Sometimes teenagers commit suicide. It’s not always possible to figure out why, but we know that quite often when kids kill themselves it’s because they’re gay or transgendered and are unable to see how to get through another day while feeling those feelings.
We also know that quite often, kids who are perceived as different are bullied. One of the main reasons kids are perceived as different (though not, of course, the only one) is because they’re seen — correctly or incorrectly — as having a divergent sexual orientation or gender identity.
Ideally, the teachers and administrators in middle schools and high schools would be vigilant about suppressing bullying. Ideally, teachers and administrators would actively support the perception that different is not wrong or bad — it’s just different. Ideally, they would put a little extra energy into helping students who are different feel good about themselves. Feel pride, even.
Here’s where it gets sticky: There are thousands or millions of active, passionate adults in this country who are committed to preventing teachers and administrators from providing support and encouragement to gay and transgendered students. They pressure school boards across the country to forbid teachers to present homosexuality as something that is normal or acceptable. This leaves the school personnel with two difficult options: They can stand idly by while the bullying goes on, or they can risk being fired.
The sick, hate-filled people who are leaning on school boards to block any sort of open, accepting environment for gay and transgendered students consider themselves Christians. They feel sure that in allowing the bullying to go on unchecked, in creating an environment in which more unhappy teenagers will commit suicide, they’re doing God’s work.
I’m not a Christian, so I’m not well equipped to parse the theological niceties. If these disgusting people call themselves good Christians, I really have no choice but to take them at their word.
I’m aware, of course, that there are also millions of other Christians who take a much more tolerant view, who are happy to respect differences in gender identity and sexual orientation. Should I paint them with the same broad brush? Should I insist that Christianity is, in and of itself, an evil, corroding force?
Yes, I should. The problem is, the good Christians routinely give a free pass to the evil Christians. They could stand up forthrightly and saying, “No, that’s not Christianity. You people are not Christians at all.” But they don’t say that. Instead, they remain tactfully silent, or murmur quietly about differences of opinion. When it comes to “differences of opinion,” suddenly Christianity is a “big tent” where everybody (no matter what kind of slime they’re preaching) gets equal respect.
Where are the clergy who could stand up at meetings of the National Council of Churches and state forthrightly that conservative evangelical churches are not churches at all, that they’re terrorist organizations and should be summarily kicked out of the National Council of Churches and their leaders prosecuted for hate crimes? Where are those voices of reason?
If you can’t clean up your side of the street, folks, you really have no beef when I point out that you’re standing hip-deep in fresh steaming dogshit. As far as I’m concerned, “fresh steaming dogshit” and “Christianity” are synonyms. If you feel differently — if you feel sure I’m wrong about that — then you’d better break out the big shovel and start shoveling out the dogshit, because right now you’re wallowing in it.