Last Friday, the Salt Lake City Tribune published an opinion article by members of a Latter Day Saint group called Foundation for Attraction Research. This group, co-founded by National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality leader, Dean Byrd, claims that science validates their religious view of homosexuality. Among other problems, the article last Friday misrepresented the views of National Institute of Health Director Francis Collins.
A week later, today’s SLC Tribune has an effective rebuttal from Wiliam S. Bradshaw, professor emeritus of molecular biology at Brigham Young University; David G. Weight, professor emeritus of clinical and neuropsychology at BYU; and Ted Packard, professor emeritus of educational psychology at the University of Utah. The authors sent the article to me directly:
First, the authors’ manipulations of quotations from Dr. Francis Collins distort and misrepresent his views. They first cite Collins about possible genetic influence on homosexuality. After several intervening paragraphs they introduce separate comments about “individual free will” and “playing the hand dealt to us,” which they represent as his “additional insight on homosexuality.”
This juxtaposition is a deception. The “free will” comments actually refer to genes and intelligence or criminal and antisocial behavior, not homosexuality. Collins has responded to this corruption of his statements by A. Dean Byrd as incoming president of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, or NARTH.
Collins sets the record straight as follows: 1) “The words quoted by NARTH … have been juxtaposed in a way that suggests a somewhat different conclusion than I intended”; 2) The fact that there are other factors that influence how information in DNA is expressed “certainly doesn’t imply that those other factors are inherently alterable”; 3) Even though the actual genes contributing to SSA have yet to be identified, “it is likely that such genes will be found in the next few years.”
Here is the full text of Collins’ unequivocal denunciation of others who, like Byrd and the three authors, have recently misappropriated his scientific views: “It is disturbing for me to see special interest groups distort my scientific observation to make a point against homosexuality. The American College of Pediatricians pulled language out of context from a book I wrote in 2006 to support an ideology that can cause unnecessary anguish and encourage prejudice. The information they present is misleading and incorrect, and it is particularly troubling that they are distributing it in a way that will confuse school children and their parents.”