What an interesting week! I did not go to Hyles Anderson, although I did visit First Baptist in Hammond, Indiana back around 1999 and got to see then pastor Jack Hyles give a Mother’s Day sermon. He preached against women wearing pants and I was very surprised to see the majority of men dressed like the Blues Brothers. That certainly wasn’t the case with my former fundamentalist church, Trinity Baptist in Jacksonville, Florida. Florida, of course, is more casual and a little hotter than the Chicago/Hammond area, so our suits were a little bluer when they weren’t earth tones.
Jack Schaap, the pastor recently fired from his job after inappropriate relations with a 16 year old girl, married into the Hyles family and, after Jack’s death, became the pastor of First Baptist. Rumors were flying, and a blogger recently insinuated, that Jeff Owens was being considered as the new pastor. I bought it, posted it only to find out that wasn’t the case. So, I removed the reference and, unlike a lot of bloggers, not only admitted it (in the comment section) but even allowed negative comments to be posted.
Most bloggers on this issue aren’t doing that under the guise of protecting victims. Always a good excuse to evade issues! Victims need to be strengthened not kept in a state of weakness. If you feel other blogs aren’t allowing your viewpoint to be aired, feel free to comment on this blog. Other than SPAM or obviously threatening comments (like posting people’s home addresses, etc), most posts will be approved.
The goal is not to be Moses coming down from the Mountain with a new Ten Commandments for Survivors. The goal of anything should be to create dialogue. Not to posture as an advocate (please don’t call me the ‘a’ word!), activist,researcher, or concerned citizen or anything like that. Simply to fulfill the vital need for communicating about issues that are not being discussed that need to be addressed.
One of my favorite comments on the previous article described it as shoddy journalism. It’s my favorite because I certainly don’t consider myself a journalist. I’m an armchair quarterback having earned my stripes during the Bob Gray saga, which carried on to being invited to help form the Survivors of Institutional Abuse (because of my role in the closing of Victory Christian Academy, Ramona, CA), and currently working with HEAL as California coordinator.
That last one usually involves taking phone calls from parents or survivors of abusive treatment centers. I’m usually trying to talk parents out of sending their kids to these centers or I’m helping those who just got out of such places to find the help they need. The last part is no picnic, but that’s another story that others may tell.
I’ve gone full circle in this ‘accidental activism’. While I’m still California co-ordinator for HEAL, my passion and thoughts are devoted to creating a film adaptation of Christian School Confidential, my novel inspired by a variety of scandals regarding pastors abusing children in their flock. It took two years to write that book and, to my surprise, gave me a huge sense of closure after I finished writing it. Hopefully, it will do the same for survivors who realize that the justice system and religious institutions are not working for their common interest.
True closure involves talking about the abuse, not just once, but sometimes even two, three, or more times until the survivor realizes s/he has also gone full circle. If the person you’re speaking with is not receptive, you have to go elsewhere. Advocacy can help but it can also be a two edged sword as there are predators in advocacy just like everywhere else. My concern is some advocates are keeping people in a cycle of eternal victim hood by keeping them fearful and silent, albeit for different reasons. In the end, there are no good guys or bad guys, just horribly flawed human beings trying to protect their turf.
There is a need for ‘devil’s advocacy’, if you want to win. You have to be able to critique your methods and discuss the reality of the situation before egg gets on your face. So, while my current focus is networking to get my film projects off the ground, from time to time I’ll come on here to discuss matters that I’m not seeing discussed anywhere else. If you want to join in or suggest a topic, feel free to use the comment section or email me at email@example.com.
Let’s start out with something politically incorrect, shall we?
Jack Schaap allegedly drives a teenage girl (16/17?) across state lines where it is legal to have sex with a girl of 17. Has he broken the law? True, it could be argued he drove the girl with the intention of having sex with a minor (as considered in his state). Trafficking requires there to be a crime committed, though. If it’s legal in that state could it also be argued he was not, in fact, doing anything illegal as long as the sexual activity took place in that state? Does the girl’s right to not be violated at 17 change when she enters a state where it’s perfectly legal for her to engage in such activity?
In that sense, did Jack Schaap commit a crime? For that matter, is it a crime for a citizen of a state where gambling is illegal to gamble in Nevada? Or any state where it’s legal? You can ask the same question about wet/dry counties, or any situation where something is legal in one place but illegal in another. I’m sure David Gibbs, Schaap’s lawyer, will have some interesting points to make on this very topic when/if this goes to trial. All ears are open!
My view is the age of consent should be a Federal Standard. What’s legal in one state should be legal in all. This flies in the face of State’s Rights purists, but it would sure make things less confusing.