Giving marriage discrimination a religious voice

CanaVox is Witherspoon Institute’s project to reinforce the notion that the only true marriages are between opposite-sex spouses and that gay people should be chaste. It exists to propagandize the teachings of the Catholic Church while attempting to depict a secular framework. The attempt is an abject failure. Thursday, Witherspoon is promoting the project on their blog.

It has been awhile so a brief backgrounder is in order. Witherspoon Institute is an extreme-orthodox Catholic organization founded by Robert P. George and Luis E. Tellez. Telles is an Opus Dei numerary (a secular celibate). George and Tellez were two of the original incorporaters of National Organization for Marriage and continue to serve on its board of directors.

Witherspoon provides a pretentious pseudo-intellectual blog called Public Discourse. It is edited by Ryan T. Anderson and features a variety of miscreants and crackpots as authors.

Witherspoon organized, designed and provided most of the grant money for Mark Regnerus’ thoroughly discredited New Family Structures study. It was intended to demonstrate that gay couples are crappy parents in order to undermine marriage equality. Witherspoon created a website dedicated to the study and proclaimed it as proof that gay couples are crappy parents. This was supposed to influence the Supreme Court as it considered United States v. Windsor in 2013. The proof went poof. It all backfired as people realized that the conclusions regarding same-sex parenting were based on research that did not seem to include same-sex parents. There were other problems as well and it ruined Regnerus’ reputation.

About four years ago, Witherspoon’s blog ran a piece by Doug Mainwaring, a gay man opposing marriage equality. Mainwaring was NOM’s little gay puppy
dog; Their house faggot. He was part of the marriage discrimination road
show, testifying
before legislative committees about the evils of gay relationships.
NOM yanked the leash and Mainwaring obeyed. Mainwaring found “the
homosexual lifestyle®” so tedious and unsatisfying that he returned to live with his ex-gay wife. At the conclusion of the piece was this:

Doug Mainwaring is director of CanaVox, a project of the Witherspoon Institute.

This was in November, 2013 and at the time CanaVox consisted of a domain name and nothing else. Over the last four years, CanaVox has been announced numerous times by Witherspoon. Last September (2016) I wrote that CanaVox was back on my radar. Mainwaring has disappeared from the org.

CanaVox — September, 2016:

2. Same­Sex Friendship

We cheer for those who have same­sex attractions who recognize, respect and
uphold sexual complementarity as the basis for all sexual relationships. We cheer
for friendship as the true basis for same­sex intimacy.

The ultimate form of intimacy between two persons of the same gender is the love
between true friends rather than sexual love. Every person has a profound need to be
appreciated, known, and loved. However, our current culture confuses love with sex and
not only promotes, but pressures, those who experience same­sex attractions (as well
as those with opposite­sex attractions) to seek a sexualized love. This pressure sends
the wrong message about the proper intimacy in friendship …

CanaVox — September, 2017:

Every person has a profound need to be appreciated, known, and loved in the context of authentic friendship.

… We cheer for those who seek authentic friendship, resist sexualizing their friendships, including same-sex and lgbt friendships, and seek sexual integrity as their path for joy. We applaud all those on the dating and singles scene who wait for marriage to express their total, comprehensive commitment of heart, mind and body. …

They are less strident but just as anti-gay as they have ever been. Fundamentally the believe that gay people are “objectively disordered” and that gay sex is “intrinsically disordered.” This is all based on the pronouncements of pampered prelates at the Vatican which are based upon those ancient chronicles to which they are so slavishly devoted.

Katy Faust of Ask the Bigot fame expands her presence. 

Katy Faust
Katy Faust’s photo at CanaVox’s Dear Katy blog

Faust’s “Ask the Bigot” shtick was clever. It was intended to inoculate her from charges of bigotry. Lately she has been spending time in Australia trying to prevent marriage equality. Someone told me that she is making appearances in a lab coat for some inexplicable reason. Faust really is an anti-gay bigot. For CanaVox, Faust has her own blog titled “Dear Katy.” It is the only blog on the site so she has risen in the Witherspoon hierarchy I suppose. This month it’s “My husband has been watching porn.”

Last month Faust’s supposed question was about teens coming out as bisexual. In a video response she claims that this is “a trend.” Who knew? “Kids are swimming in sexual identity ideology and some are bound to drink the water.” In other words, rather than attractions they are being influenced to be bisexual as part of a trend. That is preposterous. In addition to being a bigot, Ms. Faust is an idiot. Then she claims that everyone, including the media, are telling kids to experiment to see what they like. It is a form of both blame-shame and blame shifting. Kids do experiment but their experiments are premised on attractions.

The underlying issue is their attraction — not the influences. That means that there is no issue. According to Faust “our teens are confused.” No Ms. Faust. You are confused because you are substituting religious dogma for social science. Eventually she claims that coming out as bisexual is harmful because it invites experimentation. She has no clue how foolish she appears to be because she lives in the Christian bubble and this absurdity makes perfect sense to her while counseling professionals would be throwing stuff at their screens.


CanaVox remains headed by April Readlinger. Readlinger, an attorney, was an associate at a very good firm, Dewey & LeBoeuf. They were better lawyers than business managers and the firm folded in 2012 under a mountain of debt. The big-name litigators and rainmakers left long before the firm closed and presumably took the top associates with them. Apparently that did not include Readlinger who has now given up her legal career to become a professional Catholic without the messiness of joining a religious order.

Reading groups

Reading groups are still at the core of CanaVox. Groups of women reading from selected texts. Session 4 is rather interesting:

Click to enlarge

Tufaro and Samuel try to muddy the waters. The intent is to persuade people that gays aren’t born that way. They intentionally confuse environmental factors with things like parenting. In science environmental means anything that is not genetic. It seems that Tufaro has a baccalaureate from Princeton but not an advanced degree in any of the social or counseling sciences. Ana Samuel also went to Princeton and has a PhD in philosophy from Notre Dame. She is an employee of Witherspoon Institute. Slitherspoon is located in Princeton and, of course, Robert George is a professor at Princeton. George recruits.

Another contributor, Family Watch International is a notorious anti-LGBT hate group. Their 32 minute video is filled with the bigotry that we are all so terribly familiar with. They are avid proponents of gay conversion therapy which they use to justify discrimination. There is absolutely no scientific basis for what amounts to pray-away-the-gay in one form or another. According to them:

This documentary is an eye-opening experience for many as it presents clear evidence showing that no one is “born gay” and that many people with unwanted same-sex attraction have been able to change. We summarize the research data, include interviews with top experts in the field, and present powerful testimonials from four men who speak honestly, openly and compellingly about what it was like for them to develop same-sex attraction and live the homosexual lifestyle. They then discuss their experiences with therapy that helped them to develop a healthy heterosexual sexual orientation. …

Denise C. McAllister is a hard-right pseudo-journalist for The Federalist. Her educational background is unknown.

The bottom line is that all of these people are religious extremists and none of these people have the education or experience to understand, much less pontificate about, sexual orientation. Session 4 is pseudo-intellectual religious propaganda reeking of mediocre scholarship.

Session 5 is titled “Loving those with same-sex attractions.” I decline to detail the bullshit but there are two prerequisites to really loving gay people:

  1. Stop calling gay people “same-sex attracted” in order to make a sexual orientation that one disapproves of akin to a bad habit and;
  2. Clearly and distinctly assert that being gay is not a disorder and that gay sex is not “intrinsically disordered.”

… Crickets.

Session 12 is opposition to same-sex marriage. They all get to read the losing arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges. Session 13 is all about the evils of same-sex parenting. Instead of reading they get to watch a video from none other than Crazy Bobby, Robert Oscar Lopez.

Session 18 is titled “Transgender Identity.” Gender is an identity. Transgender is an expression of gender. This means that they are clueless.

Click to enlarge

As you can see, the materials come from the usual suspects starting with disgraced psychiatrist Paul McHugh — “Defender of the Faith™.” Ex-trans Walt Hyer is required reading in spite of the fact that one person, a conservative Catholic, who de-transitioned is not representative of anything. Lindsay Leigh Bentley is at least somewhat intellectually honest. However she was, apparently a tomboy and the fact that she did not transition is irrelevant. I doubt that she was never objectively diagnosed with gender dysphoria.

The hate group, American College of Pediatricians provides materials. Its president, Michelle Cretella, another professional Catholic, is a conversion therapy advocate which would put a dysphoric child at considerable risk. She is a doctor (although not currently licensed) and she is pushing pseudo-science which has scientific validity comparable to astrology. In fact, all of this would put a dysphoric child at risk. This is all just a pretext for religion-based discrimination.

In the final analysis, CanaVox is merely an extension of Catholic extremism and all of the reading materials comprises an extension of the catechism of the Catholic Church.

In their promo, Witherspoon shows this picture of  conservative Jews:

Some of us are, indeed, as nutty as some of them although they usually do not champion discrimination. There are exceptions but 6,000 years of oppression seem to have been instructive. More importantly the photo is misleading. CanaVox is a conservative Christian, most conservative Catholic, enterprise.

From my perspective CanaVox is a hate group. SPLC might not see it that way but they are relying on materials from hate groups to marginalize LGBT people. Those materials promote distortions about gay and transgender people yet CanaVox (actually Witherspoon) chooses to use them. It is a hate group.

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By David Cary Hart

Retired CEO. Formerly a W.E. Deming-trained quality-management consultant. Now just a cranky Jewish queer. Gay cis. He/Him/His.