Culture Challenge of the Week: Being Christian
It's a story that's largely been ignored by the mainstream press — perhaps because it challenges the politically correct storyline that gay teens are the ones being persecuted and bullied. Or perhaps it's because, in this case, the bully is a man welcomed at the White House — the creator of the LGBT video crusade against bullying, "It Gets Better."
On April 16, hundreds of teenage journalists gathered at a conference sponsored by the National Scholastic Press Association and the Journalism Education Association. The speaker? Dan Savage, the sex columnist and gay rights advocate who conceived of the "It Gets Better" video campaign. His topic? Bullying.
The "It Gets Better" campaign, which aims to give gay teens an anti-suicide message — that life as an LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered) person "gets better" — has come under fire for promoting the homosexual lifestyle and normalizing deviant behavior.
It wasn't the video series or its message that created the problem at the event, however. Mr. Savage — a speaker notorious for using expletives and degrading references to sexuality — used his platform to send teens a different kind of message: That they should "ignore" the "bull----" in the Bible, where homosexuality is condemned. To loud applause, he mocked Scripture and called it "100 percent" wrong on sexual morality. (He opened his speech saying he hoped everyone in the room was using birth control.) As his vitriol increased, Christian teens rose and left the room.
Mr. Savage continued his attacks on the Bible and then made pointed, offensive remarks ridiculing the Christian students who had left the room. Nearly 100 courageous kids had walked out, feeling, ironically, bullied by the anti-bullying crusader, who had no qualms about mocking them for their Christian beliefs.
Mr. Savage is a sad and angry man, teeming with hatred for the Christianity in which he was raised. His past is no mystery, and he never should have been invited to speak — no matter how much the organizations wanted to encourage tolerance and compassion for the victims of bullying.
Mr. Savage has a history of vulgar, obscene speech and a track record, as an advice columnist, of promoting all sorts of unhealthy behaviors. The adults in charge of the conference were so eager to support the LGBT agenda that they neglected to do basic due diligence and consider whether this speaker was appropriate.
How to Save Your Family: Have Courage in the Face of LGBT Bullies
The parents of the teens who left Mr. Savage's talk should stand proud of their children's courage. The Christian students who left were clearly in the minority — and showed great courage in risking the contempt of the speaker and the mocking laughs of their peers. This kind of courage — to stand strong in the face of Christian-bashing — is needed now more than ever.
One of the saddest aspects of this situation is the number of teens who did not protest — even if only out of a shared decency or concern for the disrespect shown to their peers. Instead, Mr. Savage had the audience eating out of the palm of his hand. They laughed at his crude comments and cheered at his putdowns of Christianity and his disdain for the Bible. These are the future journalists of America? Tolerance, for liberals, extends only so far.
The sponsoring associations originally defended Mr. Savage's remarks for their "thoughtfulness and deliberation" but eventually reversed course and condemned his "use of harsh language and profanity" as "inappropriate and offensive." They also distanced themselves from Mr. Savage's Christian-bashing remarks, saying that "ridicule" that "belittled" believers in the Bible "has no place in our program."
It's a case of too little, too late.
The image of Dan Savage calling the Bible an expletive because of its teaching against homosexuality is one seared forever in the minds of those teens.
And that's just the way he planned it.
• Rebecca Hagelin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.