Conservative Christians are often infuriated by discussions which link their anti-gay activism to violence against actual gay people. They will angrily say that they oppose violence and they love the sinner. That Christians are not the ones going around attacking gay people.
But the truth is plain. Cultivate a culture of condemnation and you will soon see hostility. Oppose tolerance and you’ll get intolerance. Dehumanize gay people and soon you’ll find that there are those willing to treat gay people as something other than human.
And a clear example is evident in Washington.
For years, Ken Hutcherson, pastor of Antioch Bible Church in Redmond, WA, has been fighting to make Mt. Si High School a miserable place for gay students. He’s tried to get teachers fired for challenging him on gay issues and threatened to put another on his list. He’s sent his daughter to monitor Gay-Straight-Alliance meetings. He’s preached that God hates effeminate men and “joked” about beating them. He’s spread the message that the Bible opposes tolerance.
Unable to stop the event, in 2008, Hutcherson took his bullhorn and staged a protest on the Day of Silence across the street from Mt. Si. About 600 of the 1,400 students stayed home that day.
Johnson said her son appointed himself the protector of a new friend who was being intimidated and followed by a group of boys in the hallways at school. She said the taunts included anti-gay slurs. One night, Johnson said, she found her son texting the other boy, “Just stay by me.”
On Friday, Nov. 6, shortly after noon, the two 14-year-olds came into the locker room to change after PE class. Johnson said the freshman who allegedly led the harassment started taunting the one boy about his presumed sexual orientation.
When Johnson’s son swore and told him to leave his friend alone, a 16-year-old junior stepped into the dispute. He struck Johnson’s son twice in the face, lifted him off a bench, kneed him in the face and, when he fell to the ground, kicked him, according to witness statements to the police. A school-surveillance camera caught the 16-year-old leaving the locker room, shaking his hand as if in pain, said Johnson, who has watched the tape.
Johnson was summoned to the school by a frantic call from her son. When she arrived about 1 p.m., she said her son was bleeding from the eye and nose and was nearly “unrecognizable” on the left side of his face. She assumed that an aid car had been called, but one wasn’t summoned until 1:16 p.m., according to police records.
She also learned that a vice principal had asked the boy to go back to the locker room and search for his missing tooth.
The assault broke his eye socket, two teeth and left him with a concussion. The picked on kid’s conclusion? “I think a lot of people don’t like gays.”
Things like this happen most often when society gives its permission. When preachers and parents and teachers and administrators make it clear that small awkward less-masculine boys are sinful threatening menaces to the community with an evil homosexual agenda. And one man is more responsible for that message at Mt. Si High School than any other.
Am I taking it too far to say that Ken Hutcherson owns some responsibility for this kid’s assault, that he has blood on his hands? No.
The seeds of hatred that blossomed into this violent attack were sown by Rev. Ken Hutcherson. Sown, watered, tended and nourished.