The Powerful Men of Evangelicalism Suddenly Care about Sexual Abuse of Children? Prove it.

*All opinions are my own and in no way represent those of my employer.

For years now, activist bloggers, including the Wartburg Watch, Boz Tchividian of G.R.A.C.E., and I have posted again and again about the rampant sex abuse of children in churches and church leaders horrific responses to sexual abuse of children in their congregation.

See these posts for examples:

Here are some of my posts that I have written on the topic:

However there is little evidence that the powerful in the church (and shouldn’t that phrase be an oxymoron?) take sex abuse of minors seriously. In fact, many of the most heard voices in the Evangelical community continue to cover sex abuse and even make jokes about the cover-ups. Recently, while SNAP (Survivor Network of those Abused by Priests) protested CJ Mahaney’s inclusion as a speaker in the 2016 Together for the Gospel Conference , Al Mohler, the head of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and regarded as one of Evangelicalism’s most influential people, took the podium and used the opportunity to make a joke at the victim’s expense. He stated “I told C.J. that in getting ready to introduce him I decided I would Google to see if there was anything on the Internet about him.”, referring to the activism online calling out Mahaney for years of covering up sex abuse. There are far too many  cases to list here of powerful men in Evangelicalism who have attempted to cover up the crime of child sex abuse or rape or who have sided with the perpetrator showing little to no concern with the victim, but here are just a few:

  1. CJ Mahaney’s cover up of the widespread sexual abuse of numerous minors
  2. Doug Wilson’s victim blaming and siding with a child rapist and presiding over the marriage of a known pedophile to a church member and asked for leniency after the conviction of the pedophile and then presided over the pedophile’s marriage to a church member.
  3. Ken Ramey’s insistence that a mother of a developmentally delayed youth who had been raped so severely he required medical attention keep quiet about the situation and to submit to a church mediated reconciliation process and put her under discipline when she refused. See  sources here and here and here. (This has been updated for accuracy. The child is not developmentally disabled but is delayed and the mother had already contacted authorities/medical attention by the time they met with Ken Ramsey as opposed to him requiring her not to call).

In fact the number one reason that churches end up in court is because of sexual abuse of a child. (Credit Church Law and Tax)

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However despite all their covering of their own behinds, patting each others backs and  recklessly disregarding victims to the point of making jokes at their expense, suddenly all these people seem to care about is the SAFETY of CHILDREN from sexual assault. I should be happy about this right? Isn’t that what I have been asking them to care about all along? Except the way they are going to protect children is to not allow transgender people to use the bathroom of their choosing.

Seriously.

Although transgender people, especially transgender women, were far more likely to be victimized than the general population, at a rate of as high of 66% being victims of sexual assault in their lifetimes, they feel that further putting transgender people in danger will help to make children somehow safer. They used the argument while transgender people wouldn’t be perpetrating the abuse, cisgender males would take advantage of dressing like women to perpetrate on women and children in women’s bathrooms. This point was made especially clear with Libby Ann’s blog Conservative Rhetoric and Transgender Bathroom Battles. (As a side note the emphasis is on a fear of transgender females rather than transgender males, who would, under the South Carolina law would be forced to use the women’s restroom. Most likely this is due to the predominate patriarchal culture’s belief that a male having feminine traits is horrible while a female having male traits is accepted, since male traits are seen as superior or naturally desirable).It is especially ironic that many in the far right, who traditionally believe in less government control are asking for more laws and more government control in regards to this issue. For years, transgender people have been using bathrooms that correlate with their gender and nothing happened. Suddenly, in the far right there is an outcry for states to make new laws, even though videotaping, spying, and any form of sex abuse in a bathroom is already against the law. It seems those in the far right want the government out of their private business unless it’s someone else’s business and then it’s ok, especially if they are a minority. Since when does one have to carry a birth certificate to go pee? And what if one is born with genitals that are not easily classified as either male or female, which is fairly common. For instance, Nate Sparks points out that the rate of people who are born intersex is more common than being born with red hair.

This clearly isn’t about protecting children. It’s just not. It’s about fear of other people and about those in power (READ: white, cis, Christian men) marginalizing other people even more. The reality is, is while it does rarely occur, statistically very few child sexual assaults are committed by strangers. At least ninety percent of perpetrators of sexual abuse are known to the child and I suspect the number is much higher than that, due to the far greater likelihood that a child would report against a stranger rather than someone he or she knew and who had been actively grooming them. I have worked in child protection for eight and a half years. Our office receives around 50-100 reports of suspected child abuse and neglect every month and I can’t remember even one of them being perpetrated by a stranger in a bathroom. Most sexual abuse is perpetrated in the child’s home, school or church. In fact, the very cultures that these powerful men of Evangelicalism create, makes it more likely that children will be sexually abuse. For instance, according to the CDC it is more likely that sexual abuse of children will take place in environments with hostility towards women, adherence to traditional gender role norms and hyper-masculinity.  The people we should be concerned about are people that the child knows and trusts such as relatives, teachers, neighbors, and pastors.
So what can people actually do to help?

  • Teach children body autonomy. Make sure the child knows that their body is theirs and no one else. Allow your children to say no to physical touch starting from a very young age.  See some really great tips in starting to teach this are found in 5 Phrases That Can Help Protect Your Child from Sexual Abuse and starting conversations in When Kristoff asks Anna for Consent in Frozen
  • Listen and believe victims. I can’t stress this enough. Our entire culture is primed to believe adults over children especially when it comes to sexual assault and most often churches and pastors take the side of the perpetrator rather than the victim.
  • Report to proper authority immediately. This includes the police and CPS. Do not let this be handled “in-house” in churches. Sexual abuse of a child is a crime  not just a sin. And in many places, not reporting it is also a crime.
  • Stop victim blaming. Sexual abuse of children is 100% the perpetrators fault. Full stop. No matter what the victim was doing, wearing, or drinking. If there is no consent (and there can’t be with children due to their age) it’s rape.
  • When there is doubt, over protect. Even if the accused is innocent, there is absolutely no harm in putting additional safe guards in place. There is no reason for anyone who has been accused of sexual assault to be alone with a child at any time, even if that person is thought to be innocent. Most people who are not predators actively try to make sure they aren’t put in a position where they are alone with a child. If someone tries to isolate children, then is defensive of their position, the community should be on high alert and should never allow that person alone or in a position of power over children.

If you really want to stop sexual abuse, start the conversations at the top, call out those who are protecting perpetrators or covering up abuse, call for longer sentences, over protect, believe victims and teach consent and body autonomy. However marginalizing transgender people and making it more unsafe for them in a public restroom is not in away safeguarding children. It’s just another way the powerful have twisted information to make it seem like they care, when they are actually just using it as an excuse to discriminate.

 

 

 

 

 

The First Step To Orphan Care is Family Preservation

November is Adoption Month and many churches remember Orphan Sunday (this year it was November 8) during the month. In the Old Testament, God is often described as a father and defender of the fatherless and many commandments ensure justice and care for those who do not have parents, such as Isaiah 1:17 which states “Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.”  In the New Testament, James states, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”(1:27)

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There is not many things closer to my heart than foster care and adoption and this month, I will be doing posts on both of those topics in honor of Adoption month, however the very first thing we can do as Christians is prevent children from becoming orphans, whether legally or by poverty.

Most children that are adopted out of foster care in the United States are not true orphans; one or both of their parents are generally still alive. However, because of the parent’s inability to care for the children due to a variety of reasons such as substance abuse, mental health issues, poverty, developmental disabilities, and domestic violence, they are unable to safely care for their children. Many of these problems are generational and parents have not been safely parented themselves as children, so have no idea how to be a safe, healthy parent.

Internationally, many children are true orphans due to preventable diseases, lack of clean water or food, AIDSwars, and women dying in childbirth. Many more parents internationally feel they cannot care for their children due to extreme poverty, lack of resources, and cultural concerns.

As a church, we have the resources and the command to preserve families by providing the care both locally and internationally to prevent parents from having their children removed or from being forced to give them up for adoption because of the lack of resources.

Here are specific ways the church can help prevent children from becoming either legal or true orphans. Locally, Christians can provide a space for NA/AA meetings, reach out to people who are struggling with addictions, create spaces where it is safe to ask for professional help for mental illness, speaking positively about necessary psychotropic medications, help people with transportation to and from mental health and substance abuse treatment appointments, provide food and volunteer at food banks and pantries, volunteer to teach parenting (ABC Pregnancy Care Center has a peer parenting program), come alongside a young mother or father and mentor them regarding healthy child care, create a space where non-violent parenting is taught, validate father’s raising children, teach child development, teach budgeting skills, teach youth bystander skills to prevent rape and domestic violence, teach employment skills, teach sexual education including topics such as consent and contraceptive use, offer free contraceptives, offer affordable child care, teach that domestic violence is not to be tolerated, offer or support a safe space for victims of domestic violence to stay with their children, pet sitting for victims of domestic violence (often abusers will threaten children and animals of the victim and shelters often don’t accept animals), offer healthy relationship classes and marriage counseling, allow a parent with a developmental disability and their child/ren to reside with your family to care for both the parent and the child, and create a homeless shelter or housing network.

Internationally, the church can provide communities with wells for access to clean water, sustainable horticultural skills for families to grow and raise food; micro loans with financial education for families to start small businesses; hygiene, nutrition and basic health training; disease prevention; educating girls and women; providing vaccinations; providing  quality prenatal and childbirth health care including training local midwives; providing access contraceptive; providing sexual education including topics of consent and contraceptive use; prevent child marriages; and education to men to prevent domestic violence and rape.

Some of these these things are pretty huge but some are fairly simple and wouldn’t cost much in the amount of time or money. If the church works to prevent children from becoming orphans, more families could safely and healthily care for their own children. There would be less trauma to children and less broken hearts of parents and there would be more resources and families to adopt true orphans. We could be doing so much more to create healthy families and communities. Until we get there, we will have many legal orphans that need homes. I will be discussing that next week.

What are other specific ways the church could prevent children from becoming orphans?

Celebrity and Focusing on Women’s Appearance rather than Achievement

“Is fat really the worst thing a human being can be? Is fat worse than vindictive, jealous, shallow, vain, boring, evil or cruel? Not to me.” J.K. Rowling (Author, Philanthropist, President of Gingerbread)

There can be no denying that celebrities heavily influence our culture. They often define for us, especially younger people, what is in fashion, what are important political and social causes, and even what appropriate interactions with others are. In recent years with the development of Twitter and Instagram, non-celebrities can interact with celebrities, and often female celebrities are harassed for their appearance. While there is some expected loss of privacy that goes along with celebrity, negative criticism of appearance seems to be especially prevalent with female celebrities, which, in turn, influences the broader culture’s treatment toward women’s bodies.

This morning while putting on my makeup and listening to the Today Show (one of my guilty pleasures, although I have been known to shout at Matt Lauer for asking yet another successful female how she balances work and home life and at Hoda Kotb for defending catcallers), they presented a story how P!nk responded to body shaming on Twitter after she appeared at an award ceremony for Dr. Maggie DiNome, Chief of General Surgery at Saint John’s Hospital. Instead of lauding Dr. DiNome for her contributions to stopping cancer, or acknowledging P!nk’s support of her, people instead commented that on her weight, even calling her fat. P!nk’s response was awesome:

“I can see that some of you are concerned about me from your comments about my weight. You’re referring to the pictures of me from last night’s cancer benefit that I attended to support my dear friend Dr. Maggie DiNome. She was given the Duke Award for her tireless efforts and stellar contributions to the eradication of cancer. But unfortunately, my weight seems much more important to some of you. While I admit that that dress didn’t photograph as well as it did in my kitchen, I will also admit that I felt very pretty. In fact, I feel beautiful. So, my good and concerned peoples, please don’t worry about me. I’m not worried about me. And I’m not worried about you either:)… I am perfectly fine, perfectly happy, and my healthy, voluptuous and crazy strong body is having some much deserved time off. Thanks for your concern. Love, cheesecake.” P!nk (Singer, Songwriter, Actor, PETA spokesperson, Philanthropist for multiple charities)

If P!nk, who is known for her incredibly athletic and acrobatic feats during her concerts, can be degraded as fat, than anyone one can. The ideal is to be very thin, but not too thin, since Giuliana Rancic recently felt that she had to reveal her health issue to the public because people were harassing her online for being too skinny. This is just a couple of thousands of messages women are bombarded with every week .

“Young women are bombarded by images of perfection which no human being can really achieve”. Emma Watson (Actor, UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, spokesperson for HeForShe)

Women are taught by our culture that to be valued, one must be pretty and thin. The highest a female can aspire to is to be beautiful. We are taught that hard work, education, ambition, kindness, generosity, and courage can be dismissed if one is “fat”. This puts most women in a no win situation. While I can always be kind, have many opportunities to be generous, can read more, or strive harder for that promotion, our appearance is extremely difficult to change and as we age, will be, by our culture’s standards, progressively worse. If our ambition is to fit our culture’s standards of beauty we will be fighting a battle we are guaranteed to eventually lose.

“The conversation about women’s bodies exists largely outside of us, while it is also directed at (and marketed to) us, and used to define and control us. We are described and detailed, our faces and bodies analyzed and picked apart, our worth ascertained and ascribed based on the reduction of personhood to simple physical objectification. Our voices our personhood, our potential, and our accomplishments are regularly minimized and muted. The insanity has to stop.” Ashley Judd (Actor, Global Ambassador for YouthAids, Leadership Council of the International Center for Research on Women)

If instead, we focused on our accomplishments as women, what we do and say, instead of how we looked, we could strive to be progressively better. As I age, I learn more patience, I am less judgmental, I have accomplished more in my career and in my hobbies, and have deepened my relationships.

“You may not agree with a woman, but to criticize her appearance- as opposed to her idea or actions- isn’t doing anyone any favors, least of all you. Insulting a woman’s looks when they have nothing to do with the issue at hand implies a lack of comprehension on your part, and inability to engage with high level thinking. You may think she’s ugly, but everyone thinks you’re an idiot.” – Hilary Clinton, (Attorney, Senator, Secretary of state)

This week, I am challenging myself and my readers, when you find yourself being critical of someone’s appearance, including your own, make conscious effort to instead focus on the person’s accomplishments instead and when you feel the drive to change your own appearance remember you always have the option to be kind, you always have the option to be loving, you always can do something good for someone else. Isn’t that what makes you beautiful?

“Who taught you that the value of a woman is the ratio of her waist to her hips and the circumference of her buttocks and the volume of her lips? Your math is dangerously wrong; her value is nothing less than infinite.” Della Hicks-Wilson (Poet).

18 Reasons You Shouldn’t be a Judgmental Ass to Pregnant Women or Mothers Who are Not Wearing a Wedding Ring

  1. Perhaps, if she is pregnant, she is experiencing water retention that causes swelling and she can no longer fit her rings.
  2. Perhaps her wedding ring is being cleaned or repaired.
  3. Perhaps her wedding ring has suddenly started to turn their finger green or cause an allergic reaction.
  4. Perhaps she takes the teaching of the Bible literally when it states “Do not adorn yourselves outwardly by braiding your hair and by wearing gold ornaments” 1 Peter 3:3a
  5. Perhaps she is a widow.
  6. Perhaps she is a surrogate.
  7. Perhaps they are not her children and she is the nanny, babysitter, auntie etc.
  8. Perhaps she is not pregnant and you are being a judgmental ass about her weight.
  9. Perhaps her husband has deserted or divorced her.
  10. Perhaps she is a rape victim that has chosen to have the baby, which, if you are pro-life, you should be supporting and if your are pro-choice, you should believe is her right to chose.
  11. Perhaps she was accidentally artificially impregnated like Jane the Virgin and has decided to have the baby, which if you are pro-life, you should be supporting and if your are pro-choice, you should believe is her right to chose.
  12. Perhaps she is Mary, the mother of Jesus.
  13. Perhaps she has left or divorced an abusive or adulterous husband.
  14. Perhaps she is pregnant or has children from a long-term relationship but isn’t married and has decided to keep the children, which if you are pro-life, you should be supporting and if your are pro-choice, you should believe is her right to chose.
  15. Perhaps she is pregnant from a short-term relationship but isn’t married and has decided to have the baby, which if you are pro-life, you should be supporting and if your are pro-choice, you should believe is her right to chose.
  16. Perhaps she is pregnant from a one night stand, but has decided to have the baby, which if you are pro-life, you should be supporting and if your are pro-choice, you should believe is her right to chose.
  17. Perhaps she is pregnant and has multiple children from multiple different fathers, but has decided to keep the children, which if you are pro-life, you should be supporting and if your are pro-choice, you should believe is her right to chose.
  18. Perhaps none of the above is any of your business, because it is her life, her decisions, and her body.

Sexual Assault of a Child is Not an Affair

Yesterday, I was horrified when the Radio Kenai announcer Catie Quinn stated that Jeremy T. Anderson was appearing in court “for having an affair” with a fifteen year old student.

An affair is defined by Merriam-Webster as ” a romantic or passionate attachment typically of limited duration” with synonyms of “amour, fling, love, love affair, and romance”.

The definition of rape is “Unlawful sexual activity and usually sexual intercourse carried out forcibly or under threat of injury against the will, usually of a female or with a person who is beneath a certain age or incapable of valid consent” with synonyms being “assault, force, outrage, ravish, and violate”

When I looked at their site today, I couldn’t find the exact clip that I heard yesterday, however even in Radio Kenai’s written articles, such as Anderson Trial Set For January by Ashley Smith , she repeatedly refers to the rape of a child as an “affair” and a “relationship”. For example they state,  “The affair allegedly began in December of 2013 and continued through early May.” Yes, the fifteen year old reported to another teacher that she had been having an “affair” but a fifteen year old does not have the ability to consent to sex, especially sex with a teacher and, most likely, the teacher had been using the language of an “affair” when he groomed her. That’s what sex offenders do. They minimize and place blame on their victims.

A teacher sexually assaulting an underage student is not an “affair” or a “relationship”. It is rape. For the press to describe it as an affair/relationship is irresponsible as implies consent on the child’s part which she cannot give both as she is underage and the teacher is in a position of authority over her and it minimizes the crime of sexual assault committed by the teacher.

For further reading please see  Why Pastors Should Not Date their Congregants: My Story.

Public Pools and Body Image

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When I grew up in the 80’s and 90’s in Homer, Alaska, every year I was enrolled in swimming lessons at the local public high school pool. In Alaska, high school pools are usually the only pools in town and generally available to the public on a set hourly schedule with openings for lap swim, water aerobics, senior swim, home school groups, and infant and toddler groups in between swimming lessons and the high school swim team practice.

As a grade schooler, I would walk in from the frigid winter and get hit with a blast of heat and chlorine as I took off my shoes, hoping they wouldn’t get lost in the myriad of Moon boots, Sorels, and felt boots that lined the arctic entry way. As I walked to the locker room, echoes of yells and whistles bounced off the high tile walls and ceiling.

The locker room, built like most in that era, had rows of lockers, three toilet stalls, several mounted hair dryers, and round polls with shower heads around them and no privacy. The locker rooms would be crowded with women of all ages and sizes in various states of unselfconscious  undress. Young mothers were busily drying their child’s hair, older women would be changing out of their colorful skirted suits, toddlers with knee dimples and poochy bellies were wandering through a maze of legs with varicose veins, cellulite, wrinkles, scars, stretch marks and, because this was Homer, Alaska, a generous amount of unshaved leg hair. It was a chaotic mess of imperfections. It was real. It was beautiful.

Now, over twenty years later, the only time I see a female in any state of undress it is in a highly sexualized, posed, airbrushed,  and filtered image of a body that doesn’t exist in reality. Even celebrity women who are known for their beauty or gorgeous figures are airbrushed into an image of impossible perfection. Girls growing up today are inundated more than ever by impossible standards of ageless, hairless, scarless women who have been mostly painted by a computer artist in the internet, magazines, movies and pornography.  Because of the complete sexualization of nudity,  normal bodies are not seen. How a female’s body changes from childhood through puberty, adulthood, pregnancy, and aging is completely hidden.  Some insane people even tell breastfeeding women to “cover up”.

It is no wonder every woman I know struggles with their body image.  instead of seeing our bodies as fearfully and wonderfully made, we see a number on a scale that is never quite good enough. Instead of experiencing a body that can walk, run, write, think, play, work, comfort others with a hug, heal itself when injured, feel pleasure in sex, and potentially create a new life, we think it is too fat, too thin, too wrinkled, not big enough here, too small there, too jiggly, too boney, too hairy, and too old.

Instead of seeing food as fuel and nourishment necessary for our bodies to function well, we see it as the enemy or categorize it as “good” and “bad” and creating a  guilt cycle when we eat the “bad” food.  Instead of experiencing exercise to take care of our bodies and to strengthen it, we use it to punish ourselves for eating “badly” or “too much”.

I know because I struggle with this every day. My mood is influenced by the scale going up a half pound or not fitting into the pants I want to wear. I compare myself to movie stars and magazine models. I worry that I am being judged by my skinnier friends. I have been wanting to write this post for over a year, yet embarrassed to do so, feeling like it is too personal, even though every woman I know has similar struggles. So with this post, I am challenging myself and encouraging other women to love the body God gave you. Cherish it, nourish it, take care of it. Stop criticizing it and seeing it as the enemy. Be kind to yourself. Be positive about yourself. recognize it’s beauty and acknowledge that you were fearfully and wonderfully made.

 

Different

Trigger warning: discussion of domestic violence, child abuse, and rape.

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Romans 12:2 KJV

 Just in case you have been out of country, live under a rock, or your eyes glaze over and you become momentarily deaf every time you see a football uniform on the TV (like I do), the foot ball world has been recently rocked by stories of family abuse in the last several weeks. A video appeared of Ray Rice knocking out his then fiancé in an elevator and charges were filed against Adrian Peterson for leaving bleeding welts all over his four year old boy’s body.

Some of the social media reaction was predictably abysmal, rife with victim blaming and people defending “spanking”. Many people asked why Rice’s fiancé later married him and in reaction, the twitter hashtag #whyistayed began to trend, with domestic violence victims giving reasons to why they stayed as long as they did in a violent relationship. The reasons ranged from knowing the most dangerous time for a person is when they leave a DV relationship to the abuser threatening their children or animals to the abuser socially isolating them so they felt they had nowhere to go. However, as Boz Tchividjian of G.R.A.C.E. addresses in #whyistayed: Chruches Support Spousal Abuse, many of the reasons had to do with the response of the church or pastors to the abuse. Many pastors told the victim to endure to be a good witness or that God hates divorce or that they should be more submissive.

When I read the responses, I was not surprised but I thought the answer was obvious. These churches should council domestic violence victims to call authorities, refer them to a shelter, and encourage them to leave. Something about this response troubled me. I realized that it was the exact response most “secular” people would give an abuse victim. Was my response “conforming to the world”?

With more progressive Christians, a common criticism is that we have conformed to the world and look no different than the secular population. After all, it is easy to feel different as a Fundamentalist or conservative Evangelical. While the “rules” that are followed vary from church to church and person to person, often make differences are external, such as women not cutting their hair and only wearing skirts and men wearing polos and khaki slacks, not drinking alcohol, not watching R rated movies, not swearing, exclusively homeschooling, and not listening to secular music. When I was in a more conservative Evangelical environment, I often felt different. I hadn’t listened to that new album all my “public school friends” were listening to and I couldn’t bring myself to say a swear word, even when I stubbed my toe.

Now, I look at those things as legalism, simply following rules. However, what makes me different than the rest of the world? What is my response to the pastor  whose version of not conforming to the world is to encouraging a wife to stay with her abusive husband so she can be a good witness, or those who condone child abuse as scriptural, or those who say that God hates gay people?

It hit me then that our call in the face of abuse is not to conform to the world by handing a domestic violence victim a card to the shelter or encouraging her to leave him to leave his abusive spouse. I should not conform to the world by only reporting child abuse if I happen to see it. I should not conform to the world by voting for leaders who will provide more welfare for the poor. I should not conform to the world by just putting a Facebook profile picture confirming I believe in marriage equality.

We should be running the domestic violence shelters.

We should be preaching from the pulpits against domestic violence and child abuse.

We should be actively teaching our children respect and non-violence in relationships.

We should be feeding the poor and running food banks and soup kitchens.

We should be foster parents for abused and neglected children.

We should be meeting the needs of women who are unsure how they are going to provide for their unborn child.

We should be standing in support of the victims of sexual abuse in court.

We should be foster parents for the enormous amount of LGBTQ youth who are homeless because their parents kicked them out.

We should holding the AA and NA and Al-anon groups in our church basements.

We should be advocates and running hotlines for victims of sexual assault.

We should be different. We should not be conforming to apathy or to doing as little as possible.

We should be the ones on the front lines, combating poverty, abuse, racism, homophobia and sexism. We are the church. We are called to be the light and the salt of the world.