Christian Bystanders Are Complicit In Hate Crimes

By Lisa J. Keating

hate crimes

Yesterday, less than 10 miles from our home, a lesbian was viciously attacked. Why? Because “God hates fags” as the perpetrator told this woman. I’m going to paint a descriptive picture out of necessity. She was stabbed repeatedly, stripped naked, had a leash wrapped around her neck and dragged because she was a “dyke”.

Crimes of this nature, reportedly, are few and far between in the Pacific Northwest. Tacoma has been crowned one of the “gayest cities” in the U.S. My greater point isn’t about a drunk person with violent tendencies with a need to dominate another human.

It’s a culture that either religious communities foster and cultivate or, even worse, ignore because of fear and discomfort. In my opinion, being a bystander is a greater crime because it give permission and makes you an accomplice.

On a weekly basis, I am told, “Your child is SO lucky to have parents like you. There is no way my husband/family/friends/school/church/ would accept a child “like” yours.” I DO NOT understand this thinking. What that says to me is that if you were raising a child like mine you would be a bystander. You would allow your child to be oppressed, closeted and ultimately stifled. All because of feeling uncomfortable or scared of what other people think, ultimately letting someone else control your decisions through fear.

Did the Christian community attack this woman? No. Does that climate and culture of tolerance contribute to LGBTQ hate crimes? Yes. How often do you dismiss or ignore a relative or friend who uses the words fag, gay, pussy, pansy, femme or queer? Do you say you are an ally to the LGBTQ community and believe in marriage equality and attend a church who doesn’t share your beliefs?

Have you voted for a politician or law that works to deny gay rights, runs on a platform of “traditional” marriage? Every time you do it has a direct affect the LGBTQ citizens you claim to be an ally for.

I deliberately use the word citizens to point out the LGBTQ people in this country are citizens of the United States of America without the same equality others are automatically given. A majority of the resistance to gay rights comes from Christian communities in this country. Behind closed doors, many of my Christian friends tell me they wish it was different and I don’t understand the way it is where they live. That’s true, I don’t understand, but you do.

This woman could be ANY one of the countless people I love dearly. I’m in tears imagining their faces and I am infuriated. Not because some drunk went on a violent rampage. But because, so often, Christians offer aftermath apologizes and explanations of what Jesus really meant. If this is an example of YOUR religious beliefs being used for violence, WHAT are you going to DO to shift the climate and culture?

What is the most disturbing to me is a permissive culture of Christian bystanders. Christianity is founded in love AND that is NOT how it’s represented culturally. I desperately hope for a unified movement within the Christian community denouncing interpretations like “God Hates Fags” because at the end of the day, #LGBTQ humans are dying as a result.

My question is HOW are religious communities going to get to the heart of WHY this belief perpetuates and fuels violence. When I studied Christianity, I clearly heard the message that man is not intended to judge man; that is left to God. I am still waiting for this message to win.

“Be the change you want to see in the world” Mahatma Gandhi 

Photo Credit: Blake Emry

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