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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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133 Responses

  1. wasabi
    wasabi November 7, 2011 at 1:49 pm |

    “but conservative Christian leaders have made the right to hit your kids an Important Religious Rights Issue.” Yes this was my experience growing up. It was a shock and relief to me when I was told as an adult in my Episcopal church (obviously much more liberal) that the rod in the oft quoted verse was to be used to gently guide sheep by pulling them to the right path with the rook end rather than to beat them. And that this then was parents’ role being described, to gently pull in the right direction, rather than to beat into submission.

  2. Rob in CT
    Rob in CT November 7, 2011 at 1:53 pm |

    Sickening.

  3. Patricia
    Patricia November 7, 2011 at 2:21 pm |

    There’s a board called Free Jinger (in reference to Jinger Duggar from that 19 Kids and Counting show on TLC) that’s been following and critiquing the Pearls and others like them for quite a while. I go there for feminist analyses of different fundamentalist blogs and TV shows and have found them both really insightful and strikingly funny at times. After you click the link, go to “A Quiver Full of Snark” (that’s in reference to the idea of having a quiverfull of children who think the same way as the parents in reference to religion and patriarchy).

  4. Patricia
    Patricia November 7, 2011 at 2:22 pm |

    K, link didn’t work. Just copypasta: http://www.freejinger.org/

  5. Comrade Kevin
    Comrade Kevin November 7, 2011 at 2:34 pm |

    I was spanked regularly. In the beginning, when I was small enough, I was spanked by both my mother and father. Then, I grew too large for her whippings to make much of an impact. But I will always remember the sickening sound of my father’s leather belt as it left his waist.

    For my father, spanking was a kind of default response. If I was really being disobedient or unruly, the only thing he knew to do was to resort to corporal punishment. You never questioned it. That’s just how it went and most of the kids I knew were also spanked multiple times. So I’ve never really blamed either of my parents. That was all they really knew.

    When I was in Kindergarten and first grade, principals had the right to paddle if they wished. My elementary school principal was a fierce believer in it and used it frequently. But then when second grade rolled around, the school district banned corporal punishment by any method.

  6. Libby Anne
    Libby Anne November 7, 2011 at 2:36 pm |

    I was raised on the Pearls’ methods. My parents swore by his teachings, and kept a box of his books on hand to give away to any new parent they met. They literally believed that if you don’t follow the Pearls’ teachings (breaking your child’s will, etc), your child would turn out ruined and miserable, on drugs or in jail, selfish and unloving. This is how Michael Pearl brings people in – he tells them that the only way to turn out happy, healthy children is to break their wills and enforce absolute and immediate obedience, and in fact, he promises parents that if they follow his methods they will have perfect children and perfect families.

    For posts I’ve written on the Pearls and on my experiences, see here and here.

  7. Libby Anne
    Libby Anne November 7, 2011 at 2:38 pm |

    I was raised on the Pearls’ teachings. Michael Pearl tells parents that if they follow his methods, their children will end up happy and successful, and that if they don’t, their children will grow up to be miserable failures, and my parents bought it hook line and sinker.

    I’ve written about Michel Pearl and my experiences on my blog, here and here.

  8. Libby Anne
    Libby Anne November 7, 2011 at 2:39 pm |

    I was raised on the Pearls’ teachings and on their discipline method.

    I’ve written about the Pearls’ teachings and my experiences on my blog, here and here.

  9. Libby Anne
    Libby Anne November 7, 2011 at 2:41 pm |

    Here is a helpful website countering the Pearls and compiling critiques of them and their teachings: Why Not Train a Child

  10. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig November 7, 2011 at 2:41 pm |

    Libby Anne : That first link doesn’t seem to go anywhere. Could you try and repost it?

    My point from the other thread stands: In fundamentalist circles, no one sees anything wrong with a ‘whuppin’ or a beating. If there are enough fundamentalists in a state, the laws get rewritten so child abuse becomes legal.

  11. Libby Anne
    Libby Anne November 7, 2011 at 2:41 pm |

    Sorry for the double posting: My comment kept not going through so I kept trying again! Oops!

  12. Dan S.
    Dan S. November 7, 2011 at 2:44 pm |

    In the NY Times article, they quote the Pearls as writing “To give up the use of the rod is to give up our views of human nature, God, eternity.” That’s quite telling.

  13. Iany
    Iany November 7, 2011 at 2:45 pm |

    I wish that people would just talk to their kids. How the hell is a six month old child going to know what being hit means other than a reason to fear the people they rely on, and fear miss-stepping and losing that support. I can understand people being stressed and under-supported and maybe spanking there kids from time to time… But actually encouraging it as a first port of call?
    Monstrous, it makes me sick. I can’t imagine hitting a baby because a goddamn book told me to.

  14. Iany
    Iany November 7, 2011 at 2:46 pm |

    *their…

  15. Kathleen
    Kathleen November 7, 2011 at 2:50 pm |

    too horrible for words.

  16. igglanova
    igglanova November 7, 2011 at 2:53 pm |

    They advocate hitting babies?

    Hitting.

    Babies.

    How are people not immediately revolted by this.

  17. igglanova
    igglanova November 7, 2011 at 2:56 pm |

    “It’s a good spanking instrument,” Mr. Pearl said in the interview. “It’s too light to cause damage to the muscle or the bone.”

    Yeah, we all know skin, blood vessels, and organs are just superfluous bullshit.

  18. Bumblebee
    Bumblebee November 7, 2011 at 3:08 pm |

    So embryos aren’t allowed to get hurt because they’re people but when they’re six months old they don’t have those rights anymore?! How does that make sense?

  19. Sandy
    Sandy November 7, 2011 at 3:17 pm |

    Six months old? I wonder, when would Jesus start hitting a baby with plumbing tube? I would like to ask these fuckers that. I’m sure they would have some smarmy answer of course, this sort always does.

  20. Sandy
    Sandy November 7, 2011 at 3:21 pm |

    Silly Bumblebee, once teh babies leave their walking life support systems all bets are off. They can then fend fir themselves, and tiny babies willfully misbehave so of course you have to hit them with something. To teach them. Obviously.

  21. EG
    EG November 7, 2011 at 3:46 pm |

    You know, I babysat a lot when I was in graduate school. A lot. And I never once hit a kid. I babysat one little girl starting when she was two months old. By the time she was ten months old, she could identify letters. I thought it was because I went through the alphabet with her every day, showing her the letters and telling her what they were called, explaining which words started with particular letters, and reading books to her.

    Apparently, if I had just hit her, she would’ve learned her letters earlier, according to these total assholes.

    “To give up the use of the rod is to give up our views of human nature, God, eternity.”

    Giving up slavery forced many people to give up their views of human nature and God. I don’t give a shit, because those views were unspeakably disgusting, as is hitting people too small to hit back.

    Spanking isn’t about right and wrong; it’s about being big enough to hit. My grandfather was a wonderful grandfather to me, but he and my father had serious problems. My father once told me that one day when he was 16 and had done something wrong, my grandfather went to hit him and my father caught his fist in the air, looked him in the eye and said “Don’t you ever hit me again.” And that was it. The beatings didn’t stop because you’ve “learned” whatever it is they want you to know. The beatings stopped when my father became strong enough to hit back.

  22. DouglasG
    DouglasG November 7, 2011 at 3:55 pm |

    [Obviously not all (or even most) Christians beat their kids,]

    All, fair enough, but that most don’t doesn’t seem all that obvious.

  23. midnightsky
    midnightsky November 7, 2011 at 4:04 pm |

    DouglasG:
    [Obviously not all (or even most) Christians beat their kids,]

    All, fair enough, but that most don’t doesn’t seem all that obvious.

    I am so sad that people wouldn’t think this is obvious. The loudest Christians are sometimes the jerks among us, but really, they are in no way the majority, at all. I’m Christian — and I like to think I’m a pretty good person, and I’m fairly certain that through my life travels, I have encountered more good than bad there. Maybe people will call it anecdata, but I’m hoping this isn’t an excuse for people to claim that all Christians are horrible people, which is a very common thing on the Internet.

  24. Kathleen
    Kathleen November 7, 2011 at 4:10 pm |

    midnight sky — you read a post describing the torture death of a child, and your main concern in the discussion that follows is that people not say mean things about Christians? Perhaps your future doesn’t lie in public relations.

  25. Aydan
    Aydan November 7, 2011 at 4:11 pm |

    DouglasG: [Obviously not all (or even most) Christians beat their kids,]

    All, fair enough, but that most don’t doesn’t seem all that obvious.

    Those who view beating their kids as a moral crusade are the most vocal about it– as the most extreme branches of any religion generally are. If not beating your kid is the norm for you, as it is for many or most Christians, then you’re probably not even going to think to make a point out of it until you hear about something like this.

    I heard about the Pearls years ago from a Christian parenting blog who was denouncing their “philosophies,” and it’s disheartening to know that they’re still hurting people.

  26. EG
    EG November 7, 2011 at 4:20 pm |

    midnightsky: I’m hoping this isn’t an excuse for people to claim that all Christians are horrible people, which is a very common thing on the Internet.

    Gee. On the internet, you say? That must be very difficult. I wonder what it has been like for all those groups that Christians have claimed are horrible people in the real world, with real world consequences.

    Quite frankly, if I saw more Christian leaders and followers standing up and publicly denouncing this kind of disgusting violence, publicizing Christian anti-Pearl foundations, etc., I’d have more sympathy. Otherwise…cry me a river.

  27. Amarantha
    Amarantha November 7, 2011 at 4:38 pm |

    In addition to all the obvious creepiness, it is especially disturbing to me that most of the murdered children were adopted and of African descent. These kids were taken from their home countries, likely because of some idea that adopting them and giving them a “Christian” home would save them and raise more “warriors for Christ.” Instead, they were horrifically abused and I’m guessing the parents never fully treated them like family. Just goes to show some of the flaws in the Christian pro-adoption ideology.
    To be clear, I think adoption can be a great choice in some circumstances, but am criticizing the saviour/building an army mentality that underpins some Christian adoption ideology.

  28. atheistchick
    atheistchick November 7, 2011 at 5:03 pm |

    Kathleen:
    midnightsky—youreadapostdescribingthetorturedeathofachild,andyourmainconcerninthediscussionthatfollowsisthatpeoplenotsaymeanthingsaboutChristians?Perhapsyourfuturedoesn’tlieinpublicrelations.

    Agreed. Poor, poor christians and the terrible discrimination they face…

    I don’t have much to add– All of my sentiments have been stated by previous commenters. This is just so wrong.

  29. LeftSidePositive
    LeftSidePositive November 7, 2011 at 5:14 pm |

    wasabi: It was a shock and relief to me when I was told as an adult in my Episcopal church (obviously much more liberal) that the rod in the oft quoted verse was to be used to gently guide sheep by pulling them to the right path with the rook end rather than to beat them.

    On the other hand, I believe the biblical verses instructing husbands to stone their non-bleeding (not necessarily non-virginal!) brides to death are pretty damn clear.

    Maybe we should think less about how we choose to interpret something written several thousand years ago with TONS of documented lapses in ethics and a pervasive shocking disregard for human rights, and advocate for a more rational sense of ethics?

    Something is right if it makes all parties involved happy and empowered. Something is wrong if it causes physical/emotional/economic damage, denies autonomy, is dishonest, or treats people as unequal. Lots of details are needed to flesh out those basic principles, but how about we start from there instead of cherry picking out of an old book?

  30. EG
    EG November 7, 2011 at 5:27 pm |

    LeftSidePositive: how about we start from there instead of cherry picking out of an old book?

    Or we could at least change up the old book every so often. I’m bored with hearing about what the Bible really means. For the next couple hundred years, let’s take our cues from, oh, I don’t know…Beowulf? Or The Odyssey? Or maybe, if we’re willing to be just a leetle more modern, we could try The Book of the City of Ladies? None of those are perfect by far, but then, neither is the Bible.

  31. Glass
    Glass November 7, 2011 at 5:37 pm |

    We know about the abuse and torture these poor kids went through because they died. Imagine how many more of these poor kids are going through hell on earth at the hands of their fundy parents that we never find out about.

    Sickening.

  32. ArielNYC
    ArielNYC November 7, 2011 at 5:52 pm |

    I’m curious how Christian conservatives are now planning to discipline fertilized eggs

  33. Donna L
    Donna L November 7, 2011 at 5:58 pm |

    LeftSidePositive: Ontheotherhand,Ibelievethebiblicalversesinstructinghusbandstostonetheirnon-bleeding(notnecessarilynon-virginal!)bridestodeathareprettydamnclear.

    MaybeweshouldthinklessabouthowwechoosetointerpretsomethingwrittenseveralthousandyearsagowithTONSofdocumentedlapsesinethicsandapervasiveshockingdisregardforhumanrights,andadvocateforamorerationalsenseofethics?

    Somethingisrightifitmakesallpartiesinvolvedhappyandempowered.Somethingiswrongifitcausesphysical/emotional/economicdamage,deniesautonomy,isdishonest,ortreatspeopleasunequal.Lotsofdetailsareneededtofleshoutthosebasicprinciples,buthowaboutwestartfromthereinsteadofcherrypickingoutofanoldbook?

    Far be it from me to be an apologist for all aspects of Orthodox Judaism, but I do wonder if Christian fundamentalists who rely on the Hebrew Bible as justification for all those gruesome punishments (including those involving killing people) realize that in reality, at least in the last couple of thousand years of rabbinic Judaism, they were never, actually carried out. And that even the Talmud says, “if you must strike a child, strike them only with a shoelace,” as a symbolic punishment (Bava Batra 21a). (Which may not sound like much, but it’s actually rather progressive for something written more than 1500 years ago.) And that the medieval rabbis universally and repeatedly condemned domestic violence in general, asking how, if a man is prohibited from striking a stranger,, to whom he owes no respect, he can possibly be permitted to strike his wife, to whom he does owe respect.

  34. Brian Schlosser
    Brian Schlosser November 7, 2011 at 8:34 pm |

    Non-christians who beat their kids do it because they are mad, have no self control, are perpetuating the violent upbringing they had, etc. Christians who beat their kids do it because they are mad, have no self control, are perpetuating the violent upbringing they had, etc… AND have the added bonus of being able to justify it to themselves using their faith. What a good deal for them…

  35. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig November 7, 2011 at 8:48 pm |

    Brian: Christians who beat their kids do it because..

    They don’t know it’s wrong. It’s as simple as that. And obviously, even if the kids die, that’s a good thing because the kids get to meet Jesus.

  36. aboat
    aboat November 7, 2011 at 8:57 pm |

    @igglanova, sandy & bumblebee

    One thing i have always found interesting (and by interesting i meant horrific and incomprehensible) is that when i have debates with people about whether or not parents have a basic right to physically discipline their children (in which i am very much the minority by saying it in NOT okay to hit children under your care EVER) there always seems to crop up this idea of age-appropriateness. Most people seem to say it is okay to smack a small child, but not an older one. Variations differ here on what the term ‘smack’ means, and which type of physical abuse/smacking is appropriate to which age group. It is totally non-sensical to say that it is better to hit a small child, who is not even neurologically capable of connecting action to repurcussion in any kind of abstract sense, and be able to understand chains of consequence.

    My heart goes out to these children.

  37. Archie
    Archie November 7, 2011 at 11:01 pm |

    Cult leaders belong in prison. Physical expression is fundamental in raising children, and physical affection is a necessity. But physical punishment teaches the opposite of love and care.

  38. Miss S
    Miss S November 8, 2011 at 1:35 am |

    Quite frankly, if I saw more Christian leaders and followers standing up and publicly denouncing this kind of disgusting violence, publicizing Christian anti-Pearl foundations, etc., I’d have more sympathy. Otherwise…cry me a river

    I’m going to respond to this with my perspective because it’s relevant, and because I see this point brought up a lot.

    I grew up in an African Methodist Church, which falls under Christianity. So do Jehovah Witnesses, Latter Day Saints, Catholics, and yes-Fundamentalists. Those are just a few examples. The reality is, most of us don’t have a lot in common, don’t have shared services, and (in the case of JW) forbidden to socialize. It would never cross my mind to speak up and immediately distance myself if I read something about Fundamentalists because…. I’m already distanced. I’m not a member of their church and I have nothing to do with them.

    My mom no longer goes to church and she disagrees with the Fundamentalist church, but we don’t feel the need to go public with it. We aren’t fundamentalists, so we don’t expect to have to defend ourselves because of something they did, or denounce them for something. It’s like an entirely different group. They are not us, we are not them, and only the outside world thinks that those lines are blurred.

    There are sects that believe the Bible is the ultimate authority, and ones that reject the Bible altogether. There are non denominational churches, UU churches that combine Christianity, Judaism, and Buddhism. There are the 7th Day Adventists. Christianity does not mean ONE thing.

  39. anom
    anom November 8, 2011 at 2:13 am |

    EG: Gee.Ontheinternet,yousay?Thatmustbeverydifficult.IwonderwhatithasbeenlikeforallthosegroupsthatChristianshaveclaimedarehorriblepeopleintherealworld,withrealworldconsequences.

    Quitefrankly,ifIsawmoreChristianleadersandfollowersstandingupandpubliclydenouncingthiskindofdisgustingviolence,publicizingChristiananti-Pearlfoundations,etc.,I’dhavemoresympathy.Otherwise…crymeariver.

    I don’t remember who said it but I believe the saying is “A religion is just a successful cult.” Like other commenters I find it hard to sympathize with Christian feeling hurt by the way they are representated. Please, don’t even.

  40. anom
    anom November 8, 2011 at 2:15 am |

    ps: there seems to be a problem with the quote thingy (yes I fail internet forever), or maybe it’m just doing it wrong?

  41. TeamBuffalo
    TeamBuffalo November 8, 2011 at 3:09 am |

    I think everybody whose parents hit them experienced that moment when you’re grown enough that your reaction is “Ow, that fucking hurt. Stop it.” instead of crying. At that point corporal punishment stops working, and you’re forced to treat the kid like an autonomous person who will either listen to you, or not.

    I couldn’t handle watching the video with sound, but I watched it on mute, and I know exactly what that feels like. I was more surprised that so many people said, obviously this is wrong, than anything else. This is exactly what it looks like when your parents beat you, and it’s an experience a LOT of people have shared. Spare the rod indeed.

  42. Tomek Kulesza
    Tomek Kulesza November 8, 2011 at 3:43 am |

    EG:
    Spanking isn’t about right and wrong; it’s about being big enough to hit. My grandfather was a wonderful grandfather to me, but he and my father had serious problems. My father once told me that one day when he was 16 and had done something wrong, my grandfather went to hit him and my father caught his fist in the air, looked him in the eye and said “Don’t you ever hit me again.” And that was it. The beatings didn’t stop because you’ve “learned” whatever it is they want you to know. The beatings stopped when my father became strong enough to hit back.

    That’s my personal experience (with some minor differences). Although in my case it was my mother. And she was no christian, in fact she was basically feminist, and i don’t think it’s somehow confined to christians (even though i do think it’s more common for traditionally minded people).

    Also, yeah, the adoptee thing was extra disturbing.

  43. Elsa
    Elsa November 8, 2011 at 7:15 am |

    I was raised by parents who believed every word that evil man said. They had all his books and got his semi-monthly newsletter in the mail for years. People could write in about their problems and Michael Pearl would provide godly answers for them. I remember one woman wrote in that he husband had been convicted of molesting her girls and that he had been sent to prison for 15 or so years. She wanted to know if it would still be a sin to divorce him and move on. According to the Pearls, that wouldn’t honor god, no sir, what would honor god, however, was waiting for her husband and being a “witness” to him. Cause divorce is so very very wrong, but touching children, well god forgives you I guess. Even at a young age I knew that crap was toxic and horrible.

    One of the other founding principles for this type of “discipline” is the total breaking of the child’s will so that they no longer defy the parent or any authority figure. These kids are “happy” and totally “obedient” because they are like little robot auto-mans with no will of their own. Trying not to crack is hard work, I can assure you.

  44. EG
    EG November 8, 2011 at 7:56 am |

    Miss S: We aren’t fundamentalists, so we don’t expect to have to defend ourselves because of something they did, or denounce them for something. It’s like an entirely different group. They are not us, we are not them, and only the outside world thinks that those lines are blurred

    Then don’t be upset when those of us in the outside world who don’t find your internecine doctrinal differences very compelling make the mistake of tarring you all with the same brush. These are people who are justifying their disgusting behavior by claiming that they are following Christian doctrine. If you believe that they’re incorrect and want those of us in the outside world to understand that Christianity does not equate to child abuse, speak up publicly. If you don’t speak up, then I don’t want to hear about how those people who do speak up and put themselves in the public eye aren’t real Christians, or don’t represent all Christians, or blah blah blah.

    anom: ps: there seems to be a problem with the quote thingy (yes I fail internet forever), or maybe it’m just doing it wrong?

    The quote function by itself sometimes gets overwhelmed. The best way to make sure it doesn’t do that run-on thingy is to highlight the relevant section you want to quote, or to highlight the whole thing if that’s what you want.

    TeamBuffalo: At that point corporal punishment stops working

    Honestly, does it ever work very well? I was hit. It never once crossed my mind that I had done anything wrong and I never once, when doing the thing that had once gotten me hit in the past, decided not to in order to avoid being hit. Not once. Granted, I was not subject to the kind of horrific abuse shown above, But in retrospect, my father definitely…had anger management issues. But it never once occurred to me to back down when he was threatening me. I guess I was just too much like him to consider it. And, as I said, it wasn’t an ongoing, every single day kind of thing.

    Elsa: One of the other founding principles for this type of “discipline” is the total breaking of the child’s will so that they no longer defy the parent or any authority figure.

    This so awful; I’m so sorry. I just can’t imagine wanting this for my child. The children I love…part of what I love about them is their will.

  45. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub November 8, 2011 at 9:05 am |

    I. . .look. I’ve heard this stuff used WRT feminism–YOU ALL BUY INTO WHAT MARY DALY/ANDREA DWORKIN/VALERIE SOLANAS SAID AND YOU SHOULD DENOUNCE THEM AT EVERY TURN. Or the whole YOU MUSLIMS SHOULD CONDEMN OSAMA BIN LADEN.

    Yes, Christians have a lot of power in this country, and Christianity is exalted. But that doesn’t mean that someone like Miss S., or people like my father, would even know about these pro-child beating fundies before a story like this broke. These spare the rod folks are popular within their branch of fundamentalism, but it doesn’t follow that an AME congregant, or a mainline Episcopalian, or a Catholic is going to know about the ins and outs of a sect that they do not relate to, do not belong to, and don’t know much about. An AME congregant, a Catholic, or an Episcopalian is outside of communities. Within fundamentalist and evangelical communities, there are groups that oppose corporal punishment and abuse (which the article points out).

    And I’ll also second the point that it’s not just fundamentalist Christians who abuse.

  46. EG
    EG November 8, 2011 at 9:30 am |

    Sheelzebub: Yes, Christians have a lot of power in this country, and Christianity is exalted. But that doesn’t mean that someone like Miss S., or people like my father, would even know about these pro-child beating fundies before a story like this broke.

    Well, I did. And I knew about it pre-internet, as I recall. I think they were covered in NYT magazine article or something. But it’s not just that, is it? Every single time Christians do something vile in the name of Christianity, the internet is full of Christians whose feelings get hurt because honestly, they’re Christian, and that’s not really Christianity, etc. And when Catholics for Choice says that, I listen, because they actually are making an organized effort. But when it’s random folk on the internet feeling sad because of how non-Christians perceive Christianity and its adherents? Too bad. Do something about it or stop complaining.

    I don’t see the parallel with feminists or Muslims in the US at all, for exactly the reasons you state. Christians in the US enjoy an elevated level of privilege and power. So I hold them to an elevated standard.

  47. Shannon Drury
    Shannon Drury November 8, 2011 at 9:33 am |

    And Mississippians are going to vote on the “personhood” of two-celled blobs today. I sure wish that living kids were given the same consideration.

  48. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub November 8, 2011 at 9:38 am |

    Yeah, but you’re assuming that they knew about this before the story broke, EG. I mean, great, you knew about it. I know about these groups because I lurk and keep track of them thanks to my political bent, but your average mainstream Christian? Doesn’t even know about them. FFS, people in my blue-collar Brazilian and Haitian neighborhood don’t read the NYTimes, they don’t know about this because this isn’t a part of their world, and it’s a bit silly to then expect them to have been shouting from the rooftops about this as Christians.

  49. Andie
    Andie November 8, 2011 at 9:47 am |

    Sheezlebub, that’s fair, you can’t speak out against things when you don’t know they’re happening.. but people like midnightsky may not have known, but zie knows NOW, and as such, instead of getting butthurt about how ‘not all christians are like that’ well.. maybe instead of lecturing US, midnight should think about going to other christians, such as the folks that are proliferating this kind of B.S. and saying “Will you knock it off? You’re making the rest of us look bad!”

  50. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub November 8, 2011 at 9:50 am |

    Andie, I was actually speaking about the reply to Miss S. Who said she didn’t know about this, and wasn’t part of that community and wasn’t particularly acquainted with the specifics of their ideologies, so why would she speak out about it?

  51. XtinaS
    XtinaS November 8, 2011 at 9:53 am |

    Sheelzebub:

    It sounds like you and EG aren’t addressing the same thing, or something similar to that.  (I am pre-coffee at this time.)  For me, at least, it’s less that I expect all types of Christians to know everything that’s going on in the Christianverse, and more that I never again want to read a post wherein something about a Christian type is fucked-up, and then in the comments, “But I didn’t know! They’re not the right kinds of Christians! I shouldn’t have to care about them!”

    I don’t have perfect working knowledge of everything fucked up that white people do, but for chrissakes, when someone posts about racist shit that a white person’s done, I don’t come in and comment that I hope people don’t go claiming that all white people are horrible people.

  52. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub November 8, 2011 at 9:59 am |

    Again, not defending “Don’t criticize Christians!” whining. I was pointing out that Miss S had a point in that she wouldn’t have necessarily known about this, and that’s why she and other mainline Christians didn’t speak out about it.

  53. Andie
    Andie November 8, 2011 at 10:09 am |

    Sheelzebub: Andie, I was actually speaking about the reply to Miss S. Who said she didn’t know about this, and wasn’t part of that community and wasn’t particularly acquainted with the specifics of their ideologies, so why would she speak out about it?

    Okay, noted.

  54. EG
    EG November 8, 2011 at 10:16 am |

    Sheelzebub: Yeah, but you’re assuming that they knew about this before the story broke, EG. I mean, great, you knew about it. I know about these groups because I lurk and keep track of them thanks to my political bent, but your average mainstream Christian? Doesn’t even know about them.

    Well, as you know, it’s not just a matter of this specific story. It’s a larger phenomenon than that, of Christians weeping over how they’re so misunderstood and oppressed. But it’s also a matter of who is doing the weeping–are the blue collar people in your Haitian and Brazilian neighborhoods whining on the internet about how Christianity isn’t really like that? Because anybody who’s commenting on these stories is aware, and if they don’t understand why a non-Christian might not buy into the idea that Christianity is really about peace and love and whathaveyou, it’s not just that they didn’t know about this particular story; it’s that they’re willfully ignoring the past few decades, to say nothing of before.

    Sheelzebub: I was actually speaking about the reply to Miss S. Who said she didn’t know about this, and wasn’t part of that community and wasn’t particularly acquainted with the specifics of their ideologies, so why would she speak out about it?

    Miss S was responding to my response to midnightsky, so that post is nonetheless relevant. And hey, now she knows. And instead of saying something like “this is disgusting and not how we have to practice Christianity,” she’s saying “Hey, nothing to do with me, all this, and if you were familiar with every petty doctrinal schism in the history of Christianity, you’d know that.” But you know what? If you identify as Christian, it does have something to do with you, and the idea that it’s the responsibility of non-Christians to be aware of the ten billion sects of Christianity in the US so that we don’t step on anybody’s toes whenever a highly influential segment of Christians does something repugnant is just redolent of privilege.

    XtinaS: I don’t have perfect working knowledge of everything fucked up that white people do, but for chrissakes, when someone posts about racist shit that a white person’s done, I don’t come in and comment that I hope people don’t go claiming that all white people are horrible people.

    Precisely. And when nonwhite people say things like “What the fuck is wrong with white people?” I don’t jump in all “Hey hey hey you guys. That is so not nice to white people who aren’t racist assholes,” because that would show such an absence of awareness of power dynamics, history, and priorities on my part that it would pretty much brand me as a racist asshole in and of itself. White people who aren’t racist assholes, or who strive not to be, can afford to take a few for the team. So can Christians.

  55. Matt
    Matt November 8, 2011 at 10:45 am |

    EG: Well,asyouknow,it’snotjustamatterofthisspecificstory.It’salargerphenomenonthanthat,ofChristiansweepingoverhowthey’resomisunderstoodandoppressed.Butit’salsoamatterofwhoisdoingtheweeping–arethebluecollarpeopleinyourHaitianandBrazilianneighborhoodswhiningontheinternetabouthowChristianityisn’treallylikethat?Becauseanybodywho’scommentingonthesestoriesisaware,andiftheydon’tunderstandwhyanon-ChristianmightnotbuyintotheideathatChristianityisreallyaboutpeaceandloveandwhathaveyou,it’snotjustthattheydidn’tknowaboutthisparticularstory;it’sthatthey’rewillfullyignoringthepastfewdecades,tosaynothingofbefore.

    MissSwasrespondingtomyresponsetomidnightsky,sothatpostisnonethelessrelevant.Andhey,nowsheknows.Andinsteadofsayingsomethinglike“thisisdisgustingandnothowwehavetopracticeChristianity,”she’ssaying“Hey,nothingtodowithme,allthis,andifyouwerefamiliarwitheverypettydoctrinalschisminthehistoryofChristianity,you’dknowthat.”Butyouknowwhat?IfyouidentifyasChristian,itdoeshavesomethingtodowithyou,andtheideathatit’stheresponsibilityofnon-ChristianstobeawareofthetenbillionsectsofChristianityintheUSsothatwedon’tsteponanybody’stoeswheneverahighlyinfluentialsegmentofChristiansdoessomethingrepugnantisjustredolentofprivilege.

    Precisely.Andwhennonwhitepeoplesaythingslike“Whatthefuckiswrongwithwhitepeople?”Idon’tjumpinall“Heyheyheyyouguys.Thatissonotnicetowhitepeoplewhoaren’tracistassholes,”becausethatwouldshowsuchanabsenceofawarenessofpowerdynamics,history,andprioritiesonmypartthatitwouldprettymuchbrandmeasaracistassholeinandofitself.Whitepeoplewhoaren’tracistassholes,orwhostrivenottobe,canaffordtotakeafewfortheteam.SocanChristians.

    I cannot possibly agree with this enough. On this very site moderators and prominent posters go around talking about how when you hear about something a dude or a white person did you shouldn’t say we aren’t all like that and get all upset but then its somehow not the same for christians, probably because many of these people are christians and ideological privilege.

  56. Elisende
    Elisende November 8, 2011 at 10:52 am |

    igglanova: “It’s a good spanking instrument,” Mr. Pearl said in the interview. “It’s too light to cause damage to the muscle or the bone.”

    I’m trying to get my head around this quote and I can’t quite do it because it clearly implies that he seriously thought about whether there would be damage to the BONES. Really?? One would like to think that if, in the course of considering appropriate disciplinary actions, potential damage to bones even came up AT ALL, even in the vaguest, most tangential manner, one would realize: gee, I’ve really wandered fucking far off course and maybe I should reconsider the whole topic from scratch. Perhaps after a few sessions with a good therapist. But this guy thinks — hey, won’t damage bone so PERFECTLY APPROPRIATE??

    And the idea that there are parents who think this monster is a good source for childrearing advice? I think I need to go find some children to hug now.

  57. 10G
    10G November 8, 2011 at 11:05 am |

    How about we take a rod–or a chainsaw–to the PEARLS for writing such damaging material? This shit just enrages me…..am also hoping the prosecutor in the Williams case seeks the Death penalty for both parents. One of the comments on the original story really stuck with me….guy who survived such abuse noted that parental abusers should consider that when they themselves age, their children will want nothing to do with them, and in addition, they (the abusive parents) may suffer abuse themselves from nursing home caregivers (or their own children, for that matter).

    I still contend that if you’re going to be a parent, you’d better DAMN sure know what you’re getting into, and that yes, kids WILL at times be brats, not listen to you, not want to ask “How high” every time you say “Jump”, will on occasion hate your guts, and yes, heaven forbid, be generally rebellious. If you can’t deal with your kid eventually evolving and being an autonomous human–fuck you, get a pet rock and shut up. Adults don’t just DESERVE kids…..christ, already……

  58. 10G
    10G November 8, 2011 at 11:29 am |

    P.S. Patricia, thanks for the freejinger link!

  59. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub November 8, 2011 at 11:52 am |

    EG, I am not defending the whining about how mean it is to Christians to say this is fucked up or whatever. I’ve no sympathy for that. I just saw Miss S’s comment to you as explaining that she and other mainline Christians didn’t condemn this before the news broke because they didn’t know about it before.

  60. XtinaS
    XtinaS November 8, 2011 at 12:12 pm |

    Sheelzebub:

    From what I can see, EG wasn’t coming at this from the POV of “why didn’t they know about it and condemn it before we heathen ever heard about it”, they were coming at it from the angle of “if we heard more Christian folk speak out against this shit, rather than whine about how it’s not this particular sect, I’d be more sympathetic”.

    Unless I’m drastically misreading EG, they’re not arguing for precognitive abilities and a massive spider-like network, they’re stating that instead of going “hey, that’s not us”, perhaps responding with “hey, that shit’s fucked up” would be more… meet.

  61. Minerva
    Minerva November 8, 2011 at 6:05 pm |

    I cried. I fucking cried that someone would think it’s ok to hit a six month old baby. People who believe it’s ok to hit kids can rot in hell. They are small defenseless people who need love and protection.
    A six month old baby.
    Christ.

  62. Sandy
    Sandy November 8, 2011 at 7:59 pm |

    EG: If you identify as Christian, it does have something to do with you, and the idea that it’s the responsibility of non-Christians to be aware of the ten billion sects of Christianity in the US so that we don’t step on anybody’s toes whenever a highly influential segment of Christians does something repugnant is just redolent of privilege.

    This.

    I know that conservative Christians have a bigger platform, a bigger microphone, what have you, a place in the right-wing echo chamber, they get in the news more than progressive Christians with more moderate views. I know that people in right-wing circles (the vast majority of whom are not child abusers) are not as likely to call each other out on social justice issues as left-leaners are. I know that in a “culture war,” a lot of the folks who want to lightly or moderately hand-spank their kids may not want to criticize their extremist fringes, because they all share a general belief in a parent’s right to physically discipline their children as the parent sees fit.

    And yet. I don’t know about anyone else, but I personally have never heard a Christian leader speak out against spanking. When the subject does come up, in my experience, it’s spanking as A Good Thing. And then you have fringes like this. It’s troubling.

    So I would suggest the same thing as EG and Matt: if you are a Christian and you have a problem with the Pearls’ teachings, you ought to put your voice out there, advocate in hopes of reaching those who might be prone to influence from this type of instruction, rather then complain that people are being unduly harsh to Christians when they are horrified by this violence that is explicitly committed in the name of the deity you and the Pearls and millions of others share.

  63. Sandy
    Sandy November 8, 2011 at 8:14 pm |

    Sandy: they all share a general belief in a parent’s right to physically discipline their children as the parent sees fit.

    Please note I am absolutely not suggesting that the average parent who spanks would condone this sort of violence. Just that, well, if you believe you have a right to spank or hit your kid, and you want to defend and preserve that right for yourself and others, critiquing how other people do it probably isn’t high on your list.

  64. EG
    EG November 8, 2011 at 8:39 pm |

    XtinaS: From what I can see, EG wasn’t coming at this from the POV of “why didn’t they know about it and condemn it before we heathen ever heard about it”, they were coming at it from the angle of “if we heard more Christian folk speak out against this shit, rather than whine about how it’s not this particular sect, I’d be more sympathetic”.

    Unless I’m drastically misreading EG, they’re not arguing for precognitive abilities and a massive spider-like network, they’re stating that instead of going “hey, that’s not us”, perhaps responding with “hey, that shit’s fucked up” would be more… meet.

    Precisely. The facts that midnightsky responded with “Oh noes! Now mean peoples on the internet will say mean things about Christians,” and then Miss S responded to my response to that by claiming that because there are lots of different sects of Christianity, it would never occur to her that what Christians in the public eye do could possibly have anything to do with her Christianity, and why can’t I see that are quite damning, in my opinion. And these are Christians who do know about what is happening in the name of their religion, because they’re commenting on an article about it.

    That said, the fact that these Christians don’t feel any need to distance themselves from these acts and beliefs, and in fact are trying to take others to task for even entertaining the notion that they might have belief systems in common with people who share their religious framework, speaks volumes about the un-self-aware cultural dominance Christians enjoy. Those of us who are not Christian are used to explaining and noting differences within our cultural heritages; we are also highly aware that when one group does something controversial in the name of the heritage we share, we have a duty to address that action and/or controversy. (Or even when it’s not in the name of the heritage we share. When the Madoff scandal broke, I remember putting my head in my hands and thinking “Really? Really, Bernie? You opted to go with being the unscrupulous, dishonest, greedy banker? Great. Thanks a lot.” Fortunately, it does seem as though my concerns have not been borne out. Yet.)

  65. Donna L
    Donna L November 8, 2011 at 9:27 pm |

    ^
    EG, I had the exact same reaction to the Madoff scandal, and so did just about every Jewish person I know. For similar reasons, I cringe any time some trans person says or does something bad. And I completely agree that you have to know what it’s like to be a member of a historically marginalized and/or persecuted group, which commonly gets general blame for the actions of individuals, to understand that.

  66. Miss S
    Miss S November 9, 2011 at 12:10 am |

    EG, I am not defending the whining about how mean it is to Christians to say this is fucked up or whatever. I’ve no sympathy for that. I just saw Miss S’s comment to you as explaining that she and other mainline Christians didn’t condemn this before the news broke because they didn’t know about it before
    Yes, thank you. I didn’t know, now I do.

    we are also highly aware that when one group does something controversial in the name of the heritage we share, we have a duty to address that action and/or controversy.

    I agree that more religious leaders -because they are leaders- should speak up, and I truthfully don’t know why they don’t. And that’s a fair criticism, and it’s mine too. I don’t attend church right now, or I would talk to my church leaders.

    As a Black American, I think it’s unfair that I should have to publicly declare that I’m different than, say, a Black person who murdered someone yesterday. That’s unfair. It seems like that’s actually what you think I should do in regard to religion.

  67. igglanova
    igglanova November 9, 2011 at 12:44 am |

    Minerva: I cried. I fucking cried that someone would think it’s ok to hit a six month old baby. People who believe it’s ok to hit kids can rot in hell. They are small defenseless people who need love and protection.
    A six month old baby.
    Christ.

    I know. I don’t even know any little kids right now, but I saw a few happy little kids in strollers at the mall yesterday and I couldn’t imagine ever hitting someone so little and breakable. :(

  68. igglanova
    igglanova November 9, 2011 at 12:47 am |

    ^ I just noticed how many times I overused the word ‘little’ in that comment but dammit, they are. You would have to be such a craven asshole to lay a hand on them.

  69. LeftSidePositive
    LeftSidePositive November 9, 2011 at 1:24 am |

    Miss S: As a Black American, I think it’s unfair that I should have to publicly declare that I’m different than, say, a Black person who murdered someone yesterday. That’s unfair. It seems like that’s actually what you think I should do in regard to religion.

    Well, being a Black person isn’t something you can feasibly change, so there’s that. By your identifying as Black you are not asserting a set of values or espousing a particular world view. However, with religion you are consciously choosing to adopt a group of ideas and involve yourself in a culture that communicates with those ideas and uses them to guide their choices. If you think that a certain worldview defines and represents you, yes we expect you to have a say in how others interpret that worldview, because it is a moral and philosophical framework from which groups of people make decisions, and those decisions affect others. Assigning values or morality to a physical characteristic is dehumanizing and stereotyping; assigning values or morality to a system of values and morality is, well, the most pertinent evaluation there could be!

    Not to be overly inflammatory or Godwinesque, and please understand that I am choosing an over-the-top example partly in jest (although, if you look at the atrocities that are committed and condoned in your holy book…Holy Shit!!): there is a difference between expecting someone to answer for the Holocaust because they identify as German, versus expecting someone to answer for the Holocaust because they identify as a Nazi. The former is a matter of genetics, history, and location, while the latter is an ideology and a political/social construct. Moreover, if someone insists that they are only a Nazi because they like Wagner, fast roadways, and dramatic Gothic fonts, and that all the other stuff is just a perversion of the true theory, I think we’d all have rather limited patience when they get offended when people criticize Nazis.

  70. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub November 9, 2011 at 8:29 am |

    O_o.

    You know, LSP, I know what you’re trying to say, but it’s inappropriate to compare a Black woman to a Nazi. Not only have AME congregants not, nor have they ever been engaged in genocide, by virtue of their race they, like other Black people, are targeted by racists like Nazis. (And not for nothing, but the Black Christian community was a huge part of the civil rights movement, so. . .wow. I can’t even.)

  71. EG
    EG November 9, 2011 at 8:36 am |

    Miss S: As a Black American, I think it’s unfair that I should have to publicly declare that I’m different than, say, a Black person who murdered someone yesterday. That’s unfair. It seems like that’s actually what you think I should do in regard to religion.

    Yeah, well, when Christians have been a long-oppressed minority group in the US who have been enslaved, murdered, exploited, and otherwise attacked because of their Christianity, that analogy will have some teeth. Until then, you’re comparing being a member of a dominant group that oppresses others with being a member of a subordinated group that is oppressed, and I just don’t see any similarity between the two situations.

    Further, if a certain group of black people were regularly abusing children and women and justifying it by saying that they were black, and that’s what it means to be black, would you not want to publicly correct them?

  72. EG
    EG November 9, 2011 at 8:41 am |

    Even further, Miss S, you said nothing in your original comment about not having known about this situation. This is what you wrote:

    Miss S: I grew up in an African Methodist Church, which falls under Christianity. So do Jehovah Witnesses, Latter Day Saints, Catholics, and yes-Fundamentalists. Those are just a few examples. The reality is, most of us don’t have a lot in common, don’t have shared services, and (in the case of JW) forbidden to socialize. It would never cross my mind to speak up and immediately distance myself if I read something about Fundamentalists because…. I’m already distanced. I’m not a member of their church and I have nothing to do with them.

    My mom no longer goes to church and she disagrees with the Fundamentalist church, but we don’t feel the need to go public with it. We aren’t fundamentalists, so we don’t expect to have to defend ourselves because of something they did, or denounce them for something. It’s like an entirely different group. They are not us, we are not them, and only the outside world thinks that those lines are blurred.

    You didn’t say “How could we condemn this when we didn’t know about it.” You said “it would never occur to me to speak up and distance myself from this because I’m a completely different kind of Christian.” I maintain that is an incredibly privileged position to take, that the rest of us should care about Christianity’s petty internal squabbles, and that being in a different sect somehow means that all this crap done in the name of Christianity has nothing to do with you and your congregation and set of beliefs, and somehow, non-Christians should just magically know that.

  73. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. November 9, 2011 at 9:08 am |

    So essentially its…”Don’t hold me personally responsible for joining and voluntarily participating in a group that historically oppresses X, because that’s not what I believe.” Again.

    It is so frustrating that people can never accept ethical responsibility for their actions because they think some other good thing about it cancels the bad.

    I am a feminist…that means I participate in a movement that has been and continues to be racist, classist, ablist and transphobic. I own it. I accept that by calling myself a feminist I align with people who do those fucked up things. I can try to stop it, to move the movement in a more positive direction but that is no comfort to the people who are DIRECTLY HARMED by the collective actions of the feminist movement.

    That’s life…you make compromises and sometimes they suck and sometimes despite all good intentions your compromises result in you supporting harm to others. But don’t make excuses. Don’t minimize the harm. Don’t pretend that you don’t play a roll. Because part of oppression is denying the existence of harm and denying how that harm occurs because of the support of kyriarchal forces.

  74. LeftSidePositive
    LeftSidePositive November 9, 2011 at 10:03 am |

    Sheelzebub: You know, LSP, I know what you’re trying to say, but it’s inappropriate to compare a Black woman to a Nazi.

    No, I compared being Black to being German. I compared being Christian to being a Nazi. Reading comprehension fail!

    And don’t say you can’t compare being a Christian to being a Nazi. The Spanish Inquisition. Need I say more? And don’t say different doctrines of Christianity can completely slice themselves off from their intellectual forebears, pick and choose what they believe, and yet still assume Christian privilege.

    It’s not fair to associate people with the actions of those who share immutable characteristics conferred by birth or location, but it IS fair to associate people with the actions of those who share a voluntarily joined and vocally espoused intellectual foundation.

  75. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub November 9, 2011 at 10:07 am |

    No. What you’re engaging in is racefail.

  76. Sera
    Sera November 9, 2011 at 10:14 am |

    I’m Catholic, although I could definitely be slated in the “progressive” side of things. I have to regularly defend/explain/rationalize my religious beliefs to other Christians, atheists, people in general.
    I’m sure most of the people on here will know what I mean when I say that it has become second nature to me to have to speak out against actions perpetrated by the people of my faith. I have experienced denigration and hostility when I mention my faith or my participation in its daily practice (I teach catechism and my husband and parents are involved in the marriage prep program). I have come to expect that people will tar me with the same brush as the people involved in those sensational, horrible stories.

    I absolutely will speak out against horrible behaviour perpetrated by ANYONE even remotely connected with my faith because I want to let people know that we are not ALL the same, that we do not ALL believe that haoorible behaviours are justified by the faith, that we are all responsible to grow our faith, ourselves, and educate others if we want to have any validity as individuals and as members of a shared faith.

    The behaviour of the Pearls is hideous, and their justification made by twisting MY faith disgusts me.
    Just my 2 cents.

  77. Angel H.
    Angel H. November 9, 2011 at 10:46 am |

    No, I compared being Black to being German. I compared being Christian to being a Nazi.

    No, you compared being a Black Christian to being a German Nazi. As Sheelzebub said: Racefail.

    Anyway, I’m glad that Michael Pearl is being exposed. I hate that he’s using Christianity to advocate the abuse of children. And the commenter above was correct that more Christian leaders should speak out when people do harm in the name of our faith.

  78. attackfish
    attackfish November 9, 2011 at 10:55 am |

    LeftSidePositive: I’m Jewish, and I find your referencing the Nazis in this way mind bogglingly offensive.

  79. Shoshie
    Shoshie November 9, 2011 at 11:10 am |

    attackfish: LeftSidePositive: I’m Jewish, and I find your referencing the Nazis in this way mind bogglingly offensive.

    Seconded.

  80. EG
    EG November 9, 2011 at 11:14 am |

    Well, I don’t find it mind-bogglingly offensive, but I do think it is a poor analogy, for exactly the reasons of power dynamics that I find being Christian in the US to be a poor analogy to being black.

  81. Shoshie
    Shoshie November 9, 2011 at 11:53 am |

    EG: Well, I don’t find it mind-bogglingly offensive, but I do think it is a poor analogy, for exactly the reasons of power dynamics that I find being Christian in the US to be a poor analogy to being black.

    Mostly I’m just tired of Nazi/Hitler analogies everywhere. They make me cranky.

  82. LeftSidePositive
    LeftSidePositive November 9, 2011 at 1:30 pm |

    attackfish: LeftSidePositive: I’m Jewish, and I find your referencing the Nazis in this way mind bogglingly offensive.

    Really–you mean Christians haven’t asserted their superiority in various ways and killed millions of people? Not to mention lots of other religions, political theories, countries, etc., etc. Do you really think the prejudices and hate that fueled Nazism is somehow completely divorceable from human psychology and that they were simply so superhumanly evil that they could never resemble another person or philosophy or that we should never try to learn anything from them?

    Try this on for size: the type of atrocities the Nazis committed have been the norm in TONS of human civilizations over millennia. What made them different was they had the military might and industrial capacity to do it on a very large scale in a relatively short period of time.

  83. LeftSidePositive
    LeftSidePositive November 9, 2011 at 1:42 pm |

    Kristen J.: I am a feminist…that means I participate in a movement that has been and continues to be racist, classist, ablist and transphobic. I own it. I accept that by calling myself a feminist I align with people who do those fucked up things. I can try to stop it, to move the movement in a more positive direction but that is no comfort to the people who are DIRECTLY HARMED by the collective actions of the feminist movement.

    I also think there’s something to be said for “the divinity problem,” for lack of a better term. It’s one thing to be a feminist and see its intellectual heritage as having some really good ideas, and some really fucked-up ideas because like everything else in this world it was the result of the efforts of fallible people. We can take the best, learn, move on, and correct what we can. The theories and values of feminism are “good” not because someone once said them, or because they came into being through a ritual we espouse or a legend we like, but because we think this is the best way to respect persons and achieve needed social goals–its values are testable, in that sense. Same way that I can really respect constitutional democracy–it got a lot of things right, but there are no shortage of things it has really fucked up over the last few centuries. It’s different, for me at least, when something is claimed to be Divine. All of a sudden it’s harder to brush away past misdeeds (and atrocities) as “these were human beings who fucked up” if you are asserting this philosophy imbues itself with a supreme/transcendental Truth, and should be treated with spiritual reverence.

  84. attackfish
    attackfish November 9, 2011 at 1:53 pm |

    Yes, LeftSidePositive, I get that. I also get that in places where Jewish people have power, like Israel or those Ultra-Orthodox towns in the American North East, they use that power in oppressive ways. I know that there are Buddhist suicide bombers in Sri Lanka, and that they’re reacting to a Hindu government using its power in oppressive ways. I know that the secular Chinese government does everything it can to control religious expression and is disproportionately to ethnic minorities in its boarders. I know that Christianity has used Judaism as it’s favorite punching bag, and that after the Holocaust it needed a new one, and I know that there were plenty of Nazis who were in the party for the economic and social benefits it gave them. I also know that while the black church is a tool of oppression on some axies, it has combated oppression on others, and helped oppressed peoples cope with their oppression. Nazism has no similar history. You Godwined and Godwined hard, and I am someone who agrees that it shows the Christian population in the US’s enormous privilege that they expect us all to understand their different denominations and different groupings, and that to a large extent they’re right, and that it shows their privilege that they don’t feel the immediate reflexive need minority groups feel to distance themselves from screw-ups within the minority. I agree. And I still think you fucked up.

  85. Reyna
    Reyna November 9, 2011 at 1:57 pm |

    A child gets tortured to death and it’s a poorly made analogy that everyone is up in arms about. Jesus fuck. This is why we can’t have nice things.

  86. zuzu
    zuzu November 9, 2011 at 1:59 pm |

    anom: ps: there seems to be a problem with the quote thingy (yes I fail internet forever), or maybe it’m just doing it wrong?

    If you copy the text you want to quote and THEN hit the “Quote this comment?” button, it will preserve the formatting. Some kind of bug has been introduced into the reply button.

  87. LeftSidePositive
    LeftSidePositive November 9, 2011 at 2:12 pm |

    attackfish: Nazism has no similar history.

    I rather disagree–I’ll bet there were a lot of good, nice, decent people who felt the increased social capital of Nazi society (they were very supportive of those who conformed!), the ambition to eliminate human suffering (at least for their people, which was all a lot of the commoners think about), etc., made a lot of people think it was “progress” or what have you. Certainly the getting their country out of economic and political bondage was a big deal for many people, and lots of them may have only seen these aspects and identified only with the perceived “positives.” A lot of their eugenics were even cast as “compassionate,” as fucked up as that is (and they told family members the murder victims died naturally, so the populace as a whole didn’t know). Many of these people didn’t know the level of the atrocities going on, or didn’t want to understand, because they were boring middle-class people who didn’t challenge what they were fed.

    Then, there’s the simple fact that with Nazism, you’re only dealing with a decade, more-or-less, and a philosophy that it is very conformist and top-down, so you don’t have the same complexity and opportunity for a philosophy to be taken in vastly different directions, compared to a religion that has existed for thousands of years and on several continents.

    Moreover, why do you agree with every point I made about the universality of the human potential for cruelty, and then still insist I fucked up? How, exactly? Have you just decided it’s an arbitrary etiquette thing that one can’t say “Nazi” on the internet anymore?

  88. Jamie
    Jamie November 9, 2011 at 2:19 pm |

    Reyna:
    Thisiswhywecan’thavenicethings.

    My thoughts exactly.

    Anyways. I’m certainly no fan of corporal punishment, but I think we need to acknowledge that there is a big difference between spanking your kids and leaving them to die of exposure, yes?

  89. zuzu
    zuzu November 9, 2011 at 2:24 pm |

    LSP, remember the First Rule of Holes: When you find yourself in one, stop digging.

    I’m with EG on the whole business of Christians who are more concerned that someone will think that they belong to the same sect as someone who does something vile in the name of Christianity than they are with registering their disapproval of that something vile being done in the name of Christianity.

    Protip: if you spent more time on the latter, the former may not happen as often.

  90. LeftSidePositive
    LeftSidePositive November 9, 2011 at 2:28 pm |

    Jamie: I think we need to acknowledge that there is a big difference between spanking your kids and leaving them to die of exposure, yes?

    But the people who let their kids die of exposure use the social acceptance of spanking to do all the monstrous things they do.

    And, they share a fundamental lack of respect for autonomy, and that’s a really dangerous thing to let go off the rails, even if the vast majority of people don’t go very far with it.

    Kind of like how American Apparel ads are definitely not rape, but they contribute to rape culture and are belittling and problematic in their own objectifying way. And, combatting rape culture means addressing the myriad social contributors, great AND small.

  91. attackfish
    attackfish November 9, 2011 at 2:33 pm |

    I think comparing the non militant wing of anything, no matter how privileged to a group that perpetuated a genocide in incredibly recent history is foul. We would be calling you on the fail if you had brought up Rwanda or Sudan, or any of the other less well known genocides too. Genocide is a separate magnitude of human evil, yes. Comparing people to Nazis lessens the impact in their minds of what the Nazis did and what other perpetrators of genocide continue to do. And yes, Germany was experiencing a horrible situation, and were unfairly punished for their part in the colossal disaster that was WWI. But killing Jews, Roma, people with disabilities, and other undesirables was never a sideline to the Nazi philosophy. It was it’s core. That’s how genocide works. If we just get rid of all these ______ everything will start going right again.

  92. attackfish
    attackfish November 9, 2011 at 2:40 pm |

    Also, LSP, I agree with you on the general principle of Christians needing to denounce this kind of horrific abuse vocally and frequently along with other ills that Christianity has traditionally supported. I wouldn’t have called you out otherwise. I expect better out of the people fighting oppression.

  93. LeftSidePositive
    LeftSidePositive November 9, 2011 at 2:46 pm |

    attackfish: I think comparing the non militant wing of anything, no matter how privileged to a group that perpetuated a genocide in incredibly recent history is foul.

    Really? Just the fact that the genocide was committed **recently** is relevant? How? When exactly did all the genocides in founding texts of major religions become okay? Or quaint?

    How do you define what the non-militant wing is? Can I just absolve myself of all association with the Native American genocide, because I would never do such a thing personally, even though I personally continue to benefit from it and live on land that was made available by it? (Moreover, can I focus my energy on being offended at people who bring it up, and not be a self-entitled hypocrite?) I am definitely not personally militant with regard to Middle Eastern policy, but does that mean I can identify myself as an American and just say “We’re not all like that” when we kill innocent teenagers in Pakistan with drones? Who gets to say America’s “core philosophy” is democracy, freedom, etc, instead of slavery, genocide, and worldwide drone attacks? If another world power had defeated us circa 1850, would history have decided that the USA’s “core philosophy” was slavery?

  94. Tomek Kulesza
    Tomek Kulesza November 9, 2011 at 2:47 pm |

    The LSP point was that by associating yourself with a group you choose you are fair game for critique and that association by birth/something that’s not possible to change is not a fair ground for sweeping statements.

    How did it became argument how Nazi=Bad i have no idea.

  95. EG
    EG November 9, 2011 at 3:06 pm |

    Jamie: I think we need to acknowledge that there is a big difference between spanking your kids and leaving them to die of exposure, yes?

    Sure. There’s also a big difference between smacking your wife across the face once or twice and burning her with an iron before breaking her neck. That doesn’t mean I don’t find both actions disgusting and immoral.

    attackfish: I think comparing the non militant wing of anything, no matter how privileged to a group that perpetuated a genocide in incredibly recent history is foul.

    I disagree, though, that nonChristians are under any obligation to know and/or care whether or not a given Christian group is “militant” or not. Christians for centuries and longer have used their religion as justification for misogyny, violence, and anti-semitism. Not “fringe” Christians. Not “militant” Christians. Just plain old regular mainstream Christians. What, I’m just supposed to take some Christians’ words for it that now things are different? If Christians are horrified by what is being done in the name of their religion, they need to make that clear, as Sera did, because Christianity in living memory is such that it is by no means obvious to nonChristians that they would be.

    LeftSidePositive: Who gets to say America’s “core philosophy” is democracy, freedom, etc, instead of slavery, genocide, and worldwide drone attacks?

    I completely agree. It’s why I always balk when conservatives demand that I say that I “love” the US. Well…it was founded on slavery and genocide and functions as an imperial power. I’m grateful that it was here and accepting immigrants when my family had to come over, certainly. But…”love”? It’s hard for me to feel something as uncomplicated as that.

  96. attackfish
    attackfish November 9, 2011 at 3:06 pm |

    LSP, Being born American in your analogy would be like being born German. I’m sorry, none of us can help what we were born. Now your analogy about identity choice just falls down. Also, there is such a thing as too soon. It was actually those biblical genocides I was thinking of when I said the “incredibly recent memory”. And in a lot of Synagogues when we get that point in the Torah, the rabbi gives a talk about genocide, hatred, and that we are not immune. We don’t shout it to the world, because the rest of the world wouldn’t know what we were talking about when we mention the Amalekites and how they have been identified as any group a particular Jew dislikes. Now of course, you will go into their synagogues and hear them call so-and-so (especially the Nazis) Amalkites and talk about the commandments to hunt them down and kill them all, but there you go. But if we used that analogy in public, we wouldn’t be hurting the people still suffering from that genocide. When we talk about the genocide of American Indians, the Holocaust, and other more recent genocides, you still have people alive that those genocides are still actively hurting.

  97. attackfish
    attackfish November 9, 2011 at 3:13 pm |

    EG: I disagree, though, that nonChristians are under any obligation to know and/or care whether or not a given Christian group is “militant” or not. Christians for centuries and longer have used their religion as justification for misogyny, violence, and anti-semitism. Not “fringe” Christians. Not “militant” Christians. Just plain old regular mainstream Christians. What, I’m just supposed to take some Christians’ words for it that now things are different? If Christians are horrified by what is being done in the name of their religion, they need to make that clear, as Sera did, because Christianity in living memory is such that it is by no means obvious to nonChristians that they would be.

    I agree. A better way to say what I was trying to say would be the only thing geonocidal groups should be compared to are genocidal groups.

  98. EG
    EG November 9, 2011 at 3:13 pm |

    Tomek Kulesza: The LSP point was that by associating yourself with a group you choose you are fair game for critique and that association by birth/something that’s not possible to change is not a fair ground for sweeping statements.

    That’s a good point; it would have been better, I think, to make it without the Nazi analogy, as it has served only to distract attention from that point. Make the analogy Republicans, then. The Republican Party was not always all about policing women’s vaginas and uteruses. It has, in the past served good purposes (it was, after all, as Republicans love to note, the party of Lincoln) and no doubt been the center of social circles and community and all that jazz–probably continues to be in some places. But nonetheless, if you choose to continue identifying as a Republican, you don’t get to whine about why should you have to take responsibility for all that misogynist class-war bullshit that contemporary Republicans in the spotlight engage in, we should all just somehow know that there are different types of Republicans, and anyway, you didn’t know about whatever most recent hateful thing Republican Joe Blow has done, why should you have to take responsibility for or disclaim it? Well, because you are a Republican. You are supporting and lending your name to an organization that is not friendly, and by this point has a well-documented history of being unfriendly to women and poor people.

    That’s not like being black, it’s not like being a feminist, it’s not like being Jewish. It is, however, like being Christian.

  99. attackfish
    attackfish November 9, 2011 at 3:18 pm |

    EG: by which I mean Christianity has been a genocidal group (a lot of groups have) but I wouldn’t qualify mainstream Christianity as a genocidal group right now (though I’m fairly often afraid that the tide could turn again and it could become such a group again) so, there’s a time issue there. Nazis can be compared to mainline Protestants who preached Manifest Destiny period, for example.

  100. EG
    EG November 9, 2011 at 3:18 pm |

    attackfish: I agree. A better way to say what I was trying to say would be the only thing geonocidal groups should be compared to are genocidal groups.

    I agree completely. It’s one of the reasons that I find the increasing use of the term “Nazi” to refer to somebody who is obsessive about order and following rules to be disturbing and offensive (and I didn’t like it when Seinfeld did it either, I don’t care if he is Jewish, being Jewish obviously doesn’t prevent him from being an ass). What is most notable about Nazis is not their penchant for order–it’s the fact that they perpetrated mass genocide. I would, though, certainly compare the Christian perpetrators of pogroms, the 12th-century York Christians, and Hutu Power to Nazis. And I do think that it can be useful to compare perpetrators and supporters of violent racism/anti-semitic/anti-gay attacks to Nazis.

  101. attackfish
    attackfish November 9, 2011 at 3:25 pm |

    EG re 98: I agree with this and their need to disclaim loudly and vehemently what is being done in the name of their faith, and I hope that this gives some of them a taste for what it’s like to not be the default. So many don’t get for example that if we treated Christians like we treat other religions in the US, after the Oklahoma City bombing, the nation would be demanding Christian denunciation of the bombers and questioning how many of them would really like to do the same, and treaing them like scum if they tried to by fertilizer for their farms. I just didn’t like the way LSP used Nazis to make his point. Republicans work much better.

  102. EG
    EG November 9, 2011 at 3:36 pm |

    attackfish: So many don’t get for example that if we treated Christians like we treat other religions in the US, after the Oklahoma City bombing, the nation would be demanding Christian denunciation of the bombers and questioning how many of them would really like to do the same, and treaing them like scum if they tried to by fertilizer for their farms.

    Completely agree. Or when, a few years back, my mother noted that almost (thought not entirely) all of the school shootings that were making the news had been perpetrated by suburban white boys. If these shootings were being committed by young black teenage boys in cities, she said, cops would be rounding up and risking every young male black kid who tried to walk through the doors of a school.

    It’s so nice to be a member of a dominant group.

  103. Miss S
    Miss S November 9, 2011 at 3:37 pm |

    EG, maybe I should have been clearer. My point was, if we’re living in separate communities, with different beliefs, with different cultural and ethnic backgrounds and practices, we’re not aware of what’s going on in everyone else’s community.

    If you were to waltz into a Haitian, Brazilian, African, or Black American community and attempt to hold them accountable, or ask them why they weren’t speaking out against the actions of other Christians, you would get pushback. Especially if those other Christians were of a different ethnic background, and especially if you were of a different ethnic background than the people you were addressing. Maybe that’s because racial divides are more pronounced than any sense of community that would spring from the word ‘Christianity.’

    Also, a lot of people that are Christians have been oppressed by other Christians. Christianity was used to justify slavery. (It was also used to push for equal rights for Black Americans.) For that reason, I don’t see it as a privilege, especially for racial and ethnic minorities. We aren’t seen as the default for Christianity btw, and we’re erased just like we’re erased in any discussion of Christianity.
    We can disagree, though.

  104. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub November 9, 2011 at 3:44 pm |

    And let’s not forget that at least two of these murdered kids were Black (and adopted to be ‘saved’)–I’m smelling the stench of white supremacy. (I mean, it’s not like there’s any exploitation involved in the global south “providing” children for relatively wealthy whites here.)

  105. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub November 9, 2011 at 3:45 pm |

    Sheelzebub: (I mean, it’s not like there’s any exploitation involved in the global south “providing” children for relatively wealthy whites here.)

    And just to clarify–I was being sarcastic.

  106. EG
    EG November 9, 2011 at 4:07 pm |

    Miss S: My point was, if we’re living in separate communities, with different beliefs, with different cultural and ethnic backgrounds and practices, we’re not aware of what’s going on in everyone else’s community.

    Indeed. But now you are aware.

    Miss S: If you were to waltz into a Haitian, Brazilian, African, or Black American community and attempt to hold them accountable, or ask them why they weren’t speaking out against the actions of other Christians, you would get pushback.

    But I’m not. I’m on a feminist website where I comment quite regularly. If I were going to websites or blogs dedicated to discussing the interests and issues of Brazilian Christians and spontaneously demanding that they denounce these issues, you would have a point. But midnightsky came here. So did you. And this is not a dedicated Christian space. I’m not even convinced that it’s a majority Christian space.

    Miss S: Maybe that’s because racial divides are more pronounced than any sense of community that would spring from the word ‘Christianity.’

    Or maybe it’s because Christians are so used to being taken as a default that they can’t recognize privilege when they’re steeping in it. This makes just as much sense as it would for me to claim that white privilege doesn’t apply to me because I’m Jewish–hey, what about the divisions among white folks? Or that male privilege doesn’t accrue to men in the US who are Puerto Rican, because hey, what about the divisions among men?

    Miss S: Also, a lot of people that are Christians have been oppressed by other Christians.

    Indeed. Some Christians have even been oppressed by other Christians on account of whatever sect of Christianity they practiced. So what? Rich whites oppress and exploit poor whites–sometimes even on account of the type of white they are. Does that mean that poor whites don’t benefit from being white?

    Miss S: Christianity was used to justify slavery.

    So what? White people didn’t advocate enslaving black people because the black people were Christians (quite the opposite, really–slavery brought the “blessing” of Christianity to the poor benighted heathens, they said). White people advocated enslaving black people because they were black and because slavery was in the white people’s best interests. There’s nothing inherent in Christianity that requires slavery. Or so progressive Christians tell me.

    Miss S: (It was also used to push for equal rights for Black Americans.)

    So what? Did you miss Kristen’s comment? Something can be used for good and for ill.

    Miss S: For that reason, I don’t see it as a privilege, especially for racial and ethnic minorities.

    Are you seriously denying that Christianity wields an inordinate amount of power and influence in this country? Are you seriously proposing that black Christians don’t partake of the resulting privilege? Is that the same way that I don’t benefit from white privilege because I’m a woman, and, after all, the power structure is patriarchal?

    Miss S: We aren’t seen as the default for Christianity btw, and we’re erased just like we’re erased in any discussion of Christianity.

    No shit. It doesn’t mean that you’re not benefitting from the deference and power that Christianity gets in this country.

    Miss S: We can disagree, though.

    Yeah, we’re gonna have to.

  107. LeftSidePositive
    LeftSidePositive November 9, 2011 at 4:44 pm |

    attackfish: LSP, Being born American in your analogy would be like being born German. I’m sorry, none of us can help what we were born.

    I guess I was getting at the point that our government and our values are still deeply intertwined with the ideals of America in times past–it’s the same governmental system, it’s just been modified. If I am “American” in the sense that I actively participate in its political system and espouse many (indeed most) of the ideals and values that “America” (the concept, not the continent) represents, I am identifying as an “American” in the sense that I consider myself the philosophical heirs of Jefferson, Lincoln, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Roosevelt (even though all those people showed some pretty epic douchebaggery!). I don’t know if there is an appropriate term for American-as-in-I-believe-in-American-constitutional-democracy as opposed to American-yes-I-happen-to-live-here-and-don’t-have-means-to-move. If I knew a term I could use to distinguish between the two, I would have used it.

  108. attackfish
    attackfish November 9, 2011 at 4:44 pm |

    Sheelzebub: I’m sure there’s no significance at all to the fact that the Christian groups who advocate breaking the wills of children through beatings are the ones most likely to get all bent out of shape at UNICEFF stopping Evangelical organizations from outright kidnapping children from third world countries…

  109. Miss S
    Miss S November 9, 2011 at 4:51 pm |

    Came back to clarify: I’m not necessarily disagreeing with you EG, that it would be great if more leaders spoke up. I’m just pointing out that there are reasons that people wouldn’t other than “I agree with their behavior.”

  110. EG
    EG November 9, 2011 at 4:53 pm |

    Following on from my earlier comment, which is in moderation, I wonder if Brazilian Jews would agree with you that any Christian privilege Brazilian Christians may receive is cancelled out by the Brazilian-ness? Brazil has a substantial Jewish population; I would be very surprised if they had absolutely no part in recent Brazilian immigration to the US.

    Ah. Here is an article on a new synagogue for Latin American Jews in NYC, founded by a rabbi from Brazil. Do you think he should have just gone to a Brazilian-run church, given that racial/ethnic divides trump religious privilege in your book?

    Given the worldwide spread of Jewry, I suspect that Haitian Jews, African Jews, and African-American Jews (not many, but they are out there) also exist, and might not agree with your assessment.

  111. EG
    EG November 9, 2011 at 4:55 pm |

    Miss S: I’m just pointing out that there are reasons that people wouldn’t other than “I agree with their behavior.”

    I agree. But I don’t see why nonChristians should assume that the reason isn’t “I agree with their behavior,” unless Christians speak up.

  112. LeftSidePositive
    LeftSidePositive November 9, 2011 at 4:58 pm |

    Miss S: For that reason, I don’t see it as a privilege, especially for racial and ethnic minorities.

    **headdesk** **headdesk** **headfuckingdesk**

    (You know the thing about privilege, you rarely see it if you have it…)

    Moreover, within those racial and ethnic minorities, one’s Christianity was and is considered evidence of one’s “goodness,” and “more Christian” minorities were/are probably more accepted by otherwise-privileged groups (and their degree of Christianity would of course be defined in a way that suited the privileged group).

    Miss S We aren’t seen as the default for Christianity btw, and we’re erased just like we’re erased in any discussion of Christianity.

    Then why is it when they behave badly, you denounce US for criticizing THEM, rather than de-erasing yourself and criticizing them yourself? Why is your image of your Christianity priority #1? Why is it that you see yourself as more aligned with these people who do these horrible things, and invested in making sure Christianity can still connote “goodness,” rather than questioning the values and intellectual processes that lead to “Christianity” being directly invoked by perpetrators as a cause for savagely beating children?

  113. Miss S
    Miss S November 9, 2011 at 6:05 pm |

    Why is your image of your Christianity priority #1? Why is it that you see yourself as more aligned with these people who do these horrible things, and invested in making sure Christianity can still connote “goodness,”

    I don’t. I just don’t want to see it connoted as “conservative fundamentalist” because that’s innacurate. But you can believe whatever you want.

    I agree. But I don’t see why nonChristians should assume that the reason isn’t “I agree with their behavior,” unless Christians speak up.

    Ok, fair enough. So, for the record, I don’t know any Christians who beat their kids… I don’t know anyone who beats their kids. In all the years I went to church, this was never part of any sermon that I’ve ever heard. To be fair, I don’t socialize with religious conservative people. We’re pretty liberal people but we don’t have a platform where people come to listen to us, so our points of view aren’t really espoused anywhere.

    Following on from my earlier comment, which is in moderation, I wonder if Brazilian Jews would agree with you that any Christian privilege Brazilian Christians may receive is cancelled out by the Brazilian-ness?
    This was never my point. Maybe I mixed you up with someone else, but someone made a reference about Christians in Haitian and Brazilian neighborhoods. My point still stands. If you, a Jewish woman, decided to waltz into those neighborhoods, and demanded an explanation as to why they weren’t denouncing what other people were doing, in some other neighborhoods, because of some other beliefs, you would get pushback. It sounds stupid.
    It’s for the same damn reason I didn’t rush to the local news station and denounce Warren jeffs as my leader- HE NEVER WAS. I have no ties to that religion, that area, those people, or those practices. Why would I denounce something that was never condoned??

    I don’t see any how anyone receives any type of privilege for something that no one knows. You can’t code me as a Christian, I don’t go to church, I don’t belong to any religious organizations, and my family is far from conservative. Maybe because I’m not really part of any organized religion, this isn’t really making sense to me.

  114. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub November 9, 2011 at 6:42 pm |

    @Attackfish–well, or whites in general. I mean, the squealing and yelping I heard in reaction to the criticisms of exploitation, are pretty telling. Good “liberal” whites still think they’re saving brown kids from poverty when it’s the wealth and power of the West that creates the crappy conditions in the Global South as it is. Good conservative Christians think they’re saving souls. Both are aghast when you point out that they’ve got a lot of power, are using it exploitively (no matter what their intentions are) and would rather point fingers at other people.

    The thing about White supremacy (and really–it goes beyond privilege at this point) is that one can point fingers at something else and pretend it doesn’t exist. It’s secular liberals, it’s fundie Christians, it’s economics, it’s whatever. But not White supremacy. . oh no!

  115. Miss S
    Miss S November 9, 2011 at 7:03 pm |

    Ok so, I’ve given this some thought, and I do get what people are saying.

    When I think privilege, I think of it as a benefit to you that relies on the oppression of someone else. Class privilege, white privilege, male privilege- I can easily see how those things benefit someone. Christianity…less so, simply because it’s not something you can identify unless I tell you.

    However, I can see (obviously) how it’s been used as a tool of oppression , which is obviously what people here are referring to. I still see a distinction between something I can use as a tool of oppression, and something that confers a benefit upon me without me having to do a thing, which has always been how I identify privilege.

  116. Raja
    Raja November 9, 2011 at 7:16 pm |

    What a bunch of sick fucks

  117. attackfish
    attackfish November 9, 2011 at 7:17 pm |

    Sheelzebub: Very true. And while it has different manifestations in different countries, it is a global phenomenon. The economic structures set up for the benefit of white Westerners like me are why there are starving children in Africa and sweatshops all over Asia (they’re stealing our jobs) Htiting someone and then giving them an ice pack isn’t charity, and that’s the situation we have with most third world relief efforts.

  118. Shoshie
    Shoshie November 9, 2011 at 7:49 pm |

    Miss S: When I think privilege, I think of it as a benefit to you that relies on the oppression of someone else. Class privilege, white privilege, male privilege- I can easily see how those things benefit someone. Christianity…less so, simply because it’s not something you can identify unless I tell you.

    I can see how, if you’re used to talking about privilege in a gender or race context, visual cues can seem necessary. I actually came into social activist stuff through fat acceptance, so I definitely understand where you’re coming from. But there are definitely axes of privilege that aren’t necessarily visual. For instance, sexuality. Or invisible disabilities. Religion is another axis.

    Example: We’re coming up to the major Christian holiday season. Those holidays are Federal holidays. Most people have off of work on those days. I just took off 4 days of vacation time to observe my religious holidays. I’m lucky enough that I can work Christmas to help make up the time, but not all people are.

    Most weekend events are Friday night and Saturday. I can’t attend those. I could attend Sunday events, but they tend to be fewer and further between.

    There is a block in my city that is known for putting up beautiful light displays. A Jewish family moved onto that block. They were pressured to erect a display. When they didn’t want to, they were pressured to move out of their home.

    These are a few ways that we set up society to privilege people who are Christian, even if it’s not necessarily obvious that someone is part of a marginalized religion.

    Also, some religious presentation is visual. My husband wears a kippah. I cover my head all the time (it’s less obvious than the kippah, but noticeable if you see me every day). Some Muslimahs wear hijabs. Sure, you don’t look Christian. But the assumption is that you are, because you aren’t overtly anything else.

  119. EG
    EG November 9, 2011 at 8:33 pm |

    Miss S: It’s for the same damn reason I didn’t rush to the local news station and denounce Warren jeffs as my leader- HE NEVER WAS. I have no ties to that religion, that area, those people, or those practices.

    You’re not Mormon. If this was a thread about Jeffs and you were talking about how you hoped people didn’t think Mormons condoned this sort of thing but you really didn’t see why you should have to say that your Mormonism doesn’t, it would be just as silly. Not as offensive, because Mormonism isn’t a dominant force in this country quite yet, but silly.

    Miss S: I just don’t want to see it connoted as “conservative fundamentalist” because that’s innacurate.

    If that’s what you want, for nonChristians not to think of Christianity as conservative fundamentalism, why do you see it as such an irrational imposition for Christians to actually have to publicly condemn conservative fundamentalism? Are we just supposed to intuit your church’s goodness?

    Miss S: My point still stands. If you, a Jewish woman, decided to waltz into those neighborhoods, and demanded an explanation as to why they weren’t denouncing what other people were doing, in some other neighborhoods, because of some other beliefs, you would get pushback.

    Your point doesn’t stand, because it bears no relation to anything that’s happening here. I didn’t waltz into a Brazilian Christian neighborhood, I haven’t accosted random Christians of any sort. I have criticized the Christians who have voluntarily commented on a thread on a non-Christian blog specifically about violence perpetrated in the name of Christianity in order to whine about why it is just so unfair for other people to think and say mean things about Christians based on this violence.

    Miss S: I don’t see any how anyone receives any type of privilege for something that no one knows. You can’t code me as a Christian, I don’t go to church, I don’t belong to any religious organizations, and my family is far from conservative. Maybe because I’m not really part of any organized religion, this isn’t really making sense to me.

    Tell me, when people start going on and on about Christ’s love and acceptance and the prince of peace and suchlike, do you start looking around for the long knives? Because I do. I feel a fundamental deep discomfort in the company of people who are professing Christianity of any sort, because that kind of rhetoric is strongly associated with violence and oppression in my mind. Christians, even non-believing, non-observant ones, can count on having their major family holidays off in many industries, and/or on getting overtime pay if they work them in others. Municipal governments across the country publicly display Christian paraphernalia during the Christmas/Easter seasons. When you walk by those displays, do you associate them with exclusion at best, violence at worst (Easter being associated with some of the worst pogroms)? Are parties and leisure events routinely during a time that you cannot attend do to religious observance?

    When members of the dominant religion meet you, do they routinely assume that you either follow or come from people who follow the basic outlines of that religion, because Christianity is the default assumption? And do you have to correct them?

    Plenty of gay men and women can’t be identified on sight, either. Does that mean that there’s no such thing as straight privilege?

    Miss S: something that confers a benefit upon me without me having to do a thing

    Yes. Christians get these benefits. See above. Even among the wealthiest. My great-grandmother married rich during the Depression. After a few decades, they looked to buy a fancy-schmancy place to live, ending up on Sutton Place because the old money wouldn’t sell to Jews. This is NYC, so I wouldn’t say that I’m sure there are still areas in which people won’t sell to Jews, but I feel safe in saying that there are places in this country where that would be the place. And I have definitely known white Christians whose parents would have no problem with them dating or marrying a black Christian, but would have significant problems with them dating or marrying a Jew.

  120. Miss S
    Miss S November 9, 2011 at 8:37 pm |

    Example: We’re coming up to the major Christian holiday season. Those holidays are Federal holidays. Most people have off of work on those days. I just took off 4 days of vacation time to observe my religious holidays. I’m lucky enough that I can work Christmas to help make up the time, but not all people are.

    Most weekend events are Friday night and Saturday. I can’t attend those. I could attend Sunday events, but they tend to be fewer and further between.

    Shoshie, thanks for this. I really have always identified privilege as something that involves visual clues, something that people can identify you as. The examples you’ve given illlustrate how privilege involves things that people can’t see- like what days we get off from work, Things that, as a Christian, I don’t think twice about- that’s ultimately what privilege is.

  121. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub November 9, 2011 at 8:41 pm |

    @Attackfish–exactly. I’m seeing this as more than just Christians–white supremacy informs their mindset, and the fundamentalist religious mindset informs white supremacy, even if someone isn’t religous or Christian. So many white people are out to “save” Brown people (and oftentimes whitesplain to them about how They Know Best) and then punish them for not assimilating/being like them. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the two murdered kids were Black.

    Many marginalized groups adopted Christianity as a survival tactic in the past; their descendants either used Christianity as a tool of their liberation (such as in the American civil rights struggle) or adapted it to fit in with their own cultures. In this regard, I’m not sure it’s quite accurate to say that certain marginalized “choose” Christianity the way we choose to affilate ourselves with a political party. Not if it was adapted long ago as a survival tactic, became part of the fabric of the marginalized community, and then changed or tweaked to fit the needs of that marginalized community. (And no–I’m definitely not saying that this means that there are forms of Christianity that are free from being fucked up, but that the circumstances around this complicate things.)

    But the whole “We are the best/We know best” and “We will save you by making you like us” mindset is something I’ve seen in fundamentalist circles and in White supremacy . .I can’t quite divorce the two. As galling as it is, those traits show themselves even in ostensibly liberal and secular circles.

  122. EG
    EG November 9, 2011 at 8:50 pm |

    Miss S: Shoshie, thanks for this. I really have always identified privilege as something that involves visual clues, something that people can identify you as. The examples you’ve given illlustrate how privilege involves things that people can’t see- like what days we get off from work, Things that, as a Christian, I don’t think twice about- that’s ultimately what privilege is.

    Miss S, I posted a comment, now in moderation, before you posted this response. If I had been able to read this response before posting, my tone would have been different–less combative. When the comment comes out of moderation, as I devoutly hope it will in the fullness of time, please do not take the tone as indicative of how I would have responded had I read this gracious comment.

  123. Miss S
    Miss S November 9, 2011 at 11:33 pm |

    Miss S, I posted a comment, now in moderation, before you posted this response. If I had been able to read this response before posting, my tone would have been different–less combative. When the comment comes out of moderation, as I devoutly hope it will in the fullness of time, please do not take the tone as indicative of how I would have responded had I read this gracious comment.

    No problem. I’ve always seen privilege as something that was visible so I was struggling to connect that with something that’s not always visible.
    Re: Mormons. I would have thought the same thing, but I recall reading a few years ago that Mormons considered themselves Christians- which really surprised me. Not sure if that’s still true.

    I’m not sure it’s quite accurate to say that certain marginalized “choose” Christianity the way we choose to affilate ourselves with a political party. Not if it was adapted long ago as a survival tactic, became part of the fabric of the marginalized community, and then changed or tweaked to fit the needs of that marginalized community.

    Thanks for pointing this out. In some ways, Christianity is a cultural identity as much as a religious one. As children, we’re taught about the abolitionist movement, the people before us who fought for freedom and equality, and the concept of faith, belief of a higher power, and ‘walking by faith not by sight’ was usually tied somewhere in there. The Black National Anthem even has references to God and faith- “God of our weary years, God of our silent tears, Thou who has brought us thus far on the way; Thou who has by Thy might,” It all gets tied up together, which I think is worth keeping in mind.

  124. Donna L
    Donna L November 10, 2011 at 12:55 am |

    Miss S, if you google “christian privilege” and “unpacking,” you’ll find all sorts of lists and discussions of the subject, of greater or lesser validity, either generally or as applied to you or any other particular individual.

    I’ll cite just one academic article, which I picked almost at random from the first page of google results, and quote an except discussing cultural issues:

    http://www.infidelguy.com/ChristianPrivilegeFINAL.pdf

    The manifestations of Christian privilege as cultural
    imperialism are numerous. First, for all intents and purposes,
    the calendar, and specifically the school academic
    calendar, is scheduled around Christian holidays and celebrations.
    In fact, the Christian holiday of Christmas has
    been declared a national holiday in which most businesses
    and government offices are closed and services
    suspended.

    Society marks time through a Christian lens. Even the
    language we use in reference to the mainstream calendar
    reflects Christian assumptions. A few years ago, with
    increasing rapidity, we heard and read of the coming
    of the “21st Century,” “The year 2000,” and the dawning
    of “The new millennium.” Among the definitions
    of “millennium” in Merriam-Webster’s Eleventh New Collegiate
    Dictionary (2003), definition #2a is: “a period of
    1000 years” (p. 789). Let us not forget, however, that
    the year 2000 is calculated with reference to the birth of
    Jesus, and it is therefore the beginning of the next Christian
    millennium. In fact, definition #1a in the same dictionary
    defines “millennium” as: “the thousand years
    mentioned in Revelation 20 during which holiness is to
    prevail and Christ is to reign on earth” (p. 789). This fact
    is brought home each time we hear someone mention the
    date followed by “in the year of our Lord, Jesus Christ.”
    The century markers B.C. (before Christ) and A.D. (anno
    Domini) are clearly Christian in origin. Therefore, the
    year 2000 is one important milepost, though, for many
    religious traditions, it also marks a heightening of their
    invisibility. There has been an attempt to decenter Christian
    hegemony in terminology related to the marking of
    time by replacing B.C. with B.C.E. (before the common
    era) and A.D. with C.E. (common era), although the renaming
    does not affect the marking of time before and
    after a “common” (Christian) era.

    The work week is structured to allow Christians the
    opportunity to worship without conflicting with their
    work schedules. On the governmental level, a series
    of laws, the so-called “Blue Laws,” for example, have
    been enacted and enforced throughout the United States,
    and some still remaining to the present day, restrict(ed)
    sales, business operations, recreational activities, and
    governmental services on Sunday, the Sabbath for most
    Christian denominations, thereby supporting or enforcing
    religious customs and practices of the dominate
    Christian denominations while imposing these practices
    on others, for example, Seventh Day Adventists and
    Jews who celebrate their Sabbaths on Saturday or Friday
    at sunset to Saturday at sunset. These laws date back
    to colonial times when Sunday church attendance was
    mandatory (Lippy, 2004). In fact, in 1816, a Jewish man
    named Abraham Wolf was convicted in Pennsylvania of
    the “crime” of “having done and performed worldly employment
    on the Lord’s day” (Sunday). He appealed his
    sentence but lost (Dinnerstein, 1994).

    In the schools, children or their parents or caretakers
    of other faiths must take responsibility to request accommodations
    fromschool officials either to be excused from
    ongoing school activities or to be absent to practice their
    religious traditions. For example, a Muslim elementary
    school student in central Iowa requested permission to
    attend the school library or to remain in her classroom
    for the duration of her lunch period during the Muslim
    holy month of Ramadan in which it was her practice to
    fast from sunrise to sunset. The school, however, had a
    written policy mandating that students must be present
    in the cafeteria during their lunch breaks. After repeated
    discussions with the school principal, the mother of the
    student convinced him to allow her daughter to go to an
    alternate space during the month of Ramadan while the
    student’s classmates were at lunch.

    Other examples of Christian cultural imperialism are
    numerous: the promotion of music, especially Christmas,
    by radio stations, and Christmas specials played
    on TV throughout November and December each year;
    Christmas decorations (often hung at taxpayer expense)
    in the public square in cities and towns throughout
    the United States; and the widespread availability of
    Christian holiday decorations, greeting cards, food, and
    other items.

    Today, our schools continue to privilege dominant groups
    while subordinating minority or target groups (Bowles
    & Gintis, 1976). In the public schools, this is maintained
    by institutional policies, curricular priorities, mandatory
    dress codes, mandatory attendance, and even the food
    available in school cafeterias.

    Christian students and school personnel can be reasonably
    assured that when they talk about their religious
    traditions or wear religious symbols such as a cross, they
    will not be the targets of ridicule, discrimination, or harassment
    by their peers and school officials. Students
    and school personnel of other faith communities or nonbelievers
    have no such assurance. For example, the parents
    of four Jewish students who attended public school
    in Pike County Alabama sued the district when administrators
    at both Pike County Elementary and High Schools
    forbad their children from wearing Star of David lapel
    pins claiming that these were “gang symbols” (though
    administrators allowed other children to wear crosses).
    Administrators also prevented Jewish children from participating
    in physical education class while wearing their
    yarmulkes (skull caps). In addition, classmates repeatedly
    harassed and assaulted the children (Paul Michael
    Herring v. Dr. John Key, 1997).

    In another example, the physical education teacher of
    a Muslim elementary school student in Iowa forbad her
    from wearing a traditional Muslim full-body swimming
    garment during instruction in the school pool, but ordered
    her, instead, to wear a western-style bathing suit,
    which would force the student to act against her faith.4
    The Alabama and Iowa school cases are similar in that
    these schools refused appropriate accommodations to
    school policy for students’ religious practices. In these
    cases, school officials misinterpreted the concept of “accommodation”
    as “promotion” of religious observance,
    and they appeared unaware of the cultural and religious
    norms maintained by school policies. In both cases, parents
    of these students intervened on their behalf. The
    Jewish students’ parents sued the school district, and
    the eventual settlement resulted in the requirement that
    school officials intervene once they learn that any of
    the Jewish children are being harassed on school property.
    In addition, school officials must allow the children
    to wear their religious symbols just as Christian students
    are permitted to wear theirs (Paul Michael Herring
    v. Dr. John Key, 1997). Also, copies of the settlement must
    be posted in each Pike County school. Regarding the
    Muslim student, her mother was compelled to educate
    the principal on Muslim religious practices. After much
    discussion, the principal agreed to permit the student
    to wear a swimming garment of her choice, though he
    warned the girl’s parent that the child would most likely
    incur angry and mocking epithets from her classmates.
    In both instances, parents requested school officials
    to accommodate the religious practices of their children.
    While these are appropriate requests, the procedures per
    se for accommodations are a form and reinforcement
    of Christian privilege. Schools and workplaces require
    students and their families who do not follow Christian
    practices to justify, verify, document, and in other ways
    “prove” to those in authority that they, indeed, are entitled
    to accommodations, whether they involve the wearing
    of religious symbols or garments, attending certain
    spaces during designated times, being absent from
    classes to observe religious/spiritual events or services,
    and other ways. In effect, the authorities have power to
    either agree to or deny these requests for accommodation
    based on their limited or narrow understanding of the
    practices of other faith communities, as well as their attitudes
    toward these communities (Schlosser & edlacek,
    2001).

    Some of these, like the all-pervasive cultural promotion of
    Christmas every year,, may seem trivial. One learns to ignore it.
    But when you try to raise a Jewish child in the midst of all that,
    as I did, it doesn’t seem so trivial.

  125. Annaleigh
    Annaleigh November 10, 2011 at 1:00 am |

    Miss S: Re: Mormons. I would have thought the same thing, but I recall reading a few years ago that Mormons considered themselves Christians- which really surprised me. Not sure if that’s still true.

    I believe most still feel that way, although some feel like they are also distinct in some ways. It’s that distinctiveness that makes the Mormon analogy in this case a little difficult. When people expect a denunciation of the FLDS and Warren Jeffs, generally they expect it from the LDS and from fundamentalist Mormon groups. There are a lot of people who think that the LDS is not doing enough to denounce Warren Jeffs, and not doing enough to help fundamentalist Mormon women and children. Elizabeth Smart and her family, to their credit, got involved with raising awareness of excommunicated FLDS teenagers who are chucked out of their society and are woefully unprepared to deal with non-fundamentalists. I don’t know if any of you have watched Sister Wives at all or watched interviews with the Brown family, but they repeatedly say they don’t believe in marrying very young girls to old men, they don’t believe in excommunicating teenage boys to eliminate competition for young girls, they don’t believe in placement marriages where marriages depend on revelations a prophet has of who should marry whom, etc. etc. Between the Browns, and another fundamentalist family, the Dargers, they are trying hard to tell people that they believe forced marriages, underage marriages, etc. are wrong.

    And yet, at the same time, it’s hard for them to distance themselves from abhorrent practices because fundamentalist Mormonism is basically one large dysfunctional family. Warren Jeffs’ aunt was one of the wives of Christine Brown’s paternal grandfather. In the 1970′s, one of Christine Brown’s maternal granduncles went on a murderous rampage that left her paternal grandfather, another of her maternal granduncles, and numerous cousins of hers dead. It was a power grab. And to this day, Christine Brown probably has paternal cousins in the FLDS being pushed into placement marriages, and she has had maternal cousins in the LeBaron group being forced into placement marriages with their half-siblings, and/or being murdered.

    What’s interesting is that from my observation is that there are a lot of mainstream Mormons who are unaware of the human rights violations and of the complex history. And it makes other mainstream Mormons uncomfortable because some of them are actually related to the fundamentalists through mutual ancestors. They are reluctant to call the fundamentalists out as a result.

    I’m babbling here, but I just wanted the points that mainstream and fundamentalist Mormons do have some denouncing to do, and many are trying to do just that. And at the same time Mormon history specifically is so complicated that some people are left with doubts, which makes it a difficult analogy.

    I am glad you are beginning to understand what people mean about Christian privilege. Another way we see it manifest around this time of year is this “war on Christmas” business where some Christians become irate that some people or businesses want to acknowledge that other religions and cultures have holidays this time of year and be inclusive of these people.

  126. Miss S
    Miss S November 10, 2011 at 2:33 am |

    DonnaL, thanks for the links. The concept of holidays is one that really makes me realize how Christianity is privileged. I’m so used to schools and a lot of business places treating it as the norm; it’s really saddening to realize how many people may be unable to celebrate their holidays. And to prevent children from wearing the Star of David?

    Thanks to everyone who took the time to explain religious privilege in a way that made sense to me. No one had to do that, but I really appreciate it. I’m at a place in my life where I really want to be a better activist and make real changes in my community. Information like this makes me a better activist, and also a more understanding person. Now I understand that the privilege I have, which means I can be aware of the lack of privilege that others do.

    My apologies to anyone I have offended on this thread. I wasn’t trying to be inflammatory, I just didn’t get it.

  127. Miss S
    Miss S November 10, 2011 at 2:36 am |

    Annaleigh- Yes! I do watch Sister Wives and I do notice how often they speak out against Warren Jeffs and those practices. I didn’t know that about Christine Brown’s family.

    I thinking speaking out is important because it’s more unfair to expect people to know.

  128. EG
    EG November 10, 2011 at 8:44 am |

    First, for all intents and purposes,
    the calendar, and specifically the school academic
    calendar, is scheduled around Christian holidays and celebrations.

    Speaking of the calendar, another fun Christian fact: we celebrate New Year’s when we do because it is the anniversary of Jesus’s circumcision, according to the Christian elders who set such things way back when, and the Feast of the Circumcision is/was important to Christianity because it was the first time Jesus shed blood, thus prefiguring (as everything Jewish is merely a foreshadowing of Christ) the crucifixion.

  129. Shoshie
    Shoshie November 10, 2011 at 9:12 am |

    Miss S-
    Thanks for being gracious about it. :) It’s certainly a welcome change when talking about this stuff, even in activist circles.

  130. Donna L
    Donna L November 10, 2011 at 9:42 am |

    EG:

    Speaking of the calendar, another fun Christian fact: we celebrate New Year’s when we do because it is the anniversary of Jesus’s circumcision, according to the Christian elders who set such things way back when, and the Feast of the Circumcision is/was important to Christianity because it was the first time Jesus shed blood, thus prefiguring (as everything Jewish is merely a foreshadowing of Christ) the crucifixion.

    Well, without all that, people wouldn’t have been able to worship the many claimed Holy Prepuces and benefit from their miraculous powers:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holy_Prepuce

    One wonders where they all actually came from.

  131. Dan O.
    Dan O. November 12, 2011 at 12:34 pm |

    Here is an entry on spanking on a Jesuit discussion blog. The author is a regent at a Jesuit High School in New Orleans. He insists not only the untenable position that spanking isn’t a kind of violence, but the logically impossible position that spanking isn’t a kind of hitting. He is, apparently, a devotee of the Pearls. I tried to point this out, but my comment is in the purgatory of ‘moderation’, and will not be released.

    Here’s a few quotes:

    Violence attempts to inflict damage on the other person, psychologically, physically, emotionally, etc. I think it is not merely semantic to distinguish hitting from spanking, beating from paddling. They are not the same. One who spanks correctly never spanks in anger, is always calm, is using spanking primarily as a training tool, always follows up with words of love, praise and explanation, and never leaves a bruise.

    Because spanking involves inflicting some pain, people easily jump to condemning it as an act of violence. I think that this greatly over-simplifies violence. The physical nature of violence is one of its least weighty components, nor is pain always connected to violence. Parents need to be trained how to spank. That is what my own parents do now in their child training classes. Notice that they give “training” classes. Training comes before discipline, and good training means less punishing. Because children are animals as well as persons, good training begins within a few months of birth, and little spanks help the training of the will to take place at a young age.

    This monster works for a school, and thinks that parents should be trained how to spank (i.e. not hit, whatever the wacky distinction involves) their kids.

  132. EG
    EG November 13, 2011 at 1:52 pm |

    Ah. In other words, make sure your children associate being hit with love, and don’t leave any evidence for anybody else to see.

    Yeah, that sure won’t leave any psychological, physical, or emotional damage.

    Actually, the part makes me grind my teeth is the bit about “training” children. I don’t train children. I train dogs. I educate and help children. I don’t want the kids I care for to automatically jump just because I say so. I want them to understand when jumping is appropriate and when it is not.

  133. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig November 13, 2011 at 11:23 pm |

    EG: I’ve only been peripherally involved with the training of dogs, but what seems odd to me is that most people manage to train their dogs without resorting to anything more than an occasional soft tap with a newspaper. If most dog trainers can make a dog behave without laying a finger on the dog, then why wouldn’t non-violent solutions work when dealing with children, who are much smarter than a dog?

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