Episode 128: Inside the Mind of a Religious Sexual Abuser


Major League Baseball player Chad Curtis will always be remembered as the man who led the New York Yankees to victory by catching the last out of the last World Series game of the 20th century. To many religious sports fans, Curtis was a hero for taking a strong stand for Christian principles. He regularly spoke out against performance enhancing drugs and the hedonistic lifestyle of many professional athletes. He donated half of his income to charities that promoted Christian values. His friends described him as “morally blameless” and in the eyes of many, Chad Curtis was one of the few true role models left in professional sports. After retirement, Curtis returned to his home in west Michigan and began working as a teacher and coach in public and private religious schools but eventually resigned when three students accused Curtis of sexually molesting them in the school training room. Curtis denied the allegations, and his community rallied behind him even as more victims came forward. Transcripts from his trial reveal how Curtis used his reputation as a righteous man to manipulate his victims and win the support of the community after his crimes had been exposed. Disturbing but insightful, the Chad Curtis story provides a unique window into the mind of a religious sexual abuser. Also on this episode: Gay marriage advocates try an unusual legal strategy, the AFA claims they are being bullied and Christianity Today debates the causes of female masturbation.

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 Podcast

Episode Links:

The Chad Curtis Trial

Christianity Today: Getting to the Root of Female Masturbation

American Family Association says “We Don’t Discriminate” stickers bully Christians

NC clergymen say forbidding same-sex marriage violates their religious freedom

Journal of Religious Health: Evangelicalism, Sexual Morality, and Sexual Addiction:
Opposing Views and Continued Conflicts

Journal of Interpersonal Abuse: Cognitive Distortions of Religious Professionals Who Sexually Abuse Children

 

Comments

  1. Muz says

    Not to distract from the always quality content, but during the God Thinks Like You segment there’s a strange gaseous noise which for all the world sounds like you guys are passing around a shisha or something.

  2. Camas says

    Fascinating podcast. The segment on Chad Curtis was especially interesting to me. Sure seems like the more rigid, outspokenly ‘moral’ and arrogant someone is, the more likely he or she is up to something nasty. Sure true in Chad Curtis’ case…

  3. Emily (luvtheheaven) says

    Great podcast episode, per usual. ;) I particularly appreciated you not shying away from the detailed discussion of the sexual abuse.

    I wanted to comment on the idea though that a hypothetical atheist teacher wouldn’t get away with it but someone respected in the community even MORE because of their religion (them being a pastor, for instance) would… well I think maybe the atheist teacher would have negative stereotypes against them, possibly… but in general any “nice person”, atheist or not, can probably pretty easily get away with abuse if they try. Abusers are master manipulators, they always are (and that’s something that doesn’t only apply to sexual abuse). Most abusive people don’t seem abusive to the majority of people in their lives… only people they spend time entirely alone with, perhaps, or only a select few “victims” they choose or even a select single one.

    It’s true that people are extra surprised when religious people do it, that people find ways even when they are being abused to try to justify what the abusers are doing because they already have this standard in mind of this person being an amazingly moral person – but when a child psychologist does the same thing to children he has alone in his office, the same things apply – he’s a secular authority you’re supposed to trust, he’s knowledgeable about what’s best for kids, the kids might be growing more and more uncomfortable/traumatized by the second yet think he must be doing this for a good reason to help them because that’s what his job is, right? Etc. I think it’s… important to remember that mothers get away with abusing their children simply because people assume only men are abusers, that the most well-liked, charming teachers can be the abusive ones, and all sorts of incorrect assumptions about abuse happen all of the time where people assume abusers are “obviously evil” on the outside, which helps to prevent people nearby from really even seeing the abuse or intervening.

  4. =8)-DX says

    You mentioned there might be a change in the RSS feed URL. Any updates? Wouldn’t want to miss out on the next episode

    =8)-DX

  5. scott says

    I’m sure it’s *entirely* coincidental that the way this guy approached his victims sounds so much like the way PUAs and “game” assholes talk about theirs.

  6. FactoidJunkie says

    Thanks for tackling a sensitive, but important story. Would encourage you to continue to challenge yourselves on stories like these. You handled it well. I especially appreciated your thoughts that Christian communities could benefit from insights like the ones you discussed and perhaps even enhance their value proposition as a result. Even as an anti-supernaturalist, I’ll back moral development where it occurs.

    Also appreciate your fixing the podcast technical glitches. You could switch to a new feed and start over with the new #1 as far as I’m concerned. Your regulars will find you and you’ll increase your ability to get to new audiences. If DC comics can do it, you can to.

  7. says

    Glad I happened upon this podcast (thanks to Cognitive Dissonance); look forward to hearing more episodes.

    But at this time, it’s my lot to be a pedantic jackass and point out (in the service, honestly, of accuracy) that Chad Curtis didn’t play in the last World Series of the 20th Century (2000 World Series: NY Yankees & New York Mets); at that time he was with the Rangers.

    Curtis played in the next to the last Series of the 20th Century (1999 World Series: NY Yankees & Atlanta Braves), and did catch the last out.

    But there are already tons of sports podcasts, so don’t worry about that. Please keep doin’ what you do. Thanks!

  8. James Piccone says

    …of course his excuse for his behaviour, after the fact, is; It was a test from god. Him and his bloody tests!

  9. says

    I appreciate your general fight against dogmatism and indoctrination, having come out of that background myself. I must say though how disappointed I was to hear you all “grovelling at the altar of feminism” during your discussions about male infidelity in long term relationships. I agree that a women is not simply an “object” for male sexual satisfaction and that it can be unfair to blame to woman when a man strays into infidelity. However, you fellows seem to be suggesting that when a man is unfaithful, it is NEVER even partially the fault of the woman in the relationship and that it is SOLELY the fault of the straying man.

    Germaine Greer must have a grin from ear to ear at how brainwashed you men are to the tenants of radical feminism. Do you also sit to pee so as not to dominate women? Come on guys. Aren’t you just parroting feminist dogma?

    Surely you must agree that when there is infidelity in a long term relationship, this reflects a relationship under duress and that both partners must take at least some responsibility for the breakdown of the relationship?

  10. Scott says

    Man… You guys are busy, I get it… But I’m dying here without an episode in over a month.

  11. says

    Hahahah. Oh, aren’t you just precious, Skepnostic? Did you read what you wrote before you sent it? Did you? Because part of it was:

    it is SOLELY the fault of the straying man.

    Well, OBVIOUSLY a man can’t be responsible for his actions when they’re deemed bad actions! It must have been a woman’s fault! How can any of the people on a show that have argued about moral and ethical agency be so easily deluded by the idea that a conscious actor behaving unethically in a given relationship had agency? I’m totally with you now. I’m convinced. It’s obvious that they really haven’t thought this through. OH MY GOSH, WE SHOULD DO OUR OWN SHOW TOGETHER. Super Skeptic’s “Doubts” Doubts. Something everyone indoctrinated with hateful “equality and liberation” ideology will know as SSDD.

  12. says

    I don’t actually remember if anything even related to Skepnostic’s whining is in the episode. I do remember being constantly horrified for a prolonged amount of time in the abuse discussion, but that’s about it.

  13. mrlynne says

    Was re-listening to this episode and had a thought with regard to Curtis’ strange reaction when lotion was brought up in questioning. The lotion was applied to the victim’s sunburn, yes? We’re thinking that his reaction might be related to a realization of the robust quality of the evidence that was piling up, yes? What if the lotion was *particularly* incriminating? What if what he really feared is that they found his DNA (the 23 chromosome kind) in the contents of the lotion bottle out and that’s why lotion was such a strong trigger for his reaction?

    Eww, but plausible.

    Looking forward to the next episode. Thanks for contributing so meaningfully to our society.

    -Chris

  14. OpenMindedNotCredulous says

    @Camas said:

    seems like the more rigid, outspokenly ‘moral’ and arrogant someone is, the more likely he or she is up to something nasty.

    That’s my impression as well. Stephen King has an excellent portrayal of this type of person in his novel “Under the Dome” in the character of the town mayor.

  15. OpenMindedNotCredulous says

    @Skepnostic said “Surely you must agree…”. No, we don’t have to agree with your twisted views. Isn’t there a basement with a game of D&D being played that’s missing your presence?

    On a more serious note, if a marriage partner voluntarily has a sexual affair (i.e., no one is metaphorically holding a gun to their head) then it is solely their “fault” (although I would have said responsibility or choice). That person may rationalize their actions (e.g., “she’s not giving me enough blowjobs”) but it is still their choice to pursue an extramarital affair. Or do you believe that you’re not responsible for the choices you make? In which case perhaps you should have a legal guardian assigned to manage your fiscal and other affairs.

  16. Atheist Max says

    Okay….Dudes.
    Where are you? – no new podcasts in weeks and weeks….
    Needing my RD Fix!

  17. says

    Okay….Dudes.
    Where are you? – no new podcasts in weeks and weeks….
    Needing my RD Fix!

    My understanding is that they regularly take the summer off.

  18. Dan says

    Man, I’m so bummed these guys are slowing down so much. I check for a new episode every day (I’m in withdrawal). I discovered RD a couple years ago and excitedly listened to their entire archive of podcasts over several months…and then did it 1.5 times again.

    Does anyone have any good suggestions for similar podcasts? I’m not looking for the “professional” skeptical shows, but something down to earth like Reasonable Doubts. Any ideas?

  19. Emily (luvtheheaven) says

    “Down to Earth” screams “The Thinking Atheist” podcast to me. TTA is very popular and some episodes I like better than others but mainly I adore it. ;) Plenty of great episodes to catch up on, too. ;)

    There’s also “Living After Faith”, and honestly even “Parenting Within Reason” as sponsored by the Foundation Beyond Belief had a great feel to it and I loved listening to it despite not being a parent.

    There’s The Atheist Experience which releases their episodes in podcast format, and there’s For Good Reason with D.J. Grothe.

    I’ve enjoyed all of these. ;)

  20. Keovar says

    When you get the feed sorted, it might be good to edit the file info of the MP3s so the dates are in there, and renumber them in the filenames so they’ll sort in chronological order. Quackcast often has the same problem with its feed not updating properly.

  21. says

    I recently caught up with your older podcasts and this was one of them. I love your podcasts and commend you for not shying away from the tough stuff. One thought that kept popping into my mind while listening to this specific episode was that Chad Curtis’ actions and statements were classic characteristics of a person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. From his self-loathing where he transfers his “weaknesses” onto women who he deems are inappropriately dressed, to the way he targeted his victims, then the abuse and the things he said to them while he was abusing them (gaslighting), his attempts to discredit them when they told the truth about him, and then the classicly sociopathic statements in court are all things that NPD people do. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if a professional ever got the opportunity to evaluate him and they ended with a diagnosis of the disorder.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Last night I listened to the new Reasonable Doubts podcast, which included a detailed account of the case of self-righteously Christian former major league baseball player and eventual sex abuse convict, Chad Curtis. The show is a gripping and revolting listen, and as usual the Doubtcasters bring to bear a lot of insight in the process both of telling the story and in analyzing it at the end. Doubtcaster Jeremy Beahan went to college at Cornerstone University where Chad Curtis was a prominent figure, earning his degree to go into high school coaching (where he would commit his sex crimes). Before even dealing with the Curtis case, they also critically analyze evangelical Christians’ warped and potentially destructive tendencies to pathologize masturbation as a matter of addiction. Please listen here. The official description of the episode is below: […]

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