Friday, March 9, 2007

Gutless wonders

Here's an example of the sort of emails I get these days, apparently from men who don't like my speaking out about Baptist clergy sex abuse. This one isn't the worst, but it’s typical.

Of course, almost none give their names. Gutless wonders. If they want to stone me, they should at least take off their hoods and do it with some integrity. This charming little lecture is from - and my responses are below.

"From what I have read from your web page and Baptist Press, you certainly did represent yourself and SNAP with a vengeance. Your way of expressing yourself just made everyone angry. You do not conduct yourself with dignity and kindness. You are abrasive.

Everyone knows by now that you were a victim of sexual molestation by a Baptist pastor… But nothing is going to help you recover until you can forgive this man….Evidently you feed off that anger and that is what keeps you going each day. (1)

From your writing and decorum (if there was any), you even show anger and hatred toward those who would want to hear from you and, at least, try to help. You parse words and sentences from letters you adamantly stated you didn’t receive…but DID receive. (2)

…You were granted the privilege to address the meeting. But your website still puts you at odds with the very ones from whom you desire assistance and action. Have you ever read the child story..”give a mouse a cookie”? You need to..You are never satisfied with each want more, more, more… RIGHT NOW!!! (3)

You are an angry activist. Have you ever heard ..”you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar”? Try it sometime…(4)

…I agree with you that child molestation is awful….Yes, there needs to be a way of warning other churches of this when it has happened….Unfortunately, most SBC churches don’t do background checks and no one can make them do that. (5)

Like I told you before….there is no hierarchy in the SBC. You can’t get that through your head. (6)

…If I had been in that meeting, I would be so angry at you I wouldn’t want to give you the time of day." (7)

1. No amount of my forgiveness will serve to make kids any safer, and I'm content to leave forgiveness in God's hands. It’s actually two things that keep me going: (a) wanting to know that church kids in the future will be safer than I was, and (b) the constant emails from other Baptist abuse survivors whose stories haunt me, who remind me of how pervasive the problem is, and who express gratitude for my speaking out about it.

2. If anyone wants to read something other than the Baptist Press version, here’s a start. And here is SNAP’s actual apology, the SBC’s response letter of 9/29 and SNAP’s letter of 9/26. I think most people could simply compare the tone of SNAP’s 9/26 letter with the tone of the SBC’s 9/29 letter and get a pretty clear picture.

3. At the meeting, I expressed my appreciation for being allowed to speak, but I also made very plain that I was looking for deeds on their part. I have indeed read the children’s story “Give a mouse a cookie.” And what I don’t understand is why every other Baptist parent who has had the privilege of reading that story – or any other story to a kid – doesn’t see the urgency of doing everything possible to protect kids. You’re absolutely right on this point, mustang,….I want more….I want real and effective action to make church kids safer…and yes….I want it RIGHT NOW!!! And furthermore, I won’t apologize for wanting that.

4. Oh yes…I get the “catch more flies with honey” line rather redundantly these days. I wish you guys could come up with some different clich├ęs.

5. The fact that most churches don’t do background checks is more than “unfortunate.” It’s dangerous. But even that is just one small part of what needs to happen. As you rightly recognize, “there needs to be a way of warning other churches” when child molestation has happened.

6. I've heard the "no hierarchy" bit plenty of times from you and plenty of others. But what I just can’t get through my head is how it could ever be possible in any moral world for the ecclesiological legalism of congregational autonomy to preclude effective action to rid the ranks of clergy predators who use spiritual authority to savage the souls and bodies of kids in ways that are unspeakable. Besides, I don’t see how it would violate congregational autonomy if the SBC were to provide congregations with the resource of an objective independent review board.

7. Well, you weren’t at that meeting, mustang. That much is obvious. In any event, your rather ridiculous anger is the least of my concerns.


Anonymous said...

wild62mustang: The author of this website has been abused in unspeakable ways by ministers, is personally aware of its devastating effects on one's life, is aware of countless others who have suffered because of clergy sexual abuse, feels compelled to keep clergy sexual abuse from happening to other innocent children and teens, and in her efforts in dealing with SBC leadership has been met with hostility, intimidation, more victimization, threats, etc. and you say she is abrasive, unkind and undignified? Seems to me that those adjectives could describe you, mustang. Thank the Lord that someone is standing up for the victims. Honey should not have to be extended to get those in power to help children and teens who cannot protect themselves against ministers who perform heinous crimes in the church. To ask that preventive measures be done right now is fair since it has been long overdue and abuse is happening in churches all across our country (and world). Wild62mustang, try to channel your anger toward the abusers, not those who have been abused or are yet to be abused.

Anonymous said...

To Wild62Mustang -
Thank you for sharing that you would not have given Christa the time of day if you had been in the meeting. Now we know you should not be a committee member. Nothing would be accomplished.

Anonymous said...

Makes you wonder how many of those gutless wonders are complicit and/or actively participating in the ravaging of innocent youth.

Those who cry out in protest the loudest, are the ones who would have you to shut up so they could keep on hurting kids themselves.

Anonymous said...

Christa - One of the things that I've learned in my work with SNAP in Toledo is that if we do not play by their rules then they accuse of being adverserial. Their rules are designed to protect them from accountability so why would we want to participate in the very system that not only enable the abuse to continue but created an environment for abuse to flourish. They are afraid -- very afraid.