Gay Suicide, Religious Persecution and Words of Hate.

A Post by Neil Hart on homosexuality LGBT, lesbian and gay stuff and the Lutheran Church of Australia.

A couple of things came together today.

In recent posts I have been critiquing Dr Yahnke and the  Clear Conscience Courageous Living Conference held at the Mannum Lutheran Church. Dr Yahnke has had some horrible things to say about my gay friends. There has also been some discussion in this blog’s comments section.

One commentor spoke of the “incredibly painful cost” for Lutheran young people who “suggest publicly that homosexuality might be immoral”. It set up an interesting comparison.

On the one hand, There are Christian young people who want to take a stand for their faith and condemn their gay peers as sinful. They may suffer what they would call persecution. They may experience some mockery or other negative consequences because of their message. My understanding is that this “persecution” has usually served to strengthen the resolve of these young Christians.

On the other hand there is the effect of negative words on young gay people. They  suffer depression, self harm, isolation, homelessness and attempted suicide at a much greater rate than the rest of the youth population. It is estimated that up to 40% of youth who suicide are LGBT. Young gay people who are involved with religion are in an even more desperate situation. They are more likely to suffer rejection from their families, school counsellors and other  social networks that would normally be relied upon for support. (See Writing Themselves In Reports 2 and 3) All of this because of the rejection they receive from society. All of this because of the words that they hear.

Well, that’s how I see the comparison. Readers are free to disagree.

Then I saw this on Boxturtle Bulletin’s daily agenda. They reference a 1995 Ad put out by the Parents, Families  and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.

Networks Reject PFLAG Ads as Offensive: 1995. Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays created at least three television ads to address the effect of anti-gay rhetoric on bullying and suicide. One of those ads, Guns,” featured a teenage girl rummaging through her parents’ bedroom looking for a gun. Another ad featured a young man being beaten by bullies (that ad does not appear to be online.) Those images were disturbing enough. But what made the ads particularly controversial was that intercut between those images were video clips of Rev. Jerry Falwell, Rev. Pat Robertson, and Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC). The “Guns” ad, for example, went like this:

(Young woman enters her parents’ bedroom)
Jerry Falwell: Homosexuality is moral perversion and is always wrong. God hates homosexuality.

(Young woman frantically searchers dresser drawers and linen closet)
Pat Robertson: Homosexuality is an abomination. The practices of these people is appalling. It is a pathology. It is a sickness.

(Young woman finds a gun in a cedar chest)
Jesse Helms: A lot of us are sick and tired of all of the pretenses of injured innocence. They are not innocent.

(Young woman holds gun and cries.)
Announcer: It is estimated that thirty percent of teenage suicide victims are gay or lesbian.

(PFLAG logo appears)

The ad drew a direct threat from Bruce Hausknecht, associate general counsel for Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcast Network. “The spots contain defamatory material and cast Pat Robertson and CBN in a false light by implying that Pat advocates/promotes heinous crimes against gays or directly caused the suicide of one or more homosexual persons. This is outrageously false and severely damaging to the reputation of Dr. Robertson and this ministry.” Hauskenecht warned that if the ads were aired, CBN would “immediately seek judicial redress against your station,” including injunctions and monetary damages. As a result, the ads were rejected by eight stations in Washington, D.C., Tulsa, Houston and Atlanta, and by CNN, which had tentatively accepted them for Larry King Live. Some of those stations did accept the companion ad depicting the young man being beaten.

PFLAG criticized stations for not airing the ad. Pointing out that talk radio was filled with anti-gay statements on a regular basis, PFLAG’s board president Mitzi Henderson said, “These people (Falwell, Robertson and Helms) are particularly accessible and public. We think they’re representative of a variety of sources. … We wanted to say, ‘Wake up and join us in opposing hate speech.’”

PFLAG executive director Sandra Gillis said that Tulsa, Atlanta and Houston were chosen “because they’re heartland america. Mainstream, middle Americans are not an intolerant lot. They don’t realize the level of abuse and violence against gays and lesbians.” She said the campaign’s message was “watch your words. They can create a climate in which violent people think their violent action is okay.”

Like the lady said. “Watch your words”