How To Not Get Shot

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In light of the internet flurries intent on telling women how they should best go about not getting raped, I figured we need to start informing people how to avoid getting shot, in this country of so many mass shootings, accidental shootings, etc etc.

Tips to prevent yourself from getting shot

  1. Don’t go into neighborhoods where residents own a lot of guns. Avoid backwoods Idaho farms and certain streets in Mexico.
  2. Don’t provoke a situation where you might get shot. Meaning: don’t get into arguments with people who carry guns or people who might go find a gun after you finish arguing with them.
  3. Don’t go into movie theaters, schools or other places where people have gotten shot. This is just good statistical advice and it’s your fault if you don’t take it.
  4. Protect yourself at all times by carrying a semi-automatic rifle, realizing that if you don’t, you’re tacitly agreeing on the propriety of getting shot.
  5. When you’re in an unknown part of town, walk in the dark to avoid being seen and therefore shot at.
  6. Remember that most people are shot by friends, family and acquaintances. Remember that the burden is still on you to avoid getting shot by one of these people.
  7. Guns don’t kill people, stupid people walking into gunfire kill people, because everyone knows that guns will be guns.

Survey question

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I know that a number of people have posted links to sources critical of Doug Wilson’s recent actions, or expressed critique themselves, and subsequently been contacted by CREC pastors, elders and their family members with various injunctions against posting/saying such things. Usually, these injunctions are worded as “you don’t know the whole story, so you shouldn’t be talking about it” or “you shouldn’t gossip.” Sometimes they’re worded more strongly, with cautions against associating with the “slander” of “God-haters with an axe to grind,” etc etc. Sometimes, gross misrepresentations of these “God-haters” are even mixed in. Occasionally, threats may be involved. Quite a few of the people who have been thus contacted are not even CREC church members, which seems particularly meddlesome.

I would like to know how many people this has happened to, aside from the cases I’m already familiar with. I will post the results anonymously. I will need to know who you actually are, just for the sake of my own record-keeping (and fact-checking where applicable), but your name and any identifying information will be kept secret. If you’ve received threats, veiled or otherwise, it would be good to know this.

I don’t expect that everyone who has experienced this will feel comfortable contacting me (assuming they read my blog in the first place), but I’m interested in getting a representative sample. Note: as always, the linked contact form will direct your message to a private and secure inbox and will be seen only by me.

Winning by warping

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At this point, I’m wondering if Doug Wilson is just messing with his fans. I mean, surely he’s not so dense that he doesn’t realize how poorly it reflects on him as a pastor, rhetorician and educator to do the things he’s doing.

Doug’s reasoning for posting videos he claims are perverse is this: posting videos of a nude man shows how depraved the man is, and therefore how depraved his wife’s character is, and therefore that she cannot be trusted when she criticizes Doug. Because both the man and his wife consider these videos to be “normal.” Whereas they have a real problem with what Doug preaches about sex.

Literally none of this is true. And it’s obvious it’s not true, because Doug doesn’t bother to back it up with a single shred of supporting evidence — no quotes from blogs, no hints as to what he’s even talking about. Other than the videos. The videos, he seems to think, speak for themselves. Oh, and the fact that the couple, Natalie and Wesley, lived in Portland for awhile. That’s apparently damning evidence when you’re looking for ways to paint people as unrepentant, hurting villains.

Some background: before Doug trotted these videos out for public viewing, they’d existed in obscurity on a Vimeo account created by the artist. One of them had a grand total of 27 views, basically all of them art faculty, since the reason for the existence of the videos was to add to a body of work for grad school exploring the intersection of humanity, aggression, and modernity. Natalie says she doesn’t think she had even seen this particular video, and when she did see it after Doug posted it, she found it slightly jarring at first blush — and like many others, I did also. However, I really loved the concept Wesley expressed in his artist’s statement after all this went down, because I, too, have felt the power of the innate, running barefoot in the dusky forest, swimming upstream against a waterfall, eating and dancing outside as so many have before me. Humanity is something more than sitting at a desk parsing out philosophy while we grow fat and weak, after all. It’s about the power to fight in the real world, and against your own demons more often than not.

But back to Natalie: certainly she’d never commented publicly about how this (or the other) video was “normal.” “It’s not like we invited people over for dinner and had it playing on the flatscreen,” she quipped.

Which brings us to another point: Doug’s claim that Natalie scrubbed her blog and Facebook of anything that would be offensive to Christians. I literally have no idea what he’s talking about, and I’ve been reading her blog for years, her Facebook feed for years. She revamped her blog to focus on abuse, deleting posts about e.g. her family’s journey with her son’s health problems, given that the previous audience had been limited to friends and family. I’m sure Doug is not ignorant of the fact that it’s relatively easy to find archived copies of webpages, and if what he’s saying is true — that she was promoting some kind of offensive lifestyle prior to these last few months — he would obviously have no moral problem trotting them out or linking to the deleted blog posts about this offensive lifestyle.

But he can’t, because they don’t exist.

And this brings us to yet another point: Doug’s apparent inability to fact-check before he makes public claims. It’s hilarious that in this post, he makes a big show of correcting one of the many, many factual errors he’s made in the course of talking about Natalie and her family, saying it took him days to track down the correction. Whereas it would have taken him all of a few minutes to check the veracity of his claim that fellow pastor Andrew Sandlin had taken down his post supporting Natalie after Doug posted these videos — something that was untrue, and which Doug had to correct after people he trusted pointed this out to him.

Again, this is by no means the first time Doug has made factual mistakes — his take: they aren’t factual mistakes, because you have to take every word that comes out of his mouth in the context of everything he’s ever said, instead of what he says at any given time, ignoring the fact that he says things that are at odds with one another. When you say opposite things, all eventualities are covered — one of the many, many reasons that Doug Is Always Right. It’s interesting, then, that he’s saying a person’s track record should disqualify him or her from making statements people ought to believe.

That brings us back to the fact that he thinks naked people are evil. Or whatever his objection to Wesley’s videos is.

The answer is, if you’re taking him by things he said elsewhere: he doesn’t. You can find a video here where he answers the question “What is your perspective on nudity in art, particularly when it comes to education?” His response: “I think a lot of Christians have a simplistic understanding of nudity, where they think nudity equals porn. Because they’re saying, well, in pornography everybody has their clothes off…” This, he says, is false. He points out that Jesus was hung up naked on the cross, and says he doesn’t think it’s “true at all” that seeing a naked person equates to automatic lust.

So reasonable, right? Heck, if this was all I knew of Doug Wilson, I’d think he was a thoughtful guy. So where in the world is he getting his claim that Welsey’s art is perverse? If nudity being acceptable in art is dependent on context, then Doug should have taken the context into consideration — the intended audience, the intended message. He did neither. Instead, he or someone apparently acting in concert with him stole an artistic product from the artist (known as illegal reproduction, and yes, this is a crime; merely crediting the artist does not make stealing the work OK) and dispersed it without even (apparently) considering the intent or message of the artwork — instead, he used it to paint the artist as a human being of loose moral character.

About that: I know that Doug does not believe Wesley is a man of loose moral character, because Wesley worked on his home and taught his grandchildren martial arts. For all Doug is saying it’s not a good idea to have Wesley around one’s children, Doug didn’t actually have a problem with Wesley until… until…

… Until Wesley’s wife began to speak out against the way she and her family were treated by Doug ten years ago.

So this is not actually about Wesley or Wesley’s art. This is about destroying people who back Natalie.

And, obviously, Wesley finds that the way people are treating him and misrepresenting him speaks volumes. “I have never treated anyone from Christ Church or any other CREC church with anything but respect and kindness. When I see these people on the street, I stop to speak with them and ask how they’re doing. But I don’t matter. I’m trash because I won’t say I’m a Christian. So who I am as a man and a father and husband doesn’t matter — it has no worth. The fact that I have always respected their beliefs and treated them with acceptance and warmth in spite of the fact that we don’t see eye to eye? That doesn’t matter. The only important thing for them is that I am not a Christian and that I make contemporary art. They use those two things to create my identity and to hurt Natalie.”

Art and the masculine

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Doug Wilson has been asked by more than one CREC pastor to stop blogging about the abuse cases being handled by the CREC inquiry, including the Greenfield case. As it should be blatantly obvious by now, not only has he not listened, he and his associates appear to have been gearing up to inflict the maximum amount of damage on Natalie Greenfield for at least a month — by embarking on an abusive, aggressively-worded red herring tantrum and claiming that her father abused her, that she is a liar, and that her husband Wesley Petersen’s worldview is abominably warped because, in the course of getting his Master’s degree in art at Portland State University, Wesley produced performance art featuring himself alone in a room, naked. Because Wesley is brandishing makeshift weapons in these videos, Doug (as far as I can tell from his unspecific objection to this) insinuates that it’s something akin to domination porn — that, therefore, Wesley is the real overbearing patriarch in Natalie’s life. Not Doug. This line of attack was so predictable coming from Doug, I’ve already written about it here. The only thing was, I didn’t think that even Doug would stoop so low as to target and attempt to shame Natalie’s family.

Now, of course, if Doug really believed these videos were akin to violent porn, he wouldn’t have linked to them on his blog — particularly not when they’d been stolen and posted on Vimeo without Wesley’s permission. I assume Doug doesn’t go around looking at porn all the time, least of all directing people to watch it. And you know Doug has watched the videos he links to. It’s likely he’s watched them multiple times to make sure he disapproves.

Which brings up an interesting point: how did Doug know about these videos? Contrary to Doug’s claims, many of Wesley’s friends and family didn’t even know about them until Doug posted his latest blog. I sure as heck had never heard of their existence.

Doug’s business associate and parishioner did, however, know about them, and alluded to them in a series of highly inflammatory tweets dating back nearly a month ago in which he tagged the names of Wesley’s videos, then asked “what about enabling men to film themselves naked, put it online and then work with children?” — something nobody picked up on at the time, not even Natalie or Wesley. This particular fellow saw Wesley walking around downtown at one point a few weeks back, pointed and snickered. Even then, Wesley didn’t piece together why. He just thought it was weird.

So there’s that. Then there’s the question: how are Natalie’s husband’s art projects relevant to how Doug handled her abuse case? Hint: they aren’t, except insomuch as Doug is proving his true colors by attempting to shame her and her most constant ally with them.

But assume, just for the sake of argument, that they are relevant. Then the question becomes: is public nudity automatically sinful? Is a naked dude banging a bent piece of rebar against a wall until it begins to straighten an abominable piece of work that shows the inner evil of said naked dude?

If you answered yes to these questions, and you’re a Calvinist Christian, then congratulations, you’ve just invalidated your own religion.

If you’re a Calvinist, then you believe that Jesus is one and the same with the all-knowing, all-powerful and sinless God who predestined Jesus to die a violent death completely naked. He was publicly flogged (with a whip) and then nailed up on cross nude. Taken out of context, this would apparently sound to Doug Wilson and his ilk like the worst torture porn the world has ever seen. If being naked in public by your own volition is a sin, then Jesus was not sinless, and thus could not have validly taken on your sins.

Jesus and Doug Wilson cartoonNow, you can obviously be a Christian and not like Wesley’s art. You can think it’s in poor taste, or that it doesn’t get his intention across effectively. Such art is made for critique — and you are free to not like it or not want to see it. The nature of it being online in a controlled environment (versus in an actual public venue) means that people who don’t want to see it will not — and this is deliberate. Thus, you can flat-out hate this type of art as a Christian, but if you’re consistent, you can’t really say that the existence of the art itself is sinful.

Wesley has noted, “My work is primarily about violence and aggression as inherent human traits. The fact that people find my work sexual is kinda disturbing.” In this context, he points to the long tradition of nudity in both public art and public masculinity, perhaps most notably in the Grecian games. Male nudity points to the obvious masculine, without the cultural trappings inherent in clothing. A naked male with a piece of stick in his hand is Everyman.

Colmar_Painter_-_Running_Warrior_-_Walters_481920_-_Detail(1) copyIf you know even a modicum of art history, you know that it’s rife with images of naked male warriors, from ancient pottery to Michelangelo’s David. And, sure, it’s a little weird when it’s someone you actually know. You might cringe if you visited the statue of David knowing it was modeled after your little brother.

And, again, if you don’t like this kind of art, there’s absolutely no reason to subject yourself to it. But warping its intent and using that as a weapon against a woman who critiques you is absolutely foul.

 

 

Fact-checking what Doug told the church

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Doug Wilson recently met with members of his congregation — heads of household (HOH), specifically — to discuss the Sitler and Greenfield/Wight cases. He pulled his information, he stated in his introduction, from “elder minutes, from the HOH minutes, and occasionally letters.”

Based on the records from this meeting, we know precisely what Doug told people and can hold him accountable for his words. So let’s fact-check the statements that Doug Wilson has made to his congregation. I encourage you to go back to your own notes of the meeting, if you have them, and compare them to the public records and other links I’ll be posting here.

Steven Sitler Case

  1. The information spin: In the Steven Sitler case, Doug waited months before informing his congregation about what Sitler (who was not then in jail) had been up to. Doug doesn’t deny this, but in the meeting he claimed that talking about this is “misleading.” He specifies: “there are a number of things that have been out on the internet that have been misleading. One of them is um, one of the arguments of the things that’s alleged is that we took many, many months before we communicated with the HOH about this, but you have to remember that this was a small town event, public, a very public event — nobody needed to be told what had happened, the basic facts of the case.” So, why is saying he waited to inform the congregation “misleading”? Apparently, because Doug didn’t think his congregation needed to be informed that a serial pedophile had access to his congregation. Which is the whole point of what “the internet” finds problematic about this. As for the implication that people knew about it anyway — that’s a pretty weird argument given the church-wide directive not to gossip about situations like this, because the church will tell you what you need to know.
  2. The “victims were all OK” spin: Doug stated repeatedly in the meeting that he is concerned for Sitler’s victims and did his due diligence there, but he appears to have left Sitler’s victims and their families out of his calculations about bringing Sitler back into the congregation. Doug states: “After the State of Idaho gave permission for him to worship on Sunday morning, the elders considered it, we had a HOH meeting where we communicated that prospect, that possibility to the HOH, got feedback from that, and decided to do that.” In actuality, at least one of the families obtained a No Contact order against Sitler coinciding with Silter’s release into the congregation, which prevented him (very rightly) from being around his abuse victims, including during church. I say this based on the No Contact orders listed under Sitler’s name in the Idaho Repository (note: again, rightly, the victims are not named in the Idaho Repository; you can look up the Sitler case and find these orders listed under his name). There are three such orders, dated December 13, 2005; May 4, 2006; and a year later on May 4, 2007.
  3. The parole violations lie: Doug Wilson claimed that Sitler did not violate his parole at any time. His words: “From the time he was released to the time of his wedding, he was free of any probation violations. And from the time of the wedding until the present, the same.” This is flat-out false (or, at the very least, highly misleading). Sitler was arrested for voyeurism a few weeks after being released, and has had two (alleged) probation violations since then.
  4. The “back to prison” spin: Doug expounded on this by stating “Steven was sentenced to life, uh, a lifetime sentence, which means that when he is out on probation, if there were a probation violation for example, he could go back to prison for life.” As we’ve seen, there have been probation violations or at least potential violations, and Steven has not gone back to prison. Now, in theory, Doug is correct that Steven could go back to prison, but the probation violations would have to be pretty extreme. It’s not just any violation.
  5. The “no kids” spin/lack of due diligence/lie: Doug stated that when the Sitlers got married, “I know that initially the plan was to not have children.” Now, this is a very weird thing to “know,” given that the state of Idaho publicly recorded the opposite at the time. An officer told the court that Steven had stated he did intend to have children, based in large part on his religious beliefs. I find it ludicrous that the officer would know this ten days before the wedding and Doug Wilson would not. Particularly since this is the same hearing Doug referred to in order to justify the fact that the judge signed off on the Sitler wedding. Now, Doug could have been referring to the fact that the woman who married Steven had stated she was going to be on birth control until she was done with college (maybe that’s what Doug meant by “initially”). But if Doug knew this, he’d also have to know the next item uttered in the hearing, which was that they’d try to have kids after that. Additionally, Doug was present when someone else, as part of the wedding ceremony, prayed that the Silters’ union would be fruitful and bear children.
  6. The “marriage is all good” spin: Doug stated in the meeting that the judge thought that Steven getting married was a “good idea,” and that the church agreed. That’s pretty strong language based on the actual dialogue of the court records. In the court recording, Judge Stegner does say “an age-appropriate relationship with a member of the opposite sex for Mr. Sitler is one of the best things that can happen to him and to society.” However, he expresses ambivalence elsewhere and stresses that there’s not much he can do to stop the wedding, given how soon it is. For example, he states, “I think it’s a reasonable restriction that he not reside with his wife and child, in the future, if in fact they have children,” which would make for a strange Father-centric Christian marriage, no? Additionally, Doug totally skips over the part where the Idaho Department of Corrections advised against the marriage — again, based on the fact that Sitler had stated he intended to have children.
  7. The total lack of understanding of what abuse victims need and how healing works: Doug’s descriptions of the victims of these crimes is a bit weird — on two levels. Firstly, it’s weird that he appears to think that the victim’s problems have “largely just ceased, or at least apparently ceased” once the perp is apprehended. Secondly, it’s weird how he words this — he uses double negatives and double-speak to the point that it seems like he’s arguing opposite things. He says, “when you have a molestation or a problem like this and the offender is caught, the victim’s family’s problems have largely just ceased, or at least apparently ceased. We found out what the problem was. Now I know that’s not true, but in terms of the — the offender’s problems have just started. So, um, I’m — let’s just make up another imaginary situation not like this at all where someone offends some grievously, and then they get caught and it’s criminal, I’m going to be getting ten times more phone calls from the offender needing help, who’s in trouble, who knows he’s in trouble and wants pastoral help, and the people who just got delivered from this problem are going to say, ‘well I need to forgive,’ and that’s true, but for victims, there’s often times, things that need to be processed, so I’m not saying no help is needed, but it’s not on fire the way it is with someone going to court and who might be facing penitentiary time.” Clear as mud, right? This sort of prevaricating is exactly the kind of thing you should be avoiding when you’re ministering to sex abuse victims. There was nothing in the records that suggested a clear and reasonable plan of action for how to minister to abuse victims, either — aside from Doug suggesting his wife would be the counselor he recommended for women. And when you add Doug’s words about victims of sexual assault from his latest blog post, things look really bad: “One in four women are sexually assaulted on college campuses because feminists feel like statistics are necessarily validated by how dire they are. One in three women, regardless of the actual number of assaults, would feel even truer… we released The Free Speech Apocalypse at exactly the right time. If you watch that most excellent film, you can see victims actually painting their own bruises on. At least nobody said ow ow ow while they were doing it. Victim make-up for made-up victims.” Translation: don’t pay attention to women who say they’ve been sexually assaulted, because some are sure to be lying. Instead, pay to watch a film I star in, where I continue to make fun of these women.

Jamin Wight/Greenfield family case

  1. The “parent approved relationship” spin: What is Doug’s basis for claiming there was a “parent approved relationship”? The main thing he referred to in the meeting is what Jamin told him. Remember: Jamin, among his other crimes, has committed perjury. Doug stated, “[Natalie’s mom] and Gary knew about it, um, Jamin knew about it, Jamin has confirmed to me recently that — I asked him that question, did Natalie know about it. According to Jamin, he said yes, she knew — she knew all about it. She knew she was in a relationship with him, but did she know that this was a parent approved relationship? Jamin would say yes. I think Natalie would say, from this distance, no.” Later on, in a bizarre twist, Doug states, “it would be disingenuous for me to apologize for having trusted [Jamin] when I didn’t.” Yes, Doug, you did and you do, or you wouldn’t be using his quotes as evidence (Jamin said he knew there was a relationship; therefore there was a relationship). Doug additionally states that “we have documents from the time that clearly show they were in that courtship… [but] I couldn’t prove right now that [Natalie] knew about it.” That’s pretty weird… a “courtship” where one party in the courtship might not know it’s a courtship. Is this even possible? I submit that it isn’t, unless by “courtship” you mean something way more nebulous than the way the word is used 99% of the time… So what are these “documents” that Doug keeps referring to that “prove” this so-called “relationship” that Natalie might or might not have known about? Few in his congregation appear to know, because Doug refuses to answer questions about them. He claims he’s doing this to protect “the Greenfields,” but absolutely none of the Greenfields feel protected by the way Doug has handled this. Doug’s slandering all of them and refusing to man up and say exactly why. And let it be noted that Doug was certainly willing to quote letters by and about the Greenfields aloud in the meeting. So here’s the thing: the only documents I know about that “prove” what Doug is claiming are authored by Jamin. You can even see the outline of this in Doug’s assertion to the HOH that the courtship was real because the Greenfields didn’t deny the allegations at the time. Well, as far as I can tell, Gary’s refusal to even entertain such an absurd claim, and refusing to let his family near the church’s spreading of these lies, is a pretty strong denial. Not to mention, they’re denying it now, when it’s publicly being tossed at them. So, my guess is, given all of these details, the only “proof” Doug has of a “parent-approved relationship” is what Jamin wrote down. Yeah, the same guy who committed perjury. And I’m guessing that’s the real reason Doug refuses to talk about it in detail.
  2. The “abuse” spin: Doug claims Gary Greenfield was abusing his family, and while the abuse was different than what Jamin did, it was still “every bit as bad” as what Jamin did. Doug mentions a number of things that Gary was supposedly doing to abuse his family. What Doug mainly talked about in the meeting, tellingly enough, was how Gary wanted his family to leave the church and move away from Moscow. He mentioned that Natalie wrote a letter to Gary saying no, she didn’t want to move. He also claimed that Gary blamed Natalie for what Jamin did to her. This is either a misunderstanding or a deliberate spin of the facts — Gary at one point did go off on a tirade blaming Natalie, but it was not for her abuse, and it was not for the breakup of the family — it was specifically (if this is the incident Doug is referring to) for medication-induced health problems, caused by a dangerous lack of oversight (on the doctor’s part) when combining sleeping pills and other meds, which Natalie was on in an attempt to deal with her PTSD from the abuse. Natalie actually discussed this with me before this HoH meeting even happened. Natalie does not remember what she specifically wrote to Doug ten years ago that would “prove” what he’s claiming, but she does remember the events with her father, and she knows her father as well as herself much more fully after taking the time to sort through some of this stuff.
  3. The “weaponized apology” lie: Doug claims that he can’t apologize because his apologies get “weaponized.” He stated, “I wrote [Natalie], emailed her and apologized; and the next morning the attack blogs had quotes from that letter.” I confirmed with Natalie, but no blog whatsoever published quotes from the email Doug is referring to — the next morning or any morning thereafter. Natalie didn’t share this email with many people, and it’s true that the people who read it were disgusted by how self-servingly the “apology” was worded. Nonetheless, they didn’t publish it. As far as I know, the only thing remotely pertaining to this has to do with things I’ve published on my own blog. I once wrote an obviously-faux quote from Doug stating “I sneezed in Natalie’s direction once, and she didn’t take this as a sincere apology, so what are you going to do?” Is Doug really arguing that this is a direct quote from the letter he sent Natalie? That would be hilarious. Or maybe he’s thinking of where I quote the coercive letter he wrote to her after his “apology” — although I waited weeks before publishing quotes from this. If anyone can point me in the direction of other blogs that quote Natalie’s letters to Doug, I would greatly appreciate it, because I’m committed to being as accurate as possible here.
  4. The sex offender lie: Doug claimed that Jamin was legally labeled as a sex offender: “He was labeled, I think for a short time, so he got sentenced and was labeled as a sex offender for a certain period of time and I forget how long that was. But then that label was dropped. So, but he was labeled that for a time.” In reality, Jamin was never labeled a sex offender, not even for a second. Had Jamin been convicted of his original charge, he would have been a sex offender. However, because he plead guilty to a lesser charge (thanks at least in part to a last-minute judge DQ), he escaped the sex offender label.

Why is Doug Wilson commenting authoritatively on stuff he clearly knows nothing about? Because this, you see, is my real beef with him. He’s unqualified to handle abuse cases and legal cases, and he sincerely appears to believe that he is — and/or that his equally-unqualified wife is. This total lack of understanding and expertise has severely injured many people in his congregation, and it will continue to until Doug can step back and admit what he doesn’t know — and the way he’s mislead people based on what he doesn’t know.

Now for the real test. How will Doug react to being informed that he spread misinformation at a HOH meeting? Will he brush any factual errors aside with “well, I forgot, big deal”? Will he claim that I’m making his quotes here up, or taking them out of context? Will he accuse me of slander? Will he use his elders to caution anyone who brings these things up to him, “well, she’s on a crusade to slander us, so you can’t believe anything she said; if you agree with her about anything, even factual things, then you’re an enemy of the church”? Will he insist him lying to his congregation is nobody’s business? That the only legitimate way to bring up concerns is through his panel of hand-selected elders under the specific church rules he himself made up?

Here’s the thing, which I’ve mentioned before: I’m not out to slander Doug, and everything I publish on my blog has to pass the litmus test of whether I could prove it in a court of law. Because I’m putting my name on this. I’m hanging myself out there for potential retaliation, and given the number of people I’ve talked to who are scared of Doug retaliating if they speak up, it seems like a legitimate concern. I know I need to have my ducks in a row. I do not always reveal my sources or discuss how I know things, or even, in some cases where I’m deliberately vague, what exactly I’m referring to. I need to keep my sources safe. And I need to keep myself safe. And the only way I can do that for sure is by telling the truth.

And, unlike Doug, I welcome constructive criticism if something I’ve written is factually inaccurate, even a little bit. So please contact me if that’s the case.

Invocation

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There is a Trinity Reformed Church Head of Household (HoH) meeting tonight covering the way the church handled Jamin Fiasco 2.0, following up a similar meeting put on by Christ Church about the Steven Sitler and Jamin 1.0 situations a couple of weeks back. What I heard coming out of the first meeting wasn’t the greatest, to put it mildly. And I think that we — “we” being humans in general, regardless of religious or political affiliation — have a duty to be judicious in the way we speak of others, in that we should do some solid investigation before we accept rumors or even official correspondence as truth. I regularly get tips from people who suggest I should check this or that story out, and I do… which means that of all the stories I’m told about tragic misjudgment on the parts of leadership within the CREC, I publish only a very small fraction. This is because I can’t verify the story, because (most often) the people involved don’t want their stories going public, or potentially even because I have a day job and limited time — sorting out this stuff gets me zero dollars.

I would hope that those sitting in the meeting today would similarly do their research, both before and after. Ask hard questions. Questions like “can I have access to the financial records and verify that these cases were not influenced in any way by money?” Questions like “why are people in our congregation and across the country getting contacted by the elders and pastors of CC and TRC when they post something of Natalie’s on social media?” Questions like “why is the official line from TRC and CC that Natalie was healthier in 2006 than now, when she tried to kill herself twice in 2006?” Questions like “what specifically are you accusing Natalie of lying about? Specifically?” Hard questions like that. Questions that would be hard for leadership to avoid answering. Then, fact-check the answers. If you need help with this, please contact me; I’d be happy to point you to public records or other resources.

Because gossip is worst of all when handed down by church leadership. It should never be your job to sandpaper your conscience to the point that you can sit in church comfortably. If your leaders speak the truth, they will not mind hard questions. If your leaders speak the truth, they will not mind you verifying it on your own time.

Addendum: I’m putting together an outline of what was said in these meetings, and it would be helpful, in the interest of getting everything totally accurate, if anyone wants to contribute recordings, official or otherwise, of the contents. To that end, listening to the entire recording would obviously be more accurate than isolated quotes. I will absolutely be checking with anyone named in the recordings before mentioning them publicly.

The Free Speech Mockery

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Ironically or not, Doug Wilson has been recently promoting a “documentary” about free speech, heavily featuring interviews with himself, if the trailer is representative. Specifically, about how your right to free speech is being threatened by people who don’t like you saying things that make them feel all persecuted.

I hope Doug was looking in a mirror when he described this scenario.

Because never in my life have I seen any group of people so quick to jump on those who say the “wrong” thing as Doug’s supporters in the CREC. Or post the “wrong” article. I’ve read emails — not all of them directed at me — from any number of people stating that nobody (except Doug, obviously!) should be talking about the way the CREC handles abuse. One woman I know shared a letter written by someone who was vaguely threatening to get her fired because she’d posted Natalie’s blogs on Facebook. People who are no longer even attending Christ Church and Trinity are being called the enemy (or “Orcs”) because they’re posting Natalie’s blogs on Facebook. This isn’t the first time this has happened in the CREC — Emeth Hesed writes about how her pastor showed up at her house at 11:30 pm and stayed for three hours lecturing her because she’d written a blog post he didn’t like.

If you attend Christ Church or Trinity, and you don’t believe me, try it. Try supportively re-posting Natalie’s most recent post and see what happens. See how fast your pastors/elders/deacons (or their wives) come out of the woodwork and strongly recommend that you take down the post and/or issue a public apology, on (insinuated, probably never explicitly stated) pain of losing your “member in good standing” status.

Now, let’s take a step back — I get the rationale behind not posting things publicly. Within church government, the theory goes, you’re supposed to take your concerns to the person in question first. If he doesn’t listen, you take another person to confront him. If that doesn’t work, you bring it up before the assembly. That way, it doesn’t get all messy and public.

The problem with this line of thinking: we’ve gone through all these stages and then some. Many, many people tried speaking with the pastors and elders about the way abuse was handled in the church before they realized that wasn’t going anywhere. Then they tried speaking more broadly within the church, tried speaking before the assembly. But that doesn’t exactly work if you’re being forced out of the assembly and labeled a malcontent, a troublemaker, for speaking up.

How in the world do you pull a “go to your brother and confront him” when your mouth is taped shut? When you’re told “you don’t know the whole story” and sent on your way?

Also: why would anyone be required to keep controversy out of the public eye when Doug Wilson’s whole persona is built around flinging controversy into the public eye? Including in this specific case?

Natalie’s latest post, by the way, is not about spreading gossip. On the contrary. It’s about correcting false gossip — the false gossip Doug Wilson spread when he told a packed-out meeting that Gary Greenfield, Natalie’s father, was abusive to his family to the point that it prevented the church from doing more to help Natalie (that’s Doug’s logic and he’s sticking to it — never mind that if in actuality, Natalie was straight-up surrounded by abusive people, all the more reason for the church to get involved and provide her with support). Nancy Wilson (Doug’s wife) had already stated this publicly on her blog back on October 20, informing commenters that part of the story Natalie wasn’t telling had to do with why Gary had been “suspended from the Supper.” Shortly thereafter, after a multitude of deleted comments made by people trying to set the record straight, she expounds on this by stating “we have gone through our minutes and records and this is what happened: Gary was suspended from the Supper (one step before excommunication) for his abusive mistreatment of his family.” Then she closed the comments.

Who is accusing Gary Greenfield of being abusive? Doug specifically stated that “the way Gary treated his family was every bit as bad as the way Jamin treated [his ex-wife].” This is just plain absurd. Gary’s entire family — you know, the family Doug claimed was being so terribly abused — has gone on record defending him and stating this is major hyperbole, to put it mildly. And you know, I can easily imagine that during the scenario ten years ago, in the middle of a divorce and a family finding out that their daughter had been abused under their roof, things got a little heated. I have no doubt Gary yelled and acted out of character. He’s admitted as much. But that’s pretty normal behavior when human relationships get that messy. And the fact that Doug would cling to this in the face of Gary’s family correcting the record is strange, to put it mildly. The fact that Doug would use this to downplay Jamin Wight’s “sexual behavior” (Doug’s words) with Natalie is even more strange.

Doug Wilson may be a good counselor in some scenarios. I’m sure he is, in fact — I believe the people who tell me he’s helped them. But I also know that he is not remotely qualified to pass judgement on the legal ins and outs of abusive situations. He makes it more obvious every day. He also has proven that at least in these cases, he does not understand human behavior, human emotion or the way humans heal from abuse. And that is particularly risky in a congregation that implicitly forbids widespread discussion about how abuse needs to be handled.

For Shame

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When Doug Wilson threatened to publish Natalie’s journal in a private email written September 28, he was doing something that he and many of his defenders have being doing for a decade and have since expanded on: attempted to shame her, attempted to vilify her, and attempted to insinuate that her current testimony is erroneous because she was, at one point, infatuated with the man who abused her. Or, alternately, because at one point, she believed the things Doug now believes about (many) abuse victims — namely, that they are to blame for their own abuse.

Shame is something church leaders have been using to invalidate the voices of those who criticize them since before Jesus called the Pharisees a den of vipers, whitewashed tombs, hypocrites, profiteers of religiosity, profaners of the temple who used God to make money from the pious.

ShameThe church leaders of the day knew well that “cursed is the man that hangs from the tree,” and they knew that the public nakedness and torture of the man who had opposed them would make him vulnerable, human, pitiful — nothing at all like a prophet or messiah was supposed to look. Nudity was particularly disgraceful in Jewish culture, and when he was hung up stripped for the world to see, the message was clear: here is your so-called holy man, humiliated. No holy man with the true words of God, with true power, would allow himself to be so ritualistically shamed. But, as it is written, he scorned this shame, because shame had no hold on him, no claim on him.

So remember, the attempt to publicly strip and humiliate says less about the testimony about the person being humiliated than it does about the person intent on this crucifixion.

And it is telling that Doug Wilson is attempting to crucify another in order to distance himself from questions about his own sins.

Doug has communicated in public, and also in private with Natalie, about things he has in his possession, specifically court records, claiming that she’s painting a one-sided picture that is “misleading and false.” Again, no specific mention of what is misleading and false; no attempt to detail what relevant legal material Natalie is leaving out of her public account. Even in private conversations to people he counseled and claims to be “protecting,” Doug can’t put his finger on what these legal details are.

And yet there are multiple people who say things like “I know things about this case that the general public doesn’t know,” insinuating that, in fact, Doug has told them things. Strange, given his inability to communicate these details to the actual relevant parties.

And I believe this is because Doug knows that, in actuality, there is no legally relevant material that Natalie is leaving out of her public account. Certainly there is none that he has shared with her.

The only legally relevant questions in reviewing the case is, 1. whether or not consent could be given by Natalie or her parents that would make what Jamin did not a crime (answer: no) and 2. whether Doug therefore had the authority to try to keep the case out of the courts and/or argue for leniency for Jamin (answer: no).

Doug’s repeated references to some top-secret thing that nobody knows that would change everyone’s minds is bizarre, to put it mildly. If Doug has information about the case that he kept from the courts, and, for example, Natalie’s parents are somehow legally to blame (he has said they are not, stating that what they did was not a crime) then he has a legal duty to tell the court. If, however, what he is talking about is not legally relevant, then why even mention it? Why insinuate that Natalie and her parents invited her rape, and pretend that this insinuation is all for the greater good, alluded to but not overtly said because Doug is such a great pastor and protector? In any case, the question Doug’s critics are asking isn’t “did everyone but Jamin do everything perfectly and would they do it just the same way given a second chance?” The question is “Did Doug Wilson overstep his pastoral authority by wrangling to keep this case from going to trial?” and “is he distracting us from this question by claiming or insinuating that the Greenfields created an environment where abuse could flourish?”

I agree, creating an environment where abuse can flourish is terrible. That’s why everyone is asking that Doug consider how his church handles abuse. That’s why there’s now a CREC inquiry into this very matter. That’s why other complementarians such as John Piper — or his lead pastor — have recently come out very strongly and very distinctly against abuse, stating clearly that putting the blame on the victim, or asking what sin they committed in the process, is the worst thing you can do in these situations.

So what did Doug detail in his September 28 letter to Natalie, if he couldn’t put his finger on anything she’d lied about? He wrote about embarrassing information that would humiliate her if it somehow leaked. Doug writes, “we have access to the love letters/journals that you wrote that the court reviewed and then sealed… it is not really possible to dig up just half the story. The rest of it is going to want to come up too. One of the official court documents says about some of the sealed evidence, that ‘those documents contain highly intimate and potentially embarrassing facts or statements, the publication of which would be highly objectionable to reasonable persons.’”

Those pesky stories with a mind of their own, banging against the outer walls of the manila folders Doug has kept for a decade.

Now, remember: Natalie is not Jamin’s only victim. A more recent victim made a public statement to the court during Jamin’s sentencing that you can listen to here regarding his felony strangulation of her. This most recent victim stated that she was not seeking vengeance for Jamin’s crimes, but wished that “the truth will be known about what he has done, that he will truly understand the damage he has caused, and that he will not be permitted to hurt anybody else.” She thanks friends for helping rescue her, the same families who left the church because of how her abuse case was handled. She speaks of emotional damage, the long-term psychological effects of her abuse and the help provided to her by those who told her that, contrary to what Jamin had told her, she was lovely, she was worth something, and the way he was treating her was not OK.

This is a full-grown woman. Her maturity did not prevent her from being a victim of Jamin’s abuse. Her maturity did not prevent her from believing the lies Jamin told her about herself. Her love for him did not prevent him from abusing her.

You would not — I pray you would not — look at this woman and say, “you are at least partially to blame for the fact that he strangled you, because you married him.” You would not say — I pray you would not — “you pushed his buttons, so you’re at least partially to blame here.” That would obviously be revolting.

This woman has suffered the effects of the choice in who she married and probably will on some level for the rest of her life — she doesn’t need to be dragged through the mud of public shame for speaking up and taking legal action against the man who abused her. We would never tap our chins and say, you know, we just don’t know the details of some letters she wrote to him once; we don’t have the elder minutes detailing detached men talking about her abuse. So we gotta hold off on passing judgment on this situation.

If Natalie’s case hadn’t been mangled so badly by pastoral meddling, Jamin would have potentially have been in jail longer or would have been disciplined more harshly within his own community, which would have made it harder for him to hurt another woman. Remember that, the next time you see someone demurring about Jamin’s crimes and pretending that the church handled Jamin Fiasco 1.0 so well that they’re guiltless of the fact that he snookered them a second time in Jamin Fiasco 2.0.

New Deplorable 7 copy

Click on image for one sample of the comments made about Natalie by Doug Wilson’s supporters.

So why is Natalie being drug through the mud for this? Why — why the hell — are Doug’s supporters writing reams upon reams of comments on Doug’s blog speculating about Natalie seducing Jamin as a 14-year-old and bringing this and other kinds of abuse upon herself? Jamin has been a repeat offender and has been described by the court as having a “high risk to reoffend.” He’s committed perjury. So why disbelieve Natalie’s words about him, especially when she describes his behavior to her in much the same terms as his most recent victim did? Why all the emphasis on “well, we don’t know all the facts, so she was probably to blame as well”? This is, frankly, so disgusting I feel physically ill reading it, and should give anyone wanting to send his or her daughters into the halls of Doug’s churches or schools serious pause. If Doug’s supporters are saying this about such a clear-cut abuser, what do you think they’d say if it was your 14-year-old daughter being abused? Especially by a man who didn’t have a count of felony strangulation to his name? What do you imagine they would do? A crowd of men who describe a repeat abuser in this way is not safe.

And it does not matter how many people in Doug Wilson’s community are good, kind and compassionate if the people defining and setting the tone for the way abuse is handled in this community are saying these things — dwelling on details that have no legal relevance whatsoever, designed to shame Natalie and anyone else who speaks up about the mishandling of abuse in the church. Claiming that even saying abuse was mishandled is “slander.” Pretending that the people leaving the church over the way abuse is handled are malcontents or don’t even exist. Refusing to openly address how abuse is handled, and instead collapsing onto the virtual fainting couch of faux-persecution, gasping out “calumny!” and popping up again to crow “bring me my Laphroaig; someone disagrees with me!”

Chalk that up to one more thing Doug has ruined for me: my favorite Scotch. For shame, Doug. Is nothing sacred?

The Counselor of Child Molesters

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In a recent blog post, Doug Wilson mentioned something that has already been whispered authoritatively in certain segments of his congregation: as a pastor, he’s counseled child molesters. Plural. Now, Doug has gone to great pains to explain that Jamin Wight was not a child molester, so what other child molester(s) besides Steven Sitler has he counseled as a pastor? And why did said counseling not result in these molesters doing jail time? If, in fact, the molesters already did jail time before they encountered Doug as their pastor, then why has Christ Church not informed the congregation about who else (besides Steven Sitler) should be kept away from the children of the congregation?

I believe more on this will come out in the coming weeks and months. In the meantime, let’s set the record straight on something.

What people are outraged over is not that child molesters in Doug Wilson’s congregation get counseling, even that they get forgiven and can partake in communion. It is beautiful for men and women to move beyond the ingrained, destructive patterns of their lives, if in fact they can. I feel compassion for people of all shades and stripes, as do many who are calling for change in the CREC. What people are outraged over is that counseling is all these molesters appear to be receiving from Doug Wilson and company — and not exactly expert counseling, either. This is not good for current victims or future victims, and it is not good for the abusers, either. Meanwhile, the abused are (at least in many cases) not being offered support — instead, they’re offered condemnation.

But none of this really matters to Doug, because according to Doug Wilson, being a child molester isn’t as bad as having received an abortion. According to Doug, a man who’s molested 16 children is less bad than a woman who aborts a fetus she’s convinced (rightly or wrongly) is not a developed human being because, say, at 8 weeks gestation, it cannot feel pain and in size, shape and neurological development, resembles a tadpole. You don’t have to agree that abortion is Ok to understand that some women do not view early abortion as evil, based on biology and the belief that the soul enters a child along with consciousness, or at a certain stage of development. At the very worst, following Doug’s expressed logic on murder, the sin of an abortive woman who believed abortion was OK would be the manslaughter (not murder, since that requires intent) of a human being that is not yet aware of its own existence. And yet, Doug states that this is a more serious sin than repeated child molestation. Here’s the screenshot:Doug Wilson on abortion

Doug is being pretty cavalier about sex abuse here, whatever he claims to the contrary. Pointing fingers outwards to other people’s sins is bad, he says, and yet this is exactly what he is doing — Doug has never procured an abortion, and never will. But he has helped to keep multiple sex abusers shielded from legal action of any significance, confident in his own abilities as a counselor to ascertain and facilitate repentance in abusers — even though he has a verifiably poor track record in this area.

Last week I visited Bethlehem Baptist Church, well-known as being John Piper’s home church and the location of his seminary. I made a discovery that moved me in light of all the recent hubbub around abusers in the church: taped inside the doors of the women’s bathroom stalls was a flier advertising an abuse hotline number. Other women would answer, the flier noted, noting also that abuse was satanic, and not part of God’s plan for marriage.

Encouraged, I started doing a little more research. I found church statements such as “We, the council of elders at Bethlehem Baptist Church, are resolved to root out all forms of domestic abuse (mental, emotional, physical, and sexual) in our midst.” I found that even firmly patriarchal institutions such as Chalcedon are trying to address the widespread mishandling of abuse in the church. There is a very detailed post from Bethlehem here about what abuse looks like, and how churches should and should not respond to abuse situations. Telling the woman to submit better—and making her feel like she is to blame in some way—is the worse [sic] thing someone could say in that situation,” notes pastor Jason Meyer. “Do not say insensitive, misguided things like, ‘If it doesn’t leave a physical mark, then it is not abuse.’”

These misguided things are precisely the kinds of statements that abused women receive during CREC counseling sessions, along with directions on how they need to forgive as soon as the abuser says he/she is sorry. Even if this happens a dozen or a hundred times in a row. If a woman is married to an abusive man, in all of the cases I’ve heard of coming out of the CREC, she is sent home with her abuser unless there is life-threatening physical violence. And even “life-threatening” is up for interpretation. A man threatening to deploy a shotgun into his brainstem in the presence of his wife is not considered “life-threatening” to her, because he’s not actually pointing the gun at her. It is (or at least was, as of a few years ago) not considered to be something needing professional therapy or physical separation.

Doug Wilson has proven over and over that he is not equipped to counsel men and women in these situations. And I truly believe that his hubris will show over the coming weeks and months — that more mishandled abuse cases will come to light, and for all of them, Doug will say the same thing: he did fine, he handled everything fine, and anyone who says otherwise is persecuting him because she’s a feminist who hates truth and also babies.

Abuse is serious. Sex abuse of children is very, very, very serious. Even the hint of it can change a person “on a cellular level,” as one man said — a claim that actually holds true on an epigenetic level. As a boy, there was a pedophile who watched him, who would call him and whisper things. One day, the pedophile called and said: I know you’re home alone, and I’m coming to get you. The boy, the only child of a working single mother who’d had him at age 17, the only child of a mother who had been sexually abused herself, phoned his uncle and cowered in the corner. The fear he knew then, a child alone in a trailer with a predator lurking nearby, would be with him for the rest of this life. But his uncle came, his uncle rescued him. Later, his uncle tracked the pedophile down, he and the father of girl the pedophile had abused. They dragged him off into the woods, because in that time, in that place, the lawmen were almost nonexistent, and muscle was the law.

Sex abuse and abortion are related. If you want to stop abortion, take measures that will prevent women you actually know from getting pregnant by men who should not be anywhere near their offspring — take a hard and fast line to stop sex abuse and domestic abuse in your churches. Stop giving men power to get away with a “sorry” while the women bear the shame, or the children. And stop looking where Doug Wilson is pointing, which is away from himself, towards The Greatest Evil, a sin that he is physically incapable of committing.

The dangers of keeping things in the church

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I’m currently in The Hague, the international seat of justice for war crimes in former Yugoslavia — which were not held in former Yugoslavia in part due to the fact that “concepts of law and justice are very confusing for people living under the influences of propaganda.” Years ago, some were pushing for the pope to answer in The Hague for the widespread cover-up of sexual abuse in the church. Why would a pope answer for crimes of this nature in a secular court instead of a church court? Because anytime one high-ranking person dictates how a private court operates, and can more or less control the flow of information to a court or tribunal, as well as decide the punishments meted out, that court or tribunal is bound to be skewed. This should be obvious.

Peace The Hague

That’s why we have secular courts of law in the first place, with established rules and established laws. That’s why, in the United States, if a prosecutor for one district or county is on trial, it’s rescinded to another district in the interest of court neutrality. If you’re being fair, you don’t want a man being “prosecuted” by his cronies.

I’ve been hearing a whole lot about why people should not discuss sex abuse cases and domestic abuse cases within the CREC. I’ve heard things like — in defense of Steven Sitler being sexually stimulated by his infant son — “every man can be sexually stimulated by a kid sitting on his lap or being in the same room, so what’s the big deal?” though this obviously does not speak well for the men this CREC woman knows. I’ve heard things like “Natalie just needs to accept that God wanted her to be sexually abused and figure out the lesson she needs to learn from this,” which makes God out to be a psychopath — no loving father says, “hey, daughter of mine, I’ve scheduled for you to be raped by an upstanding young man; I want you to think hard about the lessons I’m teaching you in doing this.”

I’ve heard things like “if you’re not a CREC member, or a member of a similar church in good standing, then what you say doesn’t matter anyway,” because, clearly, the definition of reality = if the person talking about it is a CREC member. At this point, I know the stories of close to a hundred people who have left the CREC because they experienced abuse within the church, or saw abuse within the church and were rebuked repeatedly for trying to speak up about it. Most of them are not willing to talk about their experiences yet, especially after witnessing how Natalie has been treated for talking. But that is beginning to change.

Once these people leave, they start paying attention to why they didn’t catch on sooner. The gender theology of the CREC is very telling in these circumstances. If, without the correct application of Christian contrition, as Doug Wilson claims, men tend to be violent rapists at heart (or gay, which is obviously worse), and women tend to be seducers of men (or gay, which is obviously worse), then why be surprised if there are a variety of abuse cases in the church? Why be surprised if women are battered a little bit by their husbands? Why bother treating that any differently than a disagreement about who washes the dishes?

The problem with this gender theology: non-Christian men (or all the ones I know) are kind, generous, and protective of women and children. I grew up thinking that the non-Christian world was a pretty dangerous place, but once I got into it, started traveling the world on my own, started talking to people on my own, I realized I was wrong. Without Christ, men are not just rapist pedophiles out to beat women up — so the answer to being a rapist pedophile or a wife beater is probably not “more Bible verses as told by your pastor.” There’s a lot more to it than that. Without Christianity, men can be, and are, amazing human beings. And, of course, many men within the CREC are as well. I know some — I know some really, really wonderful men and women who attend CREC churches.

But the nice people don’t change the fact that I know not-so-nice people who attend or attended CREC churches. I’ll be honest: all of the most pushy guys I’ve known personally — the kind who wouldn’t take “no” seriously, the kind who wouldn’t take repeated rebuffs seriously — attended CREC churches at some point or another. I’ve said this before, but the theology of the CREC enables men to be secure in a certain measure of asshole-ness — just look at the way their Presiding Minister talks about non-Christian women, about how men “dream of being rapists” and how women dream of being raped. Add to this that the theology of the CREC enables men to put part of the blame of their actions on other people — those unsubmissive wives, those seductive women, their negligent parents (see, for example, all of Doug Wilson’s responses about the nature of Jamin Wight’s crimes). Lastly, the theology of the CREC allows these men, in many, many, many cases that I guarantee most of CREC has never even heard of, to keep their crimes in-house, behind closed doors. Often, in spite of all of the Bible verses quoted to them, these men reoffend — particularly where they’re sent home with the wives they’re physically abusing.

Several years ago, my ex-husband admitted, on a recording, that he had abused the internal church process to his benefit and my detriment. He is a lawyer normally prone to litigious behavior, and he went to the churches — churches neither of us even attended with any regularity — instead of the courts because he knew that within the churches, he could get away with more. Here is the transcript, where K is me, and S is my ex-husband (off-topic: when you start transcribing conversations, you really notice how few complete sentences people speak):

K: OK… well, like, would you admit… that you, that you knowingly and deliberately manipulated the process of, like, church discipline?

S: Well, here’s what I would admit: when I say I manipulated it, in terms of, I sinned in the process, I used the process sinfully, but I wasn’t — during the process, like I would confess it, I would get angry…

K: But, here’s thing: you were doing research [to give to the pastors by hacking email and so on]. You were looking for anything and everything; you were setting everything up.

S: Well, yeah, yeah, yeah… I want to discuss how I abused the church process.

K: But the thing is, I don’t know how that can be prevented, because you were so good at it — that even though I was commenting on that [the unfairness of what was going on] to them [the pastors of the various churches involved], they totally disregarded it.

S: … Here’s an example. Had there been somebody … who — you didn’t have a well-placed advocate in the church system.

K: Yeah, I know. If I did, the people that I did have, you tried to take down, you tried to separate me from the people who would be on my side.

S: Right. That’s the whole point of having, that’s what happens in the criminal world; the reason that there’s a victim’s advocate is because there are very clever people that, that engineer witness testimony. All the time.

K: The process, like the church discipline process, is not nearly that structured. Like… it doesn’t have due process —

S: Here’s the thing, ‘cause this is, this is how I did it… I was only able to be effective because what I did, one of the first things I did is to make sure that the process was, I had Evan [Wilson] meet with Doug [Wilson]. Evan’s more intellectual process, he’s there but he’s slower, he’s much more — so then he met with Doug, Doug’s fast, systematic, procedural, judicial part of it, so when they partnered, they were, collectively — and then Jim [Wilson] got involved; it had the unity of all of them…

K: If somebody like you can do that, can manipulate —

S: I tell you the truth, to do what I did, I would imagine, is strikingly rare. To, uh, from the inside.

K: Yeah. Do you know how horrible that makes me feel? That I’m the one in a million person that got totally screwed over by the system?

S: But you knew.

K: And nobody believed me.

S: You knew I was positioned to do that, that I was capable —

K: No, I didn’t. I didn’t know you were that much of a jerk. I didn’t know you would use God to, to stomp on me.

Now, let it be known, if the church discipline process could get its act together and actually stop abuse (as in, immediately encourage battered or frightened women to leave their husbands, even if from a distance the elders think the abuse is “not that bad” and “they’ve seen worse”; immediately demand that any physical discipline of children err on the side of grace and caution; and immediately demand that sexual abusers be taken to jail after a secular trial in which “repentant” perps plead guilty to all of their crimes), that would be great. I’ve contributed to trying to get the harsh spanking present in various CREC churches addressed within the church internally.

Let’s see how it works out. Because I know that at this point, I am not the “one in a million” person who got screwed — even harassed — by a nebulous CREC church discipline process weighted in favor of those in higher positions of authority — men, seminarians, deacons, elders, and those related to them. I’m one of dozens if not hundreds worldwide. And if the church process doesn’t change, there will be hundreds more.

It is not persecution to demand that the smallest and weakest be given an equal voice, be sheltered from abusive men and abusive processes. It is persecution, and worse, to silence the least of these. Jesus saved his harshest words for church leaders who abused their authority; Jesus spoke kindly to women the rest of society despised. Not the other way around, as Doug Wilson and some of his followers appear to believe.

Whose side are you on in this matter: Jesus or Doug Wilson? Whose side are you on, the girl being beaten by her pastor father, or her father, because he recites pieties on Sunday? Whose side are you on, the wife being hurt by her husband, or the husband, because he smiles at you and shakes your hand in front of the congregation? If you choose no side, you chose by default, and these atrocities will continue to go on.

If you see a man punching a kid in a park, do you say “well, we don’t know the whole story here, and maybe the kid deserved it”? I sincerely hope not. And I sincerely hope that you see how not doing anything in this situation is, in fact, doing something and sending a very strong message to the kid being punched.

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