A Telling Error by Huckabee

A day after canceling a Sunday-night sermon at a north Florida Baptist church facing pending lawsuits that allege molestation and cover-up, Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee decided instead to address the congregation live via telephone…

This quote is from a more lengthy article at ethicsdaily.com

Huckabee, a former Southern Baptist pastor and past president of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, was petitioned by abuse survivors to avoid speaking at Trinity Baptist Church in Jacksonville, FL. The on-going scandal there due to clergy sexual abuse and blatant, continual cover-up by other church leaders who are still in authority at the church while facing legal charges, has made significant public headlines.

In making an appearance at Trinity, even though it was only via telephone rather than by satellite puts Huckabee’s stamp of approval on the leadership of this church. He is saying, by his appearance in spite of very visible clergy abuse and misconduct issues, these are his cronies, his associates, and that their behavior is of less importance than his political career.

If this church leadership’s actions in supressing known, on-going sexual abuse by their now-deceased pastor are of less importance than Huckabee’s political career is that the kind of man anyone, except those who are likeminded, wants in the White House? Even someone naive enough not to grasp that obvious cause-effect connection isn’t saavy enough for one of the most powerful political seats in the country.

In fact, this situation raises significant questions in my mind about who is pulling the strings behind Huckabee. Since he previously decided not to make an appearance when petitioned by abuse survivors, it makes me wonder if he was told by the SBC powers that be he should do it anyway. Who wants the SBC pulling the President’s strings?

If there were the remotest chance of me voting for Huckabee, which there definitely isn’t, this incident would cure me of that delusion.

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“He Taught Me How to Fly” – How Abuse Affects a Child, Part 2

I’ll never forget how sick I felt the first time I heard my oldest son, J, verbalize his memories of his early childhood.  I had wondered what he remembered and hoped he didn’t remember the specifics.  But when he was a teenager he finally told someone what he remembered.  He was speaking to someone else, I can’t remember who now, and I was listening.  I had never spoken to him about the details because I didn’t want to color his memories, just in case he didn’t remember. 

This is what he said:

I remember being kicked into the closet.

I remember being slammed against the walls.

I remember running down the hall to get away from him and pushing the crib behind the door so he couldn’t get into the bedroom to get me because I was so afraid.

My dad taught me how to fly [spoken with heavy sarcasm].  He threw me across the room when he was angry.

While most of these could have happened at almost any age, the one about the crib occurred before he was 4 years old. 

It was also revealing, and just as heart-breaking, what he didn’t bother to mention. He never mentioned the slaps (open-handed, full-strength strikes to any body part) and punches, or being hit with whatever object was closest to his father’s hand at the time. These went on all his life, though after he was reported to DFCS “Gary” stopped hitting first. Instead he would provoke J until J flinched first. Then Gary could justify bringing out the fists in the name of “defending his manhood.” (So for the last 4 years we were together I couldn’t ever say Gary initiated physical violence – thus he and everyone else, including the judge in our divorce, thought he was a changed man.) J also never mentioned all the times his dad called him “demon child” or some version of that in his frequent rages. These things were so “normal” they didn’t even rate mention.

As I’m writing this my insides are trying to climb out of my skin. Why, why, why would no one ever believe me? Why was the answer always “submit more,” “have faith,” “remain faithful,” etc.? None of those answers even touched the question, “What about the children?”  Both of the first two times I left him it was about his abuse of the children.  When I asked for help I was betrayed, denied and disbelieved. When I left Gary he convinced everyone I was lying or it was my fault. And because those voices were so loud and so unanimous I kept believing them.

 I was afraid of the authorities because the fundamentalist system in which I was raised painted the government, and especially family and children’s services, as evil people who couldn’t wait to take away the children of Christians, abuse them and turn them against their faith. When Gary was finally reported to the authorities I trusted them. The church had failed me; the authorities were supposed to protect us and they were supposed to be able to recognize abuse.

But Gary convinced the DFCS case worker I was teaching J to disrespect him and he was only responding to J’s taunts and rebellious mouth. Everytime I talked to her she threatened to take the kids away from both of us because Gary was violent and I was teaching the children to disrespect him. She scared me to death.

Later our Christian counselor (the one who didn’t believe me and didn’t approve of our separation) also said my actions were teaching our children disrespect.

The accusation of disrespect came because every time Gary became angry I got between him and the kids. I tried to reason with him. In the moment I had two choices. Walk away and let him mistreat the kids or get in the middle and try to reason with him and get him to stop. By necessity, these arguments (because that was always what they became) happened in front of the kids. There was no opportunity to take them out of the room – Gary wouldn’t cooperate with that. But they did serve the purpose of turning his anger onto me and off the kids. That action on my part was “disrespect.” And yes, I was angry in those times. But I never raged and I never got physical. I never screamed and I never used profanity – which was his modus operandi. (To be absolutely honest, I did scream at him twice while I was on chemo – and immediately apologized and took myself out of the room. It was because my meds were out of balance and getting them balanced fixed the problem.)

Two voices both said I was teaching the boys disrespect of their father — I believed them both. I apologized to the boys. And I tried to be even more reasonable. I learned to never engage in anger; to remain calm and reasonable. I still got in the middle because I couldn’t just walk away and let him treat the kids that way. And every time J mouthed off to his dad I also talked to him about his disrespect and his responsibility to do what was right no matter the provocation.  These conversations took place in private.  Gary frequently accused me to “buddying up” with J in these conversations and taking sides with J against him, which was not true at all, but no one believed me. 

Of course, the fact that I didn’t get angry back at him only made him angrier. Previously, when I did get angry, he excused his rage saying it resulted from my anger. When I didn’t get angry anymore he said I was treating him like a child (disrespect again) and it excused his rage. Somehow if I said anything, his rage was my fault. He could get angry about anything and was both entitled and excused; I was not allowed to ever be angry about anything – not his lies, not when he put us in danger with his choices, not when he abused our children.

At that point, J had never initiated physical violence toward his father and didn’t for another couple years after that. Not until he was physically larger than his father. Let me ask the question no one else seemed to be able to see — why was it OK for Gary to punch his son in the abdomen hard enough to leave marks I could still see a couple hours later, no matter what came out of his mouth? On the other hand, why was Gary excused for everything that came out of his mouth because we “provoked” him – by being too loud, or interrupting his TV show (a common offense that resulted in physically violent rage), by doing whatever he found annoying at the time? Why, why, why????

A True Story – Abuse in a Christian Home

 I have posted another article by Marcia, a Christian counselor in my Articles section, under Abuse in the Christian Home.  I have excerpted only a little bit to give you a flavor of the whole…

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…The first thing I noticed about her was that she was a tiny little thing. The next thing I noticed was that she was very young. Perhaps in her late twenties, but with a look of youthful innocence…

She was silent for a moment. Looking down at an invisible object somewhere on the floor, she tightly gripped her small clutch purse with both hands on its corners, centered it smoothly on her lap, and in a soft, almost breathless voice, exhaled, “I killed my husband…”

You can read the whole post here.

More About Abuse in Christian Marriages

I have added an article to my Articles section, written by Marcia, out of her experience as a Christian counselor. I’ve only excerpted a small “teaser” so follow the link to read the whole piece.

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…The issue that prompted this writing is that once again, I am observing and being asked to pray regarding the divorce proceedings of a couple going to court…once again…today. It is a situation where a lovely and faithful wife of around 20 years is being legally threatened and browbeaten by a husband who has verbally, psychologically and somewhat physically abused her for their whole married life. He is pompous and pious outwardly, and has drug her to several church counselors who admonished HER to be a submissive wife, and in essence, told her she had no legitimate right, in God’s eyes, to separate from him. They have four teenage children, two of which are severely handicapped. He remains in the family home; she and the children were the ones who eventually found another place to live. The children are afraid of being with him. Now he is trying to get her declared an unfit mother, and is placing demands that would rob her of many things that are rightfully hers, including custodial care. Hopefully the court will have wisdom and make right decisions. But the most heartbreaking fact to me, is that she has been counseled to remain in this destructive situation for many years, and felt that God would not approve of her doing otherwise…

The full article is here. Check it out!

Michigan Pastor James Hatfield Sentenced for Sex Abuse

My thanks to CBS Newschannel 3 for this story.

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A former pastor in Van Buren County will serve time after admitting to a sexual assault.

Pastor James Hatfield used to minister at The Center of Life Church in Paw Paw. It was while he was a pastor there that authorities say he started abusing a girl that was in his care, abuse that began when the girl was in middle school, and continued through high school.

Hatfield later pleaded guilty to one count of sexual assault, and Tuesday he was sentenced to at least a year and nine months in prison…

Ineffective Sex Offender Legislation

There is a great blog post about this issue at Sex Offender Issues. I am not copying the article here because I want to make a side point. The blog is very much worth the read. One quote from it —

A 1990 meta-study by the Freedom from Religion Foundation documented that 190 clergy convicted of molesting children were found to have abused 847 victims — some abused hundreds, even thousands, of times — before they were caught. Investigators believe these clergy had actually abused at least 4,000 children.

I would venture to guess that the numbers now, nearly 20 years later, would be significantly higher since the reporting of incidents of clergy sex abuse has increased as a result of the publicity of the sex abuse issue in the Catholic Church. Victims at least have some chance of realizing they are not alone with a secret to keep and that the authorities might actually do something about it if they tell.

I am also very certain the incidence of clergy sex abuse perpetration has not noticeably diminished in the past 18 years. The only church that is making serious attempts to address the issue is the Catholic Church. They are lightyears ahead of Protestant churches on this problem — which is ironic since the public image is still that clergy sex abuse is a Catholic issue because of clergy celibacy. And perhaps this stereotype contributes to Protestant churches’ continued belief that it’s “not that big a problem for us” and thereby excusing themselves (collectively) from taking the definitive and painful steps the Catholic church has had to take to address it. Since there is a tendency among Protestant churches to vilify the Catholic church in the first place, it is easy to classify clergy sex abuse as a problem distinctively characteristic of priests required to be celibate against their nature.

The truth is that clergy sex abuse is at least as systemic in Protestant churches as it is in Catholic churches because it’s not about sex or celibacy. It is about power and, unfortunately, church leadership is a classic “power” position. That doesn’t make every pastor a predator by any remote stretch of the imagination. But it does mean that church leadership is a position that will appeal to a predator — not just because it gives him/her access to prey but because it scratches that person’s basic drive for power.

Just pondering here, what might be some effective sex offender legislation that would affect clergy? There’s a limit to what the law can do without overstepping religious boundaries. But civil authorities could perhaps prohibit an authority figure from holding a job where he/she has oversight of children or their parents (since by having authority over parents he can influence and have access to the children). For instance, a convicted sex offender could not be a school principal, a day-care owner, or a pastor. Does that make sense? I’d love to hear some other ideas, too.

Pastor Frank “Skip” Gleason Pleads Guilty to Molestation Charge

My thanks to the Morning Sentinel in Maine for this story.

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A former Carrabec High School administrator who on Tuesday pleaded guilty to sexual abuse of a minor faces a maximum of 364 days in jail for his crime.

Frank “Skip” Gleason, 60, of Anson, was accused of hugging, kissing and fondling a 15-year-old boy during a ride home from a school.

Alan Kelley, deputy district attorney for Kennebec and Somerset counties, said Gleason entered his plea before Justice Joseph Jabar early Tuesday morning in Kennebec County Superior Court. Gleason will appear in Somerset County Superior Court within 90 days for sentencing, Kelley said.

Kelley said the state dropped the first count of unlawful sexual conduct in exchange for Gleason’s guilty plea on the sexual abuse charge.

“The two counts are the same so, realistically, in terms of sentencing, they arise out of the same incident,” Kelley said. “It would be the same sentence.”

Gleason remains free on his original bail of $1,500 cash.

According to an affidavit obtained on Dec. 26, Gleason admitted in a taped phone conversation to sexual contact with the 15-year-old male Carrabec student. It is the policy of the Morning Sentinel not to name the victims of sex crimes.

Lt. Carl E. Gottardi II, a Somerset County Sheriff’s Department detective, was present with the victim when the conversation was recorded on Dec. 22. Later that day, Gottardi arrested Gleason.

Since then, Gleason has resigned his positions as assistant principal and athletic director at Carrabec. He also has stepped down as pastor of Maranatha Assembly in Anson.

The incident with the boy, according to the affidavit, occurred on the night of Dec. 21, when Gleason gave him a ride home following a basketball game. Gleason pulled the boy toward him, hugging, kissing him and then fondling him, the document states.

Kelley said Gleason’s guilty plea was an open one and not a plea bargain. That means Gleason’s sentence will be determined by a judge.

Josh Tardy of Newport, Republican leader in the state House of Representatives, is Gleason’s attorney.

The state considers both crimes to be misdemeanors. Kelley explained that the same crimes involving a victim 13 or younger would be felonies.

“It’s a legislative judgment,” Kelley said. “If people feel that changes should be made, it’s certainly something they can address with their legislators.”

Gottardi praised the student for coming forward, while expressing disappointment at the maximum penalty allowed by law.

“It’s unfortunate, but we don’t make the laws,” Gottardi said.

Tardy declined to comment as to the sentence he will seek for Gleason. He said it would be inappropriate for him to comment on the state’s minimum sentences.