Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Family Research Council continues to use 'outdated' work

In December of last year, I emailed the Family Research Council inquiring about the quiet removal of several studies from its webpage. These studies were designed to prove the alleged "dangers of homosexuality."

They were:

"Homosexuality and Child Sexual Abuse"

"The Negative Health Effects of Homosexuality,"

"Homosexual Parenting: Placing Children at Risk"

Tuesday night, I received an answer via email:

Dear Alvin,

Thank you for contacting Family Research Council.

The papers that you inquired about have been removed from our website indefinitely due to the fact that they have outdated sources. However, we have other resources on our website that contain similar information, such as the following:

Getting It Straight

What's wrong with letting same-sex couples legally "marry?"

Why Marriage Should Be Privileged in Public Policy

Comparing the Lifestyles of Homosexual Couples to Married Couples

Ten Arguments From Social Science Against Same-Sex 'Marriage'

You think that would be the end of the story.


The Family Research Council seems to have taken the studies it claims to contain "outdated sources," polished them up, and are now pushing them as credible, up-to-date work.

However, many of these "new" resources contain the same information as the "outdated" studies, sometimes verbatim, including the same endnote citations.

Comparing the Lifestyles of Homosexual Couples to Married Couples (still on the webpage) and the Negative Effects of Homosexuality (removed from the webpage) is a perfect example of this. Among other things, both contain the following:

- A citation of the book Homosexualities: A Study of Diversity Among Men and Women by Alan Bell and Martin Weinberg as a correct generalization of lgbt sexual habits despite the fact that it was written in 1978 and was not meant by the authors to be a correct assessment of the lgbt community in general.

A passage from Homosexualities clearly says:

“. . . given the variety of circumstances which discourage homosexuals from participating in research studies, it is unlikely that any investigator will ever be in a position to say that this or that is true of a given percentage of all homosexuals.”

- A citation of the book The Male Couple: How Relationships Develop by David P. McWhirter and Andrew M. Mattison despite the fact that the book was written 1984 and was not meant to be a correct assessment of the lgbt community in general.

A passage from The Male Couple says:

“We always have been very careful to explain that the very nature of our research sample, its size (156 couples), its narrow geographic location, and the natural selectiveness of the participants prevents the findings from being applicable and generalizable to the entire gay
male community.”

This is important because even if one were to ignore the obvious misusage of these books, their published dates (1978 and 1984 respectively) leads one to ask what exactly does the Family Research Council consider to be an "outdated source?"

And that isn't all I found.

As I said before, some of the studies now present on the Family Research Council's webpage (and thus considered to be accurate) contain some of the same information and citations present in the "outdated" studies.

Some of this information has gotten the Family Research Council in trouble a number of years ago.

Look at the study, Getting It Straight for example.

In chapter 4 - Is Homosexuality a Health Risk, there is this passage (pg. 88):

A study of 3,365 high school students published in Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine found: “Gay, lesbian, bisexual, or not sure male students were 6.50 times more likely to report a suicide attempt than heterosexual male students. Gay, lesbian, bisexual, or not sure female students were 2.02 times more likely to report a suicide attempt than their heterosexual female peers.”

Robert Garofalo, et al, “Sexual Orientation and Risk of Suicide Attempts among a Representative Sample of Youth,” Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine 153 (May 1999): 490.

In 1998, Garofalo complained that FRC and several other religious right groups was distorting his research. According to him, the groups omitted a crucial part of his findings (i.e. gay teens engage in negative behavior - suicide attempts - when faced with abuse from a homophobic society). Interestingly enough, when Garofalo complained, then FRC staff member Robert Knight questioned his credibility. (Boston doctor says ads distorted his work on gays, The Boston Globe, August 4, 1998 )

Then there is this passage in the same chapter on pg. 89:

A study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology on the mortality rates of homosexuals concluded that they have a significantly reduced life expectancy:

• “In a major Canadian centre, life expectancy at age twenty for gay and bisexual men is eight to twenty years less than for all men. If the same pattern of mortality were to continue, we estimate that nearly half of gay and bisexual men currently aged twenty years will not reach their sixty-fifth birthday. Under even the most liberal assumptions, gay and bisexual men in this urban centre are now experiencing a life expectancy similar to that experienced by all men in Canada in the year 1871.”

In 2001, the researchers of this study complained that their work was being distorted by organizations like FRC.

Now wouldn't complaints by a study's author render it unusuable or a possible "outdated source?"

Apparently not to the Family Research Council.


Chapter 5 of Getting it Straight, Do Homosexual Parents Pose a Risk to Children, is interesting in that except for a few alterations (i.e. rearranging of text) it is identical to Homosexual Parenting: Placing Children at Risk - one of the studies FRC removed from its webpage claiming that it contained "outdated sources."

By that same token, chapter 6 of Getting It Straight, Is There a Link Between Homosexuality and Child Sexual Abuse? is a total rehash of Homosexuality and Child Abuse, yet another study that FRC removed from its page for having "outdated sources."

What's interesting about Homosexuality and Child Abuse is that a researcher cited in it, Nicholas Groth, sent a letter to FRC in 2002 complaining about how his work was being distorted to prove that gays molest children at a higher number that heterosexuals - something that his work found not to be true.

However, despite his complaint over five years ago, Groth's work is cited in Getting It Straight (pg. 123):

Another study found that “some authors now believe that boys may be sexually abused as commonly as girls (Groth, 1978; O’Brien, 1980).”

These are just a few of the things that I found. There so many other inaccuracies in these supposed credible studies. All of it makes one wonder just exactly is FRC's definition of an "outdated source."

And if I can take the question further - just what exactly is FRC's definition of truth and Christian principles?

It is ironic that while FRC head Tony Perkins pleads innocent ennui and criticizes lgbts for our supposed intolerance, his group engages in tactics that justify our position of anger.

Regardless of one's personal beliefs about homosexuality, no one should approve of FRC's deceptive tactics.

Hat tip to Emproph for sending me a link to FRC's "outdated" studies.

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CaliforniaSurfer said...

Im an Evangelical Christian, your site showed up in a google search, i read this article about the FRC and wanted to add that YES, WITHOUT A DOUBT the Family Research Council members have acted and said shameful things that they represent, in error, to be Christian perspective, Christian mandate or proper biblical teaching.

Because the FRC works against abortion, at least they claim to, maybe thats a front also? they have the reputation of being a Christian group. After some time of looking into their beliefs I came to the conclusion years ago they do not represent valid bible teaching, they do not represent genuine bible based Christian theology.

We are given Gods word in Scripture and its the Scripture that is in authority over mankind, note that in Hebrews it says the Word is alive and active and sharper than any 2 edged sword, and is able to judge the thoughts and intents; So its Scripture that is active and alive and is the authority.

The Roman Catholic church has abused its authority telling people its interpretations are the only true teaching. The Jews in Jesus day did this too, making their writings of the meanings of bible passages as the only authority and not Gods word, Jesus caught them in a huge error; But we should not just assume only Jews or Catholics can be fallible, reformed tight laced Baptist types do they have it all figured out? and right? No, they put their interpretations above the authority of Scripture just like other scholars do and have done.

The case of Jennifer Keeton v ASU is an example, she and others are wrong to claim its a battle of the school versus Jesus, because? her specific belief or interpretation is a certain way, a way that does not hold up to analysis of Scripture.

Some people believe the Genesis creation of 6 literal earth days is wrong, but those peoples' claims do not hold up to analysis, it comes down to them wanting to believe a certain thing and then CLAIMING its true and biblical.

The FRC is a group that sometimes says the right thing, but they are an uncontrolled, unofficial and misguided group who do not put the bible as being in authority.

Do not, DO NOT assume the FRC represents the body of Christian believers

BlackTsunami said...

Hi California Surfer,

thank you for that very insightful piece. Sometimes we do forget that Focus on the Family do not represent the entire body of Christian believers and we need folks like yourself to remind us of that.

liquid said...

I know this post is ancient, and i'm necroing something long dead, but i felt it was relevant and want to draw attention to it for any others stumbling into archives-i went to asu briefly before transferring away, i knew jennifer keeton, i attended Campus Outreach events were she led discussions. i am also gay, although at the time i was not so forthright about it. what disgusted me the most, when i returned home from school to this controversy, wasn't so much her beliefs, but the CO organization-which defines itself as a (relatively) liberal, welcoming association aimed at young adults-spun the situation intoi strong antagonistic black and white terms, with a stark refusal to even allow thought onto why the university might not be happy with her. people whom i had previously spent vast amounts of time with, and respected as well educated, informed, caring people, who, no matter their views, knew their theology and were firmly rooted in scripture-these were people who used to have word studies, reading the texts in the original greek and hebrew and defining terms only in ways that were culturally relevant at the time they were written-devolved into boldfaced bigotry. it saddened me to see such a clear declaration of principals so anathemic to their stated goal. unfortunately, that kind of thing seems to be extremely common in religious groups, no matter how open they may seem-all it takes is a small deviation for the whole institution to devolve into hate.