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Born That Way

Some weeks or months back I responded to an email offer for a free copy of a Tr*th For Y**th book, in reality an edition of the New Testament preceded by nine short comic book stories about various social and science topics that are illustrated in a somewhat quirky manga style. Points subtracted for the art style choice. The evangelical organization’s intent in giving these free books to people was for the recipients to give them to teens and young adults. My intent was to learn what was being told about different matters, gay people specifically. Let me tell you there’s no way I’m giving this book to any youth except to use it as a prop in discussions.

The comic strip section totals 98 pages, including a table of contents; a two paged spread titled “What America’s Young People Are Saying about Truth For Youth”; a single page about the Ten Commandments; a two paged section on how the Bible says is the only way to get into Heaven; and a “decision coupon” for the youth reader to check off hers or his about accepting Jesus and to mail in for “some important material that will help you live for God!”. Also included in the mailing was a form letter reminding that “you committed to give it [the book] to someone in school who is not faithfully serving God” (Oops!) and a flyer listing other products. Just what is the DVD boxed set “Four People I’d Like To See Go To Hell”? There must be some loving if not twisted in semblance message, right? Topics covered in these stories include: safe sex, pornography, homosexuality, abortion, evolution, secular rock music, sorcery and witchcraft (not a joke), school violence, and drugs & drunkeness & peer pressure.

I’ll focus on “Born That Way!”, which has “THE TR*TH ABOUT HOMOSEXUALITY” has an opening page header. Bob Bradford and Tim Todd are the writers and Jonako does everything else. The plot in this five paged pot boiler is simplistic and rife with stereotypes and sound bite style talking points. It opens with a gay pride rally spearheaded by a cartoonishly bad lesbian with a bull horn which has attracted a group of men who I think are supposed to be neo Nazi skin heads as counter demonstrators. Signs read “Give me a marriage license or give me death”; “Queer power!”;”Accept me as gay or get out of my way!”; “Die Queers” and “Death to Fags!”. Angelique (“angel like”) is a young woman who, for some inexplicale reason, has permission from her mother and aunt to bring three teenaged relatives named Santo, Sebastian, and Louisa (two brothers and sister who are cousins to Angelique) to this event. It takes all of two panels for the lesbian and her anti gay counterpart to start shouting at each other and another two panels for the shouting to escalate into a riot. Angelique rushes Louisa and Sebastian off into a drainage pipe that conveniently appears and pulls Santo down into it after he’s had a chance to shout some unlovely things about the gays. Louisa takes issue with Santo’s stance, and their exchange jumps right into a reflection of the two sides fighting above their heads. When Angelique inserts herself into the sibling argument is when things interestingly veer off. She asserts that we shouldn’t pass judgment on people and holds on to this belief after Sebastian comes out two panels later, followed by a subsequent embrace by loving sister Louisa and physically threatened by skinhead Santo. Angelique urges Santo to restrain himself and, again, not to judge Sebastian, and in the next breath apprises Sebastian that Jesus died for humanity’s sins, including “homosexuals” since she refuses to use the word “gay” because it’s a politically correct code word used to condone homosexuality and is bandied about by the “liberal media”. No, I didn’t make that up.

Bradford and Todd have to build to a climax in this super compressed piece of propaganda, so they’re all forced to scramble out of their hiding place after a tear gas canister is “inadvertently” tossed by a police officerjust inside the drainage pipe. A flying chunk of concrete hits Santo in the head. Thank God there’s an EMT squad a few yards away now! The EMT guy now caring for Santo overhears Angelique lecture Sebastian that God can forgive Santo the sin of hate (without any mention of penitence on Santo’s part) just as God can forgive Sebastian the “sin of homosexuality…but [he] ha[s] to recognize and admit [he’s] guilty first!” Cue Mr EMT to speak up that being born that way “is a bunch of hooey!” and confiding that he is an ex-gay and that Sebastian can become an ex-gay too. Angelique underscores the EMT’s message and add a refrain that all people are sinners and that we all must “seek the narrow way that leads to life!” As the closing image pans out we see the leaders of both factions at the demonstration handcuffed and carted off by police while Angelique resolutely stands with her hands lovingly placed on Sebastian’s shoulders as if she is indeed a guardian angel looking out for his well being.

The creative team here gets points in the “Mort Weisinger” style category for cramming so many points and stereotypes into six pages. The writers’ side of this accomplishment is even more impressive. They manage to expand their script to include evangelically interpreted Biblical beliefs with liberal usage of editorial notes referencing cherry picked scripture to bolster the idea that submission to God’s will and love and becoming an ex-gay is the only viable alternative way for LGBT people to live in this world. You either renounce a basic part of yourself or take your chances of being gay bashed by violent bigots while Christians, who clearly if you believe this theme have been misrepresents as bigoted themselves, lovingly and patiently wait and pray for you to find salvation in Jesus.

On the other hand, this story is a cold, congealed mass of santorum if you’re LGBT.

Note: I have used asterisks to replace letters in a couple words for one reason. On numerous occasions I have commented on various articles posted by AFA sources. Some evangelical commenters who engaged me in those instances were respectful. Others were not, including a few who wished me dead once I revealed personal medical information and one other who tried to intimidate me by implying he would report my comments to my employer. Little did he know that I don’t have a job and am not employed. I simply want to fly under the radar and still comment about this particular story because I believe it’s important to understand that some Christians want to paint themselves in a new light when it comes to homosexuality. Am I hoping for too much?

March 7, 2015
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