The brother of a pastor who has same-sex attractions but decided to marry a woman recently lashed out at NPR for causing “harm” to other LGBT people struggling with their sexuality.
In a controversial story earlier this month, NPR spoke to Kiski Valley Presbyterian Church pastor Allan Edwards about why he decided to marry a woman instead of a man.
“I think we all have part of our desires that we choose not to act on, right?” the pastor told NPR. “So for me, it’s not just that the religion was important to me, but communion with a God who loves me, who accepts me right where I am.”
Dexter Edwards, the pastor’s gay younger brother, suggested in an interview with The Advocate last week that NPR had committed journalistic malpractice by telling the story in the way that it had.
“I would never want anyone in my situation to … to think that this is something that works or that is like a viable, healthy option,” Dexter Edwards explained, recalling that coming out was “a terrible experience” because of his conservative family.
The 22 year old said that he was asked to leave home at the age of 19 because he refused not to act on his same-sex attractions, and he thinks that influenced his older brother’s decision.
“You’re pushing people into this box and [they’re] feeling terrible about themselves,” Dexter Edwards said of the NPR interview.
In a phone interview with NPR on Saturday, he said that the story made him “very uneasy.”
“I was kind of frustrated that NPR made this a news story because I feel how detrimental it can be to other people,” he explained. “I understand that it’s an opinion and it’s a lifestyle choice, and that everyone does and can choose what they want to do, but I would never want this to harm anyone.
“I just want to be a voice of encouragement to people that have come through it or are going through it — or are in the closet and don’t feel comfortable because of people like this.”
MPR’s Bob Collins wondered if the story should have been told at all.
“Clearly, Pastor Edwards’ story reinforces the notion held by many that God does not embrace homosexuals, certainly a debatable point,” Collins wrote. “But what is the journalist’s responsibility in telling the story? Should it be told at all?”
“The Society of Professional Journalists’ code of ethics requires journalists to ‘support the open and civil exchange of views, even views they find repugnant,’ It further requires them to minimize harm,” he added. “But how do we assess what the harm is and to extent harm must be tolerated in the telling of a story?”
Listen to the audio below from NPR.