In a June 9 interview on the Christian TV program The 700 Club, Pat Robertson used his platform as a televangelist to promote a hurtful and disproven myth that being gay is caused by sexual abuse.
In responding to a question from a Christian mother of a gay son, Robertson stated that people are not born gay:
TERRY MEEUWSEN (co-host): This is Theresa. This is difficult. She says, "How should we, as parents of a homosexual son, handle the ongoing challenges facing us, such as staying true to our faith and following the commandment to 'love your neighbor as yourself'? This is very difficult for us."
ROBERTSON: Well, first of all, he's not your neighbor. He's your son; that's a different thing. You owe him, you know, advice and counsel and guidance. You're his parent. First of all, you didn't say how old he is. Secondly, I am not at all persuaded that so-called homosexuals are homosexuals because of biological problems. There may be a very few, but there are so many that have been made homosexuals because of a coach or a guidance counselor or some other male figure who has abused them and they think there's something wrong with their sexuality. So you need to get deep into why he is what he is, instead of just saying, "Well, he's a homosexual so how do I handle him, and how do I be Christian?" Well, I think you ought to tell him, "Listen, son, you know, here's what the Bible says about this, and it's called an abomination before God, so I've got to tell you the truth because I love you." That's what I think. All right, what else?
Robertson, host of The 700 Club, went on to tell the woman that she needs to "rescue" her son from going to hell.
These types of remarks, in addition to perpetuating misconceptions and fears, only divide LGBT people from their families and faith traditions, sending a harmful message that can affect the happiness, well being and safety of young LGBT people.
While Robertson has a long history of anti-gay statements, it is important to note that his outlandish opinions of the LGBT community are not shared or reiterated by all in the faith world. Jeff Lutes, Executive Director of Soulforce, released the following statement in response to Robertson's remarks:
As a therapist, it is hard for me to believe that there are still so many who refuse to even consider the growing body of social science research on this subject. Robertson ought to be deeply ashamed of himself for giving the mother who wrote him, and his television viewers, such misguided, erroneous, and dangerous advice. I hope this young man's parents will ignore Robertson and seek more reputable information - his very life just might depend on it.
EqualityVA also released a statement:
For years, Robertson has been toting the same tired message that being GLBT is a dysfunction, likely caused by something traumatic in a GLBT person's life. The overwhelming truth, supported time and again, is that most GLBT people have normal childhoods and are living healthy lives. Abuse is no more or less prevalent in the GLBT community than it is in the straight community. At the end of the day, the most prevalent trauma that GLBT people endure in life is the social discrimination they receive at the hands of misinformed people like Robertson.
A growing number of faith leaders have been rallying behind the LGBT community especially in support of anti-discrimination and marriage equality laws. Massachusetts ministers even released a video through The Empire State Pride Agenda to debunk all the myths surrounding marriage equality legislation. Recent polls have also shown that there is increasing support for equality of LGBT among people of faith.
To find out more on all the great work that faith leaders are doing in support of LGBT people, visit GLAAD's Religion, Faith and Values page.