Wednesday Word: Abuse
At least five women have come forward to state that they were victims of sexual misconduct by Roy Moore, Republican Senate candidate and Alabama Chief Justice, while they were teenagers and he was an adult. He was also, according to reports, well-known for trying to pick up teenage girls at an Alabama mall, from which he was apparently banned.
“Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter.” – Jim Zeigler, Alabama state auditor, in defense of Roy Moore.
This is the current abuse scandal making its way through the news cycle. A few weeks ago it was Harvey Weinstein. President Trump has openly bragged about how he has treated women in the past. President Bill Clinton was brought up on charges of sexual misconduct. President Kennedy was a womanizer. Comedian CK Louis was recently accused of sexual misconduct, as was Kevin Spacey. The list, unfortunately, goes on and on and on and on and on.
That list knows no party affiliations or boundaries. It infiltrates faith communities, crossing denominational and religious lines. It includes rich and poor alike. It doesn't discriminate by sexual orientation. And, although much lower in numbers, it also crosses gender lines where men are the victims of abuse at the hands of women.
Abuse, sexual or otherwise, is based on power – who has it and who doesn't. And the only way we can begin to curb this problem is to make victims feel safe, to make reporting it normative, to publicly call out and prosecute abusers, to stop using religion and faith as behavioral excuses, and to stop making victims feel responsible for the actions of the abuser.
Our faith tells us we are not to abuse widows or orphans. Our faith calls us to care for and protect the most vulnerable of our society. Our baptismal creed mandates – MANDATES – that we love our neighbors as ourselves and that we respect the dignity of every human being.
Abuse is neither a sign of love or of respect. Preying on vulnerable people in order to satisfy personal urges, or simply because we can, is wrong, illegal, and antichrist.
How much better would we be if our “deeply held religious beliefs” caused us to work for the safety and care of those in vulnerable positions rather than driving us to fight for the right to discriminate and abuse all while hanging the 10 Commandments on a courtroom wall?