Michelle Bachmann Watch: Homosexual Reparative Therapy as a Wedge Issue for 2012?

Every American election cycle seems to come with at least one socially conservative wedge issue that sharply divides right from left and draws (disproportionately right-wing) voters to the polls.

Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, predicts that 2012 will see the following wedge issue come to the fore:

[A] debate over forms of therapy that attempt to change an individual’s sexual orientation.

But this seems to me like a losing issue for conservatives—and therefore an issue for them not to talk about. Reparative therapy is obviously ridiculous and completely dismissed as such by the community of psychiatric professionals.

And surely the idea of changing sexual orientation by will and therapy must poll poorly.

But Mohler apparently doesn’t care, and is eager to engage in debate about it, writing the following:

Known as reparative therapy or sexual orientation conversion therapy, these approaches seek to assist individuals in changing their sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual. The cultural and political debate over reparative therapy emerged when a clinic run by Marcus Bachmann, husband of Republican candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann, was accused of offering treatment and counseling intended to change sexual orientation. . . .

This controversy will inevitably demonstrate the basic worldview divide that separates the secular therapeutic community and evangelical Christians.

Based on what Mohler says above, the way I interpret what’s coming in 2012 is this: religious fundamentalists, Fox News Machiavellians, and public relations hired guns will have their sights on the “secular therapeutic community”, attempting to delegitimize it (at least in the minds of conservative voters) in the same way that the following groups, in past election cycles, were delegitimized:

  • evolutionary biologists
  • climate scientists
  • economists

In other words, what we’re about to witness is yet another campaign against science and professional academics couched in terms of worldview and the bad motivations that accompany those who base their worldviews in secularism and liberalism.

It’s an old game. I assume it will be played, as usual, without the least shame.

Here, for example, is Mohler—writing at his blog and absent any irony—using the word orthodoxy in a derogatory fashion, as if he is the brave advocate of non-authority based scientific and critical thinking, and the community of professional psychologists and psychiatrists is an entrenched, spiritually blind, and irrational clergy:

The new secular orthodoxy demands that Christians abandon the clear teachings of Scripture, and Christians must understand that the sinfulness of all homosexual behaviors is not only a matter of biblical authority, but also of the Gospel.


Anticipate a whole year of this.

But it will get better.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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5 Responses to Michelle Bachmann Watch: Homosexual Reparative Therapy as a Wedge Issue for 2012?

  1. Cbus Queer says:

    Very interesting that he would emphasize his point by saying that it’s not only biblical, but also from the Gospel, when any serious biblical scholar could tell you that homosexuality is never mentioned in the gospels.

  2. Paradigm says:

    Is this a campaign against science or liberalism? After all, the community of psychiatric professionals that you hold in such high regard declassified homosexuality as an illness by taking a vote – not much science in that. Intuitively, I suspect reparative therapy will fail, but that’s not science either.

    And on that note I would also add that gay adoption studies are almost exclusively carried out on wealthy lesbians living in California. And those who object to generalizing those outcomes on the general population are often viewed as backward minded conservatives who won’t accept science.

    • santitafarella says:


      Your points are taken, but doesn’t your lesbian example undermine your (apparent) opposition to gay adoption?

      The very fact that you concede that at least some gay and lesbian couples are quite capable of being sterling parents, far better than average, argues that adoptions should be determined by a judge or professional adoption agency on a case by case basis (which they are). Gay and lesbian couples, like heterosexual couples, want the opportunity to be considered for adoptive parenthood on this case by case basis.

      That’s fair, right?


      • Paradigm says:

        Well, my point was that the results can’t be generalized as they are in the media. The headlines should be “Gay adoption only works for a minority of the gay community”.

        If they are indeed based on a case to case basis and mirroring the actual results of the studies then I am a little less skeptic. Although I still wonder about what happens if mom loses her job and they have to move to a less tolerant working class neighborhood. You can’t undo the adoption when the child is, say 10 or 12. And if gay men will insist they are everybit as good at parenting as (wealthy) lesbians, will the PC politicians tell them otherwise or play along?

        But don’t get me wrong. If there is a way to do this properly I am not against it.

  3. concerned christian says:

    Santi, You said
    “But this seems to me like a losing issue for conservatives—and therefore an issue for them not to talk about. Reparative therapy is obviously ridiculous and completely dismissed as such by the community of psychiatric professionals.”
    Although I do not have a strong opinion for or against “Reparative therapy for homosexuals,” can you or any of your readers compare its effectiveness, when applied, with the effectiveness of reparative therapy for alcoholism, or drug addiction or pedophilia or any other abnormalities.
    My opinion is that, this is not science it is more like a cultural issue, and as Paradigm said, it was just a vote by psychiatrists that turned it into a normality. Their vote on that issue is contradicted by the position in may non Western countries where homosexuality is still considered an abnormality. This difference of opinion only proves that psychiatry is still a soft science.

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