D Gregory Smith


Filed By D Gregory Smith | October 12, 2010 7:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: family problems, gay teen suicides, Predators, shame

I am filled with frustration, anger, sadness and pain with the rashchildrenchurch_300.jpg of gay teen suicides, the hate speech being spewed by religious leaders, the hate institutionalized by organizations, the violence directed toward peaceful people, the silence by those who should know better and by my own limited ability to do anything about it. Especially today, the twelfth anniversary of the death of Matthew Shepard.

But my frustration has led me to an important insight: I have come to realize that the hate that leads children to take their own lives is no worse than the pedophilia crisis which shakes the Catholic Church. When a pedophile seduces a child, it is painful and disgusting because of the innocence lost which can never be regained, because of the trust between adults and children in their care which has been corrupted and transformed into the delusional, self-serving predatory destruction of a young soul. It leads many of these children down the path to self-destruction- either by suicide, attempted suicide, drug and alcohol addiction or crippling depression. We are right to be outraged.

It is a violation of innocence, of the right to exist, of the right to trust, of the right to love. It is predatory. We call them predators, because, like wild animals, they stalk, they hunt, they consume, they destroy.

And those who preach hate against gays are no different.

I have talked to kids who are terrified because they have feelings which conflict with the "normal" view of the society/community/church/family in which they live. They are not scared because "they know it's wrong", they are scared because an adult, perhaps someone close to them or in authority over them has told them that these feelings are wrong. That having those feelings makes them bad. They use words like "sinful", "disordered", "unnatural", "disgusting", "freak" and on and on.... They are not concerned for the well-being of the children in their care- they are driving them in shame to their deaths.

It's time to call them what they are. They are predators. They are killing our children. They are destroying our families.

They will not win.

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Stephanie M. | October 12, 2010 10:11 PM

I'm having a hard time following exactly what point your trying to raise in this article although I've read over it 5 times now.

Is this simply a rant against those who would abuse a child?

I do take exception with the generalization of everyone who has ever had such an offense, but that's something society as a whole has done, and has led to the placement on sex offender registries those who because of the nature of the offense, circumstances, etc, wear a scarlet letter for life limiting jobs, living options, and generally relegating them to second class citizenship, for something that shouldn't be. DOn't get me wrong there are those who need to be on such a list, but its not a one size fits all mentality.

Remember, it wasn't too long ago society as a whole thought that gays and lesbians where child molesters, some are, yes, but the large majority are hetrosexual individuals, the one size mentality doesn't fit, and using such words as calling them ALL predators, thinking they are out hunting down young individuals to seduce, etc, is pretty inflamatory

Just my $0.02

When politicians, organizations and religious leaders denounce gay people, they become predators.

hiraethu seion | October 12, 2010 11:28 PM

I'm a(n openly gay) seminarian of a mainline Protestant denomination. I have known people who have been abused by Roman Catholic priests. I believe that this is, in some sense, a 'gay' issue because anecdotally I think it's likely that gay children are more likely to be targeted. The task then should be discerning a constructive response.

Simply decrying the hypocrisy of the Roman Catholic hierarchy's powerful opposition to equal rights while tolerating a culture of pedophilia in its ranks is too easy and does not offer a way out of the mess. Glib assertions that the whole situation proves that 'RELIGION = TERRIBLE' are also expressly not productive because they draw a defensive rather than reform-oriented response and turn the entire matter into one of 'faith verses unfaith' when the real topic of consideration is 'pedophilia verses unpedophilia'. In a real sense I think that the angry and insistent anti-religion crowd are in fact reinforcing the culture of pedophilia; they think that their denunciations of religion could conceivably lead to the abolition of the Church and other religious institutions -- which is not going to happen, at least not in a free society.

If you want to end the culture of pedophilia in Roman Catholicism, then you must advocate for the reform of the Roman Catholic Church. That takes some serious engagement with some serious issues. An old maxim is that 'bad theology leads to bad practice': Roman Catholicism considers its ministers to be part of a separate, holier class that is ontologically different from the assembly of 'ordinary' Christians. The practical fruit of that is socially isolated, unhappy men with repressed sexualities. Address the doctrinal problem with Roman Catholic teaching on clergy and the practical problem with unhealthy clergy sexuality will be sorted.

This is, in fact, quite similar to the Reformation critique. I believe that the solution to the Roman Catholic pedophilia problem might look closer to historic Protestantism than most people realize.

Predators isolate their prey. Queer youth are often isolated. That's the connection.

There needs to be reformation in civil law so that everyone understands that obstruction and withholding evidence is a crime. No exception for confession. The faithful can reform their church. I just want the rule of law applied equally to religious organizations.

Predators is exactly the right term. They hunt us with unending fervor.

John McNeill | October 13, 2010 10:11 AM

I have been working as a catholic theologian on re form of the Roman Catholic church on lbbt issues for 40 years with great success from the bottom up and no success from the top down. I will soon release a documentry on my lifwe work entitled 'taking A Chance On God!"

...and your work is so deeply appreciated, John!

Regan DuCasse | October 13, 2010 3:43 PM

I can't argue with D Greg's analogy. Gay children are essentially raped, because rapists DO isolate, demean, humiliate and ultimate exact CONTROL over their targets.

The only difference is the faith community entitling ITSELF license to do so.
And doing so, exclusively against gay people.
And without so much religious influence, I doubt anyone would have any natural aversion to gay people. Certainly not a gay child. This is the one thing on the 'sins list' that doesn't involve natural aversion to a commission of injury to another, but TRAINED aversion to something essentially without requiring injury to anything.

The strongest credence that homosexuality is a naturally occurring difference is that no culture or human existence has no exception where homosexuality does not exist.

That young people can identify with and as being gay, denotes further, that it's a matter of doing so in a safe and supportive place that allows for more honesty and accounting for who is gay.

The most conservative religious communities put God in the role of abusive parent, more or less, creating God in THEIR image.

What I don't like about any of this is, here we are in a century of little that is exotic or strange.
We can instantly see other people and how they live in any remote part of the world.
Why, ANY human being living in our modern age, holds stubbornly to theories and information that's outdated, already refuted...or isn't humanly possible in the first place.

And certainly isn't ordered around the more barbaric means of subjugating other citizens.

Equal treatment, a derivative of the golden rule, isn't something practiced in general towards gay people.
Indeed, there is a determined rejection in doing so towards gay people by people of faith.
That's the hardest one to figure out.


I knew you'd get it, Regan!

Many of the commenters have taken the church reference and run with it- I only intended to make a comparison between something completely awful (ecclesial child rape) and make the connection to something equally awful (child shame-driven suicide, etc).

I think the church reference may have clouded my point, but hopefully this clarifies it a bit.

As a Man who was molested by a Roman Catholic Priests,at age 13,29,and34 (I thought it was all my fault for being gay!) and, person whom my church tried to shame; and who was kicked out of Seminary,for being Me,as well as Gay; I agree with the Premis, and Most of the respondents to this article.

These people, either Priests or homophobic hetros. are truely aweful preditors.

"The most conservative religious communities put God in the role of abusive parent, more or less, creating God in THEIR image."

- just look at the Story of Abraham attempted child Sacrifice... it's nothing but sactioned Divine Child abuse. Obedience becomes the Norm, unthinging obedience to Parential figures; not to mention the Historic image/idea of Children being just,"Property,"of the Parent!

-"And without so much religious influence, I doubt anyone would have any natural aversion to gay people. Certainly not a gay child. This is the one thing on the 'sins list' that doesn't involve natural aversion to a commission of injury to another, but TRAINED aversion to something essentially without requiring injury to anything." AMEN!

yet, today I'm a Priest and as abbott-Ordinary in the Catholic,("old", that is,) Church. The real Faith and the Message of Jesus has healed me, along with people like Fr. Dr.John McNeil, and they empower me to fight so that the REAL Gospel message may pierce the Centuries of Power and Control that Cultures and Churches have developed.

Thank you for all your comments to D. Gregory Smiths' article.

Abbot+Neil V. Christensen, c.s.e.f.

Gregory, I totally agree with your argument here, that so much of the religious brainwashing children get is vicious and constitutes child abuse. It has been called "religion abuse" -- although that is a difficult concept to work with in this country because we have the "free exercise" protections.

Because I don't believe it is safe to monkey with the wording of the First Amendment at this point in our history, there is not a whole lot we can do legally to outlaw religion abuse (and BTW, you do not need to be gay or trans to be a victim of religion abuse).

But we can empower ourselves culturally, and one powerful way to do this is to re-introduce the concept of compassion into the religious arena. Recently I found online the "Charter for Compassion" which is being sponsored by the famous religion history author Karen Armstrong. [_here_] What is most notable is the statement, "to return to the ancient principle that any interpretation of scripture that breeds violence, hatred, or disdain is illegitimate" -- and the harshness of some forms of religion is exactly the problem at hand.

Some cultural tool such as the Charter for Compassion is what we need to confront the fundies and school bullying issue. I believe that the LGBT community could get behind such a creed to great advantage, indeed specifically because it is not LGBT-specific and applies to other concerns of the day as well. It also underscores the reality that LGBT society is not without a common moral approach of its own. And finally, it does not offend the "gaytheists" among us. (I know many compassionate atheists -- if you cannot support compassion in human interaction, you have a bigger problem than the religious pidgeonhole into which you put yourself).

If the religious "predators" are to be contained, they need to be exposed as the ideological and philosophical bullies that they are -- and if we are to stop the suicides of our young folks, it is our duty to find an effective way to do it.

Yup. But we're not going to see anyone care about this as much as they did the various pedophilia scandals because it's just not fun enough to talk about on MSNBC or Fox News.