In America, we have been told time and time again that Christianity – in all its forms – is a religion of acceptance, love and forgiveness; that it prides itself on the protection of children and the nurturing of their spirits and endeavors. We are preached that it shuns prejudice and casts no judgment, for only God’s judgment is true. We are told that believers should “cast no stones” lest they be cast upon, and that the voices of its youth are paramount to its longevity and relevance in the world today.
This, of course, is all total crap.
Too often – especially as emboldened by the current American political environment – religion gets a free pass in its bigotry and self-serving ideology that continually harms young people across the country. And this is demonstrative most in the intersection of faith and sexual orientation.
This week, a young Christian devotee possessed the sheer bravery and sense of self-awareness to come out as gay to her congregation in the hopes of remaining in their acceptance and perhaps opening their hearts just a little bit.
Savannah, age 12, reportedly mulled for months over her words and, with the support of her family, spoke of her feelings, hopes and soul to her fellow Christians.
“I believe I was made the way I am, all parts of me, by my heavenly parents,” Savannah said in her speech. “They did not mess up when they gave me brown eyes, or when I was born bald. They did not mess up when they gave me freckles or when they made me to be gay.”
“God loves me just this way because I believe that he loves all his creation.”
For all her strength and fearlessness, her supposed “friends” outright rejected her; whispering to one another while little Savannah poured her heart out. Then, the church cut off her mic.
Confused, the young and courageous girl tapped the microphone before being rudely told to “sit down.”
Watch the video here:
At the time of this writing, I am a proud father of two children. My daughter – the oldest of the two – is just two years shy of Savannah’s age now. If ever either of my amazingly bright, creative, curious and sensitive children were ever made to feel as shunned or rejected or ashamed to be themselves in any way and by any one, I would dedicate my life to bringing whatever institution allowed it to happen to its knees.
Savannah’s mother, Heather, explained what happened next.
“She came off crying to me. We both walked out of the hall, and I held her face in my hands and told her over and over that she is perfect and good, that there is nothing wrong with who she is, that she is brave and beautiful,” she added.
”I was angry that they chose to hurt her for whatever reason they had. My husband and I both were reluctant to let her share her testimony because of the potential rejection. She asked to do it in January, we finally agreed in May.”
In a podcast interview, Savannah herself described her embarrassment.
“I was sad because I wanted to finish it, and I felt like what I was saying should’ve been heard by everybody else,” she said. “I was happy because I could finally get out to everyone and show that gays aren’t weirdos. I only had a couple more sentences of a paragraph to read out loud and I got cut off by my microphone being turned off by the stake president.”
What happened to young Savannah is disgusting and deprecating; especially for an institution with claims to universal love, family and acceptance to possess the audacity to quell the soul of any child. And sadly, it is far more prevalent than Savannah’s story alone.
“I was angry that they chose to hurt her for whatever reason they had.”
Children in today’s world – particularly in our country – are already faced with far too many personal challenges that threaten to destroy their character and their sense of self. What right does anyone have to stifle or demean a child like Savannah – someone who had the guts to be herself and speak up for who she is as a human being – just to satisfy their own sense of moral righteousness and further feed their archaic views of the established order?
I feel for Savannah and her parents, and I fear for the day that I too will be presented with a similar challenge on behalf of my own children.Click here for reuse options!
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