Why Bullying/Open Letter to Oprah
Paul Coughlin is a former newspaper editor and is the author of numerous books, including the No More Christian Nice Guy, and Raising Bully-Proof Kids. He is the Founder of The Protectors: Freedom From Bullying—Courage, Character & Leadership for Life, (www.theprotectors.org), which provides a values-based and faith-based program that combats the cruelty of adolescent bullying in schools, summer camps, Sunday School, and other places where bullying is prevalent.
He is a popular speaker who has appeared on Good Morning America, Nightline, 700 Club, Focus on the Family, C-SPAN, The LA Times, FamilyLife Radio, HomeWord with Jim Burns, The New York Times, Newsweek and other media outlets. He is a regular keynote speaker with Iron Sharpens Iron Men’s Conferences.
His freedom-from-bullying program is used by hundreds throughout North America as well as in England, Australia, Uganda, New Zealand, Brazil, and South Africa. The Protector’s has partnered with Saddleback Church’s Justice & Trafficking Initiative in creating the first-ever Justice Begins on the Playground seminar that helps both faith-based and values-based organizations diminish bullying.
He is a Boys Varsity Soccer Coach in Southern Oregon, where he was voted Coach of the Year twice, and where he is also a member of the Board of Trustees. He and his wife Sandy have three teenagers and live in Medford, Oregon. Contact him at: email@example.com
- 2009 Sep 12
People new to Coughlin Ministries sometimes ask: Why such an emphasis on bullying?
Our ministry and resources fuel a more substantial expression of love and faith in action. They encourage people to get into the real world and make a real difference. Yet we found that for many, traditional avenues of service and ministry didn't provide for them this more rugged but still loving opportunity. People who have been nourished by our resources and presentations wanted a more vigorous way to exercise their newfound faith, love and courage.
So we created The Protectors, the only faith-based solution to adolescent bullying of its kind. The Protectors gives those who are serious about their ignited faith an outlet to love, change, confront, and redeem. Bullying is an area today that isn't reached by God's justice-loving will as it should be, so it's a natural place to devote such newfound power.
But there's another reason. For many, working on behalf of justice is exactly the prescription to their spiritual ailment of passivity, timidity and even the sin of cowardice (Rev. 21:8). It's where God wants them, and it's where they need to be in order to become the new creation God wants them to be.
Hundreds of thousands of oppressed children need you--not someone else. You. Today. They need you to be heroic, righteous, and Christ-like in order to deliver them from the evil of bullying. And in a profound and ironic way, you need them. Targets of bullying need you because that's how God often works--through His flawed people who imperfectly fight like Christians to defend human dignity, a gift from God that no one has a right to tear asunder.
And you need them because their predicament is the jagged stone upon which you sharpen your soul. By caring for them with such a powerful expression of love, faith and hope, you become a new creation drenched in good deeds and soulful transformation.
There is another reason. I know what it's like to have the gift of dignity stolen. To have one's psychological and spiritual skin seared and stripped away. Many of you do as well. It's an unholy act, one that takes place thousands of times every day across this great country. Bullying angers God, and he works through his people to redeem what the enemy of our soul intends to destroy.
It's time to suit up for a new and belated battlefield, a field ripe for harvest but missing workers. A place where God's love, mercy, justice and compassion is sorely needed.
Justice is calling all of us this very hour, a time when faith and religion are increasingly marginalized and deemed irrelevant and even dangerous. But what we have to say (and more importantly do) is not only relevant. It's essential. Who else other than the children of the living God will muster the love, courage and sacrifice necessary to deliver children from abject cruelty and evil?
When Apple's Steve Jobs tried to pull John Sculley from Pepsi, he appealed to every person's innate desire for purpose and meaning: "Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water or do you want a chance to change the world?" The Protectors asks a similar question: Do you want to spend the rest of your life with sweet spirituality, or do you, too, want to change the world?
We offer one way that you can begin to effect that change today. Well-known talk show hostess Oprah Winfrey has created what she calls an "ongoing conversation about bullying." We applaud her for this, but it must include the faith component in order to succeed.
As a result, we have sent on Open Letter to Oprah, asking her and her producer to include The Protectors in her upcoming conversations.
If you would like to see The Protectors as part of this important programming, please write to:
Producer Ms. Lisa Morin
110 N. Carpenter St
Tell her your story and how you know that without the faith community, there will be no lasting answer to this cruelty and injustice.
I have the great privilege of diminishing adolescent bullying in both private and public schools. After a recent assembly, a young girl with Coke-bottle glasses and a light-blue blouse shyly whispered in my ear, "Does bullying include sex?" This little girl was being bullied for sex with older boys. She was just nine years old. Another girl asked me, innocently, "Did you ever feel like killing yourself to get away from bullying the way I think about killing myself?"
These wounded children, along with the inspiration of Martin Luther King Jr., drive me to challenge people of faith to muster the courage and imagination necessary to love and protect others. In the words of Dr. King, "We have learned to tolerate the intolerable." He was describing the injustice of segregation, and I'm convinced he would feel the same today about adolescent bullying's cruelty and dignity-stripping injustice.
The media are more than willing to show
Oprah, The Protectors is so glad that you have initiated an ongoing discussion about this seminal topic, and hope you will include us in future conversations. Our mission is to bring the faith community into the battle against this growing epidemic. The Public School System has already called upon people of faith to play a larger role in the theater of bullying. The Bullying Prevention Handbook, put out by the National Educational Service, states:
In the end, bullying is related to our ultimate beliefs about the worth of individuals and the way they should be treated...Educational leaders may look to the world's religions for answers to...how we interrelate. For example, the Judeo-Christian view that man is created in the image of God has enormous moral implications for how the weakest among us are treated. In the Christian tradition, Jesus stated that whatever was done to the weakest was done to him.
It is usually people of faith who have taken the lead in defending human dignity and value. It is well past time for people of faith to rise up and defend the dignity of hundreds of thousands of children who need an advocate and protector. We provide the inspiration and training needed to complete this noble task.
I welcome any opportunity to be part of your continued conversation about this pivotal issue.
Founder, The Protectors
For many its graduation time from a nice but innocuous and boring spirituality to a more bold and more loving Christianity. Together, we'll change history within history.
Paul Coughlin is the author of numerous books, including Unleashing Courageous Faith, No More Christian Nice Guy and No More Jellyfish, Chickens or Wimps. He also co-authored a book for married couples with his wife Sandy, titled Married But Not Engaged. His articles appear in Focus on the Family magazine, and he as been interviewed by Dr. James Dobson, FamilyLife Radio, HomeWord, Newsweek, C-SPAN, The New York Times, and the 700 Club among others. Paul is founder of The Protectors, the faith-based answer to adolescent bullying, which provides curriculum for Sunday Schools, private schools, retreats, and individuals that trains people of faith to be sources of light in the theater of bullying.