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Religion Last Updated: Aug 14th, 2009 - 00:37:05

Not a good month for the Christian Right
By Mel Seesholtz, Ph.D.
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Aug 14, 2009, 00:18

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The smiling face of Focus on the Family�s CEO accompanied an August 3 article by Michelle Garcia on

Focus on the Family Embraces Discourse

Focus on the Family�s president and CEO says he�s all about sitting down with a cup of coffee with a political adversary to find the ability to respectfully disagree.

�[We] have to get to a point, not only as Christians but as a country, where we can disagree about important matters without being disrespectful,� said Jim Daly to the organization�s Citizen magazine about a project to bring people of differing opinions together. �I love coffee, some might even say I�m hooked on it, so I use that expression as a real-world way of saying: �Let�s have a conversation, face-to-face, get to know each other and what informs our worldviews. And when we hit a subject on which we don�t share the same values, let�s talk about those issues with boldness and passion, yes, but with mutual respect, too.�

I don�t drink coffee, and I doubt I�d ever be invited to sit down and chat with Mr. Daly, but if I were, the first thing I�d have to ask him is that if he really believed the arguments made by Focus on the Family�s founder and guiding light, Dr. James Dobson, in his 2004 book, Marriage Under Fire. Dobson posited eleven reasons to oppose equal marriage rights. His eleventh was that if gay and lesbian Americans were allowed to marry, the world would end.

It would be �awkward,� to say the least, to converse meaningfully and in good faith with someone who thought Dobson�s misrepresentations, distortions, and scare tactics in that book were legitimate. (For a rebuttal of Dobson�s other �reasons� see �Out of Focus on the Family: A Response to Arguments Against Same-Sex Marriage,� Popular Culture Review, 16:1 [February 2005], 45-75.)

If you want an honest, respectful discussion, Mr. Daly, be respectful and dissociate yourself and your organization from the distortions and scare tactics used by Dr. Dobson, and then repudiate such dishonest strategies.

Yet another �snarl� came from dour Don Wildmon of the American [anti-]Family Association. Wildmon goes wild whenever any company or organization recognizes gay and lesbian Americans as equals deserving of equal consideration. On 4 August 4 2009, Wildmon sent out one of his Action Alerts. Like Dobson, Wildmon is a master of distorting facts and scare tactics that he then serves up in his patented hysterical rhetoric. Case in point . . .

AAA Recognizes gay couples as �married� and a �family�

August 4, 2009

The American Automobile Association (AAA) has begun offering �Family Memberships� to homosexual couples, recognizing the homosexual couple as being �married,� according to a homosexual activist organization in Florida.

Thirty states have overwhelmingly voted to define marriage as being between one man and one woman. Yet AAA is treating homosexual couples as if they are married.

The homosexual couples need only state that they are married to receive the family benefit. In the eyes of AAA, two homosexuals living together constitute �marriage� and make a �family.� All they have to do to get the �family membership� benefits is to say �we are gay and married.�

Take Action!

Please contact AAA immediately, urging them to reverse their policy recognizing homosexual couples as if they were �married� for purposes of AAA Family Memberships.

�Family memberships� do not presume marriage, only �family.� And yes, Don, gay couples � many of whom have children, do constitute a family, as much as that seems to pain you.

Do heterosexual couples have to produce a marriage license to secure a �Family Membership� from AAA? Would Wildmon object to unmarried heterosexual couples (with or without children) receiving Family Memberships?

And as much as dour Don likes to ignore facts, same-sex marriage is legal in several states. But undoubtedly he would also object to the legally married same-sex couples in those states receiving Family Memberships. Wildmon recognizes only those �families� that fit neatly into the Bigotry Box AFA and Liberty Counsel share. (Please click on the Liberty Counsel link to Mike Thomas� article �Liberty Counsel is anti-family� in The Orlando Sentinel.)

Not surprisingly, the �usual absurdities� appeared in an early August 2009 article on Wildmon�s AFA propaganda organ, OneNewsNow. The article had no title, but was penned by Jim Fletcher:

Jim Fletcher is director of Prophecy Matters, a ministry outreach of Creation Truth Foundation. The longtime editor for Master Books, the world�s largest publisher of creationism books, Jim now travels and speaks on the subject of apologetics. . . . Jim writes for a variety of publications, including the Jerusalem Post, [Joseph Farah�s] WorldNetDaily, and OneNewsNow. He blogs weekly at the �Israel Watch� section of RaptureReady . . . [links added]

Mr. Fletcher�s latest book was titled It�s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine), with the subtitle �How to stop worrying and learn to love these END TIMES.� On 13 July 2009, another article by Mr. Fletcher had appeared on OneNewsNow. It was titled �The World As It Really Is,� a nonsensical piece previously commented upon.

Mr. Fletcher began his latest installment of biblical literalism with a question: �Is there any good reason to believe that Adam and Eve were not real people?�

YES! The reasons are myriad and go by several names: �science,� �knowledge,� �reason,� �rationality,� and �common sense.�

Mr. Fletcher continued and offered a wealth of irrationalities married to logical flaws directed at �science,� �knowledge,� �reason,� �rationality,� and �education�:

I ask because the erosion of belief in these two humans that the Bible records are the parents of all of us living today has far-reaching implications.

A brand-new, dynamic DVD, �America�s Founding Era� -- from Creation Truth Foundation ( -- is loaded with great interviews from leading Christian scholars.

In one of the interviews, David Barton answers a question I�ve asked for many years: why do students find history boring? Barton answers that young people today find history boring because educators have sanitized the work of the Divine in history . . . out of history.

Wow! What insight from Barton, whose Wall Builders organization does much to overcome this teaching deficiency in politically correct America, 2009. [italics added]

�Christian scholars�? Does that mean a scholar who studies Christian theology? If so, s/he would not necessarily be a credentialed expert in the sciences of anthropology, biology, geology, or genetics that argue convincingly against the �reality� of Adam and Eve and their populating the entire planet a mere 6,000 years ago.

The statement made by the leading Christian �scholar� Mr. Fletcher cites, David Barton (who is probably not credentialed in anthropology, biology, geology, genetics or, apparently, logic, sociology, and pedagogy), is a classic example of several logical fallacies: post hoc ergo propter hoc (after this therefore because of this), Dicto simpliciter (spoken simply, i.e., sweeping generalization), cum hoc ergo propter hoc (with this therefore because of this), and non sequitur (it does not follow).

In my 30-plus years as a professional educator I�ve met many, many students fascinated with history. True, some have not been, but to suggest that the sole reason for that is �because educators have sanitized the work of the Divine in history . . . out of history� is not only illogical and irrational, it�s just plain stupid. There really is no more appropriate term to describe it. But then again, what would one expect from someone who argues Adam and Eve were real people who, together with their necessarily incestuous children, populated the newly formed earth 6,000 years ago. (But both Mr. Fletcher and Mr. Barton should be happy to know there are many university courses that include analyses of the role dogmatic, fundamentalist Christianity has played in American and world history, both the bright spots and the dark ages.)

Mr. Fletcher�s �Wow!� response to Barton�s preposterous assertion was golly-gee-whiz appropriate. But his comment about a �teaching deficiency� in American higher education was as offensive to professional educators as his comment about American students was pejorative.

Every profession has its �deficiencies,� but professional educators failing to lecture in class that Genesis is literal history is not a �deficiency.� Doing so would be a travesty and repudiation of science, knowledge, common sense and �education,� as well as an egregious violation of professional ethics and responsibilities. Myths are myths. They are not reality. And professional educators strive to equip students with knowledge about and useful in dealing with reality.

Believing gay men and women are less than equal and that their families don�t count, believing the earth is 6,000 years old, Adam and Eve were real people and that their children played with dinosaurs in Eden have no real-world value. They are, however, the faith-based sources of bigotry and ignorance.

Things �faith-based� had a tough week early this month. On August 4, the American Psychological Association issued its Resolution on Appropriate Affirmative Responses to Sexual Orientation Distress and Change Efforts.� The APA�s press release summarized:

Practitioners Should Avoid Telling Clients They Can Change from Gay to Straight

TORONTO � The American Psychological Association adopted a resolution Wednesday stating that mental health professionals should avoid telling clients that they can change their sexual orientation through therapy or other treatments. . . .

�Contrary to claims of sexual orientation change advocates and practitioners, there is insufficient evidence to support the use of psychological interventions to change sexual orientation,� said Judith M. Glassgold, PsyD, chair of the task force. �Scientifically rigorous older studies in this area found that sexual orientation was unlikely to change due to efforts designed for this purpose. Contrary to the claims of SOCE practitioners and advocates, recent research studies do not provide evidence of sexual orientation change as the research methods are inadequate to determine the effectiveness of these interventions.� Glassgold added: �At most, certain studies suggested that some individuals learned how to ignore or not act on their homosexual attractions. . . .�

Guess my second question for Focus on the Family CEO Daly would be, �Does Focus on the Family plan to continue its �ex-gay� program that teaches people to repress who they are and lives fraudulent lives?�

One of the leaders of the creationist movement got some more bad news this month, too. Kent Hovind was the founder of Creation Science Evangelism. His �ministry� also built Dinosaur Adventure Land . . . all 10 properties. The theme park is dedicated to Genesis-style creationism: dinosaurs and human children playing together.

Hovind is currently serving a 10-year sentence for failing to collect and pay withholding taxes, obstructing tax laws and related charges. And now, this . . .

Judge clears way for dinosaur park to be seized

A federal judge has cleared the way for the government�s seizure of a creationism theme park in Pensacola owned by a couple convicted of tax fraud.

A ruling by U.S. District Judge Casey Rodgers states that the nine properties that make up Dinosaur Adventure Land as well as two bank accounts associated with the park will be used to satisfy $430,400 owed to the federal government.

Kent Hovind, who founded the park and a ministry, Creation Science Evangelism, is serving 10 years in federal prison for failing to pay the Internal Revenue Service more than $470,000 in employee taxes.

He was found guilty in November 2006 on 58 counts, including failure to pay employee taxes and making threats against investigators.

The conviction culminated 17 years of Hovind sparring with the IRS. Saying he was employed by God and his ministers were not subject to payroll taxes, he claimed no income or property.

�Employed by God�? Yea, right . . .

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