My team is looking stupid. Just when I think I live my life with genuine concern and grace towards others , some person or group that wears the same team jersey comes along and treats people badly, messing up all the traction. Christians can be the kindest, most loving, giving and forgiving people but unfortunately, we also can be the meanest, most hateful people… especially when we think that “you have it wrong and we have it right.”
I accept differences in theology quite well. My goodness, who agrees with everything another says or thinks? What I do not like at all is when lies and manipulations are piled upon theology as if they too were part of the “truth package” direct from God. I did a post last week about the new program from Focus on the Family called “Day of Dialogue,” challenging the true intent of that “Jesus-loves-you-and-me-let’s-talk-about-it” action. “Day of Dialogue” is a thinly-veiled anti-GLBT youth program. Give it a read.
I was one of those Moms who listened to James Dobson’s Focus on the Family (FOTF) regularly while I raised my kids, now 23 and 25 years old. I enjoyed the interviews with authors and speakers; “Whit’s End” thoroughly entertained me. Somewhere along this twenty year journey that FOTF and I started together, FOTF has strayed from its psychological, theological and family focus. FOTF ended up on the path that so many Christian conservative “family” groups detoured onto since the 1990’s.
Expressing theological views is solidly fine with me; I do it, but being deceitful and manipulative about GLBT people, or any group of people, does not model family, ethical or Jesus values. We Christians, after all, are supposed to be the ones that act like Jesus.
FOTF has a document on their website called “Parents Beware” written by FOTF Family Education Analyst, Candi Cushman and originally published in CitizenLink in July 2010. Ms. Cushman is the spokesperson behind “Day of Dialogue” and TrueTolerance.org , so it is important to know what she writes in other places away from the cheery, hip “Day Of Dialogue” website. It is also important to read what FOTF is telling Christian families about GLBT youth, adults and their advocates in other parts of the website.
Here are some points Ms. Cushman makes in “Parents Beware” which are entirely misleading or outright lies:
- GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) is “a national homosexual-activist group dedicated to promoting homosexuality to public school kids all the way down to the kindergarten level.” GLSEN’s mission statement actually is: “to create safe school for all students and to respect and accept all people regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.” Not the same thing, Ms. Cushman.
- Ms. Cushman, for FOTF, CitizenLink and the Alliance Defense Fund says that “targeting schools has been a high priority of homosexual activist groups. It is not even something they’ve tried to hide—‘we recognize that the schools are ground zero in our efforts’ proclaims site PFLAG (Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbian and Gays).” Not true. Try looking at the whole sentence in the PFLAG mission statement: “We recognize that the schools are ground zero in our efforts to stop homophobia in the classroom and create a safe learning environment for all students.” Not only is that not the same thing, Ms. Cushman, but now you’re being deceptive.
- Red flags to watch for, FOTF tells us, are: “ ‘anti-bullying’ policies that list special protections for ‘sexual orientation’ or ‘gender identity’ ”. Wow, that is a red flag?
- “Avoid creating special categories for protection.” and, “Counter bad policy by offering an effective and legally sound alternative like the model anti-bullying policy developed by the Alliance Defense Fund”, which does not specify any one group because “we can unite around the teachings of our Founding Fathers—in particular, the principle that all men are created equal and that they are endowed with unalienable rights.” Sounds excellent, patriotic and principled but “all men are created equal” is part of the Declaration of Independence (our independence from England) and then the Founding Fathers came up with a Constitution with ten items listed in the Bill of Rights. That was not complete enough for a growing nation and we added seventeen more amendments to the original ten from the Founding Fathers. If we had stuck with the Founding Fathers’ Top Ten List and not added more, we would still be discriminating against people of race, gender, nation of origin, age and those with disabilities. As years go by, sometimes you just need to spell it out: public schools are government-funded and they follow civil laws. If you only want your kids to sit next to kids in your little religious club, then send them to a private school or homeschool them. (I homeschooled my children for six years.)
- “Iowa passed a homosexual-themed ‘anti-bullying’ law in 2007. . . . [with] training courses for teachers with titles like ‘How to Make My Classroom Safe for LGBT Students’. They feature the movie Brokeback Mountain.” Yes, training given to teachers in our past and present helped schools become more safe and inclusive of students not in the majority. Black students, students with disabilities, and Muslim students. We grow, expand and learn. That is what educated people and societies do. Andit’s absolutely not true that the program features Brokeback Mountain. Cushman’s claim is, quite frankly, an incendiary falsehood with no basis in fact.
This is just a glimpse into the twisted misrepresentations presented by just one FOTF document, “Parents Beware”. Again, I don’t have an issue with differing theological points of view, but we Christians should not be lying and twisting words to support any of our positions. I am writing a series on the horribly deceitful tract by Dr. Paul Cameron which is still widely quoted and used by pastors and conservative family groups entitled, “Medical Consequences of What Homosexuals Do”. It is embarrassing to see what some Christian conservatives have passed around as “fact”. In turn, it has been used as a weapon of lies against God’s children.
Many conservative “family” groups, authors, speakers and preachers are speaking out more vocally and dishonestly about the GLBT community. As GLBT people are posed to gain civil rights, those “family” groups are digging in for the final battle and becoming more vitriolic. Their speech and publications have a few commonalities:
- They tell us how horrible GLBT people are, and what a dark threat they are to society; they use lots of carefully crafted words and phrases to generate fear in their audience.
- They focus almost exclusively on the sex part of homosexual; therefore, gay and transgender folks are not people with feelings and emotions, they are simply people who have sex.
- They take statements from GLBT advocates completely out of context in order to make their audience fear them as a threat.
- They use outdated, non-scientific, non-representative, out of context studies that would not pass Grade School Science Fair qualifications. And, when they use these tasty “facts”, they make sure to give them scientific-sounding footnotes. Then, others will cite the same “study” until it is repeated often enough, it is assumed to be the truth. This is a huge problem in Christian circles.
- They attempt to tie the actions of homosexuals to the demise of heterosexual marriage, even if the two aren’t at all related.
- Of course, any good “family” group worth its salt must make the tired claim that homosexuals are a danger to children (aka rape)… even if a child is more likely to be raped by a family member than any gay person they would ever encounter.
- Finally, they tie it all up in a Jesus-blood-soaked bow so that we all know you are being “loving” and “compassionate” and “doing this all for Him,” “for His glory” and the “protection of His Kingdom” and Heaven. The Him Who said “whosoever” apparently did not really mean to include everyone.
If you are a supporter of Focus on the Family and are opposed to actions like targeting GLBT youth with “Day of Dialogue” or withholding protections of GLBT youth (as in their stance on “anti-bullying”, then voice your concerns to FOTF (Email: help@FocusontheFamily.com). Tell them they need to stop interfering with the civil protections of GLBT youth in our public schools. It is bad enough that they encourage alienation of GLBT youth in Christian environments.
I have had thousands of conversations and email exchanges with Christians who have been so damaged by the Christian church. There is an alternate, Biblically sound interpretation of Scripture verses that many other Christians hold as more valid and more loving. And those of us who have come to a different conclusion after taking the time to study Scripture and dig into the culture and context are growing in number, even if we’re accused of being “heretics.” Many of us are straight Christians who know we have been fed a very bitter, money-motivated, agenda-fueled pill since the 1970’s. Instead, we focus on the overarching Scriptural message of love and mercy for all, so please do not discount us as “cheap grace” Christians (as if there can ever be such a thing?). I can argue most people under the table on these verses; I am not without solid theology. I have been a believer and follower of Jesus for almost 30 years. I am not willing to see my belief system hijacked by humans with misplaced fears and political agendas.
Correction needs to come from within the church as we police our own. If you lie about people we love, people God loves, expect many of us to oppose it. Vocally. Publicly. You make us look stupid and hateful. This is having a huge effect not only on those GLBT people excluded from our churches and organizations, but also on the friends, families and allies who love them. People are catching on to the lies. We are developing relationships with GLBT people and we know them for the people they are. Not the “abominations” and “broken” folks you want us to see.
Don’t lie. Commandment Number Nine: “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.” Not many ways to interpret that one.
Are you listening, Ms. Cushman and Focus on the Family? Stop lying. Lying is not a family value. And Jesus is not good with it, either. So, stop it.
Next up: back to the series on Paul Cameron’s “Medical Consequences of What Homosexuals Do” and a look at what the new James Dobson ministry “Family Talk with James Dobson” says about homosexuals. New package, same contents.