Telling the Truth: Not Happening at "Americans for Truth"
It’s a shame when an organization with “truth” in its name—and one which ostensibly seeks to represent a Christian perspective—either does not have an interest in getting to the truth of a matter, and/or lacks the integrity to even make the attempt. Such, however, is the sad case with an organization known as “Americans for Truth about Homosexuality”, headed by Peter LaBarbera. Ironically, I would find much in common, philosophically, with this organization; like it, I believe that there is real danger in the “mainstreaming” of the homosexual lifestyle; like it, I hold homosexual behavior to be sinful; like it, I firmly oppose such aberrations as “gay marriage”. But apparently unlike AFT, I value the truth above vitriol.
I am proud to claim Warren Throckmorton as a good friend. I served as Warren’s pastor for a number of years, and have the utmost respect for him as a fellow believer and as a conscientious, dedicated, and scrupulous researcher. His commitment to Christ, and to the Word of God, are unshakeable. And so I cannot claim to be unbiased in what I’m about to write; let the reader be forewarned. Yet, I am concerned with the truth, dismayed when a Christian outfit—under the guise of telling “the truth about homosexuality” engages in the spreading of half-truths and innuendo, not only on its website, but through the media of Christian radio and other outlets. I find that sub-Christian, and in defense of my friend Warren—and of the truth—I’m writing this piece.
OneNewsNow filed this report, gleaned from LaBarbera’s smear campaign—without, by the way, bothering to consult Dr. Throckmorton on the subject ahead of time.
The misleading headline itself is irresponsible, and the fact that no effort was made by OneNewsNow (“Your Latest News from a Christian Perspective”) to contact Dr. Throckmorton prior to printing the hatchet job certainly constitutes irresponsible journalism—and at least from the perspective of this writer, calls into question the journalistic integrity of the whole enterprise (if the journalism is this shoddy on this piece, what about the other things reported by this “news” organization?).
But the greater sin is that of Americans for Truth and Mr. LaBarbera. Mr. LaBarbera and others have created a bandwagon, thinking they’ve found something of substance against which to rail, and they’ve jumped on that bandwagon with all fours and brought others along as well. Eight posts in five days pretty well constitute a bandwagon; though AFT has gone after Dr. Throckmorton before, it appears that a full-scale push to challenge Grove City College to get rid of the professor is underway. But looking a little deeper than the surface—on which Mr. LaBarbera and friends seem to live—reveals the facts to be significantly different than the “just-so story” that they are peddling—and reveals AFT to lack significantly in credibility, if we are to apply reasonable standards of journalism to their postings—and so let’s do that right now by looking at a couple articles, shall we?
The first posting of the month is from Linda Harvey, who is president and founder of something called “Mission America”; it’s not obvious from the website that there’s anybody else on board there other than Mrs. Harvey (no relation, by the way). Her “contribution” to the discussion is to take on Dr. Throckmorton’s attempt to answer the homosexual “Day of Silence” (held annually in high schools); he calls for Christian students to take a “Golden Rule Pledge”, to treat all others as we have them treat us. Doesn’t sound terribly controversial to me, but in a piece that is not noteworthy for its cogent reasoning, Mrs. Harvey goes to great lengths to explain what a dangerous thing this stance is. Methinks she protesteth way, way too much—agree with Dr. Throckmorton’s approach, or with Mrs. Harvey’s, and arguments can be made both ways—but the approach she takes seems typical of that of AFT and the affiliated folk there: it’s our way, or it’s the wrong way. Hold that thought…
The next piece, entitled Is Grove City College Still ‘Authentically Christian’ if It Abides Pro-’Gay’ Professor Warren Throckmorton and his ‘Sexual Identity Therapy’? and written by Mr. LaBarbera himself, is riddled with concerns. In his first sentence, Mr. LaBarbera labels Dr. Throckmorton “heretical”. Now, where I come from, words mean things, and words like “heretical”, while apropos in certain situations, ought not to be thrown around lightly. This doesn’t phase Mr. LaBarbera, though—and thus he offers no justification for the gratuitous cheapshot. If Dr. Throckmorton is truly guilty of that which can be labeled “heresy”, Mr. LaBarbera, then name it; if not, then please take greater care with your choice of words, for you do yourself nor your cause any credit by playing fast and loose with the language.
In the third paragraph of this same harangue, Mr. LaBarbera chides Dr. Throckmorton for what he calls a “snarky” blog post regarding Richard Cohen. Mr. LaBarbera postulates that Mr. Cohen is a frequent target of Dr. Throckmorton’s barbs (which true) “perhaps because Cohen — unlike the Grove City professor — actually has helped many, many people experience real change and overcome homosexual desires.” In making a statement such as this, Mr. LaBarbera is guilty either of intentionally lying or of journalistic expertise at about a 3rd-grade level; Dr. Throckmorton has on many occasions given his reasons for his opinions of Mr. Cohen and his methods; this material is both credible and readily available on Dr. Throckmorton’s website. Is Mr. LaBarbera not aware of the methodologies Mr. Cohen employs? Google this fellow, folks; what you’ll find is interesting. Further, and more germane to this discussion, did Mr. LaBarbera not take even a few moments to acquaint himself with Dr. Throckmorton’s arguments prior to offering his wild, unsubstantiated conjecture as to Dr. Throckmorton’s motives? This is irresponsible at best, and dishonest at worst.
Parenthetically, Mr. LaBarbera’s embrace of the…ahem, “unorthodox”…Richard Cohen smells funny, reminding me of a particularly noxious tendency on the part of evangelicals to embrace people who will serve their purpose, agree with a particular policy objective—even if there is strong reason not to. One readily calls to mind the hasty and very unwise decision on the part of Dr. James Dobson, for instance, to rush to embrace Carrie Prejean, she of Miss Universe pageant fame, after Ms. Prejean offered what was frankly a tepid defense of traditional marriage. One calls to mind the embrace by some evangelicals of Alan Keyes, who is to the right effectively what Louis Farrakhan is to the left. Are we that desperate in our “fight for the right” that we must cling to whomever might agree with us in some measure, even if at other significant points there is all sorts of baggage that harms what we’re trying to do? Such seems clearly the case with not only Cohen, but also Pastor Martin Ssempa, he who is pushing legislation in Uganda which ought to be opposed by every sincere follower of Christ—and who also is tacitly defended by Mr. LaBarbera.
LaBarbera bemoans the fact that Dr. Throckmorton has “lost faith in people’s ability to change”, though the link provided offers nothing in the way of support for such a fabricated charge. In fact, LaBarbera’s entire screed is based upon a ripped-from-context paragraph—with judgments made and commentary supplied in order to provide ammo for the witchhunt—notwithstanding the fact that a fuller understanding of the document sheds a different light on the subject at hand than Mr. LaBarbera would have you believe.
There are more articles posted on the AFT website, and as time permits, I may delve into some of those as well.
As a side note, it’s interesting that Dr. Throckmorton provides, on his blog, a forum for discussing his viewpoints; people from all points of view and walks of life can engage with Dr. Throckmorton and with each other. I have done so myself on several occasions. By contrast, Americans for Truth offers no such option, preferring to offer their pronouncements from a position insulated from those who would question their opinions and “facts”. If you’ve got the truth, Mr. LaBarbera, why not actually engage people in the discussion of it?
I know some of the folks there at Grove City College, know them to be good people of good faith, and it’s my hope that they will treat these calls for Dr. Throckmorton’s head with the contempt they so richly deserve. I believe they will, knowing that they have in Warren Throckmorton a real treasure and asset to their school, and to the student body served there.
Coming next: I interview Dr. Throckmorton and ask him the questions that this hatchet job of a piece says he has failed to answer—and then you can be the judge.
UPDATE: OneNewsNow has had the decency to allow Dr. Throckmorton to speak for himself and to respond to the campaign of disinformation being spread by Americans for Truth; see the article here. One may or may not agree with all of Dr. Throckmorton’s positions, but suffice it to say that he, in this article, lays to rest many of the misconceptions being spread about him. Thanks for your integrity, OneNewsNow, in correcting the one-sided article previously published.