Monday Club — An American Christian Mini-Post XII

Chad Cosgrove wearing a campaign shirt while hanging out with the Proud Boys, waiting for a non-existent “Antifa Caravan” to come through. They had also gathered to counter-protest a non-existent petition to remove a hateful, far-right billboard. (Source: The Chronicle, June 24th, 2020)

Around 1998, or when I was in 8th grade, a new guy named Chad Cosgrove* started attending the youth group. He was dating a girl in our church whose family didn’t subscribe to courtship, something she and her sister were essentially slut-shamed for behind their backs. Because this guy wasn’t saved, her being with him was categorized as “missionary dating.” He was a junior in high school, and she was a freshman, and like all romances at that age, it didn’t last long.

Chad got ‘saved’ soon after he began attending the youth group. He befriended Devon Jones almost immediately. When their relationship fizzled, Chad continued attending the church and got more involved.

Along with Mike Anderson* — the son of the prominent wealthy family that attended our church — and a few others, Devon and Chad became the local wrecking crew. Mike is much more reserved and would often avoid the hijinks and trouble caused by Devon and Chad, mainly sticking to sporting events.

My earliest memories of Chad are him yelling racist slurs at his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend, which was just chalked up to him being a “baby Christian.” But, unfortunately, that was not the case, and the toxicity that was already brewing in young Chad would be amplified under the covering of American Christianity.

The next 20 years saw Chad become a youth pastor and grift his way through multiple jobs and locations. He soon married Mike Anderson’s sister, thus solidifying his aspirations of being part of the Anderson family and sharing their influence.

In 2019 he started campaigning for County Commissioner, and in November 2020, he won. Running as a Republican, Chad spent his time knocking on doors, shaking hands, and posing for pictures. I don’t know what safety measures he employed during the pandemic. Still, if he followed the dangerous, anti-science advice of his brother-in-law, Mike — now a naturopathic doctor whose family is vocal about their adherence to natural medicine and are openly anti-vaccine — then I’m sure the photos with masks were only for posterity.

Recently, I saw a local article about Commissioner Cosgrove, and I can’t say I’m altogether surprised at his comments.

Screenshot of the local news article. I have purposely not linked it for obvious reasons.

He has never shied away from using openly racist, homophobic, transphobic, Islamaphobic, misogynistic, ableist, or any other sort of bigoted language to describe people. This would be done often in front of our pastors or other church leaders and was either encouraged or ignored. A majority of it was reinforced by our church in the name of Jesus. I know this because it’s where I learned it too. Something that took a severe amount of deconstruction to uncover in myself and something I’m continually ashamed of.

As I’ve shown and stated in previous posts, the position of the church I grew up in was incredibly homophobic. We all heard it from the pulpit on Sundays, and as much as Ben Jones and other preachers tried to make it sound like they weren’t bigots, they said nothing to the contrary. Instead, Pastor Ben would often use the phrase “cotton-pickin’” or preach about how being gay was equal to pedophilia or, his favorite, bestiality.

Chad, who was already a bully, already someone who took joy in the misery of others, never moved away from this. It wasn’t uncommon to hear him talk about wanting to “beat up some f*gs” or openly demonstrate his (still) toxic masculinity by mocking anyone who wasn’t a non-disabled, straight white male.

I’m sure he’s calmed down a bit. I’m sure he loves his family, and I’m sure they love him. But the point is, under the guise of Christianity, his bigotry and bullying have only been amplified and justified. Even when our youth pastor called him out for this behavior, he never changed. He would give a standard, tepid apology, everyone would move on, and he would do it again. Soon it just became “that’s just Chad.”

Now Chad is a county commissioner, and there is no reason for him to stop running for higher office seats in the future.

You may wonder why I should care about people I no longer associate with and no longer live remotely close to, running in local elections. I care because I know them. I know who they were, and I know who they are now. I care because people that believe this way are dangerous. I care because I don’t want to see another Marjorie Taylor-Greene or Matt Gatez. I don’t want to see people like this in politics because I don’t want women’s rights to continue to be taken away. I don’t want to see the votes of BIPOC gerrymandered or thrown out. I don’t want to see verified elections overturned by a minority of jackasses. I don’t want to see trans people erased and murdered and LGBTQIA+ rights overturned.

I don’t want to live in a world where the destructive, hateful, and toxic form of American Christianity continues to hold power. It is a form of control that ignores the messages of love and acceptance that the Jesus they believe in actually taught.

I know Chad has been following along with this writing. I’ve seen his profile come up several times when checking on Instagram’s story views. In addition, he has been watching my partner’s stories on Instagram after she called him out on his transphobic reference.

He’s dispensed paltry apologies to a few people, saying he’s sorry that they went through what they did. He apologies without ever doing the work because he will later make the same comments or defend his actions to other people. Because of this, his apologies ring hollow and are hardly felt as genuine. He apologizes for making people feel bad, but never for his actions.

I can appreciate the effort to reach out. I can even appreciate the tepid condolences for the sake of political posterity. However, this does not negate the trauma he participated in or the hateful, narrow-minded politics he’s aligned himself with. This is just another stepping stone for him, and apologies appear more to be an assurance that he’s separated from the swirling shit-storm surrounding those he’s associated with.

He’s already tried to throw Devon Jones under the bus in regards to this content, maligning him while trying to cover his own indiscretions.

His alignments give me more than pause; they prove that not only has he not changed for the good, but he has evolved with the monstrous politics that are now symbiotic with American Evangelicalism.

In the county where Chad is a commissioner, a proposed resolution was introduced to formally recognize — for the first time in the county’s history — June as Pride Month.

Chad abstained from the vote.

Screenshot of the local news article, again not linked for obvious reasons.

He still hasn’t publically addressed his comments and still hasn’t apologized. Instead, he claims he’s received death threats and has had his address put online. If that’s true, then it’s disgusting and should have never happened.

Now he is using that to abstain from the vote and, in the future, will use this to continue his prejudices and ignorance.

There is nothing an Evangelical loves more than to be made into a martyr for their abhorrent beliefs. Sending threats to people like Chad only emboldens them. The victimhood is the point, the catalyst for their continued intolerance.

Yes, Chad has said horrendous things. But, he doesn’t deserve threats against him and his family. So, don’t be that person. Don’t add fuel to the fire.

Please don’t make him a victim; make him irrelevant.

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