Sunday, January 22, 2006

CRC Grasping at Straws

Here's the letter that the Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum President sent to the Superintendent of Schools this month:
January 7, 2006

Dr. Jerry D. Weast
Superintendent of Schools, MCPS
Carver Educational Services Center
850 Hungerford Drive, Room 122
Rockville, MD 20850

Dear Dr. Weast:

On July 4, 2005 and again on August 26, 2005, we wrote you asking for a clear and unambiguous definition of the terminology “sexual variations” and “erotic techniques”. In our letter of July 4 we especially noted the importance of these terms in the new sex-ed curriculum your office has been preparing.

On September 20, 2005 your Chief of Staff, Brian Porter, responded to our requests by suggesting that our requests for clarification “should more properly be directed to the State Board of Education” (even though our letter of July 4 to you pointed out that the State Board had already been contacted and referred us back to the Montgomery County BOE).

Nevertheless, on October 20, 2005 we wrote to Dr. Nancy Grasmick, State Superintendent of Schools, to again ask for definitions of “sexual variations” and “erotic techniques”. Copies of that letter, the response we received from Dr. Grasmick dated November 15, 2005 and a copy of the Memorandum, referred to by Dr. Grasmick are attached.

As you can see, Dr. Grasmick places the burden of defining this terminology on the local school districts-i.e. your office.

This is not a ping-pong game and Montgomery County Public Schools risk serious embarrassment if they treat it as such. Parents cannot be expected to make an informed assessment of the sex-ed curriculum if your office is unwilling or unable to explain the meaning of key terminology defining the scope and content of the curriculum. Do not expect that such an ill defined curriculum will go unchallenged.

Our letter to you of July 4 was specific regarding the basis for our concerns. We repeat these concerns. The new sex-ed curriculum is required by COMAR to address “sexual variations”. COMAR also forbids teaching “erotic techniques”. Montgomery County parents need to know how you are going to handle this.

The State Board advises that it is up to the local school boards to define what these terms mean. So, in the context of the new MCPS sex-ed curriculum, how do you define “sexual variation” and “erotic techniques”, which is prohibited by COMAR.

These may be tough questions, but they are critical and need to be answered now!

Please kindly respond to us as soon as possible.


Michelle Turner
President, Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum

Nice. The Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum are grasping at straws. They want to build a case that ... whatever curriculum will be proposed ... is, I don't know what, teaching the wrong sexual variations? Or, even though they don't know what's in the next curriculum, they're just sure they'll be able to make a case that the schools are teaching "erotic techniques."

The way this has worked in the past is that they try to argue that mentioning "anal sex" is the same as teaching erotic techniques. And of course that is going to pretty much necessary in this day when 1.AIDS is primarily spread through anal sex and who take abstinence pledges practice anal instead of vaginal sex in order to remain "technical virgins." So they think they've gotcha with that "erotic techniques" thing. You've got to say something, but you can't.

That's one straw.

The other straw, the "sexual variations" definition, there's no telling where they think they're going with that. Maybe they'll try to make a case, as some nuts in other states have done, that the schools should teach about all the various paraphilias, thus making sex-ed so disgusting and so irrelevant that the whole subject gets dropped. Whatever, the state says to let the county decide what "sexual variations" means, and I think they already have an idea what will be covered -- mainly sexual identity and sexual orientation. The subject is pertinent to everyday life, it can be covered objectively and without prurience, and even if there is some cloudiness around the corners of the definition, there need not be any controversy about it.

To win either of these arguments in court, I think they'd have to prove that sexual identity and orientation are not sexual variations, and they'd have to prove that saying the words "anal sex" is a form of teaching erotic techniques, which is absurd. But that's all they've got.


Blogger Dana Beyer, M.D. said...

It seems Michelle Turner is still floundering because she doesn't know the meaning of two phrases: erotic techniques and sexual variations. That she doesn't know what erotic techniques means is absurd on the face of it. As the Supreme Court has famously remarked about obscenity, "I'll know it when I see it." But if she wants a definition, I suggest "any act on the part of one person to provide sexual pleasure to another." And I think that neither the teachers nor the students are interested in a course on erotic techniques.

As for sexual variations, this is both a smokescreen and a fair question. So I'll just provide my definition: the spectrum of variance in any and all aspects of the human being in issues relating to sex and gender.

These would include the spectrum of chromosomal and genetic differences, gender identity, sexual orientation, body morphology, hormonal system structure and function, brain sex, and the social expressions of sex and gender throughout human life.

As one can see, that's a pretty extensive listing, and one could study this one's entire life and still find new things to think about.

Of course, we all know what Ms. Turner wants --no recognition that there is anything but some ideal vanilla man and woman who are interested only in each other. They must be XY and XX, with a specific genetic makeup and expression, have the ideal body types with no variation in menstrual cycle or development of secondary sexual characteristics (I suppose in her mind all women must look like Barbie), and most importantly, these two distinct categories of human being must behave in ways proscribed for them by the Christian Bible as interpreted by the CRC. Any deviation from the above deserves punishment -- at a minimum, social ostracism and humiliation, denial of basic human rights and the protections of the Constitution.

January 22, 2006 10:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While Jim and Dana cackle on about what nefarious plot the evil CRC are trying to hatch now, the truth is Ms Turner's request for definitions is a reasonable one and MCPS ignores it at their electoral peril.

You two guys should try and stand up for the facts- not ambiguity. Dana's attempt to devise a definition is irrelevant. We, the voters, need to hear from an authoritative source so we can determine how much longer we want to grant them any authority.

January 23, 2006 3:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Any deviation from the above deserves punishment -- at a minimum, social ostracism and humiliation, denial of basic human rights and the protections of the Constitution."

This is typical misleading rhetoric from you, Dana. The purpose of government is not to protect people from social ostracism and humiliation. That's not to say anyone deserves it- it just not the place of government to get involved.

As far as basic human rights and Constitutional protections, everyone, including gays, have these in the United States. When you claim they don't, you are simply redefining the words to fit your agenda. Despicable.

January 23, 2006 3:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
anonymous said,As far as basic human rights and Constitutional protections, everyone, including gays, have these in the United States. When you claim they don't, you are simply redefining the words to fit your agenda. Despicable.
Yes anonymous you are despicable if you push the above as fact.


January 23, 2006 3:40 PM  
Blogger JimK said...


You will notice that I just corrected some misspellings in your comments.

If I see that sort of thing again I will delete your comment, regardless of its content.



January 23, 2006 3:41 PM  
Blogger Dana Beyer, M.D. said...

I may not be an authoritative source, Anon, but my definitions ARE authoritative. Present me with someone willing to say otherwise, and I'd be happy to debate them. I've had that standing offer since the beginning of this ruckus.

January 23, 2006 4:37 PM  
Blogger Dana Beyer, M.D. said...

Oh, Anon, and by the way, I did say that the question on sexual variations was a "fair question." Next time, try reading my posts before you respond with your usual inaccuracy.

January 23, 2006 9:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bush Says He Hasn't Seen 'Brokeback Mountain'

MANHATTAN, Kan. (Jan. 24) - Asked his opinion of the movie "Brokeback Mountain," President Bush hemmed and hawed.

"You would love it. You should check it out," a man in the audience told Bush Monday during a question and answer session at Kansas State University.

After some hesitation - and laughter in the audience - Bush said, "I'd be glad to talk about ranching, but I haven't seen the movie." The audience laughed some more, and Bush, who owns a ranch in Texas, allowed that, "I've heard about it."

"Brokeback Mountain" is a cowboy romance about two ranch-hand buddies who conceal a long homosexual affair from their families. The movie has won four Golden Globe prizes, including best picture honors in the drama category.

January 24, 2006 10:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Oh, Anon, and by the way, I did say that the question on sexual variations was a "fair question." Next time, try reading my posts before you respond with your usual inaccuracy."


Any way, then, that you could use your built-up goodwill over at MCPS and encourage them to provide an answer? It would be a useful element to a civil discussion about the matter.

Between you and me, the idea that a state law is to be interpreted by counties in any manner they wish us an objectionable cop-out by the state.

January 24, 2006 11:35 AM  
Blogger Dana Beyer, M.D. said...

Anon, under most circumstances I don't think that is an unreasonable request. Of course, it could be extended to just about anything ad absurdum, and the fact is, Michelle Turner and you know quite well what "sexual variations" refers to IN THIS CONTEXT. It refers to, primarily, sexual orientation, and secondarily, gender identity.

If you all would simply accept that, we can move on. I will bet that if the question is raised in next week's CAC meeting, that's the response you will receive. Of course, my feeling is that you won't accept it (though I'm willing to be surprised), because accepting it means the O'Reilly's of the world won't be able to make asses out of themselves by extrapolating from marriage equality to bestiality and polyamory. And those are just such funny sound bites.

But if it makes you feel better, i will be happy to write to the state BoE and ask them to specify what they mean by "sexual variations."

January 24, 2006 11:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Controversy Over "The End of the Spear"

The controversy over the casting of actor Chad Allen in the lead role of the movie The End of the Spear continues to grow -- and rightfully so. The End of the Spear is a retelling of the story of the martyrdom of missionaries Nate Saint, Jim Elliot, Peter Fleming, Roger Youderian, and Ed McCully by Waodani tribesmen in Ecuador in 1956 -- and many Christians have been eagerly awaiting the film's release.

This is one of the classic narratives of Christian missions. Eventually, the widows of these five missionaries led the majority of the Waodani to faith in Christ, ending decades of tribal killings. Steve Saint, the son of Nate Saint, maintains a ministry among the Waodani even now, after having been "adopted" by Mincaye, the very tribesman who killed his father.

The story of the five missionary martyrs and their families has been recounted in several books and films -- most famously Elisabeth Elliot's two books, Shadow of the Almighty and Through Gates of Splendor. Generations of young evangelicals have drawn courage and inspiration from these testimonies, and the larger story of the evangelization of the Waodani people.

This account is a precious stewardship, as are the lives of all involved. I had the honor of sharing dinner with Steve Saint and Mincaye a few years ago during a Shepherd's Conference at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California. Their testimony is one of the most powerful affirmations of the power of the Gospel I have ever heard. I was greatly moved by meeting with them and I had looked to the release of the film with great hope.

Thus, the release of The End of the Spear on January 20 has been met with much enthusiasm. The movie was produced by Every Tribe Entertainment and has been received well by critics. So, what is the controversy all about?

The actor chosen to play both Nate and Steve Saint in the movie is Chad Allen, an actor well known to American television viewers for his roles in St. Elsewhere, Our House, and Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman. But Chad Allen is also known for something else -- his very public homosexual activism. As a matter of fact, he has been on the cover of The Advocate, the leading homosexual news magazine, at least three times. He also staged Terence McNally's play, Corpus Christi, which portrays Christ as a homosexual involved in a homoerotic dynamic with his disciples.

What were they thinking? Beyond this, Allen (whose real name is Chad Allen Lazzari) also speaks straightforwardly about his syncretistic faith, freely mixing elements of Christianity, Native American spirituality, Buddhism, etc. When I appeared with him on Larry King Live Tuesday night, I found him to be personally friendly and engaging, but I was not surprised to hear him speak of his own personal religion -- a religion that excludes God's commandments concerning sexuality. "I have a deep relationship with God of my understanding. It's very powerful, and it's taken its own shape and form. And I am very much at peace in the knowledge that in my heart God created this beautiful expression of my love," he told the CNN audience [see transcript].

Here's how Mr. Allen described his process of moral decision-making: "These days I judge all of my actions by my relationship with God of my understanding. It is a deep-founded, faith-based belief in God based upon the work that I've done growing up as a Catholic boy and then reaching out to Buddhism philosophy, to Hindu philosophy, to Native American beliefs and finally as I got through my course with addiction and alcoholism and finding a higher power that worked for me." That's not a convenient disclosure on national television just days before the film is released, and Mr. Allen's appearance offered yet another opportunity to witness his advocacy for homosexuality. He went so far as to suggest that his opportunity in this film represents a form of "bridge-building" between Christians and homosexuals: "You know, I made this movie with a group of conservative Christians who do not agree with my expression of sexuality. But we said to each other, I will walk with you accepting your differences, and we can create together. I will give you your space to respect you fully. They don't need to take away from my freedom, I don't need to take away from theirs. And I am so proud to have done that. That's the kind of bridge-building I think we can get to." What should we make of all this? Should Christians see the film, boycott the film, or what? Some thoughts:

First, Christians must have the cultural maturity to know that many of the most famous and influential producers of cultural materials, whether in literature, art, or entertainment, have been homosexuals. This does not mean that we cannot enjoy their music, art, or performances. Christians start from the presupposition that all humans are sinners, and that every artistic endeavor is marred by sin in both its conception and its demonstration.

Second, Christians must learn the discipline of cultural discernment based upon Christian truth. We must learn to engage the culture in a way that is both honest and missiological -- and we must work hard to develop a mind that brings all things under subjection to Christ, including our entertainment preferences and choices.

Third, we must avoid hypocrisy. We should not pick and choose recklessly as we condemn or praise without any obvious tie to biblical truth. We must not condemn publicly what we enjoy privately. We must not assert matters of taste as matters of principle.

Fourth, we must understand the nature of the art form and learn how to discriminate on the basis of an informed cultural understanding, not a knee-jerk reaction. Accordingly, we must understand that the very nature of acting, whether on stage or on screen, is based upon the ability of the actor to make the audience see the character portrayed, not the actor, in the performance.

That said, this last point is the real problem when it comes to Chad Allen. Every Tribe Entertainment has chosen an actor -- perhaps even the actor -- least likely to be able to make us forget him and see Nate Saint. Chad Allen's activism is what many audience members will see, not Nate and Steve Saint.

Christians loved the film Chariots of Fire, but the lead role of Eric Liddell was played by Ian Charleston, a gay man. Another great performance in that film was given by Sir John Gielgud, a homosexual man who was probably the greatest Shakespearean actor of the last century. Similarly, the role of Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings trilogy was played by Sir Ian McKellen, who has also been known as a homosexual activist. Yet, I was not aware of these identifications as I viewed these movies. Thus, the associations never crossed my mind.

Careful thinking is required here. We do not know what sexual sins or sins of other sorts may characterize so many of the actors, actresses, singers, music writers, authors, musicians, painters, sculptors, or directors we enjoy and appreciate. Christians are not called to conduct investigative hearings on such matters, and we begin with the assumption that all these, like ourselves, are sinners.

Furthermore, we are not required to enjoy or appreciate as artists only those who are Christians. Yet, we should learn to look for the connections between worldview and art that always underlie a work or performance.

So, what of The End of the Spear? Put bluntly, I believe that the makers of this movie made a very reckless decision in casting Chad Allen as Nate and Steve Saint. Given the publicity of Chad Allen's activism and the intensity of his mission to normalize homosexuality -- a mission clearly articulated on his Web site -- it is hard, if not impossible, to suspend belief and see him as a missionary martyr for the Gospel. The distance between Nate Saint and Chad Allen is just too great. This mistake is compounded by the fact that this activism is so well known and well documented -- it's what Chad Allen makes central to his own identity.

In learning cultural discernment, Christians must learn to make decisions about a movie like The End of the Spear. In this case, the problem was unnecessary. This controversy is over a member of the cast, not the foundational story or the larger shape of the project. It could -- and should -- have been so easily avoided.

There is an even bigger and more important issue, of course. How will this film deal with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the message that took the missionaries to Ecuador and transformed the Waodani?

GOOD BLOGS FOR CONTINUED THINKING: Sharper Iron, Contend 4 the Faith, Challies, Pensees, Musings From the Two Shed Gomer, Reformed Baptist Thinker, Between Two Worlds.


R. Albert Mohler, Jr. is president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. For more articles and resources by Dr. Mohler, and for information on The Albert Mohler Program, a daily national radio program broadcast on the Salem Radio Network, go to For information on The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, go to Send feedback to

See also the most recent entries on Dr. Mohler's Blog.

January 24, 2006 12:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh, Jim, this last post is a mistake so I'd appreciate it you would delete it

January 24, 2006 1:42 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

Anon ... Are you asking me to delete this article about this movie?

I don't get it. Why did you post it, if you ... didn't want to post it?


January 24, 2006 3:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I actually put it another comment section and it was still in my paste when I went over. You can leave it if you want- I was just trying to clean things up.

January 24, 2006 3:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anon said,I was just trying to clean things up.

Anon will lying on this blog fulfill your trying to clean things up? Somehow I do not think that will work for you.


January 24, 2006 5:05 PM  
Blogger andrear said...

I think the movie review(not the movie- don't know it yet) is sad. Everyone and everything is full of sin. Well, that is this guy and the poster's belief- not mine. It is amazing that he can say this and yet still have special antagonism toward gay people. Since this is his belief system(that all are sinners)maybe he should look at his own sins instead of casting aspersions on others.

And Anon- you can defend it but I won't be paying attention.

January 24, 2006 8:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"And Anon- you can defend it but I won't be paying attention."

Well, that will be a big loss but maybe you should help your buddy Jim get up the courage to reveal what advice GLAAD gave him and how instrumental it's been to your organization.

January 24, 2006 10:16 PM  
Blogger andrear said...

Michelle is busy with her letter writing. She should get some facts correct- oh, wait, facts- that isn't what CRC deals with. Like some of her CRC buddies, her letters give away her lack of knowledge. Her latest is a real hoot.

January 25, 2006 8:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The letter concocted for Ms. Turner to send to the Childrens' National Medical Center doesn't make the CRC's advisors (Republican party officials, Falwell-spawned Liberty Counsel advisors, and their Dobson-initiated PFOX partners) look very good.

If you are going to attack a doctor, the least you could do is decide on one way to spell his name.

So who wrote the "Menvielle" sections and who wrote the "Menvialle" sections?


January 25, 2006 9:01 AM  

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