So-called Christian pastor condemns depictions of loving parents as ‘child abuse’ while suggesting that feeding the hungry violates God’s word

As I write this, it is still Pride Month, a.k.a. June, and I have just spent the day at a Pride event in the city where my wife works as a teacher. It was a very small gathering at a picnic pavilion — no drag queens, no thumping dance music (unless you count La Roux’s “Bulletproof”), no merch tables.

It felt like a family gathering: hotdogs on the grill, picnic tables set up with face painting and plenty of arts and crafts. I have seven temporary tattoos that I applied myself while my wife did a little decoupage, as one does at a Pride event.

As I sat there eating Skittles, kids came up to the table and asked if they could have tattoos, too. They thought I was a volunteer. I was more than happy to help. Most kids chose rainbows. At the face painting table, a kid maybe 9 years old asked for a bisexual Pride flag. The next kid asked for a pansexual flag. A parent standing by was wearing a shirt that read, “God loves you in a gay way.”

I looked at my wife in wonder. Things sure have changed since we were kids.

I couldn’t help thinking of how anti-LGBTQ conservatives would see this altogether very wholesome and homegrown event as something negative. For example, Christian Nationalist Pastor Paul Blair, who recently went on a rant against Pride Month on his Liberty Pastors YouTube channel.

According to Right Wing Watch, Blaire showed a photo of a child holding hands with an adult who is presumably his mother at a Pride event. The child is wearing a rainbow tutu and beads.

“This is child abuse,” Blair said. “This person will one day stand before God and give an account, but the damage that she is doing to this young man and the likelihood that he is going to wind up on drugs and contemplating suicide because of his mother’s abuse.”

That is … well, quite a leap.

If Blair and people who think like him really cared about addiction and suicide, let alone child abuse, they would push for public policy that actually addresses these issues. But they don’t.

Conservatives are big on “personal responsibility.” If you’re poor, it’s your fault. If you have an addiction, it’s your fault. If you have a mental illness, it’s your fault. God forbid that tax money should go toward, say, addiction treatment or the alleviation of poverty.

Nope. God would obviously want tax cuts for the rich, which is Republican doctrine.

And one Blair supports.

“Here’s God’s design,” Blair said at an event in 2023. “It wasn’t for a federal welfare system; the family is supposed to care for the family. Parents raise their children and provide for them as they’re young, and then as parents get older, their kids are to honor their parents, which means to provide for their needs as they get old. Throughout scripture, slothfulness and laziness is condemned as sin.”

He also recites a quote he attributes to Benjamin Franklin: “Hunger is a great motivator.”

It’s pretty callous to tell a hungry person that they should stop being so lazy. Last time I checked, Jesus would have given that person food.

Blair then pulls up a photo of two dads with their kid on one of their shoulders. The dads are smiling, and the kid is leaning down to kiss one of them. Blair calls this “pedophilia.”

It makes me really angry to think of all of the kids who really are abused when people like Blair call something like taking a child to a Pride event child abuse or a dad showing affection to his child pedophilia. How callous can you be to turn a blind eye to real suffering to punish people who don’t think like you?

He points to two smiling people in the background, referring to one as a “wench” and one as an f-slur. “They ought to be intervening and putting [the dad kissing his son] face down on the concrete for abusing this child,” Blair said. “I can’t imagine that this is going on in the streets in the United States of America, and there’s no one here that’s godly enough or courageous enough to protect this child from this. One day, these men and these accomplices to the crime will stand before God and they’re gonna give an account.”

Maybe Blair is right. But something tells me that God is going to be much more concerned with how Blair thinks it’s better to watch a person starve to death than to take a kid to a parade. █

D’Anne Witkowski is a writer living in Michigan with her wife and son. She has been writing about LGBTQ+ politics for nearly two decades. Follow her on Twitter @MamaDWitkowski.