In the Larry Nassar case, Rachael Denhollander gave a strong and very religious statement.
Should you ever reach the point of truly facing what you have done, the guilt will be crushing. And that is what makes the gospel of Christ so sweet. Because it extends grace and hope and mercy where none should be found. And it will be there for you. I pray you experience the soul-crushing weight of guilt so you may someday experience true repentance and true forgiveness from God, which you need far more than forgiveness from me — though I extend that to you as well.
Not to diminish the crimes committed against her and the other girls abused by Nassar, but that’s sugar-coating the Bible. She may have personally found solace in religion, but Christianity, as practiced by most Christians, does not extend grace and hope and mercy to everyone — it has been used as a weapon against black people, against gay and lesbian people, against trans men and women, against Jews and atheists. It is a blunt instrument that can be wielded in the aid of just about anyone, and against just about anyone…including, often, women.
For the record, it should be noted that the abuser read the Bible, too — Nassar was a practicing Catholic.
Former MSU employee Larry Nassar was a catechist for St. Thomas Aquinas Church’s seventh grade class, though the parish is not eager to claim him.
Nassar also served as a Eucharistic minister at St. John Church and Student Center, also part of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish, according to the spring 2000 edition of Communiqué, the magazine of the College of Osteopathic Medicine.
Denhollander is aware that there’s more to moral behavior than the Bible. She has rebuked the church.
Yes. Church is one of the least safe places to acknowledge abuse because the way it is counseled is, more often than not, damaging to the victim. There is an abhorrent lack of knowledge for the damage and devastation that sexual assault brings. It is with deep regret that I say the church is one of the worst places to go for help. That’s a hard thing to say, because I am a very conservative evangelical, but that is the truth. There are very, very few who have ever found true help in the church.
It’s not the Bible, it’s not God, it’s not Sacred Reason, it’s not conservative or liberal, it’s the people. What matters is humanism. Churches are poor places for that, but it’s not just the church — atheism can be severely anti-humanist, too.
By the way, does this sound familiar?
The reason I lost my church was not specifically because I spoke up. It was because we were advocating for other victims of sexual assault within the evangelical community, crimes which had been perpetrated by people in the church and whose abuse had been enabled, very clearly, by prominent leaders in the evangelical community. That is not a message that evangelical leaders want to hear, because it would cost to speak out about the community. It would cost to take a stand against these very prominent leaders, despite the fact that the situation we were dealing with is widely recognized as one of the worst, if not the worst, instances of evangelical cover-up of sexual abuse. Because I had taken that position, and because we were not in agreement with our church’s support of this organization and these leaders, it cost us dearly.