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Catholic leader’s conspiracy theory: The US is ‘mass producing LGBT people’

Catholic leader’s conspiracy theory: The US is ‘mass producing LGBT people’

  • Bill Donohue takes real statistics and adds a dose of wacko.
Catholic League President Bill Donohue.

The leader of the Catholic League, Bill Donohue, has come up with a bizarre theory that the US is ‘mass producing LGBT people’.

He argues that ‘liberals’ and those with no religious affiliation are ‘more susceptible to LGBT propaganda’. That, he says, is what is making more people LGBT+.

Donohue uses new research from the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) on LGBT+ people to argue his case.

However, he has found a way to twist the figures into a strange cultural conspiracy theory.

The research found that younger people are more likely to identify as LGBT+ than older people. Moreover, it said those who are LGBT+ are less likely to be attached to a religion and less likely to live in the South.

‘Indoctrination’

Writing on the Catholic League website Donohue says:

‘What these findings suggest is that to a large extent the LGBT community is a cultural phenomenon, not a biological one. How else to explain the disparities?

‘Take age. Why is there an inverse relationship between age and transgender identity, meaning the older the person the less likely he is to be transgender? To put it differently, why are those who identify as transgender mostly young people?

‘Young people have been indoctrinated into thinking that being a member of the LGBT community is at least a value-neutral attribute, and may even be cool.’

He goes on to quote Pope Francis, who has repeatedly attacked trans people. Donohue says:

‘As Pope Francis has said, there is a “nasty” tendency in schools to “indoctrinate” children, teaching that our sex can be chosen and changed.

‘This is doing a disservice to young people and it shows up in high rates of depression and suicide in this segment of the population.’

Donohue also claims that people with no religious affiliation are more separated from their cultural and social environment. This, he argues, makes them ‘more susceptible to LGBT propaganda’.

He adds: ‘It is not devout Christian young people who are at war with human nature – it is secular-minded kids who reject the idea of nature and nature’s God.

‘Rootlessness explains why the West has the highest proportion of LGBT people and the South has the least.

‘Southerners are more anchored in tradition and religion than any other part of the country, while those on the west coast are the most likely to see tradition and religion as constraining, thus leaving them more susceptible to experimentation.’

The rational explanation

Donohue also seems to believe that people are Democrats or Republicans first, and then choose to become LGBT+, rather than their sexuality and gender identity being innate and they pick a political party based on who treats them with respect. He says:

‘As to be expected, Democrats, most of whom are liberals, are more likely to be a part of the LGBT community than Republicans, most of whom are conservatives, proving once again the role of cultural values.’

Of course, there are also rational explanations for the statistical differences.

Many young people now find it easier to come out – including to themselves – than previous generations.

Likewise, those in more liberal states may find it easier to be themselves than those living in more conservative communities. Moreover, many LGBT+ people choose to move to big cities to find their community and escape bigotry.

Similarly, LGBT+ people are more likely to find liberal political parties attractive. And many turn away from religion because faith groups don’t accept or support them. Equally, being part of an anti-LGBT+ faith group can make it far harder to come out.

Unlike Donohue’s theory, other research into the community supports these explanations.

‘Being an LGBT person is difficult enough’

However, the faulty analysis and homophobia is not out of character for Donohue.

On the one hand, he has consistently attacked same-sex marriage.

Meanwhile he dismissed concerns about pedophile priests in the Catholic Church as ‘hysterical’ and called the victims ‘miscreants’.

So perhaps it is not surprising that he concludes his conspiracy theory with a comment which shows no critical thinking or reflexivity. In it, he also refers to trans and non-binary people with the offensive and misleading term ‘the sexually confused’. Donohue says:

‘Being an LGBT person is difficult enough (eg, they suffer from high rates of depression and suicide), and this is especially true of the sexually confused (a male who thinks he is female and vice versa). That is why attempts to culturally mass produce them are pernicious.’

Of course, what is truly pernicious is spreading LGBT+ hate and then blaming the victims for it.

Damn statistics

What is less clear is how much influence Donohue actually has.

He has previously quoted the membership of his Catholic League as 350,000. And media covering the league often refer to the same figure, which Wikipedia also quotes.

However that membership number is certainly out of date. And research by Catholics for Choice indicates it may also be wildly wrong.

It says Donohue has previously admitted that 200,000 of these ‘members’ are people who have donated to the organization at some point but aren’t card-carrying members.

Furthermore, it says Donohue claims 140,000 members who contribute regularly. But he counts every contribution as one and one-half members on the assumption that many ‘members’ are couples.

That would leave a true membership of about 94,000, just 27% of the figure people usually quote.

What the research actually says

Despite Donohue’s comments, the survey from the Public Religion Research Institute is actually good news for the LGBT+ community.

It shows most Americans support LGBT+ equality measures including nondiscrimination protections and same-sex marriage. For the first time this year, the survey indicates the majority of US seniors support marriage equality.

Moreover, it indicates that young people are now feeling able to come out in record numbers. Nearly half (47%) of Americans who identify as LGBT are aged 18 to 29.

Meanwhile, while white culture still dominates the LGBT+ community, people of color are far more likely to identify as LGBT+. For example, Hispanic Americans make up 16% of the overall population but 21% of the LGBT+ population.

You can read more about the PRRI study and its results here.