A Place for Abuse at the Table of Diversity?

We’ve all heard of the apalling abuses within certain religious and cultural (and subcultural) circles, from coverups within the Roman Catholic Church to executions on ridiculous grounds in the most extreme radical Muslim areas in the world. More recent events┬áinclude exposure of Fundamental Christian (non-Catholic) sexual and psychological abuse/oppression of children and women and, of course, Gamergate.

There are some contradictory reactions to abuse┬áin certain contexts, and I’m not sure what to make of it. One one hand, many people will decry all manner of abuse in our Western culture and will “out” the groups and the mindsets that contribute to these abuses, and all manner of debates will follow. I’m happy to see this increasing level of awareness in our society.

However, it’s what’s on the other hand that has me somewhat baffled. While we’re over here essentially overhauling our culture into something more tolerant and, dare I say it, better, we’re simultaneously defending the sick, twisted practices of other cultures on the grounds that it’s merely a “different culture.” I’m not saying everyone is doing this, but I’ve seen enough of this to make me hit my head against a wall.

On one hand we’re listing extreme “black and white” “us vs them” mentalities as signs of being in a rather harmful cult. On the other hand, our super-subjectivity and super-tolerance has some of us defending extreme “black and white” “us vs them” ideologies in other locales, because “who are we to judge” another culture for being “different than ours?” Some of us are so conscious of standing up for the rights of others, that they’re now standing up for the right to strip certain citizens elsewhere of their rights based on a differing ideology in that area..

There’s a disconnect somewhere, a certain inconsistency, and it’s making my head spin. Are we really setting a place for abuse at the table of diversity in the name of culture?

Religious Liberty…. To a Point.

I am an Atheist.
That said, I do not begrudge others their right to believe whatever they wish. After all, even racism is not outlawed as a position that a person can adhere to. However, racists are not allowed to put that belief into practice very much beyond who they choose to personally associate with. A racist is not allowed to enslave another, bringing that person into oppression and servitude.

Something is amiss with religion. In the name of religous freedom, some groups are taking the liberty of oppressing women in the name of “God’s Will.” Just as racists quote their “reasons” for why a person of a certain other race should serve them, these misogynists quote parts of the Bible to justify their behavior. Many women are oppressed and dominated unwillingly (google accounts of women who have come out of the Independent Fundamental Baptist Cult), but feel obligated to defend their oppressors and obligated to claim to be willingly “submitting,” in the sense that nobody is physically pointing a gun at her head. The oppression and subjection is accomplished largely emotionally and psychologically. If the women do not comply, they are under threat of being deemed “rebellious,” “ungrateful,” “disobedient,” “bitter,” and any number of other terms that would carry with them certain implications, not the least of which is that the disobedient woman is to be subject to church discipline and shunned.

Within many of these groups the woman often depends entirely on the man for support and provision, and on the church for most of their community and social needs. Their “church family” is exactly that… their family. If the woman rebels, her family may find it necessary to discipline her and cut her off… leaving her floundering without an education, income, etc., and frightened in a world that she has been indoctrinated into believing is “Satan’s system.”

She must obey or risk possibly Hell (in their estimation) if her lack of obedience is seen as evidence that she is not really a “true” Christian after all.

This is only a summary of the psychological abuse and enslavement rampant within Fundamentalist Christianity. Psychological abuse is a very real threat to a person’s well-being and ability to function normally. This abuse can be very comprehensive, and it also has the effect of causing the victim to feel the obligation to defend and protect their abuser. This effect of the abuse makes it particularly difficult to help them.

This oppression and abuse is something that needs to be addressed.

When a religion and its doctrines start infringing on the rights and health of others (yes psychologically), it needs to be reigned in. This opens a can of worms, though. There is usually little actual physical evidence of abuse in this sort of thing, so who’s to say that an individual woman is actually NOT willingly putting herself in a position of subjection? Just like we cannot allow “honor killings” in the name of religious freedom, we can’t allow this subjection of women either… it’s just more difficult to put one’s finger on.

Depressed? Yes. Guilty for it? Nope.

I’m one of those people for whom depression will be a constant struggle for at least awhile longer. My depression does NOT, however, need to be compounded by guilt for it anymore.

A common teaching in Fundamentalist Christianity is that depression carries with it a burden of sin. The person suffering depression is taught that this is merely an odd manifestation of that person’s pride. How they rationalize this goes as follows:

Our depression is due to lack of contentment and to a discrepancy between how things are and how we WANT things to be or think they SHOULD be. We think we know better than God. On top of that, our self-pity and selfishness are sins that we should be repenting of. Same goes for self-loathing. Self-loathing is taught to be discontentment with God’s will when he made us, and is a subtle expression of arrogance because we indirectly think we know better than God. Again, a sin to “repent” for.

Pretty messed up. And when a person’s depression becomes truly dangerous, there are the additional teachings about suicide being murder and if you knowingly do this, then it might mean you weren’t “saved” to begin with.

On top of all this, many Fundies have an aversion to modern psychology/psychiatry, teaching that it is a “Godless system that gives people excuses for their sinful behavior.” They teach that light should have nothing to do with darkness, and Christians should not mess with “things of this world,” which often includes psychology. What DO they teach? If you’re depressed, you should be singing hymns, reading your Bible and obeying. Get rid of your sin, including your depression. Bring your thoughts and emotions captive to the will of God.

I was in danger. I was very suicidal, and was exhibiting symptoms of Autism. This all, of course, went untreated (obviously, I’ve gotten out of that system and have had this properly identified). The church’s “treatment” was condemnation, brainwashing, spiritual abuse, and it only made the problem worse.

I don’t have to feel guilty about it when my depression hits. It’s a problem, yes. But it’s not a problem that I have to feel guilty about. I don’t have to live as a slave to those lies anymore. I guess the truth really does set you free, huh?