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Rev. Susan Russell

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The Bully in the Bully Pulpit

Posted: 05/04/2012 4:35 pm

According to Wikipedia, a "bully pulpit" is "a public office or other position of authority that provides the holder with an opportunity to speak out and be listened to on any matter." Last Sunday, North Carolina pastor Sean Harris became a bully in the bully pulpit, shamefully advocating parental violence against their gay, lesbian, or transgender children.

In his sermon at the Berean Baptist Church -- captured on audio tape -- Harris proclaimed:

So your little son starts to act a little girlish when he is 4 years old, and instead of squashing that like a cockroach and saying, "Man up, son! Get that dress off you, and get outside and dig a ditch, because that is what boys do!" you get out the camera, and you start taking pictures of Johnny acting like a female, and then you upload it to YouTube, and everybody laughs about it, and the next thing you know, this dude, this kid, is acting out childhood fantasies that should have been squashed ... Can I make it any clearer? Dads, the second you see your son dropping the limp wrist, you walk over there and crack that wrist. Man up. Give him a good punch. OK? "You are not going to act like that. You were made by God to be a male, and you are going to be a male."

In response to the understandable outrage sparked by this indefensible display of homophobia-based bullying, Harris first offered the classic default of the caught-in-the-act perpetrator: "I was only joking." According to an interview in the Fayetteville Observer he then went on to say, "If I had to say it again, I would say it differently, no doubt. Those weren't planned words, but what I do stand by is that the word of God makes it clear that effeminate behavior is ungodly. I'm not going to compromise on that."

Well, here's what we're not going to compromise on. We're not going to compromise on having bullies use the power of their pulpit to advocate child abuse because they've confused their own twisted homophobia with the "Word of God." We're not going to compromise on having the Good News of God's love, justice, and compassion that are the core values of our Judeo-Christian heritage hijacked by those who want to turn our religion into a weapon of mass destruction aimed at LGBT people. And we are not going to compromise on the fact that the "liberty and justice for all" we teach our children to pledge allegiance to really means liberty and justice for all.

Finally, we are most certainly not going to stand by and let the opponents of marriage equality argue that they are "protecting children" while advocating violence against children. You cannot have it both ways. Jesus said, "Suffer the little children to come to me." He did not say, "Make the little children suffer in order to come to me." Jesus said, "Love your neighbors as yourself." He did not say, "Love your neighbor unless he has a limp wrist; in that case, give him a good punch." Violent words beget violent actions, and it is long past time for those misusing their bully pulpits to perpetuate bullying behavior against our LGBT youth to be called on it.

Remember that a "bully pulpit" is "a public office or other position of authority that provides the holder with an opportunity to speak out and be listened to on any matter." And we have the power to use our bully pulpits to speak out and be listened to on this crucial matter of ending the scourge of homophobia-based bullying in our generation. Whether your bully pulpit is a pulpit-in-fact -- a blog, Tweet, or Facebook post, a letter to the editor or a call to your legislator -- it is time to claim your authority and use it. Stand up. Speak out. Together we can make a difference. Today. Go do it. Now.

 

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