APA panel, to have included Mohler, cancelled after gay bishop drops out

WASHINGTON (BP)--An American Psychiatric Association symposium that was to feature speakers from both sides of the debate on homosexuality -- including R. Albert Mohler Jr. -- was cancelled, apparently due to lack of cooperation from those in the homosexual community.

The event was to have taken place Monday (May 5) during the annual meeting of the APA in Washington but was cancelled May 1, the same week that Episcopal Bishop V. Gene Robinson, the denomination's first openly homosexual bishop, dropped out. The symposium was to have examined the religious dimension of the debate about homosexuality and therapy.

In addition to Mohler and Robinson, the symposium was to have had Warren Throckmorton, associate professor of psychology at Grove City College, a Christian school in Pennsylvania, and David Scasta, a homosexual who formerly was president of the Association of Gay and Lesbian Psychiatrists.

"I would have liked the opportunity to present this in a calm but respectful dialogue what millions of Christians believe about the reality of homosexuality and the power of the Gospel," Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, was quoted as saying in The Washington Times. "It is clear which side of the argument [was] unwilling to show up for this conversation. It is a tragedy the APA cannot hold a conversation on a matter of this importance without facing such internal political pressure that it becomes impossible for this symposium to be held."

Robinson told the Washington Blade, a homosexual newspaper, that he backed out of the discussion because he believed conservative groups, including Focus on the Family, were going to use this event to draw credibility to the so-called reparative therapy movement."

"It became clear to me in the last couple of weeks that just my showing up and letting this event happen ... lends credibility to that so-called therapy," Robinson said.

Scasta, who organized the event, expressed frustration. In the Association of Gay and Lesbian Psychiatrists' February newsletter, Scasta said he hoped the symposium would help "both sides of the religious divide to seek common ground" while remaining committed "to honesty in the scientific research about homosexuality." That, though, didn't happen.

"It was [to be] a way to have a balanced discussion about religion and how it influences therapy," Scasta told The Times after the symposium was cancelled. "We wanted to talk rationally, calmly and respectfully to each other, but the external forces made it into a divisive debate it never intended to be."

Mohler and Robinson separately were to have spoken on the topic "A Pastoral Approach for Gay & Lesbian People Troubled by Homosexuality" -- and no doubt reached drastically different conclusions. Throckmorton was to have discussed "Practice Framework for Managing Sexual Identity Conflicts," and Scasta was to have talked about "The Psycho-Social Bases of Theologies that Compel Efforts to Change Sexual Orientation: The Psychiatric Ethical Response." A moderator would have guided any discussion.

In 1973 the APA famously removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. In 2005 the organization officially endorsed the legalization of "gay marriage."

Wayne R. Besen, a homosexual and head of the organization Truth Wins Out, applauded the symposium's cancellation, saying on his website "it gave the wrong impression that the American Psychiatric Association endorsed 'ex-gay' therapy, when, in fact, the organization soundly rejects such therapies."

Scasta, though, said the symposium "was supposed to reduce polarization, which has hurt the gay community."

"They are not willing to do missionary work and talk to the enemy," he told The Times. "They have to be willing to listen and change themselves."


Compiled by Michael Foust, assistant editor of Baptist Press.

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