Just Like Jesus Would Do

[Trigger warning for clergy abuse, sexual violence, and victim grooming.]

I don't have a lot to say about the allegations against prominent Atlanta pastor Eddie Long, who is being sued by two men who say Long coerced them into sexual activity. I do want to note two things, however: The alleged grooming strategy is one that is familiar to anyone who has read and written about the Catholic Church abuses and many of the cases of clergy abuse in the evangelical community as well.
The suits also said that Long framed the sexual relationships as religious in nature.

The suits allege that Long chose the plaintiffs to be his "Spiritual Sons," a program that allegedly includes other young men from the church.

...Flagg's suit says that Long presided over a spiritual "covenant" ceremony between the two of them.

"It was essentially a marriage ceremony, with candles, exchange of jewelry, and biblical quotes," Bernstein said Tuesday. "The bishop [told] him I will always have your back and you will always have mine."

Robinson's suit alleges that "Defendant Long would use Holy Scripture to discuss and justify the intimate relationship between himself and Plaintiff Robinson."
Over and over again, we've heard about priests and protestant ministers who coerce victims into "sexual relationships" by positing that it is God's will and using their holy book to facilitate and justify rape.

This is one of many reasons I am desperately opposed to substituting faith-based initiatives for a federally mandated and funded social safety net. Yeah, sixty-seven layers of bureaucracy is a pain in the ass, but it also provides a level of oversight and accountability that going to your local neighborhood rectory doesn't. And yeah, institutional offices and overworked employees can be cold and clinical, but they also don't ply vulnerable people with coercive fairy tales.

Which is not to say that there are no government employees who exploit people they are meant to be helping. Of course that happens—and, in no coincidence, it tends to happen primarily in one-on-one, non-bureaucratic situations, e.g. military recruitment.

It's also not to say that everyone, or even most people, who work with faith-based social programs are preying on the people they are meant to be helping.

It's just to underline that extreme power differentials—like the one between a man claiming to be a spokesperson for God and a young person who needs a place to live—in the provision of basic life needs to vulnerable and/or searching people creates a situation that's rife for abuse.

Meanwhile, I'm sure you'll be totally unsurprised to hear that the victim-blaming has already begun:
A spokesman for Long told CNN on Wednesday that the allegations are "a case of retaliation and a shakedown for money by men with some serious credibility issues."
Let's just say for shits and giggles that's actually true. It's still not something that's appropriate to say about someone alleging sexual assault, because it plays into such pernicious narratives about the reasons anyone alleges rape.

And, frankly, the only people who should be interested in perpetuating the rape culture are rapists.

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