Evangelicals, Homosexuals, and Child Molesters

It’s funny sometimes how much little things can remind you of just how far you’ve come. For example, I recently came upon this comment on an article decrying the possibility of having gay scout leaders in the Boy Scouts:

Would Obama himself allow a lesbian unsupervised and unrestricted access to his daughters? Is there a double standard here?

My immediate reaction was shock that someone would say something like this. My mind went immediately to my LGBTQ friends, including a man we’ve known since undergrad—we enjoy having him and his boyfriend over for dinner—and a woman who had a similar upbringing to mine and now lives with her partner and their son. I would have absolutely no qualms about letting either couple watch either of my children. I mean, why should I? The idea that Obama should worry about his daughters going somewhere unsupervised with a lesbian struck me as ludicrous.

And then I remembered.

Nearly a decade ago when I was a freshman in college, after growing up in an evangelical family with a sheltered homeschool education, I remember telling a friend that I didn’t think gays or lesbians should be allowed to teach in school or work in daycare centers because of the risk that they might sexually molest the children in their charge. I honestly don’t remember how I was taught this idea, but after eighteen years of attending an evangelical megachurch and studying from evangelical homeschool textbooks, I truly thought it was both scientific fact and common knowledge.

What a difference ten years can make.

All this is to introduce an email I recently received asking about evangelical conflations of homosexuality and pedophilia:

Hi Libby Anne, regular commenter Ibis3 here. I was wondering if you could answer a question for me, either via email or a post on the subject. Lately, I’ve noticed that many Christians arguing against homosexuality (especially in light of recent developments regarding the BSA), are insistent on equating homosexuality and paedophilia, even when it is pointed out they aren’t even close to being the same thing. Do they actually believe this, and if so, why, or is this just a tactic (i.e. conflating something *they* don’t like with something *everyone* disapproves of in the hope of fooling people)?

Do evangelicals actually believe that there is an association between homosexuality and paedophilia? If my intro didn’t clue you in already, the answer is yes, yes they do. Why? Let’s see if I can shed some light on that.

I’ll start, of course, with my “tale of two boxes.” While progressive sexual ethics generally hinge on whether or not something is consensual, conservative sexual ethics more frequently hinge on whether or not the Bible condemns an act. In other words, progressives would never treat rape and premarital sex as somehow comparable, but conservatives would, because both are forbidden by God. Thus while progressives would not compare consensual gay sex with child molestation, conservatives would, because they would see both as abominations in the sight of God. Sin is sin, and evangelicals generally don’t distinguish between sexual sins that are consensual and those that are not.

But while this helps, it does not entirely answer Ibis3′s question. But there is obviously something more going on here, because evangelicals don’t generally compare premarital sex to pedophilia, or assume that “fornicators” (i.e. those who have premarital sex) are all naturally disposed to pedophilia. So what else is going on here?

Well, let’s look at a bit of history for a moment. For years and years, homosexuality was considered a perversion and placed in the same class as paedophilia. And not just by evangelicals—this was the mainstream medical opinion. The basic idea was that the norm was for men to be sexually interested in women, and that any man who was instead sexually interested in other men or in children was twisted and perverted. Then after WWII the public image of gays took a turn for the truly sinister. Here is quote from George Chauncey’s award-winning book, Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890—1940pp. 357-58:

Beginning in the late 1930s, the panics over sex crimes and the “sex deviants” who committed them recast the dominant public images of homosexuals. The majority of cases of child “sex murderers” reported by the press involved men attacking girls. But the press used the murder of little boys to demonstrate the danger of unsuppressed homosexuality. Numerous articles warned that in breaking with social convention to the extent necessary to engage in homosexual behavior, a man had demonstrated the refusal to adjust to social norms that was the hallmark of the psychopath, and he could easily degenerate further. As an article in Coronet put it in the fall of 1950, “Once a man assumes the role of homosexual, he often throws off all moral restraints….Some male sex deviants do not stop with infecting their often-innocent partners: they descend through perversions to other forms of depravity, such as drug addiction, burglary, sadism, and even murder.” The press’s representation of gay men assumed special cultural authority in the postwar period because of the growing isolation of gay men from other social groups, making it even less likely that heterosexuals would know openly gay men whose complex lives and personalities might counter such images.

As a result of such press campaigns, the long-standing public image of the queer as an effeminate fairy whom one might ridicule but had no reason to fear was supplemented by the more ominous image of the queer as a psychopathic child molester capable of committing unspeakable crimes against children. The fact that homosexuals no longer seemed so easy to identify made them seem even more dangerous, since it meant that even the next-door neighbor could be one. The specter of the invisible homosexual, like that of the invisible communist, haunted Cold War America. The new image was invoked to justify a new wave of assaults on gay men in the postwar decade. As police efforts to control homosexual activity intensified, the number of reported “sex crimes” surged dramatically. This provoked yet greater public alarm and thus further escalation of police efforts.

It was this terrain onto which the gay rights movement stepped when it was born in 1969. In other words, it wasn’t evangelicals who dreamed up the homosexual/pedophile image. Rather, that image was born out of the Cold War. Evangelicals just grabbed onto it, given how convenient it was for the promotion of their agenda, and have refused to let go.

But back to history. In the 1970s, after the birth of the gay rights movement, the concern among straight people was not that gay people would ruin marriage but rather that they would prey on children. In fact, “in a 1970 national survey, more than 70% of respondents agreed with the assertions that “Homosexuals are dangerous as teachers or youth leaders because they try to get sexually involved with children” or that “Homosexuals try to play sexually with children if they cannot get an adult partner.’”

When Dade County, Florida, passed an ordinance banning discrimination based on sexual orientation in 1977 Anita Bryant started an organization called Save Our Children that managed to successfully oppose and repeal the ordinance. Why did they oppose banning discrimination against gays, etc.? For the children, of course. Daniel K. Williams had this to say of the incident in his book, God’s Own Party: The Making of the Christian Right: “Many evangelicals, including Bryant, considered homosexuals a threat to their children. Believing that male homosexuals were more likely than heterosexuals to molest children and try to ‘recruit’ young boys to their ‘perverted, unnatural, and ungodly lifestyle,’ Bryant thought it would be dangerous to allow them to teach in public schools.”

Of course, we now know that the idea that gay people are child molesters is false.

Reflecting the results of these and other studies, the mainstream view among researchers and professionals who work in the area of child sexual abuse is that homosexual and bisexual men do not pose any special threat to children. For example, in one review of the scientific literature, noted authority Dr. A. Nicholas Groth wrote:

Are homosexual adults in general sexually attracted to children and are preadolescent children at greater risk of molestation from homosexual adults than from heterosexual adults? There is no reason to believe so. The research to date all points to there being no significant relationship between a homosexual lifestyle and child molestation. There appears to be practically no reportage of sexual molestation of girls by lesbian adults, and the adult male who sexually molests young boys is not likely to be homosexual(Groth & Gary, 1982, p. 147).

In a more recent literature review, Dr. Nathaniel McConaghy (1998) similarly cautioned against confusing homosexuality with pedophilia. He noted, “The man who offends against prepubertal or immediately postpubertal boys is typically not sexually interested in older men or in women” (p. 259).

For more, see this article.

While scientific data, the increased number of gay individuals coming out, and a greater presence of gay individuals in the media have had a lot of success dispelling the idea that homosexuals are likely to be child molesters, facts don’t always penetrate into the subculture that is evangelicalism. Instead, many evangelical leaders have been busy perpetuating the idea that there is a link between homosexuality and child molesting. And much like their opposition to evolution, they cobble together conspiracy theory laden facts and studies that purportedly support their position.

Do they actually believe what they are arguing? While I can’t speak for everyone, I suspect that the answer is generally yes. To suggest that they do not believe their argument is no different than to suggest that young earth creationists don’t actually believe that the earth was created less than ten thousand years ago. But the fact that many evangelicals do honestly believe the myth that there is a connection between homosexuality and pedophilia does not absolve them from the fact that what they are believing is blatantly false and counter-factual.

One reason that many evangelicals continue to believe that there is a connection between homosexuality and child molesting is that it is convenient. First of course is the desire to support the idea that homosexuality is an abomination by “scientifically” lumping it together with all manner of other “perversions,” but that’s no the sum of it. While mainstream science is starting to erode their conviction, evangelicals have long contended that people are not born gay, but are made gay, and also that gay people can become straight. One way they posit that gay people become gay is through childhood sexual abuse. In other words, the idea is that gay people became gay by being molested as children, and then they grow up and molest children themselves, thus turning them gay. With this narrative in mind, the argument that gay people “recruit” children takes on a whole new meaning.

There’s more, too.

Mainstream science generally distinguishes between adults who are sexually attracted to other adults and adults who are sexually attracted to children.

Typologies of offenders have often included a distinction between those with an enduring primary preference for children as sexual partners and those who have established age-appropriate relationships but become sexually involved with children under unusual circumstances of extreme stress. Perpetrators in the first category – those with a more or less exclusive interest in children – have been labeled fixated. Fixation means “a temporary or permanent arrestment of psychological maturation resulting from unresolved formative issues which persist and underlie the organization of subsequent phases of development” (Groth & Birnbaum, 1978, p. 176). Many clinicians view fixated offenders as being “stuck” at an early stage of psychological development.

By contrast, other molesters are described as regressed. Regression is “a temporary or permanent appearance of primitive behavior after more mature forms of expression had been attained, regardless of whether the immature behavior was actually manifested earlier in the individual’s development” (Groth & Birnbaum, 1978, p. 177). Regressed offenders have developed an adult sexual orientation but under certain conditions (such as extreme stress) they return to an earlier, less mature psychological state and engage in sexual contact with children.

In other words, we identify adults who are sexually interested in children and not in other adults as “pedophiles” and see them as distinct from being either straight or gay (or lesbian or bisexual or queer, etc.) regardless of their sex and the sex of the children they molest.

However, evangelicals don’t always make that distinction—meaning that when they hear about Penn State or rampant child molestation carried out by Catholic priests, their minds go straight to homosexuality. When the distinction between homosexuality and pedophilia is pointed out they may respond by arguing that the distinction only exists to get the gay community off the hook for male-on-male child molestation. For example, Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association wrote an article about Sandusky called “A Homosexual Pedophile Who Deserves the Death Penalty,” in which he said the following:

The press has focused largely on Paterno and others in the Penn State hierarchy who covered up Sandusky’s pedophilia, some of whom even committed perjury to keep his dark and dirty secret from being exposed.

But perhaps some of that press focus is diversionary, to direct the attention of the public away from one of the darkest pathologies associated with homosexual behavior: homosexuals molest children at ten times the rate of heterosexuals.

Homosexual activists will of course lamely argue that since Sandusky is married, he is not a homosexual. Fine, call him bisexual if you will. But his sex crimes are same-sex crimes, and 10-year old boys whose bodies have been cruelly invaded could care less what label homosexual activists want to slap on their abuser.

Unfortunately, even those evangelicals who can be convinced that pedophilia is different from either homosexuality or heterosexuality will often respond by saying that if that’s the case the next step of the “homosexual agenda” will be to defend pedophiles as “born with” their pedophilia and thus undeserving of condemnation. And here I’ll remind you of what I said before—while, based on the central importance of consent, progressives see worlds of difference between homosexuality and pedophilia, evangelicals class them together, seeing both as abominations before God.

To sum this all up, the idea that gay men posed a predatory threat to children came to prominence during the height of the Cold War, and while science and changing attitudes about gay people have challenged this idea many evangelicals have latched onto it and refuse to let go. The conflation of homosexuality with pedophilia is convenient in perpetuating their homophobia and their religious belief that homosexuality is an abomination, and they use the same methods as young earth creationists as they pull together various pseudo-scientific studies to give their argument the allure of scientific confidence.

I’d like to finish on a positive note, but, unfortunately, as long as evangelicals believe that homosexuality is condemned by God they are going to have an incentive to continue believing in things like a connection between being gay and being a pedophile rather than questioning it. The more LGBTQ individuals who are “out” the better, but even then it’s not that difficult to draw a distinction between the one good gay person you know and the rest who serve as “the other.” The problem here is evangelicals’ conspiratorial view toward science and scientific data, their suspicion that mainstream scientists have an agenda and are twisting evidence because of their bias, and their intractable belief that God hates homosexuality.

If you’re interested in learning more about the evangelical mindset discussed here, I’d recommend looking at this brief from Focus on the Family called “What Causes Homosexuality” (Focus on the Family is fairly representative of conservative evangelicals), and if you’d like to know more about the history I briefly ran through in this post, I’d recommend looking at Gay Rights and Moral Panic by Fred Fejes.

Is there anything you would add to this analysis?

A Matter of Patriarchy
My Kindergartener Knows What It Means to Be Transgender (and the Sky Hasn't Fallen)
A Letter from Hell, and Self-Reinforcing Beliefs
On Orgies, Bisexuality, James Dobson, and Evangelicals
About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ WMDKitty

    They don’t seem to grasp the concept of “consent”, either.

    • Anonymouse

      They surely don’t grasp the concept of “consent”. Look at the way they treat women; girl children are supposed to be submissive doormats to their fathers, until their fathers choose a new master for them in the form of a husband. Debi Pearl makes her living trying to convince women to live a life no sane woman would consent to, and she’s constantly asserting that what the women want doesn’t matter.

    • ako

      I think you’ve hit a good nuanced balanced. They’re not pretending to believe it, but part of the reason they believe is it’s convenient, and in their worldview it feels right. (I mean if we’re not all child molesters, then stepping outside of the God Allows It box on sexuality might not lead to rampant and inarguable immorality, which would indicate that treating their preacher’s interpretation of the Bible as a rulebook to be obeyed without question might not give them the truth…)

      Also, the homosexual child molester scare seems to tie in with other features of their worldview, such as the insistence on treating gender as a definitive quality, and thinking of gayness as primarily about acts instead of orientation. Because they keep ignoring everything about the psychology of the offender and the differences between the desire to be intimate with a consenting adult and the desire to molest a child, and going back to “male/male=gay!”

      • ako

        That wasn’t actually meant to be a reply to a comment. Sorry.

  • http://itsbetterthanyours.blogspot.com AndersH

    I sometimes like going over to FreeRepublic and checking some of the hot topics to see what’s got them up in arms this week, and it’s amazing to see the response to the Boy Scouts’ considering this. A lot of references to Sandusky and molestation cases in the Catholic Church and anecdotes about attempted molestation in Boy Scout troops and using that as proof that they just want to open the gates for “gay predators”. All the while, of course, ignoring the fact that the Catholic Church excludes openly gay men from the priesthood, that Sandusky does not identify as homosexual, and that the Boy Scouts exclude openly gay members today.

  • Kodie

    I definitely get the impression they also aren’t as concerned with the molestation per se as the idea that that is how homosexuality is passed. Arguing with someone recently on JT’s blog about this, the person ignored the data they brought (whether or not it is true) that many more girls are molested than boys. It didn’t ring a bell for them the problem was separate from what homosexuality.

    The person suggests that homosexuality is an indicator that one is immature sexually and inside still a boy so they are naturally attracted to minor boys, and that they might not themselves be gay if they weren’t molested by someone else. The person obviously hates homosexuality itself and thinks it is caused by sexual abuse. That’s also why they don’t care about how many more girls are sexually abused, since this wouldn’t turn them gay. I seriously think they don’t care so much that boys suffer abuse from a pedophile so much as the belief that we prevent pedophilia in order to keep boys from turning gay.

  • Tess

    I had never heard about this “connection” growing up. (but then again I didn’t really know gay people existed, or even what “gay” meant until I was 14 or so…) However, a couple Sundays ago, I went to my parents’ church and for the first time heard this link being made. The worst part, though, was the roaring applause from the congregation at this “brave act of standing up for beliefs.”

    “The more LGBTQ individuals who are “out” the better, but even then it’s not that difficult to draw a distinction between the one good gay person you know and the rest who serve as “the other.” ”
    On the other hand, for anyone who’s tired of being put into a box themselves (I couldn’t be the only one…), personally knowing an LGBTQ person may make one start to loathe these smears (though really “smear” is a bit too soft a word, not sure of the one I’m looking for, but it’s a more pernicious word…) themselves, and start to work against them. And this isn’t a purely academic statement coming from me, for what it’s worth. Just offering some hope.

  • Ibis3

    Thanks again for addressing this. I now see that the conflation is part of the misandrist patriarchal notion that men are uncontrollable lust machines, who, once given the opportunity by God’s absence/short skirts/marriage equality, will all happily rape (or set up house) with anything that moves.

  • Stony

    I may have to thank Anita Bryant. I well remember her crusade, though I was just a kid. I remember thinking at the time, even as a kid, that she seemed to be demonizing a whole group of people for behavior that didn’t affect her, or likely anyone other than other homosexuals. (I’m trying to describe what I was feeling as a child, rather than how I feel today.). I asked my mom, “What’s so bad about being gay?”. My mother responded by pulling out her Bible and giving me the OT verse.

    Even then, even as a kid, even dealing with my mom who I knew was a smart woman (and who was usually really progressive, except about this, apparently), I thought, “Bullshit.”. So I thank Anita for introducing me to the concept of cherry picking, to the idea that I can and maybe should start questioning the Bible and those who wield it, and the idea that what other people do is really none of my business. In a way, Anita created a budding LGBT supporter!

  • http://republic-of-gilead.blogspot.com Ahab

    I’m glad you brought up the Sandusky scandal as an example. When Sandusky was in the news, all sorts of Religious Right voices were foolishly trying to link the scandal to homosexuality.

    When fundamentalists try to conflate homosexuality with child sexual abuse, they not only demonize LGBTQ people, but they ignore the real dynamics and roots of abuse. In doing so, they do a grave disserving to sexual abuse victims and prevent any meaningful discussion of how to prevent abuse.

  • Steve

    The first anyone should ask them is whether they are attracted to children and whether they are just projecting their own feelings.

  • Christine

    This also puts me in mind of the “hedges” that were mentioned around marriage. These people who would not want their boys in the care of a gay man, or their girls in the care of a lesbian, would they be willing to let a straight woman care for their sons or a straight man for their daughters?

    As has been mentioned before, a lot of the purity culture is very heteronormative. There is no space in it for same-sex attraction. In fact, if women can be attracted to women, or men to men, then the whole concept stops working. And if this separation is needed to prevent sexual immorality, then welcoming those for whom the separation is impossible, sexual immorality is a given.

    Please note, I think that the attitudes Libby describes are completely vile, I’m just wondering if there’s other factors than “I think this is icky [because they were told it is], therefore it must be wrong, so I’m going to keep believing this stuff”.

  • http://AztecQueen2000.blogspot.com AztecQueen2000

    One of the biggest child molestation scandals currently in the Orthodox world is that of Nechemya Weberman, an unlicensed male therapist who repeatedly raped and molested an adolescent girl for three years. If we use him as an example, doesn’t this mean that heterosexuals should be barred from working with children because they might molest someone of the opposite gender?

    • Kodie

      If we go by heteronormative culture, at least the clues I’ve seen, regarding the care of children (especially not one’s own children) is “better off” with a woman or adolescent girl. Men or adolescent boys are immediately suspect for pedophilia if they are attracted to jobs taking care of younger children, including teachers of elementary school, daycares, and babysitters or nannies. A lot of horror stories emerge from young children left with an uncle or another otherwise trusted male family friend that causes panic and distrust should someone volunteer. Priests are off the hook for some reason, since the altar boy thing is not the main part of their job, I think? Heterosexuals, people who are recognized as heterosexuals I mean, men who are married and fathers, for example (having proven themselves not a pervert toward boys?), are considered ok for boy scout leaders, but I think in the main general culture, not just inside the purity Christian uptight culture, people find it difficult to believe and suspicious of most men who want to be left alone to care for children, and of course – I would say that is how pedophiles seek out their own opportunities. They teach children when lost to find a woman, any woman, to help them, and not a man, a police man or guard man or any man to help them get reunited with a parent.

      We really don’t trust men to keep their hands off and especially if they seek opportunities to be around children, people get worried. This also lets men off the hook for childcare by maintaining for “good reasons” that it is a woman’s job and women are better suited for this particular job.

  • Ken L.

    I would note that in my experience that what Libby’s said here is true, but the strength of this particular commitment is generally much weaker than the commitment to Young Earth Creationism or most other hot-topics usually is. If you’re careful you can have a very reasonable discussion about this issue. In this case it’s reasonably easy to force them go on the offensive with a simple statement like “Of course I’m comfortable leaving my daughter in the care of a lesbian friend who’s been in a steady relationship with her partner for 3 years rather than a random stranger I don’t know.” Most of them won’t be able to articulate any of the arguments that Libby has explained here and those who can may recognize some of the absurdity of it. You’re likely to get some pushback about “exposure to that lifestyle”, and while you may be tempted to fight a battle over whether that is a bad thing it’s probably best to keep on-subject and say you’d rather accept that than risk sexual assault. This particular irrational connection isn’t that hard to break, or at least weaken somewhat.

    I think the “two boxes” concept can often be a topic of fruitful discussion as well. At the very least many evangelicals will at least consider a 3-box paradigm of “marital sex”, “non-marital but consensual” and “non-consensual”. It can be helpful in de-fusing some “slippery slope” arguments.

    I read a very interesting article a few months ago about non-offensive pedophiles who are sexually attracted to children but have not acted on their desires. That’s a group which requires a delicate touch and which no-one really knows what to do with. They need support to keep from offending, but how do we support them?

  • kisekileia

    I guess I was a bit of an unusual case among evangelicals, although maybe not so much for the younger generation and for the very liberal area where I lived. My elementary school best friend came out as bisexual when I was 14 and thoroughly entrenched in evangelicalism, and I think in large part because of that, I never adopted the view that LGB orientation is a choice. Instead, I believed that some people happened to ‘struggle with’ same-sex attraction, and that those people had a responsibility to try to suppress those inclinations the same way unmarried straight people were expected to suppress their sexual inclinations.

    By the time I was 18, I knew that a tendency towards alcoholism could be inherited. I concluded from that that some people were born with intrinsic inclinations towards certain types of sin, but still had a moral responsibility to resist temptation, and could do things that would make it easier or harder for them to resist temptation. I applied that framework to same-sex attraction, and came to the conclusion that same-sex attraction had a biological basis, but that people were still morally obligated to avoid sex with people of the same gender as them.

    I wonder how common it is now for evangelicals to think that way. My guess is that it’s probably not uncommon for emergent types, who are likely under 35-40 and have had gay/lesbian/bisexual friends, and it’s probably also more common in areas where LGB people are widely accepted. I would guess it varies by location and by level of conservatism, though.

    • Julian

      And by personal queerness, I would guess. I had evolved the same theory by as early as my mid-teens, and spoke out to my evangelical milieu in defense of LGBT folks, saying that it was just as possible to be a moral homosexual as it was to be an immoral heterosexual. What I didn’t, and couldn’t, do was admit to myself that I was queer. I always knew it at some level, but pushed it away, because I was lucky enough to be attracted to people regardless of gender, which meant I had the luxury of picking and choosing how I expressed my attractions. Unfortunately, that repression also meant I couldn’t acknowledge my gender issues either for many, many years. But yeah, kisekileia, i think you’re right that there is a small but significant percentage of evangelicals who come to those same conclusions as well, for whatever reason. The conclusions are still woefully off-base.

      • kisekileia

        That too, Julian. That friend ended up being the first person I told that I’m not 100% straight, even though I was still firmly in the “gay sex is a sin” camp at the time. I’m still not sure whether I’m attracted enough to women to call myself bisexual, but I certainly realized by 18 that I had some tendencies in that direction.

    • Karleanne

      Now that you mention this, I do remember having a Bible teacher whose viewpoint was that we should “feel sorry” for gay people because, unlike straight people (who just have to postpone acting on their sexual desires until they get married in order to be A-OK with God), gay people would never be able to act on their desires in a God-sanctioned relationship.

      This was considered to be a very “loving” or liberal take on the matter (although now all I can think is that it’s incredibly dehumanizing to pity gay people as if they aren’t adult human beings). I believe the idea of predisposition and the comparison to alcoholism was involved in the explanation with me, too. It was sort of this “we all have our crosses to bear” mindset. Of course, to make that work, you have to view homosexuality purely as a sexual inclination (something akin to “I prefer redheaded women” or “I only like to sleep with men who have six-pack abs”), and not as a big part of who you are as a person–that way, it’s not that God created a fundamental part of who you are and then condemned you for it (which makes God seem like kind of a jackass), but rather that God is on your side to help you evaluate your preferences according to his precepts and then overcome the ones he convicts you of (Jesus is my ally, huzzah!).

      Of course, that doesn’t explain why if you sometimes fall off the wagon with your predisposition to gossip, you just need a gentle reminder from a lady friend, but if you ever engage in homosexual behavior (or even entertain thoughts about it), it’s freak-out-and-call-the-pastor-for-an-attempted-gay conversion time.

      Ah, the mental contortions required to reconcile all the beliefs I used to hold…

  • smrnda

    I tried to have a discussion with someone on a post that JT made about homosexuality and pedophilia in which I tried to explain to someone who was adamant that all homosexuals are dangerous sexual predators and that one ‘perversity’ (not a term I recalled from any psychology class, and I took a few) leads to other sexual crimes, and that homosexuals are driven by conflicts in their unconscious which render them particularly dangerous.

    When I pointed out that this understanding of psychology is basically the equivalent in chemistry of ‘the four elements of earth, wind, water and fire’ and was outmoded, all I got was that I was told that, apparently, all psychologists are wrong. So some people probably realize their beliefs in this area aren’t backed up by evidence, but some people live in an alternative world of their own ‘facts’ and where they can use terms any way they like. Not surprising it’s hard to convince these people.

    • Kodie

      It sounded like to me that that person was more concerned about the transfer of homosexuality via abuse than abuse itself – mostly indicated by the alleged fact that 20% of girls vs. 5% of boys are abused that the poster brought up and then only focused on boys. Apparently to them, the abuse stunts the wholesome boys’ sexual growth and perverts them into gay men and we have to stop them before they strike again. I.e., the only reason those guys are gay in the first place who want to be boy scout leaders is because they were abused. The goal in this person’s mind is to stop the cycle of homosexuality, and didn’t seem that disturbed by any other effects of being abused, or by the enormous rate that girls are abused compared to boys (according to their own data).

      • Kodie

        I mean any actual effects, not other effects.

  • Khaliah

    Now that I’ve calmed down from the aneurysm-inducing rage I gave myself reading the comments on that page, I think I can coherently put some thoughts together.

    Many of them are honestly hung up on the whole “gays= sexual predators” thing. Perhaps, in some way, they are speaking purely out of concern for the safety of the children in the BSA and don’t want a repeat of the sex abuse scandals that rightfully destroyed most of the Catholic Church’s credibility. Think about it: the BSA and the CC have long been pillars of moral guidance, and the latter of those pillars was destroyed because adults in a position of authority abused the trust of their subjects and took their sexual desires out on children.

    But to demonize the entire gay population, using buzz words like “the family” and “protecting children” and “morality” and “values?” Gays have values too because they are HUMAN just like the rest of us. These folks just don’t seem to want to believe that. They want to believe that being gay is part and parcel to engaging in reckless sex, drugs, alcohol, and any other social ill that makes these folks clutch their pearls about. I was listening to Kingdom News with Tony Bosserman on KFIA the other day, and he sat there smarmily mocking the idea of gays being just as capable of morality in the BSA as the rest of its hetero members. These people honestly believe that being gay means that you are absolutely, completely incapable of following basic social rules like respecting others and being a productive member of society.

    It’s interesting. I’m a Christian and most of the time when stuff like this comes out, my brothers and sisters are volleying ignorance and fear back and forth and coming up with hurtful things to say and calling it The Truth. I see past it all. All I see is a population of frightened people so desperate to look better, they are fighting tooth and nail to make someone else look worse.

    It’s embarassing, saddening, and depressing all at once.

  • Christine

    Out of curiosity, is anyone here involved with BSA? I’m curious as to what sort of internal policies they have to avoid the potential for abuse. To the best of my knowledge they haven’t had a large abuse scandal, but they might have learned from the Canadian one. And frankly, anything which is set up like BSA and doesn’t have stringent anti-abuse guidelines sounds like an abuser’s favourite place to be.

  • Ms_Morlowe

    I loved the article… I think it’s worth adding too that before WWII ish, homosexuality wasn’t seen as an orientation- actually, sexual orientation as a concept didn’t exist. So gay people were thought of straight people who liked to have really weird, often morally wrong sex. Sexual acts like sodomy were illegal between men and women as well as men and men (women were kind of thought to not really have a sex drive, and so there weren’t regulations of lesbianism. It was still obviously seriously disapproved of societally). It’s only later that the idea of orientation was posited and we get the Kinsey scale. So we get homosexuality lumped in with other forms of sexual deviancies that we know aren’t equated now.

  • Kalipay

    this is exactly what my dad will say and talk about when he makes my brothers quit their 5-year long involvement with BSA if the changes do happen. thanks for doing the research and sharing!

  • Tara

    I have a son in scouts. They can’t be left at scouts without a parent in the building, and no adult or older scout is ever alone with a younger scout. My daughter is a Girl Scout, and they don’t require parents to remain in the building for meetings. I have taken my son out of a Mormon sponsored community troop due to their support for the current rules.

  • Justin

    You know I have been a Christian for almost 10 years now, and i have honestly never heard this reasoning before…ever. The point is yes im sure some “christians” think this but their veiws are scewed i believe. In Christianity, homosexuality is a sin. Plain cold fact! However so is looking at a woman lustfully, or hating someone. In true Christianity we are all sinners. So who am I to judge someone for sinning differently then myself? All Christians are hipocrits, we strive to live sin free but it is impossible to do so. It is a shame some people try to put others down for being different then they are, but what Christians really need to do is start loving everyone! No matter what race gender nationality religion or sexual preference. But back to the boy scouts. they are a private religious orginazation free to allow membership to whoever they please. Thats onr thing that is great about America, religious freedom. But what these people should be asking themselves is whoud there be just as big of an uproar if this where say a muslim group. Lets just all be tollerent of everyone’s beliefs. I am not trying to join a Jewish group, because im not Jewish. So if your not a Christian or someone who has the same beliefs as an orginazation, why would you even want to join? Forcing your beliefs on everyone else does not make you tollerant! It in fact makes you intolerant. I was a Boy Scout when I was younger and still believe it is a great orginazation. If I have boys i would love for them to be involved with it. But at the same time i dont hate gays either. I work with several gay people and they are great people! But I am a sinner just like everyone else that walks this Earth, so who am I to judge how others sin?

    • ako

      But back to the boy scouts. they are a private religious orginazation free to allow membership to whoever they please. Thats onr thing that is great about America, religious freedom.

      Just to make sure we’re all clear on this – it’s been thirteen years since the Supreme Court solidly upheld the legal right of the Boy Scouts to discriminate against gay people. Currently, what’s happening is BSA is having a discussion over whether they want to change their policy, and public figures such as the president are expressing opinions on what they should do. It’s settled case law that they are allowed to pick who they accept.

    • luckyducky

      I have a problem with this because the BSA is not just a private organization. It is an organization that receives substantial support from federal and local governments — including the use of meeting space for free or well below market rents. My biggest bone to pick with this is the Eagle Scout rank — you get automatic rank advancement and other preferential treatment yet it is available only to straight, religious boys. There is no truly equivalent status for girls (yes, there is a similar award, the Gold Award, in GSUSA but it doesn’t garner the same recognition), atheists/agnostics, or LGBT youth.

      Proof: if you talk to almost anyone who is still affiliated with BSA but doesn’t support the discriminatory membership policies, they invariably cite the value of the Eagle as part of why they won’t abandon ship. I support their desire to work for change within and save, in their estimation, a venerable institution but it is evidence of BSA privileged status.

  • MM

    I think the story of Lot probably drives a lot of this. Of course that’s where we get the term “sodomy”, but the story is also most Christians’ introduction to homosexuality. And what happens? A bunch of men demand male angels be handed over to them to be raped. So early on Christians are taught that gays (Christians seem to concern themselves much less with lesbians) are aggressive rapists that want to defile everything holy. So many Christians end up actually thinking gay men want to molest every man they see, including male children.

    • Hilary

      I had a coworker once ask me if I’d ever heard of Sodom and Gemorrah when he learned I was a lesbian. I smiled and told him that if he can’t tell the difference between adults having consentual sex and gang rape, he should see a therapist. He never spoke to me again.


      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ M

        Very nice reply, Hilary!

  • Mafrin

    I just find it insane that Christians use Sodom and Gommorah as a tale of morality. Sure! He saved his male guest from being gang raped. How? By offering his three daughters to be gang raped instead.

    Christianity really boggles my mind.

    • Anat

      And the daughters (2, actually) learned the lesson – they came up with a plan to rape their father.

      Of course, it’s just a story intended to explain a) why there were ruins in an area prone to earthquakes b) why certain nearby nations should be held in low regard.

  • smrnda

    I’m always surprised that Christians ignore the research of sex crimes and sex offenders, but it’s par for the course with ignoring research and going with what seems intuitively true based on whatever suppositions they’re working with. Since sexual sin is a matter of restraint (always) ‘perverts’ are people who can’t restrain themselves, and thanks to original sin everybody wants to engage in every ‘perversion’ since the only reason to do anything sexual that disagrees with the Bible is to piss off god.

  • TheSeravy

    Based on that “logic”:
    male paedophile molest boys = all gay and bisexual men are sexual predators
    male paedophile molest girls = all heterosexual men are sexual predators
    therefore, all men are sexual predators. Lesbians are men wannabes so they are also sexual predators.
    Straight women can’t be a paedophile or a sexual predator because they don’t have a penis or a sex drive.

  • http://hunteratrandom.blogspot.com Hunter

    I’d like to draw one distinction: while I don’t doubt that the rank and file of evangelical anti-gays see the conflation of homosexuality and pedophilia exactly as you describe it, I suspect that the “agitators,” such as Bryan Fischer and Tony Perkins, are very well of the lack of connection and simply don’t care. Making the two equivalent serves their agenda (and their incomes), and if it plays into something that their core audience already “knows” to be true, so much the better. What threw this into sharp relief for me was Perkins being challenged on his scare-mongering about the Boy Scouts and rapidly back-pedaling, to the tune of “I didn’t say that, you said that” (a typical Perkins response), although he’d been blowing on every pedophilia/gay dog whistle he could find.

  • luckyducky

    I think the idea that homosexuality and pedophilia are linked has staying power among Christian conservatives (it isn’t just evangelicals) is directly related to the purity culture and the pathologizing of almost all expressions of sexuality (you know, except between married people, in the dark, in their bedroom).

    I used to really buy into the pop culture argument that those who were the most vocally anti-gay were closeted themselves. While I think that that is true of some/many, I don’t think that is necessarily the case. If you are immersed in a culture where any pre-marital exploration of sexuality is sinful (I am not just talking sex but sexuality), anything that encourages that questioning, which would be anything that is not in the context of heterosexual marriage, is threatening .

    In addition, because you thinking about your own sexuality is such a minefield, you don’t necessarily appreciate how innate and fixed/fluid it might be and natural curiosity about sexuality is easily confused with fluidity — it is easy to make the leap from wondering about your own sexuality to the idea that homosexuality and other “preversities” are “catching.” I didn’t grow up in the purity culture but I have definitely encountered the problem of being told that even thinking about somethings opens the door to sin… as an adult, I find that tactic of moral discipline appallingly authoritarian.

  • http://fidesquaerens.org/ Marta L.

    I’m not sure this adds much to the analysis, but on a personal note I find this line of logic particularly tragic. It seems like it puts evangelicals’ children at particular risk to be sexually abused.

    Think about it. Most parents have a certain sense for when a situation is dangerous. It’s not perfect, but quite often at some levels the parents are uncomfortable letting the kid spend time alone with the man next door or the soccer coach or the piano teacher. But if that man has a family and obviously loves his wife, they’ll be a little less vigilant. They may even be reluctant to discuss those doubts with other people in the community because it might seem like labelling a “good man” as a homosexual. So I suspect if you really thought you shouldn’t leave your kids alone with a homosexual of the same gender, you’d be less concerned about people who do present a real danger. And that puts innocent kid (whatever we think of the parents) at greater risk to be assaulted. That just leaves me feeling very sad.

  • http://alisoncummins.com Alison Cummins

    “Unfortunately, even those evangelicals who can be convinced that pedophilia is different from either homosexuality or heterosexuality will often respond by saying that if that’s the case the next step of the “homosexual agenda” will be to defend pedophiles as “born with” their pedophilia and thus undeserving of condemnation. ”

    This is true. Dan Savage is doing his darnedest to popularize the idea of the “gold-star pedophile,” someone who is burdened with an orientation he was born with, never asked for and can never ethically act on and who spends his life ensuring that he will never be tempted to act on it. Savage calls for praise, not condemnation. So yes, that next step of the “homosexual agenda” is being stepped.

    I think this is what the Christian religious right calls “love the sinner, hate the sin.” If loving sinners is not problematic, what’s the issue here?

  • Abbiestract

    So was “homosexual communist” the scariest halloween costume in the 50s?

  • insert name here

    I read the “What Causes Homosexuality?” link at the end of the article, and I find one of the subtitles quite hilarious: “A key problem: If homosexuality were genetic, it would have died out”.
    Oh snap! He just use Darwin’s natural selection as an argument, thereby admitting to the evidence supporting evolution!!! I know that article wasn’t about the evolutionist/creationist argument, but still! I’m sure that is another of the author’s causes, considering the blatantly negative bias in his paper toward the “mortal sin that is homosexuality”. Unknowingly, I’m sure, he just used a scientific (though perhaps misguidedly so) argument to support his cause.