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Monday, May 26, 2008
WND Uncritically Quotes Writer Who Likens Homosexuality to Incest, Polygamy
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A May 7 WorldNetDaily article uncritically repeated claims by an author who likens homsexuality to incest and polygamy -- a claim repeated in a May 13 WND article.

The May 7 article was devoted entirely to summarizing a "open letter" by Robert A.J. Gagnon reacting to a controversy over University of Toledo associate vice president for human resources Crystal Dixon, who was fired allegedly over an article she wrote taking "great umbrage at the notion that those choosing the homosexual lifestyle are 'civil rights victims'" because "thousands of homosexuals make a life decision to leave the gay lifestyle" and because gays are well-educated and have higher-than-average incomes; she went on to call homosexuality a "revolt" against "God's divine order."

The unbylined May 7 article described Gagnon as "[a]n author who wrote two books about homosexuality," adding" "He holds degrees from Princeton, Harvard and Dartmouth and wrote the 'Sexuality' entry for the 'New Dictionary of Christian Apologetics,' the same entry for the 'Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of Scripture,' and dozens of other such articles. He's written for 'Theology Matters,' 'Catholic Biblical Quarterly' and 'Journal of Biblical Literature.'" From the article:

Gagnon said the closer parallels to adult-committed homosexual relations are not ethnicity or gender but, rather, adult-committed incestuous unions and adult-committed polysexual unions.

"Given your full affirmation of homosexual activity, you are left with Oprah Winfrey's conclusion after meeting some economically upscale, adult-committed polygamists for a 2007 show: 'The best part of doing this job … [is that] I come in with one idea and then I leave a little more open about the whole idea. And what I realize … is that in every situation there are people who give things a bad name," Gagnon wrote.

"Give America more exposure to upscale, adult-committed polygamous bonds (and adult-committed incestuous bonds) and American will learn to be more tolerant of such bonds, as Oprah has," he wrote. "Those who dismiss a polygamy analogy and an incest analogy on the grounds that polygamy and incest always produce 'demonstrable harm' are simply responding out of their 'polyphobia' and 'incest-phobia.' And then you can suspend peole who say critical things about such relationships, once you overcome your own prejudices," he said.


"An environment that provides increased opportunities for and fewer negative sanctions against same-gender sexuality may both allow and even elicit expression of same-gender interest and sexual behavior. ... There is evidence for the effect of the degree of urbanization of residence while growing up on reported homosexuality. This effect is quite marked and strong for men," the study said.


Gagnon warned, too, of results indicating that when homosexuality is supported, homosexuality increases. He said that should be a warning to voters in the U.S.

If either Democrat candidate gains the White House, he said, "They're going to run down the homosexual agenda: Hate crimes, employment non-discrimination, remove the federal marriage [act], gay marriage will be instituted."

"Then anyone who disagrees or has reservations … will be regarded legally as the equivalent of a virulent racist," he said.

As befits WND's anti-gay agenda, no apparent effort is made to allow anyone to respond to Gagnon's claims.

Gagnon's "open letter" goes even farther than what WND quoted. In it, he calls homosexuality "an impulse-related condition" and titles one section, "Why is homosexual practice wrong?" He concluded: "My point is that if you find adult-committed incest and adult-committed polyamory offensive on formal or structural grounds, you should find adult-committed homosexual practice even more offensive."

For all of the theological credentials WND cited, questions have been raised about his conclusions (which, of course, WND fails to acknowledge). For instance, as one reviewer writes regarding the Gagnon co-authored book "Homosexuality and the Bible: Two Views": "Technically he's telling the truth, but to those of us with linguistic training and training in the Biblical languages, he's being intellectually dishonest or he didn't check an important claim in a source he didn't cite." And a blogger writes of Gagnon's argument that the book of Genesis explains why homosexuality is wrong:

Unfortunately, Dr. Gagnon's argument is built on sand, namely the unstated assumption that the author(s) of the Book of Genesis got the history right (to say nothing of the biology). From everything I've ever learned in school and elsewhere, we have no reason to regard the scriptural tales of Adam and Eve as anything more than speculation. And yet, on the basis of this ahistorical, pre-scientific speculation of 3,000 years ago, we have the effrontery to direct present-day gay and lesbian adults to remain alone and celibate throughout their lives.

As one might expect, Gagnon also hangs around in right-wing anti-gay circles. He served as a speaker for the Illinois Family Institute's "Love and Truth" campaign (alongside presentations titled "How the gay movement endangers and corrupts children" and "The severe health risks of homosexual behavior"). And a 2004 WND article featured criticism from Gagnon of an "annual convention of American religion scholars" that featured "sessions favorable toward sadomasochism, transvestism, transsexualism and polyamory":

"One wonders what is next for the Gay Men's group at AAR – the promotion of incest, 'pedosexuality' and bestiality?" Gagnon asked in a written critique. "There is certainly little or nothing in the presenters' theology that would lead away from such ultimate absurdities."

Farah praised Gagnon as a "courageous whistleblower" for exposing the meeting, describing it as an example of "just how low our culture has plummeted, just how completely our institutions have been subverted, just how evil men's hearts are and just how blind we as a society have become to the depravity that surrounds us."

P.S. In an weird little sidelight, Gagnon on his website defends use of the term "homosex" in his writing:

I prefer to use it such expressions as pro- or anti-homosex rather than to make use of pro- or anti-homosexual. The latter expressions are open to abuse because the term homosexual can refer to a homosexual person. The present debate about homosexual practice is not a debate about whether one should be pro- or anti-homosexual persons. All believers are called on to love persons with a homoerotic proclivity or, for that matter, any other sexual "orientations" that are at variance with Scripture. To oppose a person's self-destructive behavior is not the smae thing as opposing the person. Indeed, to support a person's self-destructive and other-destructive behavior is, in effect, to oppose the person, albeit unwittingly. True love works in the best interests of those who experience homoerotic desires.

Posted by Terry K. at 8:46 AM EDT

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