none of these people have any idea what it is like being gay, and they never will.

    actually, this isn’t exactly true. i’ve seen them! not this group, but another group of “ex” gay fundies working the streets of Boystown at night, trying to “save” souls. until about 1:15am on Saturday morning, when the church bus driver goes home. there were always a couple of stragglers from the church group who some how ended up in the gay bars. oddly, they were drinking beer and talking to attractive gay men after their churchy friends went home. a friend of mine even got a blow job from one, he was drunk but said it wasn’t so bad.

    some of these freaks really are straight. and they really do believe they are “doing the lord’s work” and saving people from hell. mostly, those are the women. in some cases, women who married closeted gay men and need to understand why it is their husband’s penis won’t stay hard, no matter how much they both pray for it to be. the men? don’t make me laugh.

    the simple fact is that actually straight people think about sex with someone of the opposite sex. that’s what being “straight” means! people who think about same sex relations all the time are… people who think about same sex relations all the time. also known as “gay.” i don’t know what else to call someone who makes a living looking at pictures of, talking about, and writing about same sex relations. do you?

  • VXbinaca

    @chicago dyke

    May I ask why there are gay bars in a place called “Boystown”?

  • hrtjhujt6du5r

    I find this article fascinating! It’s interesting to see what goes on when a group of mentally religitarded people get together to discuss things they know absolutely nothing about.

  • grtjhrtktr

    Has anyone else noticed how much money they’re trying to make off their bullshit? They’re selling DVDs of the event for 200 damn dollars!

    http://americansfortruth.com/news/aftah-launches-truth-academy-to-train-youth-on-how-to-fight-gay-agenda.html

    https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=1j1MuOabpsO1n4ZZC_m8LRyRxhh3sHxPbgwgcnIrg0rU

  • Kagehi

    Well, many of them may be as you say chicago dyke, but there are bound to be a lot of people in the movement being simply sold a bill of goods, which **includes** the idea that:

    1. Being in this group makes them true believers, unlike those that don’t care about it.

    2. They are special *because* they are members of the true faith.

    and

    3. Evidence contradicting these things are a threat to their personal religious identity, thus, **must** be wrong.

    In short, the same chaining of oneself to an idea, in order to *be* better than everyone else around them, and special, etc., as anti-vaxers, who don’t want their kid’s conditions to be genetic, or caused by something unknown, or UFO people, who *want* aliens to be real, or any other group which simultaneously believes 100% of everything their side makes up, distorts, lies about, or digs out of the garbage heap of history, where the rest of us sent it, when it turned out to be wrong, and reject everything that contradicts their positions, often as “proof” of the conspiracy to undo what ever special, privileged, true understanding, of the world they imagine they have. After all, if you are 100% right, and therefor know something, have something, and will get something from it, that no one else has, everyone else must want to take it from you, since they can’t have it, right?

    Every form of denialism, conspiracy theorizing, and cargo cult system in existence is based on those three things, and the idea that someone, or everyone, is out to stop you from keeping it. Doesn’t make them all assholes. Idiots.. maybe, but not all full blown, irredeemable, bigots. Unfortunately, at the head of every such cult is someone, or someones, who *are* bigots, irredeemable in their position, and willing to do anything to keep their allies, including flat out make shit up and tell them not to bother looking at anything written by someone that doesn’t share the same opinion. After all, they read it, and honest, cross their heart, and hope to die, they just told you what it said, meant, and what the author “intended” by writing it.

  • Ben

    The sad thing is that too many Christians will actually believe this bullshit, especially in regards to things like “gay training camps” and “active recruitment”. If their popes, priests and pastors tell them it’s true, they’ll believe it.

    A few years ago while I was a university student, I was sitting by myself outside reading a book when one of the IT staff came up and wanted a chat. It didn’t take long to get into religion, before he invited me to a church meeting. I told him I doubted I’d be welcomed, being gay and all.

    After that, things got quite weird. He didn’t seem appalled, but truly wanted to have an intellectual conversation about the matter. It also allowed me to get a glimpse at some of the completely false images they have of gay people.

    One thing that had me speechless was when he asked, “so what’s your percentage target?”

    “Uhh, what?”

    “You know, like how the church aims to have 20 or 30% of a population. What’s the target gays want?”

    “Uhh .. wait, you … what?”

    “Well, it’s what they tell us in church …”

    I don’t know whether he believed it when I told him there is no target. There’s no organisation, except activists pushing for equal rights, and certainly nothing analogous to “recruitment”.

    Now, I’m not surprised by the stupidity of the believers and the outright lies told to them by their *cough* holy leaders. It’s still depressing though. I just feel like slapping them around the face, shouting at them that this is what happens when you have blind faith: you’ll believe anything, no matter how preposterous.

  • ButchKitties

    I think prohibition had to do less with disease (there was no HIV and in any case the least risky sex is Lesbian sex) and more to do, as Kevin said, with maximizing reproduction. Also the ability to control fundamental behaviors is key to religions.

    I tend to agree. A major theme in the Torah was defining the Hebrews as a distinct People. A lot of the “safety” interpretations of Kosher law are post hoc rationalizations. The goal at the time wasn’t to prevent food poisoning. The laws were designed to create a tribal identity and cohesion, and to enforce a separation between the Hebrews and the surrounding cultures, creating an Us vs. Them mentality. (And of course, breeding like bunnies is very important to the prosperity of the Tribe, hence the sexual laws aimed at maximizing procreation.)

  • g

    You two are awesome! I appreciate you sharing your analysis of that their arguments.

    Thanks!

  • Numenaster

    Seconding Butchkitties above about the sodomy ban being aimed at maximizing reproduction: this matches the ban on masturbation and the requirement for a childless widow to sleep with her brothers-in-law until she becomes pregnant.

    And to Greg, on the subject of there being no artificial lubricant in Old Testament times, I have two words for you: olive oil.

    Works a treat, even today. Not as pleasant to clean up after, but it does double nicely as moisturizer.

  • Traveler

    I doubt that any of these speakers really were good, close friends with any gay people.

    I don’t know why you would reach this conclusion. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the speakers know Ted Haggard.

  • Pingback: The absolutely true reason, until another comes along. « PAB: For the poorest of elites.

  • Christophe Thill

    “If I follow this line of reasoning, it turns out my mouth, lips, and teeth have a strictly classical function of speaking and eating. So kissing, biting my nails, or chewing on my lip are all just as morally reprehensible as having homosexual sex, if the functionality of the organ determines a particular action’s moral status.”

    The only legitimate purpose of eating is to feed your body, not to enjoy the pleasure of delicious foods. So, next time you eat a 0 calories treat, you’ll know you’re committing a grave sin.

    But Christian militants don’t seem to care about this! Why? There should be whole lots of books, seminars and conversion therapies!

  • http://www.socialconservatives.ca Ted Hewlett

    The article shows the writer as capable of some understanding of the motives of opponents, in contrast to the likes of “chicago dyke,” who apparently oozes hatred and/or paranoia herself and cannot conceive of her opponents not hating her.

    In spite of Mehta’s ability to show some empathy, she does not address the fact that many who oppose the homosexual movement do so not because they want to criminalize homosexual behaviour, but because they oppose the homosexual movement’s campaign to get a government stamp of approval for their behaviour via approval for same-sex “marriage.” (Homosexuals can declare themselves married if they want. This does not mean the government has to declare them married.)

    A second reason social conservatives oppose the homosexuality movement is because of the medical dangers of “gay” behaviour, amply shown in medical statistics.

    A third reason is the fact that homosexual activists want to mandate the favourable portrayal in the schools of homosexual behaviour, in violation of parental rights.

  • p.s.

    (Homosexuals can declare themselves married if they want. This does not mean the government has to declare them married.)

    That argument would be fine if the government didn’t offer any benefits for married couples.

    A second reason social conservatives oppose the homosexuality movement is because of the medical dangers of “gay” behaviour, amply shown in medical statistics.

    I would love to see those medical statistics… But it doesn’t really matter because correlation does not equal causation. You need to prove that a man having sex with a man is inherently unhealthier than a woman having sex with a man.

    A third reason is the fact that homosexual activists want to mandate the favourable portrayal in the schools of homosexual behaviour, in violation of parental rights.

    What activities would those be? As far as I understand it, they just don’t want the school to condone physical/mental abuse of a LBGT teen.

  • Steve

    Ironically, promoting stable, committed and lasting relationships would actually cut down on some of the promiscuity that leads to the spread of STDs.

    Which is course isn’t unique to the gay community. Just look at sub-Saharan Africa.

    The whole “gay behavior” thing and all the stereotypes people complain about only developed because the people as such weren’t tolerated. That naturally led to the development of a sub-culture.

  • http://www.socialconservatives.ca Ted Hewlett

    p.a. says,
    “That argument would be fine if the government didn’t offer any benefits for married couples.”

    I would say that governments do not need to offer special benefits to married couples, who have a financial advantage over single people if both partners work. Married couples with children can do with government help.

    p.s. says he would love to see the medical statistics (at the same time saying he doesn’t care what they say!). See some of the statistics cited with references at:
    http://www.lifesitenews.com/features/marriage_defence/SSM_MD_evidence.pdf
    See also:
    http://www.cdc.gov/nchhstp/Publications/NCHHSTP_Disease_Profile_2007.pdf
    where it is stated, “Men who have sex with men (MSM) and persons exposed to HIV through high-risk heterosexual
    contact (i.e., heterosexual contact with someone known to have, or to be at high risk for, HIV infection) accounted for 85% of all cases of HIV/AIDS diagnosed in 2007.”

    It does not make sense to dimiss all these statistics. Even if it is true that there are ways to have same-sex activity safely, the fact remains that in practice, most homoxexual behaviour is physically dangerous.

  • http://www.socialconservatives.ca Ted Hewlett

    “P.s.” says, regarding the schools, “As far as I understand it, they just don’t want the school to condone physical/mental abuse of a LBGT teen.” This is an apparently very naive comment. When same-sex unions are idealized in the schools and treated as equivalent to traditional marriage (as in “Daddy’s Wedding” and the like), something other than than protecting children from abuse is going on. It is propagandizing for the acceptance of homosexual unions, in violation of the morality of millions of parents. Let’s unite in opposing all bullying in the shools, not just the bullying of students who claim to belong to the LGBT category.

  • p.s.

    I would say that governments do not need to offer special benefits to married couples, who have a financial advantage over single people if both partners work. Married couples with children can do with government help.

    I agree. The government shouldn’t be in the business of saying who can and can’t be married. But if they do, they should offer equal benefits to everyone.

    “Men who have sex with men (MSM) and persons exposed to HIV through high-risk heterosexual
    contact (i.e., heterosexual contact with someone known to have, or to be at high risk for, HIV infection) accounted for 85% of all cases of HIV/AIDS diagnosed in 2007.”

    I liked how they lumped those two statistics together. Looking through the pdf you posted, it also says that 3/4 of HIV carriers are men. Seems like anyone having sex with a man is potentially dangerous. We should completely demonize sex and discourage all contact with men to fix this problem. Because, you know, even though there are ways to have sex safely, the fact remains that most sexual behavior is physically dangerous.

    Do you see how completely ridiculous this argument is? Virus’s dont give a flying fuck who you are having sex with. They don’t discriminate, and neither should you.

    What needs to happen is proper sexual education. How and why you can contract an STD, ways to prevent the spread of STDs, and the importance of regular testings should all be included in a sex ed class.

  • p.s.

    When same-sex unions are idealized in the schools and treated as equivalent to traditional marriage (as in “Daddy’s Wedding” and the like), something other than than protecting children from abuse is going on. It is propagandizing for the acceptance of homosexual unions, in violation of the morality of millions of parents. Let’s unite in opposing all bullying in the shools, not just the bullying of students who claim to belong to the LGBT category.

    what the fuckity fuck? where did I ever say that other bullying should be condoned? All I said is that schools shouldn’t be lenient on LGBT bullying (and yes, many of them are). And didn’t you just say that two men can declare themselves married if they want? Why is a same sex marriage worth less than a “traditional” marriage? Do you think they love each other any less?
    It is not a public school’s job to teach its students the so-called morality of some parents. It should provide a safe and welcoming environment for all students, not just the straight ones.

  • http://www.socialconservatives.ca Ted Hewlett

    –Strange that p.s. doesn’t give his own statement correctly. Anyone can see that he said, “As far as I understand it, they just don’t want the school to condone physical/mental abuse of a LBGT teen.” Of course, schools should not be lenient on LGBT bullying or any other kind of bullying. But p.s. said he was unaware of any other aim to the school agenda, whereas there clearly is, as should be evident to anyone who has researched the facts and is not determined to be blind to them.

  • p.s.

    But p.s. said he was unaware of any other aim to the school agenda, whereas there clearly is, as should be evident to anyone who has researched the facts and is not determined to be blind to them.

    First of all, if you are going to address my points as if you aren’t actually talking to me, you should know I’m a girl.
    I was trying to imply that being lenient on LGBT bullying is the same as condoning it. Sorry if that wasn’t clear.

    Now listen. All the LGBT community wants is to be treated as equals. If “traditional” marriage is taught in schools, then same sex marriage should be as well. The risks of ANY sexual act should be covered in a sex ed class, not just vaginal intercourse. (and that has nothing to do with LGBT rights, it’s just common sense.)

    This little conspiracy theory you have about the LGBT “agenda” is bizarrely fascinating. Do tell me more.

  • Anna

    A third reason is the fact that homosexual activists want to mandate the favourable portrayal in the schools of homosexual behaviour, in violation of parental rights.

    Ah, yes, the lovely assumption that all parents are both heterosexual and anti-gay. They’re not. There are millions of LGBT parents and progressive straight parents who do not want schools ignoring homophobia or pretending that LGBT people and families do not exist.

    Children of LGBT parents (I am one) and students who are LGBT themselves have every right to feel safe and comfortable in their school environments. It is unacceptable to have public schools condone anti-gay attitudes. It’s no different from any other type of bigotry. All students should feel welcome, and ignoring an entire segment of the population does not lead to children feeling validated for who they are. It does just the opposite. It leads to an environment where homosexuality can be easily stigmatized or treated as “other.”

  • VXbinaca

    For all the accusations I’m some kind of anti-gay-rights bigot, even I know most of what Ted says is patently wrong.

    Way to go p.s./Anna.

  • http://www.socialconservatives.ca Ted Hewlett

    Sorry, p.s., I did not mean any rudeness by not addressing you directly, but perhaps in view of your resorting to obscenity, which is objectionable to me, it was appropriate to be rather objective.

    You say, “If “traditional” marriage is taught in schools, then same sex marriage should be as well.” I wonder what you mean by “taught.” If it means giving it standing equal to traditional marriage between a man and a woman, I have problems with that. How about polygamy? Should we give it equal standing by having students study novels about idealized marriages with multiple partners? What about polyanry, child marriages?–one could go on and on. The point is should the schools portray all forms of unions as equal or should there be some sort of normal accepted? If anything goes, and we cannot agree on any standards, maybe we should not have state-run schools. Please put yourself in the place of a parent of traditional morality. Would you want the school to violate and in effect denigrate your standards?

    Anna, I don’t believe schools can “validate” the lifestyle of every family. Should we make the children of drug addicts feel welcome? Yes. Should we make them feel their parents life-style is acceptable? No.

    VXbinaca, I don’t know where you stand, except that you disagree with either the facts I have presented or my opinions.

  • VXbinaca

    Where I stand is, I don’t like gays but do not want them discriminated against (which gets me unending hate and accusations of religion on this blog). This stuff about marriage being taught in schools and changing perceptions seems silly.

    Marriage is already a joke. I grew up in the 90′s when the divorce rate was 60 percent. My parents were among that 60 percent. Allowing gays to marry doesn’t destroy it, it’s already destroyed. I have a better chance in Vegas os walking away with money in my pocket than I would have having a lasting marriage in the 90′s.

    My dislike of gays, marriage stats, none of that really matters in terms of individual rights. You can’t have a lower class of citizen who gets different and lesser rights.

    Example:

    Ever hear of Brown v. Board of Education? One of the cases was about the segregation at Texas A&M University. There was a seperate A&M campus for blacks. Now, the judge in striking that down brought up this point:

    Would a Black Harvard have the same prestige as the regular Harvard?

    No. It wouldn’t. Thats why I’m for gay marriage and adoptions. Because it’s none of governments business to regulate marriage or adoption with respect to homosexuality.

  • Anonymous Atheist

    Broadening from “all unions between two consenting adult humans of opposite sex” (ignoring the fact that sex is not a clear-cut binary for everyone) to “all unions between two consenting adult humans” hardly implies or entails all that ‘other ways to corrupt marriage’ stuff that anti-gay-marriage people inevitably bring up. Gosh, you left out the “marry an animal” one!

  • p.s.

    Sorry, the obscenity wasn’t directed at you particularly, so please don’t let it discourage you from addressing the points I made in that post :)

    You say, “If “traditional” marriage is taught in schools, then same sex marriage should be as well.” I wonder what you mean by “taught.” If it means giving it standing equal to traditional marriage between a man and a woman, I have problems with that. How about polygamy? Should we give it equal standing by having students study novels about idealized marriages with multiple partners? What about polyanry, child marriages?

    I think any union between *consenting adults* is acceptable. I don’t have a problem with polygamy, although it’s not something I personally practice. You still haven’t shown that merely discussing same sex marriage is idealizing it. I suppose “the scarlet letter” idealizes adultery by your logic.

    Please put yourself in the place of a parent of traditional morality. Would you want the school to violate and in effect denigrate your standards?

    Why? If I were a parent of a gay student, I would want him/her to feel safe and accepted at his/her school. Why does “traditional morality” take precedence over my morality?
    I will say this again. It is not a public school’s job to teach morality. However, a public school must provide a safe and comfortable learning environment for every student, regardless of sexual orientation, race, or religion.

    If anything goes, and we cannot agree on any standards, maybe we should not have state-run schools.

    No. Sorry, but no. you are free to send you child to a private school that matches your tiny world view, but don’t prevent my potential children from receiving a comprehensive education.

    And how exactly are LGBT couples like drug addicts? They work, raise children, and have relationships just like every other couple. They aren’t nymphomaniacs, they are normal people who lead normal lives. Your analogies make no sense.

  • http://www.socialconservatives.ca Ted Hewlett

    It would appear that the majority of posters on “Friendly Atheist” are unable to understand that parents of traditional morality have a right to object to government schools legitimizing behaviour they regard as immoral (as well as dangerous).

    P.s., just because you think any union between consenting adults is acceptable does not mean you should demand state schools teach that and parents of other beliefs (what you deem a “tiny world view”) should have to pay to have their children educated.

    VXbinica, marriage may be a joke to you, but to millions it is still a precious institution, and they don’t want their children’s early teaching to add to the confusion regarding it that is already coming from society.
    It is fine to say that you are for individual rights, but the question remains as to what are actual rights and what are unreasonable demands for things that take away the legitimate rights of others.

    The homosexualists attempt to piggy-back on the civil rights movement by a faulty comparison of black rights with those privileges they are demanding. Being black is not a choice. Sexual behaviour is. Being black is morally neutral, like being white. A good many of us still believe that sexual behaviour is not: that there is such a thing as good and bad sexual behaviour.

    We could carry this discussion on and on, but it is time for me to say good-bye and get on with other things.

  • VXbinaca

    Oh don’t run Teddy take it to the forums if you’re so right. Please, educate us.

    Mind = Blown. Christianity for a time viewed colors and right and wrong. And the sexuality thing will pass.

    To think morons on this blog compare me to him is insulting. They’re drive-by posters just like Ted. Tracked back from some non-atheist related blog, probably religious themselves.

    At least p.s. is civil and will debate rationally instead of name call and accuse.

  • p.s.

    It would appear that the majority of posters on “Friendly Atheist” are unable to understand that parents of traditional morality have a right to object to government schools legitimizing behaviour they regard as immoral (as well as dangerous).

    Again, why are you claiming that the government must maintain traditional morality? The government should not be in the business of giving people morals.
    You still haven’t proved that LGBT behavior is inherently dangerous, and you are using an argument based on what you think is “moral” and not what is fair. It’s an argument from ickyness, and it’s petty and uninformed.

    P.s., just because you think any union between consenting adults is acceptable does not mean you should demand state schools teach that and parents of other beliefs (what you deem a “tiny world view”) should have to pay to have their children educated.

    How many times do I have to say this? PUBLIC SCHOOLS DO NOT TEACH MORALITY. BEING AWARE AND TOLERANT OF OTHER PEOPLES PREFERENCES AND ORIENTATIONS DOES NOT MEAN YOU HAVE TO CONDONE/LIKE THEM.
    public schools MUST provide safe learning experience without discrimination. If you teach about healthy sexual relationships, you should teach all types of healthy sexual relationships. If the parent wants to instill some sort of “sexual morality” that doesn’t include same sex relations, then the parent has the right to do so. A public school does not.

    The homosexualists attempt to piggy-back on the civil rights movement by a faulty comparison of black rights with those privileges they are demanding. Being black is not a choice. Sexual behaviour is. Being black is morally neutral, like being white. A good many of us still believe that sexual behaviour is not: that there is such a thing as good and bad sexual behaviour.

    So when did you choose to be straight? Obviously it must have been a conscious choice for you. And sure there is good and bad sexual behavior: rape, sex with children, and sex with kittens are all examples of bad sexual behavior. Rape is not consensual, kittens can’t give consent, and children aren’t informed/socially experienced enough to give consent. Why is LGBT sexual behavior bad?

  • p.s.

    Thanks VX, but I still find your “dislike of gays” incredibly irrational. Props for being mature and recognizing that they deserve equal rights, but I’m always against stereotyping a group like that. The reason people call your arguments religious is because we often hear similar statements from theists who dislike atheists because of a few encounters while discussing a hot topic on the internet. These are issues people are incredibly passionate about, and a few are bound to get a bit worked up. It doesn’t characterize the entire group.

  • VXbinaca

    That stuff about teaching marriage to kids in school is warped. I refuse to live in a world like that. Really lame arguments against gay marriage.

    I mean a personal opinion is one thing but this stuff Ted talks about is whack, way out there.

    People need to be kinder to each other and live and let live. And thanks again for being calm and level headed.

    Doesn’t matter, they’re on their way out culturally. The kids I see in high school today will legalize drugs and gay marriage. That gives me comfort at least.

  • Anna

    Anna, I don’t believe schools can “validate” the lifestyle of every family. Should we make the children of drug addicts feel welcome? Yes. Should we make them feel their parents life-style is acceptable? No.

    Clever little comparison there. I’ve heard that sort of thing a million times, and it substantially decreases your credibility. My parents are not comparable to drug addicts. There is absolutely nothing wrong with my family, or with any other LGBT family. We’re not inferior, and I refuse to pretend that we are. There is no reason not to validate LGBT families. Children deserve to feel safe and welcomed, not ignored and stigmatized. It’s clear that you want stigma attached to homosexuality, and that kind of treatment only leads to ignorance and marginalization. Public schools are for all children, and it’s unacceptable to ignore a certain group because some parents are suffering from religion-induced bigotry.

    And who is this “we” you’re talking about? Sure, there are millions of anti-gay parents. There are also millions of parents who believe there’s nothing wrong with homosexuality. And there are millions of children of LGBT parents and LGBT students who attend public schools. But none of that matters. Equal treatment is not up for a vote. It’s not based on popularity. Children from minority families are just as entitled to feel validated at school. Should schools in the rural South not validate children from interracial families because some parents there are still stuck in the 1950s? It’s unacceptable to have a culture of intolerance. Did you know that many towns in the rural South still have racially segregated proms? Or that last year, a judge in Louisiana refused to marry an interracial couple and cited the standard “think of the children!” mantra as his justification?

    Bigotry is wrong, period. If a kindergarten teacher is doing a project on families, there’s nothing wrong with mentioning that some children have two moms or two dads. Or reading a story about them. It’s a fact, and there’s no reason to make those children feel ignored or marginalized. Some children have LGBT parents. Some children are adopted. Some children have parents of different races. Some children have single parents or live with grandparents. There’s nothing wrong with any of that, and to purposely ignore one group is ridiculous.

    I swear, sometimes I feel like I’m talking to people stuck in the previous century. This isn’t 1992 anymore. We’re a long way from Heather Has Two Mommies and Daddy’s Roommate. That entire generation has already grown up. Anti-gay attitudes are quickly falling by the wayside. Pretty soon, attitudes like yours are going to seem just as outdated as the racist situations I linked to above.

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