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An Alternate Answer to Jules Woodson from Steve Bradley

 If you are a regular reader of Wartburg Watch, you likely saw the  letter  that SBC survivor Jules Woodson sent to her former pastor, who remains at Stonebridge Church more than twenty years after Jules was sexually assaulted by her youth pastor, Andy Savage, in 1998.  To this day, Bradley has not answered this important letter. That's why I decided I would answer it in his place, in a way he might have if he and members at Stonebridge had taken the Convention-wide  Caring Well Challenge :  October 25, 2019 Dear Jules, It's taken far too long for me to find the courage to answer your important letter, which I now see as an amazing gift. Thank you very much. My delay I can only explain by telling you of the change of heart that has come to me in the past few months--partly because of your courage. Yet there's so much more to tell. I want you to know that I am sincerely sorry for what I put you and your family through in the aftermath of Andy assaulting you, and I cannot eve

What Keeps Southern Baptist Women from Leaving?

Logic isn't the driving force that keeps many women in the SBC with their heads in the sand, my husband often reminds me. It's emotion. The need to stay where they are comfortable--that old "at home" feeling. Even now, when the prime leaders for decades have been making excuses for why they cannot stand up to behaviors of their buddies who have clearly committed the most insidious form of malpractice a clergyman can commit by abusing congregants or their own wives and then blaming the women. Ron's right, I know so in my head. Yet my heart wants to believe otherwise. I still want to think that educated women are led first by logic. They follow what they know more than what feels good, I tell myself, even while knowing that I'm in the 25% of women, according to the Meyers-Briggs who have a preference for thinking over feeling. I still want to believe, as I did in childhood, that women stand in solidarity against abuse. Why do I cling to such rationale, ev

What "Going Public" with Abuse Could Mean in the SBC

Tomorrow, as delegates of the Southern Baptist Convention gather in Birmingham, Alabama, each would do well to pull out a cell phone to listen and read  in a nutshell  what we SBC survivors of professional sexual abuse want to see changed. While delegates begin discussing once again what they are going to do about widespread collusion, exposed repeatedly this year by the  Houston Chronicle , there are sure to be many questions. Same as  for each of us who has ever gone public with "unspeakable" stories, believing that is what  Love would have us do . "What would notifying the public look like?" Pastor Chris Davis tweeted to me shortly after revelations of  cover-ups of abuse by Southern Baptist missionaries  were published as Article 4 in the series. That's a question too technical to be easily answered in a tweet. So, I promised, this blog. Then and Now Before 2003, a U. S. citizen who committed abuse against a minor overseas could be accountable

Finding Support in Haystacks

Support for whistle-blowers seldom comes directly. People are afraid to speak out against unethical behavior by people of greater or equal power. This is especially true when "down one" in gender, age, tenure, race, or sexual orientation since few systems are free of prejudicial action when these factors are involved. Even more so when one has been personally victimized or tried to blow a whistle previously. Stepping into the darkness, taking on the role of an outsider, is what whistle-blowers do. It doesn't matter how much they've been an insider previously. Speaking out puts one in an adversarial position unless the system is prepared to hear. Nowhere is this truer than with gender-based violence. Even if one turns to another system, such as the court system, the prejudice is still there. None of this dirty little secret had anybody bothered to teach me. It's something many hesitate to acknowledge even today. Far more so decades ago. Joe Trull, wh

Three Reasons Catholics Still Struggle with Abuse

A front page article, last week in USA Today, attempted to tell us  why the Catholic Church still struggles  with sexual abuse. Having watched closely and worked with survivors in two very fine organizations for years, I propose that there are at least three reasons. The first, which I came to understand from Andrew Greeley many years ago as "the clerical culture," is referred to in a quote by passionate advocate Anne Barrett Doyle, sister of Father Tom Doyle who received  SNAP's  first-ever award for advocacy this year, honoring him for more than thirty years of courageous, persistent service as a powerful spokesman. His sister explained the persistent refusal to act with compassion by describing one characteristic of this culture as "an entrenched infrastructure of secrecy." Lawyer Michael Dolce offered a second reason that keeps so many survivors from seeking compensation for their life-long injuries:  the Church has fought efforts to reform state statu

The Meaning of #MeToo Advocacy

I was at my dentist this morning over an old issue. Simple compared to what I deal with each day as an advocate in the #MeToo and #ChurchToo movements. I was prepared to hear that I need a crown to save a cracked tooth. The hope is the crown will do the job. What the dental assistant needed to talk to me about was much more complicated and took twice as long as the visit with the dentist. It started out being about suicide, but quickly turned into the reason for the self-inflicted tragedy. All having to do with a recent case of major collusion in sexual assault, where the perpetrator committed suicide as soon as his latest victim went to police. The victim is an elected official in a mid-size city here in KS that would still qualify as a small town in most states. In spite of her being in a position of political power, people are blaming the victim for causing the suicide of their friend, a guy she assumed was her friend, too. That's what happens in small towns where incest

Discovering the Biological Cause for Collusion with Abuse

Any community mental health nurse worth her salt knows that each of the problems of human behavior--every mental health diagnosis included-- can be traced back to problems with one or more of the five components of health. Often all five in one diagnosis. When it comes to prevention or intervention—treatment, that is—those same components come into play. There’s the emotional, the social, the cognitive or intellectual, the spiritual values which seldom boils down merely to religion, and almost always physical and biological manifestations. When the patient is an individual, it’s fair game to think about addressing each one of these types of health. Anti-intellectuals, on the contrary, usually speak only of the physical when a person’s health is being evaluated. That’s why we do not give credence to untrained individuals to do a good assessment. The vast majority of Americans, most certainly, will leave out 80% of the factors that determine an individual’s health. Same goe