Recently, I read the story of Isaiah Smith, a Texas high school student who was suspended for tearing pages out of a Bible. It seems Mr. Smith brought his Bible into his first period class and tore out the pages from Leviticus that some folks use to condemn their LGBT brothers and sisters. He says he did it to protest the anti-gay bullying he has experienced. Yes, Smith is gay. He’s also a Christian and has been told repeatedly that “being gay is a sin” and “gays go to hell”. The school’s response to all this? Suspend Smith and confiscate his Bible. How ’bout them apples?
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the story is that the American Humanist Association has come to Smith’s defense. That’s right, a Christian’s First Amendment rights are violated and who speaks up for him? A non-theist organization. Not a church, not a Christian group, or even a religious organization, but a group that advocates for humanists, atheists and agnostics. Wait a minute, I thought those people were persecuting Christians, not defending them. What the hell?
That Smith’s rights have been violated is a foregone conclusion. He tore the pages out of Leviticus because he doesn’t believe the Bible condemns LGBT people. So, when the school suspended him and took his Bible, they impeded the free exercise of his faith. Of course, the school system claims Smith was suspended for disrupting class, but I think they’re being disingenuous. I mean, take a look at the facts: he was sent to the assistant principal, who allowed him to continue carrying his Bible, but advised him not to tear out anymore pages. That was Monday. Two days later, Smith was called to see the assistant principal again, who reprimanded him for still carrying his Bible asking, “How would Muslims feel if a student was tearing up the Qur’an?” Doesn’t sound like it was about disrupting class to me.
I think that last statement shows the assistant principal’s aim wasn’t to shut Smith up. Well, it was, but not for the reasons you might think. No, the principal was being a good bureaucrat and doing his best to keep things in order. Of course, he could’ve done the same thing by ensuring that none of his students were bullied, thus removing the need for Smith to stage a protest; something I suspect still hasn’t occurred to him. And, there is a distinct possibility that he suspended Smith and confiscated the Bible because he was catching heat from outside forces. You know, good Christian Americans who whole-heartedly support the United States Constitution. (Yes, that was sarcasm)
I’m not sure what disgusts me most about this story, the fact that a young man was being bullied and the school did nothing about it, that he was punished for speaking out against that bullying or that not a single Christian organization in his community has spoken up for him. Any way you slice it, Christians do not look good on this one. And, we wonder why young people increasingly identify as Nones.