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A Letter from a Homosexual Man Angry that the Times Quoted Me--and My Response

by Robert A. J. Gagnon, Ph.D.


Five days after the New York Times article came out (“Gay and Evangelical, Seeking Paths of Acceptance,” Dec. 12, 2006; temporarily available on the web here), I received the following email:

From: []
Sent: Sun 12/17/2006 10:50 AM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: Message sent to New York Times reporter Neela Banerjee

Dear Ms Banerjee: 

The angigay bible bigot, Bob Gagnon, has made much of his inclusion in your article on "gay evangelicals." Rightwing outfits such as Americans for Truth located in Naperville, Illinois are engaged in much posting of his response to your Times article.  At a minimum, you have afforded them undeserved attention and, they hope, respectability. 

Now, I realize that unlike in western Europe, Canada and even parts of Latin America where religion has become increasingly irrelevant if not an actual laughing matter, religion continues to play a prominent role in the lives of many Americans. I find this regrettable, but it is a fact.  Yet, is it something that needs to be publicized, over and over again?  Specials on CNN, articles in the New York Times, cover stories on Time magazine? 

Moreover, I think there ought to be parameters that frame responsible reporting on a subject where the lives of human beings are being denigrated even if by seemingly learned seminary professors. Were a reporter to write an article on African Americans, Jews or women, would she or he seek out opinions of persons who advocate for denying equal civil rights to these people?  Would David Duke be solicited for comments on the rights of Black people? Would the Protocols of the Elders of Zion be cited as an authoritative description of Jews in America? 

Gagnon and his ilk in the plethora of "family values" organizations and allied Christian "ministries," claim that gays can become straight through prayer to Jesus.  Even though this point of view is attacked as harmful by the national associations of psychiatrists and psychologists, people like Gagnon continue to be sought out by reporters for respected national publications like the Times. 

Gagnon and his ilk cite prohibitions in their holy book to justify denying equal civil rights to a whole class of people.  Yet, when Islamic "militants" cite their holy book in support of discrimination, they are dismissed as "terrorists."  Is there a double standard operating here? 

It is irritating to say the least that national publications and other mainstream media continue to treat gays like myself as objects perhaps deserving of second class citizenship, by citing bigots like Robert Gagnon who preach hate and discrimination behind a facade of righteousness.




Here was my response:


From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Sunday, December 17, 2006 1:00 PM
Subject: RE: Message sent to New York Times reporter Neela Banerjee

Dear Mr. Schwartz, 

Sadly, your email is itself an instance of hate and bigotry. You cannot promote compassion and intelligent thought from such a communication.  

The comparison of an impulse to do something with ethnicity or gender--conditions that are 100% heritable, completely impervious to cultural influence, primarily non-behavioral, and therefore necessarily benign--is unreasonable since even you would have to admit that there are many biologically based impulses that cannot be approved. Your entire argument is predicated on the false assumption that moral conclusions can be drawn from the mere fact of biological causation when, in reality, all impulses (good and bad) can be traced, at some level, to biology.  

It  is also clear that you know little about my work or my views when you insinuate that I think that anyone with ingrained homoerotic desires who prays to Jesus will have every vestige of such desire removed. As for my academic credentials--you refer to me as "seemingly learned"--they speak for themselves (Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton Seminary). And, may I ask, what are your academic credentials for assessing my own? 

Love in Christian faith always desires the best for someone, which is not necessarily (indeed often is not) giving people what they want, when they want it, and with whom they want it. Any parent knows this. I do not support any hateful actions toward homosexual persons--including the endorsement of homosexual practice, which in the end turns out to be hate for those beset by homoerotic desires. 

I do not hate you. I really want the best for you. But it is futile to engage in discussion with you when you have not done the necessary homework to reason intelligently and lovingly on this important matter. Please do not contact me again until you can cease to be abusive and demonstrate that you have read widely.  

I hope that someday you will be able to get past your blind unreasoning hate, fueled by your self-interested misperceptions, to see that God's will for your life does not entail acting out on impulses that dishonor the integrity of your gendered self. Ultimately, we must all, as Jesus says, "take up our cross, deny ourselves, and lose our lives." For some this death to self will be particularly difficult in one area, for others in another area. But no one gets a pass. 


Robert A. J. Gagnon, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of New Testament

Pittsburgh Theological Seminary


Robert A. J. Gagnon, Ph.D., is a professor at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and author of The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics. He can be reached at



  © 2006 Robert A. J. Gagnon