Sometimes what I read about in the news completely boggles my mind.

The latest example are the attacks in which Republican politicians are engaged in that are aimed at kids. It’s more than disturbing. It is disgusting.  

(The same can be said about the assault on women’s reproductive rights taking place today, but my focus in this blog is America’s kids.)

The Republican moral police are on a crusade against elementary through high school kids whose sexual orientation or gender they believe is “unnatural.”

Specifically, states like Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Virginia are passing laws and regulations that are denying gay and transgender kids access to healthcare, public facilities, or sports competition.

The message they are sending these kids is that they don’t belong, don’t fit into today’s America, don’t have a place among “normal” people. It’s an ugly message that at bottom is telling these kids they would be better off dead than to be who they are. 

The word that comes to mind when I see what is going on is “evil,” which literally means “profoundly immoral.” Less provocative, but graphic enough to convey the horror of what is happening are words like “mean” and “cruel,” and, frankly, I’ve seen it before, of all places in the church.

In fact, I can honestly say that everything I need to know about this kind of toxic politics I learned in church. 

Here are some things I learned that lead me to say that.

I learned that fear will cause people to say and do harmful things in the name of morality.

I learned that rule-makers are often the first ones to break them.

I learned that some people don’t know what they don’t know and don’t care.

I learned that truth scares some people to the point where falsehoods gives them comfort.

I learned that people who believe God is on their side don’t know that God has no sides. 

These character traits are not the only ones I learned in church that help me understand the mean and cruel words and actions being used against children by conscience-less Republicans, but they will do.

Don’t get me wrong. Most of the people I have known in churches are good people, the kind you want for your neighbor. It’s the others, a minority, who seem determined to do as much harm as they can without missing a beat.

Republican Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida seems to take special delight in singling out gay and transgender kids for sanctions and ridicule in school. Republican legislators are making his extremism worse by becoming willing participants with him in this attack on innocent children and teenagers.

The disheartening thing about DeSantis’s actions is that he was re-elected by 70% of Florida voters last November, which means that in the state of Florida a majority of people think mean and cruel words and actions hurting kids is just fine. 

I have no doubt that many Floridians who still go to church are among DeSantis supporters and, thus, if not openly in favor of what he is doing, are certainly going along with it. 

Honestly, it’s not all that surprising. What I learned in church is that fear, legalism, ignorance, falsehood, and self-righteousness always lead people to do mean and cruel things. 

And make no mistake about it. It’s an ugly thing to see whether it’s in a church or in our nation’s politics. 

The question we face is whether or not the majority of Americans will put an end to it or allow it to spread and hurt more and more of America’s kids.