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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 Christianity.

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 gay people.

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 diploma."

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 themselves Christian?

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.

I have a feeling Jesus wouldn't even recognize some of his followers as "Christian."

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Quote of the Day

Soldiers who are not afraid of guns, bombs, capture, torture or death say they are afraid of homosexuals. Clearly we should not be used as soldiers; we should be used as weapons.

~ Letter to the Editor, The Advocate

When I was in the military they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one.

~ From the tombstone of a gay Vietnam veteran

Picture of the Day

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Matthew Shepard


One Year Ago
and the Doctor Said...
he sat next to me, got his Very Serious Doctor Voice and his wide eyes and, as if he were giving me the news of a terminal illness, he said, "I'm afraid it's time for bifocals."

Two Years Ago
Oh Boy!
Yeah...yeah...I know. All you people who upgrade whenever dust gets between your keyboard keys can't possibly understand why I haven't done all this weeks ago. Just be patient. I'm slow--but when I start bonding, just watch me go!

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