The Religious Right's Spin On Science

The mainstream scientific community rejects the Religious Right’s assertion that gays and lesbians can change their sexual orientation to become heterosexual: the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Association of Social Workers and the American Psychiatric Association all deny the effectiveness, safety and ethics of ‘ex-gay’ reparative therapy.

But that doesn’t stop right-wing activists from citing and exaggerating the claims of small, fringe organizations in order to bolster their support of reparative therapy and claim that such “therapy” has extensive backing in the medical community.

Today, Liberty Counsel heads Mat Staver and Matt Barber, who according to their official biographies have no background in psychology, dedicated their Faith & Freedom radio show to assailing the American Psychological Association, arguing that they have more psychological expertise than the APA. Staver pointed to a small, Christians-only psychological group has “the most definitive, most recent research that’s come out that says change is possible” for gays and lesbians:

Liberty Counsel even declared that the American Association of Christian Counselors is “larger than American Psychological Assn”:

 

In reality, the AACC has just one-third of the membership of the APA, which has 154,000 members.

Staver and Barber are far from the only anti-gay figures to promote the findings of tiny, religious groups over the claims of more reputable and mainstream organizations.

As reported on RWW, David Barton on WallBuilders Live last week falsely described the American College of Pediatricians as “the leading pediatric association in America” as he cited a memo from the group claiming that “most students will ultimately adopt a heterosexual orientation if not otherwise encouraged.” Barton used the ACP’s memo as evidence to show that all children will “end up being heterosexual unless [schools] force them to be homosexual”:

The ACP is not “the leading pediatric association in America,” but a far-right offshoot of the real leading pediatric group, the American Academy of Pediatricians, which vigorously condemned the ACP’s memo. Barton’s co-host Rick Green tried to defend his dishonest representation of the ACP, but as Warren Throckmorton points out, while the ACP has “probably less than 200” members, the AAP has around 60,000.

Moreover, Focus on the Family, Family Research Council and Concerned Women for America frequently cite the National Association of Research and Therapy of Homosexuality as a reliable source of information on reparative therapy despite the group’s history of fraud and promotion of anti-gay and racist views.

The argument over the efficacy of ‘ex-gay’ reparative therapy mirrors the fight over teaching Creationism and Creationist-influenced Intelligent Design in public schools. Religious Right figures have a tendency to call any study from a leading and mainstream scientific associations biased if it doesn’t reflect their views, and then find (or create) small, non-credible organizations to reflect their viewpoints. Desperate to reject the consensus of the scientific community, like clockwork Religious Right activists try to pass off these tiny groups as large, credible, and legitimate institutions in an effort to lend authority to their foundering arguments.