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Regnerus (Handout photo)

Good deeds punished

Texas sociologist gets caught in an academic witch hunt

Issue: "School choice," Aug. 25, 2012

An important component of pro-homosexual propaganda is the notion that children raised by homosexuals turn out as well as children raised by heterosexuals-but University of Texas at Austin (UT) professor Mark Regnerus undercut that notion with a study published in June in the journal Social Science Research. (See "Less than ideal," June 30.)

Regnerus used one of the largest data sets ever amassed for such a study. He found that children raised by homosexual parents have had more problems than children raised by married heterosexual parents in virtually every one of more than 40 categories examined. When the children grow up, they have problems with impulse control, depression, and thoughts of suicide. They are more likely to need mental health therapy and identify as homosexual themselves. Regnerus concluded, "The empirical claim that no notable differences exist must go."

The study received nationwide media attention, and an immediate backlash from pro-homosexual quarters. Activist blogger Scott Rose complained in a June 21 letter to UT President Bill Powers that Regnerus' study made "gay people look bad, through means plainly fraudulent and defamatory." He also said the Witherspoon Institute and the Bradley Foundation, which provided $750,000 to fund the study, are "anti-gay political organization[s]."

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But Regnerus has defenders in the academic community. Byron Johnson, co-director of Baylor's Institute for Studies of Religion, decried the "witch hunt" and said, "Typically, when [academics] disagree with research, we do our own." Notre Dame sociologist Christian Smith argued in The Chronicle of Higher Education, "Whoever said inquisitions and witch hunts were things of the past? A big one is going on now. ... In today's political climate, and particularly in the discipline of sociology-dominated as it is by a progressive orthodoxy-what Regnerus did is unacceptable. It makes him a heretic, a traitor-and so he must be thrown under the bus."

Regnerus has a bus ticket-tenure-so he cannot readily be thrown under. Bob Woodberry, an untenured Christian professor also in the UT sociology department, did not have that protection, and last month he moved to Singapore: See "Into exile" in this issue.

Warren Cole Smith
Warren Cole Smith

Warren is vice president of mission advancement for The Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview and the host of WORLD Radio’s Listening In. Follow Warren on Twitter @WarrenColeSmith.


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