Marie Fortune's Blogs
Why did I watch Tiger Woods statement to the press today? I guess because I continue to be intrigued by how high profile public figures address their misconduct publicly.
Much has already been said about the sheer stupidity of Pat Robertson’s “pastoral” response to the tragedy of the Haiti earthquake and I will not bother to repeat.
I grew up a white Christian girl in the segregated South. I remember the beginning of integration of our schools in junior high and of my local United Methodist Church.
It seems that we have a really difficult time in our culture calling rape “rape.” Plus we are inclined to give celebrities a free pass when it comes to sexual assault.
Jews have just completed celebrating Hanukkah, the festival of lights. Christians prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus. And we all celebrate the passing of the winter solstice which assures us that, in the northern hemisphere, the days will surely get longer now.
Last week Carolyn Scott Brown, the Director of Educational Resources at FaithTrust Institute, and I went to see the new movie, Precious.
“The Bible says I can have sex with my 8-year-old child . . .” “The Bible says I can beat my wife because she is to be subject to me . . .” These and other biblical justifications haunt my consciousness.
I don’t know how to work on anything but violence against women and children. I have no other skills. So it’s a good thing that I have a job where I get paid to do the one thing I know how to do.
This month is the 15th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in the U.S.
Health care reform is an urgent issue in the U.S. today. As the political “process” attempts to resolve legitimate issues in the debate, the crazies and the insurance companies are trying desperately to derail any efforts to fix a dysfunctional system. Okay. But what does this have to do with violence against women? Lots.
Through the eyes of three families, the documentary All God’s Children (70 minutes) www.alllgodschildrenthefilm.com tells the personal story of the first boarding school for children of missionaries to be investigated for abuse at the hands of the parents’ Protestant missionary colleagues.
“. . . we believe that the justification of discrimination against women and girls on grounds of religion or tradition, as if it were prescribed by a higher authority, is unacceptable.”
“The turning point in every social justice movement occurs when the authentic leadership of survivors is met with the genuine commitments of our most power social institutions.” So said my colleague, Judith Beals, in 2002 in the midst of the disclosure of extensive sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests.
Good news for women. Lavetta Elk, 26, is a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe from Wounded Knee, SD. Sgt. Joseph Kopf, an Army recruiter, raped Elk after she inquired about joining the Army. In April, Elk was awarded $600K in damages for the “pain and suffering” she endured. The basis of this verdict was the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868.
“Punching, flogging, assault and bodily attacks, hitting with the hand, kicking, ear pulling, hair pulling, head shaving, beating on the soles of the feet, burning, scalding, stabbing, severe beatings with or without clothes, being made to kneel and stand in fixed positions for lengthy periods, made to sleep outside overnight . . .”
As I was presenting a workshop recently on how we should challenge the roadblocks which the church can present to battered women and affirm the resources, I noticed one participant was very quiet and reserved.
The movie “Doubt” depicts the enormous complexity of the possibility of sexual abuse of a child by a Catholic priest. Fr. Flynn is portrayed by Phillip Seymour Hoffman as a likable, middle aged priest deeply engaged in the life of the parish and school. He is open and progressive and wants to lead the parish forward.
Twenty years ago, 14 people were shot and killed in a classroom at a University in Montreal, Quebec, where they were studying engineering. Last week 14 people were shot and killed in an immigrant social service center in Binghamton, New York, where they were studying English.
There are times when the contradictions of life overtake me. I was flying home from the east coast last week and one of those times intruded. On the plane, I sat next to a mother and father and their two-year-old daughter; in front of them sat their five-year-old son and eight-year-old daughter. I was struck immediately by how thoughtful and respectful the parents were with the children and the siblings were with each other.
The responses I have received from some readers of the previous blog are not surprising. Some readers are critical, some supportive and some puzzled by my take on the Rihanna-Chris Brown assault case.
On February 8, 2009, 19-year-old Chris Brown and 20-year-old Rihanna, music icons scheduled to perform that evening at the Grammys, engaged in an argument while inside a vehicle that escalated into a fight. Rihanna suffered visible injuries and was treated at a hospital. The next day Chris Brown surrendered himself to authorities.
In baseball, there is an old saying about the game: "It ain't over 'til it's over." It's the reminder that you can't leave after the seventh inning and assume you know the outcome. As we have seen cases of sexual abuse by clergy emerge in recent years, it might be easy to assume that we have seen the worst of it. Yet the news continues to inform us of cases still waiting to be heard and justice still waiting to be experienced. It's definitely not over yet.
Like millions of other Americans on January 20, I was flooded with memories and emotions as I watched Barack Obama be sworn in as our President.
Since Rick Warren was invited to give the Invocation at the Presidential Inauguration next week, he has been attracting some attention and scrutiny. Warren is the Senior Pastor at Saddleback Church in California.
An ex-husband took advantage of the annual family gathering at his in-laws’ house to inflict his violence on his ex-wife and her family. He appeared at the door dressed as Santa, and one of the children let him in. He opened fire on the 25 people there and then set fire to the house.
So Pastor Ed Young of the Fellowship Church in Grapevine, Texas, got the attention of the media. And his church members. He called for a week of “congregational copulation” to take people’s minds off the economy. Pastor Young has added his blessing to our already highly sexualized culture.
Another murder in a church; another domestic terror homicide. On Nov. 23, Joseph Pallipurath entered the St. Thomas Syarian Orthodox Kananaya Church in Clifton, NJ and killed his wife.
I promised myself I wouldn’t discuss the election in my blog. This is not the place for partisan anything. But in this last week before the election, I do have to comment on the overt racism that continues to persist even unto the very end.
“Compare the raw numbers. In the same seven-year period [2000-2006] when 4,588 U.S. soldiers [in combat] and police officers [on duty] were killed by hostiles or by accident, more than 8,000 women – nearly twice as many – were shot, stabbed, strangled, or beaten to death by the intimate males in their lives."
Dr. Ted Tripp, the senior pastor of Grace Fellowship Church, Hazleton, Pennsylvania, came to Seattle recently preaching the importance of corporeal punishment beginning with infants. According to Tripp, he is commanded by God to preach to parents to spank their young children on bare skin and then tell them you love them in order to teach them respect for authority.
On a Sunday in late July, Jim David Adkisson entered the Tennesse Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville and opened fire. He said he hated gays and liberals and “all liberals should be killed.” He murdered two people and seriously injured 6 others before being subdued by other church members.
Let’s begin with the bottom line: lack of modesty in dress doesn’t cause rape. But this doesn’t stop Father Sergio Roman from condemning miniskirts.
“One sexual predator in our midst is one too many,” said Morris Chapman, president of the Southern Baptist Convention executive committee. “Sexual predators must be stopped. They must be on notice that Southern Baptists are not a harvest field for their devious deeds.” Good so far.
In my last blog, I took the position that the Georgia law that criminalizes all volunteer activities in a faith community by registered sex offenders is problematic because it allows the state to determine how we do ministry. Several of you disagreed.
The state of Georgia is trying to protect its children from sex offenders. To that end it passed legislation in 2006 (updated in 2008) that is viewed as the toughest in the U.S. There is only one problem: the law criminalizes all volunteer activities by registered sex offenders in religious organizations.
Bruce Ware, professor of Christian theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., actually does know why husbands abuse their wives.
Four teenage girls were molested by their youth pastor. When one teen finally disclosed, the senior pastor fired the youth pastor and reported him to the police. He was charged and prosecuted for sex with a minor. So far, so good.
A woman recently shared with me her experience of being assaulted and stabbed by her abusive husband. As she recovered from her injuries, she turned to her church, expecting pastoral care and support.
I think it is safe to say that everyone was surprised that Pope Benedict XVI talked about the pedophile priest crisis everyday he was in the US on his recent trip. In fact, he began the conversation with reporters on his plane enroute.
Pope Benedict XVI has arrived in the U.S. for his first visit as Pope. And there is some good news here. Ironically, “good news” and the Church don’t often appear in the same sentence these days. So I am always on the lookout for this occurrence.
Whatever Became of Sin? This was the provocative title of a book by psychiatrist Karl Menninger in 1974 written out of his concern that in the beginning of the culture wars, we were losing our sense of moral focus and jettisoning the notion of “sin.”
International media recently carried the newstory about a Saudi Arabian woman who was gang raped and then sentenced to six months in prison and 200 lashes after she spoke out to protest the lenient sentences given her attackers.
Among the numerous school shootings in the past several weeks, one stands out for me: the killing of Lawrence King, 15, allegedly by Brandon McInerney, 14, in Oxnard, California. However, it got the least media coverage.
So let’s assume for a minute that institutions like the church, when confronted with the disclosure of unethical behavior like sexual harassment or abuse, tend to act in their own best interests. On the surface, this is what I call the “institutional protection agenda.”
Why is professional misconduct wrong? Because someone gets hurt. When any of us in a ministerial or teaching role betrays trust, exploits or abuses, we cause harm to another person.
Pakistan's former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated on Dec. 27, 2007, while campaigning to once again become Prime Minister. She had returned from exile in the fall to lead the efforts of the Pakistani Peoples Party and had been under threat of death ever since.
As presidential politics play out, Republican candidate Mike Huckabee has been challenged to answer questions about his involvement in the release of convicted rapist Wayne DuMond after DuMond’s religious “conversion.”
A recent article in TIME Magazine highlighted an article in Christianity Today describing a shift among some evangelicals to more openness about divorce. This would be welcome news to many evangelical Christian battered women who often feel that they are forced to choose between their church and their safety when it comes to divorce.
The Jesuits have settled a lawsuit brought by Alaska Native survivors for $50 million, the largest single settlement against a religious order. At least 110 children and youth were sexually abused from 1961 until 1987 in remote villages in Alaska by Roman Catholic priests.
We at FaithTrust Institute lost a friend and colleague, mentor and leader this past summer. “Letty Mandeville Russell, one of the world's foremost feminist theologians and longtime member of the Yale Divinity School faculty, died Thursday, July 12 at her home in Guilford, CT. She was 77.” She was honored at a memorial service at Yale Divinity School on Oct. 23 when her portrait was hung in the Common Room.
“. . . then the congregation’s leaders should help her reach an accommodation with her ex.” No, the congregation’s leaders should help provide for her safety.
“Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living.” These words from Mother Jones come to mind as we celebrate October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month in the United States.
The recent violent assault of Evangelist Juanita Bynum by her husband, Bishop Thomas Weeks, in a parking lot in Atlanta is tragic and almost unbelievable. Two highly respected faith leaders, Bishop and Evangelist, are now also abuser and victim. This assault reminds us that domestic violence crosses all racial, social, economic, and religious lines.
This month, there was a celebration in Malicounda Bambara, Senegal, of the 10th anniversary of the village’s public declaration to abandon female genital cutting (FGC).
In Queensland, Australia, the government has formally made restitution to individuals and families who suffered abuse as children in government- and church-sponsored institutions. It only took ten years.
The Fathers’ Day Poll released by the Family Violence Prevention Fund that I discussed in last week’s blog suggests that the majority of men are aware and concerned about sexual and domestic violence.
Finally, maybe some good news: there are men who care about sexual and domestic violence.
A group of teenagers, when apprehended for home burglaries, were asked why they selected these particular homes. They replied, “Because we knew that Christians lived there and that they would forgive us and not prosecute.” What is wrong with this picture?
The news from Iraq is everyday the same. Suicide bombers, “insurgents,” “terrorists,” Sunnis, Shiites, Kurds, casualties and millions of dollars. The “normalcy” of it all deadens our sensibilities. A tragic, failed policy playing itself out with only more tragedy and bloodshed ahead and no end in sight. Yet last week’s story in our local paper stopped me for a moment.
Twenty-seven incest offenders gave me this advice when I met with them during a session of their court-mandated treatment program. They were mostly Christians and they kept wanting to talk about their faith, so their therapist called me in.
“I’m a convicted sex offender and I would like to attend this church." At FaithTrust Institute, we are receiving weekly inquiries about this situation from anxious clergy and congregations. Some congregations are turning away offenders. This initial reaction may be understandable, but let’s be clear: The identified, self-acknowledged sex offender is the least of a congregation’s worries.
This is one of those headlines I never thought I’d see. The Hate Crimes Bill just approved by the House of Representatives adds gender, sexual orientation, and disability to race, religion, and
Violence against women takes many forms. Radio personality Don Imus made his contribution last week when he referred to the mostly African American Rutgers University basketball team as “nappy headed hos.”
The 2,000-year-old, nearly universal practice of female genital cutting (FGC) in Guinea, West Africa, has been abandoned by the village of Lalya and 149 other connected villages. No longer will young girls have their clitorises removed nor will they be forced into early marriage.
In only the most recent report of Western “cultural sensitivity,” a judge in Germany cited the Quran as she turned down a battered Muslim woman’s request for a speedy divorce from her abuser.
Sadly, last week was a busy week for nationally publicized domestic violence fatalities. Sensational headlines informed us about a plane intentionally crashed into a house and another school shooting. But did we really understand that these deaths were domestic violence?
The Pope has his own preacher, Reverend Raniero Cantalamessa, who, in a recent sermon, underscored the “abomination” of the sexual abuse of children by Roman Catholic priests and urged a day of fasting and penance for the Church. The Pope was listening but the Vatican had no comment after the service.
After 30 years, how about a blog? When I began my work in 1977, I didn't even have access to a copier. I wrote my first book on a typewriter. Remember those?
March 8 is International Women’s Day. So I was pleased this past week to be in New York City for events surrounding the 54th Annual meeting of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. Not only is women’s work never done, our agenda continues to expand.
The world of youth and young adults is a post-modern nightmare, where: • sexual harm is normalized • sexual exploitation is for many, a rite of passage • getting paid for sex is acceptable • sexting (texting nude images) is okay • monogamy is passé • participation in virtual alternate life games (role play)is the latest craze • the media says your value is based on how sexy you are • the depersonalization that comes with social networking is cool
Last week, Charles Parsons murdered his wife during a couples’ counseling session at Calvary Lutheran Church south of Seattle. He turned himself in and has been charged with first-degree murder and assault.
As the crisis erupts again in Europe and the U.S. with serious questions being raised about the Pope himself, one has to wonder if the men in charge have learned anything in the past 20 years. It would appear not. If the Vatican were to ask me for advice on how to handle this situation (which they will not), here are my ten steps to justice and healing.
I’m still waiting for your call, but in the meantime, I’m quite happy to provide you with a free consultation because it’s so important that you get this right. So let me suggest some fine tuning to your efforts this past week. Please pass this memo on to your PR people.
I don’t know if you follow the National Football League in the U.S., but I think you will be interested in this.
I’m so glad you seem to be finding my advice helpful as you move to respond to the growing crisis over sexual abuse in the church. Your comments this week suggest that your understanding has deepened and your analysis is more on target.
This story caught my attention last week. This is how the defense attorney described his client’s murder of his former girlfriend.
That’s right. In 1997, a fifteen-year-old girl was raped (allegedly) by Ernest Willis, an adult church member. As a result, she became pregnant. She was instructed by her pastor, Chuck Phelps, to come before the church, confess, and apologize for getting pregnant, and then she was kicked out of Trinity Baptist Church in Concord, NH.
I realize it has been a bad week for you and the Vatican. First, the Belgian police raid the offices of the Belgian Council of Bishops and remove records of sexual abuse investigations. You condemn this action by the police, expressing concern for the confidentiality of victims’ records. With all due respect, is it really the victims’ records you are worried about or the accused priests’ records?
A baseball game is a place where boys are socialized to become men. And in a world where men’s violence against women is rampant, it is worth considering as a place to work on changing the norm of violence against women. Help the Seattle Mariners win a $200,000 Pepsi Refresh Project grant to support domestic violence work!
While I was on vacation, the Vatican came out with a significant doctrinal statement condemning the sexual abuse of children and the ordination of women. One could not help but conclude that these were somehow related. So I was worried that you intended to send the message that the crime of sexual abuse of a child was equivalent to the doctrinal violation of ordaining women.
Pastors Daniel and Laura McCluskey from the Church on the Word in Phoenix have been arrested. The pastors were both arrested Tuesday and booked on one count each of failure to report sexual abuse. One victim of incestuous abuse disclosed to them in 2008. The pastors confronted the abusive father who admitted his abuse of his daughter but was “repentant.” The pastors counseled the victim to “forgive” her father and restore the relationship. The father allegedly stopped abusing this daughter (who then moved out) but continued to molest her younger sister.
Last Sunday I preached at my local church, and I am attaching a summary version of my sermon here. I am speaking as a Christian pastor to my fellow Christians. During this season of Ramadan, a primary holiday for Muslims, and with “Islamophobia” being stoked by demagogues, Christians must speak up. These are dangerous times.
Is addressing domestic violence a spiritual battle between good and evil? This is the question I received last week from a colleague. As I pondered this question, I sent a note to several other colleagues for their input. I think the answer we all agreed to is “yes and no.” Or as one Muslim colleague said, “Essential and not sufficient.”
The fact that Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) begins the evening of September 8 and Eid al-Fitr (the end of Ramadan for Muslims) occurs on September 10 this year offer us an opportunity to consider the richness of these faith traditions common to America.
Bishop Eddie Long is a national Christian leader, preacher and pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, a megachurch in Lithonia, Georgia, outside Atlanta. He is now facing three civil actions from two young male members of his church alleging that he coerced and manipulated them into sexual activity with him. He denies the allegations. His church members are stunned, and many are coming to his defense. The allegations made by the two men fit the classic pattern of clergy misconduct involving sexual abuse.
Dear Bishop Long: As a fellow pastor, I am glad to see that you are studying scripture and praying as you confront the allegations of pastoral misconduct from four of your young followers. I see that you are comparing yourself to David as a young man in battle with Goliath. I appreciate your identification with David, a young man battling powerful odds. However, you might find it interesting to study the older David, the flawed and imperfect leader we read about in II Samuel.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Did you know that? It’s also Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I’m sure you knew that because you can’t help but see the pink all around. On my flight last week, the airline was selling pink lemonade and martinis as well as collecting donations--all to go to breast cancer research. Football players in NFL games this month are wearing pink! Pink?! How cool is that? So why aren’t the airlines selling grape soda and football players wearing purple in support of ending domestic violence?
Here are two current events that, when juxtaposed, caught my interest. Changing social norms is getting harder, not easier. “In revealing the decision points that led him to choose waterboarding as an interrogation technique, Bush says, ‘CIA experts drew up a list of interrogation techniques . . . At my direction, Department of Justice and CIA lawyers conducted a careful legal review. The enhanced interrogation program complied with the Constitution and all applicable laws, including those that ban torture.’”
I awoke to bright sun and cool breeze in Cape Town, South Africa. It’s summer here. Everything is in bloom in this semi-tropical part of the world. This is good news to an already light-deprived northwesterner who left winter and snow behind in the States. I am here as a guest of the South African Faith and Family Institute (SAFFI). I am also here as a speaker and specialist sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.
We sat together with the Religious Leaders Forum of Cape Town. Clergy and lay, men and women who have come together to address gender violence in their communities. Twenty people met in a room in a Dutch Reformed Church. The women began to share their stories.
Since my visit to South Africa is supported by the U.S. Department of State Speakers’ Program, the Consulate staff has arranged some of my meetings. They asked me to go to a YMCA afterschool program and meet with the youth workers and the youth. It has been many years since I worked specifically in youth ministry, but I pressed ahead—and I am so glad I did.
Elizabeth Petersen first contacted FaithTrust Institute in 2004 and finally came for a visit in 2009 while she was studying in the U.S. on a Humphrey Fellowship. Immediately upon meeting her, we realized that her vision for her work in South Africa paralleled our work at FaithTrust Institute.
On a hill in Johannesburg is the Constitutional Court, the home of South Africa's highest court. This site was previously a prison complex that held politcal prisoners during apartheid. One prison held women—both women of color and white women, separately of course. Winnie Mandela, Alberta Sisulu, Barbara Hogan and many others were there. My heart is so sore as we tour the prison.
Three hundred people boarded the ferry in Cape Town for the half-hour ride to Robben Island on Saturday afternoon. The sun was bright and flashing on the waves. The breeze was cool and refreshing. A lovely day. Serene and peaceful. We arrived at the island, now a national heritage site, and boarded a bus for a tour.
My flight leaving Cape Town was cancelled due to bad weather in Europe. So I got to stay for the rehearsal of the Christmas Pageant at St. Mark’s Anglican Church.
Before “Yes, We Can,” there was “WE CAN.” Women Empowered Committed Against Negativity (WE CAN) is an organization whose office is in a house on the outskirts of Cape Town, South Africa. The leader of WE CAN is Loretta Joseph. She is a Roman Catholic laywoman who has organized Catholic and Protestant women outside the church in order to get the work done—i.e. the work of supporting and empowering women in their real lives.
Debbie Friedman, remarkable Jewish songwriter and singer, has died. Debbie wrote “Save A Life,” the theme of FaithTrust Institute’s DVD on domestic violence in the Jewish community.
I am only just beginning to understand the historical reality of apartheid that was instituted in South Africa in 1948 and continued until 1994. Since only white people could vote, in 1948 they voted to divide all the people by race and to separate each group from the others. The white minority controlled government and business.
I look forward to the beginning of February, not in anticipation of February 2 as Groundhog Day (which I have never understood anyway), but in celebration of February 1 as the Feast Day of St. Brigit—she who breathes life into the dead of winter.
I realize that you are soon to retire as Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. I can only assume that you are exhausted from dealing with sexual abuse by priests in your diocese for so many years and from all of the subsequent scandals. I hope that you will have time to reflect on your role in addressing this longstanding problem of betrayal by your priests.