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In Response To the Murder of Lawrence King, Where Is the Voice of the Church?

This commentary reflects the opinions of the author, and is not necessarily those of the other contributors of Box Turtle Bulletin.

Timothy Kincaid

February 18th, 2008

If you want to infuriate a conservative Christian, suggest that the church is at least partially responsible for anti-gay violence.

The response is quick, harsh, and brimming with indignation. How dare you suggest that the church supports violence? Why, the very admonitions against murder are from the ten commandments, you know! The church is full of love, love, love, love for “persons suffering with same-sex attraction”.

I do not doubt that sermons within the church talk about love. About being kind. About showing mercy. All while opposing sin and the vile agenda of sinners. One should love the sinner and hate the sin.

But only one part of that message seems to make it outside the church doors.

Much is said about homosexuality by the self appointed voices of Christianity. One cannot go a day without some proclamation about destroying society, or an evil agenda, or protecting children, or some such thing. It is clear that “Christianity” feels threatened by and is in opposition to “the Homosexual Agenda”.

But is it opposed to violence against gay people? And if so, how would anyone know?

In the wake of the murder of 15 year old Lawrence King by a classmate apparently motivated by King’s non-gender-conforming appearance and openness about his sexual orientation, the community of Oxnard has been asking itself hard questions. Why did this happen? What could we have done differently?

And the community has joined together to express its sorrow and its love. A hastily organized rally by two sophomore students resulted in over 1,000 children showing their support for tolerance and peace. Editorials and letters to the local paper have called on the community to look at its part in the tragedy.

But one group has been strangely silent. One voice has had nothing to say about retrospection or self-examination. One voice has not been raised to condemn either the harsh treatment of Lawrence King when he was alive or his brutal execution.

I have searched and as best I can find, in the days since King’s murder, the sole discussion about this tragedy from Christian media has been limited to a single CNS article by Susan Jones titled “Hate Crime Charges Against Teen Who Shot ‘Feminine’ Boy”. This, incidentally is from a media source that actively opposes hate crimes legislation.

At no point did the article indicate that it was heinous, immoral, or even slightly inappropriate that Lawrence King was murdered for his orientation. But it did declare that “homosexual activists have seized on Lawrence King case” and that “some conservative groups say California has gone overboard when it comes to “sexual indoctrination” in the schools”.

Perhaps the church in Oxnard mourns the loss of one of the community’s children. But if it mourns, it does so silently. I am confident that sermons on Sunday sought to bring comfort to congregations, but if there was any outcry against the homophobia that led to King’s death, it was not public.

But the greater voice of Christianity has not been silent since Larry was shot.

In the past few days, CBN tells us that homosexuality is about relational brokenness and that it’s possible to change your orientation. OneNewsNow (AFA) reports Rev. Ken Hutcherson calling a Gay-Straight Alliance a “sex club” without even suggesting that perhaps his accusation may be extreme. The California Catholic Daily reports that in California young children are to be “educated” to approve of the homosexual lifestyle and a Christian leader says “You have to get them out. You have to rescue them”.

And it is not just within the Christian press that homosexuality has been decried as evil this week.

From the Battle Creek Enquirer:

“I don’t define myself against other churches, but I am very scriptural and I don’t shy away from the hard scriptural passages,” said Griffin, who has recently tackled issues such as homosexuality, adultery and pornography. “I believe the truth is spoken in love. I don’t just pound the pulpit.”

From the Louisville Courier-Journal:

Presbyterians may disagree with their church’s ban on ordaining noncelibate gays and lesbians, but they must follow the rules, according to the Louisville-based denomination’s highest court.

From the Arizona Daily Star:

Leaders from five Anglican provinces said Friday they will boycott a once-a-decade world Anglican summit because the U.S. Episcopal Church ordained a gay bishop.

Yes there are denominations, churches, and individuals that are seeking to include gay people in the body of Christ. And they are seeking to have their voice be heard.

But sadly, if you asked the random stranger on the street, “What do Christians believe about gay people,” the answer would not be that gay people are to be loved as your neighbor or that they are equal children of God. Rather, you are going to hear time after time that the church condemns gays and lesbians and opposes their rights and equality.

So I ask – if the church opposes violence against gay people and seeks to show love, why does no one see it? If the church finds the murder of Lawrence King to be heinous and disgusting, why cannot I find words to that effect? If murder is at least as bad as homosexuality in the eyes of the church, why don’t the articles of Christian news-sources or the quotes of preachers and other religious leaders reflect this?

Tell me, just who is to blame for the message that the world has heard from the church this past week… if not the church?

Comments

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William
February 18th, 2008 | LINK

Thank you, Timothy, for a succinct analysis of the situation.

As you say, they’re very fond of trotting out that old chestnut, “One should love the sinner and hate the sin.”

When I hear this nowadays, I always find myself thinking of the Captain’s remark to Old Margret, the nurse, in Strindberg’s play, The Father:

“It’s wonderful how, the moment you talk about God and love, your voice beomes hard, and your eyes fill with hatred.”

Jim Burroway
February 18th, 2008 | LINK

This is something that has been bothering me a lot lately. I heard Mike Haley speak at the Love Won Out conference in Phoenix saying that the church should be the first to step forward in condemning Matthew Shepherd’s murder. So it’s not as if they didn’t know what to do. They just don’t seem to want to – – – for whatever reason.

David
February 19th, 2008 | LINK

Why is this surprising?

The only reason homosexuality is seen as unnatural or immoral in our society today is because Christianity conquered pagan Europe so many centuries ago.

Amsel
February 19th, 2008 | LINK

I’m new to this site, but my wife (or as good old N.C. calls her “my partner”) sent me this last night. I have to say when I read about this story last Friday I was utterly disgusted & infuriated. My thoughts immediately went to all those people I know who share this mentality including my mother. In my utter anger I wrote an email & sent it to her explaining that by supporting all these political & religious views she too has blood on her hands.

My comments did not get a favorable result as we are no longer talking (from the looks of it permanently), but I’m sorry these people need to hear it! Especially those in the case of my mother who have people in their lives that are gay. Thats not to excuse a blatant homophobic that has never known an “out” gay person, but they are somewhat less innocent in this whole problem.

In regards to the official church involvement, it saddens me that their is no official outrage. I think we as community who are Christian & gay need to assist our welcoming congregations in getting their word out & stop letting these fire & brimstone preachers speak for all of us! I know I intend to contact my church’s AWAB (Assoc. of Welcoming & Affirming Baptists) leaders to see how I can help.

Amsel
February 19th, 2008 | LINK

“but they are somewhat less innocent in this whole problem.”

I meant somewhat less guilty

Suricou Raven
February 19th, 2008 | LINK

I think its because there is no way they can report it that wouldn’t make them uncomfortable.

If they run it as a ‘Student murdered because he was gay’ story, they feel like they are furthering the Gay Agenda because they are promoting the anti-bullying measures they regard as indoctrination.

But if they try to compensate by attacking the anti-bullying measures, then they cant really deny that they are exploiting a boy’s death for political gain.

So.. if they cant say anything nice, they just wont say anything at all.

Bruce Garrett
February 19th, 2008 | LINK

If they run it as a ‘Student murdered because he was gay’ story, they feel like they are furthering the Gay Agenda…

Just so. How do you, on the one hand, preach a message that homosexuality is one of the biggest, if not The biggest, threat to the morals and values of the nation, that it will destroy marriage and family life, probably America itself, that it is an abomination in the eyes of God, that it is predatory and vastly dangerous, that it spreads disease and corruption everywhere it’s allowed to flourish…and then on the other hand and simultaneously, that homosexuals should be treated with dignity?

Love the sinner…hate the filthy, disease spreading, family destroying, youth defiling, soul corrupting, nation decaying abomination in the eyes of God sin. No…really love them…

You can appreciate the difficulty here. A person of conscience would look at that and let it tell them something about the integrity of situation they find themselves in. The problem with doing that is it leads to questions about your own integrity, and let’s face it…the sort of people willing to look those kinds of questions about themselves in the face and not flinch aren’t running those churches.

SharonB
February 19th, 2008 | LINK

And let’s not forget these same Church-affiliated hate groups are bombarding Montgomery County, MD with a not-so-subtle message that the gender variant are perverts out to infiltrate locker rooms in search of sexual prey.

Think that might incite a little violence?

Maybe it would cause too much cognitive dissonance for the “church” to condemn activities and violence that they tacitly incite with their message (of eradicating GLBT identity).

Martin Lanigan
February 19th, 2008 | LINK

To the extent that religions are a safe harbour to anti-gay bigotry, is the extent to which religious hands are stained with the blood of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people.

Every bat, every bullet, and every fist raised against LGBT people, is in part, raised because God(s) find LGBT people detestable.

The mystery is not the link between denigrating ideas and violent acts, but why so few religious people acknowledge and challenge it.

Suricou Raven
February 19th, 2008 | LINK

I am not sure how much of the connection is actually religion teaching people to hate gays, and how much is people who hate gays turning to religion. If someone says “Gays are child-raping freaks and I want to keep them from interacting with normal people,” its fairly obvious they are full of hate and potentially dangerous. But if the same person goes to a church they can reword their view into “God says homosexuality is wrong, and I want to serve God.” It makes no practical difference to their actions, but it sounds much more respectable. Even better, it lets them feel they are rightous – that they are on the side of Good, fighting the moral fight for – as one anti-gay organisation I know of puts it – ‘Faith, Family and Freedom’ against the Homosexual Agenda.

So it could be that religion causes anti-gay feeling, or it could just be used to add legitimacy and remove guilt to views people already have. I dont know which way round it is.

wayne
February 23rd, 2008 | LINK

its to hard to understand when a boy gos to school wearing eye shadown lipstick, high heals, and jewlery, and tells another young boy he has a crush on him, it seams that gay people expect that to be answered with a ” no thank you ” but most people , especialy young adolecent boys are not able to except that kind of sexual shock……they say we need to understand gays, but gays need to understand that there is a time and place for pushing youyr sexualty on someone…….guys know not to push themselves on girls untill there older, gays have to understand that just because you have come to the realisation that your gay dosent mean its ok to to dress like a grl.and try to get other boys to have a sexual relationship with you.should this boy be killed.of course not..but timeing for you is not timeing for everyone

Priya Lynn
February 24th, 2008 | LINK

Wayne, a boy dressing as a girl isn’t harming anyone and has a right to do so. Expressing an interest in someone isn’t pushing your sexuality on them, girls put up with this all the time and boys have no special right to be excluded from it either. If a boy is not interested in another gay boy he can simply make this clear and that’s as far as it needs to go.

Denise
February 25th, 2008 | LINK

It’s been the Law since the time of Moses, and 4000 years later we are still finding excuses to ignore it: Thou shalt not kill.

I say this every time I hear about religiously-motivated hate crimes: Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” How bloody hard is it?!

Jorge
February 26th, 2008 | LINK

A clear reason why I abandoned churches and religions altogether. They are all fake. If Jesus came back he’d tell it to their faces! And BTW how is this religious hate different from Islam??

anynomas
February 29th, 2008 | LINK

After reading the following messages I am outraged. I am a Catholic,but do not belive in predjudices. This boy did nothing wrong. The one who loaded the gun and murdered him did. Now it is ok to shoot people for being different??? Are you telling me the murder didn’t know right from wrong??? Everyone should be able to live in this country free from predjudices. Everyone deserves to be loved,and love in return. Our soldiers are dying in IRAQ/AFGANISTAN so we can live free,and make our own comments and decisions. But when someone takes it upon themselves to take anothers life,because they don’t like that he wears lipstick thats sick and wrong. I am proud to say I believe in God,God does not like hate and the people that do these things and spew hateful words againist any race,any sex will have to answer to the maker. When will we just like people for who they are and stop defining them by there race and sexual orientation? Where they live,what car they drive. God bless the families in this tradgedy. And may there son live an eternal life with God.

Equality Loudoun » Enabling murder
March 5th, 2008 | LINK

[…] the ignorance and confusion that led a fourteen year old boy to shoot him in the back of the head. Timothy Kincaid asks where they are: I have searched and as best I can find, in the days since King’s murder, the […]

Neil H
March 7th, 2008 | LINK

I know this is late commentary, but the American Family Association has put out an e-mail urging people to keep their children home from school during the Day of Silence, a day that seeks to bring attention to the harassment and bullying of LGBT students in high school.

I thought of that, and thought of this post, and thought that it showed that Christian groups are not just refusing to condemn anti-gay violence, but are actively campaigning against those who do.

Jason D
March 7th, 2008 | LINK

“Wayne said:should this boy be killed.of course not..but timeing for you is not timeing for everyone”

Cop out, cop out, cop out. I’m sorry, but someone obviously taught Brandon, passively or actively, that this was an appropriate response. And that is sick and sad. You’re essentially trying to blame the victim.

What you’re saying is, “I know this was over-reaction, but you gays have to understand that all bets are off if you approach us, it’s perfectly understandable that this kid was gunned down, he should’ve just pretended to be like everyone else.”

If we are all equal, if it doesn’t matter who we are, if we all are deserving of respect, than “NO THANK YOU” is the appropriate response. There are no “you have to understand”s about it. No exceptions. I doesn’t matter if you’re gay or straight, if you don’t like someone you don’t kill them. Period.
What you, and others like you, want to say is that your revulsion is so important that it justifies murder. That gays simply shouldn’t talk to anyone if they expect to live.
I don’t know where you live, but it’s certainly not America.

Brandy
March 17th, 2008 | LINK

This is so true. I’m the President of a G.S.A club at Stony Point High School. I’m an 18 year old Senior, and I can ASSURE you, that it is not a ‘sex club’. How dare he. It is a place where gays, lesbians, bi-sexuals, transgenders, and the straight to come and talk and discuss their feelings freely, since we can’t do it anywhere else without fear. Thank you for this article. This years Day of Silence on April 25th will be dedicated to Lawrence King. To spread the message that ‘Homosexuality is not a disease, Homophobia is.”

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