Despite the fact that there's scant evidence in the Bible that Jesus was an asshole who commanded his followers to bully gay children to death, a group of American Christian parents seem to think Christ has called upon them to act like jerks. That's why they're actively working against the passage of anti-bullying laws at the state level — they believe that by making repeated, ongoing cruelty illegal, lawmakers are interfering with their Jesus loving child's right to point out that homosexuality is wrong and bad and hellbound.
"Bullying children is wrong and bad" may sound like the most basic tenet of human decency, but if you ask conservative lobbying groups like Concerned Women for America and Focus on the Family, making it a crime to taunt someone until they kill themselves is akin to interfering with religious freedom. According to AlterNet's Katherine Stewart, conservative groups across the country have opposed various anti-bullying measures because they say outlawing bullying is akin to state endorsement of the homosexual lifestyle. You know, Madonna and glitter and buttsex and all-women's softball teams all that. The homosexual lifestyle.
In Michigan, lawmakers attempted to insert a provision into an anti-bullying bill that would have allowed bullying only on the grounds that it was being done based on a "sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction" (As in, "I sincerely and morally believe that Mandy has a nutsack" or "God told me I should write "FAG" on your locker?"). That effort was killed after national outcry against it, but in Tennessee, lawmakers are now attempting to make it legal for jerkhole kids to bully other kids based on their religious preference — or lack thereof. And in Washington, 70 education and civil rights groups have backed a measure that would make it illegal for sexual orientation or gender identity to be used as basis for student discrimination. Christian groups have claimed this law would contribute to the "homosexualization" of students, notes Stewart.
I hate to break it to Christian groups, but if your kid's straightness is so flimsy that it depends on his ability to punch the kids who can't throw a spiral pass in gym class, your kid is probably going to start secretly dating an older man named Bruce or Lance once he gets to college. Rejecting anti-bullying laws is akin to codifying repression and shame. And that's a pretty crappy way to live.
Further, anyone who has dabbled in Christianity or spent their childhood Sunday mornings learning the lessons of Jesus — that friendly bearded 2,000-year-old Israeli peace-loving hippie — knows that if there's anything Jesus thought was A-OK, it was loving people and treating them with dignity and respect. Now I'm no Biblical scholar, but I don't recall getting to that part in the Gospels where Jesus went around shoving gay children into garbage cans while the 12 disciples laughed and laughed, or the part where Jesus set up a fake Facebook account so he could tell the effeminate boy from homeroom that he should consider slitting his wrists. Thus it's this anti-anti-bullying backlash is a bit confusing for me, an ex-Christian who has nothing personally against Jesus. If I'd known that Jesus was a bully, I'd have jumped ship long ago.