4/30/12: Did the Anti-bullying Advocate, Dan Savage, cross the line and bully Christianity?

Posted on : Apr 30th, 2012 | By | Category: Still Speaking

Dan Savage, the anti-bullying educator and founder of the “It gets better campaign” has been a dynamic spokesperson and educator about the destructive power of bullying.  But did he, in a weekend address to the high school students at the Journalism Education Association and the National Scholastic Press Association, use the same tactic he’s trying to stop, when it’s used against gay people?  Did the anti-bullying advocate become the bully?

In a CNN report, columnist and gay-rights advocate Dan Savage is standing by his comment that “we can learn to ignore the bulls**t in the Bible about gay people” at a recent conference for high school students, a line that prompted some to walk out and spurred intense online debate.

In a blog post on Sunday, Savage wrote that his remark was “being spun as an attack on Christianity. Which is bullshhh… which is untrue.”

“I was not attacking the faith in which I was raised,” Savage wrote. “I was attacking the argument that gay people must be discriminated against — and anti-bullying programs that address anti-gay bullying should be blocked (or exceptions should be made for bullying ‘motivated by faith’) — because it says right there in the Bible that being gay is wrong.”

Some Christian students walked out of the Seattle speech, prompting another controversial line from Savage: “It’s funny to someone who is on the receiving end of beatings that are justified by the Bible how pansya**ed people react when you push back.”

Savage apologized for that specific remark in Sunday’s blog post, writing that his word choice “was insulting, it was name-calling, and it was wrong.”

Did the anti-bullying advocate become the bully?  Bullying is what happens when anger and rage overtake us.  Bullying happens when a person feels insecure or threatened by someone else and so they react in abusive ways to humiliate, disempower or harm someone else.  Bullying happens when one allows stereotypes or prejudicial beliefs about another to replace rational truth and respect for difference.  For me, Dan Savage did cross the line by using the very same tactics he is trying to get others not to use.

In the religious struggle for LGBT equality it’s not the Bible that’s wrong.  It’s the way SOME PEOPLE interpret the Bible.  Setting aside the “bullshit” argument, there is not one word in the Bible that relates to homosexuality as we know it today.  None.  Nada.  Zip.  There is a lot of anger against Christianity for the way many Christians have used the bible, but Dan Savage doesn’t do anyone any good by stereotyping all Christians as anti-gay or by highlighting Biblical texts as authoritative when they are not.  Why not just say the obvious:  “They’re wrong.”

Let me be so bold as to tell you why I think Dan Savage was wrong.  It’s because I’ve crossed that same line myself.  I know full well that when you constantly fight homophobia and religion, the frustration, the hatred, the angst and anger can build up within you and then it doesn’t take much to cross the line and “dish out” the same abuse you’ve received.  This is exactly what the Apostle Paul discovered about himself after fighting for the good of Christ to both a religion and a government that didn’t want to hear anything of it.  Paul confessed:  “I do not understand my own actions.  I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.  …I do not do the very good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do.”  Romans 7:15-19

Today I received a quote from Cornel West’s new book, The Impossible Will Take a Little While.  It’s a wonderful commentary on Sunday’s sermon (the story of Lazarus) and the Dan Savage event.  And, it’s good news for all of us!

Cornel writes, “We’ve forgotten that a rich life consists fundamentally of serving others, trying to leave the world a little better than you found it. We need the courage to question the powers that be, the courage to be impatient with evil and patient with people, the courage to fight for social justice.  In many instances we will be stepping out on nothing, and just hoping to land on something. But that’s the struggle. To live is to wrestle with despair, yet never allow despair to have the last word.”

So, take it from one who knows and who has been there:  Jesus, Gandhi, Cornel West, Dan Smith, Dan Savage.  We all have much to learn on this journey, but the one thing we don’t want to do is to become the evil we deplore.

In the Hope and Spirit of the Risen Christ,



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