I am relieved to find myself in good company regarding my reaction to the video below:
Which, I hope you are glad to learn, was not the same response as the throng of “worshipers” cheering on the indoctrination of hate in such an impressionable—and obviously coached—little boy as he sings, “Ain’t no homos gonna make it to heaven.”
I wanted to craft a satirical response to this video, to try to make a little humor out of something pretty terrible. And I had an idea I thought was pretty good.
Since I’m guessing these people consider themselves “Christian” (which, frankly, is debatable), I’m assuming they are familiar with what is probably the crowning message of Jesus: The Golden Rule.
In case you’ve forgotten, it goes something like this: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” (Or, in modern English: “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Luke 6:31.)
Generally speaking, it’s called the “rule of reciprocity.” Its negative form (“Don’t do to other what you would not prefer to have done to you”) has been around since before the time of Jesus. Jesus just tweaked it a bit to make it an instruction of how to guide your actions rather than your inactions.
Can you see where I’m going with this? I figure, since I’m guessing these fine parishioners pay homage to what is perhaps Jesus’ supreme principle of moral guidance, they must be crafting their actions in a way that they themselves wish to be treated.
So, I figured, I’d give them what they want. Right?
Get some kid to sing, “Ain’t no fundies gonna make it to heaven,” with a congregation of adults standing and cheering him on. Treat them exactly like they treat the “homos.”
That’ll teach ‘em, right?
No. Of course it won’t. It’s just humor at their expense. It just alienates them further. And it does nothing to save that child from the throes of hate he finds himself immersed in.
Is there a way to do just that, to show this kid the light instead of the darkness? I don’t know. We’ve seen how children from these exclusionary, extremist churches grow up being taught that doubt is a weakness, that it is the work of the devil. And unless there is some way to plant a tiny grain of doubt, to let their minds light up with the curiosity that leads to real knowledge, I’m afraid they’re just going to perpetuate this corner of darkness.
Because it will take even just a little doubt— doubt that there is only one way to view the world and its people, doubt that there is only one “right” way to live and think (and by God, it must be the way they’ve been taught!)—to allow them to grow with empathy, to get them to walk in someone else’s shoes for a day. And then, perhaps, they will know what “loving thy neighbor” truly means.
So, I can’t do it. I can’t resort to hatefulness to combat hatefulness. I can’t surrender to humor to deflect my own anger. There is far too much at stake to do that. And it makes me feel ugly to even consider it.
All I can do is try to be a contrasting voice—to speak from love instead of hate—and hope that this child (and maybe even one of the adults who cheered him on) realizes that there are more loving means of reaching out to those who are different.
It’s hard some days to extend love to people who can be so mean, who are so full of hate themselves. But I do understand how some of these people have come to believe this way, because they were once innocent and were spoiled by this kind of hate themselves. Sowing hate against them definitely won’t help them grow in love.
And I definitely don’t think these folks are destined to “burn in hell,” despite their own readiness to so quickly condemn others.
What I do think: If there is some good and spiritually pure place that we arrive at after we die, they’ll be there with me. Right alongside homosexuals and Jews and Hindus and the atheists and everyone else they probably believe won’t make it to their exclusive club. Because my idea of heaven is one that is truly universal (“catholic,” if you will), one in which we are finally liberated from the fears that make us and those like us see “different” as the same as “evil.” Where we find unity not just with each other, but with that which is greater than all of us combined.
At any rate, it’s not up to me to decide. And it’s not up to them either.
The best I can do in the meantime is to try to lead a life of empathy and patience—something I’m not really all that terribly good at, but something I practice every day—and extend to them the same hope for a more enlightened future that I hope for myself and those I hold dear. In essence, to practice the Golden Rule.