Last month I noted Mark Regnerus’ recent study on children who are raised by gay parents. Regnerus’ work has since proven to be very controversial because it does not paint a positive picture of children of gay parents. Even though it’s based on scientific methodology, it suggests conclusions that cut against the prevailing gay rights narrative. As a result, folks on the left have been calling for Regnerus’ head on a platter.
Yesterday, The Austin American-Statestman reported that the witch hunt is officially on. A gay blogger lodged a complaint with the President of the University of Texas, alleging that Regnerus had engaged in “scientific misconduct.” Other faculty from UT have piled on, and now the University has launched a formal investigation into the alleged “misconduct.”
This whole thing is outrageous on many levels. There is nothing untoward about this study. A group of social scientists—including Christian Smith, Rodney Stark, and Brad Wilcox—just released a statement today defending Regnerus’ work as scientifically credible. The push-back is coming simply because some people don’t like where the data led.
Normally studies like this one are vetted by the scholarly community in subsequent publications. But that is not good enough for the gay activists. The thought-police are out in full force not to counter Regnerus in print, but to destroy his career and reputation. They want him ostracized from the scientific community more generally and from the faculty of UT more specifically. Rod Dreher’s commentary on the whole situation is spot-on:
How is it that a blogger can write a letter to the president of the university lodging a very serious, potentially career-destroying professional complaint against a professor, and the university can turn around and effectively put the professor on trial? It’s not enough for Regnerus to be wrong, and his results disproved. He must be professionally destroyed for his thoughtcrime.
Whatever happens to Regnerus, the lesson to researchers at the University of Texas is that you should never, ever undertake any research related to homosexuality, unless you are prepared in advance to reach politically correct conclusions. Otherwise, your academic career could be at stake.
I think this is one more example of a very troubling trend. The cultural elites (and increasingly the broader populace) are becoming more and more intolerant of anyone who dissents from the prevailing gay rights narrative. It doesn’t matter who you are or how well-intentioned you are or how well you do your work. If you call the narrative into question, you will be regarded as morally retrograde and relegated to pariah status.
The social pressure to abandon a Christian sexual ethic is getting more intense. My mind is drawn to the discussion of these matters at the recent meeting of the leadership council of The Gospel Coalition. John Piper describes it this way:
The panelists were sober-minded about the future. One of them suggested that if the cultural battle is lost on the nature and meaning of marriage then there will never be a complete cave-in in this country. Twenty percent of the people will always oppose same sex marriage, and many will go to prison.
I think that is right. Ideas have consequences. At some point, the social pressure will transform into governmental pressure, and Christians will suffer. We will look back on moments like this one as one more step down the path of intolerance of Christian views. Mark Regnerus is in the crosshairs now, but it will be all of us before too long.