The conversation around Bill 18 has left me sad.

“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation.  We must always take sides.  Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.  Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”  – Elie Wiesel

I’m sad.

For the past 4 months, there has been an effort on the part of some people to oppose the government’s anti-bullying legislation, Bill 18.  The effort has been largely spearheaded by Christians.

Most of the noise (or conversation), has left me sad.  I’m filled with this deep heaviness that I can’t quite explain.

I’m sad that at the public school board meeting, there were only about 25 people in attendance.  At least 7 were there to support Bill 18, at least 5 were media, so that left about 13 people there to oppose it.  Thirteen.  Where were the church leaders who claim Bill is a threat to the Christian church?  Where were the city councillors who passed the motion at city hall? (I saw one there, but not the one who made the motion…)  Where were the people organizing the petition signed by 2,776 people?  Where were the 2,776?  Not there.  Bull dogs in your own back yard…  Puppies when you cross the street.  If you care so much about this bill being amended, if you sent emails and set up meetings to persuade the school trustees to vote a certain way, you should have been there.

I’m sad that Christians think they are persecuted.  We receive tax receipts from the government when we give money to church.  One cannot claim persecution while at the same time receiving tax breaks.

I’m sad that we Christians appear to lack any sort of critical assessment tools to figure out if our behaviour is helpful or not.  We can make all sorts of grandiose statements because the Bible says something or we think God is telling us, but if we go public with those statement and get punched in the teeth, we claim persecution and that the world just doesn’t like our message.  It’s kind of a win-win scenario for Christians.   It’s a bit of a persecution complex of sorts… We’re either right, or we celebrate being wrong.

I’m sad that Christians at a prayer meeting are encouraged to pray that Kelvin Goertzen’s would be “strengthened and protected”, but not Nancy Allan.  We were encouraged to pray that she would change the legislation.  Last time I checked, God causes the sun to shine on everyone.  But whatever… What do I know about God blessing politicians with strength and protection?

I’m sad because certain politicians ask for prayer support from certain churches.  I wonder if these same politicians and same churches have meaningful conversations about torture and violence and our government’s use of it.  Maybe there’s a reason why these politicians don’t associate with my church.

I’m sad that people use unhealthy triangulation communication patterns, speaking anonymously through others.  If you want to talk to me, please don’t go through others.  My name and contact info is out there.  Own up and do the same.

I’m sad that my words have been misquoted and construed to say that all LGBTQ sex behaviours are normal and equal to married, heterosexual sex.  If anybody can please show me where I said that, I’d be grateful.

I’m sad because almost 3000 people put their names on a petition to the local school board, and then claim they have a majority, (last time I checked, 15% of a voting population isn’t a majority), even though the other 85% of the population hasn’t been consulted.

I’m sad people confuse a petition with a referendum.

I’m sad because people think that Sun News and www.lifesitenews.com are unbiased sources.  They are not.

I’m sad when people equate sexual orientations that aren’t straight with pedophilia and bestiality.  I find this to be insulting, demeaning, destructive, fear-mongering, and pathetic.  I feel for my gay friends who are labeled as having a proclivity to child abuse.  I am angry for the parents of GLBTQ kids who are labeled as having children that have a proclivity to sex with animals.  Please stop doing this.  Thank you.

I’m sad that I live in a community where kids feel bold enough to shout our homophobic slurs in public.

I’m sad because a lot of Christians got out loved by a 17 year old gay kid.  “I would just say that I’m not here to wage a war on Christianity, I’m not here to wage a war on any churches or the school division, that’s not my objective.  My objective is to have a safe environment at school for people to come forward and come out of the closet and for no one to feel afraid at school anymore.”  

I’m sad because a lot of people’s words have misconstrued, usually as a weapon to breed fear.

I’m sad because many people opposing Bill 18 haven’t read Bill 18.

I’m sad because people are afraid, and they are reacting to their fear by seeking power (through government, petitions, etc).  Whenever Christians seek power because of fear, ugly, ugly things happen.

I’m sad because nobody is claiming ownership over www.protectourschools.ca.  Elected officials and church leaders have told people to go to that website (some church leaders were even handing out business cards!), but they are all quick to say that they didn’t create it.  I wonder who did?  (Seriously, if you are reading this and know, please let me know!)

I’m sad for all the needless division and pain this has caused a lot of people in my community.  The tears and anxiety and anger all seem a bit unnecessary in the big picture.

I’m sad that sexual orientation seems to be the orthodoxy test for true Christianity.  Of all the hills one could die on, why this one?  Why not violence vs. non-violence? Why not selling everything and giving to the poor (since Jesus himself said that)?  Why sexual orientation? (My quick answer is that it is the one ‘sin’ people can easily point out in others and not have to worry about, since they are not gay.  It’s kind of like the 2013 version of the Pharisees, passing themselves off as righteous and excluding the sinners.  It’s a good thing Jesus had such nice things to say to the Pharisees…)

I’m sad that the anti-bill 18 group online has banned almost everyone who respectfully disagrees with them, while the pro-bill 18 group has not.  If you have nothing better to do with your time, try joining and disagreeing with each group.  The difference in responses is phenomenal.

I’m sad that Christians are using their spheres of influence to advocate for themselves and their religious freedoms (and institutions).  The church is the only institution in the world that shouldn’t exist for itself, but rather for others.  I think this got missed somewhere.

I’m sad for how it must feel for a GLBTQ teenager in this school division, knowing that almost 3,000 people are against you meeting with your friends in a classroom to talk about sexual orientation.

I’m sad that 1200 people attend a prayer meeting and almost 3000 people sign a petition to protest anti-bullying legislation, yet they are not protesting with equal passion domestic violence, the crisis in Syria, the conflict minerals in our cell phones, the living conditions of our First Nations sisters and brothers, or homelessness in our community.  I know it’s not a black and white either/or on what issues we care about, but I still feel like we’re getting our priorities mixed up here.

I’m sad that people think the public school boards should advocate on the behalf of private schools.  Apples to oranges, my friends… Apples to oranges.

I’m sad that when people emailed me to disagree with me, some of them told me they were praying for me and my church (mostly because they were afraid I was misleading them).  While I’m grateful for the prayer, this makes me sad because I asked every one of them what church they want to so I could pray for them as well.  Not one of them responded.

I’m sad that the Christian faith is getting painted in a negative light.  Something that can be so life-giving and freeing is being used to oppress, vilify and marginalize.  People are leaving the church en masse in 2013 in Canada because the church is seen as hypocritical, judgmental and exclusive.  We may as well consider the Christian opposition to Bill 18 “Exhibit A”.

I’m sad when people claim they love people from the GLBTQ community, yet deny them the same rights they enjoy.  How can you love someone and not treat them as an equal?

I’m sad that Christians claim they are bullied for their faith as much as gay kids are for their sexual orientation.  While I don’t doubt that kids are bullied for their faith, when Christian kids start killing themselves at a rate that’s 4-5 times higher than the rest of population, then let’s talk.

I’m sad people seem to forget that Bill 18 is an amendment to the Public School Act, which is under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and the Canadian Constitution, and all that jazz.  Bill 18 isn’t an independent piece of legislation.

I’m sad that people keep saying Bill 18 is about defending our religious freedom, and very few people have the courage to admit it’s really about sexual orientation.

I’m sad that people base their ideology and world-views around the slippery slope fallacy.  Worried that letting a GSA into a school will mean your kid will be having sex by 14?  Back up that slippery slope and ban extracurricular activities entirely.  What?!?  That’s absurd?!?  Welcome to the absurdity of the slippery slope fallacy.  Please argue each point based on its own merits.

I’m sad that very few people have come up with an alternative plan to lower the suicide risk of GLBTQ teenagers, other than:  Bill 18 won’t help.   Which is funny, since a study from Columbia University points out that GSA’s actually DO help the suicide risk of GLBTQ kids.  Hmmm… (I don’t think you’ll find that study on Lifesitenews.  But you will on CBC!)

I’m sad people want to go for coffee to change my mind, but are not willing to go for coffee so I can change their mind.  At least call a spade a spade.

I’m sad that a few people’s plan to lower the suicide risk of GLBTQ teenagers is to simply become a Christian, pray harder, or be more faithful.  I cannot express how insulting and demeaning this is to those of us who have friends and family who would have identified themselves as Christian and died by suicide.  Your hollow words are a slap to our faces in the midst of such tragedy.

I’m sad at my own ability to get frustrated and not be graceful.  I’m sad that I have to force myself to pray for people who make me upset.  I need to be more loving.  I need to love the oppressors as much as the oppressed.  Only lightness can drive out darkness… Sometimes I have failed at this.

So, I guess a quick rereading of the above really CAN explain why I feel this heaviness inside of me.  There really is a lot to be sad about.

And in the end, I don’t think anybody wins.  Regardless of what happens with this bill, I think we’ve all lost…

And this makes me sad.

Grace and Peace,

Kyle

PS – As usual, I won’t post all the comments I receive.  I am grateful for them, but might not respond.  I am available for coffee if you want (and it fits into my schedule), but I will probably have to prioritize my time to people I know (Hey… Give me a break. I have small kids, am going on vacation, playing ultimate, etc).

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