I met my young friend Dana this past year through a meetup in Chicago she organized for people who are at various stages of leaving Christianity. Though I left in 1996, I still have very few friends in my life who can relate to my journey and continuing struggle after all these years. The meetup is evolving into a supportive community and perhaps someday even something bigger.
Yesterday, Dana’s twitter feed exploded with a flurry of one-line bursts of protest against a child abuse enabling culture within Christian churches. Both Dana and I have experienced severe mistreatment at the hands of our parents and we found very few within the church who were willing to take notice, intervene, or offer us help. Speaking only for myself, it took years of therapy and medication to get past the paralyzing trauma of my childhood. Some Christians did help me in powerful ways and to this day many of my friends are Christians who I love as wonderful human beings. However, I could only find peace by walking away from the constant triggers that I experience in most churches, even the really warm and progressive ones.
I am working on an essay to be published later this year on my story for a Quaker newsletter, so I won’t get into the details of my trauma. Some reflections I made last year about love and rebellion were posted here. I wanted to share Dana’s twitter postings here because they are an inspired assertion of truth.
yet another ev. church did not intervene in time “Pastor says mom who drowned one son and injured another hit them with van months earlier”
i’ve said it before and i’ll keep on sayin it: most (all?) evangelical churches prefer to turn a blind eye to child abuse and mental illness
…if not derail the process of law all together by discouraging or even forbidding police reporting when such atrocities are exposed
evangelical pastors/churches often place parental benefit of the doubt and their low-view and suspicion of children above abuse protection
i lived this and have met too many others who also did. the entire patriarchal structure of biblical inerrancy is meant to suppress children
the only humans who attempted to intervene on my behalf as a daily and heavily abused child were my secular/slightly catholic neighbors
they were my best friend’s parents- super loving to me and only nominally religious- the kind of ppl who believed in “good”
pastors/church members knew of my situation but they were either 1. abusing their kids also or 2. told me to honor my parents and keep quiet
the lack of training religious institutions have to spot child abuse is shameful. their refusal to report abuse is reputation protection
and of course the american stigma that turns backs on acknowledging and treating mental illness efficiently is a major factor in ev churches
we need better laws that don’t allow those who interact w/ fam dynamics on a weekly and intimate basis keep dire information to themselves
if pastors earn a salary to play “shepherd” to their sheep (congregation) there must be accountability when child abuse is swept under rugs
the rest of us outside of the evangelical system must outspokenly call out the myth of children as “less than” on its bullshit
who is more honest than a child? who is more vulnerable?
we are taught silence is a virtue in evangelicalism. let god deal with sin/ppl/bad hearts. it is a gross scapegoat that perpetuates violence
the evg church is still a wealthy institution producing very underdeveloped, hurting young adults who need support in seeking help/therapy
this is one of many reasons i host a support group here in chi for those who have left- we’re meeting sunday dm me if you’d like to join us
there are so many worthy causes to care for/contribute to. sometimes i feel resentful, like i got pushed into mine and does it rly matter?
but when i see a headline on another preventable child abuse case/death i’m reminded that my experiences keep fighting something important
it may take a few more decades to hold evangelicalism legally responsible for their emotional and physical crimes against humanity/kids
or i may never live to see a change. religion/$/political power have had a centuries-long relationship. it is worth having hope though
no need to explain myself. i’m one of millions who survived child abuse in & outside of church & it’s not any pleasure to state these facts