Updated: June 1, 1 p.m. ET., See Banfield’s response below:
CNN anchor Ashleigh Banfield on Thursday, claimed that, unlike pedophilia and incest, “homosexuality is a lifestyle choice by people — it is voluntary.”
Banfield was reporting on comments made by Kansas Pastor Curtis Knapp, who during a Sunday sermon called for the government to kill gays and lesbians.
During the segment, which featured an interview by KTKA-TV, Knapp justified his comments on the killing of gays, saying he was simply preaching what he believes to be “scripture.”
“We punish pedophilia. We punish incest. We punish polygamy and various things. It’s only homosexuality that is lifted out as an exemption,” Knapp said in the interview.
Banfield, in an attempt to discredit Knapp’s explanation, claimed that “pedophilia is not by choice, last I checked,” before elaborating, “Again, we gotta outline here, when he says ‘they punish incest and pedophilia.’ Please. Those things are often not by choice and are crimes. Homosexuality is a lifestyle choice by people. It is voluntary.”
Knapp, pastor of the New Hope Baptist Church in Seneca, Kansas — in his sermon “Homosexuality and the Need for National Revival,” — said that the government should put gays to death:
“They should be put to death. That’s what happened in Israel. That’s why homosexuality wouldn’t have grown in Israel. It tends to limit conversions. It tends to limit people coming out of the closet. — ‘Oh, so you’re saying we should go out and start killing them, no?’ — I’m saying the government should. They won’t but they should.”
A report on Knapp’s sermon, including additional audio, is here.
Update: Banfield has “clarified” her on-air statement, posting this to Twitter: “Need 2 clarify. Incest and pedophelia are CRIMES & victims have no choice. Being gay is not. Relatnshps r by choice. Way of life not crime.”
In a follow-up “tweet,” Banfield added: “Being gay is not a choice. Being in consensual relationship is. I support LGBT people. I do not support pastor who says its a crime.”
Update 2: On Friday morning, Banfield made it clear that being gay is not a choice, saying:
I made some comments yesterday that ended up getting a lot of traction out there, not only on Twitter but elsewhere. And I want to be very, very clear about what my comments were about. I probably misspoke and mangled words, but I want to be very clear.
When I said that incest and pedophilia involve people who don’t have a choice — victims who don’t have a choice — and then said a gay relationship, you do have a choice, they are not crimes. Gay people involved in relationships are not committing any crimes at all. However, those who perpetrate incest and perpetrate pedophilia are committing crimes.
I don’t know that my comments were taken in that light and I certainly hope they were, but in no way did I ever want to suggest that being gay is a choice. It is not. And I probably used the word “lifestyle choice” — not what I meant to say at all. Being gay is not a choice; being in a voluntary gay relationship is a choice. It is not a crime. So I hope that at least clears up any of the comments I made after that story of the pastor. And in no way do I agree with or stand by any of the comments that that pastor made either.– Ashleigh Banfield