The CNN Belief Blog ran a report entitled "When Christians become a 'hated minority'" that gave a platform for falsehoods spread by anti-gay activists, including Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council, while claiming the false identity of victim.
The reporter, John Blake, includes Sprigg's claims about LGBT people without immediate fact checking. If he had, readers would know that most of the following is simply factually inaccurate:
Sprigg, a senior fellow for policy studies at the council, wrote in a council pamphlet that homosexual men are more likely to engage in child sexual abuse than are straight men. He also wrote that gay men are also afflicted with a higher rate of sexually transmitted diseases and mental illness as well.
Sprigg says he does not believe homosexuality is a choice and that “personal testimonies" and "clinical experience” show that some people “can and do change from gay to straight.”
When citing Peter Sprigg as a source, the media needs to keep in mind the outrageous statements that he makes against the LGBT community. He is not simply one who wishes to protect LGBT people from harm, as he claimed in the story. If you look at his past comments on GLAAD's Commentator Accountability Project, you can see that he wishes to actively punish, imprison, and deport LGBT people. It's hard for him to complain about the sting of the word 'bigot' when he has said (and attempted to enact) some horrible things about LGBT people, like the following:
- “I would much prefer to export homosexuals from the United States than to import them into the United States, because we believe that homosexuality is destructive to society.” (See 0:11 mark here.)
- Says he wants to see being gay punished by law: “I think that the Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas, which overturned the sodomy laws in this country, was wrongly decided. I think there would be a place for criminal sanctions against homosexual behavior.”
- Says “The most effective way of reducing teen suicide attempts is not to create a 'positive social environment' for the affirmation of homosexuality. Instead, it would be to discourage teens from self-identifying as gay, lesbian, or bisexual."
If Sprigg, or other anti-LGBT activists, are going to complain that they don't like being called 'bigot,' then they need to understand that LGBT people don't like being called 'abomination,' 'deviant,' or perhaps worst, 'child molester.' And yet this claim continues to be made without challenge. It's the same claim that underlies keeping the anti-gay policy of the Boy Scouts, as well as supporting the firing of LGBT teachers like Carla Hale of Ohio.
When a false claim is being made, it is the responsibility of the journalist to challenge it. It's a matter of facts. Not an opinion to balance with a quote from someone else later in the story. By printing untrue claims, even with a response from a pro-LGBT advocate a few paragraphs down, CNN is perpetuating falsehoods.
The other major problem was that the overall frame of the story is the old 'gay vs. religion' frame, which is a completely false dichotomy. Christians are not and will not become a 'persecuted minority' as LGBT people gain acceptance, because there is no limit on acceptance. In fact, Christians are some of those who are both accepting LGBT people and are LGBT people themselves. This report doesn't challenge Sprigg and Carter on the notion that Christians are actually accepting and affirming their LGBT friends and family. GLAAD's 'Missing Voices' report demonstrates that anti-LGBT voices often represent religion when speaking about LGBT issues, with few LGBT-affirming religious voices.
Sprigg also used Jason Collins and Chris Broussard as an example of how Christians are ignored while LGBT people are 'celebrated'. What is overlooked in this story (and in many stories about Jason Collins that tries to go down this 'gay vs. religion' frame) is that Jason Collins also came out as a Christian. No one is celebrating Collins' faith, especially not Broussard, who stated that Collins cannot be a Christian by virtue of being gay.
So why is the reality of gay Christian people overlooked in these 'gay vs. religion' stories? Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center is great at pointing out the lies that Peter Sprigg says about LGBT people. But he is speaking representing a secular organization against an organization that highly plays up its 'Christian' identity.
GLAAD reached out to CNN to address the problematic piece. We were able to speak with the reporter, John Blake. He was able to understand why false claims needed to be immediately challenged by the reporter. We will also continue to work with CNN to highlight the voices of LGBT and pro-LGBT people of faith.