Last week the 700 Club aired a segment about the work of The Marin Foundation. We have gotten quite a response – both positive and negative; and so has the 700 Club (I just got an email from them which said that this video is one of their most watched videos ever – and with over 1 million people around the world who watch the 700 Club on TV, and even more online, that is saying quite a lot).
Anyway, I want to take this space to address a few of the questions/critiques/etc that has come with this segment in a series of blog posts:
I was very reluctant to do a piece from CBN that was going to be aired on the 700 Club. Everyone knows what Pat Robertson has said in the past regarding homosexuality, and this is his station. When the reporter, Heather Sells, contacted me about the story she promised me “to make no judgement calls in the piece. I just want to present your work as it is and let the public make a decision for themselves.” Now, I have been promised many things by many reporters (of whom I trust about 0% – and even trust less of the editing process), and Heather Sells did exactly as she said she would. She made no judgement or morality calls, no biases, and let the work stand for itself. I couldn’t have been more humbled by her follow-through on her promises.
Mark Yarhouse, professor at Regent University and co-author of the book Ex-Gays, commented in the piece about the work of The Marin Foundation. If you actually listen to what Dr. Yarhouse said, he commented about the approach of our work. Anyone could have said what he said about our approach. He made no judgement calls either.
It just so happens he teaches at Regent (Pat Robertson’s university), and does research on homosexuality—so if you watch practically any piece aired on the 700 Club about homosexuality, Dr. Yarhouse is the first person they turn to each time. He did not say: “I love Andrew Marin and we’re best friends and he wants everyone to be straight.” Nope. He was asked why he thought this bridge building message was being received so well in so many conservative and LGBT circles; and he answered with an overview of how he sees our approach to building bridges.
I understand that the 700 Club is about as conservative as you can get. I also understand that the 700 Club would not do a full segment on a lefty atheist LGBT organization. I feel these recent (and very few) accusations of feeling justified to ‘write The Marin Foundation off’ from a LGBT perspective because of the 700 club appearance bring up two interesting points: 1) All of those accusations are coming from LGBT organizations and people who are outside of Chicago. I am still yet to hear one Chicago LGBT organization publicly talk negatively about The Marin Foundation in any forum in any context. 2) This illustrates a broader point of something I wrote about a few weeks ago: Assimilation vs. Progress. Let me expand on that in the context of the 700 Club segment:
Our story is the huge outlier from everything the 700 Club has ever said or done about the LGBT community before. Not one time did they mention “ex-gay” or “the gay agenda” – which are more than common place in CBN’s everyday language about gays and lesbians.
Here’s the problem: culture today (from both sides) is not interested in progress, but assimilation. To me, this 700 Club segment is about progress, even though some LGBT organizations/people might think it’s about an association leading to assimilation. I have heard from a couple of my LGBT critics who have literally told me they ‘liked the piece but didn’t like other things Heather Sells and CBN have done’. What is that statement telling you? They’re mindset is not about CBN, the 700 Club or Heather Sell’s progress through this piece, it’s about people’s past and the forced need to assimilate. That is no way to move culture forward – which is why we’re currently stuck in this back and forth as the acceptable medium of engagement.
Part 2 later…