It seems that Sally Quinn and Jon Meacham are at least trying to get messages out to counter the bile spewed forth by Tony Perkins last week in their “On Faith” column. First there was Sirdeaner Walker, mother of Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, the eleven year-old who took his life after being driven to the edge by anti-gay bullying. Walker is now on the board of GLSEN, whose noble work Tony Perkins spit on in his WaPo column.
Now Mitchell Gold, friend of Truth Wins Out and founder of Faith In America, is adding his words to the discussion in the same space:
Across the country, parents, school officials, legislators, religious leaders, and others are recognizing that young people are deeply harmed by the message that being gay is sinful and wrong. For the first time, many voices are calling for accountability from groups and public figures who misuse religion to justify anti-gay bigotry.
Not surprisingly, those who have made careers of promoting anti-gay views are fighting back. Last week, Tony Perkins, the director of the Family Research Council, attacked those who “lay blame at the feet of conservative Christians who teach that homosexual conduct is wrong.” In an guest voices column for On Faith, Perkins cynically denied any connection between the harassment of gay youth and the belief that gay people are sinful and disordered. According to Perkins, all responsibility must be placed on the bully, and not on religious teachings that condemn homosexuality as a threat to society. Incredibly, Perkins claimed that if gay youth commit suicide, it is because they “recognize intuitively that their same-sex attractions are abnormal,” not because of rejection by family, friends, and religious leaders.
Perkin’s distortion of scientific research and callous disregard for the harm caused by his anti-gay views have been widely condemned, and rightly so.
Gold goes on to point out, though, that aside from religious leaders like Perkins himself, many of the people who hold similar views are essentially good-hearted people who don’t actually wish harm on people, and who, when confronted with the harm that such beliefs and teachings cause, are often surprised and dismayed to learn the true results of that worldview:
During my visits with people of faith in all parts of the country, I have spoken with Evangelicals, Catholics, Protestants and Jews who have been taught that homosexuality is immoral and wrong. Almost invariably, they are surprised and concerned when they hear about the harms caused by those teachings. Many have told me they had not fully considered the impact on a gay young person of being told that he is sinful and abnormal, or that he will be cut off from God’s love unless he can do the impossible and change who he is.
It’s incumbent upon religious leaders like Tony Perkins to stop cynically lying to their people about the reality of LGBT people. For whatever reason, good people around the country actually respect Perkins, Focus on the Family, and similar groups and leaders. What I’ve found over the years is similar to what Gold states in his piece — many people of the conservative persuasion simply don’t know how awful and dishonest their leaders really are.
That’s part of why we do what we do.