In this second post about therapeutic neutrality, I want to discuss what it does and doesn’t mean in sexual identity therapy. Again, I want to react to some of the thoughts from Dr. Nicolosi in his article, Why I Am Not a Neutral Therapist.
Dr. Nicolosi writes:
What will happen when the uncommitted (“neutral”) therapist hears his client revealing self-destructive behaviors that are statistically proven to be associated with SSA? How will he interpret these behaviors? Staying out of philosophical territory with the client would require a sort of “Rogerian neutrality” that even Carl Rogers himself couldn’t live up to. I can’t imagine any psychologist who actually does this therapy on a regular basis believing that such an approach would be successful.
This needs to be unpacked a bit. First of all, when clients, either gay or straight or in between, describe self-destructive behavior, I believe therapists should confront the consequences to the client and others of this behavior. Asking clients about the consequences and pointing out denial is a standard therapeutic stance. SIT can be used by directive and non-directive therapists. There is nothing in the SIT framework that prevents the confrontation of self-harm.
What Dr. Nicolosi seems to be implying about the behavior of homosexuals in this paragraph, he make more explicit in the next:
Along the way, clients always report a host of maladaptive, self-defeating behaviors that restrict their maturation. The successful clinician must have an understanding of the meaning of these common factors. He will also observe fundamental distortions of self-identity. Once seen, how can these factors — including their meaning and likely origins — be ignored?
Apparently, he sees self-destructive behaviors in all of his clients. I do not, and in my research investigations, I have not found this to be invariably true. Statistical association is not cause nor does statistical significance implicate an entire group of people. I have addressed elsewhere on this blog, to wit:
Thus, it would be inconsistent with the research on psychiatric risk to deny members of at-risk groups “even the possibility” of a “fulfilling life,” whether partnered or not. Higher risk, yes; inevitable mental health maladjustment for all members of a group of people? No.
To further address Dr. Nicolosi’s question: when maladaptive, self-defeating behaviors are evident, therapeutic respect for the client’s value position does not mean that these behaviors are ignored. They are not. However, not all clients who are attracted to the same sex have the same issues. The SI therapist does not assume that all same-sex attracted clients have the same concerns, problems, issues, behaviors or backgrounds. This is more like theoretical neutrality; the SI therapist interprets the literature to depict a varied clinical landscape, not one of uniform histories and dynamics. We also do not tell clients that being attracted to the same sex assigns them to a life of despair and promiscuity. Nor do we tell them that their attractions to the same sex mean one thing. In the advanced informed consent phase, we discuss the research on the health and mental health correlates of behavior. Thus, if we have a client who is engaged in risky behavior, we inform them of the risks. If we learn that a client’s draw to the same sex has some historical referent, we certainly help that client process the issue. However, we do not assume that all attractions to the same sex mean the same thing, or that such attractions are of necessity tied to some historical set of deficits.
Dr. Nicolosi then contrasts himself further:
As Charles Socarides once said, the therapist must be neutral in judging the client, his behavior, and his choices; but he cannot be neutral about the condition of homosexuality.
Indeed the SI therapist is open to the distinct possibility that sexual preferences derive from multiple pathways and follow multiple trajectories. The SI therapist agrees with APA past president Nicholas Cummings who said: “There are as many kinds of homosexuals as heterosexuals. Homosexuality is not a unitary experience.”
So to summarize, SI therapists are not neutral when confrontation of self-destructive behavior is warranted, but we do not presume a uniform set of antecedents and outcomes of homosexual attractions. I guess you might say, we have an “Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.
Continuing the discussion about sexual identity therapy, I want to contrast our framework with both gay affirming and reparative therapies on the dimension of value neutrality in two posts. As a springboard for my thoughts, I want to quote from an article by Joseph Nicolosi on the NARTH website called, “Why I Am Not A Neutral Therapist.” He led with this explanation:
A Christian psychologist contacted me to discuss reorientation therapy for SSA men. Hoping to find a politically “safe” compromise with the APA, he was anxious to avoid value judgments and remain noncommittal about homosexuality. The solution, he thought, would be a simple behavior modification program. Speaking from my 25 years of experience in this field, I told him I found his approach naïve and ultimately unworkable.
Then he adds:
“Furthermore, why should I refuse to discuss philosophical issues with clients,” I told him, “when gay-affirmative therapists are working very hard as boosters of their philosophy? They tell clients that same-sex feelings are ‘sacred.’ They push them to revolutionize society’s and the church’s attitudes. Any client’s conviction that heterosexuality is the norm will be redefined by the therapist as a ‘psychological illness — homophobia.'”
“The fact is, neutrality fails for clinicians on both sides of this issue,” I told the psychologist. “Clinicians like you and me, who believe that humanity was designed for heterosexuality, must speak up about our philosophy. These men with unwanted SSA want boosters, allies, advocates, as they claim their masculine identity — someone who believes in them and stands strongly at their side.”
Dr. Nicolosi parallels his disclosure of reparative drive theory as an ideology to what he believes gay affirming therapists do with clients but from an opposing perspective. After all, if it is ethical for gay affirming therapists to promote homosexuality as a moral good, then why shouldn’t reparative therapists promote heterosexuality as God’s design?
Before I discuss this further, one might question whether gay affirming therapists or therapists in general really have a worldview on the matter. I cannot go into this exhaustively but a statement from the APA’s Clinton Anderson from a recent AP article by David Crary suggests there are favored and disfavored religious views on matters gay. Speaking about religious views which are at odds with homosexual behavior, Dr. Anderson said:
“We cannot take into account what are fundamentally negative religious perceptions of homosexuality — they don’t fit into our worldview,” Anderson said.
So can therapists be neutral?
In my view, not all therapists can practice in a neutral manner. In our sexual identity therapy framework, we have clear guidance which allows for referrals when value conflicts impair what therapy has to offer a client. In other situations, the role of the therapist is to assist clients clarify their own perspectives and work toward congruence. For clients who do not know what they believe, it can be very valuable for the therapist to refrain from imposing a religious worldview or stigmatizing conservative religious views.
Some people want a non-neutral therapist on either side of the worldview spectrum. Perhaps they would not be happy with sexual identity therapy. My investigations into this arena suggest that retrospective assessments of therapist helpfulness are associated with therapists not attempting to impose a contrary value position on to the client. And so, I continue to believe that SIT occupies a niche that offers something not available in ideologically-driven approaches. For those who are still figuring things out or have not felt successful with other approaches, our framework could provide something different.
Part two will explore where the sexual identity therapist isn’t neutral.
Last year, I wrote an article for my website called I Am Not a Reparative Therapist. In that article, I indicated that one of my problems with reparative therapy, as I understood it, was that the therapist promoted reparative drive theory to clients as the singular source of same-sex attractions.
It seems to me that if a therapist begins with this theory or any one-size-fits-all theory, confirmation bias will operate to find it in the histories of clients. It also seems to me that any theory of origins, whether it be developmental or pre-natal or a combination thereof, is bound to contain much speculation due to the inadequacy of current research and the biases inherent in the therapeutic uncovering process. However, such speculation and uncovering may be quite useful in setting a context for the pursuit of valued action and may indeed lead to powerful emotional catharsis and the formation of a new way of looking at one’s self. A new perspective can be powerful, even if it is incorrect on certain objective points. E.g., some people say they have been freed of emotional bondage by resolving issues of trauma in past lives (past life regression). I do not believe they are correct but I suspect they really do feel better. This is an extreme example, of course, but it serves to illustrate that one may be objectively incorrect about the meaning of historical events but still feel relief because one has a meaningful perspective to make sense of it all. A single pathway theory can make clients and therapists feel better because it enhances a sense of certainty but I remain skeptical that single pathway theories are correct.
Having expressed skepticism about the meaning of historical events, I also believe that clients and therapists are sometimes correct in their inferences and finding the truth may or may not have real impact in the present. However, being correct in our inferences some of the time does not mean we are correct all of the time, nor does the events that ring so true for one client mean that the next client with similar issues has the same history or makes the same meaning of a similar history.
My reactions to reparative therapy as a means of addressing conflicted people are based in part on the belief that therapists should be prepared to flex from their theoretical and cognitive mindsets to address individual clients â€“ the facts on the ground, so to speak. Perhaps, however, this is my bias showing about how therapy should be conducted. Perhaps, on the other hand, it is defensible to offer a form of therapy (e.g., cognitive-behavioral, client-centered, or gestalt) and say to the client, “Here is how I think about problems and how I work with them. If my way of working does not seem right for you then you are free to move on to another therapist.” Taking the analogy further, client-centered therapists refrain from giving advice, or making interpretations and view problems as arising due to discrepancies between a personâ€™s real self and their idealized self. A client who wanted an active, directive therapist might be frustrated by a non-directive therapist. However, a non-directive therapist might be so wed to his viewpoint that he would need to refer clients who wanted a differing theoretical and technical perspective.
Germane to this discussion of therapy approaches, Dr. Nicolosi recently published an article on the NARTH website titled “Why I Am Not a Neutral Therapist.” This article lays out his rationale for advancing a specific theory of homosexuality and resultant therapy for those who do not feel congruent with their beliefs.
The developmental model we suggest must deeply resonate with the men we work with, or they will (rightfully) leave our office and pursue a different therapeutic approach. We explain that our position differs from the American Psychological Association, which sees homosexuality and heterosexuality as equivalent, and along the way, we encourage them to clarify and re-clarify the direction of their identity commitment. Gay-affirmative therapy should, of course, be available for any such client.
A few gay-identified clients do decide to stay with us. Out of respect for diversity and autonomy, I affirm them in their right to define themselves as they wish, and I accept them in their gay self-label.
This article addresses some of the concerns I cited in my article about reparative therapy. On one hand, it does appear that Dr. Nicolosi offers a singular explanation for homosexual attractions that clients encounter early in reparative therapy. On the other hand, Dr. Nicolosi tells clients the theory must ring true for them to proceed. And he apparently affirms some small group of gay clients. This is probably surprising news for many observers.
I continue to believe the reparative developmental model is probably not operative for all people who are same-sex attracted. And my bias is to hold all such theories loosely and indeed to think that there are many factors, both pre-natal and environmental, that lead to different outcomes for different people. I do wonder what people do if they do not believe reparative drive theory fits them. Does the insistence on the theory drive some people toward a more deterministic “born gay” view since they do not agree with the singular developmental theory of origins? Inasmuch as evangelical faith is often bound to an environmental explanation, can such determinism create more conflict with faith? These are of course open questions but I have written about this before.
From the article about therapist neutrality, it appears that Dr. Nicolosi envisions an environment where gay affirming therapists can assert their beliefs to clients and reparative therapists can likewise assert their beliefs and then let clients choose which approach they like. In contrast, the sexual identity therapy framework calls for therapists to refrain from offering preconceived ideas about causation and change but to focus instead on the realization of objectives which align with the individual values and beliefs of clients. In practice, I suspect there are times when therapists using any of three mindsets would look very similar.
I am hopeful that our framework provides therapists of all ideologies with a map to help clients determine their path. I believe our framework can be valuable in helping clients clarify which broad way may be most suitable for their individual situation.
One former member, Aaron New, a psychology and counseling professor at a Christian college and former AACC member was upset to hear nothing from Clinton about Donald Trump’s descriptions of his actions on the infamous Access Hollywood audio. After trying to get a response from Clinton at the time, New sought answers from the board of directors. After hearing nothing from them, he decided to allow me to publish the letter. Together we are launching a petition at Change.org for those who also want to express their concerns.
Although this may seem like an anti-Trump effort, it is not inherently so. The petition is for Trump supporters and those who might have opposed him. The aim is political neutrality in AACC and AACC events. We advocate for speakers who are involved in counseling, not known as partisans or campaigners for specific political positions in the culture wars.
AACC Doesn’t Want to Talk About This
Throckmorton: Why did you decide to write the executive board?
New: I had already attempted to contact Dr. Clinton via Twitter with the concerns expressed in the letter. I have no email address for him. He did not reply so I thought I might get some information from the board. However, I am still having a hard time understanding who is on the board. For instance, the list for the advisory board includes the name of a man who died in 2005. Customer service told me after several inquiries that the list is the most current they have. I have not heard from any leaders of AACC.
Throckmorton: So is that why you decided to publish it as an open letter?
New: Yes, as we have discussed, AACC has not been very responsive to me as a member. I think the concerns of the letter are valid and should be addressed by a group supposedly dedicated to advancing Christian counseling.
Throckmorton: What do you hope to accomplish?
New: I still think there could be value in the AACC but it needs to be more responsive to member concerns and stay out of partisan politics. Jay Sekulow is a plenary speaker at this year’s world conference. I don’t understand his place at the conference at all. He is now one of President Trump’s attorneys and in the thick of the political and legal defense of the president. I would like to see AACC become a professional home for counselors of all political persuasions. Although I am definitely a conservative, I don’t think Christian leaders should provide silent approval for actions which in the end make our work more difficult. Until something changes, I don’t think I can rejoin the AACC. I’ll have to look elsewhere for an organization to invest in.
Below is New’s letter along with co-signers
I am writing as a previous member of AACC and as one who teaches about and is passionate about Christian Counseling. I have attended many regional and world conferences, enjoying the fellowship and education/training they provided. I appreciated their publications and advocacy for Christian Counselors around the world. For a very long time, the AACC was my professional home.
But I allowed my membership expire due to concerns about its recent direction and mission. I miss being a part of the AACC and I am still weighing the benefits of calling it my home. As I do so, I wonder if you would be willing to address some of my concerns.
In May of 2016, Dr. Clinton joined the Evangelical Executive Advisory Board for then presidential candidate Donald Trump. In every instance I found, Dr. Clinton was not just mentioned by name, but also as the President of the AACC. This certainly seemed to me to be a politicization of the AACC. I expressed my concern about this at the time and have been watching Dr. Clinton’s involvement (among others) rather carefully since then.
Dr. Clinton has been a vocal supporter of Donald Trump through his candidacy and presidency. As far as I can tell, he has never offered any public criticism of Trump’s character, behavior, or policies. He has, however, gone out of his way to publicly confirm and praise him. Just one example (but of particular concern) was Dr. Clinton’s silence during the controversy that surrounded Trump after the release of the Access Hollywood video. As the leader of the flagship Christian Counseling organization, it seemed unconscionable to me that Dr. Clinton refused to condemn such harmful words and behaviors – the very kinds of words and behaviors that we work against in our offices and with our clients every day.
I believe that the members of the AACC deserve better leadership and guidance than this. At a minimum (and in my clinical opinion), Trump exhibits the character and behaviors of a person who, if in our offices, would be challenged not celebrated. But much beyond that (and still in my clinical opinion), Trump’s character and behaviors are the kind that cause wounds and trauma to the very people that end up needing the care of Christian Counselors. It seems hypocritical to celebrate Trumpish character and behavior because of political power or expediency and simultaneously try to care for the people who are harmed by them. Even if Dr. Clinton feels justified in maintaining his support of Trump, the very least he could do is address these concerns for members of the AACC. The president of the AACC should be willing and able to offer guidance to Christian Counselors for how to think about these issues, but as of today has been unwilling or unable to publicly do so.
In my estimation, Dr. Clinton’s support of Donald Trump and the politicization of the AACC has only grown with time. Most recently, the AACC announced the addition of several keynote speakers to the 2017 World Conference. Among them were Jack Graham and Jay Sekulow. While Jack Graham is another member of the Evangelical Executive Advisory Board and a vocal supporter of Trump, I am not terribly surprised by his addition. But asking Jay Sekulow, Trump’s personal attorney and public advocate, to speak at the World Conference is, well, simply unbelievable.
I miss the AACC, but if I am ever to return I would like to know more about the Board of Directors (both as individuals and as a body).
Do you personally support this kind of politicization of the AACC?
Is Dr. Clinton’s support of Donald Trump reflective of you and/or the Board of Directors as a whole?
Has the Board of Directors approved of the current politicization of the AACC?
Is there a policy about the AACC being a political body? And if so, is that policy available for review?
What, if anything, would you say to others like me who are gravely concerned about the current politicization of the AACC?
Thank you for your leadership of the AACC. And thank you for taking the time to listen and respond.
Aaron A. New, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology and Counseling
After New wrote the letter, he showed it a few colleagues who requested inclusion. They asked that this sentence be attached to the letter:
The following is a list of cosigners who have similar concerns about AACC direction and are reconsidering their membership.
Dr. Andrew Graham, LMHC, NCC, BCPCC, current member
Jon Priest, LPE-I, Christian Perspective Counseling, potential member
Jodi Tipton, graduate student, current member
David R. Wells, LPC-S, Wells Counseling Services, PLLC, College Station, TX, member since 1997
Broader Concerns about Member Services
I am a former member of the AACC advisory board. I was removed without notice several years ago. It really didn’t matter since we did no advising anyway. One of the issues beyond the politics is that the members are pretty far removed from the ownership. In this regard, AACC isn’t really a professional association as much as it is a business. Professional associations have elections for officers and bring members into the decision making. In AACC, it seems to me that members are principally consumers of the AACC products sold at conventions and on the website.
AACC current, former, or potentional members who would like to sign on to this letter can leave your name in the comments and sign the petition here.
World Vision put out a presser on this developing story. Here is a BBC article from today describing Israel’s arrest of a World Vision official accused of diverting funds to Hamas.
Statement on World Vision Staff Arrest
Corporate Communications Senior Director
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
On June 15, 2016, Mohammad El Halaby, the manager of operations for World Vision in Gaza, was arrested on his way home from routine meetings. On August 4, 2016, after 50 days in Israeli state detention, Mohammad was charged with providing support to Hamas. World Vision was shocked to learn of these charges against Mohammad.
World Vision subscribes to the humanitarian principles of impartiality and neutrality and therefore rejects any involvement in any political, military or terrorist activities and maintains its independence as a humanitarian aid agency committed to serving the poor, especially children. World Vision has detailed procedures and control mechanisms in place to ensure that the funds entrusted to us are spent in accordance with applicable legal requirements and in ways that do not fuel conflict but rather contribute to peace.
World Vision programs in Gaza have been subject to regular internal and independent audits, independent evaluations, and a broad range of internal controls aimed at ensuring that assets reach their intended beneficiaries and are used in compliance with applicable laws and donor requirements. Based on the information available to us at this time, we have no reason to believe that the allegations are true. We will carefully review any evidence presented to us and will take appropriate actions based on that evidence. We continue to call for a fair legal process.
World Vision is a Christian relief, development and advocacy organization dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender. World Vision has been working in Israel/Palestine for over 40 years, striving to give hope to over 500,000 of the most vulnerable children, through education, health, child protection and resilience programs.
– See more at: http://www.worldvision.org/press-release/statement-world-vision-staff-arrest#sthash.wBHw9EWX.dpuf
Earlier this evening I spoke with a former World Vision source who said diverting funds would be very difficult but not impossible.
Nelson Keener graduated from Liberty University and served as the late Jerry Falwell’s assistant during the seminal days of the Moral Majority and later in a similar capacity with the late Chuck Colson. He resides in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
When Kingdoms Collide
At Liberty University College Democrats are not recognized as an official university club.
Neither are College Republicans.
Does this mean the prominent Christian institution, founded by the late Jerry Falwell, adheres to political neutrality or “separation of church and state”? Hardly. Earlier this week the administration freely handed a microphone to U. S. Senator, Ted Cruz (R Texas) and alongside the university seal embossed on the podium, Cruz announced his candidacy for president to a captive audience of ten thousand or so LU students and faculty.
Attendance is required at LU convocations. So my guess is there were more than a few students—and probably some faculty—who wished they had a T-shirt emblazoned with: “My presence does not mean my assent.”
As a person, Cruz comes across to me as sincere and winsome. He is likeable. In his rousing speech he forthrightly affirmed his faith as a Christian; a follower of Jesus. The audience applauded his religious faith. It’s this constituency Cruz wants to reach. A slice of the Evangelical pie that in the last three decades has become a formidable, some would say contentious, political force known as the religious right.
One can’t fault Cruz for choosing such a venue. It’s the purpose and context that troubles me. But Ted Cruz the person and his tactics are not what is so disquieting for me.
In The New Testament the John the Baptist proclaimed Jesus’ message and mission of God’s Kingdom then baptized him. After which Jesus immediately withdrew to the desert and spent 40 days and nights fasting alone in the wilderness.
In the fledgling years of Liberty University Jerry Falwell declared himself a capital “F” fundamentalist, a term he touted often and emphatically, intentionally and proudly. Speakers for chapel services and commencement addresses were mostly fundamentalist preachers. But “Thus sayeth the Lord” sermons simply do not garner networks’ news coverage in the fashion Ted Cruz did recently.
As an alum myself, it was pleasing to see Liberty over time include a wider spectrum of commencement speakers than pulpit-pounding preachers. Now students hear orators like Newt Gingrich, John McCain and Glenn Beck. Same fiery style, different content; some good, some not so good.
But is LU now inviting politicians too often? In a recent 10 year span, seven of the commencement speakers were politicians or culture war pundits. For an institution with hundreds of majors, that’s rather lopsided representation. Is it time to drop or at least reduce the number of politicians as keynote speakers; especially those running for elected office? Maybe so.
Why? Because too few politicians speak prophetic truth when orbiting for office. They protect their own interests and expound what is expedient to gain votes. Polished rhetoric and partisan ideology seldom stretch students and graduates minds beyond their parochial world.
Another “Why?” Listen to a sage: In the last public speech before he died, Chuck Colson said, “Politics is nothing but an expression of culture…so if things are bad, don’t think it’s going to be solved by an election. It’s going to be solved by us.”
At the end of Jesus 40 days in the desert the devil showed up and shamelessly made a couple of propositions that Jesus flatly turned down. Here’s the text.
Luke 4:5-8: The devil led [Jesus] up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And [the devil] said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to.If you worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’”
Jesus as much as told Satan, “Go to Hell.” And Satan crept away (until the next round), pointed tail between his legs.
Another time the religious powerbrokers brought Jesus to Pilate to be judged.
Luke 23:3; John 18:36: So Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?” “You have said so,” Jesus replied, “My kingdom is not of this world.”
“Training Champions for Christ,” is LU’s motto, prominently displayed throughout the campus. There’s nothing wrong with it. But did Jesus ask us to “champion” his cause? Jesus seldom used such language. His teachings and temperament did not indicate that political power was something he sought. He didn’t speak about winning. He did speak about losing.
Does the religious right somehow miss, or worse ignore, the principle that Jesus not only eschewed earthly power, he rejected it. Is it not the call of the gospel to work for God’s Kingdom now; not our kingdom? Isn’t it in doing God’s work that His Kingdom will come?
What if thousands of young people were deployed as champions for the disenfranchised. That’s Kingdom work. Wow!
Yesterday, the Institute on the Constitution dropped a press release about their God and Government program. From the Christian Newswire release:
The “Institute on the Constitution” has launched “The God And Government Project” the purpose of which is to remind elected officials, and those who seek civil government offices, that government is from God and their first duty must be to obey God and His Word (Romans 13.)
The folks at IOTC want citizens to use open mic time before city council meetings to tell officials that they need to use the Bible as the basis for civil law. IOTC encourages followers to use IOTC-prepared scripts. See an earlier post on the subject and this article for more on what IOTC encourages their followers to do.
The GaG (appropriate) program is consistent with IOTC’s Christian reconstructionist worldview. During his course on the Constitution, Peroutka twists history to make it appear that the founders deliberately created a biblical form of government in line with IOTC views. In a current commentary on his IOTC website, Michael Peroutka makes a case that civil government officials are obligated to govern in accord with his view of the Bible.
Since civil government is ordained by God in order to protect God-given rights, then the function of civil government is to obey God and to enforce God’s law – PERIOD.
It is not the role of civil government to house, feed, clothe, educate or give heath care to…ANYBODY! (Or to operate a Panda-cam at the National Zoo.)
According to Peroutka, government can only do what he thinks God says government can do.
According to Mark Rushdoony, Christian reconstructionism sees the church as Israel.
In 1987 Ross House Books (which is now part of Chalcedon) published a book on covenant theology by Charles D. Provan called The Church Is Israel Now.That title sums up the heart of covenant theology, that the Christian church is heir of the promises to and the responsibility of the Hebrew nation of old.
Thus the proper society is ruled by an Old Testament style regime where the Christian reconstructionist’s understanding of the Bible is the basis for civil law. This is exactly what IOTC’s God and Government program promotes as the message followers should tell elected officials.
Even after his death, Rushdoony’s views are controversial. IOTC does not back away from this. On the IOTC website, readers are directed to an interview given to Bill Moyers in 1988 by Rousas Rushdoony. In this interview, Rushdoony affirms that civil government should be based on the Bible, including injuctions that would lead to the death penalty for 15 crimes, including adulterers, homosexuals, and truly incorrigible sons. Roll the tape:
Listen to the entire segment to get the context. The section on the death penalty is as follows:
Moyers: You’ve written that the Bible calls for the death penalty, and I’m just running down a variety of things as you can see. You’ve written that the Bible calls for the death penalty of some 15 crimes: rape, sodomy, adultery.
Rushdoony: Adultery because in the Bible the basic institution is the family. There’s no law of treason against the state. The Bible doesn’t even imagine anything remotely like that. But the basic institution is the family. And so, several of the death penalties are associated with the family and its life.
Moyers: So adultery was considered a theft of the family.
Rushdoony: It was, yes, it was treason to the family.
Rushdoony: Yes, it was treason to the family.
Moyers: Worthy of the death sentence?
Moyers: Worthy of the death sentence?
Moyers: Deserving of the death sentence?
Rushdoony: Yes, that’s what Paul says. … Moyers: But you would re-instate the death penalty for some of these or all of these Biblical crimes?
Rushdoony: I wouldn’t—
Moyers: But the reconstructive society–
Rushdoony: I’m saying that this is what God requires. I’m not saying that everything in the Bible, I like. Some of it rubs me the wrong way. But I’m simply saying, this is what God requires. This is what God says is justice. Therefore, I don’t feel I have a choice.
Moyers: And the agents of God would carry out the laws.
Rushdoony: The civil government would, on these things.
Moyers: So you would have a civil government, based upon–
Rushdoony: Oh yes. I’m not an anarchist. I’m close to being a libertarian. But–
Moyers: But the civil law would be based on the biblical law. And so you’d have a civil government carrying out a religious mandate.
Rushdoony: Oh yes.
Given their reverence for Rushdoony and the link to this interview, I think it is a fair assumption that IOTC is in sympathy with these views. Since they won’t answer my requests for information, I will ask here publicly – IOTC leaders (Peroutka, Lofton), do you agree with Rushdoony here? Would you, in the government you are calling for, put people to death for adultery, homosexuality and the other crimes delineated by Rushdoony?
One thing I don’t need to ask about is the IOTC view of public schools. In the citation above, Peroutka says civil government has no role in education. Historically, reconstructionists have been strong supporters of Christian schools as alternatives to public education. One of the leading reconstructionists, and Rushdoony’s son-in-law Gary North, said this about the relationship between Christian schools and religious liberty (for a longer quote and commentary, see this article).
The major churches of any society are all maneuvering for power, so that their idea of lawful legislation will become predominant. They are all perfectly willing to use the ideal of religious liberty as a device to gain power, until the day comes that abortion is legalized (denying the right of life to infants) or prohibited (denying the “right of control over her own body,” after conception, to each woman). Everyone talks about religious liberty, but no one believes it.
So let us be blunt about it: we must use the doctrine of religious liberty to gain independence for Christian schools until we train up a generation of people who know that there is no religious neutrality, no neutral law, no neutral education, and no neutral civil government. Then they will get busy in constructing a Bible-based social, political, and religious order which finally denies the religious liberty of the enemies of God. Murder, abortion, and pornography will be illegal. God’s law will be enforced. It will take time. A minority religion cannot do this. Theocracy must flow from the hearts of a majority of citizens, just as compulsory education came only after most people had their children in schools of some sort. But religious anarchy, like “democratic freedom” in ancient Greece, is a temporary phenomenon; it lasts only as long as no single group gets sufficient power and accepted authority to abandon the principle. Religious anarchy, as a long-term legal framework for organizing a society, is as mythical as neutrality is. Both views assume that the institutions of civil government can create and enforce neutral law. They are cousins, and people believe in them only temporarily, until they make up their minds concerning which God they will serve.
While I doubt this will ever happen, it seems clear that the IOTC and like-minded reconstructionists will keep on trying to make it a reality. For IOTC supporters who love the First Amendment, you have a rude awakening coming. As Peroutka and Lofton proclaim, civil law should obey and enforce God’s law, and by that they mean their interpretation of the Bible, both Old and New Testaments. Someone’s religion must be obeyed according to Rushdoony, and the folks at IOTC want to make sure it is their religion. For now, they will use freedom of speech and religion at city council meetings to get their voices heard but if ever they get their way, one cannot count on these rights remaining. If you really believe in freedom of conscience and religious liberty, then you cannot fully embrace IOTC’s GaG program. While the folks at IOTC want freedom of religion to speak at public meetings, they very openly proclaim that they want civil government to obey their religious views to the exclusion of all others.
In contrast, I want the reconstructionists to be able to speak their mind, but I don’t want civil officials to use one religion as the basis for their governing. In contrast to Peroutka’s odd construction, using one religion as the basis for civil law is prohibited by the First Amendment. Gary North says no one really believes in religious liberty. He is wrong; the framers most certainly did.
UPDATE: I have information from Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen, a DoD Spokesman, regarding two issues of interest to claims about the military and religious faith. The first relates claims that Christians were being targeted. Lt. Cmdr. Christensen said in an email:
“The U.S. Department of Defense has never and will never single out a particular religious group for persecution or prosecution. The Department makes reasonable accommodations for all religions and celebrates the religious diversity of our service members.
Service members can share their faith (evangelize), but must not force unwanted, intrusive attempts to convert others of any faith or no faith to one’s beliefs (proselytization).
If a service member harasses another member on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, or disability, then the commander takes action based on the gravity of the occurrence. Likewise, when religious harassment complaints are reported, commanders take action based on the gravity of the occurrence on a case by case basis.
The Department of Defense places a high value on the rights of members of the Military Services to observe the tenets of their respective religions and respects (and supports by its policy) the rights of others to their own religious beliefs, including the right to hold no beliefs. The Department does not endorse any one religion or religious organization, and provides free access of religion for all members of the military services.
We work to ensure that all service members are free to exercise their Constitutional right to practice their religion — in a manner that is respectful of other individuals’ rights to follow their own belief systems; and in ways that are conducive to good order and discipline; and that do not detract from accomplishing the military mission.”
This makes things clearer and I hope cuts through the news reports that have helped generate the controversy.
The second statement is about the role of Mikey Weinstein in the meeting he had with military leaders at the Pentagon. Some sources have suggested he was a consultant. According Lt. Cmdr Christensen:
“Mr. Weinstein is not part of any DoD Advisory Group or Committee, nor is he a consultant to the Defense Department regarding religious matters.
Mr. Weinstein requested, and was granted, a meeting at the Pentagon April 23, with the Air Force Judge Advocate General and others, to include the Deputy Chief of Chaplains, to express his concerns of religious issues in the military.
The Department of Defense places a high value on the rights of members of the Military Services to observe the tenets of their respective religions and respects (and supports by its policy) the rights of others to their own religious beliefs, including the right to hold no beliefs. The Department does not endorse any one religion or religious organization, and provides free access of religion for all members of the military services.”
UPDATE: Bob Smietana at the Tennessean contacted the DOD regarding the reports of court martial and purging the military of Christians. He reports that the DOD denies these claims. According to a DOD spokesman, people can share their faith but cannot force their beliefs on others.
…..(original post begins here)
You might believe so if you listen to religious right pundits over the last couple of days. On April 30, Fox News pundit Todd Starnes told his listeners that military leaders met with Mikey Weinstein in April to discuss military regulations against sharing one’s religious faith. As quoted by Starnes, Weinstein said “Until the Air Force or Army or Navy or Marine Corps punishes a member of the military for unconstitutional religious proselytizing and oppression, we will never have the ability to stop this horrible, horrendous, dehumanizing behavior.” On point, Starnes cites a Department of Defense spokesman: “’Religious proselytization is not permitted within the Department of Defense,’ [spokesman] Nate Christensen said in a written statement.” (more…)