What a depressing thing it was to look at the news on Good Friday morning to see an article about the opposition of “Christian groups” to anti-bullying laws. These groups, it seems, feel that laws against bullying others infringe on their religious freedom (primarily because they’re afraid that they will be accused of bullying if they pick on gay people for being, well, gay). If we ever needed an example of the way in which some religious groups have lost their way, this is it.
Good Friday is dedicated, of course, to remembering the death of Jesus. Before being put to death, Jesus was tortured. One might say he was bullied in a rather extreme way. On Good Friday, Christians remember these horrible events, and in remembering them, we should be moved to remember not only Jesus, but all those in our own day who are made victims of human cruelty.
Apparently, these “Christian groups” who feel their religious liberty could be infringed upon by anti-bullying laws believe that bullying is a legitimate tool for proclaiming the Gospel. Either that, or their way of “bringing others to Christ” is such that it is in danger of being mistaken as bullying by others. The use of bullying, cruelty, torture, and even death has been used in the cause of the Gospel before – the Inquisition comes to mind. But whenever such methods have been used, they have constitued a betrayal of everything that Jesus taught, of everything the Gospel stands for. Likewise, any way of proclaiming the Gospel today that would be ruled out by anti-bullying laws would similarly be a betrayal of Jesus and his Gospel.
This Sunday, Christians will celebrate Easter (well, our Eastern Christian friends will be doing so next Sunday). Easter is, in part, a celebration of God transcending death in the Resurrection of Christ. The Risen Christ comes to offer us new life, a life that is shaped by divine love rather than human cruelty. Likewise, the Christian proclamation of the Gospel should not resemble the cruelty of the Roman soldiers who presided over Jesus’ torture and death, but should resemble the new life of the Risen Christ, rooted in divine love, mercy, and compassion. Last time I checked, showing others love, mercy, and compassion did not meet any definition of bullying, legal or otherwise.
This blog post is not particularly eloquent, I must admit. Working on sermons for Good Friday and Easter, and preparing for lots of Holy Week and Easter services have left me short on eloquence, I’m afraid. I was tempted not even to update the blog this week. But I’ve had enough. I am angry at those who parade around carrying the banner of Christianity making victims as they go. I’m angry that they get to represent what being a follower of Christ is about. Why should anyone think that there is a anything valuable in the Christian tradition when all they hear about are “Christians” opposing anti-bullying laws, “Christians” opposing contraception, “Christians” insisting that women undergo 1,001 cruelties and indignities if they wish to have an abortion, “Christians” claiming that gay and lesbian people should be second-class citizens, “Christians” showing up at funerals waving around signs about how much God hates certain kinds of people.
This stuff isn’t Christianity. It’s an ideology walking around in religious clothing, twisted by human anger, fear, and hatred. It’s Christianity reflected in a carnival mirror. I’m sick of it.
I am a Christian, and I SUPPORT anti-bullying laws. I SUPPORT the contraception. I SUPPORT the rights of women to obtain an abortion if that is their choice. I SUPPORT equality of gay and lesbian people. And I don’t believe that God hates anyone. Basically, if you take everything you read about “Christians” in the media, I’m pretty much the opposite of that. And I’m not alone. There are a whole lot of people like me out there. I go to church with a bunch of them.
But don’t expect to read about us in the press. They don’t find us terribly interesting.