Hey, Tribelet! Welcome to After School Wednesday -- and a special welcome to ZOE who has just found us. ZOE, be sure to read the blog rules (click on them over on the right) so we can get you officially on board.
Before we go on to today's anti-bullying topic I need to answer one of EVE's questions about the Code Cards on the SO Not Okay webpage. We're working on that, Eve, so that all of the code cards will be on one page and you can cut them apart. I'll let you know when that's fixed.
Okay -- I'm really, really into today's question, which comes from the list you all made a while back (and which you can add to any time, just by making a comment). And that question, originally from LEAH, is:
"What if it's a Christian doing the bullying?"
Isn't it just so SAD that we even have to ask that question? Shouldn't it be that if you're a Christian you try to do what Jesus did and behave the way God wants you to? And shouldn't that mean that nobody who claims to be part of the body of Christ would purposely hurt other people? I mean, really? It's not like we have to be angels all the time, but come ON.
And yet bullying goes on all the time in places that are supposed to represent our beliefs as Christ-followers:
* Christian schools
* Sunday school classes
* Youth groups
* Home school co-ops
* Among friends that are church goers
* In Christian HOMES!
What is UP with that?
Before we go on to answer that question and figure out how to deal with it when it happens, let's get some more input from you on this topic. If you want to comment on this post, tell us:
* if you've ever been bullied by someone who is supposedly a Christian AND/OR
* if you've ever SEEN bullying by a Christian
* AND how you felt about it ... what you did about it ... or didn't do
Just to get us started, I'll give you an example from my own experience.
A while back, I belonged to a small church that I loved for eight years. The people were like a family and it really felt like the body of Christ. For about a year we didn't have a pastor and we hung in there together trying to do what we thought God was telling us to do. It was awesome.
Then we finally got a pastor, and I thought he was great. He was more conservative than ones we'd had in the past, but that didn't change my beliefs. I just saw what was good in him and his leadership.
But some people in that church-I-thought-of-as-family felt threatened by him -- for no reason I could see -- but instead of talking to him about it, they started what I now see was bullying:
* they stopped inviting him to gatherings of people in the church
* they spread rumors about him -- really bad stuff that wasn't true
* they sent out ugly emails about him -- again, containing things that were just plain false
* people shunned him at church
* some even made rude noises during his sermons
And these were grown-ups! Baptized people who claimed to be worshiping God when their real purpose was to run the guy out of the church.
He didn't leave.
People stayed because they thought the place would fall apart and he would be asked to leave by the bishop and they could go back to being complacent.
It didn't fall apart. Not even when they went to the higher ups in our denomination and told lies about him.
I -- along with some other people -- stood up for him, told those people what they were doing was wrong, spent time with the pastor, even went to those higher-ups to try to set the record straight. After that, a lot of people left.
But the pastor was heart-broken. I thought he was going to be okay, though -- until he not only left that church, he left the ministry all together. He felt so betrayed he couldn't go on. He became a religion teacher at a high school.
I left that church and wasn't sure I even wanted to try to find another one, that's how disappointed I was in my fellow "Christians." My daughter guided me to the one I attend now and it's good. Still, I think of Jeff a lot and of the people who showed that they had no idea about Jesus, really. It makes me sad even now, twelve years later.
Tell us your story, will you? Then we'll discover together what we can do -- because I've learned so much about dealing with bullies since then.
Blessings, Tribelet --