Gay bullying and Catholic responsibilities

A striking aspect of the focus by many bishops on the battle against gay marriage, such as the DVD campaign by Minnesota's Archbishop John Nienstedt, discussed below, is how out of synch it is with the tragic realities of bullying against gay youths, brought home so forcefully by the deaths of Tyler Clementi and many other teens.Bishops who have been concerned about gay marriage have also been fighting against anti-bullying laws that include sexual orientation (along with religion and race, e.g.) as a targeted category, which studies show it often is. They argue that including sexual orientation to protect youths from harassment is the slippery slope to gay marriage and other gay rights.I have a story at today about some serious soul-searching by Christians, especially those of the conservative stripe, about their language and approach on gays in light of the rash of suicides and bullying that has come to light.Some of the striking examples include:-- "Are we complicit," a post at Mirror of Justice by Russell Powell;-- A post at CNN's Belief Blog by Warren Throckmorton, a psychology professor at Grove City College in Pennsylvania and a "traditional evangelical" known for counseling homosexuals to overcome their same-sex impulses, who wrote that the recent suicides should help convince Christian conservatives to drop their opposition to anti-bullying laws that list sexual orientation as a category;-- Another powerful column by R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, who I have cited before. A taste:

"When gay activists accuse conservative Christians of homophobia, they are wrong. Our concern about the sinfulness of homosexuality is not rooted in fear, but in faithfulness to the Bible and faithfulness means telling the truth.""Yet, when gay activists accuse conservative Christians of homophobia, they are also right. Much of our response to homosexuality is rooted in ignorance and fear. We speak of homosexuals as a particular class of especially depraved sinners and we lie about how homosexuals experience their own struggle. Far too many evangelical pastors talk about sexual orientation with a crude dismissal or with glib assurances that gay persons simply choose to be gay. While most evangelicals know that the Bible condemns homosexuality, far too many find comfort in their own moralism, consigning homosexuals to a theological or moral category all their own."

Folks like Bill Donohue of the Catholic League and Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council (scroll down the post) are pushing back, saying the teen victims either weren't bullied or that gay teens have so many problems it's not clear peer assaults led to their suicides. The deaths, and Christian lobbying against gay rights are being conflated and Christianity is being blamed unfairly, they say.At America's blog, Father Jim Martin has a powerful essay that contrasted with those views:

"[I]f pro-life means trying to avoid anything that will threaten any life, from natural conception to natural death, then we should be finding ways to protect all life, which also means preventing suicides, and preventing gay suicides," Martin wrote. "In any event, there is much for us, the church, still to do."

I'd agree with that last statement. Other thoughts? Also, I have not yet run across anything of a similarly outspoken tone or content by a bishop or senior church leader as regards the gay bullying deaths. If anyone knows of something, give us a heads up. Thanks.PS: Just saw Rob Vischer's post at MOJ on this same topic.

David Gibson is the director of Fordham’s Center on Religion & Culture.

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