Friday, November 05, 2004

Abuse in the OALC

This is from a post on pasty.com in a discussion about the OALC:
"In this atmosphere of fear and uncertainty, many abuses take place. From spouse to spouse, parent to child, child to child and from leaders to congregation. The average person in this group deals with at least one source of abuse, some suffer many. I know, I was one of them, and I know so very many more who cry silently for help from somewhere, and because of the exclusivity in this group, no outside counciling or intervention is allowed the church members. Many of the older people in this church know what is happening, but claim that all answers are found "in this Living Christianity"."

This is an incendiary topic and I implore you to remain calm, refrain from personal attacks and consider what the OALC could do to improve its handling of this issue.

Obviously, abuse is a global problem, not just the OALC's. But certain conditions can make it more likely to occur and harder to prevent. (I'm talking about physical abuse here and I know of what I speak. So don't say it isn't happening.) Are church leaders obstructing justice when they ask victims not to report abusers to the authorities? Are they putting the victims at risk for further abuse? Are victims believed when they report abuse? Are victims afraid of reporting because they are afraid of being blamed? What role does gossip play in keeping people mute? Are wives expected to be subservient to their mates? How are children in large families supervised? How are they taught to respect boundaries?

Benjamin Franklin said: As we must account for every idle word, so must we account for every idle silence.

14 comments:

  1. A debate about abuse in the OALC on a pasty website? I don't know whether to laugh or cry. Either way, it's fascinating.

    Under which heading is the discussion?

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  2. To Me

    You have to go to http://www.pasty.com/discuss/messages/313/961.html to get to this site.

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  3. Abuse is a problem in the OALC as it is elsewhere. The first step in dealing with any problem is to recognize that there is a problem. In my 40-some years in the OALC, I never heard child abuse, spouse abuse, sexual molestation or rape, mentioned or preached against directly and strongly. These are sensitive subjects, they are real, and they need to be dealt with forthright. This is a mistake the OALC makes. It's easier to dance around the subject, and hope everyone gets the message.

    Abuse should ALWAYS be reported to the authorities. No church should protect perpetrators and predators. No family, no spouse, no sibling, no one should protect perpetrators and predators. Not doing so puts victims and others at risk for further abuse.

    Are victims believed? That's hard to say. I've not been a victim myself and cannot speak for others. I have heard that victims have been encouraged to forgive their perpetrators, and that minor victims have sometimes been advised not to tell their parents. This is not good. Parents must be told. Parents have an obligation to protect their children and punish the perpetrator.

    Are victims afraid to speak up in the OALC? Perhaps they are. Dealing with abuse in a clear and forthright manner will encourage victims to not be afraid to speak up.

    Gossip? If my child were a victim, let's say of sexual molestation, you bet I'd be on the phone from the east coast to the west coast, with every congregation in between, to warn parents and have my story heard.

    Are spouses expected to be subservient to their mates? Webster's defines subservience as slavish obedience. I don't believe marriage was created and ordained by God with that in mind.

    How are children in large families supervised? Many are probably supervised well, some are not. This is a problem. It would have been refreshing to hear the OALC preachers speak more on this topic. I believe there are children in small families that are not properly supervised also.

    As a parent, it's imperative to teach your children healthy boundaries. I know OALC parents who are convinced it's okay to let their children sleep over at other OALC homes, but not at "worldly" homes. This is not smart. There are predators everywhere, and it behooves OALC parents to be careful here.

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  4. Myth: Most children are attacked by a stranger. Fact: Eighty percent of children will be abused by someone they know. The most common perpetrator is the father or stepfather, followed in frequency by other male relatives.

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  5. Unrelated to the topic of abuse: Hello all! This site is obviously getting a lot of attention. I've been reading the comments here have two suggestions:

    Ex-OALCers: Attempting to persuade others will only be met by resistance. Can we not instead share our experiences so that others will know they are not alone?

    OALCers: Kindly try to understand why some of us have left. Our experiences are no joke. We'd appreciate some acknowledgement, and if that's not possible, permit me to remind you we're not impressed with more of what we've heard enough of already.

    Thanks!

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  6. Regarding child abuse in the OALC... it is a bigger problem than anyone could imagine. The Child Abuse intervention officer in Battle Ground told a friend of mine never to take her kids back to that church, ever! Why? Because child abusers are protected in that system.
    I know this because it happened to my own daughter. The preachers told me not to go to the authorities (the technical term for that is obstruction of justice, and it is ILLEGAL).
    Child molestation is awful for everyone involved. It is tragic for the child, and produces much guilt and shame in the perpetrator. It is an ongoing cycle (most abusers were abused) and, coupled with denial, becomes a volcano waiting to erupt.
    When there is no victory and no help for those involved, it is a hopeless situation. That, unfortunately, is what is going on in abusive churches that cover up for atrocities of this nature.
    I personally know and have had contact with at least fifty people, many in my own family who have been molested within the OALC. Sexual abuse is a crime; to protect molesters as a spiritual leader is the ugliest sin that I can imagine. Not only does it not help the victim, it does not help the molester. There is no victory there.
    If you are in the OALC and you have children, watch out! And if your child tells you they have been molested (ask them!), hold the perpetrator accountable. It is the only loving thing to do.

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  7. Also unrelated to the topic of abuse:

    Does anyone have any insight or knowledge as to REALLY why the OALC does not have double-ring wedding ceremonies, and why husbands are not encouraged to wear wedding rings?

    I have heard that men are supposed to show the world they are married by their behavior; cannot the same be said for women? Seems a double standard here.

    I have also wondered why in America OALC brides are told that floor length wedding gowns are wrong, when the Scandinavian OALC brides wear them. This is true-I've seen photos.

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  8. I have to respond, because you asked and this is the funniest thing I've ever heard:

    About wedding rings, I heard that it is a sin for a man to wear a ring because one man went into a bar and traded his ring for a whore. Therefore men should not wear wedding rings.

    Follow the logic: This man would stop seeking after the flesh if things were stripped from him that were worth anything. Apparently, they should start preaching against watches, money, and vehicles because they all have value and could potentially be traded for a whore.

    How about (just a thought) leading people towards a Holy Spirit that will help them fight sin internally without taking away their wedding ring. Personally, I think it's easier for a man to get a prostitute without one. :)

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  9. Hi, all. I am sorry we have to meet under these circumstances although it is very likely some of us played together as young kids at church. I have been hoping someone else would stand up and be heard. I was also molested by a cousin in the church. When I finally told, NOTHING was done...it was swept under the rug. It has been over twenty years since I attended oalc for Sunday services. I have only returned to attend funerals of close relatives. I am so relieved to find others who have left and started over. Hope to hear from you soon.

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  10. Every church that I am aware of would not report a member of their church to the police. The best example is the catholic church and the wayward preists.
    No matter the crime commited, no church I know of will turn them in. They encourage the guilty to get help but never to call the police. That is up to the quilty one to decide.
    That is not something unique to any church.

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  11. I'm believe you are mistaken. Confessors and clergy, just like doctors and therapists, have some legal reporting responsibility (it varies by locality and crime). In practice, many churches probably do tell those who confess crimes to report themselves to legal authorities. Case in point: in Seattle last week, it was reported that a churchgoer confessed to his minister that he had molested children, and he was told to report it immediately to the police, which he did. He will be prosecuted.

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  12. You are definitely mistaken.
    In my church, it came to the pastor's attention that there was a circumstance of physical violence toward a child by someone very active in the church. He was turned in to CPS.
    In a healthy church, there is accountability for abuse.

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  13. Hello There,
    I just wanted to see if you were currently interested in additional guest bloggers for your blog site.
    I see that you've accepted some guest posters in the past - are there any specific guidelines you need me to follow while making submissions?
    If you're open to submissions, whom would I need to send them to?
    I'm eager to send some contributions to your blog and think that I can cover some interesting topics.
    Thanks for your time,
    Tess



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  14. You can send guest posts to extoot (at) gmail (dot) com. The only guidelines are "of interest to former Laestadians" and "not too long." These are not hard and fast, obviously. :-)

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