I have had a really hard time lately. I've already dealt with all of the depression, bullying, and suicidal thoughts. However, right now in sociology class, we are watching and discussing the Westboro Baptist Church. It really upsets me to see their interviews, and I don't know what to do. Should I tell my teacher how uncomfortable it makes me, and ask for alternative assignments? The thing is, I go to a small Christian school in Kansas, too. I don't know if my professor is really conservative, and I don't want them to take it to other faculty members.
I'm glad you wrote to us, especially to hear that you have already dealt with some very serious issues, and, I do hope, sucessfully. You're a pretty gutsy guy to have done so, and can feel good about that. You're a real fighter.
Concerning your class studies and the fact that you go to the school that you do, you are wise in seeking advice about confronting your teacher. And it's no wonder that it upsets you. Your feelings are certainly justified. Just so you know, the Westboro Baptist Church is made up of mostly members who are of one family. I could make a joke about them being inbred, but seriously, they and their leader are all crackpots. They preach a message of hatred, something that is totally the opposite of what Jesus taught, so how "Christian" can they truly be? Jesus never said one word about, let alone against, same-sex relationships. This can be proven just by searching a red-letter Bible. In fact, His entire message was one of love and forgivness. Remember the "cast the first stone" incident in John 8: 3-11 and his admonishion about judging others (Matt. 1:7)? Maybe you could challenge your teacher's thinking by pointing these out to him. Show your discomfort by pointing out that the Westboro group's activities are in direct conflict with Jesus' whole message. Letting your discomfort show in this abstract manner will focus the attention on the Bible rather than you directly.
It will also help focus attention on just what the Bible DOES say. Remember that in studying the Bible, one needs to know who is talking to whom, about what, and under what circumstances. Problem is, people tend to cherry-pick verses that back their own thinking. It's like my dad used to tell me, "the Bible says that Judas went out and hung himself. It also says go ye and do likewise. It does NOT mean that you should go hang yourself." THAT is the danger in cherry-picking verses. The verses in Leviticus are from the Jewish holy code, and also contain verses that condemn eating shellfish (like clams and shrimp) and wearing clothing of two different fabrics (like a cotton/poly shirt). They weren't meant to apply to anybody except orthodox jewish rabinical students studying for the high priesthood. And the verse in Romans is Paul telling the christians in Rome not to continue to practice their traditional pagan rituals, like fertility rites and temple prostitution, which weren't "normal" things straight people would do. His admonishment is in the first lines of the second chapter of Romans, which is ignored by those citing this incident. These are all things that have been refuted in books like "The Children are Free: Reexamining the Biblical Evidence on Same-sex Relationships". or "Christianity, Social Tollerance, and Homosexuality" by John Boswell. I also recommend "Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism" by Bishop John Shelby Spong, which refutes the notion that the Bible can be taken "literally, word for word". My favorite is to point out the conflict in the second chapters of Luke and Matthew, commonly called the Christmas story. Where the Holy Family went after the visits of the wise men and shepherds differ in the two gospels, and the harder you try to read them "literally, word for word" the worse your case gets. One only has to prove ONE incident, while fundamentalists would have to refute ALL the errors and conflicts, as Bishop Spong points out. It's why fundamentalism is a false religion. As Jesus said, we should STUDY the scriptures, not merely READ them, for He well knew that this would happen.
Hope this gives you some insight into how to approach the subject with your teacher, without drawing attention to yourself. Focus the discussion on what the Bible says, and maybe you can change some minds. That's powerful stuff you've got there, and so use it wisely. Just be aware that very religious people often don't like to discuss their position - they just want to tell you their views. The "don't confuse me with the facts" mentality. Thus, they may dismiss your points out of hand. But at least you can let them know by challenging them. Go ahead and give 'em heartburn, Cameron! You're a tough cookie.
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