Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Defending 'Truth' By Telling Lies, Part 2

It's very telling how the rallying of evangelical Christians into a voting bloc has, over time, led to a willingness to play fast and loose with the truth when doing so is perceived to be in the best interests of advancing God's kingdom. Why religious right spokespeople seem to think that God won't mind if His kingdom gets built on a foundation of lies is a question we're apparently not supposed to ask, but all the same it's a question that needs to be asked.

Perhaps the most egregious example of this dishonesty is in the relentless campaign to equate homosexuals with pedophiles. Christian activists repeatedly proclaim that one third of all child molestations are committed by homosexuals.

And on the surface it's easy to see how they get away with making this claim. It is true that approximately a third of sexually abused children are boys who were molested by men. But are all of those men gay? Even without concrete evidence to the contrary, that would seem to be a questionable assertion. A few salient points to consider:

-The majority of men who abuse boys are in heterosexual relationships at the time. While that doesn't prove that they're straight, it at the very least means that they aren't going to be counted on any survey among the 3% that self-identify as gay.
-Many of the above men report being attracted to the 'feminine' attributes of prepubescent boys. By definition gay men are attracted by masculinity, not femininity.
-Rape is often more about domination and violence than it is about sex (just ask a prison inmate who's been on the receiving end). A man who lashes out in that way isn't necessarily going to be picky about the gender of his victim.
-Many pedophiles are exclusively attracted to children. A person who has no interest in adult men or women cannot meaningfully be categorized as either heterosexual or homosexual.

As for what the numbers actually say, Jim Burroway has done an excellent job of compiling the available studies to demonstrate that gay men are in fact no more likely than heterosexual men to abuse children.

All of this information is publicly available, yet apparently conservative Christian groups find it too inconvenient to investigate the truth for themselves. Then again, if they were to stick to the facts, they'd be forced to admit that the only basis they have for opposing gay rights is their interpretation of the Bible; the sociological data does nothing to support their case. Unless, of course, they do have evidence that they simply haven't shared with anyone else - but it would make little sense for them to withhold such information.

So how do we get back to valuing truth above our personal agendas?

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