Southern Baptist Church – another US pillar rocked

Church cover-up of sexual abuse is hardly new given the relentless stream of accusations against RC priests and others in recent decades. What is noteworthy about the ‘apocalypse’, as one former adherent described it, which has hit the Southern Baptist Church this week as a report was published describing the mishandling of sexual abuse allegations, is that it is the largest Protestant and second-largest Christian denomination in the USA. So a not insignificant part of American culture.

  It may be the USA Pluto Return is upending the sewers, triggered for some reason by the recent Lunar Eclipse. The Eclipse was certainly activating the Southern Baptist chart, 12 May 1845, with its Taurus Sun Venus South Node (conjunct Algol) and square Neptune Saturn in Aquarius. And it is on its Saturn Return.

 The report detailed charges of deception, stonewalling, and intimidation and vilification of victims and those calling for reform. The leaders of the denomination used the Bible and spiritual language as weapons against the innocent victims. One leader said the claims of abuse survivors were a “satanic scheme to completely distract us from evangelism.” Two survivors of sexual abuse who became advocates for victims were written off as “the devil being temporarily successful.”

 One survivor said her experiences ‘left a legacy of hate’ and she referred to it as ‘soul murder.’

 Southern Baptist churches are evangelical in doctrine and practice, emphasizing the significance of the individual conversion experience, which is affirmed by the person having complete immersion in water.

  The SBC chart is facing the shocking disclosures as tr Uranus is conjunct the Mercury in Taurus exactly now and moving on to conjunct the Taurus Venus Sun in 2023 plus the Eclipse effect – another organisation in for a rocky ride, and not before time.

49 thoughts on “Southern Baptist Church – another US pillar rocked

  1. Unless you have been abused, you cannot realise the hurdles that have to be overcome, especially from family and friends. They often perceive the victim as someone who has to be forgiven, just for raking it up. Liz, you do not have a clue!

    • I am getting used to being wifully misunderstood – no matter I can take it.

      All emotion is within the mind of the person experiencing the emotion. What another person experiences is therefore largely irrelevant except and insofar as one wants to help the person concerned and is asked for that help. Wanting to help and offering help is compassion in action.

      I don’t in any way underestimate the suffering of a person who has been abused or the help they might need. All I am saying, and have repeatedly said, is that feeding the flames of anger does not alleviate pain.

      • “All emotion is within the mind of the person experiencing the emotion”

        Liz – you might want to explore the extensive research on emotional contagion. We, as human beings, are very sensitive to the emotions of others in our vicinity. This works with both positive and negative emotions. So just as a pet dog, for example, will ‘read’ it’s owner’s face and body language, so do we. We are all connected! Which is wonderful when you consider the potential for spreading harmonious or uplifting feelings within a group. Clearly, it has its downsides as well.

        And following on from my earlier comment on the healing power of anger – to conflate ‘hatred’ with anger isn’t always helpful, or accurate. Anger and outrage have fuelled numerous campaigns for justice, human rights, and societal awareness of, for example, homophobia, racism, mysogyny and so on. We all have the planet Mars in our natal charts. Somewhere, in everyone, is warrior energy which can be channelled into all manner of positive things. And be used to defend the vulnerable, or encourage those who are struggling. When you have been a victim of abuse or any other kind of crime, you desperately need to contact that wellspring of fighting energy. It is not the same as resentment, nursing a grudge, or plotting vengeance.

        • We are discussing different modes of existence. I am getting confused with this website because posters are operating in different ways. Responding to one at one level is resulting in negative responses from another at a deeper or shallower level. Hmmm…

          I accept that those with emotional intelligence can pick up cues from facial features and body language (I am particularly attuned to body language – the way a person walks tells me an awful lot about them). But even then it is our interpretation of those cues which really matter to us and those interpretations are based on our own past experiences and depth of insight. We too easily project our own feelings and thoughts onto others, as I am here seeing.

          Buddhists describe the three poisons of our minds as delusion (ignorance of our true nature), greed (sensual desire or attachment) and hatred (anger or aversion). Not sins as in the Western sense but unskilful ways of living. They are shown in Eastern art as a pig, a cock and a snake eating each other’s tails. It is the collective energy of these three poisons (kleshas) which creates the living world we inhabit, our present mode of existence.

          The point is that, beyond the everyday world where we believe ourselves to be separate individuals, we are all really one; all sentient life is one. This means each sentient being can connect with every other sentient being. We are stopped from doing so by the three poisons or kleshas ie the creative energy you write about.

          So we can choose to eliminate the kleshas (which for most of us is only a temporary state) or we can use them as you suggest. I was arguing for the former and most posters, and Marjorie, are arguing for the latter.

          I didn’t really want to get into any of this but I feel I am being pushed to explain myself. I really should know better than to try.

          gate gate paragate parasamgate

          • Hi Liz

            It does seem to read as if many including myself don’t get what you are saying but I really think it is just such a subject matter that generates a strong passion for change but we all feel helpless. Then add on one million times concentrated, when children are involved who don’t have a say or the reasoning you put forward to make sense of the matter. It’s a highly charged topic. Apologies that you feel any kind of way. I guess some conversations are difficult to have as written debates. Peace out.

          • I appreciate your comments Jennifer E.

            I do wish those interested in these issues would take a look at the ‘Mindfulness’ courses which are proliferating in the Western world. It should be noted that mindfulness is in fact the same as meditation. The reason for the name change being that Westerners too often think meditation is an emptying of the mind, a Zen state, whilst mindfulness makes it clear that we don’t empty the mind in meditation but instead observe what is going on inside ourselves.

            Children can be taught to stop and think before reacting to stimulae. In my own family sitting on the ‘naughty chair’ is used for that purpose ie a short time out to calm down and slow down when emotions are spiralling out of control – usually when a child is tired. Adults sometimes need time out as well.

            Best Wishes

          • Liz, I am really happy you are sustained by your Buddhist beliefs. But the fact that you believe the teachings of your spiritual leaders doesn’t make them indisputably true. The problem of you not being understood may be because you are arguing from inside your own bubble of belief which is not shared by others.
            I for one don’t take to the notion of ‘clearing out’ emotions to merge into an unseparated Oneness. Though it does answer my question to a degree of why you are so scared of anger – anger in psychological (and my) terms being the healthy response which allows for maturity and separation from infantile dependency.
            Stray thoughts – ‘all emotion is within the mind of the person experiencing it.’ I’m not even sure what that means except in a narrow Buddhist context as per your explanation. As Jane pointed out some are adept at picking up emotional cues from others. I also have porous psychological boundaries so on occasion have difficulty sorting out what is mine in terms of feelings from what belongs to another.
            Anyway at the end of the day though it is endlessly fascinating trying to disentangle the thinking behind mystifying views – and to stand up against damaging standpoints when it comes to rooting out the miseries of the world – this is not a religious/spiritual discussion forum.
            I am as opinionated and self-righteous as any, more so than some – but I do not believe there is one over-arching belief system that encompasses all the answers. Any more than there is an all-encompassing Theory of Everything in physics.

          • I note your comments but the article is about the goings on in the Southern Baptist Church.

            “I do not believe there is one over-arching belief system that encompasses all the answers. Any more than there is an all-encompassing Theory of Everything in physics.”

            I totally agree with you. Words are mere signifiers and can’t truly reflect our experiences – but we live in a world where verbal communication dominates. Sometimes it is useful to look at alternative ideologies if only to confirm our own belief systems. I really don’t mind if mine are rejected – it is not my loss.

            You are probably right about anger – except I see it as a sign of immaturity not maturity. I have spent a lifetime trying to deal with it and/or direct it skilfully – in myself as well as others.

            I do enjoy your articles Marjorie – though they are often very challenging. It is all good.

          • PS. I see that the Archbishop of Canterbury got himself into trouble yesterday talking about Prince Andrew and forgiveness (which was the start of our/my discussions on this page). It does seem to make people angry!

            Maybe you could look at the chart of the Archbishop – if you have not already done so.

  2. Thank you Ava for clarifying, I think that removing perpetrators from their position of power and charging them with the offence etc. is a preliminary to protect future victims but also to reassure their victims that their trauma is being taking seriously, however it may not be enough for the victims to recover from their trauma, hence therapy, restorative justice etc.
    It still leaves the culprits with their sick tendencies so maybe psychiatric treatment to enable them to confront their demons, whilst protecting the public, but it requires structural framework to deal with it, police, courts, medical, etc.
    I still think it is also a deeply karmic matter but difficult for us to understand at that level.

  3. Liz, Respectfully, I do wish you would avoid slapping down your thoughts as immutable tablets of stone carrying an incontrovertible truth – and indeed quoting spiritual and biblical scripture. It’s beginning to sound like a Sunday school teaching session.

    I was not motivated by a bleeding heart, halo-polishing sentiment when I went on the warpath in the 1990s about chid abuse. I was beyond infuriated about the injustice of it all. Yes I was immensely sympathetic to the survivors who needed help but to suggest my anger was ‘transmuted’ into some kind of benevolent kindness is hardly accurate.

    Why is anger so scary? It’s assertiveness, says I am, I want and I won’t be tramped on. It sets down boundaries which are psychologically necessary and a prerequisite for mental health.

    “Can you imagine that torment they (abusers) have to fight to justify within themselves and be at peace with?”

    You have to be kidding. The pathology of sex offenders is such they only ever see that what they do is justified. Is Jimmy Savile getting his comeuppance from the gods of karma now that he is long gone? – I don’t know or care. I just wish someone has stood up with the trusty sword of truth decades before his demise and quarantined him away in a steel box.

    • Respectfully Marjorie, it is such an important issue.

      I quoted Jennifer E who wrote “Compassion for them having to live with what they do or have done and the lives they are destroying too. Can you imagine that torment they have to fight to justify within themselves and be at peace with? I have to feel sorry for them and their miserable existence no matter what (side of their person) they show everyone else.”

      Why put it on me? In fact I think a number of posters are projecting their own thoughts onto me – clearly they think that they are justified in doing so.

      I believe you are a compassionate person, just as I believe almost all the posters on your site are compassionate people. However we clearly have a different notion of compassion. It is not a sickly sentimentality but a driving force – well it is if allied with real insight and practical activity.

      As I said somewhere else, religion is about breaking down barriers not asserting oneself over everyone else. The sadness in the Southern Baptist Church is that the preachers seem to be more interested in self assertion than compassion – with the result that anger and hatred is both provoked and spread amongst the congregation and in the wider world.

      We will just have to disagree – but thank you for the opportunity to express my opinion.

    • Marjorie, i own the torment sentence and it was in reference to entertaining any idea of compassion if one sees fit to forgive. Otherwise at the other end of the spectrum I would also entertain them being burnt at the stake as a deterrent because prison not going to fix this.

  4. Liz, I think your comment that you don’t understand might be the one to take on board.
    Experiencing trauma – having to live through mind-bending terror and meltdown levels of fear – is massively damaging both to the workings of the brain and also the body. Some people it utterly destroys. Let no one spout the spiritual hocus pocus that no soul is given more to handle than it can cope with. Tisn’t true by a long shot.
    Sexual abuse survivors share with ‘shell-shock’ war veterans life long effects. For some, after many years of therapy of various varieties, psychological as well as physical, they can push most of the symptoms into the background and move on.
    Expressing anger is part of that process and Thich Nat Hanh is plain wrong. He may be right in his delightfully Buddhist way that hanging onto anger is not the answer but you have to embrace it, tap into the anger which could not be expressed in the abusive situation because it wasn’t safe and often because the overload threatened to melt down the brain’s circuit board. Anger is a natural emotion and an essential survival tool. After the anger has been released – sometimes – it is possible to move out the other side.
    Mandela might well have been have learned to accept what his captors did two decades plus later. But to suggest that abuse victims ‘should’ be captains of their soul and heal themselves – is judgemental and plain ignorant of the bottomless blackness that is created by trauma. Almost all abuse victims would be more than enchanted if they could pack up their anger and angst and leave it behind but where an unbearable experience has branded itself into their brain, letting it go is not a matter of will power.
    I’m not a great believer in vengeance since it ties you into people you’d prefer to be a million miles away from – but sanctimonious admonitions about forgiveness usually come from people who would prefer not to stare into the abyss. Anyone who has worked in this area would tell you that if you stare long enough into those depths ‘to see the horror mankind is capable of’ you won’t come back. It’ll eat you eventually.
    I’m not sure where this discussion started – apart from the egregious hypocrisy of the supposedly religious who’d prefer to embrace a sinner and make themselves feel holier by gushing forgiveness in all directions.

    • I would rather ask: what is the difference between being mindful of the anger within us (and speaking about it in the security of a counselling session or a close personal relationship) and letting our anger explode onto the world to cause suffering and hurt in others.

      I have suffered from PTSD in the past, but I have come through it (well almost) and I do understand the process. Compassion and forgiveness are within us – we do not need to be out there virtue signalling and embracing abusers.

      There is such a huge gulf between Eastern religions and Western religions such as Presbyterianism/Southern Baptists, it probably isn’t worthwhile trying to bridge it. One day perhaps.

    • Hi Virgina,
      Instead of critiquing your question or using it as an opportunity to talk about myself, I’d like to offer up a possible response for you to consider.

      Righteous anger suggests that you’re “right” or “correct” to feel your anger for whatever infraction has been carried out against you – regardless of any missives or sanctimony on forgiveness being preached by clergy, priests, or even laypeople. What you choose to do with that anger is just that – a choice. You could use it as fuel to become empowered like Harriet Tubman did when she escaped her masters and helped free other slaves, or like Gloria Allred whom, after being raped at gunpoint as a young woman, then used her anger to help other women pursue sexual assault cases in the court.

      Alternatively, you could use your anger seek to vengeance/revenge against your perpetrators which is also a choice, but by doing so, you’re giving your power away to your perpetrator. As Marjorie so eloquently mentioned, seeking vengeance ties you to your perpetrator and prevents you from moving forward on your terms.

      • Ava, you do speak with a certain authority but it is always as well to know the position from which one speaks.. It is also as well to accept that the answer always lies with the question – understand the question and we understand the answer.

        Helping free fellow slaves or helping others who have been abused is done out of compassion not anger. Can compassion and anger coexist? I doubt it – compassion (loving kindness) and hatred (anger) are dichotomies and therefore can’t be experienced at one and the same time. Just saying.

  5. Funny how people always say sorry or seek forgiveness only when they get caught. So clearly they knew it was wrong or they wouldn’t be hiding it or covering it up. They shame the victim and when that doesn’t work they all of a sudden seek to mend their ways. Meanwhile victims are destroyed mind body and soul. They need that taste of the medicine they were dishing out when they were so righteous before their downfall. Sick!!!

    • I agree with your comments, Jennifer.

      Here’s a quote by an abuse survivor:

      “Healing may result in forgiveness but forgiveness does not bring healing,
it only covers over the wounds allowing them to fester.”

    • I also agree, Jennifer & VF, though clearly the SBC still isn’t interested in any accountability. They just released their database of sexual abusers (apparently more than 200 pages worth!!!!!) only to then redact them. But hey, who needs accountability and consequences when forgiveness has already been granted?!

      • “Forgiveness does not bring healing”….I agree Jennifer, VF, and Ava. Sadly, this imbalance of power is everywhere, a cross-cultural phenomena all over the world. In the context of religion and religious organisations there are endless cases in every religion – if you put “sexual abuse” followed by any named belief system into Google you’ll be horrified. There they all are, the gurus, imams, rabbis, priests….all with a monstrous sense of entitlement, and slithery self-justification skills.
        And this is just one sector of human society, clearly it applies to sports coaches, teachers, and anyone else in a position of trust with power over others. At least it is being written about and discussed more openly now, but there’s scant comfort in that for the millions of victims. I’d also argue that expressing anger and outrage has healing power – obviously, within a safe context.
        I suspect Pluto in the sign of mass humanity, Aquarius, will reveal much more. Where we could look, astrologically, for a time when taking real responsibility for actions and choices that harm others – or indeed choosing not to inflict life-long damage, and then blame the victim – I don’t know.

        • Spot on Jane — years ago my husband was involved in a Buddhist group where the leader was grooming the young teenage males — as you say it’s everywhere and in all religions. Plus you cannot underestimate the power of anger in the healing process. Quite the opposite of the nice, clean, convenient-for-everyone-but-the-victim approach which demands that the onus is on the victim to forgive their abuser. If you look at survivors’ groups websites, they will give short shrift to this kind of gaslighting.

          • I’m happy to hear about the survivors’ groups websites VF, perhaps ‘happy’ not quite the right word though. I was thinking that from a Christian point of view, the ‘forgive them for they know not what they do’ is arguably where some of these ideas come from? To pre-empt someone asking for forgiveness by granting it first? Hmmn, it is hard, if not impossible, to see that working well in many contexts since it absolves the perpetrator from responsibility for their actions and choices. Because they know perfectly well ‘what they do’ when behaving like predators, often for many, many years.

            There may be some kind of cultural and spiritual gender/status bias going on here too. There are many terrifying and angry goddesses in world mythologies, who have mostly been sidelined or forgotten over the centuries. Just a thought. Sekhmet and Ishtar may agree!

          • Yes, VF, thank you for touching on the deep anger that sexual assault inherently causes – there’s a reason, after all, that sexual violence is associated with Mars & Pluto. And like you elegantly quoted earlier, if not allowed to be felt and addressed, it only festers internally, waiting to be projected. Since we are talking about it within the context of religion, I remember another quote from Father Richard Rohr who said “Pain that is not transformed will always be transmitted”

            Finally, one last thing that needs to be pointed out, particularly to Liz, is the enormous benefit that anger can offer when directed appropriately. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that Mars and Plutonian energy also create opportunities for unyielding drive and tenacity. It’s time that the emotion of anger, particularly amongst women, be seen as a positive emotion worthy of space as it can serve as a powerful force for establishing boundaries, self-respect, and agency.

          • Thank you for the mention Ava.

            I don’t know where to start with this – or rather to finish the discussion. I will quote Thich Nhat Hanh:

            “When you express your anger you think that you are getting anger out of your system, but that’s not true. When you express your anger, either verbally or with physical violence, you are feeding the seed of anger, and it becomes stronger in you.”

            Only understanding and compassion and yes forgiveness can neutralize anger. But maybe you want to cling on to the anger? I can’t for the life of me understand why anyone would want to do that.

          • The expression of anger as an emotion doesn’t only have to be manifested as verbal or physical hate/ Violence. It can instead be used as fuel for motivation and drive to achieve something more positive. As an emotional energy It can be transmuted.

            The motivation to bring those to account is positive whilst satisfying that same anger. They can’t repeat their behaviour and hurt other children.

            With all due respect there are many wise words out there like Thich Nhat Hanh from many wise men and women, and much open to interpretation. I interpret Thich Nhat Hanh quote differently.

            Understanding that these people need to be accountable.

            Compassion for them having to live with what they do or have done and the lives they are destroying too. Can you imagine that torment they have to fight to justify within themselves and be at peace with? I have to feel sorry for them and their miserable existence no matter what persons they should everyone else.

            To me Forgiveness comes by the grace of God by default
            when we truly develop Understanding and Compassion.

        • “The expression of anger as an emotion doesn’t only have to be manifested as verbal or physical hate/ violence. It can instead be used as fuel for motivation and drive to achieve something more positive. As an emotional energy It can be transmuted.”

          Exactly. I use transformation to mean transmutation – from anger to compassion. I would say that compassion is the motivating force rather than anger but then compassion can arise, develop, grow stronger, as a result of anger. As also our intellectual insight if we allow ourselves to treat bad experiences as learning experiences.

          The following comments are exactly what I was trying to say in regard to the abusers:

          “Compassion for them having to live with what they do or have done and the lives they are destroying too. Can you imagine that torment they have to fight to justify within themselves and be at peace with? I have to feel sorry for them and their miserable existence no matter what (side of their person) they show everyone else.”

          They are sowing negative karmic seeds which will ripen one day – they will have to face the consequences of their actions one way or another. if we are abused but understand karma, then we can avoid sowing our own negative karmic seeds.

          In Christian tems this is akin to: “Vengeance is mine sayeth the Lord – I will repay”.

  6. In the past decade or so, most of the old “mainline denominations” (Protestant church institutions that used to have more American members than all other religious groups) have split, from a failure of their Annual Conference Of Churches, or the like, to resolve issues about homosexuality. Generally some of the participating churches believe, as most Americans do now, that it is not inherently a sin, and can be the basis for meaningful, appropriate love relationships in a life of faith. But some of the other participating churches take a more traditionally conservative view of it as sinful and not appropriate for believers or especially for spiritual leadership. The splits fractured the denomination into a “conservative” and “liberal” group that could no longer mutually accept the coordination of the past couple of centuries. If there is interest, I could look up specific dates of some of these schisms.

  7. Sex is the most natural of human desires. It shouldn’t be suppressed or misused but channelled rightly if we are, as a species, to rise above our basic animal nature.

    Channelled rightly does though mean different things to different social groups. Most of us would probably recommend a long standing monogamous relationship with the opportunity to enjoy a stable family life – though that for some would be an ideal rather than a reality.

    It is all well and good for those of a ‘religious’ or ‘spiritual’ inclination to advocate a love for humanity in general over and above a love for particular individuals or family/social group. I am sure it has it’s own rewards. Sadly however too many on the path of celibacy find themselves without access to that deeper bliss and without the everyday affection and support which they obviously require. We should feel compassion rather than contempt but it is difficult when their victims are so young and/or so vulnerable. Still we should try……………….

      • I was being circumspect.

        St Paul – 1 Corinthians 7:9

        “For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that. I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.”

        Whilst celibacy might be the best way to live for those with a spiritual bent, it is not for everyone. As St Paul says, it is better to marry (or these days have a stable relationship with a sexual partner) than burn with sexual desire.

        In my opinion, it is suppressed sexual desire, or unsatisfactory sexual relationships, which leads to the sort of abuse we see in the Catholic priesthood, in the nuns of NI and their attitude to unmarried mothers, and the scandals of the Southern Baptist Church.

        As for channeling those sexual desires/energies, I was thinking more of Eastern religions and Tibetan Buddhism in particular who have numerous practices and techniques (specifically tantras and yogas) for transforming them rather than suppressing them. I should point out that Nirvana, the outcome of these meditational techniques, is actually a state of inner bliss.

        For me there is no point in a celibate life, a life dedicated to the love of humanity as a whole (love in the sense of loving kindness / caritas) rather than a married life which emphasises the love for a partner and family, unless it leads to a state of inner bliss (or state of grace as it is called in the West). As I said, it is not for everyone.

        I would have to admit that my mind is still with a TV programme I watched on Tuesday (24th April) – The Witch Hunts: Lucy Worsley investigates. The Christian Church (well Calvinism and the Presbyterianism of John Knox) at it’s misogynistic worst. The fact that the US Southern Baptist Church was heavily influenced by Presbyterianism comes as no surprise.

        • I spent a gruelling few years in the 1990s fighting a campaign to straighten out ideas on sexual abuse and stop it being swept under the carpet. I have heard every excuse known to man/women either by perpetrators or their supporters – see Ava’s comment below.
          The contortions that supposedly normal people get into to avoid forcing abusers to take full responsibility for their actions while at the same time giving themselves a more comfortable life by avoiding facing the horrific, life-long damage that abuse does are mind-bending.
          So no, I don’t have compassion. I have zero tolerance. If celibate priests can’t cope with the life then there are prostitutes or find another career. But the suspicion is many go into the life because they know they have unfettered access to vulnerable children who idealise them.
          None of which has the remotest connection to the Southern Baptist Church who have no strictures about celibacy. These were married men – and I don’t give a toss whether they were in unsatisfactory marriages – that’s supposed to be an excuse?

          There is an odd crossover – Neptune again – between religious zealots and sex abuse but that’s for another day.

          • Marjorie – I’ve long thought that as long as women continue to be excluded from the priesthood and leadership positions within most major religions, the abuse will continue. Without anyone to hold these cowards (ahem, priests) to account on their perspectives, beliefs, and (in)actions when it comes to abuse, it will just continue to be minimized or buried, leaving devastating destruction all around for those victims.

            As a Canadian, we’re going through our own reckoning with the abuse inflicted on Indigenous children by both the Catholic church and previous governments. With each new unearthing of gravesites found at these former residential schools (well into the thousands by now), it never fails that there’s video released in the days following of yet another priest trying to deflect blame and sweep it all under the rug. Is it any wonder our Indigenous population continues to struggle so much to thrive amidst all that denial? How does a single individual build self-worth, let alone a meaningful life when both an entire country and one of the world’s major religions disbelieve, disregard, and downplay their ENORMOUS suffering?!!!!

          • Thank you for the website address.

            Of course abusers must face the consequences of their actions and society must do all it can to stop the abuse and support the victims. Sexual abuse is a criminal act whatever the various Churches may say about sin.

            Compassion and/or forgiveness is not a cop out. Being compassionate or forgiving has little to do with the perpetrator. It is instead a way of overcoming the anger and pain inside ourselves – a transformation of negative emotions into positive emotions, or at the minimum a cessation of those negative emotions.

            As Nelson Mandela might say: we are the captains of our own souls – not the captains of others souls. (Invictus)

            Marjorie, do watch the Lucy Worsley programme on witch hunts (the first witch hunt in Scotland). It is all about religious zealots and sex abuse.

          • I totally agree with your point Marjorie.

            Who is Liz asking to have compassion and forgiveness? The child/children it happened or happens to? The parents of those? What is the parents forgive? Does that mean the child understands and forgives by default of the parents? How do they reconcile that in the mind over the years when they are told to and can’t?

            Even I as an adult can reconcile the destroying nature of such and trust for a child so can’t reconcile what Liz is conveying on behalf of these grown men who quite frankly hide their sickness and get protected within the churches who only protect them because ….. ??? Who protects the children this happens to??? I don’t understand.

          • I am not conveying anything about those grown men. They should be dealt with in accordance with the law and basically forgotten by their victims.

            I am talking about the victims who feel anger and pain – and maybe feelings of worthlessness. I am not underestimating the suffering but ultimately the victims have to heal themselves. Their parents, families and friends can help and support them of course but healing these kinds of wounds comes from within.

            The only way to heal oneself is by taking control of oneself, being the captain of one’s own soul. Compassion is a sign of strength not weakness and the person forgiving is more powerful than the person who seeks forgiveness.

            I am reminded of the prayer of St Francis of Assisi:

            May I not so much seek
            to be consoled as to console,
            to be understood as to understand,
            to be loved as to love.

            It isn’t an easy path but turning it around is the only way to move forward – even if it takes a lifetime.

  8. I remember many years ago, Southern Baptists were still justifying racism against African-Americans, because they were considered sub-human. The fact that they got away with it because of religious freedom says volumes about what’s wrong with America. Especially if they still do it.

    As for the abuse inflicted on children proves the point that marriage doesn’t stop the abuse. Which is a point continually made about RC priests is that it would stop if these priests were allowed to marry. The abuse will never stop while the congregation appears to condone it. And perhaps never being allowed to be alone with children or vulnerable adults might help.

  9. I’m an American who was raised in a rather liberal version of this cartoonish religion, and separated myself as a teenager, who was expected to formally join the church. I’d like to see churches liable for annual taxes, and I’d like to see accountability before the law when convicted of frauds, assaults or theft.

    But then, religions generally are short on wisdom and long on dogma. I urge people to chuck religion, reminding them that every religion in history is just a museum exhibit now.

  10. Ava, I saw that clip and it reveals an depressing aspect of human society – communities and individuals will vilify the victim and hold the victim responsible for what happened to them even when the power imbalance is obvious. It’s because hanging on to the shared collective delusion is more important than facing the ugly truth within.

    • I watched Spotlight a month or so ago. Fantastic film, very engaging – well worth, it’s Best Picture Oscar. The story of how Boston Glove(?) reporters uncovered the abuse scandals of Roman Catholic church that had taken places for decades in the city.

      VF – The underlying point was that it required a new editor, from out of town – an outsider, to break down the circle of complicity.

      Incidentally from an astrological perspective, the newpaper revelations were published in 2001-02 (Saturn in Gemini – journalism). The film was then made in 2015 – Saturn in Sag period (religion / Saturn half-return).

      • That’s interesting GD and an interesting point regarding the role of outsiders in breaking the circle. ‘Spotlight’ as you mention is a brilliant documentary film which well deserves its Oscar. Netflix’s The Keepers’, an exposé of abuse in Catholic run schools in Boston by former pupils is a pretty tough watch too.

  11. Hi Marjorie,
    Not sure if you noticed but at the same time that this report on the Southern Baptist Church came out yesterday, another video was flying around of a woman in Illinois confronting her pastor in front of the congregation for sexually abusing her as a teenager. He stands up and admits to his “trespassing” but refers to the years-long abuse as “adultery”. He then asks his congregation for forgiveness and all the parishioners swarm and embrace him with hugs while she walks out stranded, alone, and crying. It’s so disgusting….

    • She was 16 (sixteen!) and he had the balls to try to characterize it as an adulterous relationship. Fits with the smugness of the evangelicals in my country, the USA. Ugh.

      • Hi Carson,
        Don’t feel bad, I was pretty much having a meltdown watching the video yesterday so you’re definitely not alone with your anger 😉

      • Hi Carson,
        Sorry, one more thing. I just read that Sarah Huckabee Sanders won the primary for the governor-ship in Arkansas. Meanwhile, her dad, Mike Huckabee, the former governor, came out in support of the conservative Duggar family (TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting) a few years back after it came to light that one of the kids, Josh, molested his siblings. Huckabee said that since Josh apologized that he should be forgiven and that it was time to move on. Meanwhile, just earlier today, Josh was sentenced to 12yrs in prison for child porn. This is what happens when forgiveness occurs without accountability. And now the woman who grew up with a backward father and in a backward household where child sexual abuse was essentially condoned – has just been elected to lead yet another state there in the US. And on, and on, and on it goes…..

        For those of you Americans who don’t share in all this nonsense, I deeply sympathize with you.

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