TW: violent homophobia and homophobic language, violence to children, suicide
“It is well known that the homosexual agenda is just an insidious plot to prevent gay teenagers from dying.” – Stephen Colbert
It is clear that homophobic bullying is directly responsible for gay kids and teens committing suicide. Nonetheless, some despicable people insist that governments and schools cannot take action to stop such bullying. These reprehensible scumbags assert that their freedoms of religion and speech mean that they, and those who agree with them, cannot be prevented from spewing their homophobic vitriol. By making this argument, they are defending a “right” to sacrifice children to their religion.
It’s bad enough when anti-bullying efforts are crippled by carving out “religious” exemptions like the situation in Michigan. By pushing for that waiver to be written into the law, people like the mis-named Michigan American Family Association explicitly assert that it may be difficult to tell the difference between bullying and “sincerely held” religious conviction. By resisting any and all anti-bullying efforts – as these extremely conservative Christians have consistently done – they are arguing that it is impossible to differentiate between “Go kill yourself, faggot,” and “I believe the Bible says gay sex is wrong.”
Moreover, when convictions have to be taken into account to decide whether something is or is not bullying, that’s a claim that intent is magic: the “right” beliefs suddenly transubstantiate merciless verbal and physical abuse into well-meaning religious outreach. What kind of “sincerely held” beliefs make it not just acceptable but necessary, as a religious obligation, for teens to say and do things like this to each other?
This is a matter of religious purity. Homophobes realize that they are quickly losing the battle to claim that QUILTBAG people are somehow objectively wrong, bad, or dangerous. They are retreating to the stronghold of freedom of religion, abusing its defenses to shelter the last holdouts of violent homophobia. In so doing, they are making it clear that their objections to people being gay are religious in nature, just like Muslim strictures against drinking alcohol or Jewish dietary laws prohibiting pork.
Take another example: some extremely conservative interpretations of Islam mandate incredibly restrictive dress codes for women. If they break the modesty standards of their group, women may be punished physically. When the US invaded Afghanistan, situations like this were held up as examples of how awful the Taliban was for enforcing its religious views on everyone and even threatening them with grave physical harm or death for disobeying. The fact that the Taliban had “sincerely held” religious beliefs didn’t seem to give them a free pass to abuse and kill others.
More specifically, extremely conservative Christians who claim religious motivations are also acknowledging that they’re engaging in these behaviors (whether they call it witnessing or bullying) for their own religious benefit. By saying it’s their rights that are being infringed, they discard any figleaf excuse that what they’re doing is for the victim’s good. They are defending cruelty and sadism that leads to kids’ deaths for the sake of their religion.
They are defending religious child sacrifice.
Some Christians have been quick to make this claim about other religions, both historically and in the present day. They have vilified and condemned those accused of it. Now they insist their religious beliefs require other people’s children to suffer and die. They are passing children through the flames – but this time it’s for Jesus.