Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Southern Baptist Convention doesn't know the meaning of the word 'irony'

Yesterday, the Southern Baptist Convention recently elected its first African-American president.

From The Washington Post:

When the Southern Baptist Convention met Tuesday, it elected its first African American president, Fred Luter Jr., a former street preacher and current pastor of a church in New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward.
Luter’s election marks a watershed moment for the SBC. The organization was founded in a split over slavery before the Civil War and for decades was a largely segregated, all-white denomination. It was not until 1995 that the organization adopted a resolution of racial reconciliation; it has come under scrutiny for racial insensitivity as recently as the Trayvon Martin case, when the president of its policy arm made racially charged comments about the case.

But the election of Luter will not be, at least primarily, about fixing the sins of the past. Rather, it will be about the future of an organization that has seen declining membership for five straight years. The denomination—the largest Protestant body in the United States—will need to seek new growth from urban centers and minority groups, or at the very least, maintain its size by helping struggling churches find ways to stay afloat. “I think they thought racial diversity would happen,” Ed Stetzer, the president of the SBC’s research organization, told the Associated Press. “Now they realize they have to make it happen,” he said.

I would probably applaud the SBC except for the following from The Associated Press:

 A day after electing their first African-American president, Southern Baptists were considering a resolution Wednesday opposing the idea that gay rights are the same as civil rights.

The resolution up for a vote at the denomination's annual meeting in New Orleans affirms Southern Baptists' beliefs that marriage is "the exclusive union of one man and one woman" and that "all sexual behavior outside of marriage is sinful."

It acknowledges that gays and lesbians sometimes experience "unique struggles" but declares that they lack the "distinguishing features of classes entitled to special protections."

"It is regrettable that homosexual rights activists and those who are promoting the recognition of 'same-sex marriage' have misappropriated the rhetoric of the Civil Rights Movement," the resolution states.

So let me get this correct.  An organization (the Southern Baptist Convention) which started over the question of slavery - it was for it -  and was heavily segregated during the Civil Rights Movement has now its first black leader and but is also presently thinking about passing a resolution accusing gays of  misappropriating the rhetoric of the Civil Rights Movement; a movement started in part because folks like the people in the Southern Baptist Convention justified the treating of black people as inferiors.

The irony boggles the mind, but it does justify an old saying.

You can't put a new auto body around a crappy engine and expect it to perform.

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'GoProud sells out gay community for press coverage' and other Wednesday midday news briefs

Purportedly pro-LGBT civil rights conservative org GOProud endorses Romney - No GoProud, endorsing Mitt Romney doesn't make you look edgy. It makes you look elitist, out-of-touch with your own community, and stupid. It's the equivalent of putting your head in the mouth of a hungry lion and then not expecting the lion to chomp down.  

Here you go: LGBT rights advances under President Obama that President Romney could undo - Just a reminder of how severe the bite of that lion can be. And remember that Romney did sign that National Organization for Marriage pledge.  

A Gay Couple weds at NYC's Midtown Comics Store - Go ahead. You know you want to say it - "Aw how cute!" 

 Obama is Not a Christian Because 'the Bible is Very Clear About Homosexual Acts Being a Very Evil Thing' - ONLY if they are done very early in the morning. Three a.m. is a very inhuman hour for "homosexual acts."

 Rubio: Society Shouldn’t ‘Tolerate’ Same-Sex Marriage - OH REALLLLLY! As long as society "tolerates" my tax dollars, it should (and will) tolerate my rights. 

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Family Research Council destroys study's credibility

Peter Sprigg
The anti-gay parenting study authored by the University of Texas professor Mark Rengnerus just received another kiss of death aside from condemnation from social scientists.

Apparently the Family Research Council loves it.

FRC spokesman Peter Sprigg wrote a long love letter to the study, having this to say at the conclusion:

 The myths that children of homosexual parents are "no different" from other children and suffer "no harm" from being raised by homosexual parents have been shattered forever.

Of course that statement is strange, seeing that Regnerus - for all of the faults in his work - clearly said the study does not establish a relationship between same-sex parenting and negative outcomes (see point 2 in the Equality Matters link).

Also, according to the online publication The Daily Beast emphasis added:

In his Slate essay, Regnerus preemptively defends himself against  . . . criticisms with a limited interpretation of the results. “We didn’t have as many intact lesbian and gay families as we hoped to evaluate, even though they are the face of much public deliberation about marriage equality,” he writes. The results reflect on a previous generation of gay parenting, before the legalization of gay marriage in some states, he writes. “I’m not claiming that sexual orientation is at fault here, or that I know about kids who are presently being raised by gay or lesbian parents. Their parents may be forging more stable relationships in an era that is more accepting and supportive of gay and lesbian couples.” Regnerus says his study’s political implications are unclear and are not intended to undermine the legal parental rights of anyone.

But Sprigg has an interesting way of overlooking Regnerus's caveats. This is what he says:

While the Regnerus study is a vast improvement over virtually all the prior research in the field, it still leaves much to study and learn about homosexual parents and their effect on children. Author Mark Regnerus emphasizes the traditional caveat in social science, warning against leaping to conclusions regarding "causality." In other words, just because there are statistical correlations between having a homosexual parent and experiencing negative outcomes does not automatically prove that having a homosexual parent is what caused the negative outcomes--other factors could be at work.

This is true in a strict scientific sense--but because Regnerus carefully controlled for so many other factors in the social environment, the study gives a clear indication that it is this parental characteristic which best defines the household environment that produces these troubling outcomes. The large number of significant negative outcomes in this study gives legitimate reason for concern about the consequences of "homosexual parenting."

In other words, Sprigg is saying "Hey, the study does not say that same-sex homes causes negative behaviors and I won't say that they do either, but since the large number of significant negative outcomes in this carefully controlled study come from same-sex households, by all means feel free to make that assumption."

Herein we see the futility of Regnerus's caveats. Sprigg not only pushes them aside, he does it without apology, as does several other religious right groups and websites who are already claiming that Regnerus's study proves that same-sex households are somehow dangerous towards children.

I guess they didn't read Regnerus's caveats regarding causation. Or maybe, like Sprigg, they just don't care because they now have something which they can use against the gay community, caveats be damned.

Therein lies the immediate danger of Regnerus's work. It's not about science nor the slow process of coming to the conclusion about a social issue through research. It's about the impact of shock headlines and the assumptions that people like Sprigg and organizations like FRC will invite others to make; assumptions designed to denigrate same-sex households and distort images of the gay community before anyone has a chance to delve deeper into the issue.

I seriously wonder if Regnerus knows what he has gotten himself into with this. I also would suggest that Regnerus, if he is truly to be believed about the objectivity of his study, should step in and forcefully speak against the use of it to demonize same-sex households and the lgbtq community in general.

If he speaks out, we will know where he stands regarding the assumptions the religious right is making about his work.

If he is silent then I guess that will still let us know where he stands, won't it?

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