Matthew 18: 5-6 (KJV): “Whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”
First stop, North Carolina, where the religious right is crusading to pass Amendment One. Anti-gay discrimination is already part of state law, but Amendment One will make it part of the state’s constitution.
For a sense of the kind of people supporting this, meet Pastor Sean Harris of Berean Baptist Church in Fayetteville. Berean Baptist, the church’s website says, was founded in 1967 “in reaction to the liberal influence in the Southern Baptist Convention.”
Pastor Harris’ sermon on Sunday commanded parents in his congregation to beat their children at the first sign of anything gay-ish. Here’s a summary from David Badash, who also posted audio from the sermon:
Pastor Sean Harris told parents they are “authorized,” and that he was “giving them a special dispensation” to attack their children. “Give them a good punch,” and “crack that wrist,” Harris told parents, if their four-year old boy, for example, “starts acting a little ‘girlish’.” Pastor Harris added that parents should tell their four-year olds to “man up, son, get that dress off you get outside and dig a ditch because that’s what boys do.”
… “Can I make it any clearer? Dads, the second you see that son dropping the limp wrist, you walk over there and crack that wrist. Man up. Give them a good punch. OK? You’re not going to act like that — you were made by God to be a male and you’re going to be a male,” Pastor Harris tells his parishioners. …
“And when your daughter starts acting too ‘butch,’ you rein her in. And you say, ‘Oh no. Oh no, sweetheart. You can play sports. Play ‘em, play ‘em to the glory of God, but sometimes you’re going to act like a girl and talk like a girl and talk like a girl, and smell like a girl, and that means you’re going to be beautiful, you’re going to be attractive, you’re going to dress yourself up’.”
Our second stop is in Ireland, where “offending one of these little ones” won’t get you in trouble with the church hierarchy, but offending the church hierarchy will.
In the Irish Times (via Bilgrimage), Fintan O’Toole writes that the “Vatican is loud on liberals, but silent on abuse.” O’Toole is not impressed with the Vatican’s newly efficient discipline when it comes to “liberal” Irish priests. Where was this remarkable efficiency when other priests were abusing children?
This is the institution that told us that it was unable to control child rapists in its ranks because it couldn’t just issue orders. Remember Cardinal Cahal Daly writing to the parents of a victim of the hideous abuser Brendan Smyth: “There have been complaints about this priest before, and once I had to speak to the superior about him. It would seem that there has been no improvement. I shall speak with the superior again.” Remember the stuff about how bishops were lords in their own dioceses and religious orders were their own kingdoms?
When priests were raping children, the institutional hierarchy was wringing its hands and pleading “what can we do?” The Vatican was very busy and very far away. But when a priest makes some mild suggestions that women might be entitled to equality, the church is suddenly an efficient police state that can whip that priest into line. The Vatican, which apparently couldn’t read any of the published material pointing to horrific abuse in church-run institutions, can pore over the Sunday World with a magnifying glass, looking for the minutest speck of heresy.
Matthew 18: 5-7 (KJV): “Woe unto the world because of offences, for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!”