August 27, 2017

Raising Christian Bigots

To Train Up A ChildTry to put yourself in the shoes of an evangelical fundamentalist Christian parent for a moment. Not surprisingly, you are raising your children to love them some Jesus and share your fundamentalist Christian values. They are expected to view abortion as genocide, want women to be subservient to men, despise "the gay lifestyle," mindlessly vote for Republican candidates, and so on.  You will likely use the degree to which they internalize these values as an important indicator of your success as a parent.

In this scenario, you aren't just any run-of-the-mill fundamentalist Christian though. You are one of the smart ones. At least, you are smart enough to realize that many of these values are not only becoming less common among younger generations but that it is increasingly likely that others will view some of them as bigoted. That means that people who hold many of these values - people like your children - will be more likely to be seen as bigots. As a smarter-than-average fundamentalist Christian parent, what do you do?

Holly Meyer of Religion News Service sheds some light on this intriguing question in the form of a telling quote from a parent at a Southern Baptist parenting conference (i.e., a conference about "Christ-centered parenting"). Here's what Krissie Inserra was quoted as saying on the subject of how she has been preparing her son for how unpopular the beliefs she has worked to instill in him are likely to be:
“I said, ‘you are now going to be seen as hateful by some people unless you are fully embracing this lifestyle,'” Krissie Inserra said in an interview with USA TODAY NETWORK-Tennessee. “That is so hard to set your child up to know that in some circles they will be seen as a bigot and hateful.”
Interesting, isn't it? We have a Southern Baptist parent recognizing that her son is going to be regarded as "a bigot and hateful" because of what she has taught him about LGBT people. Maybe not every Southern Baptist parent would recognize this, but this one does. And while she acknowledges that this is hard for her, she appears to perceive it as worth whatever pain it will cause him.

I'm not a parent, and I'm no longer a Christian. Maybe that is why I have such a hard time wrapping my head around this. The idea that a parent would recognize that she is setting her child up to be perceived as a bigot and proceed on that course anyway is puzzling to say the least. It is almost as if one's love for mythical figures has exceeded one's compassion for one's own children.

Just to end on a more positive note, I was happy to see that the article also mentioned a nonprofit group, Faith in America, demonstrating at the conference in an effort to persuade the Southern Baptists that their beliefs are harmful to LGBT kids and to stop condemning homosexuality. It does not sound like they had much of an impact there, but maybe their efforts will pay off in time. I don't imagine I'd agree with them on much of anything having to do with faith, but I can still appreciate their efforts to oppose anti-LGBT bigotry among the religious.