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The champions of the bullies

Timothy Kincaid

July 14th, 2011

In recent years bullying of gay children and those perceived to be gay has caught the attention of the nation. While this is not a new phenomenon, the rise of “new media” has allowed for stories that individually may have received little notice – or may have been intentionally misconstrued – to be seen as a pattern and an ongoing problem. And as the list of names of children tormented to the point of suicide grew, so too did a collective awareness that our culture has a serious problem with bullying.

Secular concern has been consistent and compassionate. Individuals, celebrities, corporations, and the President of the United States have all sought to give kids a message of hope that they should hold on because it gets better.

But the response to this problem from people of faith has been mixed. Some, mostly in Jewish and mainline Christian denominations, have condemned the bullying and expressed acceptance, love, and support for the gay and presumed gay victims. Others have agreed that bullying is not a good thing, but have dismissed its seriousness and resisted anti-bullying programs as being homosexual propaganda.

But generally there has been agreement that slurs are not appropriate behavior for Christian youth.

Yet there are those among conservative evangelical Christianity who don’t just downplay slurs and expressions of contempt but engage in such behaviors themselves. One such person is Daniel Beckworth, youth pastor at Union Grove Baptist Church in Opelika, Alabama and regional representative of Youth for Christ.

David Rattigan, at Ex-Gay Watch, chronicles an email exchange between himself and Beckworth which was initiated by a slur that Beckworth left on the site. When David reached out to Beckworth to remind him of the consequences of bullying kids who are “different”, he was met with a particularly telling rebuttal:

Maybe you should speak to the young boys who wish they had someone to help them be manly. You dont need to reply. You have no chance of convincing me that we need to pamper young boys.

David does not see Beckworth as an isolated instance. Rather he traces his views to rhetoric and example from Mark Driscoll, pastor of Seattle’s mega-church Mars Hill Church. Driscoll too, it appears, practices a religion that values contempt over compassion and arrogance over kindness.

But while Driscoll engages in a pattern of insult followed by pseudo-apology, his example gives cover to those like Beckworth who find virtue in abusing the weak. Go read the entire story at Ex-Gay Watch and keep it in mind for the next time that some conservative Christian tells you, “It isn’t us, it isn’t kids from our churches that are doing the bullying!”

In coming commentaries I’ll be discussing some things I’ve observed about a growing tension in a conservative denomination as well as how some recent correspondence illustrates the peculiar logic and self-deception required to justify cruelty.

Comments

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mariele
July 14th, 2011 | LINK

Hmmmm…. Do you suppose Jesus would want to belong to a lot of these supposed “Christian” churches? Do you suppose Jesus would want to claim them as following in His footsteps?

Dave Rattigan
July 14th, 2011 | LINK

Dave Rattigan, not Roberts. Heh. ;)

Thanks, Timothy. Let’s keeping calling these guys to account.

Edwin
July 14th, 2011 | LINK

These are just bullies in sheeps clothing. No pun intended . With church pastors like this it is no wonder churches are losing people. I quit churches about 15 years because My God dosen’t preach hate like these bullies do.

Ezam
July 14th, 2011 | LINK

Kinda off-topic but ExGayWatch has been crashing my browser for quite some time.

Timothy Kincaid
July 14th, 2011 | LINK

Sorry, Dave. Fixed it.

Matt
July 14th, 2011 | LINK

But while Driscoll engages in a pattern of insult followed by pseudo-apology, his example gives cover to those like Beckworth who find virtue in abusing the weak.

I’m not really comfortable with the characterization of effeminate and/or gay individuals, or teens, as “weak,” though maybe that’s not what you mean by this.

Individuals like Daniel Beckworth are not strong, and what they celebrate is not strength.

Timothy Kincaid
July 14th, 2011 | LINK

Matt,

I meant weak in the general sense. Those vulnerable to attack due to real or perceived differences.

The word weak also fits well with the language of faith.

For example, Psalm 82:3-4:

Defend the weak and the fatherless;
uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.
Rescue the weak and the needy;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked.

Gregory Peterson
July 14th, 2011 | LINK

Some Catholics have dredged up Fulton Sheen on “false compassion” to justify that attitude. “Homosexuals” are like muggers, mugging conservative delusions of moral superiority, I guess, by their mere presence.

“Compassion is a sympathy, a pity, an affinity to be wounded when others are wounded…There’s always been a right kind of compassion.”

“False compassion which is gradually growing in this country is a pity that is shown not to the mugged, but to the mugger…There are some judges..some social workers (not all), there are sob sisters, the social slobberers who insist on compassion being shown to the mugger, dope fiend, beatnicks, prostitutes, homosexuals, punks…For that today, the decent man is practically off the reservation. This is a false compassion.” http://bryanhehirexposed.wordpress.com/2010/06/05/on-the-issue-of-false-compassion-to-homosexuals/

Ben in Atlanta
July 14th, 2011 | LINK

Atlanta Pride is in October now. Here’s what we did Stonewall Weekend.

Churches can get together.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a3RoUT9c9_M

John
July 15th, 2011 | LINK

Perhaps part of the national discussion on bullying needs to include what it means to be masculine or “manly”, whatever that’s supposed to mean. I can only guess that unless one looks and acts like a pro football linebacker, one is not masculine or manly enough. I have noticed that those men who are comfortable with their gender and sexuality as heterosexual men have no problem with LGBT people.

Sammy
July 15th, 2011 | LINK

Speaking of Seattle and religion, this will haunt me forever:

http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/god-was-with-them/Content?oid=20917

Jim Burroway
July 15th, 2011 | LINK

I look forward to the coming commentaries.

Richard Rush
July 15th, 2011 | LINK

Typo? “David does not see Beckworth as not an isolated instance.”

Timothy Kincaid
July 15th, 2011 | LINK

Thanks, Richard, i removed the double negative.

AdrianT
July 16th, 2011 | LINK

As well as being a pretty nasty individual, Mark Driscoll is also nuts, as a cursory search of ‘darwin’ on his ludicrous Resurgence website conforms.

“…..Then, in six literal days God prepared the earth for the creation of mankind and on the sixth day made the first man and woman. While our elders are split on this view, I personally find it quite compelling for two reasons…..”

People of his ilk perform any type of mental gymnastics to warp reality so that fit one’s own world view.

cd
July 16th, 2011 | LINK

For those who keep an eye on Mark Driscoll, he has serious anger issues and remarkably (ahem) homoerotic fantasies.

Some suspect he’s the next Ted Haggard.

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