What does it mean to have intellectual integrity? It means you admit error, changing your mind when the evidence says you should. Someone who uses the trappings of science to masquerade as a scientist, but never admits error regardless of the evidence, is a pseudoscientist. Such people lack intellectual integrity and have no business presenting themselves otherwise.
And yet, according to a news release from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, such a man is employed by the Center for Character and Leadership Development at the U.S. Air Force Academy. (For the record, I am an MRFF Thomas Jefferson Award Winner). I am referring to Dr. Mike Rosebush, a well-known practitioner and author in the field of "reparative therapy."
It would be one thing if Dr. Rosebush were an astrologer or a fortune teller. Such activities are far too popular for my taste but relatively harmless as things go. Reparative therapy, however, is a long-discredited practice that attempts to "cure" homosexuals. Far from being harmless, reparative therapy has done unconscionable harm to gay men. Practicing it on minors is illegal in many states. Practicing it on adults can get you kicked out of the American Psychological Association.
According to the story, Dr. Rosebush has served as a clinical member of the National Association for Research and Treatment of Homosexuality, a scientific-sounding group rife with scientific trappings and vocabulary. Their website includes testimonials of men who, through the use of reparative therapy and religion, have "overcome" their same-sex attractions. I have no doubt those stories are true. Group dynamics and religious faith are powerful social forces.
But where is the engagement with "ex ex-gays," their heartrending stories of emotional abuse, the systematic denial of their ability to live a whole, integrated life? Where is the study that measures how many people who attempt reparative therapy are actually helped? Where are the longitudinal follow-up studies that measure relapse rates? What are we supposed to make of the enormous body of scientific evidence against it?
Are we supposed to believe the infamous gay agenda has somehow co-opted the entire psychological community? I had no idea homosexuals in America had so much power. You would think they'd use it to avoid getting beaten up.
A few years ago, New Life Church Pastor Ted Haggard resigned after disclosure of his hiring a male prostitute from Denver. NARTH has a similar story. Anti-gay activist and NARTH affiliate George Rekers resigned when discovered traveling in Europe with a male prostitute from rentboy.com. According to Rekers, he needed someone to tote his luggage. As a bonus, he got to share the Gospel with his new young friend. Honest, you can't make this stuff up.
Rekers has graduate degrees from UCLA and a stint at Harvard on his resume. He has plenty of scientific credentials. What he lacks is integrity. What does an anti-gay activist with integrity look like? We have numerous examples. John Paulk, founder of the "Love Won Out" ministry launched by Focus on the Family 15 years ago, has since issued a heartbreaking apology for the harm caused by reparative therapy. Exodus International ministry preached the gospel of reparative therapy for more than three decades. After acquiring "Love Won Out" from Focus, it closed this year. Its leaders said this:
"Although we acted in good faith, we have since witnessed the isolation, shame, fear, and loss of faith that [our] message creates . We encourage current leaders of ex-gay programs to have the courage to evaluate [them]. We ask them to consider the long-term effects of their ministry."
Dr. Rosebush has an opportunity to follow their example. He has the absolute right to his views on homosexuality, whatever they may be. But if he is to be affiliated at a military institution promised to the nation to embody integrity, that has to include integrity of intellect. If he continues to advocate reparative therapy, using the cover of his professional position to masquerade as a scientist, he should find employment elsewhere. Someplace where intellectual mendacity is a job requirement.
Barry Fagin is a 2009 Thomas Jefferson Award recipient from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation and a regular contributor to The Gazette's opinion pages. His views are his alone. Readers can contact Dr. Fagin at email@example.com.