My ten year old son Jesse had big plans Easter morning. He had set his alarm for 6 am. His desire to rise early was not to go searching for the Easter basket the mystical bunny was likely to have left him, it was to make French toast as a surprise for me, his dad.
That special pleasing Dad bond is an important one for many young boys. Jesse was not alone in that objective.
Three thousand miles away, another boy, Nolan Cranford was preparing to please his dad. Unlike my son, Nolan’ endeavors did not involve syrup and buttery niceness. The way to his dad’ heart was to shout at exiting Church goers from North Carolina’s Green Street United Methodist Church and condemn them to hell.
“The Bible talks about that the homosexuals are worthy of death. Not only them that do it, but them that approve of it. They are worthy of death!” he shouted as his dad Brian “BibleBrian” Cranford held a video camera. The video has since made its way across Facebook. I don’t know what sickens me more about it—the hate that a child has been taught, the aggression he has been inspired to show his neighbors or the danger he himself has been placed in exposed tauntingly to an uncertain world.
In California, Jesse and his brother prepared to go to church where we would be meeting up with my in laws, their grandparents.
This was not Nolan’s first performance yelling at innocent strangers on the street. In a previous performance outside a courthouse he actively invited them to disobey secular law.
The website Official Street Preacher Blogspot gives insight into the Cranford family. According to the site, “Nolan has been watching preach clips from youtube like children playing videos or watching cartoons”.
When my son Jesse was four, I introduced him to pre-school so he could learn social skills. I remember arriving to pick him up. He yelled “Dadddddddy” as he charged excitedly across the room and then took me around and proudly and politely introduced me to each and every child and teacher.
When Nolan was four, he was started on the streets yelling at passersby. The Cranfords are the anti-gay’s acceptable “traditional” family: one man, one woman. Nolan and his younger siblings were home schooled by his mom, while he was encouraged in his public disturbance vocation by the cohorts of his father. One reported, “We all stayed at the Cranford’s home and we celebrated their sons birthday on our last day of preaching, Nolan was to turn 8 later that month but we celebrated it that evening. He has been inspired by his father and the many youtube clips of open air preachers nationwide, as most kids his age would watch cartoons or play on the computer, he watched preaching videos… after dinner we had a birthday cake and placed Noland on the hot seat. From there a few street preachers questioned him and if he gave the correct answer, he got $20.00 an answer … He made a few bucks that night.”
My son is motivated by my actions in my life, and he has seen me work with people in need. My life had a dramatic change thirty one years ago when I hit my personal bottom with alcohol and started a new and unwavering recovery and spiritual path.
Brian Cranford hit a bottom of his own. He states, “My life before all of this was a wreck! I hardly ever go into details with all of those things because I do not care to remember those days as I laid in a hospital bed having my heart stop 26 times in one night and almost walking off into eternity because of suicide!” He turned instead to evangelism as an escape, first by distributing fliers and then abortion clinic demonstrations, and eventually gay friendly churches.
So as millions celebrated resurrection and renewal, the Cranfords attacked. “May I give you a hug?” asked a kind lady. “Back up, Nolan, back up,” snarled a voice, presumably Brian’s, behind the camera.
A woman commented behind them, “God Bless you.”
“Shame on you, shame on you, you wicked old wretch,” Brian snarled.
“I said ‘God Bless You’!” the woman replied in surprise.
“Shame on you, shame on you.” he repeated.
“You love your sin, you love your sin and you hate God,” Nolan continued to shout.
We, meanwhile, were celebrating with kind ladies in a little church on the Pacific. No one was snarling and all hugs were gratefully accepted.
Last week, families like mine were being highly discussed at the public level. People were pulling out studies and statistics. We were called social experiments and compared to cell phone usage. There seem to be concern whether or not our kids will be well adjusted and positive contributors to society. I am not afraid of the scrutiny gay families receive.
My only question is this: who is studying the adjustment s and contributions of the anti-gay families? It seems to me that those are the ones the American public should be worrying about.
My son and Brian Cranford’s sons are bright, articulate dynamic boys. I cannot wait to see the man that my son grows up to be. I wish I could say the same for Nolan Cranford. I hope the Cranford family wakes up before it is too late.
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