“Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.” ~~~ Mark Twain

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He Doesn’t Hit Me, He Just…

I found a fantastic blog about covert abuse from a site called OutOfAbuse.com. I have excerpted just the beginning. This article describes an excellent example of non-physical abuse.

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I mentioned in another post that I had trouble identifying abuse once the hitting and screaming stopped in my marriage.

I didn’t know that there are covert and subtle forms of abuse and manipulation that an abuser uses to control his victim. Oh sure, I recognized one or two of them…like the reverse blame game, but most just slipped right past me. I only knew that I wasn’t feeling good about things. I knew that an hour after any conversation or interaction with my husband I’d start to feel bad, or guilty, or depressed…

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The author follows this intro with a classic personal example, well written, and insightful. I’m going to be following this thread with interest.  Please be aware this is not a Christian site and not all of the content of the site is suitable for the consumption of minors!  The author tells it like it was, including details.  She warns first, though, so you can choose not to read parts which you might find offensive.

Ex-pastor Kenneth R. Cooke sentenced after claiming abuse victim harassed him

My thanks to the Daily Herald for this news story.

By Charles Keeshan | Daily Herald Staff

A retired pastor from Canada was sentenced to three years in prison today after telling a McHenry County judge he was sexually harassed by the 4-year-old Lake in the Hills girl he pleaded guilty to molesting.

Kenneth R. Cooke, 73, appeared to have reasonable chance at a probation sentence given his age, health problems and lack of criminal history heading into his sentencing hearing this afternoon.

But the Calgary man who once headed his own ministry likely blew his chance of avoiding prison when he took the witness stand and painted his pre-school age victim as a sexual aggressor.

“On a couple of occasions I felt I was sexually harassed,” Cooke said. “I think there is psychological evidence that children even in their younger years can become interested in sex.”

He later said he did nothing inappropriate to the girl, but pleaded guilty two months ago to avoid putting his family through a trial.

Judge Joseph Condon responded harshly, telling Cooke his statements show that he has no remorse and is a threat to young children.

“That just boggles my mind,” Condon said. “It is my opinion that you have a significant problem, and that other 4-year-olds have a significant problem (around you). What I’m about to do is necessary for the protection of the public.”

Cooke pleaded guilty in October to one count of aggravated criminal sexual abuse stemming from allegations he fondled the girl in the summer of 2003 while he was visiting family in Lake in the Hills. The girl was not a family member.

Although indicted in January 2004, Cooke refused extradition back to the United States, setting up a 3 1/2-year legal battle than ended when a Canadian court in June denied his final appeal. Cooke surrendered to American authorities shortly after the ruling.

The girl’s mother read a statement before Cooke’s sentencing saying that both her daughter and her entire family continue to suffer as a result of the former preacher’s actions. The girl, she said, has gotten into trouble at school for acting out sexually and has difficult making friends.

“She has stated on many occasions she is a bad person and wishes she had never been born,” the girl’s mother said. “You can’t imagine how hard it is to hear that from your own child.

“This crime has been an emotional and psychological drain on my entire family and I don’t see any end in sight for us.”

County prosecutors had asked for the maximum seven-year sentence for Cooke, calling his remarks “disgusting and despicable.”

“It’s sickening and shows this court the defendant is not taking any responsibility for his actions,” Assistant McHenry County State’s Attorney Sharyl Eisenstein said.

Cooke likely will receive day-for-day credit while imprisoned, meaning he could receive parole in 18 months or less.

Government Regulation of the Church

The church is historically adamant against any regulation by the government.  In our country with its foundational principle of separation of church and state we have almost taken the autonomy of the church for granted  At the very least we view church freedom from government regulation as an inalienable right which cannot legally be assailed.

 However, as I have observed the issues of abuse in the church for the past 25 years (or so), I am beginning to wonder if the church isn’t inviting, and even ultimately forcing, government regulation upon itself.  The very thing the church is so strongly opposed to is something it may bring on itself because it refuses to self-regulate.  The government has a responsibility to uphold the law and protect its citizens.  If the church is going to be complicit in the violation of this basic responsibility, the government will eventually have to step in.  When this happens the church will reap the consequences of its own choices and will have to live its own worst nightmare.

Baptist General Convention & Clergy Abuse

Christa Brown, with StopBaptistPredators.org has written an excellent blog post about the appointment of Jan Daehnert as interim executive director of the Baptist General Convention of Texas and the apparent practice of the Convention to conceal the identity of known clergy abusers. You can see the whole post at Texas Baptists’ Keeper of Secrets. I’ve excerpted just a bit of it below. It is well worth reading the whole piece.

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Daehnert once tried to justify the BGCT’s secrecy by explaining that the information is given “in confidence by congregations that have had ministers confess or where substantial evidence has been uncovered.” They are reporting “something that is very troubling,” said Daehnert.

Well, that’s the point, isn’t it? The information is “very troubling” indeed, and that is exactly why it should NOT be kept secret.

Can you imagine what the response would be if a Catholic bishop were to say, “The information I have was given to me in confidence by priests who confessed to sexual abuse or by others in the parish who presented substantial evidence of abuse, and therefore I can’t disclose it.”

Nowadays, no one would accept that sort of excuse from a Catholic bishop.

So why do people accept it from Baptist leaders?…

…Upon his appointment, Daehnert said he hopes “to begin the healing” at the BGCT.

The only way “to begin the healing” is with absolute transparency, openness and accountability. That’s not going to happen until the BGCT tells people all the names of the reported clergy sex abusers who are listed in that secret file.

Parents are entitled to be warned; kids are entitled to be protected.

Christmas Blessings

I have so much to be thankful for this Christmas season and it has been a wonderful day.

I am grateful to have a home of my own. Considering my seriously constrained circumstances, God has provided a nice and spacious townhome – no yard work but lots of interior space, which is perfect for me. This time last year I was hunting for a home and wondering how God was going to provide before the first of January. 😉

I am grateful to have all my children living with me. I know I am fortunate and it won’t last very long so I’m appreciating it while I have it. Both my boys are adults now so they’ll be going to their own homes before very much longer. Since my oldest son is going to college locally, he is temporarily happy to live at home and save the money. I don’t see him much since he works most of the time he’s not at school, and whatever time he has after that he spends with his girlfriend and her family. My second son is getting ready to leave for college in the next few months since he is pursuing a program that will take him to North Carolina. I’m already trying not to think about how much I’ll miss him. This time last year I was celebrating the fact that I had gained custody of my daughter after a long and ugly battle. I’m delighted to see her everyday and watch her grow up before my eyes.

I am grateful for financial aid to pay for school. When someone first suggested I go back to school since I couldn’t get a living-wage job after being a stay-home mom for most of the previous 20 years, I vehemently objected. LOL! But a dead-end career path and time to think changed my mind. After a lot of thinking, looking and praying, my direction was refined and over the course of several months this year, God worked out the monumental details for me to get into school. And school is going fantastic. But I could never do it without financial aid.

I am most especially grateful for every day. I still pinch myself almost every day as I live such a different life from the years of my marriage. My stomach is no longer tied in knots 24 hours a day. I don’t walk on eggshells constantly trying to avoid anything that would set him off. I do still have a severe reaction to sudden loud outbursts – but I never hear them in my own home anymore. It’s peaceful here! I don’t fear the next outburst, knowing there’s nothing I can do to avoid it. I’m starting to get over some of the hang-ups I developed like being unable to eat white rice because I was lectured for hours upon end about all the reasons there was something wrong with me for liking it. I think this next election I may be able to vote without having a panic attack when I try to drive into the parking lot. This is all amazing to me. Before, I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to live in a peaceful home, even though my childhood home had been peaceful. It was just a long time ago.

I am also grateful to God for my life. While I have no assurances for the tomorrows, I know God holds them all, however many He may give me. Living that every day without fear is something I haven’t yet mastered, but with constant diligence it is getting better. Living after cancer with no ongoing maintenance care and known, but unidentified, health issues is scary, but I have to trust that God knows what He’s doing. And I am SO grateful for the todays.

Characteristics of Repentance

Repentance is not complete without fruit to demonstrate its reality.  While it is just one little verse, Mt. 3:8 gives us a clue that there is such a thing as fruit that demonstrates repentance.  What might that fruit be?

 First of all, repentance is not just saying the words, “I’m sorry” or “I repent of x, y, & z.”  Repentance inherently includes the concept of reversing direction.  Repentance without complete behavior change is not repentance.

Repentance also stays the course.  Repentance is not genuine if it is recanted once the violator gets what he wants. 

Repentance is also public, if appropriate.  Wrong done in public or publicly exposed, should be publically repented. 

A repentant attitude will be accompanied by a heart of humility that recognizes and grieves the hurt caused.  Repentance and pride cannot occur simultaneously.  So repentance offered with a jaunty “oops” attitude is not genuine repentance.  At the same time, we need to beware of crocodile tears.  False humility in public with an unchanged private life is not repentance.

Repentance cannot occur simultaneously with lies either.  A repentance that acknowledges a sin that has been publically exposed while continuing to hide sin that has not been exposed, is not repentance.  A specific example is a man who “repents” for one act of immorality he’s been caught committing, while failing to acknowledge and continuing to hide his other immoral relationships.  That “repentance” is just to keep his fanny out of hot water and perhaps preserve his position.

True repentance will also accept the consequences of wrong actions.  God forgives the repentant heart.  His forgiveness is complete.  However, He does not exempt us from the consequences of our actions.  For instance, if a man in church leadership is caught in immorality he has voided his qualifications for church leadership since the Bible requires a church leader to live a blameless life.  A man or woman who is a pedophile must accept the natural consequences of jail time and/or permanent removal from work with children.  A church that supercedes these consequences is not only foolishly putting young people in danger, it is guilty of putting someone in the way of temptation, and, even more, extending “forgiveness” even further than God Himself does.  Parents who are convicted of child abuse must accept the loss of their children if that is the judgment of the court.  It’s a harsh thing, but it is the natural consequence of wrong done.

While we are expected to forgive, we are not expected to forgive (offer absolution to) someone who is not genuinely repentant.