Christianity and Sexual Crimes

6244e8ca9f2025d54ad8ba98367dd37dWhen I first heard about the child molesting committed by Josh Duggar when he was a teenager, I wasn’t surprised. It’s a sadly familiar story, especially to me. Josh’s story is almost exactly the same as the story of one of my cousins. The difference, though, is that my cousin is in prison right now. Not because his crimes were handled correctly by his family; when he returned to America years later, he didn’t expect there to be an arrest warrant and police officers waiting for him because he didn’t know that charges were filed in his absence.

It isn’t a surprising story because we’ve heard it so many times already; I wrote generally about child abuse among Christians several months ago. It isn’t even surprising that the police officer to whom the Duggars “reported” the incidents is now serving a lengthy prison sentence for a repeat offence of child pornography. After all, the former leader of the Duggar’s cult, Bill Gothard, was finally forced to resign recently after dozens of accusations of sexual abuse piled up and prompted an investigation. Sexual crime is no stranger to fundamentalist Christianity, on both the Catholic and the Protestant sides.

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Blaming Victims

Words are dangerous; handle them with care

Words are dangerous; handle them with care

After the last four days, during which my friend Alecia Pennington has gone viral, I’ve been reading more accounts of similar situations. It seems a perfect time to finish this article I’ve been thinking about for a while.

People are very good at blaming victims. Look through the comments on any widely-read story about physical, sexual, emotional, or spiritual abuse, and you can almost inevitably find people who blame the victim.

It’s happening to Alecia, and also to Cynthia Jeub. It’s happening to girls who claimed abuse at the hands of idolized men like Bill Gothard, Doug Phillips, and Bill Cosby. I’ve experienced it myself, though not in the context of national news.

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Update on Alecia Faith Pennington

faithUPDATE, 11/5/2015 – Faith has triggered a new law in Texas, through her testimony and the help of a state representative, and she now has a birth certificate!

A lot has happened in the last couple days, since I posted my friend’s video regarding her difficult situation. She is nearing a million views on that video, her story has been picked up by a lot of news outlets, and a lawyer has agreed to take the case pro bono.

Faith has asked that people not post demeaning comments about her parents. She says, “Even though I do not agree with them on many things, I would like their reputation to be protected as much as possible.”

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Patriarchal Fundamentalism Strikes Again

19-year-old Alecia Faith Pennington is a friend of mine. She left home at age eighteen, with the help of grandparents and other relatives and friends.

As a result, her family has called her a “runaway teenager” and other things, accused her of betraying them, labeled some people who gave her advice as “godless and foolish”, and in general acted in rather manipulative ways. I know some members of her family personally so I have firsthand experience with how they handle people who believe differently from them. They handle it badly.

They seem to be so deep into their fundamentalist cult that they’re totally out of touch with reality…you know, where adults actually leave their parents’ house and get jobs and start their own lives. Their children don’t have birth certificates or social security numbers, which seems to be a strategy for exerting control over the kids even after they become adults.

They claim they have offered to help her, but their help is conditional on her following their rules. They don’t want to help her establish her own adult life, they want to control her by using her civil rights as leverage.

Now she’s kind of stuck, trying to find a way to prove her citizenship so she can get on with her life.

UPDATE, 11/5/2015 – Faith has triggered a new law in Texas, through her testimony and the help of a state representative, and she now has a birth certificate!

Child Abuse for God

Stop hurting the most vulnerable and helpless people

Stop hurting the most vulnerable and helpless people

There has been some objection to my statement in The Persecution Complex that child abuse in the name of Christianity is widespread. But in fact, religion is the motivation or justification for a lot of abuse, enough that people have done studies on it.

I’m not here to analyze exactly how widespread or common it is, or give you precise numbers so you can compare them to incidence in other religions or non-religious groups. I’m here to talk about the reality of what is happening, the reality that supposedly Christian people everywhere do, in fact, sometimes abuse children in various ways and justify it or cover it up with their religion.

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