BullyingDuring the summer, I’m something of a professional driver. I ferry my son and a variety of boys from home to the pool and back again. My car more or less permanently smells like chlorine and there’s always a spare towel in the back.

I don’t swim so I spend a lot of time reading or knitting or whatever. Several times this summer, I’ve been surprised to be pulled out of my wool-gathering by another mother who wants to warn me about one of the boys. “With what comes out of his mouth, you know he’s from bad people” or “He’s a bad influence. I wish he wasn’t here.”

Admittedly, they’re a rowdy lot but I’ve taken the time to get to know them. And I have to say, they’re adorable. Sure, they say things that make you cringe and I’ve been sorely tempted to stand on tip toes and get in someone’s face a time or twelve, but they really are wondrous people.

What does this have to do with religion? Every single mother who has taken me aside has been a strong Christian. They make sure I know this right before they tell me to make sure my son dumps one of these boys. “He isn’t a good witness.”

Seriously? As far as I’m concerned, attempts to isolate a rowdy teenage boy in the name of God are a form of religious bullying. They are trying to isolate these boys.

Frankly, I think that Jesus has a soft spot for these goofy, loud boys who thunder through life, bumping into people, accidentally intimidating the short and affronting everyone within ear shot.  Jesus was, after all, a boy.

Spend some time with these boys and you’ll discover the kid who nearly broke down and cried when a much younger swimmer clung to the rope in fear and was disqualified from a race. You’ll see the kid who nearly stuffed me through a chair trying to be helpful when I said the heat was making me woozy. You’ll also be invited into the conversation when they try to figure out how to talk to a friend about God, a friend who has suffered through religious bullying.

I’m drawing a line in the sand. You don’t have to let your son run with anyone you don’t like, but quit trying to isolate these boys in the name of God. They are His and He is in their hearts.