There’s nothing quite like the right to write an article in your school paper endorsing murdering people because you don’t like who they have sex with. That’s what happened in Wisconsin, recently, when 15-year old Brandon Wegner, a Shawano High School student, wrote a column for the editorial page of the Hawks Post that, says the Green Bay Press Gazette, “cites Bible passages and calls homosexuality a sin punishable by death.” A column appearing with Wegner’s, by Maddie Marquardt took the position that gay people “are as compassionate, caring and suitable parents as heterosexuals.” Copies of the student paper went out as inserts this month in the Shawnee Leader, the local paper. (Green Bay Press Gazette has a pdf of both articles, which can be read in full here).
This is, in part, what Wegner had to say:
“If one is a practicing Christian, Jesus states in the Bible that homosexuality is (a) detestable act and sin which makes adopting wrong for homosexuals because you would be raising the child in a sin-filled environment.
“A child adopted into homosexuality will get confused because everyone else will have two different-gendered parents that can give them the correct amount of motherly nurturing and fatherly structure. In a Christian society, allowing homosexual couples to adopt is an abomination.”
He further cites Leviticus 20:13 which states that “If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.”
A gay couple was outraged and pointed to the school that this is what fuels that attitudes that lead to bullying and suicide. The school right apologized and promised to review the processes that allowed the article to be published.
Said district Superintendent Todd Carlson in a written statement: “Offensive articles cultivating a negative environment of disrespect are not appropriate or condoned by the Shawano School District.”
Leave it to Liberty Council, a group supporting Newt Gingrich, to step in at this point. In a gross misuse of the term “bullying” Liberty Council addressed the issue with this headline: “15-Year-Old Student Bullied for Supporting Biblical View of Family.”
Shame, apparently, does not rank very high on the fundamentalist list of things to embrace.
Here is what Liberty Council had to say about the incident:
Liberty Counsel sent a letter to school officials at Shawano High School after they censored and punished Brandon Wegner, a 15-year-old, for writing an op-ed article explaining the Biblical view of homosexuality and supporting natural mother-father adoption. The letter demands that the school apologize for its unconstitutional and irrational censorship and humiliation of Brandon.
Brandon quoted several verses from the Bible regarding homosexuality. After Brandon wrote this article he was pulled into hours of meetings with school administrators and staff, without his parents’ knowledge. This caused him to miss exam preparation classes and at least one exam.
Brandon was hauled before the superintendent on charges that he had violated the school’s bullying policy. Superintendent Todd Carlson told him that the column “went against the bullying policy,” and asked him if he “regretted” writing it. When Mr. Wegner stated that he did not regret writing it, and that he stood behind his beliefs, Superintendent Carlson told him that he “had got to be one of the most ignorant kids to try to argue with him about this topic,” that “we have the power to suspend you if we want to” and that the column had “personally offended me, so I know you offended other people!”
The First Amendment protects the opinions of all, including student journalists. The bullying at Shawano High School is by Superintendent Todd Carlson and the school officials, not the student, Brandon Wegner. The school officials have displayed blatant intolerance of a view on homosexuality held by many people. The school’s actions are shocking and unjustified. The superintendent should immediately apologize and stop the bullying.
Of course, Liberty Council isn’t going to mention Leviticus and the endorsement by Mr. Wagner of killing gay people. The Bible is full of blood, offering us the eating of the flesh of captives (Deut. 32:42), drinking the blood of victims (Isa. 49:26) and wading in the blood of the vanquished (Pss. 58:11; 68:24). Fine images for any school and community to embrace. Maybe they want to pick up on the human sacrifice God demanded as well.
God demanded in Exodus:
“Do not hold back offerings from your granaries or your vats. You must give me the firstborn of your sons. Do the same with your cattle and your sheep. Let them stay with their mothers for seven days, but give them to me on the eighth day” (Exodus 22.29).
And reiterated in Ezekiel:
“I let them become defiled through their gifts – the sacrifice of every firstborn – that I might fill them with horrors so they would know that I am the LORD.” (Ezekiel 20.26).
And this wasn’t just rhetoric, or something metaphorical, as we see from the story of Jephthah, one of the Judges of Israel who lived in the time before the first king. When the Ammonites invaded, Jephthah vowed to YHWH,
“If you give the Ammonites into my hands, whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the Lord’s, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering” (Judges 11.29-31).
Of course, Jephthah won and when he returned home from his campaign, the first to come out of his house was his daughter, who “was only a child.” Her father, we are told “did to her as he had vowed. And she was a virgin” (11.32-39). This event was not decried afterwards. Rather, it was celebrated, since “From this comes the Israelite custom that each year the young women of Israel go out for four days to commemorate the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite” (11.40).
And young Mr. Wegner wants to quote Leviticus?
In Leviticus (27.28-29) where we find the following, showing victims were not simply “consecrated” rather than killed:
But nothing that a man owns and devotes to the LORD – whether man or animal or family land – may be sold or redeemed; everything so devoted is most holy to the LORD. No person devoted to destruction may be ransomed; he must be put to death.
Good times for those preschoolers! Let’s get them plugged into this program right away. Nothing like filling the little children with “horrors” so they know who God is. Maybe we can really roll out NFL’s Play 60 program with all the little kids fleeing for their lives. That’s a good cardio workout, isn’t it?
I don’t know why Brandon wants to kill the gay people but not first born. Maybe he is a first born himself? And why isn’t Mr. Wegner attacking those who eat shellfish? That’s an abomination too, according to (Leviticus 11:11), and if a man has sex with a woman during her period, they’re both supposed to be deported (Leviticus 20:18). And a personal favorite: anyone cursing their mother or father must be put to death (Leviticus 20:9). We don’t hear a lot about these divine prohibitions these days. Suddenly it’s only gay people God hates?
Let’s face it, claiming First Amendment protections for people calling for the death of anybody else based on their lifestyle, or what they eat, or their order of birth, etc., is a bit of a stretch. If we all now called for the death penalty for those who denigrate gays and lesbians, for example, I don’t think any of us would get any support from Liberty Council, free speech or not. They don’t really care about the First Amendment; they only care about their continued ability to spread hate and fear, even in our public schools.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.