WHAT? Throw out the baby instead?!
Updated: Dec 28, 2019
We've heard it over and over: "Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater!" I don't think I need to explain the meaning of the phrase, rather offer its relevance to my topic. Unfortunately, I also do not need to explain the significance of #MeToo and #MeTooChurch among Christians, while even respected Buddhists voices are joining those sexually violated in religious settings.
This is not just the problem of the Christian Church but a problem among all "religious" groups and yes, people are tired of hearing about it. But that's the point. Every movement bringing about real social change has been challenged by persons who would rather silence the voices by getting rid of the baby along with the bathwater of possible social transformation. In my particular case, I felt that my voice was a nuisance, that it was easier for the institution to get rid of me for pointing out that the bathwater in my religious organization was seriously polluted; it was easier to throw me out instead of the dirty bathwater. I am not alone in this experience.
Many do not want to hear the voices of those pointing out the need for change, but it is the constant "nagging" and speaking out, and refusing to be silent which eventually makes a difference. Yet in the process, many victims are silenced. As Marie Fortune observed, "many have left the church in order to survive. But we must remember that they did not leave voluntarily; they were driven away by an institution that failed in its responsibility to protect its people from the unethical and exploitative practices of its leaders. Those who have left represent a huge loss for us all." [Poling, N. (1999). From Victim to Survivor: women recovering from clergy sexual abuse. (p. x). Cleveland, OH: United Church Press.]
My hope is to encourage those who have been painfully silenced, not to give up nor to shut up; to continue the journey to bring about change; to continue speaking out, and in the process experience the personal transformation which is possible along the healing journey. For this reason, I have written an article intended for those who have endured the sexual, spiritual and emotional violation of a trusted religious leader. In it I write that healing is a journey rather than a goal, a journey filled with amazing surprises, persons and perspectives. The article The Healing Path: A Faith Journey was published this week in the monthly newsletter of The Hope of Survivors, an organization dedicated to helping victims and educating religious institutions about power structures and the need for change.
Please feel free to pass it on to anyone you know who may have experienced the violation of trust at the hand of a religious leader and/or community. Thank you for supporting the voices of change. Thank you when you do not simply tune out and ignore the problem, or label someone as a "drama queen," but are willing in some small or large way to be a catalyst for social transformation!