‘Suffer the little children to come unto me’

I rarely think about religion these days – I haven’t learned anything in the last 43 years to tempt me back into the fold – but I do think about good and evil quite a bit, especially when I learn of children dying. That’s when words from the new testament come floating back to me. Words like ‘suffer the little children to come unto me’.

Call me a stupid atheist but surely those words are an invitation to be loved, not an exhortation to make children suffer before they come unto him?

Kenneth James Weishuhn certainly suffered. The mother in me would like to believe that he is in a better place now but I know that heaven and hell are right here on earth so my only consolation is that he is no longer living in hell. But thoughts like that do not lead to peace of mind. I start imagining what must have happened to him to turn his life into hell and I want to hit something. He was a happy kid by all accounts. I imagine him as being like my nephew at that age – a bit of a terror at times but also full of fun, popular too. And then I imagine how all of that must have changed when he hit puberty and admitted to himself that he was gay.

According to reports on the net he ‘came out’ and then everything changed. His closest friends stuck by him but others turned on him like a pack of rabid dogs. Did he expect that? I very much doubt it for they did not just abandon him, which would have been bad enough, they began a campaign of malicous bullying that eventually lead to his suicide. And the hatred did not stop with his death. Those kids still hate him. Those kids have publicly said that they are glad that he’s dead. Yet they are no older than he was. How can children hate so much? What could they possibly have experienced that would make them hate gayness so much that they would turn on someone who used to be a friend?

When you look at those little monsters in that way the answer is obvious – no child is born hating anyone. Every child learns to hate from their older siblings, from their cousins, from their parents, from their parents’ circle of friends, from the attitudes of their teachers and preachers, from the politicians who represent their communities. There are even organizations whose stated aims are to send gays back into the closet.

One Million Moms is one such organization. Those loving, caring mothers are determined to stamp out every sign of gayness from the media to protect their little darlings from ever believing that gays could possibly be normal people like you and me. I can just imagine the dinner table conversations :

“Guess what I did today hun! I sent lots of letters to the [insert name] organization to get that awful Ellen DeGeneres banned!”
“That’s nice.”
“But why Mom?”
“Because she’s…[lowered voice] gay!”
“What’s gay Mom?”
“You’re too young to know what gays are, just believe me, they are horrible, evil people [shudder].”
“You’re Mom’s right, now eat your greens.”

Multiply that conversation a thousand times in hundreds of different contexts and it’s suddenly easy to see how such a subliminal hatred can become embedded in a child’s psyche. Then add a fateful moment when a friend announces that he is [gasp] gay and you have the makings of a tragedy.

Imagine it. Those kids have been brainwashed into believing that gays are the next best thing to the devil and suddenly they find themselves right next to a ‘gay’ and not just any gay but one of their own. Did the boys wrestle with Kenneth when they were little? [I touched a gay!] Did they laugh at his jokes? Did they like being with him? [OMG am I gay too?] Did the girls have crushes on him [he’s so cute!]? Did they secretly imagine some heavy petting or, god forbid some actual sex with him? Did the experimentation include some heavy petting? [OMG I touched a gay!] Perhaps they felt betrayed. Perhaps they felt contaminated. Perhaps they feared that if the other kids found out they’d be tarred with the same brush.

Whatever the actual reasons may have been those kids distanced themselves from the horror the only way they knew how – by trying to stomp it out of existence the same way I’d squash an ugly, hairy, horrible spider – with revulsion. Except that this spider was a beautiful boy whose only crime was a sexual orientation he could not change.

And what were the adults doing while this one-sided war against gays was being waged? Did they know and turn a blind eye? Or did they just continue life as normal, subtly reinforcing their kids’ hatred the same way they had been building it from the beginning? Did the preachers give any sermons on brotherly love from the pulpit? Or did they just rant about Sodom and Gomorrah and the evils of homosexuality? Did any adult try to stop the persecution of Kenneth James Weishuhn? He died so I guess the answer is that no Good Samaritan came along to extend a hand of kindness to this tragic child.

Nothing can undo what was done to Kenneth James Weishuhn but perhaps his face can become the banner to unite all good people in a fight to stop this senseless evil from ever happening again to some other child who has the ‘misfortune’ to be born gay. Being gay is not a sin or a crime or a disease. It just is. Yes it is a difference but in the grand scheme of things it’s no bigger a difference than growing up to be short instead of tall. It is meaningless. If we must stigmatize difference then let it be the kind of difference that makes people cruel or aggressive or so full of hate that they can allow a child to die just because he is gay.

Stopping cruelty and hatred and bigotry is not really hard, all that’s required is a little more christian charity and whole lot less old testament bible thumping. Instead of vilifying gays at the dinner table why not explain that gays are people who love peope of the same sex instead of the opposite sex? Is that not the truth? And instead of spewing hatred from the pulpit why not talk about ‘loving thy neighbour as thyself’?

But let’s not stop there. Wouldn’t it be uplifting if all those militant moms against gays just did what all mothers are supposed to do – protect children, ALL children?

I would love to see One Million Moms putting out a statement saying how much they regret what happened to Kenneth James Weishuhn. And then I’d like to see all 40,000 of them make a pledge to start acting like real mothers. It all starts with us. That is our power. We can change the world. We can make it a better place for all children by just saying enough is enough.

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About acflory

I am the kind of person who always has to know why things are the way they are so my interests range from genetics and biology to politics and what makes people tick. For fun I play online mmorpgs, read, listen to a music, dance when I get the chance and landscape my rather large block. Work is writing. When a story I am working on is going well I'm on cloud nine. On bad days I go out and dig big holes... View all posts by acflory

13 responses to “‘Suffer the little children to come unto me’

  • Candy

    A lot of people in the U.S. seemed obsessed with religion and with promoting their religious beliefs as public policy. Although one of our dearest principles — the separation of church and state — assures that we won’t have a state religion, so many people assume that because they believe deeply the rest of us should fall in line.

    This is particularly frightening in anything related to sexuality and women’s equality. Sometimes I feel like half my country is going backwards, towards a time when gays were expected to hide their sexual orientation and women were supposed to be satisfied singing back-up when men shine — while other half of the country is going forward to a more open and accepting society.

    It’s a dance of two steps forward, one step back.

    When politicians and pundits on the right, put women’s health issues (family planning, access to mammograms, funding for clinics that treat poor women, etc.) in jeopardy, talk about correcting homosexual orientation and returning religion to the public square, all three of these issues get tied in a bundle of ‘family values.’ I get angry at their use of the phrase ‘family values.’

    In my estimation, and in my family, women are adults capable of making their own decisions, gays are welcome and religious freedom means you are free to worship and I’m free of your dogma. I’m know I’m not alone, but sometimes I feel that way.

    (Long rant here — you’ve gotten me revved up!)

    Like

  • acflory

    -hugs- Rant away!

    The US is not the only place dancing this two steps forward, one step backward waltz. Unfortunately it always seems as if those who scream the loudest are always the ones who are heard. Those of us who accept people as people and believe in true freedom tend to get drowned out because we’re not trying to evangelize or convert anyone. It’s not fair and it’s not right and sometimes I just boil over but maybe that’s not such a bad thing. It’s our world too! And when it comes to children I just see red.

    I’m just so grateful that you and all the other wonderful people I’ve met since starting this blog are exactly the kind of people I’d like to share a meal with. You rock 🙂

    Like

    • acflory

      I just realised that the whole ‘share a meal with’ thing might not make sense to people who don’t know me. In my family sharing good food was always synonymous with friendship and love so consider yourselves loved 🙂

      Like

  • alexlaybourne

    Well said Andrea, I just do not get why people have so much hatred toward gay man and women. I just don’t get how people can be so small minded.

    I am blessed to live in a country like Holland where everything is much more relaxed. You don’t have any where near as much of the anti-gay nonsense.

    It is harrowing what happened to the poor little boy, and you can only imagine how bad it must have been for for him, but also for his parents. As you said, the children didn’t do this to him out of their own natural thoughts. It was instilled upon them, and that, in a way, is the the worst part of the problem.

    That One Million Moms should add a second line to their name. One Million Moms, Not One Braincell To Share. Yet the governments never get involved with things like this. If you had a group like that dealing with race, then that is a different matter, but sexual orientation, whooo… back up there governors, that’s a can of worms we do not want to open. It’s disgusting.

    Like

    • acflory

      -hugs-

      Thanks Alex. I couldn’t agree more. Australia is fairly laidback when it comes to sexual orientation too although I’m sure we have our own home-grown bigots as well. Thank god I never have to meet them or talk to them. Governments here are making noises about doing something about bullying in general but I have yet to see any concrete signs of change on that score. We have also been trying to get gay marriage passed but again, despite the majority of aussies being quite ok with it, there’s still that vocal minority who scare our politicians half to death. I guess all any of us can do is to keep on chipping away at the wall until it finally crumbles.

      Like

  • lorddavidprosser

    Well how wonderful to see that we still have thinking people who are prepared to say so out loud. I like that One Million Moms should change their name but perhaps we could go one better, One Million Moms, Not one Braincell to share and Not a Good Heart Between them.
    It’s not unknown that I’m an Athiest but that I believe Jesus existed and like the way of life he espoused, the whole love one another thing. It certainly makes me more Christian that any of the members of this One Million Moms group. When I started the Buthidars ( another story) it was based on the concept that hugging people is good because you can’t hug properly with a weapon in your hands.I believed that people could for once put their religion to the background and just befriend others. That we could celebrate differences instead of fearing them. I was verbally attacked as trying to steal people away from their religions ( good idea but I wasn’t). Who by? Christians ! We hear shouts about the evils of fundamentalism within the Muslim world, I agree, but that fundamentalism has crept into Christianity too. In America it’s come in singing and dancing. Now I read there are people standing fr Government Office on a platform of what seem to be anti-female issues. Rape crisis centre funding cut, abortion clinics to be closed, women’s refuges to be taxed out of existence. And these people have followers because their churches promote them.
    Since the US was founded in a belief of religious freedom and was set up so that Church and state are separate anyone standing for office on what are church promoted beliefs should be ruled out. All religious leaders should be made to undergo humanist exams to check their suitability to guide others, especially children, through life. Those who espouse evil should be kicked out ( of the church if not the country).
    Where are the One Billion Moms against One Million Moms with their pro-Kenneth banners to show there is human decency there?
    I think Holland is going to get very crowded if all the decent people have to go live there when the hatemongers take over so shouldn’t we stop them now?
    Let me stand up and say I have no problem with Gays.If they’re prepared to commit to relationships probably stronger than many these days, and prepared to show tolerance to others and make the world as nice as possible I’d rather have them as a neighbour than any of the Million Moms.
    Sorry about the length of this, but honestly you got off lightly….
    HUGS.

    Like

    • acflory

      lolz! Go Daud 😀 Between you and Alex I think we’ve got those moms pegged 🙂 And I too believe that a big part of the problem can be traced back to the influence of religion. I don’t know much about other religions but I do know a bit about catholicism. It had a lot to answer for 500 years ago and it has a lot to answer for now, in the twilight of its influence. Unfortunately even fundamental religions have one thing in common – they only have the power that we give to them. So eventually it all comes back to human nature and the tight rope we walk between being utter monsters and flying like angels.

      Like

  • lorddavidprosser

    Would you mind very much if I stole your blog and pasted it onto my own- giving you full credit of course- so more people see it?

    Like

  • littlemissobsessivesanatomy

    hi,
    i loved your post…i especially liked how you inserted a small conversation between mom and his son…
    “Multiply that conversation a thousand times in hundreds of different contexts and it’s suddenly easy to see how such a subliminal hatred can become embedded in a child’s psyche. Then add a fateful moment when a friend announces that he is [gasp] gay and you have the makings of a tragedy. ”
    so true

    Like

    • acflory

      Thank you. When I was a little kid, new to Australia, the other kids at school made my life hell. They’d stand around me in a circle in the school yard chanting, ‘bloody chink, bloody chink’. Chink applied to anyone who looked even the slightest bit asian back then.

      I never experienced bullying after that because my parents moved house and put me in a Catholic school run by nuns who did not approve of that sort of ‘thing’. Nonetheless I still remember what it felt like to be outnumbered and hated for something I did not even understand. And neither did those kids back then, they were just parroting what they heard at home.

      Like

  • acflory

    I think that the desire to dominate people is part of human nature and so bullying will always be with us. It’s how society deals with it though that counts.

    Like

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