PROVO, Utah, Sept. 30, 2016 (Gephardt Daily) — A Utah county candidate’s response to a Facebook post about a gay teenager’s suicide has gone viral.
Jason Christensen, running as an Independent American in the Provo-area District 16 race for the Utah Senate, responded to a posted obituary for 19-year-old Braxton David Taylor:
“Maybe God will have mercy on the sins this boy has committed,” Christensen wrote. “The sin of homosexuality and the sin of murder.”
Answering a respondent who called for respect and noted it was a suicide, not a murder, Christensen replied:
“When you take a life what do you call it? It’s still murder.”
An additional post from Christensen suggested his critics study the scriptures and “Live the Gospel of Jesus Christ and not the Gospel of the Devil.”
Karin Berg, of Kaysville, had posted the notice to which Christensen responded:
Berg said she was shocked and offended when she read Christensen’s response.
“I saw it and was just stunned,” she told Gephardt Daily, pausing to talk before she headed to the young man’s viewing. “I could not block or delete him (Christensen) because I was driving.”
Berg said she had made her Facebook page public because she was on a Swedish reality show that invites Americans to explore their Swedish roots. She got tired of maintaining both a public page for fans and a private one for friends and family, so she combined them.
“If someone wanted to be a friend, I let them, until they started trying to sell sunglasses or say bad things on my wall,” she said.
Berg is a member of an ex-Mormon Reddit group, and speculates that Christensen might have seen her name there, and friended her. She has been told by people who know him that Christensen is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Christensen also has posted anti-gay sentiments on his political candidate website, jasonthepatriot.com:
“Due to the actions of the supra-vocal-minority of the LGBTQ community, and their agenda, I would eliminate all marriage laws and push to return to the Common Law marriage practices, for the un-religious, and truly restore the Freedom of Marriage to all institutions of faith and religion, according to their freedom of conscience.”
Christensen did not immediately respond to Gephardt Daily’s request for an interview, and since his story has gone viral, he has made his Facebook and Twitter pages private.
He did talk to City Weekly for an article that was posted late Friday afternoon. Christensen joked that he suffered from “foot-in-mouth disease.” He reportedly told City Weekly that he feels love for Braxton’s family, whom he has never met.
“I hope they can get through this troubling time,” Christensen reportedly said. “I hope they can forgive me.”
Over time, Christensen hopes all involved will “grow spiritually from it, as brothers and sisters,” he told the weekly.
“I hope people in the district can look deep into their hearts and say, ‘Yeah, that was just a Trump moment, but he means well,'” said Christensen, who reportedly has received hundreds of death threats.
Berg asked her Facebook followers to stop attacking Christensen and threatening him. Still, she does not believe his apology rings true.
“He’s sorry because it was politically incorrect, not because he doesn’t believe it,” Berg said. “He believes ‘God condemns this person, so I can.'”
Berg said she tries to keep her Facebook page noncontroversial, and was caught off guard by Christensen’s comments.
“I have a lot of gay friends who are mourning the loss of someone in their community. How dare someone say something so incredibly hurtful? I don’t know any member of that community that hasn’t thought about hurting themselves, and many of them have tried.”
Berg said she knows of someone who, as a young man, prayed every night that he would be “cured” of his homosexuality.
“He fasted, asking that he would be cured. He thought God hated him. He was blessed by a general authority to not be gay.”
It didn’t work, Berg said, but it did create a lot of pain.
“If there’s a God and he doesn’t love everyone, he’s an a******, and I’m not worshiping that god,” she said. “He should love every one of his children. If there is a God, then God should be love, and whatever isn’t love isn’t God.”
Berg said she was raised in a strict LDS family, and had heard comments like those Christensen made while growing up. She said she quit the LDS church because of doctrine she believes to be hurtful.
She finally quit after returning from her Swedish reality show experience, she said, after learning about her father’s heritage and the Swedish American relatives she had been told to avoid because they were not LDS.
“They did bad things, like drink coffee,” she said, laughing.
Many have praised Berg for sharing her post and furthering the national dialogue on a major social issue.
“It’s been passed all over and gone national and all over the place,” Berg said of her story. “But this is not about a viral post. It’s about a family grieving their son, putting him in the ground. It’s about real-life cold bodies. That’s the thing I don’t want to get lost in all this.
“There’s a boy out there that this is about. I can’t imagine how his family is feeling. A beautiful blond, blue-eyed boy who had something to give the world, and those (anti-gay) beliefs are what killed him. Words can kill.”
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The following list of hotlines was widely shared on Facebook following the Orlando nightclub shootings.
Source: Facebook/Jerilyn Hassell Pool