A heatwave is hitting the northeast, yet I have chills running down my spine. This is because I read Southern Poverty Law Center’s latest Intelligence Report. It contains a noteworthy interview by SPLCs Evelyn Schlatter, that shreds University of Texas at Austin professor Mark Regnerus (pictured) for his July 2012 sham study that claimed LGBT parents were inferior.
When it came out, Truth Wins Out was immediately critical of the “study” and described it as “dollarship disguised as scholarship” because it was clear that anti-gay institutions were funding it. Indeed, Regnerus received almost $700,000 to conduct the study from the Witherspoon Institute, a conservative foundation that is vehemently against marriage equality and works with Robert George, one of the founders of the National Organization for Marriage. The Bradley Foundation, another conservative think tank, provided more than $60,000.
Additionally, growing evidence strongly suggests that Regnerus is a Christian fundamentalist who colluded with these anti-gay foundations to specifically time his study to undercut marriage equality as two key cases reached the United States Supreme Court.
The fraudulent Regnerus study was published in the journal Social Science Research, and received blistering criticism from LGBT advocates, most notably Scott Rose. Regnerus’ work was so shoddy, that more than 200 sociologists signed a letter to journal editor James Wright criticizing the study’s unprofessional methodology.
The SPLC interview is with Darren Sherkat, professor of sociology at Southern Illinois University and a member of the editorial board of Social Science Research. Following a wave of outrage generated by the publishing of this academic monstrosity, Sherkat was chosen to conduct an audit of the process of publishing the Regnerus study. SPLC says that he found “a study that is deeply methodologically flawed and a peer-review process that failed to identify significant problems.”
More important, however, is that this interview reveals that the Regnerus fraud is the tip of the iceberg. Sherkat told SPLC’s Schlatter that the study’s publication is part of a much larger trend in academia and the social sciences: the rise of conservative ideologues in whose tendentious studies are paid for by private sources and think tanks with a specific ideological axe to grind.
Truth Wins Out, has made a point of highlighting the research of Bruce Wilson and Rachel Tabachnik, who have warned of dangers presented by the 7 Mountains Mandate. (We have also researched this movement on our own, attended their rallies, and protested their events, such as when they tried to infiltrate Harvard.):
The Seven Mountains mandate instructs “Bible believing” Christians to seek control of seven key sectors of society: education, government, media, business, arts & entertainment, religion, and the family. The goal is for the church to gain control of those sectors, which are now occupied by what they believe to be “darkness”.
Mark Regnerus’ fraudulent impersonation of a legitimate scientist at University of Texas is Exhibit A in the nefarious Seven Mountains strategy to infiltrate education. The LGBT movement — and academia in general — must take active measures to root out imposters and ensure that the sciences are controlled by genuine, impartial researchers — not well-funded hucksters and hacks with furtive religious agendas. Highlights of the SPLC interview:
Sherkat says that Regnerus is biased and appears to be on a personal crusade:
This is Mark Regnerus you’re talking about. He’s believed this since he was a child. He thought that because he was a brilliant young conservative Christian that he could save Christianity from the evil forces of secularism, that he would become a prominent intellectual and slay the homosexual demons.
Sherkat claims the Regnerus study is worthless and that the UT professor is a disgrace to his profession:
When we talk about Regnerus, I completely dismiss the study. It’s over. He has been disgraced. All of the prominent people in the field know what he did and why he did it. And most of them know that he knew better. Some of them think that he’s also stupid and an ideologue. I know better. I know that he’s a smart guy and that he did this on purpose, and that it was bad, and that it was substandard.
Sherkat claims that sneaky Evangelicals are deliberately infiltrating academia — with the help of big money from right wing foundations. This coincides with a lack of funding for real scientists. The dangerous result is a dynamic where the only studies funded will come from religious academic poseurs:
There is in fact a movement to change the intellectual and cultural climate of academics. This has been going on for over 30 years. Look at things like James Davidson Hunter’s Evangelicalism: The Coming Generation, where he talks about the growth of these more intellectual conservative evangelical types in Christian colleges like Wheaton and Gordon and Calvin, which is Regnerus’ alma mater. They’ve actively courted the young, successful people in these colleges to become professors, to become intellectuals, and they support their careers.
One thing that’s disturbing to me about the Regnerus study is that Regnerus received a large amount of money from these foundations and this creates a very different scholarly and intellectual atmosphere. It creates a playing field that’s not level. Someone like Regnerus is now able to go out and buy his own data, if we’re to accept data of this quality.
Even if we were to say it’s high-quality data, he is able to get a million dollars’ worth of influence — he was able to generate that kind of funding from these conservative foundations in a way that other intellectuals are not able to do. All of the traditional sources of social scientific funding have dried up over the last 20 years and there’s nowhere to go to get money, but these guys have it. There are talks in Congress about cutting the entire social science budget at the National Science Foundation. That is chilling, because then we’ll be completely reliant on people like Mark Regnerus and Brad Wilcox [of the University of Virginia] and Christian Smith [of Notre Dame University] and people like that for our information about potentially crucial or controversial issues.
Sherkat says that Regnerus’ “study” has zero to do with the fitness of gay parents — even though that is how it is being touted by anti-gay activists.
The key measure of gay and lesbian parenting is simply a farce. The study includes a retrospective question asking if people knew if their mother or father had a “romantic” relationship with someone of the same sex when the respondent was under age 18. This measure is problematic on many levels.
Regnerus admits that just two of his respondents were actually raised by a same-sex couple, though I doubt that he can even know that, given his limited data. Since only two respondents were actually raised in gay or lesbian households, this study has absolutely nothing to say about gay parenting outcomes. Indeed, because it is a non-random sample, this study has nothing to say about anything.
My friends, I beg you to read the entire SPLC interview if you really want to learn what is going on. We must immediately take steps to bolster science and actively work to stop con artists who twist research to back their radical views. It is also imperative that we fully comprehend the lengths our foes will go to destroy us and deliberately misrepresent our lives. These immoral charlatans and theocrats often have no conscience, and certainly have no compunction about lying for the Lord.
If we expect to win — we will have to outsmart, out work, and even out fund our foes.