Wednesday, July 07, 2004


I’ve been at peace, and it was the Fourth of July weekend. Anyhow, here goes....

More than once in this blog, I’ve pointed out that sexual abuse in churches is not limited to the Catholic faith. It’s widespread among religious people, probably more frequent than most men and women of faith want to think about. In Freethought Today’s regular feature which exposes church wrongdoing, protestant and Catholic church officials regularly run dead heats to see which can pile up the most sex crimes.

In a publication (Sexual Abuse in Your Church, 1993 edition) dedicated to making churches safer from sexual predators, I came across the following bits of information: “One insurance company executive has described as ‘an epidemic’ the number of church lawsuits as a result of sexual molestation” and “... churches have become targets of child molesters because they provide immediate and direct access to children in a trusting and often unsupervised environment.” (p.42) To make church people feel a bit safer, we must also note that 70% of all molestation occurs in the home and only 30% occurs “in day care, sporting, educational and religious programs,” (p.87) but notice how wholesome the activities listed above are always considered to be by average Americans.

More surprising to the uneducated is the following: “When... abuses do occur in church, a respected member will most likely be the molester.... While it’s uncomfortable even to consider this, the most likely assailants include Sunday School teachers, religious educators, nursery or preschool workers, teachers in church-operated schools, camp counselors, scout leaders, ‘concerned’ adults who volunteer to transport children to church, and clergy.” To repeat, “Most of the time, the abuser is someone known and trusted by the victim.” (p.17) When it comes to church—if you were child molester where would you look for a fresh supply of victims?

From my own experience, quite frequently the churched abuser will have “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus” frequently in his (rarely her) mouth. He’ll be the most trusted and inconceivable member of the church with years of service to the church and to the youth of the church. When my uncle was hauled out of a nursing home, tried, convicted and jailed for a lifetime of abuse which included his adopted children, his grandchildren, plus neighbor children everywhere he had lived, I was truly surprised. He had always seemed pious to a fault, and I couldn’t imagine it of him, and I am very much aware of these abuse issues. More scary—my uncle worked the last 20 years of his working years as the Director of the YMCA in a major southern California city. I can’t imagine how many young people he damaged there.

Finally, mean-spirited and prejudicial as this may seem, I blame religion-taught intolerance of the natural world and rejection of the evolutionary facts about the human animal for the large pool of molesters in our culture. Ignorance creates and fosters the spread of sexual abuse. To morally condemn and tongue cluck without understanding the facts is to allow the abuse to continue unabated and to actually contribute to the problem. What are we going to do, for instance, if it’s discovered that incest has a genetic basis and a social bias toward the behavior that goes back to the beginning of history? Knowledge, unbiased and undistorted by religious fears, is the only way to get a grip on any problem. The very oppressive nature of most strict moral law creates the shame-based personalities who are most likely to perpetrate sex crimes. That’s why so many murderers discover Jesus on death row. They were never far from their repressive religious psychology at any time in their lives. Therefore, of course I think going to church and supporting religious views of reality is the worst thing one can do towards changing society for the better.

"Do television evangelists do more than lay people?" —Stanley Ralph Ross

No comments: