Archive for August, 2012

HEAL is mentioned in a Huffington Post article by Art Levine.

Article: Romney Profits From Bain-owned Health Company Facing Wrongful Death, Neglect Allegations.

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The world of survivor politics is now at a stalemate. Many of us have accepted the worldview of our captors and now regard compromise as a dirty word. It’s as if those that subscribed to these values are pleading for the fundamentalists to regulate themselves by demonstrating some of us can be as backward as they can be. We have dropped the ball and if we continue this way, we will only have ourselves to blame for keeping the teen containment industry and other abuses associated with the IFB in good working order.

When I worked with Atheist’s United television outreach, I received a video from a group outside California for potential broadcast. This group was confronting Christians at a college and, at one moment, met a neo-Nazi. The video had both sides shouting over each other and, when the other guy showed up and gave a Nazi salute, it was really difficult to tell who was the fanatic and who was the voice of reason.

Atheists United in Southern California had a different take on dealing with people. We never allowed ourselves to get angry. We spoke in a calm voice and if anyone were to raise their voice, it would be the religionists. This actually put us in a better position and more people wound up respecting our stance, even if they didn’t accept it, than if we just yelled and shouted like we were auditioning for Crossfire.

This approach to activism for some of us have been lost. We’ve seen evidence of this with the zombie protests against Westboro Baptist Church and in practically every anti-IFB group on Facebook.

The issues are barely discussed and devil’s advocacy is a dirty word. Most survivor groups have been quite open about admitting they would never criticize the methods used by other survivors. This just happens to be the same method of operation used by IFBs for years.

The most scandal ridden IFB institutions have long held to a standard of never criticizing other fundamentalist institutions. Bob Jones University threw the first stone, by the way. After BJU began publishing booklets like ‘Facts John R. Rice Will Not Face’, IFB leaders took it upon themselves to announce the standard of never criticizing another fundamentalist ministry. It seemed they wanted to bypass the stigma created by BJU’s bitter words about their competitors.

It got so bad that anytime something critical was said about another fundamentalist, an entire section of fundamentalism would not only refuse to listen, but never fellowship, associate, call, or, for that matter, treat them like they even existed. It was a shunning. These ‘heretics’ would be banned forever!

“We never allow anyone to criticize another fundamentalist ministry.” Bob Gray, the late pastor of my former church, Trinity Baptist in Jacksonville, Florida, told us.

We would learn, after he was arrested for multiple counts of child abuse, he had good reason for not criticizing other fundamentalist ministries! Those who criticize the scandals of others must be prepared to be judged for their own scandals. Gray knew this and that’s why he cultivated the reputation of not being critical of fundamental ministries and earned the nickname, the ‘prince of preachers’.

In the world of survivor politics, we have survivors holding up the same IFB standard never to criticize other survivors or their methods. If any do, prepare to be disfellowshipped, defriended, blocked or even spoken of like you don’t exist.

This has taken root in the Facebook community and seems to be more prevalent with those who have survived IFB homes, or have had an IFB background. IFBs, and even non IFBs, have been relentless in trying to paint critics of homes into a convenient stereotype: bitter, wishy washy left leaning radicals. Consequently, in order to break the stereotypes, many will just try and center on the abuse, and only abuse, but leave unanswered many important questions regarding everything from sexuality to religion to separation of church and state to practical issues of tactical planning and activism.

These behavioral patterns inherited from controlling backgrounds short circuit practically any hope of success in activism or recovery. Everything from discussing tactical moves to seeking closure gets stymied by ‘mind readers’ who can’t seem to grasp that facebook posts, like most internet musings, are deceptive. Somehow, the ‘mind readers’ know our motives even if they never met us are talked with us!

Is the writer being sarcastic or someone new to activism expressing a position most logical people would come to? An influx of fresh faces will bring the same questions being asked over and over again, and, rather than practice patience, they’ll get shut out of the discussion. Some won’t even come back

We’re an emotional group! We affiliate harsh talk with ‘closure’ and seem surprised when people violently react toward us.

The self-sabotage continues with those who bash liberals even with the knowledge that conservative Republicans have consistently expressed support for the child containment industry. Granted, liberals have not been true supporters by virtue of tabling the discussions for political reasons, but whenever it’s come to a vote, hands down, Republicans are on the side of the industry.

Why do some victim’s advocacy groups endorse such political mudslinging on behalf of their board when it’s obviously self-defeating? Are we trying to prove to the IFB that although we demand accountability, at least, we’re not one of those godless liberals? Do you think by showing the IFB world we’re just as homophobic and politically reactionary as they are we’ll win them over? Good luck!

One of the reasons for this behavior might be to win over the approval of fundamentalists who might oppose abuse. These fundamentalists aren’t jumping over to defend victims because they think the victims are simply rebellious liberals suffering from a bad attitude who want to live like the devil and take away their guns and scarf drugs. Others might see survivors as people who have experienced genuine abuse and are bitter and can’t have a simple conversation without it turning into a referendum against child abuse and those who cover it up.

Either way, stereotypes need to be broken!

I’m seeing very little done to shatter the stereotype of survivors being bitter and irrational, and this is the most important stereotype that needs to be destroyed. Instead, I am seeing more victims trying to placate their captors by showing that, outside of abuse, they are just as conservative, homophobic, frantic and gun-toting as those who held their minds and bodies hostage.

Yes, there are good reasons to be angry and bitter, but personal issues should be taken care of in private: therapy sessions, support groups, even private internet groups. Once you decide to go public with accounts of abuse, it’s important to break the stereotype of victims as irrational folk with a chip on their shoulder. We need to learn to control our temper. To be more rational than they are. Cooler than they are. Maybe we have something to learn from our Atheist friends who never allow themselves to get into a shouting match with Christians?