FRC's Extreme Rhetoric

There is a letter circulating the web from the Family Research Council to their members and prospective donors that is being condemned by many for its hateful rhetoric indirectly targeted at children and young adults. The letter, posted in its entirety below, uses the It Gets Better Campaign and White House support for troubled gay youth to rile up potential donors into giving money and time to support the FRC's mission, described on their website:

Family Research Council (FRC) champions marriage and family as the foundation of civilization, the seedbed of virtue, and the wellspring of society. FRC shapes public debate and formulates public policy that values human life and upholds the institutions of marriage and the family. Believing that God is the author of life, liberty, and the family, FRC promotes the Judeo-Christian worldview as the basis for a just, free, and stable society.

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FRC Letter

The It Gets Better project was established in response to a string of young adults who committed suicide because of bullying due to their actual or perceived sexual orientation. As the letter notes, prominent politicians created and uploaded videos, as well as actors, clergy, musicians, and sports teams, but the overwhelming number of videos are posted by ordinary people trying to give some hope to teens.

Regardless of where you find yourself on questions of gay rights, does this sort of language help advance the dialogue? For an organization that claims "Judeo-Christian" values as their own, how do letters like this reflect on people of faith? Does this sort of incendiary language jive with the Gospel message?

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6 years 2 months ago
Someone should look up Dan Savage's comment about, among other things, Catholicism.  In fairness, that should be part of the story.
Crystal Watson
6 years 2 months ago
The last "It Gets Better" video I saw was very good - one by  David Cameron here ... http://youtu.be/m2GBmqtOOmw
Beth Cioffoletti
6 years 2 months ago
This letter from the FRC (never heard of it before) pushed my buttons because it was making a moral issue (whether or not homosexuality is ok) a political one (Obama and Biden support it).

The political agenda of the conservatives is constantly being boosted by so called prayer services.

Conservatives make political issues into religious ones, and they make religious issues into political ones.

I'm sick to death of this cheapening of spirituality that is done in the name of "family" or "family values" or "God".
Bill Mazzella
6 years 2 months ago
What Beth wrote.
Vince Killoran
6 years 2 months ago
Yes, thanks Beth.



As for bullying, of course Brett is correct that it should not be tolerated.  But when there is a pattern of disproportionate abuse against a group then intellectual honesty and moral principles require us to address it specifically. Dismissing this as a case of a squabble between pro/anti LGBT is quietism at its worst.
Helena Loflin
6 years 2 months ago
The Southern Poverty Law Center rightfully designated the Family Research Council a hate group.
David Cruz-Uribe
6 years 2 months ago
"That said, the vast, vast majority of kids bullied are not gay - they are straight and are picked on due to perceived weakness, size, "defect" or any difference. Despite what Savage and his media backers say, sexuality is not the driving force behind this problem."

Brett, this overlooks the fact that even straight kids are bullied and abused by being called "gay", "faggot" and other things I won't post.  Sexuality is not "the" driving force but it is a major component and it needs to be addressed.  As our bishops have made clear, gay people deserve respect as persons, irrespective of their actions.
Liam Richardson
6 years 2 months ago
"If it were religion that led boys to bully gay people (or gay traits), then wouldn't we also see boys bullying those who have sex before marriage?"

Huh? You need to meet more people. People have zero trouble invoking religion to scapegoat others while themselves being less than fully observant.

For me, I consider the IGB program one of the best new pro-life programs around. 
Beth Cioffoletti
6 years 2 months ago
Why in the world are the bishops in bed with a hate group??

And though I can see that bullying gays is not necessarily overtly religiously motivated, the religious endorsement of the wrongness of homosexuality feeds the righteousness of the bullying.
Bill Mazzella
6 years 2 months ago
Dan Savage and FRC are both wrong. The problem with FRC is they exploit issues to fund raise and build their coffers. We do not need the Southern Poverty Law organiztion to tell us the prejudicial nature of the FRC. The AFC or American Family Council are on the same tract. They learned this from Pat Robertson and Gerry Falwell who discovered that there is no better fund raiser than bashing gays. The Catholic bishops unfortunately did not care to distinquish as they saw a political oppurtinity. The same thing happened with the rise in opposition to abortion among Protestant fundamentals. Falwell and Robertson saw  the advantage of lining up with the bishops to further their very lucrative agendas.
Vince Killoran
6 years 2 months ago
Jeff, your steady unwillingness to acknowledge that your political and moral kindred spirits might actually be wrong brings you, time & again, to use that tired old "Yeah, well the other guy is just as bad" rejoinder.

Since you're the barker for "fair & balanced" so I figured you might want to correct the editors about this as well. Away with "selectivity," right? 
6 years 2 months ago
"Jeff, your steady unwillingness to acknowledge that your political and moral kindred spirits might actually be wrong brings you, time & again, to use that tired old "Yeah, well the other guy is just as bad" rejoinder."

Vince, I'm afraid it is YOU who is allowing your political and moral lens to color your reading of my comments.  The POST (remember that?) is about the rhetoric used in this letter.  I am NOT a supporter of this organization, nor have I ever said here that I agree with this letter.  My first comment was to suggest that if we're going to object to this rhetoric, then, in fairness, we should also consider the rhetoric used by the founder of the It Gets Better Campaign and ask how his rhetoric should color that campaign.  My second comment was in response to the canonization of the Souther Poverty Law Center.

So again MY comments have nothing whatsoever to do with the Church's opinon of Mr. Savage; they have to do with the analysis of THIS post and the responses to THIS post.  If you feel like the Church's rhetoric re: Mr. Savage is wrong, you're free to explain why you feel that way, but that I didn't do so doesn't effect MY comments.  You seem to want to play some gotcha game, though, instead of ANALYZING (but then strangely accuse ME of doing the same thing!). You seem to enjoy going after people you disagree with more than anything.  Have fun.
Vince Killoran
6 years 2 months ago
I love it-somehow Michael and Dan Savage somehow are to blame for the letter!

Picking up on Jeff's comment, "in fairness" we should note that Church leaders call gays "disordered" so I understand why Dan Savage might have a negative view of the Church.

Brendan McGrath
6 years 2 months ago
David - The other letter sometimes attached is "Q," which I think stands for "questioning."  So, you'll see LGBTQ.

Brett, and others - First, I've always thought that "bullying" isn't the right word: at least for me, "bullying" conjures up images from 80s-style movies of an overweight boy physically intimidating a smaller boy to get his lunch money; it also seems to connote something done by one person.  At least in my experience, that hasn't been the case (though I've heard some tell me that it can be).  I think "ridicule" better describes what goes on, at least among boys - though perhaps "ridicule" doesn't cover everything.

From my experience, observations, and hunches, I'd say that among boys, "bullying," ridicule, etc. rarely takes place when it's just the "bully" and the "bullied" present.  Rather, it's something that's done to be observed by others, and it's done usually by two or more.  The ones who ridicule are also usually the ones in the "middle" of the social hierarchy - the boys who aren't the coolest, the best athletes, and/or the most advanced in puberty, but want to be, or want to impress those who are.  It can also, I think, be a bonding experience for two boys when they bully/ridicule/tease another.
 
Staying exclusively on the topic of males for a while: I agree that bullying is often not (only) done to boys who are actually homosexual, but to boys who are perceived to have supposed homosexual traits, and/or to boys who are weak or "effeminate" or whatever.  Regardless, my intuition, my hunch, is that so much of it has a sexual dimension, is related to sexuality, and is even driven by sexuality.  I don't just mean here that the bully might be insecure about his own sexuality whatever; I mean that... I really don't know how to put it, but, speaking theologically, I think that it has a lot to do with the fallen-ness of our humanity, which includes the fallen-ness of our sexuality (though our humanity and our sexuality of course remain fundamentally good and are redeemed by Christ, etc.). 

One interesting thing I've observed, and/or intuited: it seems to me that, at least in the past several years, and at least in the northeast part of the country, it would be rare for boys to ridicule a boy who actually identified himself as gay, or at least, to ridicule him for being gay.  Rather, the ridicule would be directed at boys who display "gay" traits, but who do not identify as gay.  I.e., my hunch is that among teens (I teach high school, by the way), the category of "gay" can serve as a way of accepting a boy who displays supposedly unmasculine traits.  Think of it this way: will high school boys tease someone who likes, say, ballet?  Not if it's a girl - it would only become a problem if the person in question were a boy, and more specifically, a boy who claims to be a "real" boy, i.e., straight, someone who wants to be "one of the guys."  (And ballet could be a bad example; perhaps it would be acceptable for some.)  However, if the boy who likes ballet were to identify himself as gay, my hunch is that his liking ballet no longer becomes problematic, because in the minds of other boys, he's no longer really a "guy" in the same way - hence, there's no NEED to ridicule, and indeed, it would be seen as cruel and an "uncool" (plus other less polite terms) thing to do.  Often, if you warn guys against using the word "gay" in a negative way, they'll say, "Oh, I'd never make fun of someone who was actually gay."  And that's probably true, in a way.

Sorry, this is rambling, but hopefully it's intriguing.
Brendan McGrath
6 years 2 months ago
I wanted to add one more thing:  Brett, I'd certainly agree that most likely, bullying of homosexuals is NOT religiously motivated.  At least from my observations and intuitions, it's not that adolescent boys (and older males) hear religious teachings about homosexuality, and are then led to bully homosexual persons - rather, for whatever social, psychological, sexual, developmental, etc. reasons, they have an aversion or disdain of homosexuality, and THAT leads them to bully (though see my post above about whether it's ridiculing actual gay people, or people displaying supposedly gay traits).  To put it another way: boys don't ridicule homosexual-like traits because they think that homosexuality is immoral or irreligious; they ridicule them because they think that homosexuality is unmanly. 

If it were religion that led boys to bully gay people (or gay traits), then wouldn't we also see boys bullying those who have sex before marriage?  (Incidentally, wouldn't that be funny and bizarre if kids bullied each other for things like missing Mass?  "Dude, XYZ is such a loser; his prayer life sucks!"  - "I bet he's got like no faith at all!"  - "He wouldn't even know what to do if you gave him a rosary!")
6 years 2 months ago
First of all, the Southern Poverty Law Center is a notorious scheme run by an all-but-convicted embezzler.  Don't take my word for it; Charity Navigator has consistently ranked in its lowest category: http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=4482.  I know this is off topic, but to see the Southern Poverty Law Center enshrined as some kind of arbiter of decency chaps me.

Morris Dees has to find new "hate groups" in order to continue to stir up anger, bring in donations, and live an extremely lavish lifestyle, all while serving the ends of justice (roll eyes).  Again, don't take my word for it; google it.

Secondly, since when are politics and morality supposed to be separated?  I've noticed the only time some here object to the mix of politics and religion is when their politics and/or morality verge from the position taken.  No problem with arguing for higher taxes because Jesus wants; but when the topic is abortion...or homosexuality...or _____ - suddenly it's a terrible thing for religion and politics to mix!

Finally, this post is about "hateful speech" in the letter; if we're objecting to hate speech, then some of the degrading things Dan Savage has said and written about Christians (and others who hold to a traditional morality) qualifes as well.  Again, we shuoldn't be selective in our outrage!
Vince Killoran
6 years 2 months ago
"if we're objecting to hate speech, then some of the degrading things Dan Savage has said and written about Christians (and others who hold to a traditional morality) qualifes as well.  Again, we shuoldn't be selective in our outrage!"


On that "selectivity" note Jeff you should acknowledge that the Church considers Savage "disordered."
Bill Mazzella
6 years 2 months ago
Dan Savage and FRC are both wrong. The problem with FRC is they exploit issues to fund raise and build their coffers. We do not need the Southern Poverty Law organiztion to tell us the prejudicial nature of the FRC. The AFC or American Family Council are on the same tract. They learned this from Pat Robertson and Gerry Falwell who discovered that there is no better fund raiser than bashing gays. The Catholic bishops unfortunately did not care to distinquish as they saw a political oppurtinity. The same thing happened with the rise in opposition to abortion among Protestant fundamentals. Falwell and Robertson saw  the advantage of lining up with the bishops to further their very lucrative agendas.
6 years 2 months ago
"On that "selectivity" note Jeff you should acknowledge that the Church considers Savage "disordered.""

What difference does it make if acknowledge such?  It's irrelevant to the topic of this post, and to my comments.  I'm not writing blog posts about "hate speech" or complaining about people mixing religion and politics.
Vince Killoran
6 years 2 months ago
You began in the very first post by arguing that, "Someone should look up Dan Savage's comment about, among other things, Catholicism.  In fairness, that should be part of the story."

But why should that "part of the story"? The "It Gets Better Pledge" contains no hate-filled language (http://www.itgetsbetter.org/page/s/pledge/). You have dragged Savage's views into this.  Why? I argue that it is to distract, deflect, and avoid engaging in the author's argument.

If it's "fairness" you're after than I'm sure you'll agree that the power of an institution with 1.1 billion believers carries more weight than that of a single columnist and activist.  If you want to change the scope of discussion and consider Savage-as you seem to do-then fine: but then please consider the Church's language that he and other gays are "disordered."  


6 years 2 months ago
'But why should that "part of the story"?"

Because the post is about (A) rhetoric and (B) the It Gets Better Campaign.

Savage's RHETORIC is important if we're examining hateful rhetoric.

Again, you're not responding to the POST; you're attacking me because somehow I failed to mention the Church's teaching.  The post isn't about that.  Any my comments aren't about that. If you think the Church's teaching should be an issue, you're free to argue that.  But don't attack people for not making YOUR point.
Vince Killoran
6 years 2 months ago
C'mon Jeff-don't get obtuse at this point. I'm responding to your argument about the post.  I don't find your argument compelling. No one is "attacking" you.

The "It Gets Better Pledge" is exactly the focus (actually the FRC letter is the focus) except you've gone off on a tangent about Savage. To that end, I urged you to fully contextualize Savage's language since that's the direction you wish to take the exchange.

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