30 August 2002
Seems to me that in the last decade or so, there are a lot of people becoming very
vocal, telling us they are Christians. I have nothing against Christians. Some of my best
friends are Christians. I consider myself a Christian.
But there are sure an awful lot of un-Christian things done in the name of
My definition of being "Christian" is someone who believes in Christ and who
attempts to live his/her life emulating the teachings of Jesus.
I learned this week of a woman who has joined the staff at Breaking Barriers. Breaking Barriers was
established as a social service outreach to people who are infected with the HIV virus, or
who have full blown AIDS. It allows them to get rides to appointments, provides food
baskets, helps with household chores for people too weak to do them, and sets clients up
with one-to-one emotional support. It also provides outreach to the homeless,
encouraging them to get tested, teaching safe sexual practices, etc. I've been
a volunteer there for three years (though not so much since I started a real job again).
Recently, Breaking Barriers added breast cancer patients to its list of clients who
would receive social support. This woman was hired to take charge of the breast
cancer part of the program.
Her true colors emerged when the organization was threatened with loss of funding for
volunteer support (volunteers are reimbursed for mileage). She apparently didn't see
anything wrong with cutting funding to the volunteers who work with HIV clients, but it
would be a shame for the breast cancer clients. Why? "Women with breast cancer don't
do anything to get their disease, people with HIV bring it on themselves." (tell that
to the 65 year old woman who got it through a blood transfusion during an operation).
When her comments were questioned, she said that she couldn't help it; she's a
Christian woman and can't accept "those people."
"Those people," meaning, I guess, gay people. Interesting opinion from
someone who works in an office which is staffed predominately by gay and lesbian people.
What would Jesus do? Jesus, who accepted everyone in love, one of whose best friends
was a known prostitute shunned by most of the rest of society.
This term "Christian" has become a caveat for all sorts of mistreatment of
In Melbourne, Australia, Dat Bang Truong stabbed his 23-year-old neighbor in the chest and slashed his
ear because homosexuality was against his Christian belief.
On February 28 in another part of Australia, Nathan Lee Hill and Clint Allan Teariki, 19, were part of a gang of five males who
celebrated a friend's birthday before bashing gay men. One man was punched, kicked and made to take off
most of his clothes as Teariki threatened him with a machete, muttering to
his friends: "Let me chop him bro . . . let me kill him."
In Southeast Washington, two transgender teenagers, best friends who were biologically male
but dressed and lived as women, were shot and killed - a crime that police said was unusually violent. Police
said that each body had at least 10 bullet wounds and that both victims died
at the scene.
At midnight on Halloween 2000, Justin Fidelis Enos was beaten,
dragged behind a horse and murdered with a shovel on the Gila River
Reservation in Arizona because he was gay.
Every time it seems that things might be improving, a story comes out such as the
case of Derek
Henkle, a gifted student from Reno, who has not yet received his high school diploma
because of the continuous assaults and brutality he has experienced in school, which have
gone unpunished by the school officials.
"Once, school security officers watched and did nothing while a student punched
the teenager half a dozen times in the face. Another time, two students strung a lasso
around his neck and threatened to drag him behind their pick-up truck; they met with
punishment only months after the incident. The threats and name calling escalated to death
threats, forcing Derek to flee school, and to this day, he has no high school
Derek has been harrassed and assaulted in three different schools.
- In Fall 1995, at Galena High School, two boys strung a lasso around Derek's neck and
threatened to drag him from their pick-up truck; months later, school officials only
briefly suspended the attackers.
- In Spring 1996, at Washoe High School, the school principal repeatedly demanded that
Derek hide his sexual orientation, at one point warning, "I won't have you acting
like a fag."
- In Fall 1996, at Wooster High School, two school police officers witnessed Derek being
punched in the face six times by another student, then tried to discourage him from
reporting the incident.
When two boys threatened to drag Derek by the neck from their pick-up truck, school
officials sent Derek to a school for troublemakers. Officials even told him his
safety was conditioned on hiding his sexual orientation.
How does something like this exist in this day and age? How do we continue to let
schools be an unsafe, threatening place for gay students? And how do people like this call
I have a feeling that Jesus would be the first person leaping to Derek's defense and
reminding these good "Christians" about the nature of hypocrisy.
If Jesus walked the earth today, he would be a member of the Safe Schools Coalition and Families United Against Hate. He would not stand by
passively, doing nothing, while watching a young man being beaten.