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Baptists criticize implication that adult-child sex may not be harmful

ATLANTA (BP)–Southern Baptists overwhelmingly approved a resolution criticizing the American Psychological Association (APA) for implying in its journal, “Psychological Bulletin,” that adult-child sex may not be harmful and may be positive for so-called “willing” children.
“Psychological Bulletin,” with a circulation of about 6,000, is distributed mainly to academic psychologists. It created a firestorm with its report titled, “A Meta-Analytic Examination of Assumed Properties of Child Sexual Abuse Using College Samples.”
The article has drawn considerable criticism from conservatives such as radio talk show host Laura Schlessinger, the Family Research Council and House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Texas).
The Family Research Council reported that the North American Man/Boy Love Association, a group that promotes casual sex between boys and men, mentioned the study positively on its Internet site.
Also, David Spiegel, a psychiatrist at Stanford University told The New York Times the study had serious methodological flaws and that the researchers “use meta-analysis the way a drunk uses a lamppost — for support, rather than illumination.”
Wiley Drake, pastor of First Southern Baptist Church, Buena Park, Calif., who proposed the resolution, said, “I could see it being used as an excuse to get a child molester off. A defense attorney could say, ‘Yes my client had sex with this 8-year-old boy, but the child was willing and besides, the APA has written that sex between an adult and child is not as harmful as they previously thought.’”
The resolution acknowledges and affirms the APA for subsequently clarifying its position over the journal article and issuing its own public resolution opposing child sexual abuse.
It also calls on the APA and other professional organizations to “exercise appropriate editorial discretion in the future by refusing to publish studies or reports which attempt to normalize or legitimize immoral behavior, including adult-child sex.”
The resolution states, “the Bible declares that children are precious gifts from God and are ‘an heritage to the Lord’ (Psalm 127:3) and parents are called by God to rear their children ‘in the nurture and admonition of the Lord’ (Eph. 6:4).
“The spiritual, physical, mental and emotional well-being of children is our sacred duty and no civilization can long survive without protecting and nurturing its children,” it continues.
The resolution goes on to say that Southern Baptists “affirm the biblical witness and commit ourselves afresh to protecting our children against sexual abuse and other assaults. We repudiate and denounce every suggestion that sexual relationships between adults and children may not be harmful or may be positive for so-called ‘willing’ children. We call upon our elected and appointed officials to reject and condemn, in the strongest positive terms, in both written and verbal form, any suggestion that sexual relations between children and adults are anything but abusive, destructive, exploitive, reprehensible and punishable by law.”
The resolution expressed support for policymakers and law enforcement officials who enforce laws against pedophilia, molestation and other forms of sexual abuse.
It concluded by encouraging “those who are victims of sexual abuse to seek appropriate spiritual counseling in order to find the support and strength they need to begin the process of healing from their terrible ordeal” and that Southern Baptists “commit ourselves to pray and work toward the creation of safe communities for all children.”
In response to the outpouring of criticism about the article, the APA announced earlier in June it is taking measures to insure that “journal editors will fully consider the social policy implications of articles on controversial topics.”
APA President Raymond D. Fowler told DeLay in a letter that the organization “has always condemned the sexual abuse of children” and does not support “the ‘normalization’ or decriminalization of any form of sexual relations between adults and children.”

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  • Don Hinkle