Friday, March 09, 2007

How far they would go ...

Mohler Says Gay Gene Should Be Manipulated, if Possible
By Adelle M. Banks
Religion News Service

Hard to know where to even start to "unpack" this report from Religion News Service about the lengths to which some on the religious right would go to eradicate gay and lesbian people from the human family. These would be the same people who oppose stem cell research which might lead to treatment breakthroughs for Parkinson's Disease, MS and other dread diseases on the grounds it "plays God." And yet they are willing to consider gene therapy that would reverse the sexual orientation in those they have doggedly insisted are gay "by choice."

Meanwhile we -- gay and lesbian people -- are being asked to "pause" and be "in dialogue" with those who literally advocate our extinction. I'm thinking not so much.

Mohler Says Gay Gene Should Be Manipulated, if Possible
By Adelle M. Banks
Religion News Service

The president of a prominent Southern Baptist seminary says he would support medical treatment, if it were available, to change the sexual orientation of a fetus inside its mother's womb from homosexual to heterosexual.The idea was floated by the Rev. R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., on his blog, last Friday (March 2).

"If a biological basis is found, and if a prenatal test is then developed, and if a successful treatment to reverse the sexual orientation to heterosexual is ever developed, we would support its use as we should unapologetically support the use of any appropriate means to avoid sexual temptation and the inevitable effects of sin," Mohler wrote in advice for Christians.

Mohler's view, in some ways, could signal a shift away from traditional evangelical thinking on homosexuality, from a condition that is changeable to one that is actually determined by genetics. Mohler said there is "no incontovertible or widely accepted proof" that sexual orientation is based in biology, yet "the direction of the research points in this direction."In addition, the idea of genetically altering a fetus -- and which characteristics to alter -- raises deep ethical and theological questions about Christian parents' ability to change a baby they believe was created by God.

Read the rest here ...

And bravo to HRC's Harry Knox's clarity in speaking out against Mohler's extremism:

One prominent gay rights group, the Washington-based Human Rights Campaign,was outraged by Mohler's suggestions. Harry Knox, who directs the group's Religion and Faith Program, accused Mohler of "playing God."
"Sexual orientation is an immutable, unchangeable gift from God," Knox said, "and Dr. Mohler insults the Creator by suggesting that genetics or hormones or other treatment be used to change that wonderful gift."Knox said if such a treatment existed, his organization would oppose it.
"The gifts of (lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender) people to the realm of God and to God's church ... should not be forfeited," Knox said. "And they would be if this kind of genetic manipulation were used to cause us not to be."


Anonymous said...

Although Mohler presents his argument as a better alternative to the inevitable temptation of conservative evangelicals to abort identified "gay" fetuses, he doesn't account for the ethical problems of experimenting on fetuses for a condition not threatening to the fetus's health. Put simply, this "treatment in utero" simply won't fly under US Institutional Review Boards as currently understood.

Not only that, but the legal liability issue is rather massive. Let's say there are reproductive complications - infertility - or genitourinary malformations in the treated infant -to-21 years (or lifetime, in some jurisdictions). Multimillion dollar lawsuit and several million dollar settlements ahead, in the current legal climate.

I don't see this "treatment" as being developed in the USA - obstetricians would be exceedingly gunshy if not indemnified by state/federal law. I would guess that this "treatment" would be studied in some third-world country, as many of the drug trials are nowadays. IRBs and governmental regulations are much slacker in third world countries, women are much more exploitable (choice between no health care and health care with a catch). It is also possible that US women would travel overseas to get treated (so-called health care tourism, exemplified by the transplant situation).

I'll leave the genocide aspect to other commenters for now.


Anonymous said...

It is interesting to note that Mr. Mohler has been lauded on the Titus One Nine blog site of Kendall Harmon, the wingnut windbag Episcopal canon in South Carolina, that land of rationality and reason.

Sometime since the beginning of the year, Mohler was critically ill in the hospital. Harmon led a blog of get well wishers who signed in to praise the man for his sense and sensibility and ask for all to offer intercessions for his recovery. All was enough to make the reader somewhat ill, but more importantly it also showed forth what the Episcopal Church wingnuts really thought, ala extreme Southern Baptist rhetoric and belief by being so lauditory of Mohler. He is not a pleasant person regarding GLBT issues or anything very distant from absolute literal biblicalism.
In other words, this man is scary and he has lots of power and exercises a great deal of control. He is not too far removed from the likes of Fred Phelps and his crew, except Mohler has a radio program and wraps himself in a mantle of academic respectability.

The bottom line is: the people that Ms. Jefferts Schori and her sympathizers are trying to "include" in the "conversation" and "at the table" since the Dar-Es-Salaam communique are the most repugnant types of arch-conservative bullies that exist in the church today, either here in the U.S. or in the so-called "Global South."

We need to be aware of things like this in order to make some case with the leadership of the Episcopal church and call a halt to this kind of pandering to the Right.

Anonymous said...

Eugenics anyone???

Anonymous said...

Just when you think you've heard it all . . .

This is so far beyond the pale, even for the so-called religious right, that I can't even begin to process it.

Who's to say they will stop once they isolate the so-called "gay" gene?

Will they look for the "straight, but favors full inclusion gene?" Or the "heretic" gene? Or the "likely to become an illegal alien" gene?

You have to wonder why the folks who possess the absolute truth and already have a ticket to heaven are so incredibly angry.

Kind of makes the pending Nigerian legislation (under which I would be doing time) look progressive.

Anonymous said...

Heil Mohler! ...

Anonymous said...

Rev. Robert,

It is a great lie that Mohler is anything like Fred Phelps. I know Phelps and his family, had my church picketed by them and have been called most every nasty name by them face-to-face on the church sidewalk. Rev. Mohler thinks like the vast majority of Christians that homosexual behavior is a sin and he also is sympathetic to the struggle to be chaste when one is same sex oriented. He does not use hateful rhetoric.

Phelps pickets churches and cemetaries with incredibly obscene and hateful signs and shouts out worse at worshippers and mourners alike. Mohler is no Phelps by any honest estimation.

I am interested if this will tip All Saints in a pro-life direction. That, too, would a blessing worth claiming.

W said...

The headline is misleading. There is no one gene that makes you gay. It would have to be some combination of genes plus environmental factors. Human behavior and its biological antecedents are very complex. Mohler will likely be dead before we can begin to manipulate complex characteristics like sexual orientation. and, of course, we all know that the younger generations are more open-minded about sexual orientation, so I hope the SBC will have listened to people like Tony Campolo and softened its stance by the time such therapies become feasible.

"These would be the same people who oppose stem cell research which might lead to treatment breakthroughs for Parkinson's Disease, MS and other dread diseases on the grounds it "plays God." And yet they are willing to consider gene therapy that would reverse the sexual orientation in those they have doggedly insisted are gay "by choice.""

You gotta admit, though, Mohler is not entirely being inconsistent. His opposition to stem cell research stems from the fact that you have to destroy zygotes, which he argues is equivalent to murder. If a medical treatment that wasn't based on stem cells was available, it wouldn't be inconsistent with his position on abortion.

you could still argue that he was playing God, though. and I would love to see what would happen if his ficticious therapy was a stem-cell therapy.

Anonymous said...

As a so-called conservative on these issues, I will admit that Mohler is nuts here. Nuts. But I also don't think that it's at all clear that sexual orientation is 'immutable' and given as from birth, either. At least that's what I have read.

Anonymous said...

This article, or at least the subject of the article seems to assume a lot: that homosexual orientation is genetic in origin. That seems to be going well beyond what has been established in the scientific community. But if this has been proven, and the "gay gene" has been isolated, then why not have genetic therapy available for those who want it to heal their affliction? And no - I am not against stem cell research - only as long as embryos are not the source of the stem cells.

Brian F

Anonymous said...

Brian F: Sweetie, you are full of crap. Scientific evidence is almost 90% sure that homosexuality and other differences in nature are genetic. Come on, let's ditch your medieval Christian viewpoints and get real. As to your views on stem cells not being taken from embryos, what is the point there? Are you afraid that the embryos will scream, twitch, or otherwise "feel it." Nonsense. Embryonic cells get flushed down the toilet daily as a result of menstruation and miscarriages, so what's the point, dear?

Anonymous said...

Country Squire says:

Scientific evidence is almost 90% sure that homosexuality and other differences in nature are genetic.

Here is what Dr. Francis S. Collins, the head of the Human Geneome Project, has to say about that:

An area of particularly strong public interest is the genetic basis of homosexuality. Evidence from twin studies does in fact support the conclusion that heritable factors play a role in male homosexuality. However, the likelihood that the identical twin of a homosexual male will also be gay is about 20% (compared with 2-4 percent of males in the general population), indicating that sexual orientation is genetically influenced but not hardwired by DNA, and that whatever genes are involved represent predispositions, not predeterminations.

We are all predisposed to sin; some more strongly than others, some for different sins that others. But whether or not we do sin is up to us; at least where it comes to homosexual behavior, the current scientific evidence says that genetics may only nudge us in that direction, but does not command or overwhelm us. It is not determinate.


Anonymous said...

As regards to your comment regarding embryonic cells; the concern about using embryonic-derived stem cells (as opposed to using stem cells overall, which as far as I know no one opposes) is that they embryo must be destroyed in the process of extracting them. The fact that natural processes such as miscarriages also destroy embryos is irrelevant.