The rise in media coverage of bullying related deaths has brought an increase in awareness to the problem of bullying. In many places, great efforts are being made to educate others and fight against the damage caused by bullies. This outpouring of support for bullied students is cause for hope. However, this issue also exposes more destructive attitudes in our current religious climate regarding homosexuality.
In the wake of anti-bullying efforts, Christian organizations like Focus on the Family have fought back arguing that these efforts are an infringement upon their religious beliefs. Focus on the Family started a “true tolerance” project to inform their followers on ways to support efforts to curb bullying “in general” but at the same time still express their bigotry against homosexuals. To do this, they advise parents to approach school officials to enact anti-bullying policies that do not undermine “parental rights and students’ religious freedoms.”
Choice words. But what this organization is calling for is toothless anti-bullying policies that protect Christian bigotry against gays and lesbians. Call it what they will, their freedom to express their religiously motivated disapproval of homosexuality is bigotry. There’s no way around this fact. Bigotry is bigotry regardless of whether or not it is religiously motivated. (I would argue that the religiously motivated kind is even more pernicious than non-religiously motivated bigotry). Moreover, Focus on the Family knows that if they can succeed in this area then they will have created a climate within which Christian students are free to harass their homosexual peers with impunity.
The recent death of a bullied gay teen reveals just how obscene this effort is. Fourteen year-old Jamey Rodemeyer was bullied mercilessly for his sexual orientation. Adding insult to injury, at a school dance after his death, the bullies continued the bullying by chanting “We’re glad you’re dead!”
And there we have it. This one example reveals that the anti-homosexual Christians know that they cannot directly fulfill the immoral biblical injunction that homosexuals “shall surely be put to death.” (This biblical law is an affront to all civilized nations that value human life). Instead, they have an indirect method of obeying this injunction; bully the homosexuals until they cannot bear life anymore. The result is the same; a dead homosexual, a loss for humanity, a win for religious bigotry. Therefore, Christian organizations like Focus on the Family feel they must protect their “religious freedom” to harass others under the guise of expression.
This dangerous attitude regarding homosexuality is also implied in their views on sexuality in general.
It is not a coincidence that the rise of projects like “true tolerance” has coincided with religious outrage over efforts to vaccinate young girls against the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). The HPV vaccines can prevent infection with the types of this virus that cause 70% of cases of cervical cancer (approximately 4,300 deaths per year) and 70% of oropharyngeal cancer. Like mandatory chicken-pox vaccinations, this should be a no-brainer to anyone who values human life.
However, “conservative opponents have largely argued that mandating the vaccine will encourage sexual promiscuity and subvert parental authority” (emphasis added). In other words, we should not protect our daughters from this risk of death because death is an acceptable punishment for being sexually active. Forget about saving 4,000+ lives each year, they say, we mustn’t let our daughters think they can be sexually active without the consequence of death!
In both of these cases, we find a religiously motivated, morally perverted view of human sexuality. It is a view that says, homosexuals deserve death and promiscuous young girls deserve the risk of death. This is the moral world that the religious would have us believe can only be grounded in a belief in a god. And in this, I agree with them. Only a religious injunction can turn an attitude so obscene and disastrous to human life into a moral imperative.
Copyright © 2011 JP Laughlin