That’s what John Doe wrote in his comment to Cheryl.
When I saw his words, I wanted to weep.
If I could get only one wish granted for Baptist clergy abuse survivors, it would be that they might be spared the hell of what comes afterwards -- the hell of “so much hate.” It's where so much greater harm is done.
When most people think of clergy child molestation, they focus on the evil of what the perpetrators do. This is true of many survivors as well.
In fact, when survivors reach the point of being able to talk about it, they often begin their journey by telling themselves something like this: “How bad can it be? No one can possibly do anything worse to me than what’s already been done.”
Somewhere along the road, they realize they were wrong. The abuse itself was only the first level of hell. There are other, deeper levels of hell for survivors who persist in trying to report clergy abuse.
Plenty of people in Baptistland make sure of that.
For starters, there’s the hell of the many who do nothing. It’s the hell populated by the masses who, when it hits close to home, deny and minimize the horror of abuse, and act as though it’s no big deal. “Why can’t you just get over it?” they ask. “Besides, look at all the good Brother Bill has done” . . . as if pastors could use hospital visits to buy dispensation for child molestation.
Then there’s the hell of the pseudo-pious who pontificate on forgiveness, and all the while, heap still more blame and shame on the survivors. With those pastoral voices they learned at seminary, they sermonize on reconciliation . . . but all the while they conveniently forget that reconciliation begins with truth.
The levels of hell go still deeper. There’s the hell of all the double-faced duplicity. It’s the level populated by denominational leaders who, from one side of their mouth, talk of how much they care, while from the other side, they instruct their lawyer to go “help” the church . . . knowing full-well that his “help” will work toward silencing the victim while leaving the perpetrator in his pulpit.
Then there are the even lower levels of hell with all the Baptist church and denominational leaders who deliver name-calling, bullying, intimidation, and threats. Most ordinary people would not believe the levels of meanness to which religious leaders will stoop. Until just a few years ago, I myself would not have believed it. I was incapable of believing in so much hate.
But now I’ve seen that hate. And Baptistland is where I saw it. John Doe has seen that hate too, and so have many, many more Baptist abuse survivors.
“So much hate.” It’s a horrible thing to have to see. . . even more horrible than the pictures in our heads of our bodies being sexually abused.
It’s one thing to try to come to terms with the evil of sexual abuse inflicted by an individual. But it’s quite another thing to try to come to terms with a whole hellish land filled with so many people who, at best, do nothing, and more likely than not, heap on additional anguish for abuse survivors.
In Baptistland, clergy abuse survivors get to see all the ways that humans have of inflicting hate in the name of religion.
“So much hate.” It’s a horrible thing to have to see . . . and it's a hate that's not just about the perpetrators. It’s about all the rest of what happens in Baptistland.