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BullyingI read something like 100 different blogs. Some of them are religious, like this one. Something happened on one of them about a week ago that simply floored me.

The blogger wrote about whether or not women could be preachers or elders. Her answer is no. She has firm opinions and she can back them up with Bible verses. She then invited discussion. I’ll admit that I didn’t read it all. In part, this was because there was just so much of it.

But I have to admit, the main reason that I quit reading was the tone.

A number of women minsters responded. They were respectful of her views but also stated their own.

That’s when things got ugly.

“What Bible do you read?”

That was one of the politer comments and it went downhill from there. They went on to imply that these women ministers hadn’t been called by God, they had been called by Satan. Hateful stuff. Ugly stuff.

These women wouldn’t dream of teaching a man, because that would go against God’s word, but they had no problem slamming other women down.

I wanted to post. I wanted to put them in their place. But I heard that still small voice.

“Whoa, sister. Take a step back. Take a deep breath.”

There’s enough ugliness in this world. Adding to it in God’s name isn’t something any of us needs to do. It doesn’t matter if we have a strong opinion, an opinion that we can back up with the Bible. They are Bible verses, not Bible versus, and it is time we quit using them like weapons against each other.

–SueBE

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SamaritanLast week, I wrote a post calling for an end to one kind of Religious Bullying.  I challenged those mothers who, when they don’t approve of a specific child, encourage other mother’s to keep their children from playing with this “bad child.”  I’m sorry, ladies and gentleman, but seeking to isolate a child you simply don’t like is wrong.

This was one of the most difficult pieces that I’ve ever written because of my own experiences with this and other types of religious bullying.  I expected a certain amount of backlash from religious conservatives, the people I most often see bullying people in the name of Christ.

There was a bit, but not much. Not surprisingly, it consisted of people telling me either publicly or privately that they would continue to practice what the Bible tells them to do, especially in regard to certain Biblically banned sexual practices.  Wow.  Make assumptions much?  That wasn’t even on the radar in this particular incident but I love the way some people bring it up to justify bad behavior on the part of other adults.

It’s just like assuming that you’re in the clear as long as you don’t bully people in the name of God.  But there’s a problem with that assumption.  Whether we are talking about the bullying mother’s I encountered, gay bashing, cutting a woman down because of how she dresses, or badgering the school board into teaching your religious beliefs in the public schools, simply not participating is not enough.

You need to speak up, even if you aren’t comfortable correcting your fellow Christians in a firm but loving manner.  You do this by playing the part of the Good Samaritan.  Reach out to those who have been robbed of their dignity.

Far too many people I’ve talked to this week had a story to tell.  I don’t know about you, but I want them to meet the God of love.  He directed us to help people who don’t believe as we do and stood up for the woman who was about to be stoned.  How can we do any different?

–SueBE

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.

–SueBE

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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