In February, Southland Church Pastor Ray Duerksen’s incendiary sermon invoked God’s wrath on public officials who failed to oppose the government’s anti-bullying legislation.
This has hijacked public discussion to a dismaying degree.
Overnight the government went from being a body seeking to promote some advancement in the social sphere, to one supposedly bent on persecuting Christians for their beliefs.
Enter the media, ever ready to spill ink and fill up air time with all the controversy fit to print.
Enter the politicians, hunting up votes, either supporting the pastor or supporting Education Minister Nancy Allan.
Oblivious to the irony, Steinbach MLA Kelvin Goertzen deletes his Twitter account “because of negative comments about his position on Bill 18.” Which is to say, because he got tired of being bullied about it.
Enter a zealous blowhard, anonymously writing the Brandon Sun’s Sound Off to condemn his critics to a lake of fire. Don’t annoy that guy; he’ll bully you, too.
Enter university political science professors rating up the pastor’s chances of seeing his prayers answered with a change of government next election.
But who has entered to speak for the children who get bullied every day in our province? Where is the conversation on that? All we hear is this gauche, useless war of words.
I believe the government is simply trying to do some good for our children with the provisions of this bill. It is actually late off the mark with some of it. Ontario has already passed similar stuff about the Gay-Straight Alliance, the part that is ruffling Christian feathers.
Is the proposal a malicious attack on religion? Piffle. The idea is a ridiculous distraction and we need to stop belabouring it.
I was raised to believe religion was a refuge for the meek and mild, the poor in spirit, the lost and isolated, the broken and helpless.
What, in that, teaches us that talking to people in a classroom, even to homosexuals who suffer frequently from the jibes and at the hands of bullies, is wrong?
We sang “What A Friend We Have In Jesus” when I still went to church and, funny thing, I don’t remember the next verse as “Unless you are a disgusting gay kid.”
We just empower the bully, coward that he is, when we allow him to know the church calls gay people an abomination.
Is the proposal perfect? No. You can’t codify kindness and empathy. That’s where the law ends and education comes in. But the law should provide that such education, if it is deemed helpful, is equally available to all.
I don’t think many of us, feeling safely bully-proof as we do, really fully appreciate the fear, the abyss of loneliness, the depths of self-loathing bullies can inculcate in some of our children.
We should be talking about that, instead of wrangling over a law.