Southern Religion

U.S. Air Force Academy cadets allege Christian conservative religious intimidation

A U.S. Air Force Academy cadet has written in an email to Mikey Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) , warning that:

Mr. Weinstein, USAFA is literally overrun
with Christian conservative fanatics. And the leadership here either
knows this or is ridiculously blind to it. If any of us gave even the
slightest indication that we weren’t one of their number, our lives
would be even more miserable than they already are due to the fact
that we are all living lies here. Despite the Cadet Honor Code we all
lie about our lives. We have to. We don’t have a choice. Thus we are
all “invisible” to our tormentors

In the email published by Veterans Today, the cadet says he represents a group of about 100, mostly mainstream Protestant cadets who despair of command intervention.

“The MRFF and allies from a myriad of civil rights and interfaith groups sent a letter Tuesday to the Department of Defense (DoD) detailing the cadet’s email and other startling complaints,” writes Mike Ludwig of truthout, “including testimony from the parents of an academy graduate who believe their daughter was ‘methodically brain washed’ by a fundamentalist group there, demanding an investigation of the academy and the evangelical academy ministry Cadets For Christ.”

The group also seeks official release of the recent USAFA study of the religious climate at the academy. It was leaked to the press. According to those leaked results, “353 cadets (almost 1 out of every 5 survey participants) reported having been subjected to unwanted religious proselytizing, and 23 cadets (13 of them Christians) reported living ‘in fear of their physical safety’ because of their religious beliefs.”

Truthout further reports:

Mikey Weinstein, a USAFA graduate and MRFF founder, told Truthout that USAFA Superintendent Lt. Gen. Mike Gould was dishonest about the results of the Climate Study, and told the public that everything was fine at the academy without releasing the actual results. He said it’s time for a legitimate investigation of the “fundamentalist culture” in the academy.

October 1, 2010 Posted by | Church/State | , , | Comments Off on U.S. Air Force Academy cadets allege Christian conservative religious intimidation

NPR: Church tackles sex abuse by Eddie Long and others

Garland’s cross-denominational study

Why predatory clergy flourish

Sexually abusive pastor profile and technique

On NPR, Baylor’s Diana Garland, co-author of “How Sexual Misconduct Happens,” and Monsignor Stephen Rossetti, clinical associate professor of Pastoral Studies at Catholic University, address how church tackles sex abuse by clergy.

They address both the problem in general and the Eddie Long case.

Garland’s study found that the problem cuts across denominational lines.

Listen to the interview here.

October 1, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Words still unspoken by Independent Baptist Eddie Long

For Eddie Long, whatever remains in his metaphoric sack of rocks, important words remain unspoken. Jay Bookman of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes:

Cross-denominational study of clerical abuse

Why predatory clergy flourish

Sexually abusive pastor profile and technique

Video admonishes Long to ‘tell the truth’

Yet, after days of awkward silence, Long could not look the members of that family in the face and tell them plainly that he was innocent, that he had not engaged in sex with four young male church members who looked to him for guidance.

Other pastors at the church have things to say:

In the latest news update, the Chief Minister Elder Darius Wise at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, told WSBTV that they got pictures of Bishop Eddie Long over the past week and he doesn’t know that guy being portrayed. Wise stated that the man that he knows wouldn’t do what he is being accused of in the lawsuits.

His ex-wife has joined the fray via divorce documents. Christian Boone and Ty Tagami of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution write:

Dabara S. Houston said she was the victim of “cruel treatment” and was afraid of Long’s “violent and vicious temper,” according to Fulton County Superior Court records. She and her son “had to flee [the couple’s Fairburn home] in order to ensure their safety,” the documents say.

The couple was married in 1981 and separated after a couple years, according to the documents. Long’s first wife made the abuse allegation in a counterclaim after he petitioned for divorce, citing irreconcilable differences.

There is an element of combat to it, a sociologist explained:

“There’s a lot of theater here, it’s a live chess match,” says Tulane sociologist Shayne Lee, author of “Holy Mavericks: Evangelical Innovators and the Spiritual Marketplace.” “The plaintiffs want to keep the blood flowing, and Bishop Long is trying to figure out how to stop the bleeding. But the longer this goes on in the media, the more [church] members are going to demand cogent responses to the claims instead of vague denials.”

Time is not on Long’s side. The longer it runs, the more his supporters will understand that as Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post observed, Long has his self-pitying David/Goliath analogy backward:

Let’s see, on one side we have one of the most prominent and influential clerics in the country, the pastor of a suburban Atlanta megachurch that claims 25,000 members. On the other, we have four young men who claim in lawsuits that Long abused his clerical authority to lure and coerce them into having sex with him. Unlike the bishop, as far as I know, none of the accusers is driven around in a Bentley. Or is constantly attended by a retinue of aides and bodyguards. Or cultivates and maintains first-name relationships with famous politicians, athletes and entertainers.

His failure to directly and personally confront the accusations with persuasive denial suggests a failure of accountability for his exercise of a trust — a topic Christa addresses well:

The allegations, if proven, involve conduct that is far more troubling that mere hypocrisy. And they involve conduct that is something far different from consensual gay sex. They involve conduct in which faith itself — the faith of trusting teens — is twisted into a weapon so as to serve the sexual ends of a powerful religious leader.

October 1, 2010 Posted by | children, Churches, Crime, Religion | , , , | Comments Off on Words still unspoken by Independent Baptist Eddie Long

Once again right-wing pastors seek subsidized political campaigning

Attempting to package it as freedom of speech/religion, about 100 pastors got up Sunday to tell their congregations how to vote.

It was the Alliance Defense Fund’s 3rd Pulpit Sunday.

Most Americans (70%) object to that behavior, a recent Pew Forum survey found. As does the Southern Baptist Convention’s Richard Land, better known for his Christian Right leadership.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State announced that it had sent a letter [.pdf] to the Internal Revenue Service asking it to investigate Fairview Baptist Church in Edmond, Oklahoma, where pastor Paul Blair endorsed Rep. Mary Fallin for Oklahoma governor from the pulpit during Sunday services.

October 1, 2010 Posted by | Church/State, Politics | , , | 1 Comment