Clergy re-victimization of a rape, incest victim?

Beware what kind of chaplain you seek counsel from in our Armed Forces (maybe even anywhere else).  In this disturbing account, a “conservative” “evangelical” Protestant minister seems to say that when a gay woman in the Navy came to him about being raped by a male Sailor, he did two things to her I’ve never heard of in a lifetime of theological study:

  • he supposedly got her to agree, through that bizarre Scholasticism that only his branch of Christianity does so well anymore, to be “married to Jesus” on the spot,* and
  • supposedly he involuntarily, unsolicited, imposed on her an “exorcism” of her homosexuality.

I’m not a lawyer, nor an expert in Clergy Malpractice, and I guess as long as the young woman is satisfied with his treatment of her and its effects in her life, he won’t face that lawsuit, and she’ll join the list of the — for now at least — “ex-gays.”  But his superior officers in the Corps of Chaplains at least, his Denominational Judicatory (if applicable), and/or his therapeutic credentialing body (if applicable), should look into the clerical, religious, and professional ethics of his own claimed behavior towards a woman who was within the military structure, already forced once to submit to heterosexual, male impositions recently therein, and he claims, also a victim of repeated incestuous heterosexual abuse previously.

This isn’t about my opinions concerning “evangelicalism” or demonology, simply what I believe to be — yes, the re-violation of a rape and incest victim by a minister she’d turned to for counsel and not, apparently, for a “wedding,” nor for a “cure” for her lesbianism, about which she had not, by his own account, complained.  I wouldn’t be surprised if this preacher involuntarily “baptized” playmates with water balloons or the garden hose in younger days.

He as much as admits to manipulating her: “And she had to answer ‘well, of course they’re full of the devil'” (emphasis mine).  Now, that one question-and-answer might have legitimate use in a ministry situation such as this, but not to catapult someone in an apparently fragile state into actions of dubious therapeutic, professional, or theological nature.  (I pray he didn’t also take it upon himself to ‘stand in for Jesus’ and “consummate” this “wedding” with her physically.)  Furthermore, he doesn’t tell us about her “renouncing” lesbianism: Did he make it up, lie to “the spirit of lesbianism”??  Or did he consider that the root of the presenting issue, the recent rape, would be legalistically removed if the victim were of an orientation not so disinclined logically, fundamentally, to reject male impositions, ie, straight?  Was it just more “evangelical” Scholasticism?  If so, was that his commission, basically to collaborate in her being ‘raped straight,’ as we’re seeing recently in other parts of the world?

I’m fully aware that Protestantism, today and historically, is full of such pietistic, emotional manipulation, as are certain streams of Catholicism and probably Orthodoxy also.  We’ve all seen the movies, TV dramas, read the books.  But even if we were to simplistically ask “What Would Jesus Do?,” did He ever do so with a woman, a victim of any kind, innocent or guilty?  I could be wrong, but I can’t recall that He did.  Did He ever work Himself and His beneficiary into the kind of frenzy of guilt feelings we’re all too familiar with — in this case turning the victim into the defendant, as she may well have been undergoing in the trial of her assailant already, as often happens in rape trials?

Tragically, many Americans, faced with the 40,000 sects of this land, would be hard-pressed to distinguish between one kind of Protestant chaplain and another.  Furthermore, in chaplaincy situations often clergy of one stripe are theoretically required to do double or even triple duty, serving patients or charges of a diversity of denominations on any given base, ship, or unit; often there aren’t many different chaplains to choose from.  If you’re from a small denomination, you’re at the mercy of whoever got stationed with you — and the Pentagon too is at the mercy of whoever volunteered after ‘having it put upon his heart by the Lord’ to go and do something for/to somebody(ies).

I’m not seriously trained in counseling either.  But I know what not to do, Lord have mercy on me.

A couple more quick points: 

  • Can exorcism ever be voluntary?  Well, someone might have a relatively mild problem — no head spinning, no projectile vomit, etc. — and go to a cleric asking about it, but is that then demonic possession, or maybe something else?  Otherwise, someone else might bring the supposedly-possessed person to the clergyperson, figuratively or literally kicking and screaming.  Neither is reported as happening here.
  • I won’t discuss Orthodoxy’s approach to homosexuality in this post, because I don’t believe it would be constructive or helpful to do so at this time or in this context.
  • In another, less-detailed allusion to this incident, this chaplain claimed that during it the evil one left the woman’s heart and Jesus moved into it, in the context of the “wedding.”  Actually this is said to happen Traditionally, not as such during the Orthodox Mystery of Holy Matrimony, but of Baptism / Chrismation** / Communion.  Orthodox Tradition goes on to say that previously, the evil one acted on you from within, and the All-Holy Spirit of God, One of The Trinity, from without; afterward, the Spirit of God acts on you from within — a position of strength for Him if you will — but the evil one may still act upon you from without — a relatively weaker position for him.
  • It seems this chaplain has become a political figure since late in his military career (sic).  Information about that is available through the linked page and elsewhere.  I’m so concerned about the particulars I’m discussing in this post that I’ll leave out the political angle, as well as his apparent or possible personal issues.

(*–Apparently, though, this didn’t make her a nun: Roman Catholic piety used to consider Religious Sisters “married to Christ,” but this preacher says his charge “started dating boys” openly.)

(**–likened to the Western Sacrament of Confirmation)

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Real Healthcare Reform: A Medical Mission to *America*

I’ve previously advocated for a religious order of lawyers and inspiring Orthodox Christians to similar kinds of social service/philanthropia(Of course, a religion doesn’t have to be Catholic or Orthodox to do these kinds of things. Do they?)

Well, as I’ve pointed out, one of Catholicism’s great works in its Third World missions and service commitments has been medical.  Yes, the Medical Mission Sisters sang (and apparently still do!), but they and/or their coworkers also did/do alot of stuff we in this country ourselves now go poor paying others to do.  I won’t call most U.S. medical professionals “mercenary” … but among the most-loved Orthodox Saints are the Holy UNmercenary Physicians and Healersanargyroi in Greek, “without silver/money” literally.  Well, not literally, because somebody had to help them pay the farmer, the baker, and the candlestick maker; but it often wasn’t their impoverished, sick patients.  And the Catholics just declared the sainthood of the famous and much-loved Fr. Damien de Veuster of Molokai, who (apparently coincidentally) bore the name of one of the greatest Orthodox Unmercenaries, and went there from his native Belgium to serve the leper colony even without a medical qualification, only to die of the disease himself there years later.  More pointedly, perhaps the other best-known Unmercenary (besides Cosmas and Damian), Panteleimon, was martyred for undercutting his fellow physicians, pagans, on account of his Christianity!  (Talk about a patron saint of Healthcare Reform!)

There are still Catholic Sisters and Brothers doing medical service here, but I’d guess far fewer than in former generations, amid the plummeting numbers of Catholic Religious and priestly vocations in general, and the aging of those who remain.  Today they may have secular lay (in the religious sense) coworkers and collaborators, and lay boards of trustees running Catholic hospitals and such, but as I’ve said previously, you can’t beat Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience, for “cost-cutting” measures, and in any case Catholic medical institutions without a doubt, just like Catholic schools, are part of the skyrocketing cost of healthcare (or education, respectively) in this country.  We’re not exactly Third World (mostly, though visit Southern Appalachia, the Deep South, and some key Indian Reservations), but as has been said, we’re not getting our money’s worth either, especially compared to the rest of the so-called Developed World, and even some countries not first thought of under that label.

Obviously the Latin Church’s traditional 3 “Evangelical Counsels,” the vows most members of religious orders take, are of less appeal today than in former times, especially to American Protestants and non-Christians.  But  if Third World service doesn’t appeal to some, maybe service closer to home will.  And as I suggested in both previous articles, even halfway measures approaching “the vows” — for a few years if not for life, maybe married or marrying, in (prudent) shared housing or at home, more-organized and “religified” associates and collaborators, even fundraising to support those who serve — would help economically.

Maybe even spiritually!

([BLEEP!]  We Orthodox better do it before the Latins think of it and stage a comeback!!! 😉 )

But think of it: 1/3 of a billion people, fully 5 percent of humanity, being bled dry by the structural evils* of their healthcare system … the world’s leading economy, whose ups and downs influence the economic downs of the rest of humanity as we see today….  What good, what caritas, what philanthropia could be done for the world even here….

(*–Scroll down to the mention of the Brian Wren lyric … including the warning about how to observe the unquoted rest of that hymn.)

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McCain above his own law?

Apparently the campaign that’s calling us “socialists” and “communists” wants Russian money for itself?!  So much for the McCain-Feingold “maverick” Repug!

BTW, it shows what kind of people they are when they put down as socialism and communism, what many of us consider basic Christianity!

Political Puritanism

Why do some denominations in America try to legislate their version of personal morality on the rest of us?

I’m something of a theological social ethicist, and I think it’s because either their churches don’t do a good enough job of regulating their own members (as Stanley Hauerwas opined), or because most Americans don’t belong to their denomination (whatever it may be) to begin with.  Or both.

Putting it another way, religious pluralism (the second reason above) inspires some religious Americans to try to force persons who don’t believe as they do to act as though they do.  You don’t see this so much anywhere else in the world except maybe the post-Communist Orthodox countries, also coping with a pluralistic situation, recovering from generations of state-sponsored militant atheism.  This is because these are the most religiously pluralistic countries in the world, where no one sect is all-powerful or very influential.  As if to prove the point, we’re starting to see this Europe-wide, as Catholics, conservative Protestants, and some Orthodox Christians get together against perceived secularization, even though each European Union country itself has a state or dominant-cultural religion / sect, witness recent controversies over “God” in their proposed constitution, homosexuality, abortion, etc.

If they can’t get us to join their sect through “evangelism” / proselytism, they’ll try to impose their views politically and/or socially.  (Or they’ll seek the state’s help in enforcing even with their own members, though at least this latter option has a long history in religion worldwide!)  Alcohol Prohibition or limitations, adultery or (consensual) sodomy as crimes, Gay adoption prohibition, Blue Laws, government support for religion, “God/Christianity” in the Constitution, censorship, etc. – nothing ever presented seriously with true public policy implications, mostly religious or “for your own good.”  (*I* have some good public-policy, not-explicitly-religious reasons for Blue Laws, but that’s for another post!)

Cynics say there’s a third reason: that the effort isn’t sincere at all, just a “wedge issue” to energize particular religious-political constituencies.  And one has to wonder, when formerly-reasonable-seeming Republican politicians from the ’80s and before, turn into Bible-thumping censors in more recent years: Are they for real, or just playing politics?  And when some of them get caught with their pants down etc.

Orthodox vision of human rights?

Last week the quadrennial Council of all Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church from throughout the world promulgated a statement, The Basic Principles of the Russian Church Teaching on Human Dignity, Freedom and Rights, discussed here by Interfax’ religion service.  It’s been a topic of discussion and continuing work since the release of the year 2000 Council’s The Basis* of the Social Concept of the Russian Orthodox Church, as well as of course ongoing human rights criticism of Russia, Serbia, and some other Orthodox and neighboring countries, the spread of the U.S./NATO/EU eastward into the former Warsaw Pact and the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Western-backed ‘color revolutions’ in Georgia, Ukraine, and threatening in Belarus and Mongolia, as well as notable contradictions in Western human rights and election practices itself.  It doesn’t seem available on the Web in English yet, but Interfax emphasizes its confrontation with what some Russians, using a term echoing the “militant atheism” reference to Communism, are now calling “militant secularism”:

According to the authors of the Orthodox vision of human rights released Thursday, “blasphemy shall not be justified by the rights of artist, writer or journalist.” Under the pretence of human rights protection, civilizations “should not impose their lifestyle patterns on other civilization{s}” and the human rights protection “should not {be used cynically to} serve interests of certain countries.”

The right to education provides for gaining knowledge with a view to cultural traditions and visions of a family and a person. Most world {cultures} are based on religion, therefore, any comprehensive education and upbringing should include the basics of religion which created the culture where such person lives,” the Basics read.

The document also states that private life, vision and people’s will should not be subject to “total control”. “Manipulation of people’s conscience and choice by government agencies, political powers, economic and information elites is dangerous for the society. It is also unacceptable to collect, concentrate and use information on any aspects of person’s life without his/her consent,” the Basics’ authors believe.  {Corrections, emphases, and clarifications Tiernan’s.}

Of course, most Russians living today well remember the abuses alluded to in the last paragraph!  I can’t endorse it without seeing it in detail, but I commend its reading, at least, to all of us who seek to deal rightly with Eastern Europe, the Orthodox World, and ultimately the whole Two-Thirds World.

(*–Sometimes translated as Bases, the plural of Basis.)

Dobson: Obama Distorts Bible. But Dobson distorts Obama!

Oh, I see, it’s coming down to a sectarian battle now?!

Fortunately for America, most Christians by definition don’t consider Conservative Evangelical Protestants authoritative on the subject!!!  Only a quarter of Americans belong to these sects, ie, less than half of Protestants.

BTW, when Dobson refers to “the traditional understanding of the Bible” on “Old Testament texts and dietary codes that no longer apply,” he means his tradition.  There are other Protestant sects that disagree with him on OT laws!

Obama’s point that people who base their politics on their religion – like me! – need to try to appeal to people who won’t necessarily buy their religion’s interpretations, isn’t persecuting anybody or denying anybody’s rights, it’s simply good advice!  Dobson distorts Obama!!!!!

Is McCain a Christian Zionist like Hagee?

That’s the worry of English journalist Victoria Clark, author of the recent book Allies for Armageddon.

Will McCain try to do what W. has (so far) failed to do, and “bring back Jesus“?!?!?!  (Yes, it’s total heresy – see here for a little info – but that doesn’t stop them from screwing the rest of the world!)

See also “McCain’s Christian Zionist, Subprime Mortgage Pimping Problem” for some more people and more importantly, THINGS HE HAS TO REPUDIATE.