Fighting evil by promoting the good »« Open thread on episode #818, Matt and Jeff

Inviting pedophiles into homes with children, a good idea?

I promised to keep this person anonymous and also asked permission to share this. It’s a good message about common sense, child welfare, and how religion can be used to cloud people’s better judgement:

…My very religious Evangelical Christian mother-in-law called last night. Her husband, my father-in-law, is a pastor and their church hosts some refugees from [insert Third-World Nation here]. They are really involved in “ministering” to these refugees and dealing with them is the joy of my mother-in-law’s life at the moment…It really makes her feel that God is using her.

One of these refugees, a middle-aged man, allegedly molested a child. The child called child protection services, and the man was arrested. He is currently in jail until his court date.

As my mother-in-law was explaining, she kept defending the man. She explained how nice a man he is, how faithful he is and how, if true, it was simply a mistake due to cultural differences. She tried to tell me his life story, about how he had a hard life and was, himself, abused as a child, etc. She was making excuses for him, empathizing with him, and then giving him the benefit if the doubt. She proceeded to explain how she suspected the child was setting him up or lied, etc.

I was so angry inside as she was explaining that I had to ask her to hold as pass the phone to my wife to help regain control, so I didn’t bite her ear off.

I recently found out that when I was a kid, my parents used to have Bible studies at our house…they’d invite all the church misfits. People with psychological problems, etc. My Dad felt he was being like Jesus by bringing all the undesirables into our house. Many of them really creeped my brother and I out, but there was one we feared. He would come to chat with us in the basement and ask us personal questions about our bodies, etc. He never touched us. Well, my dad recently admitted this man was a pedophile, and he knew it at the time. But through the power of the blood of Jesus, felt he was taking a healthy risk in faith by bringing him into our home.

This madness infuriates me to no end. I no longer feel comfortable letting my children be in their care, because of this!

If you made it this far, thanks for reading. Guess that was venting. There aren’t many people I can talk to around here about this stuff.

Comments

  1. mooniekate says

    I totally empathize with you, Anonymous. I can’t even…wow. Your parents put you in real physical danger, and they just might put your kids in dangerous situations, too. I know they are your parents, but if they don’t put your children’s safety first, they are not equipped to have them in their care. Please, I’m begging you, don’t put your kids in a situation that they can be hurt, or worse. I don’t think this is just venting. This is serious stuff.

  2. says

    It wouldn’t surprise me if these people fell into the same category as those who won’t vaccinate their kids because it’d be demonstrating a lack of faith in Jesus.

  3. jacobfromlost says

    Another example to add to the list under, “What’s the harm of religion/faith?”

    And where is it the believers say morality comes from again?

  4. says

    Sexual abuse of various kinds seem to be something that runs rampant through authoritarian organizations or groups. Maybe it’s about the power and the opportunities that creates? With Jehovah’s Witnesses, unless 2 people witness the assault, the elders will declare the accused innocent. If the victim (or the victim’s family – many of them are children) go to the police after the elders found them innocent, they will be disfellowshipped (shunned and excommunicated) for slandering that person.

    With Catholics, this seems to be a real conspiracy. With JWs, it’s more a procedural thing. As in, this is just the way it’s done and it doesn’t matter that it’s stupid and wrong. Typical authoritarian thinking IMO. :( Those without power often do defend the abusers. Maybe because they’re afraid themselves?

    http://www.miskeptics.org/2013/05/what-you-dont-know-about-jehovahs-witnesses-and-pedophiles/

  5. Danmera says

    You want to be wary of the Jehovah’s Witnesses who come to your door as well. The Watchtower of Jehovah’s Witnesses protects pedophiles, and send them door to door. Many JWs aren’t aware as this is kept secret from the rank and file. You only really know about it when it happens to you personally.
    There are many non-profits starting up to expose this, trying to stop it. Informing (insert religion here) that you know about these policies that protect the organization and not the people, might just help them work from within as hard as many of us are working from without.

    To know more about the pedophile protection policy, please visit AAWA.co

  6. says

    I really feel for you on this one. Having grown up as a Jehovah’s Witness, I can tell you they also have bizarre rules that end up actually protecting pedophiles. They handle things internally versus involving the authorities (and, they have lay ministers, not anyone qualified to handle these kinds of issues). Without getting the police involved, these pedophiles are free to prey upon the innocent children in the congregation, PLUS they’re going from door-to-door scoping out other potential victims. It’s sickening!

  7. says

    *swallows bile in back of throat from reading this*

    My 2c: Bringing a known pedophile into a home with children and allowing (possibly unsupervised?) access to those children is very irresponsible, if not criminally negligent. I think the humanity expressed by treating a pedophile as a normal person in a social setting is admirable. But, we don’t give drugs to people in a 12 step, we don’t let those convicted of running ponzi schemes have power of attorney over our assets, we don’t let those convicted of serious crimes become police officers. Parents (myself included): Children are not your property to do with what you will; you’re a custodian for their well being.

    *gets off high horse*

  8. Paul Wright says

    Not that I feel the question needs an answer, it’s obvious to me, but I’ll give one. Inviting paedophiles into any place where children are present is self evidently a stupid thing to do. It’s like a zoo allowing a visiting lion into the antelope enclosure. What the hell ?

    This is the massive problem I have with even moderate faith. In this case, people delude themselves that they are acting like Jesus or whatever and that this emulation of compassion is somehow a good and noble thing, and some divinity is at work and will ensure everything works out. It clouds their judgment and makes them negate the inherent dangers of their actions. But hey, if it all goes tits up, I guess they can just it was gods will right ? It could never be their fault could it ? Pfff. This kind of thing makes me mad.

  9. says

    I certainly wouldn’t let someone like that watch my kids. I don’t care if they are the grandparents, they are apparently irresponsible, and I wouldn’t be willing to take the risk of something happening.

  10. Monocle Smile says

    Just more evidence that if you mention God or Jesus, you can get away with just about anything here in the US…or at least a reduced sentence.

    • Raymond says

      Hey. If you are ever wanting for something horrific to read, let me know. I have some great links to ensure you have something horrific to read every day for the next year. ;)

  11. says

    It is possible that the man in question didn’t actually do anything wrong. Perhaps there was indeed some misunderstanding. Or perhaps the child lied or exaggerated. Things like that have happened. that may all well be true.

    I STILL WOULDN’T LEAVE HIM ALONE WITH MY CHILDREN EVEN FOR A SECOND!!!!!

    That in no way punishes that man. He has no right to be alone with other people’s children. And in fact, anyone with any sense would want to make sure they weren’t in a position to be accused of doing something like that again. So you are perhaps even doing him a favor by not leaving him alone with children.

    You are right. Stick by your guns. And if people don’t understand that, then I question their judgment.

    This is basic common sense. You are right. Don’t allow yourself to be emotionally manipulated by people who are overly trusting. There is no downside to protecting your children from such potential harm. None.

  12. says

    Yeah, religion is notorious for enabling this kind of behavior. But this kind of behavior is not exclusive to religious groups. I really don’t want to go into specifics, ’cause I’m not trying to drag people through the mud. But I did get a rude awakening not so long ago that this kind of thinking and action can rear its head in atheist groups as well. And the same sorts of rationalizations are offered in defense, just with a secular flavor, minus the appeals to Jesus.

    • says

      I agree, it’s not just religion. We get mail at TAE from people who are atheist viewers. It’s a particular type of person, though, and if we reply to them in the same way we reply to anyone on the show, they get *really* put out. They will reply and say things like “I expected to be treated better by someone *in the community*,” or “I can’t believe you would be so rude to a fellow atheist.” It’s just another perspective on this same attitude, that somehow a shared belief on topic-X means we should grant one another preferential treatment. And I’m not talking about the TAE crew/cast handing people anything different than the same treatment you see on the air. They submit something stupid, they get a take down, they have a tantrum that they did not get kid-glove treatment for saying at the start “I’m a fellow atheist/skeptic.”

      I don’t know them, and if I’m asked to assess their points, that’s what I do. And I don’t treat them better/worse because they don’t believe a god exists, or because they announce to me they are a skeptic.

      These are the same types of people, IMO, who would tend to ignore or set aside problem behavior or issues, within their own groups, “because this person is LIKE ME when it comes to this other thing over here.” They hear “we are alike in this regard,” and think that means you should be less critical of what the person is doing/saying. I think this is the sort of weird trust that comes from some people in these groups. I suppose the difference is that in Christian social groups, the idea of forgiveness of anything/everything is key, and a few of them do accept that if a person “gets saved,” they will undergo a literal character transformation that will alleviate these shortcomings. I think at least some veins of Christianity are more nurturing of this type of interaction. I don’t know of many atheist groups that promote it to the same degree; but that does not mean some atheists, individually, might not, or that an authoritative secular structure could not protect such people. I’m talking here mainly about putting undue trust in someone because of some unrelated issue. “Oh, you don’t believe in god? Well, then I’m sure I can trust you,” makes NO more sense than “Oh, you drive a Ford? Then I’m sure I can trust you.”

      • says

        You are so right! Now, I draw the line at bigotry or abusiveness, but I won’t throw nyone out with the bathwater for disagreeing with a POV. That is the whole point anyway isn’t it; to belong to a group that is not hive minded and dogmatic. I suspect that in a society of free thinkers we will be more likely disagree and hopefully be honest about where we divurge without looking at it as a personal bitchslap. I think valid, intellectual disagreement is the whetting stone towards societal evolution. REAL evolution–REAL forgiveness, sans blinders. With Christian ideology however, the danger lies in not questioning enough to the point where we will allow evil around our loved ones in the spirit of good intentions and agape love.

      • Lord Narf says

        Yup, I’ve seen both sides. I’ve seen theistic callers who call in asking questions and who you can tell are really not trying to lead with those questions. They ask a lot of “Well, what do you think about this idea?” sorts of questions, then accept the answer of the hosts. They tend to get treated more gently than atheists who call in and immediately take a right turn into bat-shit insanity, after announcing that they’re an atheist.

        I remember another call from a 14 or 15 year-old girl asking questions about her Paganism. Very non-confrontational call. Of course part of that may have been the teenaged-girl part. I’ve seen plenty of fundie girls who can become obnoxious enough about their religion to deserve a verbal smack back, but they tend to get a slightly higher threshold … partially because you don’t want to look like an asshole, abusing a teenaged girl, and partially because most guys who aren’t assholes on Reddit feel bad for doing so.

  13. grumpyoldfart says

    Evangelists love getting down and dirty with the sinners. They think it guarantees them a better seat in heaven. So what if a few kids get a cock up the arse – as long as the evangelist gets to snuggle up to Jesus in the afterlife; that’s the really important thing.

  14. G Pierce (Was ~G~) says

    I think it’s very foolhardy for we atheists to think this is somehow a problem of the religious. Rape culture, and defense of rapists is everywhere and to think of it in terms of something the religious do will blind us to when we do it ourselves. We are bulding communities and wanting to include families and offering childcare at conferences. I have seen many atheists make similar sorts of rationalizations about rapists (including child rapists) including that maybe they could be healed by finding a secular community.

    EVERYONE has to read this article http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/atlarge/2012/09/24/120924crat_atlarge_gladwell especially those who think they are immune to doing anything that endangers children by defending or sheltering sexual predators.

    • says

      Yea, my count of the responses above show six giving a secular response and eight putting blame on religion (primarily, anyway). The article shows that predators don’t require religion to provide cover, but I think it’s fair to say that religion does provide a special kind of cover (as evidenced by the OP). Those that think prayer or faith provides actual protection or than those who profess a belief in the same god somehow are less likely to be repeat offenders is the part of religion that we should work to end. That doesn’t mean those who work toward exposing this religiously specific irrationality reject that there are other means that predators can exploit in secular culture or don’t also work to expose these means.

      • says

        The problem is not so much that religious people are often too trusting of people who claim to share their beliefs. It’s that there are sociopaths out there who are very skilled at taking advantage of such people. Someone who claims to have found Jesus and been forgiven will be given chances that he hasn’t earned. it’s fine if they want to invite him over for dinner, just not when there are children present. it’s one thing to offer people a second chance. it’s quite another to endanger third parties (especially children) in the process. These sorts of religious people mean well and that’s the problem. In my experience they just can’t comprehend that people are playing them, even though they do it every day (some even have their own cable channels).

    • says

      I don’t think any of us can claim that the wrong sociopath couldn’t manipulate us into errors of judgment. That doesn’t mean we can’t offer support for someone whose children may be put at risk.

  15. Caroline says

    I am a lurker, but I wanted to say that this PO really hit a nerve. My former Pastor tried to lead a man to the lord during a police sting he was involved with because his daughter was allegedly molested by the man at a community pool!
    The guy was getting ready to confess and the pastor began to feel ” compassion” for the guy. Needless to say the cops were pissed and his wife was speechless. WTF?
    I am so happy to be free of all that and it has taken a very long time to sort out all the confusion. Giving up god, spirituality and finally te woo has been the most freeing experience of my life.
    To be the locus of power in your own life and to know it! Wow…..:)
    Caroline

    • Lord Narf says

      The guy was getting ready to confess and the pastor began to feel “compassion” for the guy.

      Err, maybe more like feeling kinship with him? You know those pastors, after all …

  16. says

    Funny how this kind of all emcompassing love and understanding doesn’t extend to women who want to lead unconventional lives, homosexuals, or other so called “deviants” who just happen to be normal individuals that don’t take stock in thier holy book of fables? I just don’t get that. If I were Anonymous I wouldn’t let the kids stay over there and I wouldn’t give any reason why–make up any excuse you have to but just–don’t….

    • says

      I think the key there would be–to the faithful–”unapologetic.” I think religious people are pleased as punch when a gay person comes to them saying they hate the fact they are gay and want to be fixed, and need Jesus to help them “get over it.” I have seen, what I believe sincerely, are gay people in churches, entering into heterosexual unions, because believers accept they are “fixed” now. They eat that stuff up. If you are one of their “deviants,” they hate you until you say you want to change–then it’s “glory hallelujah!” And you’re more than welcome into the fold.

  17. says

    I can see that and I actually think it’s sweet, men after all, can be very tender hearted in many respects. But, being a girl I suppose, I don’t let other chicks get a pass, and in particular if she is an atheist. If they give it out to me, I will dish it back in kind…

  18. says

    Young folks are far more saavy than given credit for and most respect straight talk, allows them to feel like you value them as an equal so to speak–and in many cases, I do…

  19. says

    Someone needs to tell your mother-in-law that, by helping these pedophiles, she is basically an accomplice in their crimes. So if this rapes another child, she would be partly to blame for protecting and standing up for him. Maybe you should ask her about the passage where Jesus says that it would be better for someone to be drowned in the sea than to offend a child. Molesting a child certainly counts as offending one. Anyone who stands up for pedophiles is as bad as they are, as far as I’m concerned. If I were you, I would NEVER allow my children in her home, not even for a few minutes. You should explain to her that she will no longer be seeing your kids in her home; if she wants to see them, she must come to your house and will not be allowed to be alone with them. Maybe this will drive home how seriously child abuse must be taken.

  20. Ing:Intellectual Terrorist "Starting Tonight, People will Whine" says

    Sexual abuse of various kinds seem to be something that runs rampant through authoritarian organizations or groups. Maybe it’s about the power and the opportunities that creates?

    Because abusers are masters at manipulating rules and navigating social orders. Grooming isn’t just done to victims, it’s done to people around the victims to further isolate and build up good will. An ideologically based in-group, especially one like Christianity with very public relatively low effort displays of tribal affiliation is ideal for this. It’s very easy to integrate and become part of such a community, mimic the ritual, act helpful to authority figures, show interest in taking responsibilities and build up a lot of trust.

    • says

      Odd too, how such a person can gain trust after saying they believe in god while a gay person would not, even if they say they are religious. The irony is palpable–Homosexuals are evil demons who shouldn’t be allowed around kids–but pedophiles are just fine…Religion is a posion that kills the intellect.

  21. says

    This takes me right back to my early teenage years, when I spent my weekends and summers babysitting. We were church members, and my name was passed around the church fellowship as someone who would give cheap babysitting, out of the Christian goodness of my own heart. So, for the first half of the eighties, and for a bout four years of the seventies, I babysat for a dollar an hour, staying up until 1, 2, 3 o’clock in the morning, waiting for those Good Christian parents to come home and pay me my six dollars. They were sometimes drunk or smelling of cigarettes. Not to mention the deeply creepy dynamics of their homes. I mentally checked off all kinds of weirdness in order to use this to create the, ahem, complex creature I am today.

    “The Gun Bible.”
    Mounted heads on walls.
    Bizarre Jesus art (900-foot Jesus was a painting before it was a musician).
    Pictures of material goods, cut out of magazines and taped to the refrigerator or any available surface. This was a sort of visualization technique, I later came to understand, from Amway.
    Parents who tried to get us to sell Amway.
    Bizarre discipline rituals put in place for the infraction of bed-wetting.
    Enforced gendered play.
    Bee-Bee guns allowed to be used by six year-old boys.
    Mr. Rogers Neighborhood banned because he was “too squirrely.”

    This is how I learned to Be a Woman.

  22. says

    My parents left my brother and I alone with one pedophile and several physically abusive people because they volunteered to care for us and belonged to my parents’ church. One incident in particular, I had to hide my brother and I in a closet and spent hours there waiting for my parents to come back while the person whose house it was screamed and pounded on the door that I was holding shut. It’s a damn good thing I was a big kid.

    Tell your mother-in-law that nothing guarantees a place in heaven like enabling the abuse of children. Most religions find children disposable–they’re useless to the process of salvation until such time as they fuck up enough to be a prize conversion to that religion.

    *fuming*

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