Wednesday, 3 June 2009

RC adoption agency loses appeal

Updated again Saturday

Charity Finance reports Charity Tribunal dismisses Catholic adoption case

The Charity Tribunal has rejected the latest attempt by a catholic adoption charity to circumnavigate rules preventing it from discriminating against homosexual couples seeking to adopt children.

Catholic Care (Diocese of Leeds) had sought to take advantage of an exemption in the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007, which suggests that discrimination can occur if it is in pursuit of charitable objectives.

In its preliminary judgment in March, the Tribunal had ruled the exemption could only apply if the charity’s activities were not made unlawful by other provisions.

But at the final hearing last month, the charity was unable to demonstrate that it could operate in such a way.

See also Third Sector Online reports (registration required)

Children’s charity Catholic Care (Diocese of Leeds) has lost its appeal to the Charity Tribunal against the Charity Commission’s refusal to allow it to change its objects to allow its adoption service to discriminate against homosexual parents.

The charity wanted to take advantage of an exemption in the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007 that permits charities to discriminate on the grounds of “the provisions of a charitable instrument”, such as a governing document.

But in its first ever final judgement, the tribunal’s panel of three legal members, led by president Alison McKenna, concluded that Catholic Care would infringe other provisions in the regulations if it discriminated against homosexual parents and would therefore be operating unlawfully…

Two earlier reports from the same source:
Allow us to exclude gay people, Catholic adoption charity tells Charity Tribunal.
Adoption charities must justify equality law exemption

The decisions of the Charities Commission and the Charities Tribunal are all available online:

Charities Commission:
final decision (PDF) and summary here

Charities Tribunal: (all PDFs)
Directions Order with Ruling (7 January 2009)
Ruling on Preliminary Question (13 March 2009)
Catholic Care (Diocese of Leeds) v The Charity Commission for England and Wales decision (1 June 2009)

Other media reports:

Daily Mail Steve Doughty Catholic ban on adoption by same-sex couples is ruled illegal

Telegraph Catholic charities breaking law on homosexual adoption

Neil Addison writes at Religion Law Blog about this in Catholic Adoption Agencies lose case:

…What the agencies were trying to do was to change their objects so as to add the following

“The Charity shall only provide adoption services to heterosexuals and such services to heterosexuals shall only be provided in accordance with the tenets of the Church. For the avoidance of doubt the Roman Catholic Bishop of Leeds from time to time shall be the arbiter of whether such services and the manner of their provision fall within the tenets of the Church”

They argued that this would enable them to operate because of the exemption for Charities under reg 18 of the Sexual Orientation Regulations 2007 which say

“18.—(1) Nothing in these Regulations shall make it unlawful for a person to provide benefits only to persons of a particular sexual orientation, if—
(a) he acts in pursuance of a charitable instrument, and
(b) the restriction of benefits to persons of that sexual orientation is imposed by reason of or on the grounds of the provisions of the charitable instrument”

Mr Addison goes on to explain where he disagrees with the tribunal, why even if the agency had won it would have been a pyrrhic victory, and he also offers an alternative solution that he had recommended, but which was it seems rejected.

The Catholic Herald has reported on this, Judgment seals fate of adoption agencies. This includes:

However, the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator allowed St Margaret’s Adoption and Child Care of the Archdiocese of Glasgow to change its charitable objects to continue its policy of assessing only heterosexual married couples and single people as adopters.

That has prompted a complaint from the National Secular Society, see Scottish Charity Regulator lambasted for caving in to Catholic Charity over gay adoption.

See also SNP and Catholic Church’s secret plan to sidestep legislation on gay adoptions in the Glasgow Sunday Herald.

Ekklesia has reported on the English case, and refers to the views of the LGCM RC Caucus, see Gay Catholics welcome rulings against adoption agency discrimination.

The publication of the proceedings before the Charities Tribunal has publicised the actual drafting of the proposed charitable objects which the Leeds and Birmingham agencies wished to adopt.

Both draft instruments relied upon the following paragraph to gain the desired exemption: “The Society shall provide adoption services only to heterosexuals and only in accordance with the tenets of the Roman Catholic church”.

The Roman Catholic Caucus of LGCM points out that, contrary to the general press comment about the appeals by these adoption agencies, the agencies were not seeking permission to place children only with married couples. They were seeking to exclude all lesbian, gay and bisexual people from the ambit of their services, including those who choose to live their lives celibately in strict accordance with Catholic church teaching.

“This proposed object is blatantly contrary to Catholic church teaching,” comments the Caucus.

The Caucus says it also became clear in various discussions before the Charities Tribunal that the “adoption services” referred to include services to children who are to be placed or have been placed for adoption. The proposed wording would therefore have required the agency to ascertain the sexual orientation of any child who was placed for adoption as a condition of providing services to that child.

As the “adoption services” described include support after the child has been placed, this would also involve withdrawing after-care services to a family in which the adopted child comes out after the adoption has taken place. The LGCM Catholic Caucus says it considers that “most Catholics will find this proposal both offensive and contrary to the values of the Roman Catholic Church.”

The full text of the statement from the LGCM RC Caucus is available at Caucus reacts to Adoption Ruling.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 3 June 2009 at 11:19am BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: equality legislation
Comments

I will undoubtedly be swimming against the tide on this subject on this website, but I think this is an unfortunate decision for religious freedom in the UK. A religious adoption agency ought to be able to place children in homes it considers to be beneficial for the child by the standards of that religion. One wouldn't expect an Orthodox Jewish adoption agency to be forced to place children with pork-eating Jewish couples, for example. The Roman Catholic Church holds homosexual activity to be immoral; I think they are wrong, but as we say here in the States, "It's a free country." They shouldn't be forced to place children with people who do not meet their admittedly narrow religious standards, IMO. They aren't the only avenue for adoption, after all.

If the agency decides to shut down rather than place some children in situations that they believe are morally dangerous, will that be a victory for gay rights?

Posted by: BillyD on Wednesday, 3 June 2009 at 2:54pm BST

I have to second BillyD's comments. My partner and I are hoping to adopt in the next couple of years, and I'm Roman Catholic. Though I wouldn't dream of going to an RC agency because I know they will toe the party line, they should have the right to place children where they think is best.

Do religious adoption agencies in the UK receive public funds?

Posted by: Charles on Wednesday, 3 June 2009 at 3:02pm BST

Yes, they do receive public funds, and that is the problem. They are, it appears, not able to provide the adoption service without the money paid to them by the various local government bodies with whom they deal.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 3 June 2009 at 3:12pm BST

Charles

that's exactly the point - they do receive public funds.
Also, adoption is a public service. They don't restrict themselves to placing RC and churched children.

Of course they have the right to place children where they think is best. What they haven't got is the right to rule out one group of people on ideological grounds without giving the individual potential adopters the opportunity to show that they might be best.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 3 June 2009 at 3:22pm BST

They shouldn't be able to discriminate if they receive public funds. Sounds like they need to find new sources of funding!

Posted by: Charles on Wednesday, 3 June 2009 at 3:33pm BST

"They shouldn't be able to discriminate if they receive public funds. Sounds like they need to find new sources of funding!"

Agreed. Their receiving public funds limits their right to run the program according to their private standards.

Posted by: BillyD on Wednesday, 3 June 2009 at 3:48pm BST

I believe the Tribunal gave every possible help so that the charitable purpose of helping needy children could continue to be followed, they did everything in their power to help the charity's trustees carry on providing a resource for these hard to place children without actually contravening the law.

The Tribunal clearly did not see the matter with the same eyes as the Charity Commission - and even though they bent over backwards to help the charity the trustees were unwilling to amend the function of the charity so that needy children might be served without breaching either the law or the teachings of the Catholic Church. As the Tribunal makes clear the trustees were trying to prove a point and it was more important for the trustees to make the point than to carry out some charitable work.

In fact close on 90% - and in some cases more - of the overall funding for the charities comes directly from tax payers.

When I read the stipulation that the charity wanted only to serve heterosexuals I was struck by how little real thinking had gone into this. These charities provide a continuing service of support to the family, if the adopted child emerged as gay one can only assume the charity would be forced to remove its support.

What was significant was the poor level of legal advice available to the trustees and their absolute refusal to accept the legal findings, careful opinions, encouragement and helpful guidance of the Tribunal - I was very impressed by this process, it has exposed the hypocrisy clearly and there can be no doubt the Roman Catholic Church has shown itself in a bad light here.

What is good is that nearly all the charities doing this work under RC auspices have now made the requisite changes and are continuing to provide a great service for hard to place youngsters.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Wednesday, 3 June 2009 at 5:32pm BST

Even though I know an excellent example of a gay couple adopting a mentally handicapped child, who would otherwise be institutionalised and unwanted. I still feel in my heart of hearts that a child should have a loving Father and Mother. Its also a fact that there are many gay people who also believe that too. There was a gay chap ( forget his name ) on Desert island discs who said the same.

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Wednesday, 3 June 2009 at 5:40pm BST

I will provide a link to the full statement from which this is an excerpt as soon as it is published, but here's a quote from a Statement by the RC Caucus of LGCM about this matter:

"The publication of the proceedings before the Charities Tribunal has publicised the actual drafting of the proposed charitable objects which the Leeds and Birmingham agencies wished to adopt. Both draft instruments relied upon the following paragraph to gain the desired exemption:

"The Society shall provide adoption services only to heterosexuals and only in accordance with the tenets of the Roman Catholic church".

Contrary to the press comment generally about the appeals of these adoption agencies, the agencies were not seeking permission to place children only with married couples. They were seeking to exclude all lesbian, gay and bisexual people from the ambit of their services, including those who choose to live their lives celibately in strict accordance with Catholic church teaching. This proposed object is blatantly contrary to Catholic church teaching.

It also became clear in various discussions before the Charities Tribunal that the "adoption services" referred to include services to children who are to be placed or have been placed for adoption. The proposed wording would therefore have required the agency to ascertain the sexual orientation of any child who was placed for adoption and refuse to provide services to that child. As the "adoption services" described include support after the child has been placed, this should also involve withdrawing after care services to a family in which the adopted child comes out after the adoption has taken place.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 3 June 2009 at 6:36pm BST

I was the victim of "hand out other people's 'bastards' like confetti and spit in the face of birth mothers while we do it" adoption in the 60s, so I am trying hard not to Go Off On One here, accepting that most adoption providers will have improved their behaviour since...

"discrimination can occur if it is in pursuit of charitable objectives"

Is this rather odd-sounding rule "really" intended to cover small-scale cases like legacies endowing scholarships for left-handed girls in Peckham?

I can imagine some children might be best placed with a celibate gay person, e.g. if they had been abused by a birth parent of the other sex, so think the charity is being less than true to its alleged Christian and pro-child objectives if it bans this.

One Dawkins-statement I can never quite brush off is "How can you have Catholic babies and Protestant babies and Hindu babies? - You don't have Tory schools and Labour schools.." (Actually, I guess you could argue we do, they're called private and comprehensive, but that would be over-simplifying)


Posted by: joan_of_Quark on Wednesday, 3 June 2009 at 7:10pm BST

Charles:
"Sounds like they need to find new sources of funding!"

Yeah, because Rome is so terribly cash strapped! Even if they don't manage to wiggle out of making reparations in child abuse cases like they did here, I really don't think Rome's coffers would drain.

RIW
"I still feel in my heart of hearts that a child should have a loving Father and Mother."

So, widows and widowers are what, handicapped? Besides, Robert, your part of the world might have escaped the sexual abuse scandals, but we were the first to deal with it. Rome's credibility to speak on family matters and sexual matters has been severely compromised as a result. Here, when the RC Church makes any public comment on such matters, the attitude is largely a very justified "Where do they get the nerve?" Indeed, when Rome makes a comment about declining Church attendance, the response is usually in the same vein. Is it fair? I think it is. You may disagree, but i think it is a long overdue lesson in humility. But, fair or no, Rome's utter inability to understand the issue of child sexual abuse by clergy has severely damaged her credibility in this area. If the issue hasn't hit yet where you are, it will. Clergy in Newfoundland, Ireland, and the US have been proven to be at it, you can bet it is going on elsewhere. If you haven't yet dealt with the issue and the loss of credibility that comes with it, you will have to one day soon.

And, BillyD, I agree. But, if this is merely that Rome can no longer receive public funds for adoption agencies if they want to discriminate against gay people, what's the fuss? Let them use their own funds, or raise funds some other way.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 3 June 2009 at 7:30pm BST

"I still feel in my heart of hearts that a child should have a loving Father and Mother."

You can do that on your own dime, RIW.

This is no different than in this country (USA), where the RCC/other private/religious institution, keep trying to get "vouchers" of PUBLIC TAX MONEY, to pay for their schools.

As a US citizen, I get to VOTE for my local public school board. If the RCC were to get taxpayer vouchers, would I be able to vote for the bishop? No deal! >:-/

Posted by: JCF on Wednesday, 3 June 2009 at 7:47pm BST

RIW
Isn't the key phrase "who would otherwise be institutionalised and unwanted"?
We'd all like happy families, but if my children had found themselves in state care at any time in their young lives, I'd have much rather a loving couple adopted them than that they stayed in "care".

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 3 June 2009 at 7:58pm BST

What disgusted me was that at Mass in Wales we had a letter read from the bishops stating we must close our adoption agencies as the Catholic Church cannot accept gay adoption. Then in the concluding paragraph we were told to support the agencies which were no longer Catholic and facilitating gay adoption!

The Magisterium is never wrong on definitive issues and I accept their teaching unequivocally, but the local hierarchy are totally confused and have handled this affair poorly. My personal opinion may be flawed but never the definitive voice of him, who was told, " confirm my brethren."

As a teacher I know how cruel children can be. Imagine a child living with same sex parents.. they would be bullied and ridiculed.

By the way the Catholic caucus of the LGCM are not Catholics in good standing and has no status within the Catholic Church.

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Wednesday, 3 June 2009 at 10:20pm BST

To clarify for non-UK residents - there is no such thing as a 'private' adoption in the UK. The relevant officials from social services must be involved, and it would be against their equal opportunity policies to work with organisations which discriminate. All adoptions are paid for publicly

I think the right decision was made as adoption is part of the public sphere

Posted by: Merseymike on Wednesday, 3 June 2009 at 11:19pm BST

RIW

'As a teacher I know how cruel children can be. Imagine a child living with same sex parents.. they would be bullied and ridiculed.'

True. Shame upon the bullies, and shame upon anyone who condones the bullying. Not so long ago, mixed-race children faced similar ridicule.

The bullies were wrong then, and they are wrong now. All people of goodwill should stand up to them.

Posted by: Sam R on Thursday, 4 June 2009 at 1:00am BST

"The Society shall provide adoption services only to heterosexuals and only in accordance with the tenets of the Roman Catholic church".

Now... Speaking as an adopted child - is it not to the c h i l d r e n these people pretend to "provide" their "services"?

My opinion is that they (and local governments) steal the children of the poor to put them in household that are damaged by their sterility to the point of dysfunction.

In Sweden (according to statistics on the homepage of one of the private adoption facilitating organisations) no less than 1/3 of adopted children (those asked are probably all from other parts of the world) feel adoption should be banned altogether!

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Thursday, 4 June 2009 at 7:36am BST

At the end of the day,as a Catholic I have to follow the Church. There are so many moral dilemmas and I am glad that I have the Church to put me right. This is for me is the humility of submitting to God's truth.

For instance I have been invited to the marriage of a good friend who is divorced. Do I put my loyalty to her first or to the Church and the Law of Christ?

However bad you think the Catholic Church is, at least its Magisterium is consistent.There will always be scandals but God has endowed it with something higher than the flawed reasoning of men and women. Indeed the worst effect of the fall has been the effect on the human mind. So I thank God for a Church to guide me ..thinking is all well and good,.. but what if I reach the wrong conclusion? It could effect my soul for the rest of eternity.

You know the gay couple I mentioned before..they know my views and yet they still treat me with integrity and respect.

I really object to the element of fascistic compulsion in this legislation. Why did Catholic Charities have to step in line ... why couldn't we have been left alone ... even if we privately funded our agencies. Has the Government forced the Church of England to have women bishops?
This is religious discrimination.

That is why I am not voting Labour today.

If you really feel the Catholic Church is evil..do you repay evil with evil?

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Thursday, 4 June 2009 at 7:45am BST

"As a teacher I know how cruel children can be. Imagine a child living with same sex parents.. they would be bullied and ridiculed."

How odd then, that my 2 children are happily adjusted, very popular at school and that our house is teeming with their friends.
We must be the wrong kind of same sex family.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 4 June 2009 at 7:56am BST

RIW
There's a lot of muddled thinking in your last post.
You are perfectly free to accept the RC dogmas as truth, but you still have to recognize that they are not seen as truth by everyone and that the State, which by definition serves all its citizens, cannot be bound by them.

So whether you attend your friend's wedding is entirely down to your own conscience.

But adoption is a service provided with the help of state finance, i.e. all our finance, potentially to all children.
We do not have private adoption in Britain, so it cannot be possible to allow one group of people to make their own rules.

This is not an issue of whether the rules are considered "evil" or not by the population, but an issue of equality before the law. No-one is more equal than others; no-one who acts in the public sphere and takes public money has more rights to impose themselves than others.

And that leaves aside the issue Simon pointed out "Contrary to the press comment generally about the appeals of these adoption agencies, the agencies were not seeking permission to place children only with married couples. They were seeking to exclude all lesbian, gay and bisexual people from the ambit of their services, including those who choose to live their lives celibately in strict accordance with Catholic church teaching. This proposed object is blatantly contrary to Catholic church teaching."

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 4 June 2009 at 9:16am BST

Hmmm, this whole case is confusing. In USA we have or used to have in some places, a guideline called, in the best interests of the child. That means, this particular child in these circumstances; not some categorical abstraction, called, The Child.

I get more than a deep whiff of this difference when I read about this case. The party line about how straights are always great for children, while gays are always dodgy if not outright damaging is just a neat, categorical abstraction than happens to fit nicely with the flat earth negatives to which many religious leaders feel church is tied. Period.

Meanwhile. In particular, real circumstances, real specific children remain in foster care. I guess too many of those fine, straight Catholic parents regard them as less than top choice. Or something. Perhaps the real child has special needs, and nearly any parent would find the need daunting? In our real world, the real adoption choice is often between staying in foster care until you age out; and getting adopted by anybody who is solid enough, caring enough to pass the serious multiple level screenings involved in most formalized adoption proceedings.

But the church doesn't care about particular real children, facing particular real world choices. Since nearly any child could theoretically some day, be adoptable by the ideal straight Catholic parents? Let's just let them stay in foster placement, rather than allow gay folks to be adoptive parents.

It makes no real common sense in the first place; so trying to harmonize it according to theoretical, idealized categories and belief systems immediately runs into difficulty. The real world choices are mainly between any access to effective, good parenting versus bad parenting or no parenting. Unfortunately, using straight versus gay as a shorthand total marker for all that is a failing proposition. Alas, flat earthing indeed. Flat earthing on the public dime, alas.

Lord have mercy.

Posted by: drdanfee on Thursday, 4 June 2009 at 11:13am BST

"My personal opinion may be flawed but never the definitive voice of him, who was told, " confirm my brethren. As a teacher I know how cruel children can be. Imagine a child living with same sex parents.. they would be bullied and ridiculed"
- Robert I Williams -

Robert, It may be that in a Roman Catholic school, because of the official party-line, the child of same-sex parents would be bullied. But in the world outside of Roman Catholicism, many chidren have learned to deal with homophobia, and may not be so ready to criticise their peers on this issue alone. More used nowadays to one-parent school-mates, most children in secular schools have more to think about than parental identity. They are more likely to be concerned with how good you are at aport or classroom activities.

If adoption processes are state-sponsored, then agencies ought, per se, to follow the government regulations; otherwise their charitable work needs to be Church-funded - the only way in which they ought to be able to pick and choose those who fit into their own special social and moral criteria.

There is no evidence extant to prove that same-sex adoptive parents are any less suitable to rear children than hetero-sexual couples or single parents. It is surely better to have two concerned and loving parents than one or none.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 4 June 2009 at 11:16am BST

Since every other adopted person seems to be weighing in on the institution, I'll do it as well.

I was put up for adoption in the late 1950's, and raised by loving parents. Although the records were sealed, I managed to get my birth records out of the hospital I was born in during a period in which I worked there. I'm in contact with my biological (half-) siblings, who are lovely and charming people. And the more I learn about my biological mother, the more grateful I am that she had no part in raising me.

Adoption worked out great for me, thank you very much.

Posted by: BillyD on Thursday, 4 June 2009 at 12:39pm BST

'As a teacher I know how cruel children can be. Imagine a child living with same sex parents.. they would be bullied and ridiculed.'

"As a teacher," do you have any kids in same-sex households in any of your classes? My little brother in the Big Brother Big Sister program has two moms, and he's extremely well-adjusted, well-behaved, gets good grades, and overall is a happy kid.

Posted by: Charles on Thursday, 4 June 2009 at 12:41pm BST

I'm not a catholic as such, but how can it be (as is claimed above) against catholic principles to exclude GLBT people from the ambit of this particular service i.e. adoption? First of all, marriage is (surprise?) unfailingly shown to be far and away the best environment for bringing up children, in terms of success rates, stability, disruptiveness/crime rates. In normal circumstances to avoid a married couple (and there are very large numbers to choose from) would therefore be discriminatory to the child. Of course we are talking averages, as we have to, since aggregates (aggregate of happiness, stability etc) are the direct product of averages.

Second, what are the circumstances in which non-married people would have anything to do with an adoption agency anyway? That could only be the result of first accepting the quite clear and obvious lie 'married/nonmarried, it makes no difference'. Yet we all know that neither the catholic church, nor any other church, nor any other religion, has ever accepted such a lie. Nor can coherent reasons be given why they or anyone else should do so. So in this case the catholics are acting in a catholic way, a christian way, and (more importantly) a right and commonsensical way.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Thursday, 4 June 2009 at 12:48pm BST

Hi Fr Ron-
The word 'parent' comes from the Latin for giving birth. Etymologically there can therefore be no such thing as an adoptive parent of any gender. It is therefore *doubly* the case that there can be no such thing as a pair of adoptive parents of the same gender, since in the real world that is not only an etymological but also (more relevantly) a biological impossibility. That is the elephant in the room.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Thursday, 4 June 2009 at 12:51pm BST

I'm delighted adoption worked out for BillyD - I have adopted friends in pretty much all categories: great relationships with both birth and adoptive relatives, adoptive parents frozen into dysfunction by infertility and other issues, awful birth families they wouldn't be safe mixing with as adults, the works. Some individuals work wonders even in a horrible system.

I think the point is the systems have always been flawed and operating on false pretences. Just for example: In the UK adopted children were given normal birth certificates which didn't mention adoption and a separate adoption certificate (with no identifying information). There was nothing to prevent an adoptive family from pretending to the child that they had been born there, with all the attendant problems of that secrecy and falsehood. Adopted children were not sent with any accompanying birth family medical history.

The remnants of this attitude probably inform agencies which claim to be acting in the interests of children, as Goran said, but actually have odd rules about who can or can't adopt. Conversely, the justified reaction to the wholesale removal of illegitimate babies in the good old days has made it too difficult to get children out of unsafe birth families, whether for adoption or fostering.

Posted by: Joan_of_Quark on Thursday, 4 June 2009 at 1:24pm BST

Goran:
"household that are damaged by their sterility to the point of dysfunction."

Ah, yes, the heterosexual imperative: reproduce to prove you are a valid human being. Try saying, in a room full of strangers, that you don't want children. The conversation quickly goes from, "Oh, you don't mean that" to "Oh, it's different when they're your own" to (and this from absolute strangers) "I think you'd make a great father" to "You're just being selfish". Observation that this last is true, and is a very good reason NOT to have children leaves them speechless. I do this from time to time, for a laugh.

RIW:
"There are so many moral dilemmas and I am glad that I have the Church to put me right. This is for me is the humility of submitting to God's truth."

Thank you. I have made this point to you before. It is an attitude typical of, but not restricted to, Evangelicals. Your fear of the cosmic consequences of not being perfect in God's eyes makes you need a clearly spelled out Law to follow. You can then feel approved by God in your following of that Law. If the second sentence is anything to go by, you possibly even think that obedience makes you better than the rest of us. That this represents a lack of faith in the love and compassion of The Lover of Mankind seems to escape you. I am glad, however, that you have come to the Catholic faith, and that you have found comfort in it. I think one of the reasons that God has led us to be such a diverse religion in the modern Age is so that everybody can find an expression of Christianity in the teaching of someone or other. As long as we acknowledge the basics to be Love God, Love Your Neighbour, that isn't a bad thing. We all have our own motivations for believing the way we do.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Thursday, 4 June 2009 at 2:42pm BST

Christopher
That catholics are right to believe in their beliefs isn't being questioned.

What isn't catholic is to allow single people to adopt against catholic principles, but then to claim those same catholic principles when it's about lgbt people.

But the real point being made is that they have no right to impose those beliefs on others in society when they are performing a public service using public funds.

It really isn't that difficult to understand.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 4 June 2009 at 3:03pm BST

Christopher

what are you saying - that because the etymology of a word gave it a different meaning from the one it is generally assumed to have now, it is impossible for 2 same sex people to care for children that are not their own, or only the physical own of one of them?

That's not an elephant in the room, that's a non-sequitur.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 4 June 2009 at 3:15pm BST

"In the UK adopted children were given normal birth certificates which didn't mention adoption..."

This was also the case with adoptions in the US.

"Etymologically there can therefore be no such thing..."

What a lucky thing, then, that we settle complicated social issues by pedantic etymological arguments. Oh, wait...


Posted by: BillyD on Thursday, 4 June 2009 at 3:18pm BST

RIW, the more that you---lost in your own subjectivity, like the rest of us---swoon&gush over the Magisterium, the more I'm hearing "Obey the Flying Spaghetti Monster!"

I'm just sayin', dude: you're hurting your cause.

Like Christopher Shell (on a thread below), you want "Reality, Not Religion".

Sorry, that's not an option.

There's only FAITH (and hence, religion). In what/Whom will you choose to have Faith (i.e., trust)?

We ALL make that subjective leap: you, RIW, no more or less than Richard Dawkins. In my POV, both you and Dawkins---in your absolutes---are lacking.

I'm sticking w/ the Via Media.

Posted by: JCF on Thursday, 4 June 2009 at 7:17pm BST

This is probably just my Laodicean Anglicanism, but it seems to me that both sides are being rather unnecessarily dogmatic on this issue. If this were the Anglican Church, the adoption agencies would politely turn a blind eye to the sexuality of their clients, while loudly protesting that they do exactly the opposite, and the government would conspicuously ignore the whole thing. That is the Anglican way of doing things. If only the Catholics had our unique talent for principled disingenuousness! But no - they needs must force the issue and turn it into some dramatic showdown between Church and State. The pompous posturing of cardinals and bishops on the one hand and government ministers on the other is unlikely to benefit anybody, least of all the children in the care of Catholic adoption agencies.

Posted by: rjb on Friday, 5 June 2009 at 2:49am BST

Hi Erika-
My point is related to that but slightly different. You draw attention to the well-known 'etymological fallacy' that words must always mean the same as what they originally meant. Clearly words can change meaning - but it needs to be added that when they do so this is often to be explained by a misunderstanding of their proper meaning and/or a conforming of their proper meaning to present cultural norms. There is no reason on earth why one should prefer the interpretation of someone who misunderstands to that of someone who understands a meaning. But that point applies to the initial time when the misinterpretation of 'parent' took place, not to the present day.

Lots of people can and do care for children. Baby sitters, teachers, etc.. We do not therefore confuse them with parents.

If we spread the idea that being a parent has nothing to do with biology there are three problems that need to be answered:
(1) Why inaccurately use the same noun 'parent' for the child's flesh and blood and for people who are not? From a scientific/biological (ie a real-world/accurate) point of view, they are not remotely the same, so it is inaccurate to describe them in the same way. Clearly flesh-and-blood is a fundamental relationship - the most fundamental of all - and therefore deserves exclusive use of some noun of its own.
(2) To do so gives carte blanche to the real parents to think they can bear children without taking responsibility. To enshrine that in law is to approve and rubber-stamp this immaturity rather than (as the law should do) the very opposite: reward maturity.
(3) It makes the whole process unnaturally confused and complicated (who is a parent? which type of parent are they? for how long before they split up again? at which weekends?) which means it cannot compete in the 'naturalness' stakes with the biological-parent model.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Friday, 5 June 2009 at 9:21am BST

Christopher

The big problem I'm having with all your arguments here is that you are developing theories based on something you have not experienced and that you base your musings purely on your own thoughts without taking into account the actual experience of the many many same sex couples who act as parents, nor that of the children they have raised and are raising.

In contrast, for the last 15 years I have actually lived that life you're speculating about.
I don't need to wonder whether it is etymologically possible that I am my children's mother and that their co-parent is another woman and that their father lives in another marriage but is deeply involved in their lives.
It's lived reality in my house.

I don't need to wonder whether I'm damaging them more than a heterosexual couple would be likely to, because they're well adjusted kids with lots of friends, doing extremely well at school, are not being bullied, are not embarrassed about their family and keep inviting friends and their parents round. Unlike many of their friends, they have yet to experiment with sex, they don’t smoke, they have not yet tried drugs and they only have the occasional drink at a party or with us in the evening over dinner.

I just cannot relate to your hypothetical moralizing when I know for a fact that you could see the truth if you only agreed to open your eyes for a minute.

If you prefer, give it other names. Call it real parent and step-parent families, or two-stepparents-acting-as-prime-carer families, or whatever floats your boat.

The underlying reality is that real same sex adult couples are raising real children and have been successfully doing so for many many years.

All your speculation cannot change that experienced fact, cannot change the reality of my life and that of my children.

What you are saying is really quite beside the point.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 5 June 2009 at 11:58am BST

" To do so gives carte blanche to the real parents..."

I am doing a very good job controlling my typing right now so that I don't write something unpublishable.

My adoptive parents WERE my real parents, Dr Shell. They were the ones that took me in when I was abandoned, loved me, fed and clothed me, educated me. They may not have fit your horribly narrow etymological/biological definition of what a parent is, but luckily neither you nor the OED are the final arbiters of reality.


Posted by: BillyD on Friday, 5 June 2009 at 12:41pm BST

"Flying Spaghetti Monster"

Are you on FARK ever, JCF?

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 5 June 2009 at 2:29pm BST

RIW: what the catholic church chooses to do internally is its own business. Once they start to work in the public sphere, then that is something quite different.

I see no reason why the bigotry of your church should be given 'respect' just because of what the organisation is. I also find it mildly amusing that anyone is prepared to stop thinking for themselves. I don't believe, and never will believe, that any organisation can tell me what to think.

Posted by: Merseymike on Friday, 5 June 2009 at 3:02pm BST

Why is there one law allowing discrimination for the so-called Church of England and another disallowing it for the Catholic Church. Disgraceful.

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Friday, 5 June 2009 at 7:24pm BST

The entire matter of adoptions with non-straight single parents and same sex couples arose, because of the nexus of two factors. One, foster children were languishing in generic care, and studies showed this was risky, even damaging in many instances. The main global damaging factors all clustered around the impermanency of the FC placements; and the slightly higher statistical risks of abuse or neglect, since such impermanent placements often involved contexts which more or less hindered attachment. Hindering attachment in the several developmental phases of childhood is a huge issue, and people who care about children no longer with parents, began to care about it deeply.

Surprise, the second happenstance came into play. Not only are/were a number of Out Honest Gay Folks available, but as queer communities matured, people actively sought out parenting as part of their stable gay maturity. The going deal was to view this quite skeptically at first, as many nay saying comments on this and other blogs will quickly demonstrate. Yet, as we became clear that sexual orientation variance was not a disorder, and that you could not catch it by associating with openly gay people, and many parenting competencies could be identified in the high level screenings that nearly all pre-adoptive people sustain - the fears were groundless worries based more on prejudice than on the real concern for the lost children of foster care.

Conservative folks, especially the religious ones, pretend loudly to know absolutely nothing of all these two factors. An odd blank spot, since one might presume that if they really cared about children so much they would go and do their factual and law and public policy homework, not least examining the many instances where gay parenting worked out fine. After all, those positive instances are simply not able to really exist according to the high negative religious and social theories the traditionalists advance constantly against gay folks.

PS. a rich strand of adoption language exists in the scriptures related to our relationship to God as followers of Jesus of Nazareth. There, if memory serves, it is a positive thing, and we adoptees who would have been left exiled and outcast and starving in most ancient near eastern or other traditionlistic societies suddenly discover we have a welcoming benefactor with plenty of life resources that suddenly become our own as the beloved adopted ones.

Interesting how all that intersects.

Posted by: drdanfee on Friday, 5 June 2009 at 9:59pm BST

RIW
There is no provision in the laws relating to discrimination that favours the Church of England over any other religious body. The rules for the RC Church are exactly the same as the rules for the CofE, for the Methodist Church, or indeed for other faiths.
I think you know that.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 5 June 2009 at 10:20pm BST

RIW
There is a law allowing the CoE to discriminate against gay couples right to adopt, but not allowing the catholic church to do the same?
Please tell us more about it.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 5 June 2009 at 10:21pm BST

Give it two or three generations and you may be faced with a considerable amount of cloning, exowombs, children raised by artificial intelligences, etc. etc.

In what state do you think any of the churches will be to comprehend and accommodate such things if currently, for all our apparent learning and erudition, we are getting pretty well tied up in knots over the origins and applicability of terms in regard to still quite mundane patterns of reproduction and modes of upbringing that don't even begin to assault our more or less plain notions of human identity and personality?

Is there anyone in any of the churches preparing theologically for the social and biological impact of such possibilities? If not, why not?!

Posted by: Mike M on Saturday, 6 June 2009 at 4:18am BST

Yes indeed, why not, Merseymike? Considering the current fracas over human sexuality, maybe there should be a Theological working group or other “out there” ;=)

As to the semantic questions… Neo Platonism operates with a strange Idea of Words being static little objects, like Danish Legos. It’s the Platonist Idea of the Un-changeable, Un-reachable, Un-movable, Un-moved Mover; the Im-personal Highest Being. Anti-God.

If that were at all true, we would have to pronounce every syllable, if not letter, to make us at all understood. Everyone who knows a thing about languages knows this is not true. On the contrary; Language is about Tone, Phrases and Structure.

Regarding “parent” I’m reminded of the Thessalonian Letters, whether by Paul or no, were (1 Thess 2:7) Paul is likened (in the 1st person) to a wet nurse ås eàn trofòs thálpä tà eautäs tékna; as a Nurse cherishes her own (!) children, Amma in Swedish.

See – Paul (or whoever) doesn’t think Carers are Dogmatic Concepts in the Abstract

Now Mother is colloquially Mamma, making the semantic question amusing. But, Mamma and Amma is not the same person in pre Modern Societies – in the 1950ies and as an adopted child, I have lived that.

My twin sister and I had, of course, first a birth Mother who wasn’t even ALLOWED to keep us (nor was Abortion legal for another 21 years), then we had a Mamma by Adoption, then we had a multitude of Nurses (one every two months or so – most were still in School).

The first Nurse we had (examined, in a uniform) caught children’s pox – out to the left; hospitalised to great costs… then we had a Nurse to be, an un-examined, still in school.

This continued… It was the Nurses to be who raised us, dried our noses, changed our diapers, and so on, with the occasional assistance of Grandparents, for manners, and Neighbours (if a little involuntarily – we escaped whenever we could ;=)

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Saturday, 6 June 2009 at 8:18am BST

Hi Erika-

There are so many questions to be answered:

(1) Whatever happened to their real parents? Do you approve of their real parents taking no responsibility for their own flesh and blood?

(2) 'Same sex adult couples are raising children and have been doing so for many years'. Who ever denied that? You know that I know that. We were talking about whether this was a good thing or not and you changed the topic to whether it is *happening* or not. We all know it is happening, otherwise we would not be having this conversation in the first place.

(3) To say that they have been raising children successfully for many years sounds like all same-sex couples are the same as each other. How can they be? So the statement is untrue. A true statement would be: (1) some are successful, (2) others are not, (3) apart from the naturalness issues involved one-man-one-woman is on average and therefore also on aggregate quite comfortably the best way to bring up children, which obviosuly has everything to do with the fact that that is where babies come from in the first place.

You must know that the way we find out whether something is -overall- good or not is by large-scale investigation of aggregates and averages, ratios and percentages. We can all give anecdotes about our auntie Flo or even about our own family but these could not be less statistically significant. We are supposed to make govenrnment policy on the basis of the experience of one family? As opposed to doing so on the basis of a comprehensive analysis of all the relevant factors?

It's not a matter of saying 'whatever floats your boat'. Many of the things that 'float our boats' will not be true. Is that factor of no interest to you? Surely not. So it is, rather, a matter of saying things that are actually true.

Hi BillyD-
Your adoptive parents were not your parents, nor can anyone possibly be happy with a situation that allows actual parents to take no responsibility. The solution to that is to encourage maturity not reward immaturity. But whatever alternative name we give them (stepparents...) they deserve our praise and gratitude.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Saturday, 6 June 2009 at 9:13am BST

"Is there anyone in any of the churches preparing theologically for the social and biological impact of such possibilities? If not, why not?!"

Because the church appears to only ever deal with ideals - one happy Mum, one happy Dad, 2 happy children, both parents living long enough to care for their offspring in smiling harmony.
Everything else is condemned as immoral.

And you don't need to make special provisions for the immoral, it's their own fault and they could come back into the fold if they wanted to.

It will be a wonderful day when the church finally takes the reality of people's lives seriously and developes an intelligent theology to take them into account.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Saturday, 6 June 2009 at 10:57am BST

"Because the church appears to only ever deal with ideals - one happy Mum, one happy Dad, 2 happy children, both parents living long enough to care for their offspring in smiling harmony."

You forgot the dog out doing it's tricks in the front yard, Erika.

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Saturday, 6 June 2009 at 7:29pm BST

Christopher

1. I have no idea. Some parents die. Other parents are for other reasons no longer able to look after their children, illness being a major one. People with mental breakdowns often cannot care for their children. A little less blanket condemnation and a little closer look at facts would help here.

Others clearly are not finding parenting easy and maybe should never have had children in the first place. Whether I approve of the real parents or not is completely beside the point. The point is that there are children who need to be placed with families that can look after them.

3. Quite. There are some good and some bad heterosexual parents, and some good and some bad same sex parents. The question is not what gender composition the family is made up of, but whether they are good parents. Glad we finally got that agreed.

3.3 is a non-sequitur. Just because babies are made by one man and one woman does not mean they are best at parenting those children. You've said so yourself.

Your last point: Government policy IS based on the analysis of all factors. That's the point.
Looking at it without moral prejudice, it has been shown that gay people can make excellent parents. That's why they're allowed to adopt. And to raise their own children when their spouses die and they find themselves in a subsequent same sex relationship. And even when they've divorced and have dropped from your moral radar, they're still entitled to look after their own children in a subsequent same sex relationship.

And there is no evidence that the children are suffering more in life than any other children raised by heterosexual parents. Much as you’d clearly like it to be so in order to prove your prejudice.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Saturday, 6 June 2009 at 7:29pm BST

"Your adoptive parents were not your parents..."

Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?* It is simply not your place to tell me my relationship to my late parents. The government under which I live recognizes them as my parents; the Church in which they had me baptized recognizes them as my parents. Even if that were not the case, my heart recognizes them as my parents. Any idiot can father a child or give birth; many have. Parenting requires much, much more.

I find it contemptible that, in your eagerness to score a point against gay rights, you would lose sight of proper boundaries, and presume to interpret another's life without his permission. When I want your thoughts on my family - or, indeed, your opinions as to whom I should regard as my family - I will ask you for them.

*with apologies to Joseph N Welch

Posted by: BillyD on Saturday, 6 June 2009 at 7:48pm BST

I do find the typical insistence of conservative points of view nagging and odd and cold - that categories (and negative categories at that) must trump real persons, real parenting and child growth facts, and of course real ethical goods in the parenting of children by gay folks.

Do we not have the NT Jesus telling us that Sabbaths are made for humanity; not humanity imprisoned in Sabbath observances?

Surely, if our categories of theological anthropology (so presuppositionally framed) are true and correct, the facts will bear them out.

Mentioning large population statistics is all well and good, so far as it goes. Yet even if I reliably know that, say, sixty percent of a large population is green instead of blue beneath the surfaces of conformed grey skin appearances, I may still have serious difficulty predicting in advance which individual from that population will be green or blue beneath the grey. Yet claiming (falsely asserted) absolute high accuracy in ethical prediction is exactly what the legacy negative categories of traditional religious thinking purport to do when it comes to (mis-) understanding gay folks.

On a more practical, common sense level, traditional presuppositions cannot have it both ways - acknowledging the particulars that gay (or adoptive parenting) folks do indeed parent successfully, while clinging fiercely to the presuppositionial categories that say they canno do so by brute categorical ommpah-ommpah.

(In most traditional cultures, anyways, it takes an extended family if not a whole village, to raise a child.)

Then, on top of all that, to ask for extra theological anthropology credits because (in a notional lacunae that does not count) the negative views admitted in an irrelevant aside, that the parents and kids were factually well and successful people, really, really?

Goodness sakes, what sort of thinking patterns are these? No wonder we cling to dodgy flat earth legacy theological anthropologies, if we must abide strictly by these negative presuppositions. Alas. Lord have mercy.

Posted by: drdanfee on Saturday, 6 June 2009 at 8:25pm BST

They were not his parents??? Oh, they were – in every conceivable meaning of the word. So were mine.

And they were failures in more than one respect. Perhaps a responsible local authority/court of justice wouldn’t have allowed this adoption for more reasons than one (mental issues). But they w e r e my parents. For better, for worse. Not least they were there – as much as they could. My blood parents were not – and wouldn’t and couldn’t.

Your semantics are playing games with you, methinks.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Saturday, 6 June 2009 at 9:51pm BST

Response to Erica.. if the Church of England
(a state Church under the authority of Parliament ) is allowed to legally discriminate against women, why can't the Catholic Church exercise similar discrimination in the field of gay adoption. Clearly there is one law for one religion and another for the ret of us.

Why can't people of faith (not just catholics) who believe gay adoption is sinful and wrong have an opt out. Its not because of state money... a private agency would also be discriminated against. Get the facts right.

No doubt you are doing your best for the children in your care.. but my personal estimation and flawed human reasoning can never over rule the definitive ruling of my Church. If the Church tells me something is black that looks white to me, if I am a believing and non cafeteria Catholic I follow the Magisterium of the Church. Thats the liberating beauty of Catholic truth.

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Sunday, 7 June 2009 at 7:18am BST

Let's be clear about what the law says.

ANY religious organisation can claim the exemption from the law prohibiting gender discrimination, it is not specific to the CofE, indeed it is relied upon by the RC church as well, since they have much stricter rules against women as clergy.It is entirely untrue to say that there is one law for one religion and another for "the rest of us".

That law is separate from the one which gave rise to this dispute, which is concerned with providing (goods and) services to the public, involving the use of public money.

I do recommend reading the various documents listed above, to understand what it was that these agencies were asking the Charity Commission to allow them to do.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 7 June 2009 at 8:48am BST

"If the Church tells me something is black that looks white to me, if I am a believing and non cafeteria Catholic I follow the Magisterium of the Church. Thats the liberating beauty of Catholic truth." - Robert Ian Williams -

Well now, Robert, that tells us all on 'Thinking Anglicans' what you think faith is all about. I guess the fact that we have this site called *Thinking Anglicans* which helps us to experience and use the God-given faculty of Reason (in addition to Tradition and Scripture) is what leads the rest of us (Anglicans) to continue to seek for the truth of what our faith means to us.

For anyone to blindly accept doctrines and theology which are contrary to the application of reason, is to say (in your case) that the Church is the total Truth about the God through Whom she exists. Now that, Robert, seems hardly reasonable. If this indeed is the case - that you (and all RCs) can believe that white is black because the Church says so - then I can see why there is no web-site called *Thinking Roman Catholics*, and that such a statement might just be oxymoronic.

One question I have to ask: "Is 'Catholic Truth' different from absolute truth?" You seem here to be qualifying a category of Truth. This is one of the problems where The Church is seen to be more truthful than the Reality she represents.

Jesus said: "I am The Truth......" He also said: *When the Holy Spirit comes S/He will lead you into all the Truth* - herein is implied an ongoing charism of revelation of the Truth that the parts of the Church seems sometimes to want to resist, in favour of the status quo!

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Sunday, 7 June 2009 at 11:34am BST

"If the Church tells me something is black that looks white to me, if I am a believing and non cafeteria Catholic I follow the Magisterium of the Church. Thats the liberating beauty of Catholic truth."

So, Cardinal Newman, in his teaching that conscience trumps all, was a cafeteria Catholic? Huh. Who knew?

Posted by: BillyD on Sunday, 7 June 2009 at 1:11pm BST

"Are you on FARK ever, JCF? - Posted by Ford Elms"

I believe this is the first time I've required a translation from Canadian, Ford. (Huh??)

***

And this,

"Your adoptive parents were not your parents..."

has to be the single MOST RIDICULOUS (if not "most offensive") thing I've ever read on TA. Christopher: FAIL!

[I'm done being off-topic now, Simon. ;-)]

Posted by: JCF on Sunday, 7 June 2009 at 4:49pm BST

RIW: "If the Church tells me something is black that looks white to me, if I am a believing and non cafeteria Catholic I follow the Magisterium of the Church. Thats the liberating beauty of Catholic truth."

No, I don't think it is. Rather, it seems to me the imprisoning ugliness of conformity to ideology. The ideologies may all be different - communism, fundamentalist religion of whatever sort - but they all become abusive and unaccountable when accepted unquestioningly.

I don't read the Gospel of love and liberty in Jesus Christ as being a blueprint for an ideological dictatorship: that is surely to do with quite different cultural and historical impetuses.

Posted by: Fr Mark on Sunday, 7 June 2009 at 8:23pm BST

Because, RIW, people of faith should not be allowed to discriminate just because their religion suggests it is the right thing to do, in the public sphere. Bigotry should not be institutionalised. I really don't care why you claim you wish to discriminate, because it isn't and will never be acceptable

Posted by: Merseymike on Monday, 8 June 2009 at 1:50am BST

Mark states: "No, I don't think it is. Rather, it seems to me the imprisoning ugliness of conformity to ideology."

Is there not an attempt to impose an ideology being imposed on the Catholic Church.

If Parliament believes in equality ..surely it has the power to enforce equality as regards women on the Church of England. Thus the legislation that allows religious bodies to discriminate was really drawn up to protect the Church of England.

The Catholic Church would simply resist and ignore any attempt to enforce female ordination on her.

No one has answered my charge that even if our adoption agencies had been entirely Church funded, we would still have had to close them.

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Monday, 8 June 2009 at 6:56am BST

"I don't read the Gospel of love and liberty in Jesus Christ as being a blueprint for an ideological dictatorship:"

Nor does the Roman Catholic church. There is very sophisticated catholic theology around, I spend a fair time of my working life translating some of it, and there are very differentiated and nuanced views of the role of the magisterium.

There are as many rigid and ideological Roman Catholics as there are rigid and ideological Anglicans, but it would be wrong to believe that Roman Catholicism as a whole is like that.

RIW's posts here don't do Catholics any favours.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 8 June 2009 at 8:04am BST

RIW: Just say the word and you will be healed.....

BINGO!

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Monday, 8 June 2009 at 11:53am BST

Hi Erika-
Your position is, so far as I can see, inconsistent in that you propose what is in the long-term interest of the child's maturing process (agreed) while simultaneously proposing the course of action which is in the worst interests of the non-involved parent's maturing process: i.e. putting out the harm-causing
message that it is ok for people to make babies without caring for them.
The children we are caring for now are the adults of the future. So how can we do what is best for the children and what is worst for the adults? They are, ultimately, the same people as one another.
The issue has never been those with illness or mental breakdowns - as you will already from the fact that I have never mentioned such groups. The issue is those who make babies and don't go on to care for them. Clearly that is something to be discouraged, yet structures exist that more-or-less encourage it.

Normally (beacuse of the well-known and very deep maternal bond - and the paternal one is also very strong) ladies are the last people I need to convince that your own baby is practically part of you and that simply not being there in the same home is so out of the question it is off the radar.

If we don't find parenting (or anything else) easy, the most fruitful approach has never been to throw in the towel: that much is clear.

A child's existing mother and father may not be the best available parents in the sense that Supernanny Jo Frost may be equipped to do a better job. But they have something that Jo Frost can never have: they are the child's roots. Without them the child would bnot be,. The child's life, everything the child has and is, comes from them. That is a bond hundreds of times greater than any other possible type of bond.

You agree with my point that one cannot generalise. Different individuals will have different levels of parental skill. So will different types of couple, with man-woman couples bringing up their own child being well out in front. Our current leader of the House of Commons says all types of families are equally good but will not answer questions about the lack of statistics (ie the lack of reality) behind that. A child who asserted 1=10 would be no less advanced than that. Such anti-reality, anti-intellectualism, must be opposed.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Monday, 8 June 2009 at 1:02pm BST

RIW
"No one has answered my charge that even if our adoption agencies had been entirely Church funded, we would still have had to close them."

You don't of course, have to close them, you merely have to comply with the laws of the country you are living in. If you want to throw a hissy fit and deprive all the children on your books of potential parents just because you refuse to assess these potential parents on a case by case basis and insist on blanket discrimination, that's entirely your choice.

As the children to be adopted are citizens of this country, they have the same rights as every other citizen of this country. It is therefore not justified to allow some agencies to treat children and their prospective parents different from others.

If you provide a public service you have to obey the laws governing that service.

Religious exemptions apply only to internal church matters. Adoption is not an internal church matter.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 8 June 2009 at 1:04pm BST

RIW: but this is the point: I don't think there is an attempt from outside to force and ideology onto churches. Roman Catholic womenpriests http://www.romancatholicwomenpriests.org/ for example, would not agree with you; nor the LGCM Catholic caucus; neque alia multa.

Equality is a fundamentally Christian concept, and the desire for equality has arisen in the Christian cultures of the West, so it cannot be argued that this is an alien concept within churches, surely. Isn't it simply that elderly male church leaders have been poor custodians of the Christian tradition, which speaks abundantly of the equal created dignity of all God's people?

Posted by: Fr Mark on Monday, 8 June 2009 at 2:11pm BST

Christopher

I think we've having two different conversations at the same time here.

I have no problems to accept your point that some people have children too easily and without knowing what they are letting themselves in for, and who need a lot of help to keep them and to look after them.

But the topic of this thread is not irresponsible parents, but children that need adoptive parents.

Unless you disapprove of all adoptions, you have to acknowledge that there have to be some people willing to look after other people's children.

The question being debated here is who those people should be and whether it is appropriate to exclude one category of people on religious grounds.

And as you have pointed out in your point 3 in one of your previous comments on this thread, some same sex couples have raised children successfully, some haven't.
The same goes for heterosexual couples.
Discrimination on the grounds of sexuality is therefore not appropriate, whereas discrimination on the grounds of parenting skills is.

The Government, which cannot take people's religious prejudices into account because it has to serve all its citizens, merely looks at the same information and rightly comes to the same conclusion. Because there are successful same sex parents, it is not appropriate to exclude same sex parents from adoptions as a matter of course.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 8 June 2009 at 7:05pm BST

""Are you on FARK ever, JCF? - Posted by Ford Elms"

I believe this is the first time I've required a translation from Canadian, Ford. (Huh??)"

FARK's a website with a sarcastic look at the news. Many who post there are quite cyincal and anti-religion. It'd do Christopher Schell a world of good to go there and see what they think of Christians. It's where I first saw the use of "Flying Spaghetti monster" to refer to God.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 8 June 2009 at 7:43pm BST

Christopher:

"Do you approve of their real parents"

I hope for your own children's sake you realize there is far more to being a parent than being biologically capable of reproduction. But, all that aside, why do you think you have the right, or are expected to, approve anything? You need to learn something I learned with difficulty a while ago: the world does not give a cobbler's cuss about your approval. In fact, a good number of people will go against you merely because you disapprove of them.

"Your adoptive parents were not your parents, nor can anyone possibly be happy with a situation that allows actual parents to take no responsibility."

I see you don't know after all. Where do you get off deciding that BillyD's parents, or the parents of any adopted child, were somehow "permitted" to avoid taking responsibility? Why are you so concerned with "permission" and with people shirking the responsibility you think they should take? What exactly IS the going salary for Judgement Seat Warmer? You are a redeemed sinner, just like the rest of us, for whom "judge not lest ye be judged" is just as applicable. Have you walked in the shoes of any parent who gives up a kid for adoption? How do you, who ask God's mercy for your own sins, have the nerve to judge them? How do you even know anything about them? And, your opposition to abortion is pretty clear. So, you would refuse a woman abortion, but you would denounce her for shirking her responsibilities if she puts the child up for adoption. So, she gets your judgement in any case, as if you had the right to judge, and as if she cared. But that's the point, isn't it? What's the sense of having a religion if it doesn't make you superior? Gee, what a great example of the Gospel!

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 8 June 2009 at 8:05pm BST

"For you have not received a spirit of slavery that leads you into fear again. Instead, you have received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba! Father!"

I am afraid that its the pessimists that seek the Law, and hope that human systems can devise a pure realm. The genie of faith cannot be put back into the bottle though. The Law is no longer a refuge available to anyone, myself included.

Just be careful what you wish for, since what you appear to want is ultimately a system of eugenics, a man-made handmaiden to foster perfection. Who is fit to live comes close on the heels of who is fit to reproduce, and all only to the end of ensuring that there is absolute alignment between doctrine and life. In a wonderfully surprising reversal of fortunes, however, the realm of doctrine is the world of the flesh, and life's that of the spirit.

PS - must find another way of naming myself since I think folks mistake me for merseymike sometimes!

Posted by: Mike M on Monday, 8 June 2009 at 9:38pm BST

"If we spread the idea that being a parent has nothing to do with biology there are three problems that need to be answered:
(1) Why inaccurately use the same noun 'parent' for the child's flesh and blood and for people who are not? From a scientific/biological (ie a real-world/accurate) point of view, they are not remotely the same, so it is inaccurate to describe them in the same way."
- Christopher Shell -

Christopher Shell, just in case you missed an earlier post of mine - on the subject of which you speak here - please read, again, the text of
the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 12 verse 48-50, wherere Jesus says this: "Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?" And stretching out his hand toawrds his disciples he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers. Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven, he is my brother and sister and mother!"

Jesus certainly doesn't seem to be as insistent on etymological certitude as you are, yourself. There would seem to be a distinctly spiritual freedom to speak of parent- hood - and indeed sister/brother-hood - in much more broad terms than you are willing to allow. Neither is Jesus limited to a specific value judgement of gender differentiation.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 9 June 2009 at 7:07am BST

Christopher Shell writes:

"the child's life, everything the child has and is, comes from [his or her biological parents]. That is a bond hundreds of times greater than any other possible type of bond."

This is simply not true. I am the parent of both biological children and children adopted at birth. For both my spouse and myself, there is not one bit of difference in our hearts or our heads between our children based on their birth status -- we love them all equally. Too, they love us and each other.

Christopher clearly has insufficient life experience to have formed trustworthy opinions concerning most of what he has been holding forth on in this thread.

I will be proud beyond words if someday my son defends his relationship with me with as much love and righteous indignation as BillyD has defended his relationship with his parents here.

Pete Lowentrout
Westminster, California

Posted by: Peter of Westminster on Thursday, 11 June 2009 at 12:17pm BST

Hi Erika-
Irresponsible parents who extend their present inability to care for their own flesh and blood to the future - even though they will admit that no-one knows the future and the only sensible thing would be to become more mature in the future rather than relaxing into one's present immmaturity - these parents are a large cause of adoption. You are speaking as though adoption is one thing and irresponsible parents are another. In a significant proportion of cases that is incorrect.

Hi Peter of Westminster-
I am speaking only scientifically. The one type of bond is of a status that is scientifically verifiable. The other type, though real and sometimes very strong indeed, is not of that status. (a) We can't abandon science and become more impressionistic - that's a backward step. (b) It's not an either-or anyway. One always has actual parents *and in addition* may also have other people with whom one has a very strong bond.
-Same point applies to Fr Ron. And in addition Jesus is not in any way speaking of let alone condoning abandoning one's own flesh and blood children.

Hi Ford-
Your comment implies I should praise parents for *not* having abortion. That's clearly wrong. No more should we praise people for *not* burgling our house or stealing our car, husband, etc..

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Friday, 12 June 2009 at 12:57pm BST

Yes, Robert, you would, because there is no such thing as a private 'church' adoption in the UK.

Anyway. most of the agencies have complied willingly and those which have closed will not be missed.

Posted by: Merseymike on Friday, 12 June 2009 at 2:14pm BST

"One always has actual parents *and in addition* may also have other people with whom one has a very strong bond."

Again, the use of "actual parents" or "real parents" when what you mean is "biological parents" or "birth parents" is offensive. What might have been excused as initial ignorance appears more and more like a willful desire to offend.

It simply isn't your call to decide these things contrary to the legal, cultural and historical facts.

Posted by: BillyD on Friday, 12 June 2009 at 4:17pm BST

Christopher

I'm trying to get you to focus on the topic of this thread.
Of course there's often a link between parents and children up for adoption.
But this thread is not about that link.

It is not about what to do to discourage people from giving up their children.
It is not about analysing the causes for children requiring adoption.

These are all worthwhile topics to explore, but this thread is not about them.

This thread is purely about who is qualified of becoming an adoptive parent.

And even if you succeed with your social dreaming and educate everyone only ever to have sex when married, only ever to have children when likely to cope with them, and if you persuade all victims of rape to keep their children and manage to loe them - you will still have a residue of children whose parents are too ill to look after them, or whose parents have died.

There is always going to be a pool of children who need to be adopted.

This thread is about who is qualified to adopt them.
Shall we return to that question?


Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 12 June 2009 at 8:52pm BST

"One always has actual parents *and in addition* may also have other people with whom one has a very strong bond."

Well, one has people who are responsible for the conception of a child. Any parent can tell you, gee even this childless gay man can tell you, that that is perhaps the least significant part of being a parent. To restrict the definition of 'parent' to those people who conceive a child, and relegate those people who are responsible for the healthy development of that child to the status of "other people" seems at best to severely misunderstand the concept of parenthood, or worse, to be deliberately clouding the issue. You are using the word 'parent' to mean 'biological parent', when the word means far more.

"You are speaking as though adoption is one thing and irresponsible parents are another. In a significant proportion of cases that is incorrect."

It certainly seems that, for you, the welfare of the mother and child is secondary to your right to judge the "irresponsibility" of people you don't even know. Even if you are right, as a Christian your concern should be for the welfare of the human beings involved, not in your own right to judge them. Neither of us sees abortion as being in the best interest of the child, but I don't think condemning the mother for "irresponsible" behaviour is much better. How do you see doing that as advancing the Gospel? Do you see any option for such a mother other than to endure your unjustified judgement?


"Your comment implies I should praise parents for *not* having abortion."

No, my comment states, clearly albeit sarcastically, I thought, that there is nothing in your position other than justification for judging that pregnant woman no matter what she does. Are you capable of seeing and ministering to human pain if you judge those who suffer from that pain to have somehow brought it on themselves by sin? Because you don't appear to.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 12 June 2009 at 9:01pm BST

Let's return to King Solomon's solomonic judgement as to who is the right parent, shall we?

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Saturday, 13 June 2009 at 10:15am BST

Hi Erika-
These questions are all related and all need to be addressed. We can't just answer those questions we like and ignore those we don't like.

Who is qualified to adopt? We have established that the best situation is for the child to be with their own parents; next best would therefore be with their own grandparents or other relations (extended family). Third best would be with a maximally similar family known to the above; fourth best would be with a maximally similar family not known to the above. In any people group where abandoning one's own child would be pretty unthinkable (and there are such people groups) these 4 options would easily cover the available children. It is only the wrong assumptions some societies have that produce the harmful behaviour and resulting problems. Also: any option that is predicated on parents distancing themselves from their own child obviously has something funny about it.

Hi Ford-
What you say about the word 'parent' is incorrect etymologically, and is incorrect unless one allows society to dictate what words mean, ie to try to create reality. Reality is already created, as analysed by science, and society cannot override science. Besides, if you want two quite distinct groups of people *both* to be called 'parent' - so that the same individual can have multiple 'parents' - you have then to answer the question of why you prefer this unnecessarily confusing option rather than the simple option of choosing a different word like stepparent for the other group. One can understand preferring simple to complex, or even treating them equally, but preferring unnecessarily-complex to simple?

I am not judging the immorality of people I do not know, just saying that such people exist. That is an accurate position to take; if your position were that they do not exist, then that would be an inaccurate position. But in general what you say about judging cannot be derived from what I actually say. One can only speak the truth - to do otherwise would be dishonest. Obviously the truth will not always show everybody in a good light (nor always in a bad light) - but that is not my doing or yours.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Tuesday, 16 June 2009 at 12:31pm BST

"What you say about the word 'parent' is incorrect etymologically, and is incorrect unless one allows society to dictate what words mean, ie to try to create reality."

What a truly bizarre argument. Of course society dictates what words mean - society invents words. The word "fontanel", to grap an example more or at less at random, derives etymologically from the Old French fontanele, the diminuitive of fountaine - a fountain. Does that mean that we can't use it to refer to the soft spot on a baby's head?

" Reality is already created, as analysed by science, and society cannot override science."

Why would any Christian think that science determines reality?

Posted by: BillyD on Tuesday, 16 June 2009 at 4:49pm BST

"rather than the simple option of choosing a different word like stepparent for the other group."

"Stepparent" already has a meaning of its own, and is unrelated to adoption. You keep using it as if it meant something else. Are you sure you've thought this out?

Posted by: BillyD on Tuesday, 16 June 2009 at 5:04pm BST

Hi BillyD-

I didn't say use 'stepparent' necessarily (though it is news to me that such a usage would be incorrect in adoption cases) - I simply said use a different word, not 'parent', and for 2 good reasons: (1) creates unnecessary confusion (since the actual parents are still alive) and unnecessary confusion is always avoided by clear thinkers; (2) lets the conceivers off the hook even though their link with the baby is organic and there is simply nothing of what the baby has or is that was nit derived from them.

You are so wrong about sscience vs society. Science is based on observation, and therefore is less prone to be used in power games since none of us can dictate what will actually be observed or found in the world. The world is not going to be the way we dictate it to be. Therefore language has to conform to scientific discovery. Society on the other hand is more likely to have agendas, which the powerful will then impose on the language at the expense of the less powerful. Society-centredness is at the mercy of ideology whereas genuine science-centredness defers only to truth.

An example: people think you can rewrite birth certificates to lie about who the real parents are. It is a scientific fact that every baby sionce the dawn of time has been the product of precisely one man and precisely one woman in conjunction. That is what makes a traditional birth certificate able to be described as factual without argument. Some people think that this fact, this reality, is actually *less* significant than the transient mores of one particular society at one particular time in history. In other words, imposing the ideology that leads to some elite's opreferred state of affairs, even if it means opposing the factual truth.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Wednesday, 17 June 2009 at 9:23am BST

"I didn't say use 'stepparent' necessarily (though it is news to me that such a usage would be incorrect in adoption cases)"

A stepparent is someone who marries a parent after they have have been widowed or divorced. Stepparents may or may not adopt their stepchildren.

By the way, why does the Bible say that we have received a spirit of adoption that allows us to cry out, "Abba - Father!" ? We are God's children by adoption, not his stepchildren, or foster children, or anything else.

"actual parents"

Honestly, would it kill you to use the unambiguous term "biological parent" or "birth parent" instead of the offensive terms you do use?

"Therefore language has to conform to scientific discovery."

This is simply wishful thinking on your part. Where do you think that words come from - some sort of etymological laboratory where scientists in white coats cook them up in beakers? Words are the creations of the people who use them. ( I noticed, by the way, that you dodged my example of "fontanelle." If you didn't care for that one, I can provide a host of words whose meanings vary from their etymological roots).

"It is a scientific fact that every baby sionce the dawn of time has been the product of precisely one man and precisely one woman in conjunction."

Putting aside the case of surrogate mothers, you are correct. Up to the point of birth. But parenting is not synonymous with siring or giving birth. Look it up.

Your entire argument is oddly materialist for a Christian.

Posted by: BillyD on Wednesday, 17 June 2009 at 11:29am BST

In Sweden, colloquially, a biological father is somethimes called formal "father" and a social father the more intimate "pappa".

Maybe that could be the solution for Christopher's semantic troubles?

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Thursday, 18 June 2009 at 5:37am BST

The other odd thing about Dr Shell's argument, it seems to me, is that it is centered on English etymology and usage. This might be very handy if the only language spoken were English, but that is hardly the case.

For example, in Spanish the word "pariente," derived from the same root as the English "parent," means "relative." Are Spanish speakers wrong to use it? Of course not. In Spanish, the word for "parent" is "padre," from the Latin "pater."

By the way, this is what Wikipedia has to say about the Latin "pater familias": "One should notice that the pater's children, the filii familias, could be other than biological offspring, such as brothers, nephews or adoptive sons and daughters. In Ancient Rome, the family household was, therefore, conceived as an economical and juridical unit subordinated to a single person, with a great deal of authority (the potestas and auctoritas) over all its members - in fact, the Latin word familia (which is the etymological origin for the English word "family"), originally meant the group of the famuli (servus or serfs and slaves) living under the same roof. And the familia was considered the basic social unit, more primordial, for instance, than the gens (clan, caste, or group of families)."

Should we stop using the word "family" the way that we currently do, because of its etymological history, Dr. Shell?

Posted by: BillyD on Thursday, 18 June 2009 at 11:05am BST

"But in general what you say about judging cannot be derived from what I actually say."

Keep telling yourself that, Christopher. It makes it a lot easier for the rest of us.

"One can only speak the truth - to do otherwise would be dishonest."

LOL!

"Science is based on observation, and therefore is less prone to be used in power games"

Really? On what planet? A cursory review of your posts shows otherwise, for starters, let alone a reasonable working knowledge of history.

"unless one allows society to dictate what words mean, ie to try to create reality."

"One" doesn't have to "allow" society (there you go again with your "allow") to do anything, especially when it comes to language. Language is a social phenomenon of humans by which the speech community agrees certain conventions to allow for verbal communication. Society DOES, in fact, decide what words mean, in that sense, since in order for words to have meaning, society must agree on that meaning. That's why languages can change. And they do, Christopher. "Prevent" literally means "to go in front of". It meant that in English once. We see it used with that meaning in the BCP: "Prevent and go before us, oh Lord.....". Being an Anglican is such a spur to linguistic interest, I have found. But, unless your speech community has decided that, for them, 'prevent' will have its old meaning, should you tell people that while you left your house at the same time they did, you prevented them at Church, they won't understand you. So, either way, you HAVE "allowed" society to decide the meaning of that word. Really, Christopher. This line of argument is just showing that you have as poor a grasp of Linguistic science in particular as you do of science in general.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Thursday, 18 June 2009 at 7:56pm BST

Ford, your last comment makes me think of people like Robert AJ Gagnon who obviously w a n t to understand, but are too ignorant to know what they talk about...

I have found over the years that the phenomenon is quite common ;=)

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Friday, 19 June 2009 at 8:08am BST

Hi Ford-
I once made a list of words that now mean something like the opposite of what they once meant; they included 'prevent', 'let' and 'doubt'. Supposing you had been a correct pedant at the time any such meaning-change took place, and supposing the change took place based on a misunderstanding of the correct meaning. Would you simply advise 'go with the flow'? What is so great about the flow?
What you say about society dictating meaning is only partly true. In the example yiou give society *already had* dictated meaning, only for this to be usurped, possibly by a muisunderstanding. And you'll agree that in all other walks of life, the opinion of those who understand is liable to be preferred to that of those who don't. So it's not a clear-cut matter.

Hi Goran-
I very much doubt that Swedish social mores could be a solution to *anyone's* problems.

Hi Billy-
If we define 'stepparent' as one who marries a parent, then we have 3 simple overlapping groups: parents, stepparents, adoptive parents. Why complicate that? To complicate it would suggest an agenda, since we normally would choose the least confusing option.
The term 'actual parents' is accurate. If it is 'offensive' (and that is subjective, since it is not intrinsically so), should I tell a lie instead? How would that improve matters?

Language does have to conform to scientific discovery if it is to be an accurate reflection of the actual world rather than of anyone's fantasy world. It is through learning that the morning and evening star are one and the same that we now eschew both terms in favour of the uinitary term Venus. That is (in terms of accuracy) progress.
You are misunderstanding what I say on etymology. I would estimate that a high proportion of words have strayed from their original etymological meaning. (Besides, I am too dense to know what a 'fontanelle' is.) That is only part of the picture, and to be honest we need to see as much as we can of the whole picture. Therefore we need to factor in (as you are not doing) 3 things: (1) words can sometimes change meaning because of elite agendas; (2) or because of simple misunderstandings which we should scarcely approve; (3) or because of change of overall worldview, which is cause for concern in that proportion of cases where the newer worldview is inferior to the older.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Friday, 19 June 2009 at 1:06pm BST

"In the example yiou give society *already had* dictated meaning, only for this to be usurped, possibly by a muisunderstanding."

Yet another example of how you don't understand linguistics, Christopher. There is no absolute, unchanging nature to any of the aspects of language. Words do not change their meaning, or their pronunciation, or their grammatical behaviour, or anything else, because of "usurpation" or "misunderstanding". The mechanisms of language change are complex, but they are NOT abnormal. Language change is NOT a degradation of language over time. It is natural, normal, and expected. Do you consider a dictionary to be a codification of what words mean, or a description of what words mean at the present time? Your need to feel like you have some control over the behaviour of others is remarkable. Do you honestly think that opposing language change by refusing to "go with the flow" can do anything at all? And what do you see as the REAL language? We know for instance, that the modern IndoEuropean languages evolved from older forms, and we postulate a proto-language that gave rise to all these modern forms. Would you see ProtoIndoEuropean as the REAL European language, and the forms we now speak to be somehow the product of "usurpation", "misunderstanding", or "going with the flow"? Is French nothing more than debased Latin, for instance, or is Latin just a debased form of PIE? Do you believe we should oppose such change? But humans began to speak long, long before the development of PIE, which means PIE must have developed out of older forms of language, unless you are claiming that language change started around the time the Hittites settled in Anatolia. There is a debate in linguistics as to how successfully we can recreate these older forms. But would you say that one of those forms had the REAL meaning, and PIE itself arose because of "misunderstanding" or "usurpation" or "going with the flow"? So, what's the REAL language? PIE? Nostratic? Given that the OT was originally written in Hebrew, is Hebrew the REAL language, or ProtoAfroAsiatic, maybe?

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 19 June 2009 at 4:26pm BST

Christopher Shell: "I very much doubt that Swedish social mores could be a solution to *anyone's* problems"

Don't knock Sweden - they have much lower rates of teenage pregnancy and abortion than the UK or US; they are one of the world's highest per capita donor countries; they have one of most income-equal societies in the world... I could go on. Oh, and of course, they were one of the first countries to accept women at all levels of ministry in the Church; and they are one of most progressive on the gay issue - there is an official Church of Sweden rite for the blessing of same-sex partnerships.

British society trails behind Sweden in all sorts of ways, partly at least because, one feels, of the socially backward-looking British church lobby.

Posted by: Fr Mark on Friday, 19 June 2009 at 4:46pm BST

"The term 'actual parents' is accurate. If it is 'offensive' (and that is subjective, since it is not intrinsically so), should I tell a lie instead?"

"Actual parent" is clearly the result of your own agenda to delegitimize adoption. "Birth parent" or "natural parent" are more accurate and less ambiguous. But you go on and do what you want to do - I no longer expect good will from your quarter.

"Language does have to conform to scientific discovery if it is to be an accurate reflection of the actual world rather than of anyone's fantasy world. It is through learning that the morning and evening star are one and the same that we now eschew both terms in favour of the uinitary term Venus. That is (in terms of accuracy) progress."

Really? I had no clue that the terms "morning star" and "evening star" were now "eschewed." Do people on your planet also eschew the terms "sunrise" and sunset"?

"You are misunderstanding what I say on etymology. I would estimate that a high proportion of words have strayed from their original etymological meaning. (Besides, I am too dense to know what a 'fontanelle' is.)"

Hold on, there - I thought you were a doctor. What kind of doctor wouldn't be familiar with a word like "fontanelle"? (And if he didn't, wouldn't be able to look it up in a dictionary?) Exactly what sort of doctor are you?

"That is only part of the picture, and to be honest we need to see as much as we can of the whole picture. Therefore we need to factor in (as you are not doing) 3 things: (1) words can sometimes change meaning because of elite agendas; (2) or because of simple misunderstandings which we should scarcely approve; (3) or because of change of overall worldview, which is cause for concern in that proportion of cases where the newer worldview is inferior to the older."

Ah, so *of course* words change meanings from their etymological roots, and that's perfectly okay - except for when you don't like the result?

You believe what you want to, Dr. Shell. I think I agree with Ford's estimation of your abilities in this area. And as my mother (my actual, real mother, that is, not my biological mother) used to say, "There's no arguing with ignorance."

Posted by: BillyD on Friday, 19 June 2009 at 5:38pm BST

Hi BillyD
I am happy to debate with you though not if the 'on your planet' sort of stuff is included, since that cannot issue from an unbiased unemotional source.

A lot of your comment pays scant attention to what I am actually saying. Words do change their meanings (sometimes through society at large, *but* sometimes also through elites with an agenda) and both 1984 and Carroll's Humpty Dumpty are intended to warn us that this is not necessarily a good or agenda-free thing. When it is, then fine. When it is not, then we would be naive not to beware. Were you to have inhabited 1984 or Alice you surely would not have taken the side of Big Brother or Humpty Dumpty: only the naive or unthinking conformist would do so.

Morning Star and Evening Star remain in the language but their role is less designatory now. Just like salt remains salt, but calling it NaCl gives it accurate context within the periodic table as a whole. That is progress in accuracy.

I would only have an agenda if it were inaccurate to call a parent a parent. in fact, to do so is no more strange than to call a spade a spade. It is 100% truthful, and therefore congenial to those who love truth. So those who call spades spades also have 'agendas'? That would be the ultimate conspiracy-under-every-bush perspective.

Hi Fr Mark-
Sweden were co-instrumental in the 'normalisation' of abortion in the first place. One of the ways in which they 'lead the world' is in the onset of polyamory.

Hi Ford-
A key reason that languages change is that our perception of reality changes and the language therefore has to change to fit it. Where the reality in question is that discovered by scientists etc., so far so good. But where the 'reality' in question is the preferred agenda, ideology or lifestyle of some elite which is in a position to affect the language-change, so far so bad. The existence of mass media alters the situation compared with earlier eras.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Saturday, 20 June 2009 at 1:08pm BST

"I am happy to debate with you though not if the 'on your planet' sort of stuff is included, since that cannot issue from an unbiased unemotional source."

I am neither unbiased nor unemotional on the subject of my own life.

I am also done discussing this with you, since it is obvious that you have no real idea of how language works, and your replies are ad hoc. There's no point in "debating" someone who doesn't have basic knowledge of the subject at hand - or worse, substitutes his own crackpot ideas.

I would still be fascinated to learn exactly what sort of doctor you are.

Posted by: BillyD on Saturday, 20 June 2009 at 8:55pm BST

Hi Billy
I am glad that you are thoroughly emotional and passionate about your own life and indeed the lives of others. If you are also admittedly biased that amounts to being admittedly untruthful. The topic of which planet someone resides on is not a mater that has anything to do with your life amyway. But if and when aliens were discovered there is no reason to believe that their opinions would necessarily be worth less than ours and any assumption that they did would be racism by extension!

Withdrawal from debate can sometimes be a substitute for being required to engage in it if one is planning to justify (or revise) one's opinions, & everyone knows which option is better.

I am not a medical doctor, & am not sure how you know I am a doctor at all. I have a PhD in early christian studies with particular reference to altered states of consciousness.

All the best

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Monday, 22 June 2009 at 1:11pm BST

Christopher, I, like BillyD and various others, have wondered for some time what your academic background is. It is obviously NOT biology, physics, astronomy, linguistics, or the social sciences. Also, your latest comments on language change are quite funny. It appears you have little knowledge of historical or social linguistics, or of semantics and current linguistic theories on meaning and reference. Language change has little to do with changes in perception of reality, and is rarely if ever driven by elites with an agenda. It is hard to see how an elite agenda guided the generalization of nautical terms to non-nautical meanings which is so much a part of the English we speak here, for instance. No agenda there, just the basic necessities of life. So, whatever Latin word 'parent' derived from, it has now come to mean far more than just conceiving or giving birth to a child. That was not agenda driven, Christopher, that was a perception of reality, and one not coming from science either. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to know that there is a huge difference between giving birth to a child and actually being a parent. Even I, a childless gay man who you never cease to hint is selfish, a menace to society, too sick to live a normal lifespan, and possibly even a danger to children, know better than that. Your continued resistence to this point is quite amusing. You are NOT proving your point, since it is patently obvious your point is wrong. You are merely defending your right to insult BillyD's parents by claiming they are NOT actually his parents because, despite all the parenting they provided him, they are not genetically related, which, for you, is the only real meaning of 'parent'. The question is why. Why obstinately maintain a patently incorrect position, especially when that gives the impression that you really are not nearly as informed on the particular issue as you want people to think, and despite your protestations to the contrary, are not actually the rational dispassionate observer you want everyone else to think you are?

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 22 June 2009 at 5:34pm BST

"Withdrawal from debate can sometimes be a substitute for being required to engage in it if one is planning to justify (or revise) one's opinions, & everyone knows which option is better."

And sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

Posted by: BillyD on Monday, 22 June 2009 at 7:45pm BST

"I have a PhD in early christian studies with particular reference to altered states of consciousness."

This is quite interesting. I often note the similarity between ecstatic states, especially as practiced in Fundamentalist churches, and similar "trancing" in other religious systems. I'd be interested in reading your work. Seriously. No sarcasm here, no snottiness, I think it would be fascinating. I have an acquaintance who spent some time in an Egyptian monastery. The church door was quite low, ostensibly to force a reminder of humility on those who had to bend to get in, but actually to prevent the local herders from driving their camels into the church and.....'defiling' the altar. He had a feeling that after several hours of chanting in a stuffy, incense filled church, oxygen levels dropped a bit, and that, combined with fasting and incense smoke, helped produce visions.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 22 June 2009 at 8:10pm BST

I expect there's still a copy in the cambridge library. Now I am supposed to apologise for *not* being a simultaneous expert in biology, physics, astronomy, linguistics and the social sciences, which I will do when you introduce me to someone who is. It's difficult to be expert or qualified in all that many things, although so far as I know my qualifications were among the broadest in the humanities.

Hi Billy D-
If a cigar is a cigar, it follows that a parent is a parent. It is immediately obvious that I am my daughter's 'parent' in an absolute sense without qualification. It is also obvious that if one puts side by side three qualified terms 'biological parent', 'step-parent' and 'adoptive parent' the initial impression (intended to be?) given is that all 3 are eqully in need of qualification. In which case I would *not* be my daughhter's parent in an unqualified absolute sense. So which is correct?

Hi Ford-
You misunderstand my point. Language change may indeed be largely as you say - but when did I dispute that? What I said was that in those cases (be they 90 percent or one percent) where the agency of the change is either elites or ignorance, this should be resisted. Unless we are to be passive apathetic go-with-the-flow types who are under the delusion that the present state of their own small culture is the best possible culture - or dupes of 1984, Humpty Dumpty or both.
Think of a godly lady who knows that to be adult involves maturity and responsibility. She then has her historic town invaded by yobs selling 'adult' material. You would side with the yobs? To control the language is to control the culture.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Tuesday, 23 June 2009 at 12:54pm BST

As was recently written:
'The nihilist ''master'' rules by the gun; therefore he must have a monopoly on the use of guns. The philistine Humpty Dumpty [as in: words mean what I choose them to mean] rules by the word [the pen is mightier than the sword]; therefore he must have a monopoly on the use of words.
If he chooses to describe as 'free' a healthcare system [for which we should all be extremely grateful in other ways] that costs at least 10% of people's income, then that is the meaning he will enforce. If he wants people to believe - or rather not to enunciate disbelief - that racial murder {clearly an abomination] is worse than any other, or that an even spread of illiteracy is comprehensive education, or that homosexual ''marriage'' is as commendable as the old kind, he will use force to ensure compliance. This becomes a test of power, and it works only when people are made to use words in other than their true meaning.'

I think people need to be cautious here. Many words do change meaning, but I wonder why it is that they prefer to emphasise those ones and not those (also very many) that essentially do not?

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Tuesday, 23 June 2009 at 1:01pm BST

"Now I am supposed to apologise for *not* being a simultaneous expert in biology, physics, astronomy, linguistics and the social sciences, which I will do when you introduce me to someone who is."

No, merely for presuming to speak in an authoritative fashion about things you are poorly informed on, resisting any help at becoming more informed, twisting poorly understood principles to back up your prejudices, and rejecting explications as to how your logic is faulty. Sadly, I won't likely get to Cambridge library any time soon. Is your work available anywhere else? Coming after what I just said, this must seem odd, but I really would like to read your academic work. And not for judgemental purposes either.

'biological parent': An adult who either fathers or gives birth to a child. There is no implication of any further support or care.
'step-parent': An adult who is legally acknowledged and expected to fulfill a supportive towards the children born by his/her current spouse by another mate.
'adoptive parent': An adult granted by Law the right and responsibility to care for a child or children not born of that adult or that adult's mate.

It's about linguistic concepts of meaning, of connotation, etc., Christopher. The word "parent" simply includes more meaning, so it is necessary at times to specify what kind of parent you are referring to. A car is a car, but there's a big difference between a Rolls and a Yugo. Furthermore, Christian charity calls on you to be more sensitive to adopted children.

"What I said was that....."

Indeed. But you don't get to throw the claim of "elitism or ignorance" at any language change you think reveals the decline of modern society. Such change is quite rare actually, so its effect is likely negligible. One place where it seems to be happening is in the "Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer" language, which I abhor, but it also gives us a reason to debate the significance of the original language.

"Think of a godly lady who knows that to be adult..."

Think of any dictionary that will give you more than one meaning for many, many words. I'd suggest to the lady that many words, in all languages, are polyvalent in meaning, and she shouldn't worry about it, since in any situation where she, or the yobs, feel they might be misunderstood, there are simple tools natural to the language, and that we all know, that will make their meaning clear.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 23 June 2009 at 3:01pm BST

"If a cigar is a cigar, it follows that a parent is a parent."

Oh, for the love of Mike...

Posted by: BillyD on Tuesday, 23 June 2009 at 3:15pm BST

"Many words do change meaning, but I wonder why it is that they prefer to emphasise those ones and not those (also very many) that essentially do not?"

If you were to list the English words that have changed their meaning over the past 1000+ years for which we have documentation of the English language, you might be surprised in the number that have changed their meaning. Even the pronoun 'you' has changed its meaning, for example, as has the word 'meat', likewise 'maid', to cite a few examples. Can I suggest that your perception is a bit skewed in that you only perceive certain politically correct usages, which I would likely feel the same about as you do, and generalizing THAT as, somehow, being language change? But that still doesn't alter the fact that your use of 'parent' as meaning only "biological parent" is an incorrect restriction opf the meaning of the word, and ignores the fact that the meaning of words is often polyvalent.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 23 June 2009 at 6:50pm BST

Ford
"'adoptive parent': An adult granted by Law the right and responsibility to care for a child or children not born of that adult or that adult's mate."

Not necessarily - you can adopt your partner's children to become jointly legally responsible for them. People often do that to ensure that the children remain with the partner if the biological parent dies.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 24 June 2009 at 6:14am BST

"Think of a godly lady who knows that to be adult involves maturity and responsibility. She then has her historic town invaded by yobs selling 'adult' material. You would side with the yobs?"

Sounds like a choice between the prigs and the yobs, here. I'd probably side with the yobs, but, being an American, I'm not really sure what a yob is.

A moment... OK, just Googled it.

Let's see...a doom metal band from Eugene, Oregon...uh, probably not. A Chicago based stencil artist...no. A Czech employment search engine? Nope. Oh, this must be it: an uncouth blue collar individual.

Really!? Well, I'd certainly call THAT snobby, elite bias and an attempt at social control! I can see why the word fell into disuse over here -- we have class distinctions, of course, but we like to pretend we don't, and "yob" just wouldn't do in our republican (small "r," note) culture.

Pretty hard to escape the bias of language, I guess. And the word is pretty offensive when you think about it. But that it has become an archaism over here does show that as we slowly overcome our biases as a species, our languages do change to reflect that progress.

Posted by: Peter of Westminster on Wednesday, 24 June 2009 at 8:26am BST

Hi Ford-
Why would I be surprised at the number of words that change their meaning, when I have already said that many do so? In any case, our topic is not whether they change meaning but why.
-Sounds like you regard the interests of the godly lady and the yobs approximately equally. Which is an untenable position, since one party is working for good and the other for harm. (A further misuse of the word adult: ' Let's discuss our divorce as sensible adults would.')
Your account suggests that 'parent' can *never* be used in an absolute sense. Since usage is a concern of yours, it shd be said that this is not true of English usage.
As for assuming authority on certain topics, I generally don't - but I do exercise my right to ask questions about them and to submit them to logical investigation, logic being, obviously, applicable to *all* branches of study. If it happened less often that my logic or attempted logic was answered rather than dismissed then I would have even greater regard for the motives of my dialogue-partners than I now do. It is telling that I repeatedly flag up the way that statistics point on certain matters and practically never get actual statistics (despite getting plenty of contempt) in reply. How can there be contempt unless that contempt be based on contrary statistical findings?
The only public copy is in Cambridge, I think. I am a bit hazy about whether the BritLib keeps all theses on microfilm.

Hi Peter-
Regarding the yobs, the same point applies to you: you know that not everyone's motives can possibly be equally commendable so what logical sense can it make to act as though they were? Secondly, can someone not have godly qualities without being termed by you a prig? A lot of the great Christians (who were not in fact prigs ie self-righteous) would therefore be classed by you as prigs. What depressing negativity. Most Christians are delighted to have people of true goodness (whatever their additional faults) to whom they look up.
Alas! you defile the name of the dedicatee of our chief Abbey.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Wednesday, 24 June 2009 at 1:21pm BST

""If a cigar is a cigar, it follows that a parent is a parent."

Oh, for the love of Mike..."

But, sometimes, a cigar is just a smoke.

And Erika, you're right, I came up with those definitions on the fly, and in frustration at Christopher's obstinate, willful rejection of reality in justification of his belief that society is teetering on the precipice because of our abandonment of Ozzie and Harriet.


"But that it has become an archaism over here does show that as we slowly overcome our biases as a species, our languages do change to reflect that progress."

But you Americans do tend to get a bit overly egalitarian on times. There's a difference between book smarts and intelligence, and a full education is no guarantees of anything, even that the person even learned what was taught. But I sometimes think that people who think FOX is news perhaps ought not have a say in who leads the most powerful country on the face of the Earth. Just sayin'.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 24 June 2009 at 1:53pm BST

"our topic is not whether they change meaning but why."

A natural process, not driven by some elite agenda.

"one party is working for good and the other for harm."

It is a fallacy to assume the "godly lady" is working for good. Godly in whose terms? There are those who would call Jerry Falwell or Pat Buchanan 'godly'. People called GW Bush 'godly'. There are even Orthodox Christians who consider Stalin to have been 'godly'.

"my logic or attempted logic was answered rather than dismissed"

I have argued your faulty logic with you. Your usual response is to disappear till the thread is cold.

"that statistics point on certain matters and practically never get actual statistics (despite getting plenty of contempt) in reply."

Not true. In response to a comment you made a while ago about increasing violence in Western society, I linked to several law enforcement sites in Canada, the US, and I believe Britain , that said the exact opposite. You ignored it completely. Furthermore, when you do respond to such refutations, you find a way to discount the statistics that refute your position. Even when the authors of a paper publically state that their findings cannot be used to make the claims you make, you find a way to discredit that statement and maintain your misinterpretation of their work. You did this recently. You repeatedly cite findings of poorly structured "studies", claiming that the "knowledge" they provide is the best we have till something better comes along, which is simply not scientifically supportable. You have a very selective use of statistics, Christopher, and the hoops you jump through to justify that can be quite amusing, as is your inability to assess a scientific paper and your resistence to learning how. Your current willingness to abandon basic Christian charity in your attempt to claim that abortion and adoption are both products of modern sexual irresponsibility is a similar behaviour.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 24 June 2009 at 4:41pm BST

"But, sometimes, a cigar is just a smoke."

No, Ford, I think the quote you're looking for is by Kipling: "A woman is only a woman, but a cigar is a smoke."

I was going to piggyback on Erika's comment earlier and point out that the description you have of adoptive parents could apply as well to foster parents, and that adoption involves identity besides just child care, but realized that you weren't trying to come up with a full definition.

"Alas! you defile the name of the dedicatee of our chief Abbey."

Good Lord - judge much, Christopher? This really is over the top.

Posted by: BillyD on Wednesday, 24 June 2009 at 6:13pm BST

Hi Ford-
Your long paragraph still provided no actual stats albeit much wearied headshaking.
There is obviously an infinite number of answers to the question 'has crime gone up or down of late in location X?' because there is an infinite number of start dates. Obviously there will be infinitely many small rises and falls. My thrust is that 1960s social revolutions sparked an overall trend of increased crime. Megatrends like that are far more significant than infinite little rises and falls. There are now crimes that may not even get investigated, such as burglary or sleeping with a minor.
It is entirely a subjective matter who counts as godly?

Hi Peter-
When speaking of yobs my main intended connotation was 'not caring about other people ie about interpersonal morality [nor having any sense of profundity or history]'. I tend to use the term of certain politicians etc., though blue collar workers, white collar workers or whoever are not exempt. I really do think it is a moaning minnie stance to complain when people are godly. One might as well complain when the sun shines or when one is served one's favourite dish.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Friday, 26 June 2009 at 12:18pm BST

Hi Ford-
I believe that if everyone were perfectly honest and truthful then it would be well possible to make progress towards truth in such debates as this - which is why I believe in debate. You write 'Your usual response is to disappear till the thread is cold.'. That (like your psychologically-based sentences beginning 'you need to') is a classic example of an unevidenced assertion. In such a position an honest debater seeks more evidence, for 'conclusions' are two a penny but weighing of evidence is rarer. The truth of the matter is quite different: namely, (a) not all submitted comments get accepted; (b) I make plenty of logically-based comments not only at the end of threads but also in the middle of them and at the start of them.

When you mention my discounting statistics taht fail to support my position (a) I can't recall this happening but if you find teh evidence I will happily remedy this; (b) I doni;'t have a 'position' anyway since the statistics *are* my position. They are one and the same. As the statistics change my position changes. For the life of me I can't see that any other approach is totally honest.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Saturday, 27 June 2009 at 9:16am BST

"Your long paragraph still provided no actual stats albeit much wearied headshaking."

In our initial interchange on this subject, quite a while ago, I provided ample evidence, from several different police organizations in at least two different countries, and covering the period from the early 1970s to the present. This covers the period addressed in the "thrust" of your argument, and qualifies for the title 'macrotrend'. You ignored it. Indeed, you disappeared from the thread, thereby providing a piece of evidence for my asssertion of your avoidance of situations in which your pet ideas are proven wrong. It is not the only piece of evidence for this assertion.

"I doni;'t have a 'position' anyway since the statistics *are* my position. They are one and the same."

Well, no. On the issue of crime rates, your position that such rates are elevated since the 1960s is clearly NOT in accord with statistics. Likewise, your insistence that a couple of poorly structured studies, one of which is said by its authors to NOT be interpretable in the way you interpret it shows that your use of "statistics" is tailored to fit your opinion. The results of poorly structured science are NOT statistics, Christopher. Your continued resistence to that fact, shows you holding on to information not for its quality, but because it supports your pre-existing ideas. That is NOT "truthseeking".

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 29 June 2009 at 5:02pm BST

Christopher

"Your long paragraph still provided no actual stats albeit much wearied headshaking."

Only a week or so ago drdanfee gave you a long list of names of people who had done research in this field. Have you already finished with those? Did they not provide the kind of information you are now asking from Ford?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 29 June 2009 at 8:29pm BST

Hi Erika-
I must have missed that - can you refer me to it? drdanfee in his two quadruple responses certainly gave a list of places where one could find accumulations of research - I don't recall lists of surnames, nor (more importantly, since it's what we all require) lists of findings. If you can trace this I will respond to it. Thanks.

Hi Ford-
I don't remember even looking up said statistics, presumably because several threads were going simultaneously and none of us manages to keep up wilth all of them indefinitely. Now: since that is the truth of the matter, it follows that you have attributed to me motives which you cannot possibly be sure about and which are in fact incorrect in this case - not for the first nor even the second time. I must reiterate that intelligent people see different possibilities and options rather than jumping to conclusions like that, & thankfully not all contributors do likewise. Further, your approach is mischievous since people may believe your version even when it's incorrect without ever checking out the facts. It is quite possible to conduct a good debate without either thinking one knows other people's minds better than they do themselves or referring to alleged ill deeds of others 942 posts back. So let's none of us do either of these things, and hopefully moderators will not look kindly on it. Pls do refer me to the appropriate place and then we can verify your assertions and take up the statistics.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Tuesday, 30 June 2009 at 1:26pm BST

Christopher

"can you refer me to it? drdanfee in his two quadruple responses certainly gave a list of places where one could find accumulations of research "

We all have a day job. You have asked for pointers where further and more up to date information can be found and you have been given a huge list of places where you can find accumulated research.

If you're really interested, and going by your active involvement here on TA and the passion you have for the topics discussed here I assume you are, I trust that you can use the pointers given and do your own research. For someone with a PhD that should not be too taxing.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 30 June 2009 at 7:32pm BST

Hi Erika-
But, on the contrary, I have for years been a lone voice here in suggesting that if we are going to answer these questions properly then the answer is to refer to research. When I leaflet, then I give references to the research findings collected by (not done by, and not always necessarily congenial to) Robert Gagnon - and also referred to by many other writers, as many as write on this topic. It was news to me that any body of research contradicted the basic picture that male homosexuals have much shorter average sexual-relationship length, much shorter average lifespan, much greater average involvement in sexual abuse cases (whether as perpetrator, victim, or both), much higher susceptibility to STDs (and to suicide and depressive tendencies) than the population at large. My question to drdanfee was what the picture of these things produced by research really is: whether it is as I have said or not. I do not believe that Gagnon left out any or much of the significant research - however, his book (pub. 2001) is now ten years out of date. He himself is scrupulously up to date but not all in one book so far as I gather.

It is because I did not ask 'Where can I find the research results?' but rather 'What are the research results?' that drdanfee's answer has not yet gone far enough or been relevant enough to the question that was actually asked.

Thanks.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Thursday, 2 July 2009 at 1:02pm BST

Christopher
you're still expecting us to do your research for you.
You've been told where to find the information.
From now on, if you pretend it doesn't exist, we will all know that you simply haven't kept up to date.
That's not a problem as such, but it will rather disqualify your views, much in the same way in which we no longer pay much attention to people who cite old data about women's innate inferiority to men ignoring the huge developments in the field, but blaming everyone else for their ignorance.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 2 July 2009 at 4:08pm BST

Hi Erika-
It is precisely the other way round. I have been the person telling everyone else that they need to look at the statistical information. They would need to look at it anyway, but all the more so if they claim to have already come to a conclusion about the issue. This (coming to a conclusion) would of course not be possible without first familiarising oneself with the statistical information. Yet a high proportion of people simultaneously (a) have no knowledge of what studies have been done and (b) claim that they have already made up their mind on the issue. Which of course is an impossible position to take, since it is not based on anything.

I did not ask drdanfee to tell me where to find information, since I have had very full information for years via Gagnon's and NARTH's publications, and I have also for years been urging that people familiarise themselves with it rather than putting their heads in the sand - or at least put some alternative actual statistics on the table.
What I asked him was where he recommended I find *additional* information which he considered to be unrepresented within Gagnon and NARTH. And what I particularly asked him was what conclusions this additional and hypothetically contradictory information came to. Which is the question I am still asking. So -if there is nothing to hide - let's answer that question now.

Therefore your words 'you've been told where to find the information' are as wrong as they could possibly be. I am the one who has been urging everyone else to look at the information.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Friday, 3 July 2009 at 1:12pm BST

Christopher

Priceless.
People who have read Gagnon have pointed out the many flaws of his research to you here many many times. You have not once taken even the slightest shred of it on board.

Now the people who have read Gagnon and countless other studies on top of that are helpfully pointing you to those studies so you can broaden your view a little and acquaint yourself with more up to date statistics.

And all you do is to demand that they feed you all this wealth of information in bite-sized 400 words blocs on Thinking Anglicans.

Rarely has "I'm not listening, I'm not listening, la la la la la" been more obvious here.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Saturday, 4 July 2009 at 10:02am BST

Hi Erika-
Not half as many times as I have pointed out that Gagnon is not a researcher, but largely a gatherer of the researches of others, whoever they be.

Can you or someone else explain to me two things:
(1) why you think Gagnon is personally responsible for every piece of research ever done on homosexuality, or each of the many pieces of research done by others that he cites, even though he was not personally involved in gathering any of the data? If I mention 'War and Peace' in a footnote, does that mean I wrote 'War and Peace'?
(2) How it is possible to lump together all of this disparate and sometimes contradictory research that he cites as though it was all the same?

Thanks for providing these two answers.

Which particular pieces of research are you referring to, Erika?

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Saturday, 4 July 2009 at 12:37pm BST

Christopher
this is getting childish.

You mentioned Gagnon in your own post a few lines above, I merely referred to it.
Of course there are others.

How is it possible to lump together all of this sometimes contradictory research? Well, that's what academia and science are about, Christopher.
You assess various studies, you try to run your own to verify or falsify them, you publish your result. Other people take it from there.
You "reconcile" by slowly establishing a corpus of research that most scientists agree on.
What you do not do is pick one or two that suit your politics, ignore their weaknesses and continue to proclaim them as absolute truth.

If you want to proclaim them as truth, you will have to engage with the arguments their critics make and present a credible reason for why you support them and not their critics.

Which research I'm referring to?
Now go back through the archives and find all those names that Ford and drdanfee have listed for you recently. Start there.
If you cannot find enough studies, references, researchers in there we can see if anyone else has more information.

Have you read a single one of those people who have been mentioned here? Have you made any attempt at engaging with their arguments? Have you made any attempt at analysing their respective strengths and weaknesses?

If not, I recommend that you do so.
If you have, it would be good to hear your scientific conclusion about the relative merits of the various research results.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Saturday, 4 July 2009 at 2:28pm BST

"I have been the person telling everyone else that they need to look at the statistical information."

And it has been pointed out to you on numerous occasions that the "statistics" you cite are not reliable, with clear explanations as to why. Your response is that this "data" must stand till further data comes along to explain it or refute it. Your assumption seems to be that any data, regardless of how poor the study that generated it, is "the best we have" till something else comes along. That is simply not true. I could formulate a study that would claim the moon is made of green cheese. Would that mean that, until someone produces a better study, we should operate on the assumption that the moon actually IS made of green cheese, even if the methodological errors that led to my mistaken conclusion are well documented?

"I have had very full information for years via Gagnon's and NARTH's publications"

This statement is far more interesting. First, when you first began to spout this nonsense about gay people dying 30 years early, you were accused of getting your information from NARTH, Gagnon, and Cameron. You vigourously, even angrily, denied it. Yet, we find this is precisely where your information comes from. So why the initial denial? Is it that you know the "data" are not reliable, or is it that, after being rebuffed in other fora, you are leery of admitting to sources that you know will be challenged on their face? But if that were the case, then you have surely run into the same kind of arguments as to the unreliability of the "data", so it is not only the people here you are ignoring. But, by doing that, you are actually casting "your side" in a bad light. Anyone who believes you can come up with reliable mortality data from reading an obituary column, and who then uses that data in ways that the original authors of the study themselves point out is not appropriate does not give the image of scientific acumen. Why, BTW, do you ignore the authors of that "obit column" study, and use their data to express ideas they themselves say are not demonstrable from their work?

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 6 July 2009 at 5:00pm BST

I think it is way past time that this "discussion" was closed.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 7 July 2009 at 2:54pm BST