On Sept. 28, Truth Wins Out protested a Baptist Press article by ex-gay activist and longtime Exodus member Bob Stith. While mourning the sexual honesty of Christian contemporary singer Ray Boltz, the article unnecessarily and falsely quoted Human Genome Project former director Francis Collins as saying:
Homosexuality is not hardwired. There is no gay gene. We mapped the human genome. We now know there is no genetic cause for homosexuality.
Collins never said that; ex-gay political activist Greg Quinlan did. Good As You made the same observation.
Collins had said almost the opposite: He told Ex-Gay Watch:
The evidence we have at present strongly supports the proposition that there are hereditary factors in male homosexuality — the observation that an identical twin of a male homosexual has approximately a 20% likelihood of also being gay points to this conclusion, since that is 10 times the population incidence. But the fact that the answer is not 100% also suggests that other factors besides DNA must be involved. That certainly doesn’t imply, however, that those other undefined factors are inherently alterable.
No one has yet identified an actual gene that contributes to the hereditary component (the reports about a gene on the X chromosome from the 1990s have not held up), but it is likely that such genes will be found in the next few years.
Ten days later, Baptist Press finally changed the wording of the article — without acknowledging to readers the nature of the falsehoods that had previously been conveyed, without apparent effort to correct syndicated copies of the article that were circulated around the Internet, without apology to Dr. Collins, and — most importantly — without apparent reforms necessary to prevent future errors.
The only hint of the two-week deception appears at the top the article with this brief note:
REVISED: October 8, 2008 to reflect more accurate wording from “The Language of God” by Dr. Francis Collins.
Stith’s article now accurately conveys what Collins said — but the damage has already been done among readers who walked away from the article (and more than a dozen syndicated copies) believing that a leading geneticist had declared homosexuality a purely environmental choice.
Thus far, it seems Stith might walk away from the damage with nothing more than a quiet admission of fault to one web site, Ex-Gay Watch, which his regular audience never reads. Meanwhile, Quinlan has not acknowledged any deception whatsoever. We have asked Stith for assurances of complete remedial action; he has declined to respond.
Stith’s peers say that he is a man of good character; at one time I believed that, but I became very doubtful 10 days ago and now I am nearly convinced otherwise. True accountability, transparency, and penitence require more effort and integrity than I’m seeing, at present, from a prominent Exodus speaker and policy wonk for the Southern Baptist Convention.