The American Family Association accuses the Young Women’s Christian Association of promoting “homosexual indoctrination” and its new leader of promoting teen-age sex-change operations.

Before resorting to poorly substantiated paranoia, AFA gets off to a bad start — calling Patricia Ireland both a lesbian and a bisexual, confusing cross-dressing with transgender living, and calling the quaint old National Organization for Women a “radical” feminist group. (I think most American women today feel that NOW is behind the times.)

If we overlook AFA’s initial sloppiness (and we shouldn’t), the AFA still does not offer any evidence of “indoctrination” (which some readers equate with pedophilia) and teen sex changes. It misstates the mission of GenderPAC and makes incredible claims, but without offering any sources for those claims or offering a means for readers to find out for themselves.

It’s annoying to have to do the religious right’s research for them, but I do it anyway. A search of Google turns up about 255 references to GenderPAC, transgender issues, and teen-agers. Most of these links relate efforts to stop violence and acts of murder against transgender teen-agers. I don’t find anyone promoting teen sex-change operations.

Randy Thomas, Exodus spokesman, steps his toes into this matter.

I asked a friend if calling for Ireland to step down or asking the YWCA to take Christian out if it’s name was the conservative equivalent to the gay attack against Santorum. They said there is a large distinguishing difference. Ireland is now leading a Christian organization, or at least one founded as a Christian organization and will misrepresent what Christian means. Santorum does not assume or have a position of representing the gay community directly or indirectly.

Neither Randy nor his friend (nor AFA) stop to ask how the YWCA sees Ireland fulfilling Christian goals. This unwillingness to ask before criticizing is a character flaw common among political activists.

And the reasoning around Santorum is bizarre. Santorum claims to represent “the” Christian viewpoint, not a gay viewpoint. Santorum has received substantial criticism, notably from Christians unaffiliated with the religious right.

I’m uncomfortable with Patricia Ireland’s support for abortion on demand, and I question whether and how Ireland arrives at a three-way relationship within a Christian context. But I fail to see how AFA’s approach does anything except damage the credibility of AFA. And I wish Randy would explain his own reasons for opposing Ireland, instead of assuming those reasons are obvious.

To be fair, Thomas expresses a tentativeness and hesitation in his reaction to Ireland. There’s something to be said for thinking and praying through issues a little more thoroughly.

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