In a comment posted here yesterday and at Towleroad, some potential new wrinkles in the Dakota Ary case were asserted. Ary is the high school Freshman, represented by Liberty Counsel, who was briefly suspended over comments made in a Fort Worth High School German class. The initial report was that Ary said he was a Christian and believed homosexuality to be wrong. However, a GLBT group is now claiming to have spoken to the teacher involved, Kristopher Franks, who paints a picture of harassment on the part of Ary and other classmates against the teacher due to their perception that the teacher is gay.
I will state the obvious: I have no idea what the real story is. I post this because the report from the teacher, if accurate, would correct the post I made last week.
Often, people look at a story like this and allow their biases influence them. If you are someone who believes religion is a victim of gay advocacy, you might side with Liberty Counsel. If you believe religion is used to harass GLBT people, then you might be inclined to believe this new report from the GLBT student group.
All I can say is that the reports we have are insufficient to be dogmatic. I have investigated many claims from advocates on both sides of the culture war and been disappointed that truth was not being told. Speaking about my community (evangelical), I can say that I have found some evangelical culture war groups engage in spin. I used to trust such groups to be honest and consider the impact of spin on public perception. As a matter of course now, I don’t accept things at face value.
For instance, recently the law firm representing Dakota Ary, Liberty Counsel, asserted that the American Association of Christian Counselors was a larger group of professionals than the American Psychological Association. This is flat out untrue. On the same day, Mat Staver told his radio audience that the AACC has produced ““the most definitive, most recent research that’s come out that says change is possible.” This is spin.
First, to my knowledge, the AACC has not paid for any research on sexual orientation change. Perhaps, they have and I am not aware of it — if so, I will correct this statement. AACC members Mark Yarhouse and Stan Jones released the first wave of their study at an AACC conference but the AACC did not produce it; Exodus International funded the research. Furthermore, the research showed that some changes took place for a minority of participants but calling the research definitive is a stretch.
Recently, the AACC journal Edification published a report from Mark Yarhouse and his students from Regent University showing that men and women in mixed orientation marriages described no change in sexual orientation. To my knowledge, the Christian culture war complex has not addressed this finding. In a journal, the AACC published research that stands in contradiction to the Liberty Counsel statement.
Some Christians take my skepticism as a character flaw or a sign that I have capitulated to the enemy (see what the culture war does to perception of out-groups?). They say that the opposition spins and manipulates data, so why shouldn’t we? I think the answer is obvious, so obvious that I will let that question sink in and not answer it.
I don’t know who is offering the most factual narrative in the Fort Worth controversy. I just know that right now, for me, the question is open.