Attacking the Source

When Claire Gordon wrote a piece for Al Jazeera America about Bob Jones University tell rape victims to apologize to their attackers the response was almost inevitable.

Apparently, if you allow a British journalist working for an American-managed news organization to use one of the few remaining copies of a video that that a fundamentalist school has worked hard to remove from the Internet then the terrorists win.

I suppose that not all truth is God’s truth after all.

142 thoughts on “Attacking the Source”

        1. When did that get added to my duties?

          I am so underpaid around here. I need a Big Gary type of raise.

        2. Scorp, I thought you liked that sort of thing. I rather expected you to be the first to volunteer.

  1. Top five finisher today. I’ll take it.
    I was just waiting for the “But al-jazeera is that there mooslim news channel, what were you expecting?” Took longer than I thought though. People write off Al Jazeera but they have quality news from an unbiased perspective.

    1. Al Jazeera is one of the better news networks out there.
      Many people go to it for a less biased, or at least differently biased, perspective than that of the U.S. news outlets.

    2. All news providers have bias. Some cover it up, some proclaim it loudly. It is impossible not to have bias; whether it’s from the source, the reporter, the editor, the producer, the photographer/videographer, or anyone else involved in putting the product out, there will be bias. Bias takes many forms — from source selection to vocabulary to graphics, and much more. It may be countered or enhanced by the various entities by the time the story gets reported but it is there.

        1. The conspiracy theorists sure are coming out of the wood work on this one. Don, nice job quoting Bernays. Are you and that Stacy Macarthy chick starting to be an item?

        2. Wow, and now you’re trying the old desperation move when no one pays attention to your silly conspiracy theories: pulling out the “just like the Nazis in Germany did it” card.

        3. I really liked Neil Postman’s book, Teaching as a Subversive Activity. It was advocating that a teacher’s proper role is to free children from the shackles of thought they inherited from their parents, religion and social class.

          You are only as free to think as you are aware of the biases that push your thinking in a particular direction. For most people that means they are enslaved and have no awareness of it.

      1. While it’s inevitable that we all have bias, the problem I have with the majority of American media outlets is that they refuse to acknowledge their bias, claiming to be objective, and in some cases gone beyond bias to the point of advocacy/propaganda which should be the last function media. Funny how the framers of the Constitution went out of their way to provide the press protection from government interference/control in order that the press might hold government accountable, and now they seem to have become bedfellows.

        1. “Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play.” – Joseph Goebbels

        2. Actually, the default news position in the latter part of the last century was not only to make bias clear, but to counteract it as much as possible by utilizing language that was as close to neutral as possible. This is one aspect the Al Jazeera tries to preserve. It also tends to present news stories in the words of the people actually involved.

  2. Attacking the source is always the fundy way. Or at least one of the fallacies that they love to employ.

    BJU covered up rapes. They further victimised rape victims by forcing them to ring and talk with their abuser, and to say sorry for not forgiving them. There is an email circulating that is signed by Mrs Pat Berg as evidence for this behaviour.

    A lot of different news sources have printed about the major problems at BJU, and there will be a lot more, especially once the GRACE report is revealed.

    You can dig your heels in and try and attack everyone who speaks the truth, or you can work out the way the wind is blowing and try repentance.

    Hey, Stephen Pettit, (I’m not calling you Dr. unless you call me “Your Majesty”, the two titles are as accurate :) ) it would be a really, really good move to sack the Berg’s right about now. NOW. Before the GRACE report is released.

    1. All the rapes going on at BJU and they’re somehow concerned with honor killings and rapes in another country? Doubtful.

      1. I thought the issue was not that rapes were happening at BJU, but rather that when students sought help for having been raped or abused elsewhere, BJU did not encourage them to report it but focused instead on covering-up what happened and making the victim feel shame and responsibility.

        1. Well we know in one year recently, nine counts of forcible sexual assault happened on campus. The victims were encouraged to drop charges, and BJU released a statement saying that the perp would be welcomed back after some time out to continue his studies.

          I’m sure I’ve read other accounts of known sex offenders graduating from BJU with admin’s knowledge of their deeds.

          Yes, many of the complaints are to do with abuse prior to arriving at BJU, with school counsellors further victimising victims and squashing any attempt at justice.

          The GRACE report will be interesting.

        2. There is all sorts of coverup. For example, the owner of this blog does not like cogent points that point out the hypocrisy of the “victim advocates,” so he sanctimoniously deletes all of them and pretends that his view is the only one that counts.

  3. I love how Darrell gets attacked for providing the video instead of…oh, I don’t know…THE PERSON WHO SAID WHAT’S IN THE VIDEO! AAAARRGGGHH!!!!

      1. Oops. I thought you meant, ‘were there any posts about the Al Jazeera report on SFL’. Not, ‘were there any posts about BJU on SFL’.

        BJU has a long, messy history.

  4. “Attacking the source” is attached at the hip to “Blame the victim.”
    Dodging the issue, obfuscation, misdirection, lies and cover-up all under the Religious umbrella of “The Cause of Christ.” And “The Cause of Christ” is directly related to whatever “ministry” is claiming that any attack against them or investigation of them would hurt “the Cause of Christ.”

    Jesus, Christ, God, the Bible, biblical, godly, and “the gospel” are merely a props and terms to be used in order to guilt and manipulate folks into blind acceptance of the Ministry’s narrative.

    You know, religion is a lot like politics, the only difference is… is…. is… hmmmmmm…………. the building in which they are practiced?

    1. I’m glad you pointed out that this happens in politics too. I think it happens a lot of places, definitely not just in the IFB. The problem is that we expected more of the IFB. We expected people who said they followed Christ to ACTUALLY FOLLOW CHRIST. So when their behavior violates Christ’s words, it’s more shocking than when “the world” does it.

      1. Unfortunately as much as organized, institutionalized, sanitized, evangelicalized, religion claims to be separate from the world… the more it looks exactly like the world around it.

        That is the point it misses. Take BJU, they believe they are a “Fortress of Faith?” They have set up a monastic existence behind their gates and claim separation from the “world”… but they miss the entire point of the Gospel of Christ. Just because they have isolated and insulated themselves from the “world” doesn’t mean they have not brought the “world” in with them.

        The Gospel is not just for getting sinners saved… it is to remind us that we are all made up of the same stuff, that we are not sinners because we participate in worldly activities… no we sin because by our very nature we are sinners. Just because one is saved does not mean one does not need the Gospel. Everyday we need to be reminded that it was Christ who saved us, it was his perfection, his sacrifice, his life, death and resurrection that gives us live in and through him. Our very best efforts are still tainted with sin and miss the mark of perfection. And our sin is shown in the extra rules and regulations we place around our religion. We insulate our religion with more, and more and more law, and legalism, and moralism… to the point it has nothing to do with the love of Christ, Grace, Mercy or the Gospel.

        Yet institutionalized, religious organizations miss that. The organization becomes its own god and equates itself to God. To sin against the organization is to sin against their god. *sigh*

        1. Great points.

          The idea of a “fortress of faith” is sort of a ridiculous concept, actually.

        2. Such thinking sets up a “super-bug” culture where spiritual superiority is able to grow and becomes immune to the Gospel and truth.

          A spiritual psychosis breeds in the anti-worldly, sanitized petri dish that these institutions have become. The stale air of these bunkers have become contaminated with legalism, moralism and holier-than-thou blooms of spiritual mold.

          When you are in it you can’t see it… you refuse to even look for it. Once inside the bunker you rest in the fact that you are isolated from the effects of sin and you begin to fight against external manifestations of sin. The fight is against the appearance of sin, the appearance of evil and the outward signs of God’s judgment.

          The fact is wherever we go we bring sin with us. It resides in our hearts. It is in our very nature. Even those of us who are saved. We cannot in, and of ourselves, rid ourselves of sin.

          If asked many of us would say, “Yes, I love the Lord with all my mind, heart soul and strength”… but out actions betray us. We don’t love the Lord our God that way. We fail everyday in the attempt. We fail most miserably when we adopt the attitude that we actually “can” and “do keep” this greatest commandment.

          That is why we need to be reminded of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. To remind us that everything we touch and attempt is sin tainted. We need to be reminded that we rely solely on the finished work of Jesus Christ for out salvation, our justification and even our sanctification. It is all about Christ… we have nothing to boast of… not out institutions… not out ministries… not our rules nor our standards.

        3. Don, I don’t know that anyone can truly say that he loves God with his whole being. I don’t know if it’s possible to love anyone or anything that intensely.

        4. @ semp

          That’s precisely the point that command makes. We can’t. We cannot keep even this greatest of the commandments. But Jesus Christ did. It is through him that we are counted righteous… not in our own abilities. Not even in our own belief or faith. Because even our faith without Grace is tainted and sin polluted.
          So you see, even the simplest form of the greatest commandment (on which all the others depend) … we are unable to keep.

          That is why the Gospel is such good news, our inability, our weakness, is made perfect in his finished, completely acceptable and perfect work. Our comfort is not in our doing… but in what Jesus Christ has already done.

          THAT is good news!

        1. that was for you Don. Your words are a great reminder of how weak we all are and how God is mighty.

    2. At Bob Jones, religion (such as it is there) and politics are practiced in the same building (as illustrated by all the Republican candidates BJ hosts).

  5. When Muslims speak the truth, it is still the truth.
    Jesus, who associated with Romans, Samaritans, and Pagans, would not shun Muslims, either.

    1. Of course they don’t teach Logic, they are still using ADAT!

      *crickets chirping*

      There’s got to be at least one musician who chortled a bit at that joke.

  6. Yeah, lets bring up ownership of a company when it’s convenient, and ignore it when we agree with what is said. Not much is said about how Prince Alwaleed bin Talal is the 2nd largest SH of Fox News’ News Corp.

      1. Did George attack your statement? You know shareholders have voting rights so if you own a large % you can somewhat determine the direction of the company.

        1. Well for starters, that isn’t exactly accurate. A blog thread isn’t really expeditious for explaining corporate politics, but it is worth reading up on. However, my point was that a product should speak for itself, regardless of ownership. And in a publicly traded company you might have owners who are communist party Chinese, Scandinavian Democratic Socialists, or South American cartel dons. But “Apple” doesn’t have a scary sounding Arab name, so…

  7. I have watched Al-Jazeera for years. Contrary to what some commenters claimed earlier I find them to be biased as are all news channels. However, this is not an area where they are showing bias.
    This needed to be said and should have been said a long time ago.
    I say Bravo AJ! The roaches don’t like the light!

    1. I’m just curious–
      How do you read “All news providers have bias” (what Semp said) and [it has] “a less biased, or at least differently biased, perspective” (what I said) as meaning “Al Jazeera has no bias”?

  8. Interesting how (in the video of a sermon) Rand Hummel quotes from Hebrews 12 about “no root of bitterness”, but fails to acknowledge the rest of that passage: “Make level paths… so the lame may be healed… Make every effort to live in peace AND to be holy… See that no one is sexually immoral.”

    Interesting also how BJU can completely ignore Jesus’s comment on what ought to happen to someone who makes “little ones” (children of God) to stumble. Wouldn’t you think that if they’re going to be [somewhat] literal about applying Scripture, they ought to also be hanging millstones around rapists necks and tossing them in the Atlantic?

    Sorry, I used NIV rather than KJV. That fact probably nullifies my comment.

  9. Wow. Will the GRACE report actually see the light of day? I am still in doubt.

    Jim Berg is about as big a person as you can find at BJU. I didn’t realize what his theology of abuse was when I was there. Of course, there was a lot I was unaware of in fundamentalism until the abuse hit me personally.

    I hope the truth keeps on coming out and will expand its reach ever further despite efforts to hide it.

  10. Regarding the video sermon in the article, this idea of nothing between you and God (always being “right” with your fellow man) is a lie and unachievable. Fundies use this to keep the flock at the alter and never victorious. Many revival meetings I heard the pastor get almost angry that not everyone came up front (“you people still in your seats have nothing between you and God?”) For the last 3 years I was at fundy church I stubbornly never took communion, because I could always think of an ongoing sin (I don’t clean the house as often as I should, etc etc).

    1. Yes, isn’t the whole point of Jesus that we can NOT do this forgiveness thing (or living righteously) on our own? As to communion, isn’t it to remind ourselves of what Jesus did because we are unable to do these things on our own? Rather than coming with a spirit of shame (and self-focus) for all these sins we have done , why can’t we come with a spirit of gratitude (and Christ-focus) for all that HE has done?

      “And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this only when you have repented of every sin in remembrance of your evil state.’”

      1. ‘This is my body given for you; do this only when you have repented of every sin in remembrance of your evil state.’”

        Huh? What version is this?

  11. I think I need to go back and apologize to the children I have taught over the years.
    1. I was wrong to tell the girl whose dad choked her regularly that he was doing something bad. I should have counseled her to beg his forgiveness for making him angry.
    2. I was wrong to contact the police when a little girl told me she’d been propositioned online. I should have counseled her to apologize to the pervert for causing him to stumble.
    3. I was wrong to call children’s services when a little boy showed up with a bruise so horrible he couldn’t move his arm. I should have counseled him to apologize to his mother for trying to block the stick she was beating him with.
    The fact that I’d have to give up my teaching license, as well as spend time in jail, is simply my suffering for the cause of Christ in reaching the lost souls of abusive men and women.

  12. The reporter said that Jim Berg would not respond to their requests for an interview. His wife did respond, and her statement said that these allegations are patently false.

    That statement is directly contradicted by her email.

    Liar. Liar. Pants on fire.

      1. Damn. I forgot. Them wimmens should only wear culottes and dresses. She’s got to look waaay sexy for Jimbo so he don’t step out.

        1. He’s here until Thursday. Tip your waitress and try the veal, folks. Do not try the waitress and tip the veal.

  13. Oh, and I bet they wish that their Dear Leader had been smart enough to call the place Robert Jones University.

    Just sayin’

  14. I went to the BJU website just now to check costs for room, board & tuition for this world-class unaccredited kawlidge. Here it is for a dorm student:

    RESIDENCE STUDENT WITH FINANCIAL AID
    Tuition + Room & Board + Program Fee $10,155
    Average Grants and Scholarships -6,500
    Estimated Semester Total $3,655

    That’s per SEMESTER, folks. So it’s over $20K per year. When I attended it was about $2,000 per YEAR for room, board & tuition. Am I reading this wrong? Can this possibly be true?

    Admittedly I went in the late 70s. But. Damn. All for an unaccredited worthless piece of toilet paper.

    1. Ok. The rates above were for South Carolina students. Apparently they score more financial aid. Here’s for out of state students, both by semester & annually:

      COST BEFORE AID SEMESTER ANNUAL
      Tuition $6,785 $13,570
      Room and board $3,045 $6,090
      Program Fee (starting at) $325 $650
      Total $10,155 $20,310

        1. Oh you are fortunate. BJU likes to say that their student to teacher ratio is 13 to 1. That is because their enrollment is tumbling into the crapper. As it should be. So the price of tuition, room & board goes up, and up. Got to feed the beast.

      1. Dang. I’ve paid less for my (accredited) AA than one semester there =O Granted, I lived at home and so didn’t have room and board, but still. But even going by just the tuition number, my AA cost about as much as one semester of just tuition. Thank goodness for junior/community colleges.

    2. BJU is going through the SACS accreditation process, aren’t they? This is probably why they called in GRACE and hired a non-Jones to be President.

      1. Yes, and I’m applying to be the next president of these United States.

        Some things just will never happen.

        1. Well you’ll have at least one vote coming from me! (I’m a liberal, so according to Republicans I vote multiple times each election)

      2. BJU has been making a lot of noise about applying for SACS. However, few of their staff got a degree from an accredited institution, let alone outside of BJU. academic inbreeding is a stumbling block to accreditation. Some of the staff don’t even have qualifications in the field that they’re teaching.

        The university is in bad financial shape and enrolment is declining.

        They have a reputation for covering up sexual abuse, which isn’t going to get better when the GRACE report is released.

        The president doesn’t have either education or management qualifications.

        Accreditation is not going to happen. It’s just not.

        1. Before you jump all over Bob Jones University, let’s not forget to be fair. There was gross, sick, perverted, sexual abuse not only “brushed gently under the rug” at Penn State with that sick old, pervert Paterno. There was outright peddling of kids and buying and selling them! This was sick and disgusting because it’s abuse too sick to hardly even put into words, it was also exclusively homosexual. I know that the homosexual factor makes most of you brush this horrendous chapter at Penn State aside, because you bow down to the homosexual lobby. Penn State also has suspected ties of a nationwide pedophile network. I don’t mean to downplay abuse of any kind, but comparing BobJones to Penn State is like comparing a garden hose to Niagara Falls. With all the talk about “fair and balanced” in this thread, let’s not eviscerate Bob Jones while giving Penn State a free pass.

  15. “Aren’t you the good soldier?”

    What in the world? Don’t even know where to begin. Who is Gregory Easton, and why does he think providing a tip to a news organization about a school not taking rape seriously is worth mocking?

    1. I looked at his Twitter account. He spent a decade or so at BJU, not consecutively. He says he tries to see both the good, and the bad, at BJU. Reading some of his blog was an exercise in cognitive dissonance. Judging from his Twitter followers (one) he’s not reaching a receptive audience.

      He’s been Tweeting his Tweeter off all day at Darrell. Seems Mr. Easton is virulently anti-Muslim.

        1. Me? I wasn’t being nasty and abrasive, so that couldn’t be it. I did say that there weren’t any rapes in Islamic countries because they keep their wimmin dressed all right and proper like.

        2. Actually, there are lots of rapes in Islamic countries. They are rarely reported. If they are reported, the women are usually condemned to death for adultery or fornication. At the least they receive a lashing (like 100 lashes!) which permanently disables and scars them.

          Just like BJU, Islamic countries blame women for their own rapes. It is assumed that the women somehow perverted the fine upstanding men to follow their animal passions.

          Remember, in the Bible, women are nearly always the party to blame for such things as adultery and prostitution. Not quite always, but almost always. The writer of the Proverbs saw women as evil and men as gullible.

        3. I believe this is setting a record for most gender confusion any commenter has ever had. It’s like at least once a week!

        4. Maybe not quite that often. But too often.

          My problem is that my job keeps me from fully reading everything like I should. And much of what I do read is late at night when I am tired. George messes with my typing at those times, too.

          I will get there.

        5. Dear rtgmath,

          I am one of those evel wimmin your mama warned you about. How do I know I’m evil? I’m wearing britches. Denim britches. And my hair is not down to my waist.

        6. @Semp: Your name puts me in mind of “Semper Fi”, the Marine Motto. I keep thinking of you as one fine Lady Leatherneck, mind smart as a whip.

        7. @Panda Rosa, thank you for esteeming me so highly. I am not a Marine, nor do I play one on TV. There is the wonderful but severely underrated service of the Coast Guard whose motto is “Semper Paratus” — always prepared. I’m seldom prepared but I chose the screen name as a nod to both the USCG and the Corps.

      1. Camille may not be posting, but rest assured she is lurking about.

        I like Camille, actually. I believe she really got the short end of the stick at BJU. I also respect her efforts in putting feet to her words regarding her disagreements with BJU and others in the IFB. She merely did what so many here on SFL talk about.

  16. I used to peruse Easton’s (AKA Hidalgo) blog. He seems to have some sort of weird affinity for the fortress even though he was expelled and doesn’t appear to line up philosophically with the school. Mostly, it seems that his hatred of Camille is just clouding his judgment in viewing AJ as a legitimate news source.

  17. Please don’t be too critical of BJU. After all, its an obligatory stop for Republican candidates seeking the presidency.

  18. Is Easton picking a fight with Lewis?

    I don’t think Lewis as been on the radar in quite sometime, so why bring her up?

      1. I don’t know if she coined the term “Klandamentalism,” but it’s an extremely apt moniker for Bob Jones’ philosophy.

  19. Typical IFB response – attack the person delivering the news in order to take the focus off them. Textbook Ad Hominem.

  20. I looked up the BJU website. Rand Hummel is not teaching there anymore, but the Bergs are still there.

  21. Dear Mr and Mrs Berg (and Mr Hummel),
    If I could, I would open your eyes to see the great damage you inflict on these precious children with your misguided “counsel”. But I can’t. Perhaps God, whose Name you take in vain with your pompous-ass lecturing, will cause you to see who really needs forgiveness here.
    By the way, you shouldn’t be trying to ‘guilt’ somebody to forgive others. Nor should you try to “shame” somebody to forgive their malefactors. It is the love of Christ (remember Him?) that compells us to forgive those that trespass against us.
    Love. Not guilt. Jesus. Not shame. The Holy Spirit. Not you.

    1. So well said!

      Yes, it is Christ’s love that compels us. Christian leaders ought to focus on that: let victims know how treasured and precious they are to Christ, how He despises the evil that was done to them and how He holds them like a shepherd cradling a lamb. As they realize their significance and worth to Christ, they may choose to forgive from a place of faith and confidence, not from being shamed into it.

  22. I graduated from BJU almost 20 years ago. I have always been kinda neutral about the place. Most of my friends and I got into real therapy and started attending real churches. We went back to real schools and got real jobs. It still breaks my heart that my parents thought they were doing the best for me. So much wasted time, energy, and money! The Bergs and their attitude and response also breaks my heart. It makes me hopeful that the school will close down. Beneath the exterior lies so many men and women who desperately want to be loved by God and their fellow community that judges and belittles them at every turn. I truly hope the victims know how loved and supported they are.

    1. Jean Skirt, that is well said. I posted upthread about the cost of a BJU education now. It’s terribly expensive for an unaccredited degree. Plus, the student is exposed to the psychological abuse from BJU, blaming the victim for being sexually abused.

      Sexual abuse is so tragically prevalent throughout our culture. But BJU acolytes (Bergs, etc) telling the abuse victim that she has sinned by not forgiving the perpetrator is beyond the pale.

      God. Help. Us. All.

    2. Dear Jean Skirt:

      You wrote: ‘Beneath the exterior lies so many men and women who desperately want to be loved by God and their fellow community…’

      I reply: While tragic, that is stated beautifully. Again, I’m thinking that occasionally, I should attend a fundamentalist church and reach out to those many men and women. Thank you.

      Blessings!

      Christian Socialist

  23. When I was a child I was molested. As the years went on, it truly haunted me. It was never reported, the perpetrator was never castigated. But I felt that, as a Christian, I had to forgive him. And that I was being sinful if I failed to forgive him. The cognitive dissonance of trying to hold that what the person did was hideously wrong, but somehow you were supposed to not feel anger about it, or if you did feel anger you were somehow still supposed to have forgive them, was astounding and unbearable.
    Additionally, no one could tell me what forgiveness WAS, what it should feel like, how it should be attained, how I could tell if I had forgiven someone. So I assumed that me still feeling angry at the person meant I hadn’t forgiven them, which meant I was being sinful and not right with God and I needed to fix it.
    Yet, undoubtedly, undeniably, what he had done was WRONG. How could I not feel anger at the person who did that to me? Wouldn’t not feeling anger towards him be sort of excusing him and his actions? And how on earth do you deal with the deep disgust that overflows you when you even consider ever thinking of that person without including a feeling of anger and contempt? An action like that deserves contempt. Not only in the sense of punishment, but in the sense that we must recognise such actions to be evil.
    I asked my parent how to forgive someone, because no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t find the correct button to push to make myself stop feeling angry at the person. They suggested praying for the person. Well, I tried that. But what could I pray for them? That they would be happy? HECK NO, I didn’t want them happy, if they were happy it was probably because they were hurting people. To get right with God? Well sure, but . . . is that it? How does that help my forgiveness problem? I wanted them to get right with God because they were a piece of crap who hurt people, and if they were right with God it meant they weren’t doing that anymore.
    In addition, it baffled me, because this person had never asked my forgiveness. He wasn’t sorry. He didn’t provide any sort of excuse (and frankly there just is no excuse: logical causes which could lead up to an action such as a warped childhood, perhaps, but still no excuse). How could I forgive someone who hadn’t asked for forgiveness, who saw themselves as having done me no wrong? And yet, Jesus forgave the people who crucified Him, even though they didn’t ask Him to. So the guy not asking for forgiveness was no excuse. I still had to forgive him, otherwise not only was I being sinful, there was also a slight possibility that God might not forgive me for other things.
    For years and years I struggled with guilt and anxiety for not forgiving this person. When I thought of them with anger, I felt like I was actively sinning. To be angry about someone for hideously harming me, that was wrong. I had to let go of my anger. Well, I couldn’t. And very frankly, deeply, darkly, I didn’t want to. He deserved my anger. What he did should make me angry, it should make everyone angry. I resented that I was expected by God to forgive this person. And still I kept up my struggle to do so, not knowing what it would feel like when and if I succeeded, not knowing which magic words to pray to make the forgiveness occur.
    It’s years later. I’ve become more secular, I no longer take the Bible literally, I’ve actually become a criminologist. Yet it wasn’t until recently, after seeing things like posts on tumblr which showed a picture of a boy on television with the caption “Daniel stabbed the person who molested him 52 times” and people chimed in “Yes. Good work, Daniel!”, etc., etc., that I began to realise: I didn’t have to forgive him. I could understand why he did it, or at least understand some of the mechanisms behind people becoming paedophiles (I actually sort of specialised in research on paedophiles during my studies), but comprehending didn’t mean I had any obligation to forgive him. I had every right to feel anger, I had every right to throw away the attempt to forgive.
    I have love for the freak, in the sense that I value all human life. But I hate him. I hate him, I feel anger toward him, I try not to want him to suffer (because I know that punishment for punishment’s sake is both criminologically ineffective and just not good), but I want him locked up in a tiny box where he can never go near anyone ever again. I don’t forgive him! I quite blatantly will never forgive him!
    And after I began to FEEL that anger, to not try to hide it, to not feel guilt for it, to not try to get rid of it, but to fully feel it, let it blaze up within my chest – oh, circumstances got so much better. Having been assaulted in that way became something I could talk about, something I could think about, something that occurred and I am going to try to prevent occurring. As cliché as it is to say I began to heal, I really think I did, in a way. It became a scar rather than a festering scab.
    I honestly think that our insistence on forgiving people is harmful. It puts the onus on the victim. It shifts focus from the perpetrator’s actions. It forces victims to feel like they have to struggle, when they’re already traumatised enough. It forces them to stifle, deny, and feel guilt over their natural responses to the trauma. It causes a victim to suddenly have become some sort of guilty party. It makes the victim feel de-valued – am I not worth getting angry over? If all sins are equally wrong, is my anger against the perpetrator as bad as them hurting me? It is unhealthy, and it is wrong. I don’t think it is at all what Jesus would want us to suffer.
    I don’t think that Jesus would expect me to put away my anger, when this freak has expressed no remorse or change. And if I am supposed to be forgiving him, I believe Jesus will forgive my not doing so (He’s good at forgiving).
    Maybe what we call forgiveness should better be termed comprehension: understanding that there are causes behind people becoming the sorts of people who can do awful things. But they still deserve our anger. And the victims still deserve to feel that anger.
    Please forgive (heh) this ridiculously long post, but I can testify that BJU’s sick focus on victims forgiving perpetrators is incredibly harmful to victims, incredibly harmful to society (for instance, in cases where the victim is forced to actually tell the perpetrator they forgive them it allows the perpetrator to believe that what they did is not that bad), and unfortunately incredibly prevalent within Christianity as a whole.

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