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Marie Fortune's Blogs

Who Needs to Confess? And What?

Who Needs to Confess? And What?

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Actress Ashley Judd recently disclosed that she was sexually abused as a child; American Idol judge Kara DioGuardi recently disclosed that she was sexually abused as a child; Senator Scott Brown from Massachusetts recently disclosed that he was sexually abused as a child. When each made a public disclosure, the media described these disclosures as “confessions.”

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"Do Not Make Any Statements . . ."

"Do Not Make Any Statements . . ."

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This is the advice given by many insurance companies to clients who are churches or religious organizations when faced with a disclosure of abuse by one of their leaders. Frankly, it is advice that will very likely lead to lawsuits brought by survivors of abuse and to significant settlements paid out by insurers.

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“Weary: having one’s patience exhausted . . .”

“Weary: having one’s patience exhausted . . .”

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These past few weeks of news of powerful men’s abuse of women culminating this week in the pathetic case of Anthony Weiner’s internet exploits just leaves me weary.

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How to Begin to Apologize

How to Begin to Apologize

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Early this year, the Archbishop of Dublin and the Archbishop of Boston, presided over “A Liturgy of Lament and Repentance.” The service was offered for the victims and survivors of sexual abuse by priests.

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"A Knight Templar, But No Madman"

"A Knight Templar, But No Madman"

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As Muslims begin the celebration of Ramadan, I can hardly imagine what my Muslim friends and colleagues might be reflecting upon in light of the bombing and massacre in Norway.

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Guest Blog: Tragic Violence Awakens the Orthodox Community

Guest Blog: Tragic Violence Awakens the Orthodox Community

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The brutal murder and dismemberment just a few weeks ago of 9-year-old Leiby Kletzky, of blessed memory, a member of an ultra-Orthodox Jewish Hasidic sect in Brooklyn, NY, has shaken the Jewish community.

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Guest Blog: Ramadan Reflection

Guest Blog: Ramadan Reflection

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Ramadan is a time for Muslims to improve themselves and strengthen their relationships with God. Muslims are asked to abstain not only from food, drink and sexual relations from dawn to dusk, but more importantly, to refrain from any immoral or harmful behaviors.

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“Nothing New Here”

“Nothing New Here”

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The only real news in the case of the charge of sexual assault against a powerful French politician is that the victim came forward and filed a complaint. The outcome is classic and predictable.

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Memo to: Clergy colleagues

Memo to: Clergy colleagues

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Re: The Weiner problem. In case there is any confusion about the cautionary tale presented to us by the bad behavior of Congressman Anthony Weiner recently revealed to the entire world, let me be clear.

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Dear Pope: Deep Trouble

Dear Pope: Deep Trouble

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I do wish you had called me. Now you are in deep trouble. I see that human rights lawyers have filed a complaint against you with the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

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"If there's one place that you should be safe . . .”

"If there's one place that you should be safe . . .”

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"If there's one place that you should be safe, it should be in your house of worship." This was the comment made by Sheriff Grady Judd in Polk County, Florida, as he began to unravel the murder of a wife by her husband who then went to their church and shot the pastor and assistant pastor in the middle of Sunday services.

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“Corrective Rape”?  No, Hate Crime

“Corrective Rape”? No, Hate Crime

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“Corrective rape.” When I first heard this term, I stopped dead in my tracks. Having thought that I had heard it all when it came to violence against women, here was yet another perverse variation of rationale for sexual assault.

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“A woman of faith, a formerly battered woman, a mother of six children . . .”

“A woman of faith, a formerly battered woman, a mother of six children . . .”

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Leymah Roberta Gbowee is now a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. Gbowee, who shares the Peace Prize with Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Tawakul Karman of Yemen, was responsible for organizing a peace movement that brought an end to the Second Liberian Civil War in 2003.

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The Church of College Football

The Church of College Football

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A former defensive coordinator for the Penn State football team, Jerry Sandusky (a priest in the Church of College Football), has been arrested and charged with sexual abuse of boys over a 15 year period.

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Judge Adams, Part 2: “Judge Not That You Not Be Judged . . .”

Judge Adams, Part 2: “Judge Not That You Not Be Judged . . .”

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Christian scripture is very clear. In Romans, Paul doesn’t mince words about the hypocrisy of sitting in judgment on another . . . when you are doing the exact same things.

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Judge Adams, Part 1:   “Fathers, do not . . .”

Judge Adams, Part 1: “Fathers, do not . . .”

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I was traveling and speaking at a conference in November when the story broke about Judge Adams beating his teenage daughter, Hilary, on tape.

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16 Days is Not Long Enough

16 Days is Not Long Enough

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This time last year I was on my way to Capetown, South Africa, to visit my friend, Elizabeth Petersen and the South African Faith and Family Institute (SAFFI). This was my first trip to this massive continent and, like so many people, I immediately fell in love with South Africa.

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You or Someone You Know . . .

You or Someone You Know . . .

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The latest study on sexual assault was released in December and for some suggested a new awareness of how widespread sexual violence against women really is. In fact, the new figures by and large merely confirm what we know from earlier studies: violence against women is an all-too-common experience. The bottom line: 1 in 3 women report being victims of rape, beating and/or stalking.

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Rape is Rape is Rape . . .

Rape is Rape is Rape . . .

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The U.S. Department of Justice has updated its definition of rape. Now we can name more clearly what victims of rape have known for centuries.

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“I listen  . . .”

“I listen . . .”

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The Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, was recently interviewed on 60 Minutes, discussing his efforts since becoming Archbishop to address the sexual abuse of children by priests.

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The Time to Act is Now!

The Time to Act is Now!

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If you care about violence against women, you should care about the Violence Against Women Act. It's up for renewal in the U.S. Congress. And for the first time in its history, it's becoming partisan. Sen. Orin Hatch (R) and Sen. Joe Biden (D) were the first co-sponsors. And every renewal since has been with strong bipartisan support. Until now.

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"Same Old, Same Old. . ."

"Same Old, Same Old. . ."

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We have become almost numb to the steady stream of disclosures of child sexual abuse: the Roman Catholic experiences continue even with serious efforts to stem the tide, the Penn State tragedy and subsequent campus situations. So in some ways this most recent release of a new documentary, “Standing Silent,” could easily be overlooked.

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Guest Blog: Passover Reflection

Guest Blog: Passover Reflection

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I can always remember the timing of important events in my life because I associate them with the order of the Jewish calendar.

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Guest Blog: Easter Reflection - “Violence Against Women and Girls: An Easter Lesson from A Stone”

Guest Blog: Easter Reflection - “Violence Against Women and Girls: An Easter Lesson from A Stone”

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A group of terrified women watch as their friend and relative is humiliated, violently beaten, and killed while the authorities refuse to help. If the women speak up or even cry aloud, then they could suffer the same fate as their loved one.

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“’Hope’ Is the Thing With Feathers”

“’Hope’ Is the Thing With Feathers”

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I have been watching the live cam coverage of the eagles’ nest in Decorah, Iowa, since early March along with thousands of others. This pair of eagles returns to this nest each spring to lay eggs, hatch them, tend the eaglets and then launch them into the air. This has become part of my spring/Easter ritual.

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Men’s Laws

Men’s Laws

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The tragic shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman has focused the nation’s attention on a new breed of law called “Stand Your Ground.”

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Dear Pope: Now You've Done It!

Dear Pope: Now You've Done It!

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In going after the nuns in the U.S., you have struck a rock. You are attacking the church’s representatives who are the face of the church where it matters most--- in the hospitals, the schools, the parishes...

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“The Wedding Season . . . for Some”

“The Wedding Season . . . for Some”

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So it is the season of marriage and my partner and I delighted in attending our niece’s wedding in Baltimore last weekend. It was a three day party bringing together family and friends in celebration of their love for each other, their hope for the future, and their commitment to journey together, come what may.

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Dear Pope: About Sr. Margaret . . .

Dear Pope: About Sr. Margaret . . .

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I am just writing to thank you for denouncing Sr. Margaret Farley’s excellent book, “Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics.” This is the best PR any author could possibly get and, as a result, the book has soared to the Best Seller list at Amazon overnight. I realize that God works in strange and mysterious ways, but this is too good.

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Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day

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When I was about nine years old, I remember a dinner table conversation between my father and mother. I think we had just received news that my favorite uncle, the doctor, had beaten up my aunt.

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Finally, Some Justice Made

Finally, Some Justice Made

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Good news is hard to come by in the work to address sexual and domestic violence. But last week was a pretty good week.

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Dear Pope:  A “Mystery”?

Dear Pope: A “Mystery”?

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I’m puzzled. In a recent talk in Ireland about the sexual abuse of children by priests, you described the situation as a “mystery” when you addressed the Eucharistic Congress.

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The Truth Will Set You Free

The Truth Will Set You Free

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A small news story hidden deep in the paper caught my eye. A middle school teacher has been arrested and charged with child rape. She has been placed on leave. The boy decided to come forward and disclose after hearing a church sermon which urged victims of sexual abuse to speak up because “the truth will set you free.”

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Hiding in Plain Sight . . . With Help

Hiding in Plain Sight . . . With Help

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The Penn State report and the conviction of Jerry Sandusky provide the irrefutable evidence that he was a sexual predator on the loose for over twenty years and there were numerous people with full knowledge of his crimes who could have stopped him. How does this happen?

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“Life is Hard But The Kids Are Alright”

“Life is Hard But The Kids Are Alright”

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February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. Seems somehow appropriate with Valentine’s Day in the middle. I wonder, do teens do Valentines? Do they actually “date” anymore? I wonder about the Glee world of high school which teens are navigating. This blog is a shared endeavor with Emily Cohen, our Program and Learning Coordinator.

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Sure, Mr. President . . .

Sure, Mr. President . . .

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The sad but not surprising story of Mimi Alford’s “affair” with President Kennedy when she was an undergraduate echoes Monica Lewinsky and poses the question:

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Beyond Belief

Beyond Belief

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International Women’s Day was first celebrated in 1911 and has been observed each year since as a day to recognize women’s achievements as well as to lift up the issues of gender inequality such as violence against women that continue to plague the human race and diminish the lives of women and men.

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News with Teeth

News with Teeth

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This week’s news that the Paterno statue has been removed from the Penn State campus, the NCAA heavily penalized Penn State with both a fine of $60 million and denied their wins of the football team as well as its future bowl game participation was welcome news.

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What Will It Take to Pass VAWA?

What Will It Take to Pass VAWA?

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The Violence Against Women Act [VAWA] was originally passed in 1994 with strong bipartisan support. It was renewed in 2000 and 2005 also with bipartisan support. In those votes, legislators seemed to basically agree that violence against women was a bad thing and that all of us, including our federal government, had a role to play in addressing it.

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“Guns Don’t Kill People . . .”

“Guns Don’t Kill People . . .”

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“Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.” This National Rifle Association (NRA) answer to any suggestion of gun control is only partially true. The fact is that men with guns kill people. At least this is what the headlines tell us.

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Ramadan Kareem!

Ramadan Kareem!

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As Ramadan and the period of fasting draws to a close, Muslims around the world prepare to celebrate Eid al-Fitr on Sunday, August 19.

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Weary Beyond Words

Weary Beyond Words

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“Legitimate rape” has now been added to the lexicon of sexual assault thanks to Representative Todd Akin, candidate for the U.S. Senate in Missouri. One wonders about the definition of this new term; perhaps its synonym “real rape” and its opposite is “illegitimate rape.” It’s a mystery to me.

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Dear Pat Robertson:  Time to Retire

Dear Pat Robertson: Time to Retire

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Dear Pat: It really is time for you to retire. In your latest display of complete ignorance you are embarrassing yourself.

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Responding to Clergy Abuse of Children: Not Rocket Science, Part I

Responding to Clergy Abuse of Children: Not Rocket Science, Part I

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What does a pastor do when he discovers that a volunteer youth minister in his church is “sexting” a 15 year old girl in the youth group? As reported in the news, “The West Seattle church's youth pastor went to police immediately after learning of the allegations against Davis, resulting in the 26-year-old’s arrest. Davis was also dismissed from his volunteer position.”

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Faith Based Resistance to a UN Statement on Ending Violence Against Women and Girls?

Faith Based Resistance to a UN Statement on Ending Violence Against Women and Girls?

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In the face of high profile, horrific violence against women - the attempted assassination of a schoolgirl in Pakistan who had campaigned for education for girls, the brutal rapes and murders of young women in India and South Africa, and, lest we assume this is someone else’s problem, the rape of a drunk woman student in Steubenville, Ohio, by football players - one might assume that the meeting of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women focusing this year on the elimination of violence against women and girls would have a singular agenda to speak in one voice on the pandemic of gender based violence that plagues every country of the world.

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Guest Blog: Reflection on a Journey Towards Freedom

Guest Blog: Reflection on a Journey Towards Freedom

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Ten years ago, the Center for the Prevention of Sexual Violence (now FaithTrust Institute), published A Journey Towards Freedom: A Haggadah for Women Who Have Experienced Domestic Violence. The text, borne out of a series of ongoing workshops with survivors of domestic violence, and lovingly crafted by a dedicated group of advocates, educators, and spiritual leaders spoke to the command l'hageed, to tell of our story at Passover.

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Guest Blog: Reflection on Good Friday and Resurrection

Guest Blog: Reflection on Good Friday and Resurrection

Nancy entered my office at 6:15 on that Tuesday morning without an appointment. She grimaced and hobbled as she slowly made her way to a nearby chair. Her actions caused me to look down at her feet. They were a fleshy mess, swollen and blood-stained; injuries, I soon learned, caused by her violent husband. “I need your help, Chaplain Al, in order to learn how to better deal with the sacrifices a dutiful Christian wife must endure from her husband, whether or not he’s abusive. Christ suffered so I shouldn’t complain about the cross I must bear.”

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The Ethically Challenged in Steubenville and Beyond

The Ethically Challenged in Steubenville and Beyond

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The fact that two teenage football players raped an intoxicated teenager is bad enough. They have now been convicted of their crimes. But the additional fact that other teens not only watched and did not intervene to help the victim but also took photos which they then broadcast with social media is even more disturbing.

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Ethically Challenged Part 2: Youth Ministers Take Note

Ethically Challenged Part 2: Youth Ministers Take Note

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As I have continued to ponder and worry about the Steubenville, Ohio, rape case which I blogged about last week, I came across a two very interesting pieces. First is an open letter from Melissa Harris-Perry to the survivor of the Steubenville rape: “Dear Steubenville Survivor, I Believe You.” It is written from one survivor to another in appreciation for the courage of the young woman in coming forward in spite of knowing the response she would get. Please listen to it.

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Beyond Shameful

Beyond Shameful

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Dear Forty-five Obstructionist Senators: The President used the word “shameful” to describe the Republican filibuster two days ago in the U.S. Senate of bipartisan legislation to address gun violence. “Shameful” doesn't even begin to describe what you did. This was an act of pure cowardice.

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Accidental?

Accidental?

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The recent song, “Accidental Racist,” by Brad Paisley and LL Cool J got me thinking about how one accidentally oppresses other people. As a white woman raised in the South, I’ve heard the angst expressed before. I just don’t buy it. Yet it inspired me to write another version.

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Happy Father's Day Revisited

Happy Father's Day Revisited

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This year as we approach Father’s Day, I remember my father. He passed away on May 12 after a short illness. He was 97 years old. He was a small business owner and church lay leader. He loved his garden and had been nurturing geranium starts in his greenhouse to be ready for the summer flower season. Family and friends were his priorities with college basketball a close second. I remember that he was a decent and generous man who generally spoke his mind but usually with the grace and charm of a Southern gentleman. Fortunately his mind grew more open with age. Although his strong will and mine did clash from time to time, we always circled back to what was most important. I am grateful that he was always present in my life.

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How It's Going Down Under

How It's Going Down Under

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The convergence of several very interesting situations in recent weeks in Australia reveals the complexity of the institutional responses of churches to child sexual abuse. In response to questions in a Victorian parliamentary inquiry, Cardinal George Pell, Archbishop of Melbourne, said he was “fully apologetic and absolutely sorry” about the years of sexual abuse of children by priests.

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Where is a Samaritan When You Need One? Let's Review

Where is a Samaritan When You Need One? Let's Review

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Carie Charlesworth taught school at Holy Trinity Catholic school in San Diego for the past 14 years. Because she is a battered woman with four children, she has been fired. Clearly the problem here is Mr. Charlesworth who has a history of violence, restraining orders and is currently incarcerated. But the consequences of his violence have now been exacerbated for his victim by her employer, a faith-based school.

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"The Invisible War" Goes On

"The Invisible War" Goes On

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The invisible war of sexual assault of female and male military personnel by their fellow soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines continues even as the U.S. Senate holds hearings and presses for substantive changes in the way cases of sexual assault are handled. The Academy Award nominated documentary tells the story of survivors of rape and of an institution long on rhetoric and short on change.

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Where is a Samaritan When You Need One? Continued

Where is a Samaritan When You Need One? Continued

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It turns out that being fired for being a battered woman is not all that unusual. In fact it is legal in 44 states. Carie Charlesworth, a teacher at a Catholic school, was fired after her abusive husband came looking for her at her work. Her case has brought this circumstance to the fore. Here is an update from one online resource, Ultraviolet, which includes a way for you to get involved.

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"Christian Domestic Discipline" - Really?

"Christian Domestic Discipline" - Really?

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Some days it’s embarrassing to be a Christian – and not in a good way. It’s those days when something like “Christian Domestic Discipline” is spread across the internet and I have to wonder, who are these people? For those of you not readily familiar with this lifestyle choice, here is the definition: "A Christian Domestic Discipline (CDD) marriage is simply a traditional, male-led, Christian marriage which utilizes aspects of Domestic Discipline. It is set up according to Biblical standards." The "methods" include corporeal punishment such as spanking with objects.

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"Christian Domestic Discipline" Continued

"Christian Domestic Discipline" Continued

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I think the thing that wearies me is this tendency to slap the label “Christian” on something to somehow justify or legitimize a program, practice or ideology. My latest encounter with this came as I walked by a storefront for a business called “Totally Christian Karate.” What in the name of Jesus does that mean? I continue to struggle with the way “Christian” is used and what its use conveys.

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Justice Made

Justice Made

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“There can be no healing without justice. And justice requires courage.” This has been our basic message from FaithTrust Institute for many years. As we have worked with individual survivors, perpetrators and institutions, often people have asked, “well, what does this justice look like?”

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Standing Our Ground for Justice

Standing Our Ground for Justice

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The tragedy of the killing of Trayvon Martin could have been averted if George Zimmerman had walked away after alerting the police to someone he thought was “suspicious.” But he chose to pursue Martin, got into a fight, had a gun and used it. Martin is dead and now Zimmerman walks away with impunity. I cannot see how an unarmed teenager was a threat to Zimmerman’s life; scary, maybe but not life-threatening. In the aftermath of the Martin killing and Zimmerman acquittal, the media and activists have focused on the Florida case of Marissa Alexander.

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A Trip Downunder

A Trip Downunder

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You may have noticed that the Blog has been quiet for the past few weeks. That is because I just returned from a trip to Australia where I was the guest of Safe Church Ministries. I did training for them in Sydney, Brisbane, and Melbourne. I also keynoted their conference in Sydney, “Safe As Churches?” My first visit to Australia was around 15 years ago when I worked with Uniting Church leaders and others to begin to address clergy misconduct and abuse issues. Then 5 years later, I spoke at a national ecumenical conference during which I began to see the early efforts across denominations to put policy and procedures in place to address complaints of clergy misconduct.

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Hello Pope Francis

Hello Pope Francis

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Dear New Pope: I thought I would give you a few months to settle in before I wrote to you. I have carried on a (one way) correspondence with your predecessors so I thought I should continue the tradition and be in touch with you. I want to commend you for what appears to be your actual concern for the people of God whom you lead. I also want to commend you for reaching out to your people and inquiring of their experiences and opinions about urgent issues in their lives, particularly about their experiences in families. The information which you gather will be critical to your discernment of the path ahead for your church.

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An Old Tree Has Fallen

An Old Tree Has Fallen

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In the forest, when an old tree comes to the end of its life, a strong wind may topple it. As it lies on the ground, slowly releasing its life energy, it becomes something new. It becomes a nurse tree. Seeds from other trees land on it; moss grows; new trees begin to take root. If you walk through old growth forests, you will see many large trees growing with their roots firmly attached to a fallen nurse tree. And so the cycle continues. A very large, old, stately tree has fallen in South Africa. The seeds of the next generation are already drawing nourishment from his life energy.

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Forgiveness Revisited

Forgiveness Revisited

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In the aftermath of the death of Nelson Mandela, many speeches and articles have celebrated his generous heart and forgiving spirit. In fact the media has consistently framed Mandela as a kindly, forgiving grandfather as he neared the end of his life. But this snapshot betrays a lack of appreciation for who Mandela was and for what we can learn from him about forgiveness.

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Dear Pope: Happy New Year

Dear Pope: Happy New Year

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I was encouraged in early December by your announcement that you are convening a Vatican Commission on Child Sexual Abuse to help you address the needs of victims and the structural changes that must take place in order to avoid repeating the past. This seemed like an appropriate Advent effort coinciding with the new church year and the nativity of Jesus. While this planned Vatican Commission falls somewhat short of the call by Bishop Geoffrey Robinson, retired Bishop from Sydney, Australia, for a Vatican Council to address the child abuse tragedy (For Christ’s Sake: End Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church...for Good), it is a step in the right direction.

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True Confessions

True Confessions

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I love football. And I especially love football this week as my hometown Seattle Seahawks have brought home the Super Bowl trophy. (I also love baseball but that’s another season.) I have come to appreciate the elegance of the game itself, so many moving parts coming together to accomplish a goal, so many stories of kids who have made it through some hard knocks into manhood and learned the value of hard work, focus and what teamwork really means. I love the 12th Man and Woman which is what we call the fans here in Seattle, people from all over the region who are committed to this team and who undoubtedly contribute to its success on the field. I love Coach Carroll whose philosophy of positive reinforcement and working with players who are still works in progress has paid off big time. Other people in leadership might take note.

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Speaking of Football...

Speaking of Football...

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Last week, I wrote about my love for football despite the many contradictions inherent in the world of professional sports. This week, I want to draw your attention to Dale Hansen, sportscaster in Dallas, Texas, who confronts these contradictions head on as he calls out cases of violence against women committed by some NFL players. Not to mention he quotes poet and civil rights activist Audre Lorde.

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Ash Wednesday and International Women's Day 2014

Ash Wednesday and International Women's Day 2014

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It is an interesting juxtaposition. Ash Wednesday, March 5 this year, began the period of Lent in the Christian calendar, a time of fasting and reflection, which precedes Easter. It is not a major religious holiday but it is customary to observe Ash Wednesday by receiving ashes wiped on one’s forehead or hand as a sign of our finitude.

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"No He Didn't..."

"No He Didn't..."

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Dear Pope Francis: Did you really say this in a recent interview? In an interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, Francis acknowledged the “profound” wounds abuse leaves, but then added: “The Catholic Church is perhaps the only public institution that has moved with transparency and responsibility. No one has done more. And yet the church is the only one that has been attacked.”

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Getting a Get?

Getting a Get?

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Orthodox Jews can divorce but, under Jewish law, the husband controls the document known as a “get” which finalizes the divorce. If he refuses to give his wife a get, she cannot remarry under Jewish law. In a recent case, Meir Kin, who divorced his wife seven years ago under California civil law but still refuses to give her the get, has remarried. Many familiar with this case consider Mr. Kin a bigamist. Having multiple wives is forbidden under Jewish law. But refusing to give a wife a get is allowed. The wife becomes an agunah, “a chained wife.” Mr. Kin divorced his wife but then refused to give her a get. There is no reason to do this except to continue to control one’s ex-wife and make her life miserable.

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Premature Forgiveness

Premature Forgiveness

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Dear Pope Francis: I want to commend you for owning the painful fact of sexual abuse of children by priests as part of your Good Friday comments. Lent is surely the season for such a public acknowledgement. You named the reality of the abuse; you asserted the necessity of stringent sanctions; you acknowledged the profound vulnerability of children. All of this suggests that you are serious about acting to rectify the harm that has been done, to bring justice where there has been injustice, and to bring healing where brokenness remains.

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Pray Without Ceasing...For the Girls

Pray Without Ceasing...For the Girls

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Perhaps this is all we can do now. The story of the kidnapping of hundreds of Christian and Muslim school girls in Nigeria by the extremist group Boko Haram has outraged the entire world. And the misuse of Islam by Boko Haram leaders to justify their actions, claiming they are being directed by Allah, only magnifies the outrage. Boko Haram using the name of Islam in this way is like the Ku Klux Klan or Fred Phelps using Christianity to propel their actions of hate and violence.

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Keep Praying...

Keep Praying...

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The 200 plus girls who were kidnapped by Boko Haram in Nigeria are not home yet. Despite efforts by Nigerian military, U.S. military, and the United Nations, the girls have not yet been rescued from the terrorists.

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Is Hate a Mental Illness?

Is Hate a Mental Illness?

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Is “misogyny” [the hatred of women] listed in the DSM V? Elliot Rodger’s murderous rampage last week in Santa Barbara was horrific. Seven dead and thirteen injured. But his YouTube message and Manifesto served to multiply the horror. Scary as it is, he did leave us with insight into the mind of a young man who hated women.

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The Marriage Antidote to Domestic Violence?

The Marriage Antidote to Domestic Violence?

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I had trouble keeping up this past week. We saw a barrage of commentary in response to a troubling Op-Ed published in the Washington Post on Wednesday. In an apparent homage to Fathers’ Day, W. Bradford Wilcox and Robin Fretwell Wilson offered their opinions under the title: “One Way to End Violence Against Women? Married Dads.” The critical response and push back to the article have been almost instantaneous. That’s the good news.

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Dear Pat Robertson: Please, Please Retire

Dear Pat Robertson: Please, Please Retire

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I realize it may be a waste of time to even comment on your uninformed “advice” which you continue to dole out without reservation. But some days I just can’t let it go without comment because there are still people out there who listen to you. Your latest opinion offers an opportunity to clarify once again how a faith leader or friend can help a battered woman, and how an uninformed response risks perpetuating a violent, dangerous situation.

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Missing the Point...Entirely

Missing the Point...Entirely

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A 14 year old child goes to her priest and tells him that an adult parishioner has been initiating sexual contact with her. She asks the priest what she should do. “The child testified during deposition that [the priest’s] advice to her was to handle the issue herself because ‘too many people would be hurt.’ Court documents also say she testified, ‘He just said, this is your problem. Sweep it under the floor.’"

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The Message or the Messenger: A Question of Legacy

The Message or the Messenger: A Question of Legacy

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The recent death of Joshu Sasaki Roshi and the publication of an extensive article on John Howard Yoder raise once again the contradiction of beneficial teachings and abusive teachers. What legacies do these prominent faith leaders leave?

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Getting it Right?

Getting it Right?

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I confessed my enjoyment of football last year when the Seattle Seahawks won the Super Bowl. I also understand that football (and the National Football League) is a huge part of the fabric of American culture, for better and for worse. It is certainly a primary factor in the socialization of boys and men in our society. So, yes, I do read the sports page every day. Sometimes a story jumps from the sports page to the front page. This seems to be the case with the Ray Rice story.

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GUEST BLOG: Happy New Year from Rabbi Mark Dratch

GUEST BLOG: Happy New Year from Rabbi Mark Dratch

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A Reflection for Rosh Hashanah: There is an old Jewish blessing offered as the New Year arrives: “May the old year and its troubles end, and the new year and its blessings begin.” A beautiful and hopeful thought, until you think: each new year begins with aspirations of change, redemption, blessing, and healing, and yet each ends with disappointment, struggle, and challenge. Perhaps this is the human condition.

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Getting It Right? Part 2: Keep Trying

Getting It Right? Part 2: Keep Trying

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Every day seems to bring a new chapter in the National Football League's drama of discovering the urgency of addressing domestic violence in its ranks. Team sports are about statistics. Football is about yards gained/lost, touchdowns scored, passes completed, third downs converted, etc. Here’s a statistic: conservatively speaking, 1 in 4 women will experience intimate partner violence at some time in her life.

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Another Day After: Ferguson, MO

Another Day After: Ferguson, MO

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On this day after the announcement by St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch, it is cold, dark and rainy here in Seattle. The weather seems fitting somehow to reflect the despair and hopelessness that so many people are feeling. The announcement that there would be no Grand Jury indictment of the police officer who fired 12 shots to kill a young black man in Ferguson, MO, was made under the cover of darkness because it was shameful. The justice system failed.

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In the Bleak Midwinter

In the Bleak Midwinter

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My favorite hymn of the season is “In the Bleak Midwinter” written by the English poet Christina Rossetti in 1872. It begins by describing the environs that we in the northern hemisphere experience in December: “In the bleak mid-winter Frosty wind made moan, Earth stood hard as iron, Water like a stone; Snow had fallen, snow on snow, Snow on snow, In the bleak mid-winter Long ago.”

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An Unnoticed Thread

An Unnoticed Thread

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Each day seems to bring another report of tragic gun violence. The latest three incidents: Sydney, Australia: Man Haron Monis held hostages in a Sydney café for 16 hours until police stormed the café leaving Monis and two hostages dead. Monis had been charged earlier with being an accessory to the murder of his ex-wife and also with sexual assault of a woman. Eagleville, Pennsylvania: Bradley Stone shot and killed his former wife and five of her relatives before killing himself with a knife. New York City: Ismaaiyl Brinsley ambushed, shot and killed two police officers sitting in their patrol car. Mr. Brinsley, 28, then fled down the street and onto the platform of a nearby subway station, where he shot and killed himself. He had come to New York from Baltimore where he had shot his former girlfriend. Fortunately, she survived. Actually these seemingly disparate events had a lot in common, namely, gender based violence.

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Super Bowl Sunday...Again

Super Bowl Sunday...Again

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In a spirit of full disclosure, it’s true: I am a fan of the game of football. In my hometown, that means the Seattle Seahawks. And that means the Super Bowl on February 1. Having said that, of course I have to comment on the intersection between the NFL and domestic violence. Particularly in light of events this past season, which involved high profile cases of NFL players assaulting family members. As we approach the Super Bowl, the urban myth regarding the increase in domestic violence on Super Bowl Sunday will once again make an appearance. It is a myth, by the way, that there is more domestic violence on Super Bowl Sunday. We don’t know where it started; probably it was someone’s hunch way back when. But the numbers don’t support it.

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Fifty Shades of Depressing, Part 2 (The Movie)

Fifty Shades of Depressing, Part 2 (The Movie)

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First, a confession: I have not read Fifty Shades of Grey nor do I intend to. I have not seen the film nor do I intend to. When I choose a novel to read or a movie to see, I pay attention to reviews or suggestions of my friends. The thought of spending time reading second rate prose about dominant-submissive heterosexual sex or of watching soft-core porn in a theater just doesn’t seem very appealing. Life is too short. But I am intrigued by the apparent popularity of this book, now movie, and the discussions it has engendered. Sounds like a raunchy romance novel of the Twilight genre, expertly marketed and hyped to an adult female audience. Feminist? Anti-feminist? Liberating? Depressing?

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What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

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“As gun rights advocates push to legalize firearms on college campuses, an argument is taking shape: Arming female students will help reduce sexual assaults.” I will tell you exactly what will go wrong. Here’s how it will go. Undergrad Sally is given a handgun by her parents on her birthday. Sally attends an abbreviated gun safety class which includes target practice. Sally now carries her gun in her backpack on campus. She says she feels safer. Two possible scenarios:

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A Tale of the Usual and the Unusual

A Tale of the Usual and the Unusual

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The story of Mohammad Abdullah Saleem of Elgin, IL, is not unlike that of a Catholic priest, a Protestant pastor, a Jewish rabbi, or a Buddhist teacher who has sexually molested a faithful follower. Over the past 30 years, we have heard from many survivors of abuse by a faith leader in all of these groups, but few Muslim survivors. It has simply been harder to break the silence in the Muslim community where any discussion of anything sexual remains largely taboo.

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Spring Break {File Under: Things We Tend To Take For Granted}

Spring Break {File Under: Things We Tend To Take For Granted}

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In the northern hemisphere, this is the season of spring. Each year I try to spend a week in the Smokey Mountains because spring here is an event that unfolds each day before our eyes. Warm days and cool nights coax the sprouts from the ground and the buds from the trees. Wild violets cover the ground, tender fiddle heads of ferns unfold, the redbuds are just ready to burst into purple, a faint touch of green covers the mountainside.

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“Marriage Is Sacred”

“Marriage Is Sacred”

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A few years back there was a news article in California about the prosecution of a husband for marital rape of his wife. The wife had locked herself in the bedroom to protect herself from the abusive husband. He broke down the door and assaulted her. His defense at trial was that he was Roman Catholic and the church had taught him that once he married, he could have sex with his wife any time he chose; therefore his arrest for marital rape was a violation of his First Amendment right to exercise religion.

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Consent: Not Rocket Science—Really

Consent: Not Rocket Science—Really

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What is it that people don’t understand about consent in sexual relationships? Evidently a lot, given the staggering numbers of rapes in the military, on campuses, in marriages… and everywhere else. I remember a conversation I had with a young woman in a church youth group. She said that her boyfriend had asked her to have sex with him. She declined and didn’t give a reason. She just didn’t want to do that with him at that time. He didn’t force her to have sex; he ended the relationship. So even though he didn’t assault her, he punished her for saying “no, not now.” She didn’t want to end the relationship; she just didn’t want to have sex. It was a deal breaker for him.

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Dear Pope: It's Me Again

Dear Pope: It's Me Again

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Dear Pope: It’s been a while since I wrote to you. Like many people around the world, I’ve been watching your tenure closely, particularly regarding the sexual abuse of children. I want to commend you for your move to establish a tribunal for holding bishops accountable for their actions to protect abusers and stonewall investigations or their inaction to protect children in response to sexual abuse by priests. I also commend you for actually listening to the Papal Commission you established in late 2013 to advise you on these matters.

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Dear Dylann Roof

Dear Dylann Roof

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Dear Dylann Roof: When you gunned down 9 people in a Charleston church who were sharing Bible study with you, you said, “I have to do it. You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go.” Author Lisa Wade described this as “benevolent” sexism. I find this an overly generous label.

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How Many? How Long?

How Many? How Long?

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This might sound like the start of a bad joke: What do a theologian (John Howard Yoder) and a comedian (Bill Cosby) have in common? More than you might imagine—and I’m not laughing. Both were major figures in their fields. Both were widely regarded and respected, even adored by many. Both were powerful men with a sense of entitlement. With impunity, both sexually abused scores of young women who trusted them for years. Both were shielded by their peers and colleagues from any meaningful accountability.

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16 Days of Activism: The Stories That Inspire Our Work

16 Days of Activism: The Stories That Inspire Our Work

As we approach the end of 2015, it's once again time for the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence. As we pause to consider “activism” and to take stock of our efforts, it is sobering to realize that we are still having to make the case that “Black Lives Matter,” that women should have access to contraception, that one should be able to attend college or serve in the military without being raped, that climate change is a deeply disturbing fact, that terrorism, whether in the home or in the street, is an affront to every faith tradition and that we are all a year older. How is it that we stay on these paths, seeking justice, safety, equality and healing?

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GUEST BLOG: "My Little Pony Snowsuit" {16 Days of Activism: Stories That Inspire Our Work}

GUEST BLOG: "My Little Pony Snowsuit" {16 Days of Activism: Stories That Inspire Our Work}

She was proud of her pink My Little Pony snowsuit and she needed to go to the bathroom. That was my introduction to Mimi, a preschool-aged girl in the gym of a local church drop-in center. She was there with her Dad and 2nd grade brother, Lemar, as they waited to be transported to an emergency shelter that operated on bitter cold nights.

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