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Notre-Dame’s Christian Smith: a Lying, Gay-Bashing Bigot

500px-NotreDameSeal.svgChristian Smith works on the Sociology of Religion at Notre-Dame University, which school officially calls for life-long chastity for its gay, but not for its heterosexual students.

On the Chronicle of Higher Education’s website on July 23, 2012, Smith published an attempted defense of Mark Regnerus’s anti-gay hit piece from “The New Family Structures Study.” If you look in the middle of Smith’s article now, you see him purporting to make “full disclosure” by saying that he was the Chair for Regnerus’s dissertation. However, if you look at the bottom of the article, you see that the Chronicle editors say a change was made on July 30, 2012, and that an earlier version of the piece claimed that Smith was not Regnerus’s dissertation chair. What actually happened there – (and I have the saved e-mails to prove it) — was that in his originally-published article in support of Regnerus, Notre-Dame’s Christian Smith lied by stating explicitly that he was not Regnerus’s dissertation chair. I knew that he was, and sent the Chronicle the documentation demonstrating that. The editors then made the change, but make no mistake about it; Smith was deliberately misleading the public about his relationship with Regnerus, with whom over the course of many years he has co-authored numerous papers and organized numerous academic events. At the time, I also contacted Notre-Dame’s P.R. department to complain that Smith had lied to the public about his relationship with Regnerus. The e-mail I eventually received from Notre-Dame said that Smith “thanked me” for reminding him that he had chaired Regnerus’s dissertation. Honk a clown horn, please.

Of course, as is known, Regnerus is still deliberately attempting to mislead the public about his relationship with his study’s funders. In both his June, 2012 and November 2012 papers from the “New Family Structures Study,” Regnerus lies by saying that his funders were not at all involved in his study design, data analysis, et cetera. Together with W. Bradford Wilcox — a Regnerus funding agency representative thoroughly documented as having masterminded the “New Family Structure Study” with an anti-gay slant for anti-gay-rights political uses — Smith signed a letter of support for Regnerus under the banner of Baylor University, vouching for the Regnerus paper’s methodology through lies about its methodology as well as through lies about the methodologies and findings of other studies.

800px-University_of_Notre_Dame_Golden_DomeWhat kind of lies? Well, for example, the Baylor signers gave as an example of other studies that allegedly yielded inferior child outcomes for gay parents vis-à-vis heterosexual parents a study by Daniel Potter. Meanwhile in documentable reality, Potter wrote into his paper that the differences between gay and straight parents’ children in his study were “nonsignificant net of family transitions.” Is that the claim Regnerus makes in his paper, that the differences he found between children of homosexual and heterosexual parents were “nonsignificant”? No, that is not the claim Regnerus makes. Yet, Smith tells the public that the Potter paper “parallels” Regnerus’s findings. Baylor University forbids “homosexual behavior.” Its official policy states that it is “expected that Baylor students will not participate in advocacy groups which promote understandings of sexuality that are contrary to biblical teaching.” What that means is that a bunch of gay-bashing sociologists of religion with zero acceptance of the scientific view of homosexuality signed a letter full of lies in support of the anti-gay liar Mark Regnerus. We must pause to think exactly what it means that representatives of a sub-specialty – The Sociology of Religion – signed their names in support of an anti-gay paper that purports to, but does not actually study young adult children raised by same-sex parents.

In his Chronicle article – titled “An Academic Auto-da-Fé” — Smith makes claims for Regnerus’s data and paper that are unsupported by the data. Smith refused to return e-mails and phone calls asking him to explain his apparently incorrect public statements about the “New Family Structures Study” data and Regnerus’s paper. Of particular note is that in his article, Smith vouched for the integrity of Knowledge Networks, the data collection firm Regnerus used. The problem is, though, that – (as we know from documentation had through Freedom of Information Act requests) – Knowledge Networks itself told Regnerus that its Knowledge Panel alone would not be sufficient to a large random national sample of young adult children raised by same-sex parents. Regnerus nonetheless lies to the public by fraudulently alleging that his sample had only through Knowledge Network’s Knowledge Panel was adequate to making statistical inferences about the entire population of gay people’s children in the U.S. Smith thus has joined Regnerus in making claims for the Knowledge Panel that Knowledge Networks itself told Regnerus were not true.

Significantly, Knowledge Networks told this reporter that it has no objections to any of its Regnerus-study-related communications being released through Freedom of Information Act requests. By contrast, Regnerus, Wilcox, Wright and others involved in the anti-gay hoax fight tooth and nail against FOIA requests.

Smith’s title for his Chronicle article – “An Academic Auto-da-Fé” – was exceedingly inappropriate as the Spanish Inquisition used autos-da-fé to enforce conformity with Catholic Church doctrine. By contrast, the academics and journalists scrutinizing the genesis and publication of the “New Family Structures Study” uncovered that before data collection for the study occurred, Wilcox and Regnerus took Witherspoon money, traveled to Colorado in August, 2011 and spent a whole day discussing study promotions with the anti-gay religious bigot Glenn Stanton of Focus on the Family. Regnerus’s “Social Science Research” journal editor, James Wright of the University of Central Florida allowed Wilcox – and two others with conflicts of interest – to peer review the Regnerus submission. None of the peer reviewers were trained or experienced in LGBT sciences generally and still less in the esoteric field of gay parents’ child outcomes. Yet, in his Chronicle article, Smith states that the Regnerus paper was peer reviewed. He should tell that one to the Horse Marines.

Smith also mentions that Regnerus’s editor Wright “stands behind” the Regnerus paper. Wright’s gross editorial misconduct in publishing the Loren Marks, Regnerus and associated papers is well-documented elsewhere, as are Wright’s motivations massively inappropriate to a science journal. Interestingly, on July 23, 2012, Smith e-mailed Wright a link to his Chronicle article, along with additional commentary inappropriately bashing gay parents, an e-mail that Wright then forwarded to his UCF Sociology Department Chair Jana Jasinski and to Amy Donley, who has been involved in various capacities in Wright’s journal and department.

Of late, Smith has joined Regnerus and other political gay-bashers in a noxious effort called “The Austin Institute,” which appears to be The Witherspoon Institute South, complete with cooperation from the kingpin political gay-basher and National Organization from Marriage founder Robert George. Although in his auto-da-fé article, Smith said “I am not a conservative,” he seemingly has never publicly voiced support for LGBT equality. As of publication time, the lying, scheming Christian Smith of Notre-Dame University had not responded to our request to know whether he supports LGBT equality. The public record strongly suggests that he does not.



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5 Responses to Notre-Dame’s Christian Smith: a Lying, Gay-Bashing Bigot

  1. Hinageshi

    August 28, 2013 at 10:44 am

    “Adolescent socialization and avoiding trouble:
    A perspective on religious influences”

    Doctoral dissertation by Mark Daniel Regnerus, submitted to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2000.

    Advisor: Professor Christian Smith,
    Reader: Glen H. Elder Jr.,
    Reader: Professor Guang Guo.

  2. Truth

    August 27, 2013 at 6:31 am

    Here is the original version of the article:

    “(Full disclosure: I was on the faculty in Regnerus’s department and advised him for some years, but was not his dissertation chair.) “

    • Scott Rose

      August 27, 2013 at 10:25 am

      Exactly. Is it at all credible that Christian Smith would have “forgotten” that he chaired Regnerus’s dissertation? Look at Smith’s own C.V. Since the time Regnerus earned his Ph.D., they have frequently collaborated on papers and events, including on a Sociology of Religion paper that won a prize. I am pointing out that that heavy additional post-doc collaboration with Regnerus is something else that Smith should have disclosed in his “Auto-da-fe” article. Smith might also have disclosed his connections to Regnerus’s funders. It’s not a mere coincidence that in their new “Austin Institute” gay bashing endeavor, Smith is involved with NOM founder Robert George and with Regnerus. Perhaps even worse is that Smith signed the Baylor letter together with Brad Wilcox — who had a fiduciary conflict of interest, designed the study, planned promotions of it in anti-gay-rights contexts before data collection occurred, and was permitted to peer review the Regnerus paper. Smith is a fine one to be lecturing journalists — as he does in his “Auto-da-fe” piece, while he himself and those he associates with are trampling the norms and ethics of academic propriety.

  3. Scott Rose

    August 26, 2013 at 8:55 pm

    In case some other readers are unaware of the historical background “etseq” mentions in his comment above:

    At the link below is the full text of the “Reichskonkordat,” the political treaty between the Vatican and Adolf Hitler. At the time this treaty was signed, the anti-Jewish racial laws were already in force in Nazi Germany:

    Here is an example of what is in the treaty:

    Article 3
    In order to foster good relations between the Holy See and the German Reich, an apostolic nuncio will reside in the capital of the German Reich and an ambassador of the German Reich at the Holy See.

  4. etseq

    August 26, 2013 at 8:09 pm

    Of course he won’t respond – he is the ring leader of this little cult of right wingers – most of them out of UNC. Smith himself never dirties his hands – you won’t find any public remarks of his about gay rights – I have checked every news and journal database. But it is interesting to see what he really thinks in that private email where he suggests that instability is a function of being gay – that is gays are naturally promiscuous and break up all time ruining their kids lives. He has no data to support that but he doesn’t care – he doesn’t believe in data that contradicts the Roman Catholic Magisterium. Hence his embrace of “critical realism” where he rejects the fundamental methodology of science (naturalism) in favor of allowing theories that include supernatural causation. Hmmm, where have we heard that before? Oh yea, the Discovery Institute and its Intelligent Design Creationism. You would think Smith would be a little more sensitive when using metaphors about the Spanish Inquisition – which not only tortured and killed protestants but Jews as well. Considering how the Catholic Church aided and abetted the holocaust, you would think he would know better than to be so crass…