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What ‘teaching hate’ does and doesn’t look like

What ‘teaching hate’ does and doesn’t look like June 5, 2012

Ismael Estrada of CNN reports on the aftermath of another recent bigotry eruption in a nondenominational evangelical church: “We don’t teach hate, says church where anti-homosexual song filmed.”

About 20 protesters gathered on Sunday outside the Apostolic Truth Tabernacle here to voice opposition to a viral online video that was taped in the church and shows a young child singing song with lyrics that offer a harsh message for homosexuals.

The video, which surfaced on YouTube last week, shows a child in front of the congregation, singing “I know that God is right, and somebody’s wrong … ain’t no homo going to make it to heaven.”

The congregation erupts in applause at those lines, which the unidentified boy repeats as the pastor looks on.

… The Apostolic Truth Tabernacle posted a statement on its website that says in part: “The Pastor and members of Apostolic Truth Tabernacle do not condone, teach, or practice hate of any person for any reason.”

OK, see, the song in question was sung by a 4-year-old. He didn’t write it himself, so somebody taught it to him.

And all that cheering and whooping when this little boy sang the word “homos”? That’s condoning hate.

All that cheering is also a kind of teaching. How do the good Christian adults of this church respond when a child says this slur directed at gay people? They cheer. A reasonable child will conclude that saying slurs directed at gay people must be good behavior.

That was the lesson this congregation was actively, earnestly teaching this poor kid. And it was the lesson this little boy was learning.

If you’re at a church that “does not condone, teach, or practice hate of any person for any reason,” then this scene plays out very differently.

At a church that isn’t condoning, teaching and practicing hate, if a kid says that word in public, then everything screeches to a halt. The music stops, the audience gasps and lapses into an awkward silence. The child’s mother rushes up front, grabs the kid by the hand and drags him out the back for a lecture about never, ever using such hateful words — Do you hear me?

That’s what it looks like if you’re a church that doesn’t teach hate.

One day in the summer between fourth and fifth grade, a bunch of us were at Mrs. Washington’s house waiting for her oldest son, our baseball coach, to get home from work so we could go practice. We split up teams for basketball in the back yard. The big kids — the sixth-graders — decided the easiest thing was for the four black guys to be one team, with the three Hispanic guys and me on the other team. “It’s n—s versus sp–s,” one of them said, and we all laughed.

But Mrs. Washington heard that.

She came running outside, furious, and gave us a 10-minute tongue-lashing, explaining the many fearful things that would befall us if she ever, ever, heard words like those coming out of any one of us ever again — if she ever heard one of us even think those words again. (None of us doubted for a moment that Mrs. Washington could, in fact, hear what we were thinking.)

Mrs. Washington did not condone, teach or practice hate.

The Apostolic Truth Tabernacle did. They cheered and laughed at hate-speech from a child. That’s what teaching hate looks like.

 


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