PROSELITIZATION OF RELIGION: A RECEPY FOR CHILD ABUSE, TORTURE, RAPE AND GENOCIDE.
Two things led me to write this article, one is a case at the Old Bailey, the oldest Crown Court in London, where I had the pleasure of seeing convicted to 25 years the father and mother of my friend, Miss.M. Miss M. Is a 39 year old woman, who went through a gruelling childhood where she was routinely sexually abused by the father, a New Born Christian and the abuse took place with the knowledge and the help of the mother. Their defence was a string of bible quotes that in their view not only justified such behaviour, but it was sanctioned by God. The other was a recent article I have been following on Newsvine, ‘God hates Morons’.
What comes as apparent from such a case, that during the numerous court hearing one had to control not only one’s temper, but also the overwhelming feeling of nausea that such people generate, is that the sexualisation of children is institutionalized in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Jehovah impregnated a 12 year old girl named Mary at her Batmitzva, and that Christians dare call this Immaculate Conception. Paedophiles (who go Church on Sunday and scream Jesus at the top of their lungs) consider this a good thing. I assert that under English Law, or under any law in the Western World Jehovah should be tried and convicted as a sex offender. The worship of such a pervert should be prohibited as it is quite obviously the root of a culture of child sex abuse, rape, torture, and ultimately Genocide (the latter will be subject of another essay) that sees one in four children in the Western World victims of such practices.
The Bible, the Thora and the Qur’an encourage a casual lack of regard for the right of the child from the outset. Common stories in the three books, like the story of Jehovah approaching Abraham of the desert tribe of the Habiru with an ultimatum “Abraham” he said “Take your little boy to the top of the mountain and slice his throat, do this and your descendants will out-number the grains of sand on the beach.” Abraham showed Jehovah that like the desert from he came, he too was barren, empty and gutless, and in fact clearly showed Jehovah that he was more than willing to sacrifice his own son to a voice. Such a man is worthless, not only he doesn’t care for his own son, but he is more than willing to kill him in the name of his paramount worship to Jehovah.
Extreme violence against children is quite obviously overtly or subconsciously encouraged by the Judeo-Christian religious tradition and dogma all over the world. Solomon, it is alleged, when two women were claiming to be mothers of the same child ruled that the child be divided in half and each should take a piece. Once again we are confronted with a casual disregard for the child. Christians love to celebrate Christmas, as the birth of Jesus Christ, son of Jehovah and yet conveniently choose to ignore that according to their own dogmas, the birth of their Saviour was preceded by a brutal act of infanticide committed by King Herod.
Christianity has an Ace of Hearts in respect to Judaism or Islam in that Christians are taught to practice forgiveness. That makes the whole scenario even more unbearable as it allows paedophiles to get away with almost total impunity.
There is considerable theological, academic, legal, and anecdotal material written about Christianity and Abuse. There is little, though that focuses on the victim’s perspective and subjective experience. To understand that one has to understand how Christian theological teachings impact on the psyche of the child that is being sexually or physically abused and their effects once the child becomes an adult; in this respect they are truly insidious. The following themes constitute the basis of the Christian Dogma:
- The value of Suffering and self-sacrifice (which is necessary for salvation).
- The value placed on obedience to authority figures: male God, male ‘Headship’, female submission, Honour your Father and Mother, etc.
- The necessity of remaining sexually pure: no sex before marriage
- The virtue of forgiveness and repentance.
- God will protect you
- Suffering and self-sacrifice is necessary for salvation.
‘Jesus died on the Cross to save us’ is the lynchpin of the whole Christian indoctrination process. Jesus suffering was redemptive therefore ours will be. This are three very insidious messages here that play in the subconscious of Christian Believers:
- We should not therefore reject suffering; indeed in fact we should suffer.
- Suffering is good.
- To be of value we should sacrifice ourselves.
These beliefs inculcated in children since birth shape their acceptance to abuse, and are in a perverse way, a form of abuse in themselves, as children have no defence against the imposition of such beliefs by their parents.
The central image of Christ on the Cross as a saviour of the world communicates unequivocally that suffering is redemptive. If the “best person that ever lived” gave his life for others, then to be of value we should likewise sacrifice ourselves. Any sense that we have a right to cater for our own needs is in conflict with being a faithful follower of Jesus. Furthermore this insidious doctrine sais: ‘every theory of atonement commands the suffering of the disciple’. For the Christian, and more so for the extreme right wing New Born Christian the goal is to be like Jesus – such an identification with the figure of Christ manifests first and foremost as an obedient willingness to endure pain.
It is not uncommon to find survivors of sexual and violent abusive behaviour believing that they have no rights to protection – that what they suffered as children or adolescents is somehow good not bad. Carrying one’s Cross is how the abuse is justified throughout childhood. Christian child and adult survivors of sexual and violent abuse make excellent victims, dying (suffering) so others might live, and believing that this is what a good Christian ought to do. The brainwashing is so pervasive and insidious as children that they will continue to believe this as adults, and such beliefs comes from the Christian message to serve, to obey and to suffer as all in the end lead to salvation and redemption. A message common to all Religions, as in reality Religion isn’t about faith it’s about control.
This glorification of suffering encourages victims who are being abused to be more concerned about their victimizers than about themselves. This is evident in child abuse where children try to protect their, usually, male abusers; in domestic violence where women feel guilty about reporting their abusers, in clergy related cases, like the recent scandals in the Catholic Church, or the many ongoing cases of abuse, rape and murder committed by Evangelical New Born Christians, and Catholic missionaries in Africa, and Latin America that have come recently to light. Here too it is common to see that male, women or children victims of abuse will do anything to protect the priests and the respective Churches and so on.
Serving others before self is a concept that is indoctrinated and stamped in the subconscious of children that are born to practicing religious households from the outset. The very act of Baptism committed on the child in Catholic/Christian households or the circumcision of the male Jewish or Muslim child is in effect the very first form of child abuse. Females in these households are taught to obey and serve the males around them.
“Jesus then rose from death triumphant, victorious”. The allegory of the Christian common view that response to suffering should be patience as by being patient something good will come of it. The whole concept of Christian suffering, of the suffering of Jesus to be more precise, is that it has a ‘purpose’. What is that ‘purpose’, well aside from a series of meaningless quotes from the Bible no Christian can really tell.
Any rational human being with a minimum of intellect cannot accept such views. Victimization never leads to triumph. It can lead to extended pain and extensive mental imbalance if it not fought or refused. It will lead almost inevitably to the destruction of the human spirit through the death of the person’s sense of power and self-worth, dignity, creativity, and self-assurance. It can lead to death through depression and suicide.
Many Christians victim of abuse, and Miss M was no exception, believed they had to suffer. Some were unclear as to why, but that overall that what they suffered seemed the right thing, as they were ‘bad’, within the contest of their respective families faith. If you are ‘bad’ then suffering is an understandable repercussion! This feeling of ‘badness’ came from being abused; but in the Christian woman/child this is felt as sin. Being abused means that you are ‘bad’, therefore ‘bad’ girls and boys are sinners – bad and sinners often meaning the same thing.
Another Christian victim of abuse, a woman, said: ‘it has always been my firm conviction that you are not born sinful, but that someone had to plant the seed of sin deep inside you’. Evidently the reference to the sexual violation is clear. This belief in Christian indoctrinated women and men victims of sexual abuse as children is far more common than one imagines, and the whole thing is further compounded, especially in women, by the patriarchal beliefs that girls and women are “naturally sinful” by nature, inheriting the myth of Eve who tempted Adam in the Garden of Eden. In fact it is a common misnomer uttered by members of Christian Fundamentalists Churches, and also a theological assumption in main stream churches, Catholics, Protestant, Anglican, etc; that women or girls are the main cause of their own abuse. A theology that doesn’t quite make sense, especially in the light of the many abuses that have come to light in the Catholic Church, since many boys are sexually raped and abused. It does ‘fit’ if one sees, by the study of individual case files how the abused boys feel emasculated following the abuse. The sense of personal guilt and shame of the abused, whether male or female, makes it so that victims pray to God to to purify themselves from their essential sinfulness and actually give thanks to the abuser for having brought on them the rightful chastisement of God, in this case the sexual act in itself, to show how inherently sinful they are.
Furthermore, as Christian children are taught that Jesus did not complain about his suffering, indeed he acquiesced, neither should they, as this is the right and Christian thing to do. This insidious form of indoctrination consequentially brings on the concept of the identification by the victim of Christ’s suffering and that will inevitably numb any willingness to confront violence and abuse.
Paradoxically the acceptance of suffering could well save the life of the victim, and here Christian Theology safeguards as well as numbs. It is Un-Christian to complain, and this translates as un-Christian to report the abuse or violence to Professionals or anyone outside the family or the clan. This is evident in the response of both families and Christian communities when a victim does report. It is seen as un-Christian, disloyal, a betrayal and wrong not right! In one Church in Birmingham, victims were spat on and insulted by the rest of the Congregation for reporting the priest of sexually abusing them. Victims of abuse have stated in police reports that their Pastor told them not to report, as it says in the Bible that if you have anything against your brother it should be dealt within the community – you must not go to court or the police, meaning the secular agencies. Neither must you seek therapy, since God and prayer will heal you. These arguments are extremely strong within the fundamentalist Evangelical, Pentecostal, Baptist Fellowships or House Churches.
Did the Christian God make sacred suffering? Does he sanction child abuse by allowing ‘his’ son to be killed on the Cross? A worrisome number of victims of sexual and violent child abuse within the Christian communities actually believe this to be so, ‘If he didn’t save Jesus he’s not going to save me.’
There is a strong Christian (Judaism and Islam as well) message that the adult is not to be questioned; Honour thy Father and Mother. Now in a normal family that wouldn’t be a problem, however in a discordant family such indoctrination stifles the ability of the child to challenge, question, or report their abuse experience. Suffering being already a ‘Christian virtue’ is then compounded by the silence of the victim. The whole foundation of this attitude to authority, which the Church has developed since the fall of the Roman Empire, has been established in the anthropomorphic concept of the Christian deity being a male and in the consequent human relationship with God.
In Christian (Jewish or Islamic) theology the honouring of both mother and father, in reality concentrates on the father, deemed the head of the household and in most cases of abuse, the abuser. The mother must obey the father. This special role is a direct result of the belief that God is male. For most victims of abuse this image is horrific: “I was taught that God was my father in Heaven and that my Father was God on Earth.” Miss. M during her cross-examination at trial.
One doesn’t need to be a psychiatrist to understand that victims of child abuse from religious households come to perceive God as the abuser – Just like her/his father. These are not rational or articulated thoughts by the victims but rather subliminal messages absorbed over time in a Christian home, particularly in the more fundamentalist and therefore ignorant and bigoted Christian homes where the headship of the male is paramount.
A male God teaches female children that males are superior to females, that they are more God-like than women. Male children are taught this legacy from the outset. For male victims of abuse this is compounded by the thought that they are somehow like a ‘female’ in being a victim, and therefore not powerful or God-like; the fact that Jesus was a victim doesn’t help either gender in reality. The trauma is a lifelong experience.
Catholic children and adult survivors of abuse have had to deal with the additional misogyny where the headship of the male is taken much further. In the Catholic Church (the largest Christian fellowship on the planet), only males can be priests, meaning that the male body (not the mind) is a true reflection of God and that only the man/God can inseminate (with a spiritual penis) Christianity into the faithful. Within Catholic Christianity it isn’t difficult to believe, given this premise, that Mass for some (and I wish to emphasise SOME!) is essentially a sexual act. To my horror, I discovered this reading an article in a Catholic newspaper (l’Osservatore Romano, November 5th, 1995). The author, who doesn’t identify himself, but is definitely a Catholic priest, wants to clarify why women cannot be priest. He says, “in Christ, God penetrates the world to seed a new creation – his bride, the Church. During the Mass the (male) priest allows Christ to use him, to ‘penetrate’ his creation (the congregation) once more – nourishing his bride with his own flesh and blood. The metaphor in such a statement is nightmarish.
This in female victims translates in:
- Fear of God who, with a penis has the potential to abuse them also.
- Fear of priests who just like their male abusers (if not the abuser themselves) have the potential to abuse them. They don’t trust other women who are really misbegotten males (St.Augustine). Fear of speaking to mother of the abuse, especially when the mother is helping in the abuse, either by ignoring it, or by justifying it.
- The beliefs that only men have the skills to help them, since they are ‘man/God’ figures and yet because of that they too can’t be trusted.
- Developing a sense of endless guilt, a feeling of self-rejection as they feel that they got what they deserve because of the natural sinfulness of the woman.
While in male victims this translates in:
- A profound crisis of identity as they cannot see themselves as man/God, as they like women are victims. A profound feeling of inferiority and almost non-existent self esteem.
- A complete lack of trust in women as they are inferior and don’t have the physical attributes (penis) of the man/God.
- A lack of trust in the man/God figure as they see in it the abuser.
- A feeling of sexual inadequacy with women, as they feel their man/God masculinity taken away from them, and a feeling of self hate as they feel responsible for being so weak and sinful that God has punished them for their inherent unworthiness to have taken his shape as man/God.
- Furthermore the hidden trauma that the abuse of males is in most cases an homosexual act, that further compounds that feeling of self-guilt as that is a sin in itself.
One of the most controlling aspects of Christian indoctrination surrounds the issue of purity and all that it entails. The shame of sexual violation is pervasive in both male and females. Shame is linked with self-blame. Girls are brought up to keep their virginity intact, while boys are taught to be strong therefore both feel guilty for ‘allowing’ their respective violation.
The suffering that follows the rape is not just physical but spiritual and metaphysical. The importance placed on virginity by Christian doctrine makes women especially vulnerable after such an event. ‘Dirty and sinful’ is a common feeling among victims, and their confusion is deep.
However, of all the Christian doctrines the most insidious is the ‘concept of forgiveness’. There is no discussion, one must forgive! As it is promulgated this forgiveness has to be ‘unconditional’. One has to forgive no matter what. Though this doctrine of Christian forgiveness isn’t exactly black or white, as if one reads with attention their book, the Bible (In my opinion one of the most mentally damaging books in history), one finds in Luke: 1-3 a passage that actually sais: “if your brother does something wrong, reprove him, and if he is sorry (or repents, in some translations) forgive him”. Nevertheless, accepted Christian theology tends to ignore this and goes for unconditional forgiveness. Christian children and adults are taught (erroneously) to forgive without repentance from their transgressors, and if they cannot they become the sinners. Once a child or adult sais that he/she has been abused the peer pressure is applied to forget and forgive. Why?
Two main reasons can be identified:
1) The person who firstly hears the plight of the victim, in most cases a close relative, simply doesn’t want to hear such a thing because it is too horrible to acknowledge, brings to the surface a feeling of personal responsibility, and puts into question the very dogmas of the faith.
2) The Churches and their representatives simply deny at first, and then if the abuser is a priest or a pastor close ranks, create a wall of silence, and begin to focus in a negative way on the victim.
So what we see is the Church, the family, the friends, the clan all ganging up on the victim, leaving her/he alone to cope with the trauma, the self-guilt and all consequences of the abuse. Therefore Sexual abuse becomes a social collective exercise in hypocrisy!
What the victims are left to cope with can be summed up as follows:
1) Human Experience
Mum will punish me, Dad will punish me
I will go to hell, Even God hates me
2) Human Experience
I’ll never trust men/women again
I can’t trust God – He’ll let me down too
3) Human Experience
Why is this happening to me? Why me?
Where is God? Why doesn’t he stop it? He has the power to stop it!
4) Human Experience
My abuser is stronger than me
God is bigger – Divine – greater than me. He has control over my life, can do anything he wants with/to me. He is God!
5) Human Experience
Everyone thinks it was my fault. I am dirty, horrible!
I have sinned sexually – I must go to confession
6) Human Experience
I allowed this to happen, I temped him/her.
I feel anger, bitterness, hatred, I can’t forgive. I am the temptress, I am the sinner.
7) Human Experience
They all think I am mad, that I am liar!
The ‘ultimate sin’! Now I will burn in hell.
The above shows how feelings permeate both realms and make for a cocktail of trauma that is not seen in secular survivors of sexual child abuse.
As Jennifer Manlowe says, ‘religious language which promotes sacred victims such as Jesus Christ, promotes the concept of a sole male authority in the home, confuses the issues of Church vs. State is an extremely dangerous discourse because it spiritualizes political and social passivity’. A passivity that all religions need, in greater or smaller extents to exercise their social and political control over the masses.
To quote an infamous Christian: “The masses of the people will more easily fall to a big lie than to a small one”. Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf.