Hi and welcome back! I was browsing a Tumblr called Christian Nightmares recently — and noticed a few very disturbing stories all close together. They reveal exactly how toxic evangelicalism really is, that’s for sure. Today, Lord Snow Presides over how well these Christian children have learned the lessons about ‘Christian love’ that’ll definitely keep them (toxic) Christian for life.
Power: The Authoritarian Solution to Every Problem.
Authoritarians speak the language of power. It is the only language they know. More than that, they see absolute power, wielded by themselves of course, as the answer to every single problem in the world.
That’s how Franklin Graham could write this post five years ago admonishing protesters. Why yes, of course police officers shoot disobedient, unruly people! Don’t act disobedient or unruly, and you won’t get shot! Easy as pie! But more than that, he laid blame on the parents of those getting shot:
Parents, teach your children to respect and obey those in authority.
And if your immediate response is, Oh? Like evangelical leaders? Then you understand evangelical leaders, because he continued:
The Bible says to submit to your leaders and those in authority “because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account.”
That’s what he thinks parents should be teaching their children, and yes, the sentiment most specifically included disgraceful big-name hypocrites like himself.
Evangelicals tend to blame parents for everything their kids do or don’t do because of a Bible verse about childrearing:
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6)
So if children get “trained up” by evangelicals, then they ought to grow up expressing those lessons in their behavior.
And they do.
Just not in the way evangelicals should want.
Such “Christian Love” These Children Exhibit!
One of today’s disturbing stories comes to us from last May. Students from Legacy Christian Academy, a private Christian school in Minnesota, circulated shockingly racist social-media posts mocking the death of George Floyd at the hands of police. The picture they created and distributed proudly has one student laying on his stomach, hands cuffed behind his back, with another student kneeling on his neck.
The administrators of the boilerplate-fundagelical Legacy Christian Academy seem to have reacted swiftly by reiterating all the doctrinal beliefs that they insist should totally be “equip[ping] the minds and discipl[ing] the hearts of our students,” but strangely are not.
One idly wonders if these two students also attend the boilerplate-fundagelical church that’s clearly associated with this school, Meadow Creek Church. Gosh, they could be getting those exact same doctrines stuffed down their throats all day every day, and yet somehow it has not resulted in a pair of loving, compassionate young men about to take their place in the world as adults.
Jus’ Bein’ KRISchin Practicing Bigotry.
In 2015, some Christian kids attending a Pennsylvania high school organized a local “Anti-Gay Day” to counter the Day of Silence observed in high schools across America.
The Christians involved asked like-minded
bigots peers to wear flannel and write the words “anti-gay” on their hands alongside crosses. They went much further than that, of course: they also vandalized the lockers of LGBT students with bigoted filth, pushed gay kids around, and were generally “rude and cruel” according to a student there. More ominously, rumors spread of a “lynch list” circulating around the school. As far as I can tell, the school began an investigation. That is the last news I could find on the matter.
Christian Nightmares linked an earlier post of Christian teens wearing “Gay is Not OK” t-shirts. One, of course, features a cross.
This topic reminds me as well of that ill-advised video, “The Thaw,” made by a bunch of teens some years back protesting the awful persecution they faced for JUS’ BEIN’ KRISCHIN.
Jus’ Bein’ KRISchin Gleefully Abusing Others.
Still another story features a group of shining-faced teen boys groping and choking a cardboard cutout of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. That one made the rounds a year or so ago.
Something about these teens’ big smirks and complete comfort in expressing violence against women floored and outraged a lot of people who didn’t understand evangelicals.
Unsurprisingly, some of those teens attended a private evangelical school, Lexington Christian Academy. The school’s official website features that Proverbs quote on its front page. They offer the quote up as a selling point: if parents send their kids there, then this school will ensure that those kids grow up totally indoctrinated.
And one must say that yes, that’s exactly what happened in that incident.
The Ongoing “Christian Love”of Youth-Group Bullies.
A while ago, I found myself running into one issue constantly on evangelical blogs:
Parents were concerned because their kids absolutely hated to go to their churches’ youth group meetings.
Quick Christianese Explanation: A “youth group” is a sort of congregation-within-a-congregation containing the church’s school-age members. These kids usually attend different Sunday School classes. When they come together as a whole, that’s the youth group. Typically, churches employ a “youth pastor” to manage those kids and indoctrinate them. Churches seem to think everyone’s happier if their adults are well-insulated from their younger members.
In case after case, I saw parents reporting this bullying. In fact, the situation was getting so incredibly bad for these kids that often they were trying to get out of going to church altogether.
I can also attest that even when I myself was evangelical back in the 1980s and 1990s, I found myself painfully snubbed by my youth groups. Yep, I was swimming in that redefined form of love that evangelicals refer to as “Christian love!”
Training Kids to Show “Christian Love.”
Fully-indoctrinated evangelical children reveal the truth of their tribe’s claims like almost nothing else can.
When adults join evangelical groups, they come in with their accumulated lifetimes of experience and understanding to temper their impressions and experiences. They choose to be part of these wingnut groups, and they choose the extent to which they’ll participate and buy into the beliefs involved.
But their kids have no such choices.
Instead, evangelicals’ kids get plunged into the Happy Pretendy Fun Time Game without their consent and completely without the context of experience. And they must figure out how to survive intact in a world swimming with cognitive dissonance and people who are trying to crush them at every turn.
To survive, they learn the undergirding worldview of evangelicalism: the language of authoritarianism. It gives them rules that (falsely) promise them safety. Authoritarianism teaches children how to hurt others, tells them why they must or else be hurt themselves, and gives them tribe-approved ways to carry out this destruction.
Some of them learn to speak that language very well. But in their sometimes-shocking behavior, we see that they haven’t yet figured out the nuances of that language. Not yet.
For similar reasons, British schoolboys on an island turned into Lord of the Flies rather than Trading Places.
Trading Places (1983). It’s like he’s listing the Ten Commandments of Authoritarians.
The Wrong Lessons.
These kids’ teachers and elders may feel very embarrassed indeed by the hateful antics of their well-indoctrinated children. But they won’t learn the right lessons from any of these incidents.
The lesson here isn’t that evangelicals somehow must make their kids Jesus even harder.
No. Rather, it’s that their doctrinal beliefs do not consistently translate in any way to actual lived behavior. Something’s undermining and undercutting their stated beliefs. Somehow, their imaginary friend isn’t leading even lifelong evangelicals to behave in loving, compassionate ways toward the people their tribe dehumanizes and seeks to marginalize.
Evangelicalism will dwindle away to nothing before evangelical adults seriously engage with that truth.
Today, Lord Snow Presides over evangelicals who seem to learn the wrong lessons every time from the evidence of reality. I hope their kids awaken someday — and statistically, they’ve got a good chance. They are, after all, still children for the most part, and they’re struggling to survive in an extremely difficult environment.
Most of all, I hope they learn one day that real love doesn’t look anything at all like “Christian love.”
NEXT UP: The excuses a false prophet deploys to evade the consequences of making, well, a false prophecy.
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About Lord Snow Presides (LSP)
Lord Snow Presides is our off-topic weekly chat series. Lord Snow was my very sweet white cat. He actually knew quite a bit. Though he’s passed on, he now presides over a suggested topic for the day. Of course, please feel free to chime in with anything on your mind. We especially welcome pet pictures!