On Wednesday, a video showing disturbing footage of a child performing an anti-gay choral performance, reached 100,000 views on YouTube in a matter of hours. The video has already been circulated through the blogosphere, helping identify the church and pastor who prompted the boy to perform.
In the video, in the Apostolic Truth Tabernacle Church in Greensburg, Indiana, a young boy gets up on the altar to sing a song to an entire congregation. The crowd goes wild after the child sings a verse, “The Bible’s right, somebody’s wrong. Romans one, twenty six and twenty seven; Ain’t no homos gonna make it to Heaven.” The video peaks around 25 seconds, when the boy receives a standing ovation as the congregation erupts into applause for his recital.
This video comes in the wake of many similar hate speech videos appearing in the last few months. First there was the North Carolina pastor that advocated, “beating the gay” out of your children. Last week, another pastor suggested we should “put gays and lesbians in electrified pens to kill them off.” Somehow the song video seems to be receiving the most vehement response because a boy who appears to be not older than five years old gives the performance.
According to TMZ, one church member said they have no regrets about the song and openly said, “of course we applauded a child who is singing a song about God.” The song goes far beyond singing about God, his word, or his teachings. The song is about a marginalized group of people who are continually ostracized by instances like this one. I squirm to think about the consequences if this was a song about an ethnic minority rather than a social one. Frankly, it frightens me that there is a portion of America that would agree with this video, or simply find no problem with it.
The pastor of the church, Jeff Sangl has received harassing phone calls and death threats. A member of the church reportedly said that Pastor Jeff Sangl “is extremely worried about his safety.” Is anyone worried about the safety of every gay and lesbian child who will see a boy their own age mocking their lifestyle? How about the safety of gay and lesbian teens who are vulnerable and familiar with all of the recent gay suicides? And what about the safety of gay and lesbian adults who have faced a lifetime of hatred from society? Last time I checked, the word of God did not include promoting selfishness.
Moreover, the child’s performance is concretely a form of child abuse. Teaching your child bigotry, hateful rhetoric, and coercing him to perform it in front of a group of people is lucidly what someone would qualify as harming your child.
The blame is not to be placed on the young boy who sang the song, but rather we should all be disgusted with the parents and authority of the church, because it is clear that adults undoubtedly coached him for the performance. What is most upsetting about the video is the rapturous clapping and yelling that is initiated by adults in the room. The encouragement and praise the child receives after singing the song is the type of acclamation that one would think should be reserved for a proud accomplishment, not a hate crime.