mercredi, novembre 25, 2009

My post on clergy misconduct at Reuters FaithWorld

Feel free to comment. It's not an easy topic.

3 commentaires:

Catherine a dit…

Elizabeth, thank you for your article. Having been a victim of clergy abuse, you have hit the nail on the head. Congregations are led around by the nose of abusive clergy to make themselves look oh so innocent and never the type to be "bad", when in fact they are. I commented on the Reuters site regarding your article. I hope it gets published in the comments section.

Lori Stevens-Hogue a dit…

As a survivor of rabbinic sexual misconduct, I was one of the women who participated in the clergy sexual abuse study by Dr. Diana Garland of Baylor University in Waco, Texas. I was born to a Jewish mother but raised in the Episcopal church. I never had any problems with the Episcopal priests I grew up with. I made the decision as an adult, after much soul searching, to practise the Jewish faith of my ancestors - a heritage that had been lost to my family thru intermarriage & over assimilation.

Unfortunately, the temple I chose for myself and my 6 year old daughter had a serial sexual abuser as their religious leader. I had just 7 months to practise the faith I'd been drawn to from a young age. I got to celebrate the High Holy Days once, in 1999. I was born on Yom Kippur, so it is my special holiday. Just one month later, before I had even learned all the Hebrew prayers and hymns, my married rabbi tried to get me to have an affair with him. As an experienced abuser, he groomed me thru subtle and not-so-subtle psychological manipulation, trying to play upon my emotions. I had made the mistake of speaking to my rabbi about the "rocky patch of road" I had hit in my marriage, innocently opening the door for this vampire with no understanding of what I had done. It all became clear later. The rabbi's attempt at seduction didn't work. I said no.

I eventually had to turn him in to our Reform Jewish denomination as I kept seeing him "grooming" other women and I received positive proof that he had been sued for sexual harassment 3 years before I joined the temple. The Central Conference of American Rabbi's (CCAR) ethics committee voted unanimously to force him to undergo a complete psychological examination and therapy. The rabbi appealed to his friends on the Board and was given a private letter of reprimand instead of the treatment he needed. The CCAR failed in their sacred duty to keep the rabbinate safe. They are unable to handle cases of sexual abuse of congregants by rabbi's. It's the old "fox guarding the hen house" situation plus adding a massive amount of "Good Old Boy's Club" to the mix. The rabbi who sexually abused and physically assaulted me is a serial abuser of women and unfortunately he is still a rabbi. Religious denominations and their institutions cannot and will not handle cases of clergy sexual abuse effectively. We see this time and again.

This is why I am pushing for federal legislation that would hold clergy members to the same ethical standards that are mandated for physicians and mental health practitioners. The psychological damage done to victims of clergy sexual abuse is actually worse than when someone is sexually abused by a mental health practitioner (therapist, psychologist or psychiatrist) because in addition to the psychological trauma, you have massive spiritual damage as well and this is quite difficult to heal. It is a felony in the United States when a mental health practitioner has sexual contact or sexualizes the clinician/patient relationship in ANY way. Why then, is it not already against federal law when a clergy member does this to a congregant? Separation of church and state does not enter into this picture, as I do not know of any mainstream, accepted religion that condones their religious leaders using their congregants for sexual gratification. So, again I ask: why is clergy sexual abuse NOT yet against federal law?

Offcenter a dit…

Lori, thank you for going into details that must be incredibly painful. I totally agree with you. Such contact should be a crime. I hope you posted a comment on the original post. I haven't checked back there in a while.