Wednesday, November 10, 2004

A Phone Call to the OALC

This site is averaging 53 visits a day, with the average visit lasting five minutes, 40 seconds. When I started this, I didn't know where it would go or why I felt called to do it, but it seems to be finding an audience, and I hope it helps where help is needed.

The recent posts about abuse were upsetting to me. Thinking of the kids who are suffering, I felt a call to action. Last night, I sat outside the house in my car and summoned up some courage and called an OALC preacher on my cell phone.

If it took him by surprise, he didn't show it. We traded small talk and then I told him about my blog and expressed my concerns over how the OALC is handling child abuse (in addition to the posts here, I've received emails and phone calls from ex-members about their experiences).

He asked for names. (Of course, I gave none.) He suggested some people make "false accusations." He decried the use of the internet to spread lies, and said people should go directly to the preachers with their concerns and added "there are bitter people out there."

When I told him that it was his moral and legal responsibility to tell victims to report abuse to the authorities, he reassured me that "the preachers know the law." He continued: "we can only pray that God's will be done" (is this a defense of passivity?), and that abuse is a "terrible, terrible sin" and that some people even go to jail for it (Catholics, maybe).

I suggested he help protect the children in his church by preaching about the issue, by telling them that they can say no to adults and that they can report abuse without being ashamed. I said abusers should be prosecuted and given psychiatric help, not simply allowed to repent and forget, and reoffend.

Did he hear me? Did he stop listening three seconds into the conversation? I don't know. There was some commotion in the background, perhaps he was double-tasking. He suggested I come visit with Elder Evald Larsen and another preacher this weekend and I demurred and we rang off.

Denial ain't just a river in Egypt, as they say. Readers, did I do the right thing?

7 comments:

  1. Hurray for you! You did the right thing. It needs to be brought out once and for all for the children's sake. The thought of their trust and innocence being shattered is almost unbearable. It is the trust and innnocence of my grandkids that is so wonderful and loving and you see no fear in their eyes.
    At Elders meetings (approx. 4 years ago) in Spearfish, one of the elders stated that 'christians' can commit a sin that is a capital crime and ask forgiveness from the preachers and that is all they have to do. My husband and I heard this with our own ears.

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  2. Years ago, I questioned the wisdom of allowing a man who had physically (rather severly, I might add) abused one of his infant children to have custody of them. This particular incident was obviously upsetting to many people but they had no answer other than the one we are all familiar with. Forgive and then move on. This is clearly not a good policy. Refer to my short essay on forgiveness and ponder the implications. This dilemma is not unique to the OALC. Mainstream Christian organizations, such as the National Council of Churches, often advocate a policy of forgiveness without the perpetrator even begging such. The focus seems to dwell on the concept of the victims mental well being. The sooner the incident is internally dealt with, the better. While we may feel that it is Christian to forgive, I don't believe that it is wise to forgive indiscriminately. Those that violate our basic moral sensibilities, as well as our laws in such a flagrant manner should be held accountable. Is their such a thing as "Christian" responsibility when it comes to confronting the unconfrontable?

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  3. Thank you!
    I am so proud of you.
    You did the right thing. Each time we present these things to the leaders, they have the chance to look at and reevaluate what they've been spinning. They're so busy pretending the millstone in Matthew 18 (for those who offend the little ones) is for those who bring a TV in their home, and then covering up for those who really are offending the little ones. I am not bitter, just saddened.
    In my Bible study video a couple weeks ago, Beth Moore said that we spend so much time being scared of people, and usually they are the most miserable people in the world.
    The Bible says perfect love drives out fear.
    Good for you!

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  4. I was just smiling thinking about the sermons that are going to be preached on this one.
    To be a bug on the wall... :)

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  5. God was working through you!! :)

    It amazes me the things we can do when we let Him be in charge.

    I certainly understand why a face to face meeting with Elder Larsen isn't in your plans for the weekend, but how about a call to him as well?...
    Without a follow up call to him, I'll bet the sermon will ramble about "false accusations", "the use of the internet to spread lies", and us "bitter people out there."

    That will likely be the content of the sermon either way. But if you don't make contact with the Elder, it may seem to the preacher you spoke to that you backed down from the challenge because you weren't confident enough about what you were saying to go "as high" as the Elders with your comments.

    Give Larsen the truth!!!
    I'll be praying for you to speak with truth, His strength and love...

    God Bless!

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    1. And maybe they just want to be educated more, on your thoughts and intelligence in the matter, they are not inhuman and need to be told and guided. Meet with them if you can! Be an advocate for them to help the children!!

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  6. Bev,
    "At Elders meetings (approx. 4 years ago) in Spearfish, one of the elders stated that 'christians' can commit a sin that is a capital crime and ask forgiveness from the preachers and that is all they have to do. My husband and I heard this with our own ears."

    Although I agree with your concerns regarding abuse and capital crimes, what you claim to have heard is taken entirely out of context. Especially when you stated: "that is all they have to do". This is a very sour misquotation. Maybe you are referring to the story that was shared regarding the lap, finn, or whatever he was, who had committed a murder, was repentant of his crime, and through the courts, was found not guilty?
    Whether or not that's the story you are referring to, I find it dishonorable to use linguistics to lead people to believe something that is not entirely true. You escaped the grasp of a church. Now be wary, lest you find yourself consumed in anger against it.

    --knowsnothing

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