Rod Dreher

Rod Dreher


Outing pastor a disgusting act

posted by Rod Dreher

A gay publication in Minnesota outed a conservative Lutheran pastor after its reporter infiltrated a confidential support group for Christians struggling with same-sex attractions, who wish to be chaste. In his piece, the gay journalist quotes things the pastor said in the confidential group. His justification? That the pastor has publicly criticized homosexuality. As S.T. Karnick, a theological conservative who’s a member of this pastor’s flock, puts it:

He was not discovered in a “gay” bar. He was not discovered having sex with another man in a public rest room.
According to the news accounts I’ve seen (emanating from liberal sources) he was discovered attending a support and accountability group in a Roman Catholic church. He was speaking honestly, to men he trusted, about his struggles, slips, and temptations.
In other words, he was doing precisely what people on our side of the argument say a man in his situation ought to do. He is the very opposite of a hypocrite.

Karnick backs his pastor, and rightly so.
I find this journalist’s behavior absolutely disgusting. If this pastor had been outed in a Ted Haggard situation, fine. But for a reporter to infiltrate a confidential support group, where people who are struggling and hurting open up to each other under the umbrella of confidentiality, is utterly vile. I would feel exactly the same way if a crusading conservative reporter with an agenda infiltrated a pro-gay support group, outed people he saw there, and reported on their conversations. What this reporter and his magazine have done is monstrous and vengeful, and I hope prominent gay voices denounce it. If people have to worry that their support groups could be infiltrated and their secrets splashed in the media, they will understandably withdraw into their own private closets, with their own pain.
If this had been an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, and a reporter had gone there with the agenda of outing a pastor who preached teetotaling, but who privately struggled to stay sober, wouldn’t you be appalled — not at the pastor, but at the reporter? The idea that the Cause, whatever the Cause, justifies destroying the basic rules of civilized life, and with it a man’s character, is barbarism.



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Richard

posted June 25, 2010 at 12:13 pm


You are right on all counts. I would have thought that with all of the stigmata attached to gays over the years this reporter might have had a little more respect for confidentiality.
It makes me wonder if people like this think at all. He may suppose he’s done a great service by exposing hypocrisy or showing people that religious conservatives can be gay too, but it seems to me that he’s just encouraging gays to keep absolutely quiet and hide who they are.



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Matushka Anna

posted June 25, 2010 at 12:50 pm


That’s HIDEOUS.



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public_defender

posted June 25, 2010 at 1:00 pm


If you want to be persuasive to liberals, you should avoid using analogies that compare being gay to a disease. Analogizing being gay to a disease is unlikely to persuade anyone who doesn’t already agree with you, and that means it will likely persuade no one.
Maybe a better analogy would be a priest leading a group designed to convert Jews to Catholicism if that priest 1) was born Jewish, 2) still believes he is Jewish, 3) publicly states that Judaism is “inherently disordered,” and 4) intellectually wants to be a Catholic.



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Quiddity

posted June 25, 2010 at 1:06 pm


I’m 100% with Rod on this. I’m a strong advocate of privacy. I don’t even care if a person is a hypocrite, because I see the public and private as two separate spheres. The gay community has done this outing time and again, and received little criticism for it.



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Dan O.

posted June 25, 2010 at 1:09 pm


This is clearly wrong, and shows why going after hypocrisy as a primary moral point (or defense) is so dangerously misguided. Everyone is a hypocrite, oneself most obviously.
One thing I’d like to point out, though. Suppose Rekers was not found with a rent boy. Suppose he was outed by someone who infiltrated a support group, like in the present case. I would not applaud the journalistic efforts of the person who did it, but I wouldn’t be unhappy about it either. I do not mind when a person who conspires with parents to torture children in the name of extinguishing homosexuality gets his comeuppance.
As for hoping that prominent gay voices denounce the article, I think we’ll see more of that than we ever saw conservatives denounce monsters like Rekers before Rentboy. It’s the sort of thing that these calls for denunciation so cheap and easy – it’s back to hypocrisy again… Like the original article. Cheap and easy.



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Phil

posted June 25, 2010 at 1:12 pm


No. Anybody who actively works to decline gays the same freedoms afforded everyone else forfeits his privacy and should indeed be outed as a hypocrite. If the pastor had been silent on the matter, or had in fact supported equality, then no he’s not fair game. You can’t meddle into people’s private lives but then complain when people do the same to you.



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Your Name

posted June 25, 2010 at 1:18 pm


God believes it is important for the righteous to judge the wicked.



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Nate W

posted June 25, 2010 at 1:19 pm


@Phil
In other words, you think we should suspend our ethical relationship to people who are doing things we find unethical. That sounds like a perfect recipe for self-righteous amoralism and the breakdown of basic civility.



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Bill

posted June 25, 2010 at 1:23 pm


I find it odd that religious folks have ‘outed’ and even attacked gay citizens for years. Resulting in loss of employment, loss of housing, and loss of spirit.
Yet, when the situation is reversed, it seems unacceptable to you?
How so?
And why would heterosexual religious folks expect any respect from LGTB citizens when you have offered none to them?



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public_defender

posted June 25, 2010 at 1:33 pm


he idea that the Cause, whatever the Cause, justifies destroying the basic rules of civilized life, and with it a man’s character, is barbarism.
That’s part of the problem with this debate. Both sides see the fundamental goal of the other as an attempt to violate “the basic rules of civilized life.” And both sides seek to define the other side’s argument as outside “the basic rules of civilized life.”
Many gay people claim that conservative Christians are violating “the basic rules of civilized life” by working to weaken and break up families with gay parents.
Many conservatives contend that equating their belief that homosexuality is morally flawed with the idea that Judaism is morally flawed (or with racism) violates “the basic rules of civilized life.”
Citing to “the basic rules of civilized life” doesn’t mean much when we don’t agree on what “the basic rules of civilized life” actually are.



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Leviticus Johnson

posted June 25, 2010 at 1:42 pm


Rod whipped out the trusty old gays/alcoholics analogy, every conservative’s favorite. Here’s an alternative thought experiment. Suppose that this pastor had strenuously preached anti-Semitism from the pulpit. Suppose that he himself was of Jewish descent, but found this shameful and sought to conceal it. Would it be wrong for someone to bring his background to light? Does publicly attacking a group (and calling for that group to be burdened with legal disabilities) undermine your right to conceal your own ties (however loathed) to that group?
(I suspect that some godly folks will choke with outrage on my comparison of Jews ‘n gays. But I daresay my analogy’s rather more apt than equating sexual orientation with substance addiction. And for the record, I’m Jewish.)
But if that analogy doesn’t work, try this one: let’s posit an especially radical Gay Studies department, where the department chair teaches that heterosexuals are inherently evil and wrong, and ought to be legally disadvantaged and subjected to conversion therapy. Would anyone object if a reporter broke the news that the department chair was himself heterosexually oriented? Wouldn’t that be kinda newsworthy?
As for this report encouraging “withdrawal into private closets” – isn’t that precisely what godly conservatives are fighting for? The deconstruction of public gay spaces? Most of the everyday homophobic statements I hear are complaints about public gay identity. How dare they hold hands in public? How dare they want their sick pseudo-relationships registered and recorded and celebrated in public? How dare they appear in curricula? How dare they appear on prime time TV? How dare they come out of the closet? If this article really will force gays to further conceal themselves, then y’all should be celebrating this reporter, shouldn’t you?



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Scott Walker

posted June 25, 2010 at 1:43 pm


Betraying confidence is an evil, whether it’s a priest revealing a confession, blowing up somebody’s anonymity in a 12 step meeting or outing some Lutheran pastor who is quietly struggling with his own troubles. Why would anybody care to defend this sort of betrayal?
Quoting the great Willie Nelson, “That shit ain’t right.”
No, it ain’t.
Not even when gay people do it.



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Larry

posted June 25, 2010 at 1:44 pm


Ethics of outing someone like this aside, this pastor is pretty out there. He blamed tornado damage on a neighboring church because of their acceptance of gay clergy. That seems to cross the line of simple opposition to homosexuality He also seems to have a problem with Lutherans drinking beer:
http://blogs.citypages.com/blotter/2010/06/pastor_tom_broc.php
As the country becomes more and more comfortable with homosexuality (or at least simply don’t care, treating it like left-handedness), nutjobs like this are going to become the public face of anti-gay sentiment, in the same way anti-Semitism was once widely accepted but is now represented only by a lunatic fringe. Eventually it will just be Fred Phelps screaming by himself and everyone laughing at him.



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Dana Lane

posted June 25, 2010 at 1:47 pm


I find it disgusting that you are quick to defend this hypocrite when the reality is that religion has persecuted the LGBT community for as long as the bible has been around. The preaching this guy does (along with the likes of George Rekers) have likely caused people to commit suicide.
I am GRATEFUL this hypocrite was outted. I wish all of the religious hate/fear mongers who are gay could be outted.
Termintes don’t go to work for terminex.



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Peter

posted June 25, 2010 at 1:49 pm

Elizabeth Anne

posted June 25, 2010 at 2:07 pm


I think it’s worth noting that I first heard of this FROM a GLBT organization condemning the article.



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David J. White

posted June 25, 2010 at 2:12 pm


in the same way anti-Semitism was once widely accepted but is now represented only by a lunatic fringe
Really, Larry? A lot of the anti-Israel sentiment expressed recently by the Left over the Gaza blockage and the Israeli attack on the blockade-running Turkish ship sounds to me like it treads awfully close to outright anti-Semitism. I think anti-Semitism is as widely accepted as it ever was; now it just hides behind and pretends to be criticism of Israel as a country.



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Lord Karth

posted June 25, 2010 at 2:16 pm


Leviticus Johnson, @ 1:42 PM, writes:
“As for this report encouraging “withdrawal into private closets” – isn’t that precisely what godly conservatives are fighting for? The deconstruction of public gay spaces? Most of the everyday homophobic statements I hear are complaints about public gay identity. How dare they hold hands in public? How dare they want their sick pseudo-relationships registered and recorded and celebrated in public? How dare they appear in curricula? How dare they appear on prime time TV? How dare they come out of the closet? If this article really will force gays to further conceal themselves, then y’all should be celebrating this reporter, shouldn’t you ?”
I take it you’ve never been to an AA, NA, Gamblers Anonymous or similar meeting, sirrah ? I have never been to one, but I know a number of people who have, and from what they have told me, this sounds like a group very similar to theirs: a meeting of people who have a problem that seriously affects their lives. They go there for support from other people who have that problem. The meetings are (generally) supposed to be held “under the seal”.
From what I am told, this reporter apparently misrepresented himself as having that problem in order to do a “gotcha” piece on the pastor. He also violated one of the major customs of such groups: confidentiality. To the extent that he misrepresented himself, he deserves to get shellacked—but breaking the confidentiality custom is Just Plain Low. What a jackal this person was !
Motive doesn’t really matter. If this reporter did it to get a story, that’s low. If he did it for the sake of “advancing the Cause”, that’s just as low. If he did it on a drunken dare, that’s low, too.
I’m no supporter of “gay rights”; on and for the record, I’ll even go so far as to state that I believe that “the Love that Dare Not Speak Its Name” has become “the Habit that Can’t Keep Its Big Fat Yap SHUT”.
But this man has a problem. He’s trying to deal with it as best he can, in a quiet setting, with a little help from some of his fellows. As long as he is behaving in a legal fashion, and as long as he is offending no one, I am not going to hinder him in what he does along those lines. If nothing else, it lets him get through the day.
What this reporter did did, in fact, hinder him. Worse yet, he went out of his way to deceive in order to get his “story”. THAT was what he did wrong.
Now do you get it, Leviticus ?
The reporter was wrong. Join the ranks of the clued.
Your servant,
Lord Karth



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Ted Haggard

posted June 25, 2010 at 2:21 pm


I think this highlights that there is no safe place to process serious struggles except in the legally protected office of a licensed therapist. Men’s retreats, church accountability groups, certainly any religious hierarchy is fraught with the self-serving who, in time, will either whisper, publish, or leverage their moral superiority. This is the internet era, which means little is vetted for fact, and everything stays. Things five years old are as available as items only moments old. Time and distance are no more. There is no forgivingness or healing. Everything is local and current.
For our churches to claim they have a safe place to process any type of serious struggle with anyone who has, or may have, significant influence in the future is not realistic. You say if this pastor were outed the way I was would be ok, and the way he was outed, in your view, was wrong. Since my accuser, Mike Jones failed his lie detector test when he claimed an affair with me, and I passed four tests denying the affair, and the Overseers of the church I served decided not to let the church or the press know about my passed tests, that’s the way you think it ought to go. I think you have good intentions here, but you still miss the point.
If this man publicly said what the internet says he said, which is suspect, and was struggling in his heart, according to Jesus he was guilty. For the non-Bible believer above to say that since he wasn’t caught in an actual relationship makes him ok is not true according to Jesus. We believers have a crisis on our hands regarding this subject. Sadly, in my view this article doesn’t move us forward.



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Larry

posted June 25, 2010 at 2:30 pm


David J. White: What does that have to do with the legal rights of Jews in America? Are there American politicians and mainstream religious leaders calling for Jews to be thrown out of the military? Have any states changed their constitution to ban Jews from getting married or adopting kids? Can you win an election running on a strict anti-Jewish agenda?
Sure, anti-Semitism still exists, but to find the kind of opinions I just listed you’re going to have to dig pretty deep, and most people are going to find such beliefs crazy. Bringing international politics into this is silly, because there are plenty of countries where this guy would get killed for what he did. Jews in America enjoy many rights today despite the best efforts of those in power who despised them. Gays are gaining more rights in America despite the best efforts of people like this pastor, the National Organization for Marriage, and the Fred Phelps gang.



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michael

posted June 25, 2010 at 2:36 pm


The guy who outed him should be given a medal. Anyone who says nasty things about my civilized gay neighbors, while themselves hypocrites (or even not) gets zero sympathy from me.



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the stupid Chris

posted June 25, 2010 at 3:04 pm


The issue here seems cut-and-dried to me, and it’s not about homosexuality. the politics surrounding homosexuality or the morality of homosexuality.
This is about violation of confidentiality and acting in bad faith.
The reporter’s act is akin to posing as a priest in order to hear a person’s confession, and then making that confession public. Or perhaps posing as a psychologist in order to have a session or three with a person, and then making the notes from those sessions public.
I’d think conservatives and liberals alike would decry this violation of confidentiality. I’m disappointed to see that there are those who think common decency need not apply when it comes to people who don’t like them. That’s how we destroy civilization.
CAPTCHA: Cambodia pompey



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Robert C

posted June 25, 2010 at 3:13 pm


My GLBT brethren by now should have moved beyond the narcissistic need to “out” anyone. As we have struggled for common decency, the right to privacy and a measure of respect from all quarters, so too should we be willing to afford the same to all quarters. Simply because this situation involves a conservative, Christian pastor, it does not give anyone, let alone a journalist, license to hurt, be vindictive or vicious in a rather puerile attempt to prove some nebulous point. The misnomer however lies in the belief that all gay publications, or those who fashion themselves as ‘gay reporters’, will adhere to the ethical rules of journalism. Not all will, simply because not all are either ethical or even journalists. Even those legitimate gay journalists, who find no need to ‘infiltrate’ anything, should probably restrain themselves from mendaciously positioning themselves on any sort of higher moral ground in their pursuit of this type of story. Presuming that simply because someone is a conservative Christian with acknowledged gay inclinations is, in itself, a just cause to excoriate, sublimates the justness in the gay community’s pursuit of equality to the pettiness many gay men have yet to overcome.



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Dan O.

posted June 25, 2010 at 3:14 pm


“Eventually it will just be Fred Phelps screaming by himself and everyone laughing at him.”
Incidentally, the best thing to do with Fred Phelps is to ignore him. People shouldn’t take engaging him (including laughing) lightly – his provocations are protected, but evil. I’ve seen him twice, and I don’t find him funny in the least. On the other hand, I’ve broken bread with Brother Jed and Preacher Paul. Confrontation, for them, is a tactic. For Fred Phelps, it’s an end in itself. We don’t do anyone a service with a Fred Phelps comparison.



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Cecelia

posted June 25, 2010 at 3:17 pm


When people join a therapeutic group they do so on the condition of anonymity – that their privacy will be respected. Many people feel shame over their problems and without the surety that they can participate safely in these groups – they won’t join the group. Of course – one of the purposes of these groups is to help one overcome shame – and so many people will eventually feel more comfortable admitting to others that they are who they are. An event like this undermines the belief that people can find a safe place to deal with their issues – whatever they may be. To my mind – that is a tragic outcome of this event – as it may result in less people seeking help in places like AA etc.



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Larry

posted June 25, 2010 at 3:41 pm


Dan O: “We don’t do anyone a service with a Fred Phelps comparison.”
This pastor claimed that God sent a tornado to damage a church that accepts gays. Jerry Falwell blamed 9/11 on gays. Phelps believes that natural disasters and war deaths happen because of gays. It’s not that big of a distance.
My point is that over time, the last public voices on an issue like this are going to be people of the virulent Fred Phelps variety. It’s not an indictment of every person who dislikes gay people or opposes gay marriage.
Bear with me for a moment. In 1925, Strom Thurmond committed statutory rape against a 16 year old black employee of his family, and incidentally also broke the anti-miscegenation laws he was so fond of when his daughter was born. He spent the first half of his very long life fighting hard to keep blacks as second class citizens, and to retain the apartheid status of the South. In the 1948 election, he actually won four states based on his support for segregation. He never publicly acknowledged her daughter or allowed her to be part of his family, and he paid her to keep it secret until his death. Though his rhetoric softened in his last few decades, it’s pretty obvious that his dislike of black people and desire to restrict their rights was far stronger than his love for his daughter. (And it’s curious to think, if this had become public during the 1948 election, what the 1950s and 60s would have looked like.)
Now, imagine someone running on the same platform today. No mainstream political party would accept him. Even people who privately hate blacks probably wouldn’t be interested in returning to full scale segregation. A candidate like that would be openly mocked and laughed at on late night TV and in print. It’s because a fervent, lifelong support for segregation seems antiquated and wrong now, and the only people proposing such things are marginalized, and viewed as crazy.
Let’s say that in 20 years, gay marriage is either legal in all states, or legally recognized across state lines. If you’re one of the few still devoting your entire life to fighting against that and trying to bring the weight of the federal government down against a minority, people are probably going to laugh at you.



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stefanie

posted June 25, 2010 at 3:45 pm


The outing was reprehensible. The pastor’s opinions were pretty reprehensible, too, as the article to which Larry points above shows. This wasn’t a case of a closeted gay minister quietly going about his business, ministering to his flock, the poor & sick, etc. This guy’s conflicted life led him into making egregious public anti-gay statements, as if he needed to call attention to himself and yet hide behind the presumption of heterosexuality at the same time.



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Joel

posted June 25, 2010 at 3:50 pm


“I am GRATEFUL this hypocrite was outted. I wish all of the religious hate/fear mongers who are gay could be outted.”
And as you can see, he and his church hate gay people so much that as soon as his struggles were made public, they drove him from their midst with tar and feathers.
The fact is, in this guy’s case, the alcoholic analogy DOES make sense. He is driven by desires that he does not wish to succumb to, so he seeks the help of others in the same situation. From his perspective, it’s exactly the same thing. Being gay does not force him to engage in gay sex, any more than being straight makes it mandatory to go out and fornicate.
Christians of this stripe aren’t repulsed by the fact that he has those desires; they respect him the more for trying to change his own behavior rather than merely changing his religion to suit himself. Much to the reporter’s annoyance, I suspect.



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Dan O.

posted June 25, 2010 at 3:51 pm


“My point is that over time, the last public voices on an issue like this are going to be people of the virulent Fred Phelps variety. It’s not an indictment of every person who dislikes gay people or opposes gay marriage.”
You might be right, I don’t know. It’s just that when I think of burning hatred, I think of Fred Phelps. I think, on the other hand, a lot of these other guys are basically clowns. Clowns are creepy until they take of the makeup.
I’m just making the point that you can sometimes sit down to dinner with a man who just told you that you were going to hell, and after you laughed in response. That can happen. Just not if that man is Fred Phelps.
When the world becomes all white or black, you lose sight of those people who are truly dangerous.



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BobSF

posted June 25, 2010 at 4:02 pm


The reporter was wrong to infiltrate the group and violate its rules of confidentiality, but let’s not excoriate just him and pretend this act is in any way indicative of any larger aspects of the gay-rights movement. What makes this case stand out is how unusual it is for gay people to do this sort of thing.
With exceptions you could count on two hands and perhaps one foot, we’re pretty darned quiet about who we see where doing what. And when we do blab, it rarely involves any sort of confidential setting, in fact, I can’t, at this moment, think of another case like this. The near-consensus that the author refers to in regard to outing public figures who are anti-gay strikes me as rather self-serving and unfounded. And the examples he cites, Craig and Rekers involved: 1) a leaked police report and 2) photos of someone walking through an airport.
This guy is out on a limb all by himself. That’s not to say some don’t support the outing, but he really is the exception.
But, while we’re on the subject of “disgusting”, many of us can recall violations of our privacy. Heck, all by myself, I could tell you about a priest, a physician, and a shrink who all violated their ethical duty of silence. The priest even violated the confessional. Let me tell you, that shook me and my faith. And opened my eyes. I’ve also been investigated by employers, both before and after hiring me, complete with private investigators following me and nosing around the neighbors. Heck, the student gay-rights group I belonged to in the 70s turned out to have been infiltrated by the FBI. I wonder if the agent was one of the guys I had a crush on.
And, please, let’s not pretend this pastor was engaged in a “quiet struggle”. His secret struggle was anything but quiet. A daily radio show?
And a final note about Courage itself. I read the reporter’s account of the meeting and maybe it’s his reporting that’s the problem, but the meeting didn’t sound very supportive. I’ve never had a substance abuse problem, so I’ve never attended a 12-step program, but it is customary for those seeking help to dump on those not seeking help so much?



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Joseph

posted June 25, 2010 at 4:14 pm


I am still trying to figure out what I think about this particular outing. I don’t believe the pastor is a hypocrite. By attending a support group for people who don’t want to live “homosexually,” he is acting as he would probably advise any other gay person to act. Normally I would not be fond of the alcohol analogy, but (presumably) in the pastor’s mind, he is fighting an addiction, so in this case it is apt. I think he would be in a much stronger position if he’d had the courage to say he struggled with homosexual orientation but was doing his best to overcome (though I don’t think he was obligated to). Really he’s acting no differently than a recovering heroin addict who actively denounces drug use while attending anonymous support meetings.
That said, I disagree with his beliefs about homosexuality and find many of his statements reprehensible. My personal opinion is that he is psychologically damaged because he can’t accept himself as he is. As a gay man, I find it interesting that as a community we are generally mournful when a person who struggles with homosexuality resolves that struggle through suicide, but have little sympathy for someone who chooses a different path of self-destruction – which is what the pastor has done. I think we should fight his ideas tooth and nail, but we should understand the same forces that damage us have damaged him. This does not excuse his actions, but should guide our response. Surely while denouncing his words and actions, we can offer him some hope for wholeness. As a Christian, I believe in offering healing words of correction, I can’t believe that piling the hate on him is the response Jesus would ask of me.
captcha: that relative



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Dan O.

posted June 25, 2010 at 4:19 pm


“And a final note about Courage itself. I read the reporter’s account of the meeting and maybe it’s his reporting that’s the problem, but the meeting didn’t sound very supportive. I’ve never had a substance abuse problem, so I’ve never attended a 12-step program, but it is customary for those seeking help to dump on those not seeking help so much?”
I’ve been to several different AA and Al-Anon meetings. I’ve been to one or two that have some pretty unsavory power dynamics. That’s to be expected when all the participants are veterans of family situations dealing with unsavory power dynamics. But, given the large number of meetings, they can be avoided. I imagine that if there were little choice of meetings, certain strong, aggressive personalities could tend to dominate.



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Robert C

posted June 25, 2010 at 4:25 pm


Sorry. This ‘reporter’ unfortunately is not the exception to the rule. Many gay men find it absolutely delicious to drag the klieg lights out and shine them at anyone and everyone they think ‘needs’ to be outed. The problem is that such a decision is arbitrary, rather useless, and pretty much vindictive. Politicians are one thing, and God knows we all can provide a long list of prominent political closet cases or those illustrious hypocrites on the DL, however someone in a self help therapy session is something else entirely. Actually it was rather demented.
Captcha; ‘led moronic’



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BobSF

posted June 25, 2010 at 4:37 pm


If he weren’t the exception, this story would be utterly commonplace and wouldn’t be controversial at all. (And there wouldn’t be much of an anti-gay movement left.)



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Francis Beckwith

posted June 25, 2010 at 4:52 pm


“This pastor claimed that God sent a tornado to damage a church that accepts gays. Jerry Falwell blamed 9/11 on gays. Phelps believes that natural disasters and war deaths happen because of gays. It’s not that big of a distance.”
I agree that such claims of divine justice are ridiculous. But they are just as ridiculous as claiming that Matthew Shepherd’s death is the consequence of believing that homosexual conduct is immoral.
Both are equally devoid of proof, and are meant to confirm the prejudices of the ones offering them.



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public_defender

posted June 25, 2010 at 5:06 pm


. . . We don’t do anyone a service with a Fred Phelps comparison.
We also don’t do anyone a service by analogizing being gay with being an alcoholic.



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Dan O.

posted June 25, 2010 at 5:13 pm


“I agree that such claims of divine justice are ridiculous. But they are just as ridiculous as claiming that Matthew Shepherd’s death is the consequence of believing that homosexual conduct is immoral.”
It’s more likely that the beliefs regarding the immorality of homosexual conduct sometimes shares a set of common causes with Matthew Sheperd’s death – homophobia and it’s attendant self-loathing. That’s not to say that all beliefs in the immorality of homosexual conduct are caused by homophobia, nor that all beliefs in the immorality of homosexual conduct causes hatred and violence. Homophobia is the central factor.
But there’s no relation between gay conduct and roofs being ripped off. So, the claims of divine justice are pretty obviously more ridiculous.
Frankly, and last, I think it’s in pretty bad taste to use Matthew Shepard to illustrate a point like this. Fred Phelps is a hateful, ugly person. Matthew Shepard was a murder victim. I wasn’t happy when Fred Phelps was brought up, and I’m less happy now. All indications of a devolving argument.



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Liam

posted June 25, 2010 at 5:13 pm


There is one word that is mysteriously missing from this discussion:
Detraction.
Detraction is the sin of publishing unflattering private truths without necessity. (As opposed to slander/libel/defamation which is about publishing lies about someone. A lot of people understand those are sins, but they’ve not been taught about detraction.) It does not even have to be under an agreement of confidentiality (however formal or informal) to be sinful.
Just because it’s truthful don’t make it not sinful. (And I should note that blogs – very much including religiously-inflected blogs – often traffic in detraction.)



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Dan O.

posted June 25, 2010 at 5:16 pm


“We also don’t do anyone a service by analogizing being gay with being an alcoholic.”
I couldn’t agree more.



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BobSF

posted June 25, 2010 at 5:20 pm


The idea that the Cause, whatever the Cause, justifies destroying the basic rules of civilized life, and with it a man’s character, is barbarism.
Tone it down, Rod. If this is “barbarism”, then barbarians are destroying barbarians here. How ’bout we just stick with mortals hurting each other in morally problematic ways.



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BobSF

posted June 25, 2010 at 5:31 pm


At least the analogy holds in regard to the nature of the support group involved. AA is sort of like Courage. Courage is sort of like AA. Both groups require confidentiality and discretion.
There are two notable differences. To my knowledge, AA does not promote and disseminate false information about alcohol and alcoholism. Again, I’ve never been, but reports I’ve heard and depictions I’ve seen in movies and TV show AA meetings presenting a pretty realistic assessment of what alcohol and alcoholism are. Secondly, as I noted above, the focus on AA doesn’t seem to be that alcohol is bad for everybody and anybody. Support groups for other addictive substances like crack and heroin may do that. I don’t know. And I wouldn’t be surprised if some AA meetings used to, at least, talk about “demon rum” in the past.
Speaking of the meetings, I suspect the reporter infiltrated the group not on the hunt for someone to out but in order to write about Courage and its sister organizations in other denominations. That is something that the gay press does do.



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Loudon is a Fool

posted June 25, 2010 at 5:37 pm


I don’t know, BobSF. This kind of stuff seems pretty common place. The de facto gay argument appears to be to shout down the opposition and to call them stinky-panted bigots. Whether it’s Prop 8 maps, or gay activists emailing the folks who work with Prop 8 donors, or sneaking into a gay support group, or the ubiquitous “oppostition to gay marriage is the same as oppposition to inter-racial marriage” argument, or just being generally foaming at the mouth in blog comments, most of the gays encountered in the public square tend to be pretty unhinged. I’m sure that’s just a coincidence.



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BobSF

posted June 25, 2010 at 5:55 pm


Surely if you lower the bar that far, “unhinged” applies equally well to pastors who assert that God tears the roofs off convention centers. But let’s not muddy the waters, shall we.



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BobSF

posted June 25, 2010 at 5:59 pm


Karnick backs his pastor, and rightly so.
Sadly, the church doesn’t share the commentator’s confidence. They’ve put him on leave, pending an investigation.
Plenty of moral failure going around, it seems.



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Rod Dreher

posted June 25, 2010 at 5:59 pm


You don’t like the AA analogy? OK, fine — I brought it up because I couldn’t offhand think of any other groups that depend on confidentiality. But let’s say this was a support group for Christians trying to come to terms with their homosexuality, and to accept it. It would be absolutely disgusting for a reporter for, say, a religious publication to infiltrate the group and exploit its confidentiality to humiliate one of its members — for example, a gay man who was married with a family, and who was trying to figure out, with the help of the group and the pastor leading it, how to reconcile himself to his homosexuality.
It is barbarism when we care not one whit for the privacy of anyone, and we feel licensed to destroy the sanctity of a confidential support/therapy group in pursuit of our political agenda. I devoutly hope that there are grounds to file a civil suit against this jerk of a journalist. As Stupid Chris said, this is not about the rightness or wrongness of homosexuality, or even hypocrisy (as there was no evidence presented in this story that this pastor had engaged in gay sex). This is about something as fundamental to a decent, civilized society as respecting people’s privacy. What this reporter has done is to license renegade right-wing journalists to go undercover to gay support groups and do the same disgusting thing.



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Larry

posted June 25, 2010 at 5:59 pm


Loudon is a Fool: “most of the gays encountered in the public square tend to be pretty unhinged”
No doubt Anerican Jews in the 1950s were considered whiny and stepping out of “their place in society” when they argued against things like university quotas to keep Jews out of higher education, restricted country clubs, and hotels that refused to rent rooms to Jews. It obviously would have been more comfortable for the majority at the time if they’d simply kept quiet and kept their heads down.
Truly, any civil rights struggle throughout history has involved members of the majority being occasionally upset or offended. I’m much happier that Jews enjoy full rights as citizens today and aren’t forced to live in certain neighborhoods and keep to certain occupations by the force of law and popular opinion. Ditto for women and blacks. And I’ll be happy when gays enjoy the same full rights as any other American citizen. I’m sorry if you find that drive for freedom to be “unhinged”.



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Liam617

posted June 25, 2010 at 6:14 pm


Rod:
I agree with your 5:59 post. I’m gay but I firmly believe it’s utterly despicable for a journalist to infiltrate a support group and then publish details for the sole purpose of causing harm to one of the group’s participants. Absolutely disgusting.
(On the issue of outing, however, I do believe that outing is appropriate when someone in a position of power opts to persecute his own kind or belittle others for acts he, himself, commits, whether that be Ted Haggard for his rent boy activities, or Al Gore for his own disastrous carbon footprint.)



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BobSF

posted June 25, 2010 at 6:15 pm


Rod, “renegade right-wing journalists” have been doing this for years. And they’re not so “renegade”, though I wouldn’t call them all “journalists”.
Photograph people coming out of gay bars? Check.
Write down and publicize the license plate numbers of cars parked outside gay bars? Check.
Publish the names and addresses of men arrested on “morals” charges? Check.
And, as I mentioned above, the government spied on gay groups for decades and still does when it investigates DADT cases, for example.
If this single incident provides a license, it seems to me no one was waiting for one.
On a separate note, his admission that he “failed” on his mission trip to Eastern Europe is how these guys talk about having sex. That’s how his church is interpreting it, at least.



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Loudon is a Fool

posted June 25, 2010 at 6:37 pm


I apologize, Larry. I did not mean to imply that only an unhinged person would argue that the trials and tribulations of the unwed gay are analogous to the trials and tribulations of Jews, blacks, and women in their historic struggle against irrational discrimination. Although it is a ridiculous argument, “unhinged” suggests “crazy.” Plenty of non-crazy people make bad arguments.
Where things start to get a little crazy, or at the very least become overly dramatic, is with statements like “I’m sorry if you find that drive for freedom to be ‘unhinged.’” Hyperbole isn’t really crazy either, but it does suggest a lack of discernment and the ability to reflect on matters calmly and rationally. Which might cause a person to set up a website like Prop 8 maps or infiltrate a support group. Maybe you’re right and what appears to be crazy is really just the result of people behaving rationally pursuant to a sincerely held (but erroneous) belief. But I’m not sure that the fervent desire to impose an erroneous belief on your neighbors isn’t a kind of craziness.
Either way I’m sure we can all agree that the crazy should be toned down a bit.



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Quiddity

posted June 25, 2010 at 7:00 pm


Agree with Rod’s 5:59 comment.
What we are witnessing here is the following. A person’s conscious mind believes in X, but the person has feelings that are anti-X. The person publically advocates for X, but also is torn because that belief is in conflict with his feelings.
Examples abound.
Believes in proper safety procedures, but is a fire-bug at heart.
Believes in respecting property, but is tempted to shoplift once in a while.
Believes that gayness is wrong, but is attracted to same-sex individuals.
In all those cases, the person could be considered a hypocrite.
In my three examples, the first two beliefs are generally applauded (safety procedures, respect property), and so if that person goes to a support group that tries to orient their feelings to their beliefs, it’s viewed as a good thing.
In the last example, the belief that “gayness is wrong” is in dispute. I disagree with that and would argue against it, but would never use my disagreement with it to engage in an immoral act, in this case outing someone.
Same for racists, misogynists, Mormon missionaries, hard drug advocates, Cubs fans, et al. Advocating a position, that’s distasteful is part of the freedom of expression. Even if it results in policies (or criminal sanctions) that I dislike.
Those that defend the outing of this fellow are saying that public advocacy of certain positions (e.g. gayness is wrong) nullify expectations of privacy that the rest of us enjoy. Talk about a fragile civil society.
ALSO: At the article in question there are many critical comments. In particular, there were objections to the article printing the location and time of the meetings. That serves no purpose whatsoever and is merely an attempt to bully those folks into hiding.



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kevin s.

posted June 25, 2010 at 7:10 pm


“What makes this case stand out is how unusual it is for gay people to do this sort of thing.”
It seems to be par for the course. Lavender is the largest gay publication in MN, and the editors there didn’t seem to mind. The same gay power advocates also follow suspected gay men around, hoping to catch them in a gay bar.
Dan Savage, one of the most prominent gay writers in America, openly welcomes these “outings”. Would he do so if he felt the scorn of the gay community? I doubt it.
To the people here celebrating this act, you should know that it severely hinders your cause. The best case for the gay rights agenda appeals to personal autonomy and privacy. Ain’t nobody’s business but your own.
This obviously runs afoul of that premise, and casts the battle for gay equality as one for power. This is a power grab, an attempt to pick on someone for holding “hypocritical” (this word is being seriously abused) views.
That’s the sort of battle you don’t want to wage against a majority. If you want to make this a “for us or against us” issue, then I am against you as far as that goes.
On the tornado thing, he attributed roof damage to the activities going on within the building whose roof was damaged. It’s theological nonsense, but is vastly different from Falwell or Phelps’ comments on order of magnitude.



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MH

posted June 25, 2010 at 7:29 pm


Many support groups require participants to sign a pledge of confidentiality. So betraying that trust is dishonorable. So I don’t like the journalist’s actions.
At the same time I am completely sick of right wing anti-gay preachers turning out to either be homosexual or leaning that way. It’s classic textbook reaction formation and I wish they would play out their personal issues in private.



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John

posted June 25, 2010 at 7:30 pm


I’m a conservative Russian Orthodox Christian and my heart absolutely breaks for this poor pastor. I couldn’t help but cry when I read this. I feel physically ill. It would be easy for me to feel hatred and rage towards this supposed “journalist”, but I have to remind myself that he needs our prayers. He is clearly under demonic influence. Let’s keep both of these men in our prayers.



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praesta

posted June 25, 2010 at 8:18 pm


There’s a difference between the respect of privacy and opinion about the methodology of self-help groups. Outing the pastor violated his privacy and confidentiality of the support meeting. That is reprehensible as many agree.
While the pastor has the absolute right to pursue any treatment he desires in anonymity, others exercise a legitimate right to criticize a therapy’s methodology within ethical boundaries. It’s unethical for a journalist to attend Courage meetings in order to critique the organization. Still, Courage cannot claim immunity from critique simply because it is a confidential society. I have personal experience of Courage meetings and strongly disagree with the organization’s methodology. Nevertheless, a critique of Courage must resist the temptation to “infiltrate” even if doing so would expose contradictions between therapeutic techniques and the organization’s “official line”. The privacy of consenting adults trumps possible organizational hypocrisy.



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Larry

posted June 25, 2010 at 8:36 pm


Just out of curiosity, was it a “disgusting act” when a Mexican magazine published photos of Father Cutié romping with a woman on the beach, leading to his switch to the Episcopalian Church? Not the tragedy of a priest breaking his vows, but was it wrong for the magazine to make that illicit relationship public?
It’s not the exact same situation that this pastor is in, but let’s be honest: his privacy was violated by a journalist. Many would argue that his parishoners are better off knowing the truth, but obviously he preferred to keep that lifestyle secret. Where’s the line?



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kevin s.

posted June 25, 2010 at 8:45 pm


Here in MN, God has countered with a massive thunderstorm during setup for pride fest :)



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MH

posted June 25, 2010 at 8:52 pm


Larry, if the beach was in public, then it’s a different situation. There’s no expectation or promise of privacy when you are in public.



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BobSF

posted June 25, 2010 at 8:52 pm


It seems to be par for the course. Lavender is the largest gay publication in MN, and the editors there didn’t seem to mind. The same gay power advocates also follow suspected gay men around, hoping to catch them in a gay bar.
1) If it is “par for the course” then it should be easy to find similar cases. I can’t find one. Remember, the case has to include a similar aspect of participation in a confidential support group. Google away!
2) Again, Lavender should be chock full of similar articles. I can’t find any.
3) The idea that gay rights groups follow people around is silly. There have been a few cases in which prominent anti-gay activists have been spotted at gay bars or in gay areas of town and photographed by people who happened to be there and happened to recognize them.
Dan Savage, one of the most prominent gay writers in America, openly welcomes these “outings”. Would he do so if he felt the scorn of the gay community? I doubt it.
I haven’t read Savage’s take on this case. He has certainly welcomed outings of anti-gay activists like Reker and anti-gay politicians like Craig. Keep in mind that Craig, at least, was “outed” by the police officer he propositioned.



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Andrea

posted June 25, 2010 at 8:54 pm


The reporter was totally unethical. He seems to have misrepresented himself to a source, in a support group, and lied to get the story. I’d fire him for that if I were his editor and if his paper has any ethics he will be canned for it. The minister is struggling with his sexual orientation according to the dictates of most mainstream conservative Christian faiths. I would expect a gay Lutheran minister who takes the faith seriously to behave in exactly this way. I don’t necessarily agree with that position but I respect his right to keep it quiet.



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BobSF

posted June 25, 2010 at 9:02 pm


I would expect a gay Lutheran minister who takes the faith seriously to behave in exactly this way.
Really? Daily radio shows about homosexuality and the constant drumbeat of “they” “them” with nary a “we” or an “us”? Really?
Personally, I think an out-of-the-closet-but-chaste gay Lutheran minister would be a much better example of someone who takes the faith seriously. Same for Catholic priests, bishops, cardinals, and popes. Oddly, it’s really, really hard to find one.



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Robert C

posted June 25, 2010 at 9:13 pm


Give me a break Bob. Those actions were almost always conducted by local law enforcement, and you know as well as I that they were done either because the bars in question were run by the mafia, admitted underage patrons, or were magnets for ‘morals’ issues because there was prostitution or drug dealing somewhere on the premises. The gay community should not and cannot assume a holier than thou position. After 45 years of being part of the gay community, I can assure you there is no way that sanctimoniousness is a suit that fits. Having been a member in gay liberation organizations, I can also assure you that there have been strategy sessions where aggressive and distasteful actions to demean the ‘opposition’ was discussed, planned and implemented. The religious right is only just catching up. However such behavior taints both sides of the equation, and it is about time that the manic end of the gay spectrum was restrained by the adults in the community. One other comment here that many will not acknowledge or easily accept. Despite the opposition to gay marriage from the religious right, the greater obstacle to gay parity comes not from that quarter but, unfortunately, it comes from the black community. While Mormons and fundamentalists fought the loudest to pass Proposition 8, it was the black community that body blocked its defeat. Nevertheless the ‘unhinged’ element of our community has refused to address this conundrum because that would necessitate a soul searching glance into the political mirror and questions on the efficacy of hitching one’s horse to one political party.



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kevin s.

posted June 25, 2010 at 9:30 pm


“Remember, the case has to include a similar aspect of participation in a confidential support group.”
That’s a very narrow definition for the nebulous “this sort of thing” qualifier. I would say that outing clergy is “this sort of thing”, regardless of method. I would be willing to bet money that other enterprising gay power advocates will employ a similar strategy.
“The idea that gay rights groups follow people around is silly.”
The Human Rights Campaign makes a practice of it. It’s like a gay(er) TMZ. Mike Rogers, a hard-line gay power operative out of DC, has a blog devoted to the subject.
At best, commentary on these endeavors from others in the gay community has been tepid. The attitude seems to be that it might be wrong, but they’re glad someone is doing it.



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BobSF

posted June 25, 2010 at 10:52 pm


That’s a very narrow definition for the nebulous “this sort of thing” qualifier.
Well, it is the “sort of thing” we’re talking about, isn’t it? Rod himself notes that outing someone seen in a gay bar is a different matter. The central defining — and damning — characteristic of this outing is the violation of, let’s call it, therapeutic anonymity. If you want to be more concrete, go ahead but you’d be hard pressed to find any definition which would meet your assertion that gay people do “this sort of thing” more than it is done to them.



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BobSF

posted June 25, 2010 at 10:54 pm


After 45 years of being part of the gay community, I can assure you there is no way that sanctimoniousness is a suit that fits. Having been a member in gay liberation organizations, I can also assure you that there have been strategy sessions where aggressive and distasteful actions to demean the ‘opposition’ was discussed, planned and implemented.
If you have personally been a party to plans that you found morally distasteful, you should have resigned. You could at least give some examples, so we can assess whether the “aggressive and distasteful actions” rise to the level of this outing.



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Peter Hoh

posted June 25, 2010 at 10:54 pm


Despite the claim that Dan Savage welcomes these outings, as of this moment, he has not written anything about the Brock case on his blog.



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Larry

posted June 26, 2010 at 12:04 am


kevin s.: “Dan Savage, one of the most prominent gay writers in America, openly welcomes these “outings”. Would he do so if he felt the scorn of the gay community? I doubt it.”
Well, you can always read what Savage has to say on the issue, say from a 2007 column:
“I say this as someone who doesn’t support outing in all instances. Hell, I recently talked someone out of outing a public figure. A Savage Love reader was contemplating outing an innocuous celeb back in April. I advised him against it because, as I wrote to him privately, outing is brutal and it should be reserved for brutes. Whitney more than qualifies.”
http://www.avclub.com/articles/june-19-2007,1846/
If a local militant vegetarian was trying to get meat outlawed but quietly owned a pork processing facility and someone snapped a picture of him chowing down on ribs at a BBQ, yeah, it invades his privacy but I’m not going to shed any tears when he’s exposed as a hypocrite. If a Jewish friend tried a BLT out of curiosity, I see no need to make a big deal out of it.
Pork is good eatin’, and although it is a major sin in several religions, I’d rather not have those folks using the power of the federal government to keep me from enjoying a good pulled shoulder sandwich. The Bible tells me eating pork is a sin, and makes many people very uncomfortable and upset, but in the grand scheme of things I’m not hurting anyone else, and I don’t force anyone else to eat pork. I’m only going to get involved politically if you try to rewrite the Constitution to ban pork.
(Sweet holy Moses, I find the trend of listing captchas annoying but this one was “eunuch since”. Since when? And why?)



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Marifasus

posted June 26, 2010 at 12:12 am


Rod, I’d completely agree with you if a reporter infiltrated a “support”* group like this and exposes a private citizen.
However, your entire argument falls apart on account of the preacher’s repeated, zealous, public anti-gay sentiments and activities. He thereby surrendered his rights to privacy on this issue.
There’s nothing disgusting here except the preachers anti-gay advocacy and his inability to embrace his nature.
Marifasus
* Scare quotes on account of the ridiculous, harmful notion that there’s anything wrong with homosexual orientation or activities.



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BobSF

posted June 26, 2010 at 12:51 am


So, assiduously avoiding a rather important deadline (I am my own worst enemy sometimes), I’ve been doing waaaay too much Googling on this pastor. As I searched on various terms, I began to notice that, other than this story about his outing and quite a bit of coverage about his God-sent-the-tornado* silliness about the ECLA, there didn’t seem to be much there there. Brock is described in several places as anti-gay with adverbs like “ardently” and “vociferously” attached, but I couldn’t find much evidence of that. The assertions were not, by the way, from the gay press, but from mainstream publications in MN. Now, maybe he’s just pretty well know up there. Still… in this day and age it’s pretty hard to not leave much of a trail if you’re a real blowhard.
His anti-gay activities, such as they were, were pretty run of the mill for a conservative pastor. Little of substance seems to have come of them. He attended legislative hearings but I don’t think he testified. He is very well known for his opposition to the liberalization of attitudes towards gay people in the Lutheran church and led the charge to detach his congregation from the ECLA. There was some minor involvement in an effort to suppress any mention of gay issues in public schools (even that description makes it sound like more than it appears to have been).
This man is no Jerry Falwell, no Pat Robertson, no Ted Haggard, no fill-in-the-blank of the dozens of outrageously anti-gay religious leaders in this country. There’s something more to the story. I suspect we’ll hear all about it in coming weeks, whether we like it or not.
Two caveats.
1) A ran across links to YouTube videos by Brock on gay issues but the videos had been “removed at the request of the producer” (or something like that, whatever YouTube says when the person who posted it the video takes it down). The producer appears to have been Brock himself, so who knows what they said and why they were removed. Maybe he was ardent or vociferous in the missing videos.
2) Maybe he’s really more of a big fish than I can see. There are a lot of Lutherans in the area, so the ECLA stuff may be a big enough deal that it raises his profile.
I did find a listing of his recent radio shows. Here’s one that talks about “sexual purity”. He says a lot of things I disagree with and engages in a lot of, well, less than straightforward argumentation on a range of subjects, but it’s not so out there as to provide a motivation for this outing. At least not to me.
http://www.hopelutheran-aflc.com/index.php?id=sermons&PHPSESSID=5040f1941424e005f74b78f060b7f0a8



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Peter

posted June 26, 2010 at 12:55 am


Seems that the journalist’s ethical responsibilities aren’t conditional. That he may not have locked the minister or even found what he was doing reprehensible, that doesn’t give him the right–as a journalist–to go undercover in a support group. The minister wasn’t directly harming anyone or endangering anyone’s life so there’s no compelling reason to violate confidentiality of him and the other participants.
I say that as someone who isn’t wholly opposed to outing public figures who are doing anti-gay things.



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BobSF

posted June 26, 2010 at 12:55 am


So, assiduously avoiding a rather important deadline (I am my own worst enemy sometimes), I’ve been doing waaaay too much Googling on this pastor. As I searched on various terms, I began to notice that, other than this story about his outing and quite a bit of coverage about his God-sent-the-tornado* silliness about the ECLA, there didn’t seem to be much there there. Brock is described in several places as anti-gay with adverbs like “ardently” and “vociferously” attached, but I couldn’t find much evidence of that. The assertions were not, by the way, from the gay press, but from mainstream publications in MN. Now, maybe he’s just pretty well know up there. Still… in this day and age it’s pretty hard to not leave much of a trail if you’re a real blowhard.
His anti-gay activities, such as they were, were pretty run of the mill for a conservative pastor. Little of substance seems to have come of them. He attended legislative hearings but I don’t think he testified. He is very well known for his opposition to the liberalization of attitudes towards gay people in the Lutheran church and led the charge to detach his congregation from the ECLA. There was some minor involvement in an effort to suppress any mention of gay issues in public schools (even that description makes it sound like more than it appears to have been).
This man is no Jerry Falwell, no Pat Robertson, no Ted Haggard, no fill-in-the-blank of the dozens of outrageously anti-gay religious leaders in this country. There’s something more to the story. I suspect we’ll hear all about it in coming weeks, whether we like it or not.
Two caveats.
1) A ran across links to YouTube videos by Brock on gay issues but the videos had been “removed at the request of the producer” (or something like that, whatever YouTube says when the person who posted it the video takes it down). The producer appears to have been Brock himself, so who knows what they said and why they were removed. Maybe he was ardent or vociferous in the missing videos.
2) Maybe he’s really more of a big fish than I can see. There are a lot of Lutherans in the area, so the ECLA stuff may be a big enough deal that it raises his profile.
I did find a listing of his recent radio shows. Here’s one that talks about “sexual purity”. He says a lot of things I disagree with and engages in a lot of, well, less than straightforward argumentation on a range of subjects, but it’s not so out there as to provide a motivation for this outing. At least not to me.
http://www.hopelutheran-aflc.com/index.php?id=sermons&PHPSESSID=5040f1941424e005f74b78f060b7f0a8



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Jebus

posted June 26, 2010 at 2:34 am


I remember a televised sermon by Pastor Brock from 1992.
He called a support group for gay and questioning teenagers “pollution in the church” and said it should be banned.
The man is psychologically unfit to counsel people on issues of sexuality. He deserved what he got for encouraging the persecution of young people with his problem but without all the not notches that the pastor has on his bedpost.



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Anonymous

posted June 26, 2010 at 3:11 am


Michael said:
Anyone who says nasty things about my civilized gay neighbors, while themselves hypocrites (or even not) gets zero sympathy from me.
OK Michael, how far are you going to extend that line of reasoning? What about people who say nasty things about Democrats? Why is the LGBT side so absolutely convinced of its own rectitude that any discussion of this matter is out of bounds? What happened to free speech? At most universities in this country, you can’t even advocate an view which for almost all of recorded history was considered correct by virtually everyone. (Please don’t respond with the comparison to slavery, which was condemned by many).
My point is, isn’t homosexuality something that reasonable people can disagree about? Is the traditional moral view such heresy that all of us really have to be taken out to the Gulags? Is no tactic too low in the war against heresy? Who’s running the inquisition now?
Look, I don’t support ridiculous statements linking homosexuality to tornadoes. But tactics like this in response are some of the worst examples of “end-justifies-the-means” reasoning that I’ve ever seen. It’s like nuking Tehran into oblivion just because Ahmedinejad made more ridiculous statements about “the Great Satan”. Would you support that?
Robert C, thanks for your fair-minded response and for the guts it probably took to post it.



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kevin s.

posted June 26, 2010 at 3:57 am


“However, your entire argument falls apart on account of the preacher’s repeated, zealous, public anti-gay sentiments and activities. He thereby surrendered his rights to privacy on this issue.”
The ethical right to privacy is not issue-dependent. If Rod writes a post on the negative side of human anger, does he deserve to be photographed if he attends an anger management class?
By your logic, any act with which one disagrees can me met with absolute invasion of privacy, from a purely ethical standpoint. If you profess not to like meat, I may track you down until I catch you eating it. If you say you hate soccer, I will follow you from pub to pub, lest you dare to catch the world cup.
That’s a disgusting standard, and one I can’t imagine the gay community would want applied unilaterally. What’s bad for the goose is bad for the gander, even if the gander is dressed as a hen.



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kevin s.

posted June 26, 2010 at 4:21 am


@Larry
“If a local militant vegetarian was trying to get meat outlawed but quietly owned a pork processing facility and someone snapped a picture of him chowing down on ribs at a BBQ, yeah, it invades his privacy but I’m not going to shed any tears when he’s exposed as a hypocrite.”
This is an abysmal analogy.
1) The pastor in question is not trying to get homosexuality outlawed.
2) Ownership in pork processing and attendance of a BBQ are public acts.
3) People regard eating habits and sexuality very differently. If someone does an expose of my dietary habits, it is not nearly so embarrassing as it would be if they reported on my sexually related discussions.
Seriously, do people even think before they form opinions anymore?



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public_defender

posted June 26, 2010 at 5:57 am


Dreher’s 5:59 post does what his original post should have–made the point without a careless potshot.
As to the comment about a possible civil suit, generally, privilege belongs to the patient/client, not the professional. If someone fakes the need for attorney services and then publishes my advice, my rights have not been violated. That doesn’t eliminate the harm from dishonesty, but it does mitigate it. We professionals should mind our place in our relationships with those we seek to help. If this priest feels he needs counseling, he should seek it from professionals, not from those who come to him for help.
As to the journalistic question, I don’t think this is a just a gay/anti-gay question. A few yeas ago, a reporter lied his way into a job at Food Lion and disclosed some really disgusting, dangerous, and illegal food handling procedures. Food Lion’s response was not, “thank you for exposing this danger to our customers, which, of course, we want to fix.” No, Food Lion’s reaction was to sue the reporter (with mixed results, if I remember right). Evidently, Food Lion thinks it’s worse to lie on a job application than to jeopardize its customers’ safety. Food Lion’s customer’s should be grateful to that reporter.
So sometimes, I think, undercover reporting can be valuable, and sometimes, that involves dishonesty.
And that brings us back to the question that many commenters have raised–is this “Ex-Gay” movement a sufficient moral threat that these tactics are worth it? On balance, I say no. Ten years ago, I might have given a different answer. Ten years ago, I might have asked whether these sessions were really the equivalent of real psychotherapy, or whether they were more the equivalent of racist or anti-Semitic groups that we might want a reporter to infiltrate.
But today, the gay rights movement is gaining ground, not losing ground. Tactics that are tolerated when used by an oppressed minority become distasteful when used by the powerful or even by more equal members of society.
And to my conservative friends, remember that every time you argue to marginalize or to discriminate against gay people, you give a little legitimacy to the efforts of gay people to marginalize or to discriminate against you. Your beliefs aren’t any more special that the beliefs of those who support gay rights.



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Richard

posted June 26, 2010 at 7:09 am


@kevin s. “The ethical right to privacy is not issue-dependent.” Amen.
Public Defender, my beliefs may not be any more special than anyone else’s, but my suggesting that gay marriage is wrong, or refusing to ordain them to the ministry of Christ is neither marginaliziong them nor discriminating against them. And even if they were, that doesn’t give gays the right to then take revenge in a most uncivilized manner.
How about this analogy to the general public here: a somehwat unhinged religious conservative decides to get the dirst on a prominent gay activist. He finds that the gay activist attends a support group for men who struggle with attraction to teenage boys. He has done nothing wrong, possesses no porno images, etc. He frequently tells newspapers and gives speeches saying that religious conservatives against the progressive gay agenda are wrong, discriminatory, etc etc. The undercover religious conservative outs the gay activist and tells all available media “See? This is what these people are really like.”
Do you still feel like the end justifies the means in this case?



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public_defender

posted June 26, 2010 at 8:06 am


ublic Defender, my beliefs may not be any more special than anyone else’s, but my suggesting that gay marriage is wrong, or refusing to ordain them to the ministry of Christ is neither marginaliziong them nor discriminating against them.
Believing that gay marriage is wrong doesn’t hurt anyone, and if that’s where you stop, then fantastic, we’ve agreed to disagree. You go about your life in peace, and gay people go about theirs.
But if you seek to deny the legal protections of marriage to the kids of gay parents, you hurt someone. You also hurt people if you seek to deny the economically disadvantaged partner in a gay marriage the protections that the economically disadvantaged partner in a straight marriage gets, you hurt people. If that’s where you take this, then you’ve crossed the line in support of a rule that allows people to inflict harm on people with whom they disagree on this issue.
If you think you have the right to hurt gay people and their kids, why don’t people who believe such discrimination is wrong have the right to hurt you? If it’s moral for you to seek laws to marginalize gay marriages, wouldn’t it be equally moral for gay rights supporters to seek laws to invalidate marriages sanctioned by the LDS or Catholic churches?
And remember, I agreed that this went too far.



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Dan Berger

posted June 26, 2010 at 9:23 am


Public Defender, you misspoke in a couple of points:
1. “If this priest feels he needs counseling, he should seek it from professionals, not from those who come to him for help.”
He’s not a Catholic priest, he’s a Lutheran pastor. He was not seeking counseling from his “clients,” but from a support group in another denomination. This is perfectly legitimate, and working pastors will often seek spiritual advice from those outside their own flock because there is no power dynamic there.
The fact that the Courage group was not made up of “professionals” doesn’t mean that it has no right to the presumption of confidentiality, any more than a Narcotics Anonymous or Al-Anon meeting.
2. To the best of my understanding, Courage is not an “ex-gay” movement. They don’t believe sexual orientation can be changed; they believe that it’s possible for those afflicted with same-sex attractions to be chaste.
That’s not an exceptional position for the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church believes that it’s possible for anyone to be chaste, that is, to live quite happily without any sexual activity outside of a sacramental marriage, or even within one.



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kevin s.

posted June 26, 2010 at 12:36 pm


“If you think you have the right to hurt gay people and their kids, why don’t people who believe such discrimination is wrong have the right to hurt you?”
Because we are having an active political discussion in this country about the government’s role in marriage, and how we all choose to define it. Any policy decision has a negative impact on someone, who then becomes the aggrieved party.
By your reasoning, the aggrieved party is then entitled to retaliate in non-political ways to a political question.
“If it’s moral for you to seek laws to marginalize gay marriages, wouldn’t it be equally moral for gay rights supporters to seek laws to invalidate marriages sanctioned by the LDS or Catholic churches?”
Sure. The problem is that the gay power groups have failed to garner policy leverage on any level.
Frankly, I think those who support gay marriage can blame these groups for the policy failure. When you pull garbage like this, or have your legal scholars make ominous threats about the future of religious freedom, or react hysterically to fundamental questions about what the right to marriage connotes, you lose the political argument.
This is cheap, petty retaliation for a minority that seems to have lost, or ceded, the intellectual argument. That’s wrong on any number of levels.



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Marifasus

posted June 26, 2010 at 1:23 pm


To those who say the right to privacy is not issue-dependent: I don’t believe you really think that. Maybe you want to think you do, but I don’t believe you really do.
You’re telling me you can think of NO scenario where you wouldn’t think another interest outweighed the right to privacy? Really?
Let’s say it turns out that once a week, Obama has been going out into the D.C. night, disguised in a trench coat, to attend an informal get-together og black professionals, who all agonize over, discuss how to resist, etc., their deep, lifelong belief that America is a misbegotten country and that they long to do everything they can to overcome just about everything you can name about our society, impose Sharia law here, convert as much of the nation as possible to Wahhabism, and reduce everyone who refuses to second-class dhimmi status. Oh, and that they also struggle every moment with suppressing their ardent anti-white zeal. They enjoy little successes in all these respects, they repent over their little lapses, etc. But the president is one of these men.
Oh, and of course add that the President Obama in this thought experiment is, in public, an ARDENT jingoist and proponent of White People Culture, to an extent that often turns off other countries, and people of color.
And further posit that his “right to privacy” in this case rests entirely on this being a pretty informal group — no oaths taken, no _huge_ effort to keep it quiet, everyone pretty much trusting everyone else to be there in good faith.
You’re telling me you’re outraged when some journalist infiltrates (easily) this group and shares what he learns about the president with the world?
I agree that these breaches of privacy are still, in the abstract, wrong.* But in some cases they’re outweighed by other interests.
Marifasus
* And to that extent I take back what I said in my first post, that the gay pastor “surrendered” his right to privacy via his vocal, public anti-gay agenda. It’s not that he surrendered it, it’s that he caused it to be outweighed by other, more important interests.



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Marifasus

posted June 26, 2010 at 1:26 pm


1. Whoops, in the third paragraph above, “overcome” should be “overthrow.”
2. Everyone should watch this. Har!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GRT3zs23sLk&



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kevin s.

posted June 26, 2010 at 2:05 pm


“You’re telling me you can think of NO scenario where you wouldn’t think another interest outweighed the right to privacy? Really?”
“Issue” is not synonymous with “scenario”.
“Let’s say it turns out that once a week, Obama has been going out into the D.C. night, disguised in a trench coat, to attend an informal get-together og black professionals to… impose Sharia law here, convert as much of the nation as possible to Wahhabism, and reduce everyone who refuses to second-class dhimmi status.”
Reductio ad absurdum. A different set of ethical circumstances apply to the president of the United States. Further, in this example, his proclivities would have treasonous implications. This meeting would be illegal for a president to attend.
“Oh, and of course add that the President Obama in this thought experiment is, in public, an ARDENT jingoist and proponent of White People Culture, to an extent that often turns off other countries, and people of color.”
This fact would be utterly irrelevant.
“And further posit that his “right to privacy” in this case rests entirely on this being a pretty informal group — no oaths taken, no _huge_ effort to keep it quiet, everyone pretty much trusting everyone else to be there in good faith.”
Are you suggesting that the group’s informal nature somehow reduces the expectation of privacy, from an ethical standpoint? Why?
“I agree that these breaches of privacy are still, in the abstract, wrong.* But in some cases they’re outweighed by other interests.”
Right. Illegal activity is where your ethical right to privacy ends.
“* And to that extent I take back what I said in my first post, that the gay pastor “surrendered” his right to privacy via his vocal, public anti-gay agenda. It’s not that he surrendered it, it’s that he caused it to be outweighed by other, more important interests.”
You’ve buried the lede behind an asterisk. You have not begun to argue that one surrenders an ethical right to privacy simply by making public statements about an issue. Obama’s hypocrisy would be beside the point. It would be right to infiltrate Obama’s secret meetings whether or not he were an outspoken jingoist.
A better example would if the president wanted a federal ban on smoking, but went to support groups where he admitted to having the urge to smoke. In that case, it would be a ridiculous violation of privacy to infiltrate that group and expose him.



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public_defender

posted June 26, 2010 at 2:48 pm


Here’s what I see are the problems with this debate:
1) Both sides believe that they are morally right and the other is morally wrong.
2) Both sides seek to use social, economic, legal, and political pressure to coerce the other side into acting morally (or, at least, to refrain from acting immorally).
3) Both sides have venues where they have the social, economic, legal, and/or political power to inflict pain on those who do not comply.
4) Both sides sometimes use strong rhetoric to describe the other (“bigot,” “Jim Crow,” “intrinsically disordered,” and comparisons to alcoholics, pedophiles, racists, antisemites, and the mentally ill).
5) It appears that discrimination against gay people and their families is either morally required or morally prohibited.
Maybe this is a zero sum game that one side just has to win.
Now, let me address a couple more points:
Sure. The problem is that the gay power groups have failed to garner policy leverage on any level.
Actually, the “problem” is, as Dreher concedes, that the pro-family side is winning and getting stronger. And that’s why the anti-gay side is on the defensive. Some places are strongly pro-gay-family rights. Others that were strongly against gay family rights are now on the margins. In some places, people have to worry about being openly anti-gay where people used to have to worry about being openly gay. That gives a whole new meaning to “Don’t ask, don’t tell.”
Because we are having an active political discussion in this country about the government’s role in marriage, and how we all choose to define it. Any policy decision has a negative impact on someone, who then becomes the aggrieved party.
By your reasoning, the aggrieved party is then entitled to retaliate in non-political ways to a political question.
Why not? Are you saying that I can inflict harm on you if you inflict harm on gays on your own, but not if you enlist the power of government to inflict harm? Don’t we have more of a right to fight back when the government is involved?
Also, sorry about the priest/pastor error. I noticed the mistake after posting, but didn’t correct it because I thought it wasn’t worth the distractions. My point had nothing to do with the specific structure of the Lutheran and Catholic faiths. But it was an error. And if the pastor was just a participant, not a leader of the group, that changes my privilege argument. But remember, I said that I thought that the deception was unwarranted here.
I’ll end this with the ironic Captcha: “guessing others”



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BobSF

posted June 26, 2010 at 3:24 pm


When you pull garbage like this, or have your legal scholars make ominous threats about the future of religious freedom, or react hysterically to fundamental questions about what the right to marriage connotes, you lose the political argument.
First of all, “we” didn’t pull garbage like this, and the gay-rights organizations certainly had no role in this incident. A single free-lancer did this, and a single editor printed it. I have yet to hear a convincing argument from them as to why. Motivation may become more clear or it may become more apparent they this was uncalled for. Time will, whether we like it or not, tell. As you said, this is a political issue, so it won’t just go away.
As to the rest, the ominous threats about religious freedom and the hysteria about marriage tend to come from folks on the other side. You can even find some in Brock’s radio broadcasts I mentioned earlier. Though, I repeat, they didn’t rise to the level of audaciousness one often hears. His tornado comments were pretty out there, but once you hear his explanation for them, even they aren’t that bad. (He sees every good thing, a fine Spring morning for example, as a call from God to repent because He has given us good things and every bad thing, a tornado for example, as a call from God to repent because He will give you a shellacking if you disobey Him. That the tornado actually killed no one is proof that God also has mercy. To me, it’s just a bunch of drivel used to explain everything and anything in a convenient way as the need arises. Brock didn’t explain how he was able to discern the target of God’s wrath — which you have to admit must get pretty hard to figure out if every tragedy is divinely lobbed — but I suspect that’s probably another case where convenience comes into play, Brock’s convenience, not God’s.)



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BobSF

posted June 26, 2010 at 3:31 pm


That gives a whole new meaning to “Don’t ask, don’t tell.”
Speaking of DADT, if anyone would like to actually DO SOMETHING about a truly “disgusting” issue regarding privacy and the confidentiality of therapy, something we all actually have a hand is as it is our government doing the disgusting thing, you can call your Congresscritter and tell him/her that regardless of whether gay people should be allowed to openly serve in the military, the law should be changed so that private, confidential therapy sessions with psychiatric and psychological professionals cannot be used against service members.
As it stands, those sessions are NOT protected and some military psychologists and psychiatrists report gay service members to their superiors.
And now, back to our regularly scheduled thingy



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Broken Yogi

posted June 26, 2010 at 4:02 pm


As to comparisons to AA, being gay isn’t a problem that needs confidential solutions, it’s simply the way some people are, and the very idea of having a confidential group whose sole purpose is to help people stop being who they are is rather absurd. Do we have confidential AA-style groups for black people who want to stop being black, or white people who want to stop being white, or Jews who want to erase their parentage, or tall people who want to be short? Of course not, nor would we think confidentiality should apply to these matters. The real story here is the abuse of this kind of “confidential group” to mask the bigotry inherent in having an AA-style group about being gay in the first place. So the whole “outing” issue doesn’t apply here, since there’s no shame at all in being gay in the first place, and no need for a confidential group to work out that matter.
Also, don’t the members of the pastor’s congregation have a right to know that he’s gay, since it goes against what he preaches publically? Since anti-gay religious people so often compare being gay to being a pedophile, would it be wrong to out a pastor who often led children’s groups if he was attending an AA-style group for pedophiles? I’m sure a lot of this guy’s congregation think it really is there business to know if this pastor is gay, since they think it’s their business to know if school-teachers and others who serve the public are gay. Or thinking back to Rod’s piece a couple of weeks ago on secret atheist ministers, would it be wrong to break confidentiality and reveal if one of these ministers was attending a private group for secret athiests? I think when someone takes on a public ministry of any kind, one has to allow for hypocrisy and contradiction in one’s personal life to be exposed. One can preach for outing atheist ministers and they decry the outing of gay ministers.



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Broken Yogi

posted June 26, 2010 at 4:07 pm


Last line should read:
“One can’t preach in favor of the outing of atheist ministers and then decry the outing of gay ministers.”



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kevin s.

posted June 26, 2010 at 6:43 pm


“Actually, the “problem” is, as Dreher concedes, that the pro-family side is winning and getting stronger. And that’s why the anti-gay side is on the defensive.”
I get what you are doing with the pro-family talking point, so there is no need to interject it into every paragraph.
On policy issues, those who favor expansion of gay rights are not winning. This is the sort of act that springs from being on the defensive. Do you really think the public observes this sort of bullying as an act of strength?
“Why not? Are you saying that I can inflict harm on you if you inflict harm on gays on your own, but not if you enlist the power of government to inflict harm?”
Yes, just as someone who opposes abortion cannot, and should not, invade the privacy of pro-choice advocates. Just like someone who opposes eminent domain should not go about personally attacking those who personally support its use.



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kevin s.

posted June 26, 2010 at 6:59 pm


“A single free-lancer did this, and a single editor printed it.”
The largest gay publication in Minnesota, which has one of America’s largest gay communities, commissioned the piece and continues to defend it. I am not going to buy the argument that prominent publications have nothing to do with a movement.
@broken yogi
“Do we have confidential AA-style groups for black people who want to stop being black, or white people who want to stop being white, or Jews who want to erase their parentage, or tall people who want to be short?”
What, exactly, is the point of writing this sentence. Surely, you are aware that there is disagreement over what homosexuality is, how it manifests, why it manifests, and whether it should manifest. What is the point of re-asserting a point that ignores all of these questions?
“The real story here is the abuse of this kind of “confidential group” to mask the bigotry inherent in having an AA-style group about being gay in the first place.”
How can a confidential group, participation in which is voluntary, serve to mask bigotry of any sort? What if he’s bi-sexual, and wants to choose a side? What if he wants to explore this line of treatment? It’s a story simply because you disagree with it?
“So the whole “outing” issue doesn’t apply here, since there’s no shame at all in being gay in the first place, and no need for a confidential group to work out that matter.”
By this line of reasoning, outing is ethical in all circumstances.
“Also, don’t the members of the pastor’s congregation have a right to know that he’s gay, since it goes against what he preaches publically?”
Not any more than they have the right to know that he likes big breasts. There is no biblical requirement for pastors to share each and every sin with their congregation.
“Since anti-gay religious people so often compare being gay to being a pedophile,”
No they don’t. They draw an analogy in order to debunk a specific argument related to gay marriage…
“would it be wrong to out a pastor who often led children’s groups if he was attending an AA-style group for pedophiles?”
…and this demonstrates you do not understand that argument.
“I’m sure a lot of this guy’s congregation think it really is there business to know if this pastor is gay, since they think it’s their business to know if school-teachers and others who serve the public are gay.”
This isn’t the prevailing sentiment in Minnesota. Your certainty is unwarranted.
“Or thinking back to Rod’s piece a couple of weeks ago on secret atheist ministers, would it be wrong to break confidentiality and reveal if one of these ministers was attending a private group for secret athiests?”
For a publication do so? Certainly.
“I think when someone takes on a public ministry of any kind, one has to allow for hypocrisy and contradiction in one’s personal life to be exposed.”
He believes homosexual behavior is wrong. He is practicing what he preaches in his own life, by addressing his proclivities. If I believe that anger is wrong, and attend a group for those who deal with anger issues, that is not hypocritical, nor is it contradictory.



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public_defender

posted June 26, 2010 at 7:56 pm


On policy issues, those who favor expansion of gay rights are not winning.
Really? Only a couple decades ago, people were debating whether gay people should be even allowed to be teachers, now the question is whether openly anti-gay people can survive in many workplaces. A couple decades ago, you could go to jail merely for having gay sex, now, those laws are history and many states have legalized gay marriage or something close to it. A couple decades ago, gay people could only live together safely in a few places, now gay people are committing as couples and raising kids together. A couple decades ago, gays were rooted out of the military, in a few months, gay people will serve openly in the military. A couple decades ago, the only question was how far the anti-gay discrimination could go, now a key question is how far the anti-anti-gay discrimination can go.
Gay people have not won every battle, but they are winning the war. In what way can you non-laughably argue that gays have lost freedom in the last few decades?



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kevin s.

posted June 26, 2010 at 8:15 pm


“Gay people have not won every battle, but they are winning the war. In what way can you non-laughably argue that gays have lost freedom in the last few decades?”
I didn’t argue that. I argued that they aren’t winning policy battles, and they aren’t. The issue of gays in the military was decided two decades ago. The remaining victories are won in the courts.
When it is up to the voters to decide, the gay power movement loses. We’ve seen that with the gay marriage issue. People don’t want it. That’s why this whole business of “outing” has come about. It is the product of rage at losses in the polls, which the movement has yet to overcome.



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Rod Dreher

posted June 26, 2010 at 8:23 pm


You who are arguing that the Courage group is immoral and shouldn’t exist are missing the point by a mile. The moral right to privacy of its members should not depend on whether you personally approve of the existence of the group, its members, or its raison d’etre. If they are not a criminal conspiracy, leave them alone — whether they are right-wing, left-wing, gay, straight, religious, non-religious, whatever. A man or a woman who goes to a confidential support group to make himself or herself vulnerable, seeking help with a problem, is entitled to have his or her privacy respected. Period. Full stop. We do not need a society of piss-ant vigilantes like this reporter and his publication going around taking it upon themselves to infiltrate support groups and publish the secrets they hear within those circles. It is unjust, unfair and indecent — and this kind of thing undermines basic social trust.
I know a guy who is not a reporter, but who works for a news organization. He is gay and Catholic, and he is closeted. His faith is the most important thing to him. He wants to live up to its teachings, so he is committed to chastity in his private life. To help him live out his faith chastely, and to struggle with the loneliness and difficulty of this walk he’s making, he joined a local Courage group. I wonder what he’s thinking after this. His print publication has published editorial commentary critical of gay marriage. Now, what if some jerk reporter for a gay publication, or a gay blogger, infiltrated that Courage chapter, learned that an employee of XYZ, which published anti-gay marriage commentary, was part of the group, and decided not only to out my friend, but to publish the comments he’d made to the group about his own struggles? My friend now has to worry about this. Granted, it’s not the same thing as the Lutheran pastor case, because to my knowledge, my friend has never publicly voiced any opinion about homosexuality or gay marriage. But I can easily see a gay vigilante deciding that my friend is an enemy for being part of Courage, and deciding that he’s doubly an enemy because he receives a paycheck from a publication that has in the past published the views of people who oppose gay marriage. Now, if my friend were outed, it would destroy him emotionally. I would fear for his life — that he would kill himself. All because he privately sought help from a church-run support group in living out the Church’s teachings on sexual morality.
How is this possibly right? What if that Lutheran pastor killed himself? Would you who support what that gay reporter and gay newspaper did still think it was worth it?



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Marifasus

posted June 26, 2010 at 8:58 pm


Well said, Broken Yogi.
Rod, if the pastor killed himself, it would be because he’s suppressed his nature. Blaming the outing would be a straw man.
And again, separately, if he wants to be accorded the respect for privacy due to poor, upset souls who join support groups, then he can refrain from agitating in public against the entire pertinent societal group with which he’s intrinsically aligned. Sorry, Rev.
M



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Marifasus

posted June 26, 2010 at 9:08 pm


And as for your friend, Rod, when “the Church’s teachings on sexual morality” are a load of insupportable, doomed claptrap, than when any person credits them I’m afraid he has to accept the consequences all on his own. Crusading gay journalists don’t get assigned special Snidely Whiplash roles vis a vis his fate.
I really, really loved AD&D when I was a teenager, but if I’d decided to mistakenly embrace that universe as somehow real or meaningful and been crushed when people in my 20s and 30s didn’t bow to my wishes when they found out one of my characters was a 16th-level magic-user, the responsibility would’ve been all mine.
People who don’t understand and accept that gayness is healthy, natural, intrinsic, etc. deserve — and will, very soon, universally receive — no greater consideration. No more than people who objected to miscegenation, women’s suffrage, etc.
M.



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Rod Dreher

posted June 26, 2010 at 9:44 pm


Right, so gay people who don’t see their sexual orientation the same way yuou do, or who choose to value their religion over sexual expression, deserve to have their lives ruined, because they are The Enemy. And if they kill themselves, broken by public humiliation, that’s fine with you, because they didn’t share your views.
I have no doubt that you believe this, and that you aren’t alone. About eight years ago, I wrote about an elderly Catholic woman tortured to death by a 19-year-old gay co-worker after she asked him why he slept with men instead of women. I got e-mails from more than a few self-identified gays who said that the old bitch deserved what she got.



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Broken Yogi

posted June 26, 2010 at 9:51 pm


Rod, confidentiality issues aside, your friend’s problems is not his homosexuality, or his desire to live a celibate life according to Church doctrine, but the people in his Church and at his work who feel that homosexuality is a terrible sin, and that anyone who is homosexual in orientation is a disturbed and untrustworthy or “lesser” person. You say you would fear for the man’s life if he were outed, but who is really to blame for that situation? It’s not the man himself, it’s not the gay community, and it’s not someone who outs him. True, outing someone who is simply living a private life is rather rude, though not immoral, since telling the truth about someone can hardly be considered immoral, but the damage comes from those who have hard and bigoted views about homosexuality. If those didn’t exist in your friend’s church and place of work and perhaps family and friends, it wouldn’t be a life and death matter. It might be a violation of his privacy, but not a hurtful one. The hurt comes from those who are bigoted against homosexuals. And the same applies even more strongly to the pastor, who actually heads a church that is very much bigoted against homosexuals. So direct your ire not at those doing the outing, but at those who would be hateful towards someone who has been outed. If no such people exist, then the outing is harmless.
As to the confidentiality issue, the idea that support groups offer some kind of sacred vow of confidentiality is just bunk. When did this become some kind of religious obligation across the entire moral landscape? We have support groups now for virtually anything? Can what people say at a Ku Klux Klan meeting be considered confidential if they call it a support group now? And confidentiality certainly doesn’t apply to one’s mere membership in the group. The real story here isn’t what the guy said in the group, but the mere fact that he belongs to such a group. The fact that he’s a pastor means that he’s simply not being honest with his own church. Why does he need confidentiality at all, and why should he be allowed to hide the truth about himself from his own flock? Doesn’t he trust them? I think it’s great that he’s getting some support from his flock, but should he have been a man about all this and told his congregation about his homosexual struggles? I think it’s pretty duplicitous of him to hide his homosexuality from his congregation, and at the same time rail about homosexuals from the pulpit.
I’m not big on outing people, but in this case I don’t see anything immoral about it. Rude, yes, deceptive, yes, but not immoral. The immorality lies in the pastor who won’t tell his own congregation who he really is, but hides it from them, and then whines when his secret is made public, which it should have been in the first place. It’s fine for the guy to go to support groups and get some kind of space to have confidential conversations about his problems, but not if he’s hiding from everyone in his congregation the fact that he has a problem. Some ministers are alcholics I’m sure and go to AA meetings, but I bet most are open and honest about the basic facts. If they aren’t, then they too deserve outing, so that congregations know the moral failings of their leaders, and also their moral strengths, which can also come out of this sort of thing.



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Marifasus

posted June 26, 2010 at 10:10 pm


Rod, I really and truly understand what you’re saying. I’m a smart guy. I understand your point.
What makes all the difference here, though, is that the question of whether homosexuality is valid and healthy is one of those special, non-negotiable black-and-white areas. It’s in a special category, and its companions are other such issues which are now in the waste-bin of history, like the justifiability of slavery, the outlawing of miscegenation, and the curtailment of women’s rights.
So histrionic statements like “And if they kill themselves, broken by public humiliation” are non-starters, as they’re founded on false premises (see yogi’s comment, immediately preceding).
There’s really nothing more to be said. This phase of history must play itself out; you (and I) will be dead soon enough, and this will be a non-issue which people look back on with puzzlement.
Marifasus



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Broken Yogi

posted June 26, 2010 at 10:10 pm


Public defender,
I’m a little confused by your terminology. By “pro-family”, do you mean people who support gay marriage and gay adoption, and thus the establishment of a family structure within the homosexual community, or do you mean people who are opposed to that? I consider myself pro-family, and I’m in favor of gay marriage and gay families for that very reason. Are people who are against such families actually “pro-family”, or are they “anti-family”? Maybe you could clarify.



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Rod Dreher

posted June 26, 2010 at 10:35 pm


“Special”? “Non-negotiable”? So, reason does not apply when it comes to homosexuality, in your view. There is only one view to be tolerated, and anyone who doesn’t share it deserves to be ruined. How, I wonder, would you respond to zealots who oppose you, who argue that defending traditional marriage is so important that the usual ethical rules do not apply? You have no argument for them, only a counter-assertion.
So histrionic statements like “And if they kill themselves, broken by public humiliation” are non-starters, as they’re founded on false premises
Bullsh*t. You should know very well that gay people have been driven to suicide by the public revelation of their sexuality by people who only wanted to be malicious. That was evil. What you propose is evil too. What you’re saying at the end of your piece is that History will absolve people who destroy the lives and reputations of those who oppose the normalization of homosexuality. You say you’re a smart guy; if that’s true, then you perfectly well know that this is exactly what political zealots — communists, fascists — have said in the past to justify their atrocities. Was it Lenin, or was it Stalin, who said that you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet?
You know, or should know, that yours is the logic of the terrorist, who does not see other human beings, only obstacles in the way of the Goal — Allah, the Revolution, whatever. When I was a college freshman, I used to work the literature table for the Progressive Student Network, thinking myself an ardent left-winger. On the morning news of the terrorist murder of the elderly Leon Klinghoffer aboard the Achille Lauro was reported, I turned up at the table furious with the Palestinians who murdered an old Jewish man in a wheelchair, in cold blood. One of the PSN leaders, a short, gentle man with thick eyeglasses, said calmly, “Well, if he was rich enough to take a cruise, maybe he deserved to die.”
Got that? Klinghoffer was not a human being to that guy, but an Enemy of the People who deserved to die because of what he was. At that moment, I walked away from the PSN and never went back. The coldly rationalized contempt for human life, and for humanity itself, in that man’s face and voice made me realize that no matter what they professed to believe, and no matter how much I agreed with them on this or that thing, these were Bad People, and I wanted nothing to do with them.
This hate for common humanity I’m starting to read on this thread from people like you is starting to make me really angry. I’m going to close it down, at least for the evening.



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