This past week the Denver Catholic Register, the mouth-piece of the Archdiocese of Denver, printed an article (see the full article at the bottom of this post) they called “Q&A: Psychologist explains Church teaching on same sex attraction.” This vile and heinous article was so full of bigotry and hate that I just had to repsond. I sent them the following letter, but we all know that they will never publish my response. So I’m posting it here too. Please share it with everyone you know, and help to call out this dangerous bigotry.
Dear Editors of the Denver Catholic Register,
I am writing in response to the heinous and vile article “Q&A: Psychologist explains Church teachings on same-sex attraction” published in the January 18, 2012 edition of the Register. It is precisely because of bigoted, ignorant, homophobic and hypocritical views like those expressed in this supposed “Q&A” that have caused me, and many other Catholics like me, to leave the Church.
Let me begin with the rank hypocrisy of the Roman Catholic Church weighing in on the issue of same-sex attraction. Matthew 7 says:
1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
6 “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.
Furthermore, Proverbs 6:16-19 says “16 There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: 17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, 18 a heart that devises wicked schemes feet that are quick to rush into evil, 19 a false witness who pours out and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.” The Catholic Church is obviously not a big proponent of ‘practice what you preach.’
Secondly, I would like to address the author’s assertion that there is a “growth of empirical evidence that “reparative therapy” works.” This is a bald-faced and blatant lie. The American Psychological Association said in a report “results of scientifically valid research indicate that it is unlikely that individuals will be able to reduce same-sex attractions or increase other-sex sexual attractions through SOCE.” In addition, the task force found that “there are no methodologically sound studies of recent SOCE that would enable the task force to make a definitive statement about whether or not recent SOCE is safe or harmful and for whom.”
Additionally, the American Psychiatric Association has said:
“Psychotherapeutic modalities to convert or ‘repair’ homosexuality are based on developmental theories whose scientific validity is questionable. Furthermore, anecdotal reports of “cures” are counterbalanced by anecdotal claims of psychological harm. In the last four decades, “reparative” therapists have not produced any rigorous scientific research to substantiate their claims of cure. Until there is such research available, [the American Psychiatric Association] recommends that ethical practitioners refrain from attempts to change individuals’ sexual orientation, keeping in mind the medical dictum to first, do no harm.
The potential risks of reparative therapy are great, including depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior, since therapist alignment with societal prejudices against homosexuality may reinforce self-hatred already experienced by the patient. Many patients who have undergone reparative therapy relate that they were inaccurately told that homosexuals are lonely, unhappy individuals who never achieve acceptance or satisfaction. The possibility that the person might achieve happiness and satisfying interpersonal relationships as a gay man or lesbian is not presented, nor are alternative approaches to dealing with the effects of societal stigmatization discussed.
Therefore, the American Psychiatric Association opposes any psychiatric treatment, such as reparative or conversion therapy which is based upon the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder or based upon the a priori assumption that the patient should change his/her sexual homosexual orientation.”
And last, but certainly not least, from the American Psychoanalytic Association:
“Same-gender sexual orientation cannot be assumed to represent a deficit in personality development or the expression of psychopathology. As with any societal prejudice, anti-homosexual bias negatively affects mental health, contributing to an enduring sense of stigma and pervasive self-criticism in people of same-gender sexual orientation through the internalization of such prejudice.
As in all psychoanalytic treatments, the goal of analysis with homosexual patients is understanding. Psychoanalytic technique does not encompass purposeful efforts to “convert” or “repair” an individual’s sexual orientation. Such directed efforts are against fundamental principles of psychoanalytic treatment and often result in substantial psychological pain by reinforcing damaging internalized homophobic attitudes.”
There are myriad statements similar to these from the American Medical Association, the National Association of Social Workers, and the American Academy of Pediatrics to name just a few. It would appear that Stephen A. Hopkins is out of touch with the community he purports to represent.
Finally, we come to Hopkins’ pseudo-reliance on the “science” and how his, ergo the Church’s, views differ vastly from what the science actually says. Mr. Hopkins claims that Church teachings are inline with science; when every single peer reviewed study has proven that these teachings are harmful and detrimental to individuals. Individuals who are oppressed or forced to try and “change” their sexual orientation are eight times more likely to attempt suicide. They are more than six times as likely to report extreme levels of depression. More than three times as likely to use illegal drugs. And more than three times as likely to be at risk for HIV and STDs.
Hopkins claims that the science is still out on whether or not there is a “gay gene”, then goes on to claim “it is unlikely that there is a hard gene determining sexual orientation.” I am sorry, but I must have missed the part of Hopkins’ biography that says he is a geneticist in addition to supposedly being a psychologist. I am terribly sorry but you cannot have it both ways. Either the science is still out or it is not. Which is it?
If the Roman Catholic Church were being honest with itself it would admit that it does not have the best track record when it comes to scientific facts; eg Galileo or condoms don’t prevent HIV/AIDS to name two. Will the Denver Catholic Register publish the actual facts? I am fairly certain that the Denver Catholic Register does not have the moral fortitude to present the facts.