Friday, October 22, 2010

Pervasive attitudes

Yesterday, I posted this article on my Facebook page. It's an article from Sojourners, a liberal Christian magazine. The cliff notes version of the article is this: True Christians should stand up against bullies in school. Jesus reached out to and befriended the outcasts, and so should we. Even if someone disagrees with homosexuality, that person should defend someone being persecuted for their (real or perceived) sexual orientation anyways, because it is the decent, human thing to do.

A couple of responses were posted that caught my eye. Well, one really, but it is a response(I think) to a previous comment, so I'll post both. The first comment in question was this:

"I wish more "Christians" stood up to the hate crowd within their ranks."

I very much agree, obviously. Then, another comment was posted:

"I never feel that bullying is okay in ANY situation; including a gay lifestyle. It is, however, contrary to scripture if you believe the Bible to be inerrant. It is not my place to tell others how to live,nor should I feel bad for feeling ...the way I feel. Bullying, when done by Christians is what gives Christianity a bad name. Promoting the gay lifestyle or endorsing it, knowing it is against God, is not what I consider to be the answer either. Where do we draw the line on what we call sin anymore? Everyone that knows me knows that I do not have a mean bone in my body towards others, but I have to speak up once in a while too. I know many do not agree and thats okay too :-) When we can no longer agree to disagree, we really have a problem right?"

On a surface level, and initially, it seemed like she was basically agreeing with the article, with the exception that, unlike the author, she disagreed with homosexuality. I'll admit that over the years, this person has learned to become much more respectful in how she states her opinion, although I unfortunately still can't get into deep conversations with her because we are just too different. Therefore, our relationship remains superficial(I will add here that this person is a close relative, so it's not like I can just end the relationship due to irreconcilable differences).

However, the more I thought about it, the more this comment angered me. Yes, fundamentalist, literalist Christians disagree with the rest of us on many issues, including homosexuality. Everyone is entitled to their opinions. If it were all polite discussion or even "I'll respect you, you respect me" in an adult fashion, that would be fine. But it's not. Even semi-polite, somewhat respectful tones such as this leads to the bullying and violence. Take the lines she said, where she commented that it is against God, referencing the scriptures as inerrant, and lamenting what is and is not considered "sin" in our society. If a young child were to hear that from his or her parents, that child would begin to see GLBT peers as "sinners'", and therefore "outsiders" or "unclean". And I need not go into detail about how harshly young kids treat outsiders. Or what if the child hears that from his parents, and comes to realize that he is a GLBT youth himself? Now, on top of struggling with sexuality, he will probably struggle with spiritual guilt as well. In fact, this study even points out that many Americans very well believe that churches are a contributing factor in GLBT-related suicides.

I'll never understand fundamentalism, even in its most polite forms.


JeniMac said...

My guess is that Christian kids are the ones doing the bullying, or at least the ones exposed to church at some point. In my workplace, it's always the indoctrinated kids who have an ignorant comment about something. They regurgitate what they've heard from their parents. One kid the other day, a sweet little boy, said that Lady Gaga is a Satan worshiper. Now I'm no fan of Lady Gaga's, and I did get a little chuckle out of the comment, but it's just one more thing these kids say that proves they repeat whatever their parents tell them. Last year I had a group of four boys, one of which didn't go to church, and that subject somehow came up and the Christian boys just couldn't understand why their friend was different. If these issues are coming up in elementary school, imagine what they become by middle and high school.

I endured brutal bullying in middle school. To the point that I was being spit on. I think it's important to remember that bullying is not a GLBT issue. It comes up a lot now because it's a controversial issue, but other kids who are being bullied for other reasons are often told to suck it up and deal with it. That's wrong.

Chadly said...

I agree that it's not solely a GLBT issue. However, statistics do state that GLBT youth are much more likely to attempt/commit suicide than straight(I'll have to look that stat up, I don't remember where I heard it, just that I did), and with recent events, it does make sense that this is the community of focus.

My real concerns are two-fold: How we can expand the campaign to include *all* persecuted populations, including GLBT youth; and what will happen once the media hype ends.

JeniMac said...

To answer your question about how to "expand the campaign" to end bullying for all, the first thing is this: don't make it a LGBT issue. Statistically the suicide rate among teens has dropped from 15 years ago, it's only making the media because they want it to be a controversial issue when really it shouldn't be. Bullying is wrong, end of story.

Statistically, shy and quiet kids, regardless of sexual preference or gender, are the targets of bullying. This also includes disabled kids who can't stand up for themselves. They get made fun of all the time--I see it at work in the elementary school. When people decide that LGBT teens are the ones who matter more in this kind of abuse, then the rest of those poor kids have already lost. Bullying is the issue, not homosexuality. Bullies will find ANYTHING to make fun of someone for, and being gay happens to be one of them. You cannot just advocate for some of the victims and not speak out against the actual issue.