NARTH presents itself as a secular organization whose “primary goal is to make effective psychological therapy available to all homosexual men and women who seek change.” So then it would be reasonable to assume that the advisors of such a group would be qualified by their expertise in the field of psychological therapy. We might even go so far as to assume that any scientific advisor labeled as Ph.D. was a professional in a scientific field if not in psychology.

Not so.

Take, for example, Dr. Lawrence F. Burtoft, Ph.D.

Dr. Burtoft has quite other qualifications which make him a “scientific advisor” to NARTH. Dr. Burtoft is the Senior Fellow for Family, Church and Society Studies for Focus on the Family Institute. And as to his Doctorate,


* Ph.D. Religion – Social Ethics, University of Southern California

* M.Div.Talbot Theological Seminary

* B.A. Biblical Studies, Biola University

Yes, Dr. Bartoft is highly qualified to offer his scientific advice on matters of … religion.

Now I am one who puts great value on religion. I just don’t confuse it with science. But perhaps he has other assets he brings to NARTH (other than the obvious financial benefits).

Well…. sort of. Focus on the Family credits Bartoft as follows:

In 1994, he published Setting the Record Straight: What the Research Really Says About the Social Consequences of Homosexuality through the Public Policy division of Focus on the Family, and in 1996, “Principled Persuasion: Making Your Case in the Public Square,” in Reclaiming the Culture – How to Protect Your Family’s Future, Alan R. Crippen II, ed. (Colorado Springs: Focus on the Family-1995). He has presented papers for the Society of Christian Ethics and the Society of Christian Philosophers, as well as giving expert testimony before several state congressional committees on the issue of homosexuality. From 1993-1995 he presented the Community Impact Seminar for Focus on the Family, which dealt with Christian social involvement. From 1995-1997, along with John Eldredge, he presented the Crossroads Weekend, a retreat for couples focused upon intimacy with God, romance in marriage and purpose in life. His most recent publication is “A Rhetoric of Hope” in Same-Sex Matters: The Challenge of Homosexuality (Dallas, TX: Spence Publishing Co. – 2000).

So we learn that Dr. Burtoft can advise NARTH on religion-based anti-gay activism.

But having that “Doctor” in front of your name can be very convincing for those who don’t have the time or the inclination to find out what kind of doctor one is. And it’s so easy to be a primary source of medical or psychological information when one is a “doctor’. For example, the web is crawling with references to Burtoft’s medical expertise:

Anatomically, the unnatural act of anal intercourse is itself harmful, due to the fact that anal tissue is made up of cells that are highly absorbent, highly susceptible to disease and more likely to tear or rupture. The anus has a thin cellular wall, which makes it easier for infectious disease to penetrate the blood stream. And because of the difference between vaginal and anal wall structure, repeated exposure to sperm during anal intercourse has been shown to break down the body’s immune system, causing even more damage.

(while this sort of quote shows up variously, I didn’t buy the good doctor’s book to see if that is an exact quote or if his claim is based on science or on a divine vision. Anyone with this scholarly tome can feel free to correct me).

I’m not qualified to discuss anal or vaginal wall structure. But I’m hesitant to place too much reliance on the medical testimony of a doctor of Religion.

From the Box Turtle Bulletin we also find this lovely quote from Burtoft:

a child molester is 17 times more likely to be homosexual than heterosexual

Again this would be convincing coming from a “doctor” if indeed the doctor knew even the rudimentals of research, population, sample, and psychology. But being qualified at discussing Scripture from an orthodox perspective doesn’t provide those skills. (check out Jim Burroway’s clear refutation of Burtoft’s assertions).

After Berger’s advice to ridicule children, van den Aardweg’s calls to “stop” lesbians from raising children, Fitzgibbons’ confusion, Satinover’s codes hidden in the Bible, and Schoenewolf’s defense of slavery, perhaps it is too much to expect that NARTH have an advisor that is not colorful. But surely they can find scientific advisors that come from a scientific field.

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