Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Christianity Hijacked: A look at the Christian Action League of North Carolina

The Christian Action League of North Carolina; the state's very own Westboro Baptist Church.

The political lobbying group titled Christian Action League of North Carolina has been getting some press recently regarding it's opposition to a school anti-bullying bill. Yes, you read that correctly.

A recent anti-bullying bill called the School Violence Prevention Act passed the State House but failed to pass the Senate by one vote. The Christian Action League of North Carolina was very active in lobbying against this bill, which reads:

(a) As used in this article, "bullying or harassing behavior" is any pattern of gestures or written, electronic, or verbal communications, or any physical act or any threatening communication, that takes place on school property, at any school‑sponsored function, or on a school bus, and that:

(1) Places a student or school employee in actual and reasonable fear of harm to his or her person or damage to his or her property; or

(2) Has the effect of substantially interfering with or impairing a student's educational performance, opportunities, or benefits.

Bullying or harassing behavior includes, but is not limited to, acts reasonably perceived as being motivated by any actual or perceived characteristic, such as race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, gender identity or expression, physical appearance, sexual orientation, or mental, physical, or sensory disability, or by association with a person who has or is perceived to have one or more of these characteristics.

(b) No student or school employee shall be subjected to bullying or harassing behavior by school employees or students.

(c) No person shall engage in any act of reprisal or retaliation against a victim, witness, or a person with reliable information about an act of bullying or harassing behavior.

(d) A school employee, student, or volunteer who has witnessed or has reliable information that a student or school employee has been subject to any act of bullying or harassing behavior shall report the incident to the appropriate school official.

The Christian Action League was against this bill because it includes a provision against bullying and harassment based on "gender identity or expression" and "sexual orientation." They felt this would somehow legitimize what they perceive as an "abomination."

It is a sad day for the church when Christianity is used to support discrimination and bigotry. When Christians are standing on the wrong side of civil rights, we need to reevaluate our beliefs. Who would Jesus bully? Who would Jesus discriminate against? Our religion has been hijacked by these radical right wingers who want to force their twisted and immoral interpretation of the Bible and morality on everybody, even if it means being against a bill aimed at preventing schoolchildren from being harassed and bullied.

Think about it; this isn't even about the hot-button wedge issue of gay marriage. This is about how we treat children, and the church is teaching our children that bullying and discrimination are okay. When I was in the 4th grade I was known as "J.R.", and some of the boys thought it fun to call me "gay R." Though they lost interest in this taunting after a week or so, I can only imagine what it must be like to endure years of degrading verbal and possibly physical abuse. Try to put yourself or your child in their shoes for once. Is is no wonder that suicide rates are so incredibly high for gay teens. And it seems some in the church would be smugly pleased at that. I would not be surprised if next Christians spoke against an anti-bullying policy because it protected students who wore turbans, or had brown skin. After all, the Southern Baptist denomination was founded on the right to own slaves.

Churches and groups like the Christian Action League have traded the message of Jesus’ “love your neighbor” and do "unto the least of these" for the message of “persecute your political enemy.” The way these opportunists stay in power and hold sway over churchgoers is simple:

"But after all, it is the leaders of a country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship....All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."
--Hermann Goering statement at the Nuremberg Trials

That's right. The Religious Right has taken a page right out of the Nazi's playbook. Think about it; how do you keep a mass of people under control? Tell them they are being persecuted. Convince them they are under attack from some enemy, and that their way of life is threatened. Fear is a powerful tool, and the church has grown very efficient at it. That's how you get people in the seats and money in the offering plates. According to their own website, the Christian Action League is funneled tens of thousands of dollars from the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.

I was really moved today by a posting on The Friendly Atheist that really calls out us Christians who aren't doing enough to stop all the false prophets like the morally bankrupt Christian Action League.

To liberal and mainstream Christians: Bigots are co-opting and hijacking your religion. They’re promoting their hatred, abuse and domination of gays, atheists, the followers of other religions and anybody else who doesn’t exactly agree with them including you, all under the guise of God’s word, the one that you say you value so much. They’re doing despicable things in your God’s name. Your response to this is so small, so weak and so quiet that you will have no effect in stopping them. If you let them keep going they’ll bring back all the vehicles of hate they used to enjoy: racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia and despotic authoritarianism. To them, Jesus is just a source of credibility and power. Following his example is not even considered.

If all that you do is to pray about this, forgive me but I don’t think that is going to be enough. I know you don’t rely entirely on prayer to respond to crises; I’ve watched you. You may pray for God’s help with many things, but when the river overflows you also fill sandbags. When your kid is sick you also take her to the doctor. When your neighbors are hungry you also give them food. When someone is being beaten you also drive off the attacker. When your house is on fire you also fight the fire.

Christians, your house is on fire.

This is a living example of Edmund Burke’s maxim, “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” Ask yourself which is the greater sin: to commit an injustice against others because you believe it is what God wants, or to see what you know is an injustice and stand by doing nothing to stop it.

Fellow Christians, it is time we take back our Religion from the radical right wing bigots and those who only lust after money and political power such as Christian Action League. It is a disgrace and shameful what they do in the name of Jesus. I urge those of you who live in North Carolina to find out if your church supports this hate group. If you are a in a Baptist church, demand your church to leave the Baptist State Convention. We must speak out on this important issue. We must not back down. Contact the Christian Action League of North Carolina and tell them that you DO NOT support the evil they do in the name of Jesus. Together we can bring about this next reformation and restore the church to one that actually follows Jesus' teachings.

Christian Action Network of North Carolina

Contact Online

809 Spring Forest Road
Suite 1000
Raleigh, North Carolina 27609

Phone: 919.787.0606

Fax: 919.786.1509

Director, "Reverend" Mark H. Creech


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