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Wind shift in church gay union match

By Alan Austin - posted Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Midway through the final quarter of the grand final between Christians and Jews who believe homosexuality to be an abomination and those who don’t, the wind has changed direction.

Progressives suddenly find themselves kicking with a stiffening breeze. And although they’re still behind on the scoreboard there’s a chance – unthinkable just a couple of years ago – of a surprise win.

At stake is not just the composition of synagogues and churches. These are only minorities nowadays. But in many countries religious bodies have major influence on public policy. Especially in the U.S, Eastern Europe and parts of Africa.


For example, Uganda's anti-homosexuality legislation – popularly known as the Kill the Gays Bill – is strongly backed by U.S. evangelicals.

The last two months – April and May 2012 – may be the period of play when the conservatives lost their home ground advantage.

In a major turn in the game, American psychiatrist Dr Robert Spitzer declared that the findings of his famous 2001 research showing ‘highly motivated’ people could change from gay to straight were false.

This is huge. Spitzer’s work has underpinned most religious reorientation therapies for a decade. And it has sustained much of the anti-gay doctrinal teaching.

Spitzer’s findings had certainly conflicted with other scientific knowledge, such as from the animal kingdom, which concluded long ago that same-sex orientation was normal, healthy and unchangeable. And they were contradicted by other psychiatric research. But there they were. The Pray-the-gay-away groups always had Bob in the coach’s box.

So for Spitzer to recant is a big goal to the progressives. Their claim that sexual orientation is a God-given gift now has overwhelming support.


In a related setback for anti-gay Christians last month, Marcus Bachmann’s counselling clinic in Minnesota (U.S.), was sprung ‘counselling’ clients that they could change from gay to straight. The clinic – run by husband of Michele Bachmann who God told to run for president – had previously promised it would never do such a thing.

So Christian anti-gay clinics not only rely on dodgy science but also bear false witness.

In Australia the match took a decisive turn when six Catholic bishops in Victoria came off the interchange bench in April and wrote to the faithful urging them to lobby M.P.’s regarding the proposed federal legislation to allow same-sex marriage. They were against it.

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About the Author

Alan Austin is an Australian freelance journalist currently based in Nīmes in the South of France. His special interests are overseas development, Indigenous affairs and the interface between the religious communities and secular government. As a freelance writer, Alan has worked for many media outlets over the years and been published in most Australian newspapers. He worked for eight years with ABC Radio and Television’s religious broadcasts unit and seven years with World Vision. His most recent part-time appointment was with the Uniting Church magazine Crosslight.

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