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This blog is maintained by the Ruth Institute. It provides a place for our Circle of Experts to express themselves. This is where the scholars, experts, students and followers of the Ruth Institute engage in constructive dialogue about the issues surrounding the Sexual Revolution. We discuss public policy, social practices, legal doctrines and much more.
Posted on: Thursday, June 28, 2018
Protecting Therapists, not just Pregnancy Care Centers
by Curtis Schube
June 27, 2018
Exclusive to the Ruth Institute
NIFLA v. Becerra is better than anyone could have expected. The Supreme Court’s ruling overturned California’s onerous speech restriction on pregnancy care centers. Great news, to be sure. It gets better. NIFLA also overturned speech restrictions on therapists who assist people with unwanted same sex attraction.
Pregnancy centers encourage women to choose options other than abortion.The Court found that requiring such centers to post notices advertising abortion violates their First Amendment Free Speech rights. This is a very good result. However, few commentators have mentioned that the NIFLA ruling impacts attempts to ban so-called “conversion therapy.”
Laws which ban sexual orientation change efforts (“SOCE” for short) have increasingly entered the national conversation, most recently in California. Before California’s recent attempts to ban all forms of SOCE at any age, California already had such a law in place for minors. The law considered it “unprofessional conduct” to “seek to change sexual orientation” for a minor. Any counselor who violated the law faced professional discipline.
California’s more recent SOCE laws take an even more extreme position. These laws ban all therapy that aims to change, or even reduce, sexual attraction to the same sex. Therefore, a patient who wants SOCE therapy cannot receive that service without risk to the professional counselor.
In Pickup v. Brown, same sex attracted minors and their parents, as well as counselors who wished to provide their services, claimed that this law violates their First Amendment rights to free speech and free expression. The Ninth Circuit, in 2013, determined that counseling is not speech, but rather professional “conduct.” The “First Amendment does not prevent a state from regulating treatment,” the Ninth Circuit concluded.
The Third Circuit upheld a similar law in New Jersey using the same logic in the 2014 case, King v. Governors of New Jersey. In relying partly upon Pickup, the Third Circuit concluded that counseling is speech (rather than conduct) but classifies that speech as professional speech. The Third Circuit states that a “professional’s services stems largely from her ability to apply…specialized knowledge to a client’s individual circumstances… Thus, we conclude that a licensed professional does not enjoy the full protection of the First Amendment.”
In the NIFLA case, the Ninth Circuit had justified the requirement for pregnancy centers to advertise for abortion as “professional speech,” just like the Ninth and Third Circuits had done for SOCE laws. The Supreme Court opinion overturning the Ninth Circuit’s NIFLA opinion, specifically identified Pickup and King as examples of “professional speech” protected by the First Amendment. Writing for the majority, Justice Thomas (pictured above) stated: “Some Courts of Appeals have recognized ‘professional speech’ as a separate category of speech that is subject to different rules.” However, “speech is not unprotected merely because it is uttered by ‘professionals.’”
This is a paradigm shift in the existing precedents for SOCE bans.
Thomas seized the opportunity to provide protections to many other professions as well. “Professionals might have a host of good-faith disagreements, both with each other and with the government, on many topics in their respective fields.” He identifies doctors and nurses who disagree on the prevailing opinions on assisted suicide or medical marijuana as examples of good faith disagreements. So too are lawyers and marriage counselors who disagree on prenuptial agreements and divorces, and bankers and accountants who disagree on how to commit money to savings or tax reform. One would have to conclude that Justice Thomas’ intent is to protect all professionals from being regulated on matters of good faith disagreement.
This is a significant victory for free speech, and not only for pregnancy care centers. The “social justice” movement threatens many professionals in the exercise of their judgement and expertise. This Supreme Court ruling has created broad protections for a significant number of Americans who hold professional licenses. In doing so, the Court also reopened the seemingly settled question as to whether SOCE bans are constitutional. This is a welcome surprise from a case originally thought to be limited only to pregnancy centers.
Curtis Schube is Legal Counsel for the Pennsylvania Family Policy Institute. He is a 2009 alumnus of the Ruth Institute’s “It Takes a Family to Raise A Village” program.
Posted on: Saturday, June 23, 2018
by Dustin Siggins
First published at The Stream on June 21, 2018.
The Stream asked the president of the Ruth Institute why she brought Paul Sullins into their work.
Dr. Jennifer Morse: replied: “We are concerned that ordinary people are making life-changing decisions without accurate information about the long-term consequences. Millions of people have thrown away perfectly good marriages because the ‘experts’ assured them that ‘kids are resilient.'”
“In the post-Obergefell era,” she continued, “people will be deciding to have children within same-sex relationships. These people are entitled to have more complete information than the advocacy research that convinced the judges that same-sex parenting was harmless.”
She called his work on same-sex parenting “first rate.” It “has the potential to help many ordinary people.”
The Stream also asked her if by working with Dr. Sullins, the Institute is proving the SPLC’s claim that it mostly cares about LGBT issues.
“Not really,” said Morse. “He is working on other topics, including the psychological fall-out for women from procuring abortions. His work fits well with our larger concern of giving voice to victims and survivors of the sexual revolution.”
The Stream noted that a new Gallup poll claims that 4.5 percent of Americans are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. This is a record high since Gallup began polling on the question in 2012. It is also far higher than the percentage the CDC estimated in 2014. We asked Morse what she attributes the rise to.
“Describing oneself as ‘gay’ or ‘trans’ has become ‘cool.'” More replied. “We have known since at least 1994 that a person’s propensity to self-identify as ‘gay’ is responsive to social and cultural factors. I’m not surprised that young people are experimenting with these labels.”
“I just hope they don’t hurt themselves and make mistakes they cannot undo. If they do, they will join millions of other survivors of the sexual revolution: people who figured out too late that the culture lied to them.”
Posted on: Saturday, June 23, 2018
By Dustin Siggins
This article was published June 21, 2018, at The Stream.
Dr. Paul Sullins is a Catholic priest and a leading pro-family researcher. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) recently targeted him for attack. His crime? Working with The Ruth Institute on research on the effects of same-sex couples-led households on children. The institute lost its credit card processor in August after the SPLC called it a “hate group.”
The Stream interviewed Sullins and Ruth Institute President Dr. Jennifer Morse before SPLC apologized to a British Muslim group it accused of extremism. SPLC gave the Quilliam Foundation $3.375 million as part of a settlement.
The settlement led to 48 groups the SPLC has “maligned, defamed and otherwise harmed” to release a letter. They urged “government agencies, journalists, corporations, social media providers and web platforms … to dissociate themselves from” SPLC.
The Ruth Institute signed the letter. Morse told PJ Media’s Tyler O’Neil that while “pursuing our mission is more important than attempting to take on the behemoth of the SPLC,” the SPLC’s apology “has caused us to consider our options.”
The interviews are edited for length.
The Stream: You’ve been at Catholic University of America for two decades. Why did you go to the Ruth Institute, and what role(s) will you have at CUA?
Paul Sullins: There is a great need for objective empirical social science research on questions of faith and family. Secular scholars either do not address these questions or address them in a politicized way. This masks or ignores evidence they would rather not be known in favor of their social goals: There are no harms from abortion or from hormonal contraception; gender is a social construction; children do not need a mother and a father; the world has too many people.I became more involved in research countering this agenda while teaching. I looked empirically at the Catholic faith and the natural law. Three years ago, I retired from full-time teaching to devote full-time to research along these lines. I had seed money from the Society of Catholic Social Scientists, initially affiliated with the Family Research Council. After Obergefell, FRC cut back on research in this area to focus more on religious freedom and advocacy. The Ruth Institute stepped up to ensure that this work goes forward.
This kind of research may not make headlines tomorrow. However, it lays the seed for genuine social change. It can help change minds and lives. The Other Side has for decades sponsored full-blown research institutes (Guttmacher, Williams) supporting their agenda. Pro-life, pro-family folk have mostly not supported scientific research from their perspective, then wonder why elite culture ignores them. I am grateful to the Ruth Institute for their vision to engage the culture at a high level of discourse on matters of faith and reason.
On what research projects are you working? What are the implications, source materials, etc. for them?
PS: I have been studying abortion trends and demographic effects to respond to a pro-abortion report issued by the National Academy of Sciences. They deny harm from abortions and argue that state regulations requiring waiting periods prevent women from getting desired abortions. We are showing massive evidence of harm, both psychological and medical. Also, regulations have not made abortions less accessible. The regulations have helped women choose life by thinking twice and/or finding family support. The abortion propensity (percent of unanticipated pregnancies ending in abortion, which The Other Side doesn’t measure) has dropped by almost half since 1981. Unintended pregnancies have not changed.
On same-sex parenting, I have updated the findings on emotional harm. I will look at adoptions using a large longitudinal economic survey (the Survey of Income and Program Participation). I am also pursuing studies that separate boys and girls, and male-male and female-female parents. I will look at where in the different mix there is greater and less harm. Do girls do better with two moms or two dads? Do they do better or worse than boys? These are big questions that go to the heart of gender ideology.
I also recently wrote, for a pro-gay book of therapy, a chapter portion titled “Ten Tips for Helping Your Straight Child Come Out Hetero.” It is a problem highlighted in research a lot. Maybe 3-4 percent of children with man-woman parents struggle with same-sex attractions and how to deal with that. In same-sex parent families, over 95 percent of children will have opposite-sex attractions, unlike their parents. So there is possibly more struggle.
Adult children of same-sex parents report this conflict repeatedly. No one has written anything to help these parents. I essentially take the literature on helping opposite-sex parents deal with their emerging same-sex-attracted children and turn it on its head.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) targeted you on March 15. They said research shows children raised in same-sex relationship-led households have equal development to those raised in opposite-sex-led homes. Your conclusions were criticized as “pseudoscience.” How do you rebut such claims? Why is your research more credible than what others have published?
Please address their claim that you’ve been published by inferior outlets with lower standards and little credibility.
PS: On my findings, I refer you to Mercatornet for background on the same-sex parenting research and my main study. They pull from my article(s) the reasons why the studies showing no differences are not credible (mostly, small sample sizes).
On the journals, this is a false smear. The SPLC recycles criticisms from a 2015 Atlantic article. A Mercatornet article responding to that article addressed your question. The Mercatornet piece summarizes a longer defense published in the American College of Pediatricians’ Obergefell brief. I wrote the brief, and you can look that up on Scotusblog.
For some background, the two scholars cited negatively in Atlantic, i.e., with the “pseudoscience” quote and the dissing of the journal, are both pro-gay activists (Drs. Cohen and Rosenfeld). Their work was cited and rebutted by my study. They had a personal and scholarly interest in undermining it. Atlantic (Emma Green) sought them out, did not inform me she was citing them, and gave me no chance to respond. SPLC (and Atlantic) cite them as random, representative scholars. They’re not.
To be fair to Dr. Cohen, who detracted the journals on his blog, walked back his comments to a much softer criticism after I sent him more information about the journals. But Atlantic (and SPLC) just quoted his initial, harsher detraction.
SPLC’s HateWatch unfairly denigrates a few foreign journals where my studies have been published. It doesn’t mention that top journals have published me. The American Journal of Sociology, Contemporary Sociology, Social Forces, Southern Medical Journal, Religion, Sociology of Religion, and the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, for some examples.
I recently published studies on abortion and same-sex parenting in Sage Open Medicine and Demography. They both meet the National Institute of Health’s rigorous standards to be archived in National Library of Medicine. Less than one journal in a hundred qualifies.
My latest book was published by Oxford University Press. It was reviewed in the New York Times Review of Books.
Traditional views on sexuality are criticized as outdated and unpopular. In the eyes of the media, traditional views on gender identity are outdated. What evidence, strategies, and tactics should be used to swing people and the culture back towards those viewpoints?
PS: It is spiritual warfare. Our two weapons are faith and reason. The strategies I suggest are: first, help people find Christ. When people experience or encounter the love of God in Christ, we become willing and able to change. It doesn’t do much good if people adopt a traditional view of marriage/gender but don’t know that God loves them deeply and personally. The devil could fit in that category.
When people become alive in Christ, all kinds of illusions fall away. Ruth Institute does this by helping people heal and recover from the sexual revolution. When someone’s life has fallen apart from ignoring how God made man, woman, and marriage, you don’t have to do much convincing.
Second, for those who need reasons, give them reasons. There are many people open to evidence and argument. We should not shy away from engaging them in love and respect. The Church invented science to help us open our minds more to God. Truth honestly defended and clearly presented has great power.
TS: Please respond to the accusation that you and others who have traditional views on sexuality are hateful/bigoted.
PS: That accusation is emphatically backward. The SPLC has targeted many fine Christian organizations and individuals for nothing more than believing that God made humans male and female, and designed reproduction, family, and marriage to function accordingly. Those are not hateful beliefs, but the targeting can be hateful.
Unlike the Christians groups that it targets, the SPLC itself has incited actual violence, such as the gunman who in 2012 shot a security guard at the Family Research Council after finding the group on SPLC’s “hate map.”
I am relieved and happy to be labeled a hater. And if I am a hater, then surely the Catholic Church and a significant number of Protestant churches also are. SPLC acknowledges that I am a Catholic priest. Will SPLC put up page denouncing Pope Francis, who has compared “gender theory” (denying complementary sex differences) to nuclear annihilation and who teaches in his letter on marriage: “there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family?”
To SPLC, Pope Francis must be a real hatemonger.
* Disclosure: The Ruth Institute was briefly a client of this reporter in 2017.
Posted on: Monday, June 18, 2018
By Mary Ann Paulukonis at For Your Marriage
“God is God.
You are not.
Your spouse is not.”
Those ten words sum up the philosophy of 101 Tips for a Happier Marriage. It is a slender, easy-to-read volume of 101 pages (plus an introduction and a few chapter heading pages), each with only two paragraphs: one spelling out the marriage tip and one saying a little more about it. How long could it take to read 202 paragraphs? But this book is not for speed-reading. Each tip needs to be thought about and practiced for at least a day, more likely for weeks and months. Therefore I would suggest reading no more than one page—two paragraphs—per day. Add another day, really just a few minutes, to read the Introduction.
Before getting to the tips, 101 Tips for a Happier Marriage starts off reviewing the bold commitments we make in a Catholic marriage: to love my spouse for the rest of my life, to love even if my spouse becomes difficult, to continue behaving lovingly even if my spouse becomes nearly impossible to live with, and to embrace marriage as my path to holiness. An engaged person might want to read 101 Tips for a Happier Marriage to get a good idea of how those commitments play out in everyday married life. A newly married person might want to read it shortly after the honeymoon, especially “after the honeymoon is over” emotionally. Anyone who wants a better marriage or who feels perturbed in marriage could make good use of the book.
“Simple Ways for Couples to Grow Closer to God and to Each Other” is an appropriate subtitle. All 101 tips are easy to understand and none require special understanding, training, or supplies. The reader needs only an open heart and a desire to grow. I wonder why the authors put God before “each other” in the subtitle. The book’s emphasis is on what the person who reads it can do to make a difference for the marital relationship. Growing closer to God will inevitably follow. If we tend to the ways in which God calls us, we will grow closer to the vocation’s author. Once we’ve said our marriage vows and entered the sacrament of marriage, we can be pretty sure that God is telling us to work on our commitments.
It is within marriage that we learn the true nature of spousal love. No longer “going together” or merely “living together,” we have pledged ourselves to one another and to mutually growing through true love’s joys and difficulties. Marriage and the love of husband and wife are good for the couple, for their children, their extended family, and for society. So this book has not only personal benefits for the reader and tip practitioner, but benefits rippling out into the family and the wider community from the loving marriage.
Many tips remind me of lessons I have learned in marriage or lessons I must still work on. In my mid-30s I practiced tip number 2, “Help your spouse grow by being the first to step outside the comfort zone.” I was having a spiritual “growth spurt” and feared that my husband might not understand, might even resent my increased desire for prayer and the sacraments. It was a leap of courage to talk with him about my experiences and concerns. The discussion rewarded me as I was able to gain his support and to come to understand how his spirituality differed from mine. Now in my forty-fifth year of marriage I am putting new effort into tip number 46, “Use the Generosity Gauge, rather than the Fairness Filter.” Somewhere along the line I started filtering my perspective but I want to renew a generous attitude.
Do not buy this book to change your spouse. Do not give it to your spouse to work on. The tips are effective only when applied to oneself. If you change, your marriage will change. This book is also not for anyone dealing with domestic violence or addictions of any kind. It cannot replace specialized professional assistance.
Posted on: Saturday, June 09, 2018
“I believed I could find happiness there, and I couldn’t.”
This article was first published at NCRegister.com on June 7, 2018.
Left to Right: Joseph Sciambra, Hudson Byblow, Daniel Mattson
Daniel Mattson is author of Why I Don’t Call Myself Gay: How I Reclaimed My Sexual Reality and Found Peace and was featured in the documentary Desire of the Everlasting Hills (https://everlastinghills.org/movie/). He is a professional musician from Michigan, raised in a Catholic home (his brother is Fr. Steve Mattson, in fact, a priest of the Diocese of Lansing) and is a featured speaker for COURAGE, the Catholic Church’s ministry to persons with same-sex attraction.
“I tried practicing the world’s view of sexuality. For a time, I considered myself “gay” and lived out that life. I rejected the Church’s teaching as archaic, outdated and unreasonable …
… I had no attraction to women, and I was addicted to pornography. I was angry and decided to turn my back on God. I found a man with whom I thought I wanted to share my life. I put a stake in the ground and said, ‘I am a “gay” man.’ However, God brought a woman into my life to whom I was attracted. I thought she was the most beautiful woman in the world. It made me angry all the more. I wasn’t supposed to be attracted to women anymore: I was “gay”!
So, in my experience, it is a mistake to put people into boxes as “gay” or “straight,” and not be open to the possibility that these attractions may change on their own. I am not attracted to many women, but there are some. A person can have many attractions in his life, but only some he should act upon.
Throughout the history of the world people have recognized that it is not uncommon for people to have attractions to both sexes, but only in the past 150 years have those attractions meant that you’re a certain sort of person.”
“… What led me to the Catholic Church was her constant teaching about the nature of the human person as well as my own dissatisfaction with the world’s view. This, in turn, led me to explore the correct use of words, which led me to the truth. Words are important in reflecting reality.
… I also came to understand our need for disinterested friendship and disinterested love, the love that Christ has for us and that we should have for one another. The word “disinterested” may have a negative connotation, but it means that we love others with no conditions and no demands.
… The chaste man is the man who sees reality, and lives in accordance with reality. All virtues do that, but chastity in particular helps us to see ourselves as we really are. I am a man, made for union with a woman. The reality of our bodies reveals that sex is ordered to procreation, and also the unity of man and woman in marriage.
Sexuality typically leads to children, so it needs to be tied to a marriage that is life-long. To use sex outside of marriage is to go away from the path of human fulfillment that God ordained for our lives.”
Hudson Byblow (http://www.hudsonbyblow.com/) is a Canadian Catholic speaker who has publicly shared his struggle with same-sex attraction. He developed an addiction to pornography in his youth, and while in college, “gay” rights groups pressed students such as Hudson to “come out,” to identify themselves as homosexual and to openly live the lifestyle. At the time, Hudson accepted various statements that “gay” activists were making, such as that people are born homosexual and that 10% of the population was homosexual (i.e. don’t fight it, just accept it and the lifestyle). He had previously held back from “coming out” out of fear of hurting his family. But by 2007, he thought it was his only road to happiness.
The week he decided to “come out,” however, he went to Mass and heard a homily by a “wise, humble” priest who challenged many of the statements put forth by “gay” activists. He decided not to “come out,” and instead explore Father’s viewpoint. He read voraciously and went to the priest for confession. Hudson said, “He assured me that God loves me, which I really needed to hear, as I felt myself to be dirty and unlovable. He made me see the love of Christ as accessible to me.”
“Until that point, I had isolated myself from men, and turned to pornography as a release from my frustration. The problem is, the more I exploited others, the more I hated myself. But I found out through COURAGE that despite my past, Jesus Christ still had room for me. I realized I was not alone. There were other people like me who wanted to live right with God. They wanted to live a life with God at the center, above their sexuality.”
[Part of his recovery from the promiscuous lifestyle was] “putting the face of Christ on every person … I found it impossible to exploit people when I saw Christ in their eyes.”
[The fellowship he experienced in COURAGE gave him] “a little taste of heaven on Earth. We’re brothers fighting for the same cause: to keep Christ at the center of our lives and our embraced identities.”
“We are not merely sexual beings. Sexuality is a gift from God, our loving Creator. I am a beloved child of God first, and I love God above my sexuality. Therefore, I cannot embrace an identity centered on my sexuality, regardless of the sexual attractions I experience.”
[Today, he enjoys a peace like] “none I have ever had before [as compared to the] “hopelessness” [that he felt as he prepared to “come out.”]
[Hudson hopes that all people] “will be open to responding to this invitation with an open heart, mind and spirit. Being fully honest with ourselves is the key to experiencing the greatest degree of joy, which is something we can only achieve if we choose to reject that which is not true, and instead embrace a greater degree of truth once we become aware of it.”
“The real struggle is getting the truth of the love of Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church out to the world, especially on this sensitive topic.”
Joseph Sciambra (www.josephsciambra.com), too, was addicted to pornography in his youth. Sexually confused at age 18, he made his way to The Castro, a “gay mecca,” to immerse himself in the “gay” lifestyle for 11 years. He lived it to the extreme, even acting in “gay” porn movies. But rather than the happiness, acceptance and fulfillment he sought, he found a life of misery.
“Porn is an addiction, and it is progressive. It is comparable to being addicted to drugs. When you begin taking drugs, you don’t start with heroin, but alcohol or marijuana. You become desensitized to what you are doing, and then move onto harder drugs. When you start with porn, you don’t start with S&M, bestiality or homosexuality. You look at soft-core porn. In my generation, it was Playboy magazine.
Today, children can be introduced to sexually suggestive imagery by watching music videos featuring Britney Spears or Lady Gaga. They get hooked young, and begin to see pornography as beautiful. It re-wires the way they think about sexuality. It changes the way they become aroused. They develop a dependence on it.”
… In my 11 years in the “gay” lifestyle, and with my ministry to that community now, I have never met a happy “gay” couple. Their relationships are transitory, fleeting and physically-based. And, even for people who are supposed to be involved in monogamous relationships, it is understood that these relationships will ‘open up.’ This happens despite the fact that you may be emotionally connected and living together.”
“… I was literally shocked out of the life. I was involved with porn the day I was converted. I got sick, was in the hospital and resigned with dying. But I realized that death would lead me to hell. I didn’t want to go to hell. I wanted out of the lifestyle.
… [Regarding a deliverance he had from homosexuality, with the help of a priest] It was a year or two after I left the lifestyle, and it was still a traumatic time. I was wounded, and I was having a hard time coming back to the Catholic Church. A priest could sense I was struggling. He asked to pray over me privately. Afterwards, I felt I was freed from multiple demonic influences.
… [How the “straight” population can help those in the “gay” lifestyle] Pray, fast and make sacrifices for the conversion of people in the homosexual community. Be the light of truth to them. Be charitable. Love them. Let them know you want what is best for them. Many Christians are afraid to express such thoughts to family members or friends in the lifestyle. They think they’ll alienate them. But if done in the right way, it can be very helpful.
… [Is he happy today?] Being in the “gay” lifestyle was a search for happiness. It was restless, frantic and unfulfilling. I believed I could find happiness there, and I couldn’t. Now that I have come back to Christ and his Church and embraced chastity, I’ve never been happier.”