So, this is going to be another blog entry on faith – just thought I’d give you all fair warning, in case that’s not your thing. I plan on covering two very different faith-related topics, and one of them might be upsetting to some people, so I’ll leave that one for last.
First up is this – I think I want to find a church of some kind to go to. I was raised Catholic, but I’m not sure that’s where I am; I don’t think my ideas tend to line up with Catholic teachings very well, and so I don’t think that would work very well for me. And aside from my knowledge of Catholicism, my experience with church in Houston has been pretty limited. I enjoyed going to church the few times I went with Calla, but given that we are no longer on speaking terms, I think it would be weird for me to go there; I don’t want her to feel like I am trying to intrude on her life or her faith, and I also think seeing her would be a constant reminder of how much that messed with my life. So that is out, and that’s my only real church-going experience in Houston. So I am looking for a place I can go that will accommodate, or at least not be outright dismissive of, my beliefs. I’ve never really looked into finding a new church before, so I don’t really know how this goes. Ideally, I’d want to go to or belong to a church that has some times, apart from services, that are explicitly for discussion; I don’t want to force my beliefs on anyone, but I think that more in-depth discussion of theological matters might help me to articulate what I’m thinking more clearly, as well as give me more of a faith-based outlet in my life – which seems like something that would be helpful right now. I’m open to suggestions, if anyone has any.
And now, on to the part that might be offensive or triggering to some people. Going beyond this point will result in reading about the anger and disgust I’m feeling right now at some people who consider themselves Christian, but don’t seem to be in anything but name. You have been warned.
So, Josh Duggar has been in the news lately. For those of you who don’t know who he is, he is a son of the Duggar family, stars of the TLC channel show ’19 Kids and Counting’. And, apparently, some years ago – it seems around 2002 – he molested a number of young girls, including, it seems, several of his sisters. And his father, at least, knew about it – and did nothing. Well, not until 2003, when he reported it. Not to the police, though – to his church elders. They recommended that Josh get counseling – but his counseling consisted of manual labor and talking to someone who had no training in counseling. When they finally went to the police, they went to a friend of Josh’s dad – who only gave him a stern talking to (it turns out that police officer was later in his own hot water for child pornography, but that’s not the issue here). And that was apparently it, until last week, when details came out and Josh apologized. And, of course, many people leaped to his defense, saying he had, in his father’s words, “made some very bad mistakes“, but had been forgiven by God. Even former Governor Mike Huckabee (a personal friend of the Duggars stood up in Josh’s defense, saying, among other things, “Janet and I want to affirm our support for the Duggar family. Josh’s actions when he was an underage teen are as he described them himself, ‘inexcusable,’ but that doesn’t mean ‘unforgivable.’ He and his family dealt with it and were honest and open about it with the victims and the authorities. No purpose whatsoever is served by those who are now trying to discredit Josh or his family by sensationalizing the story.”
Well, that’s bullshit. They were clearly not open and honest about it. If they were, it wouldn’t have taken 12 years – well beyond the statute of limitations for his crimes – to come to light. It was handled in-house – by his dad, their church elders, a friendly police officer. And then swept under the rug. He abused several young girls – some of them his own sisters – and it seems he got almost nothing in the way of consequences. And so the idea that he has been forgiven is laughable, especially since he probably has not sought forgiveness from the people he wronged. But what I find really disturbing about this, and which angers and disgusts me, is that no thought seems to have been given to Josh’s victims. Were they given counseling (and by this I mean real, professional counseling)? Were they helped in their time of need, after having their trust in someone who should have been a protector – for several of them, a big brother – violated in such a terrible and fundamental way? Were they treated with compassion, given all the care and help that, as devout Christians, they should have been able to expect from their fellows in their church? Given the way this was handled, I doubt it – they were probably given no thought at all. No punishment was ever truly sought for their abuser. I have seen nothing to indicate there was any effort to give them even token effort at help. Having known people who have suffered abuse – maybe not exactly like this, but similar – it offends and sickens me that the victims of this seem to have been totally ignored. Josh wasn’t the one who needed help – they were. They needed to know it wasn’t their fault, that the shame and guilt was on him, not them. That this family claims to be so strongly Christian yet seems to have neglected the needs of their own abused family to protect the reputation of their criminal son – because that’s what his acts were, criminal, not simply ‘mistakes’ – shows them to be hypocrites. It makes me sick to my stomach and makes me shake in anger to think that these people could represent any part of my faith.
Alright, that’s it, rant over.