Wednesday, September 22, 2010
A DOUBLE STANDARD IN REPORTING?
There's a brief article from AP on the Georgia mega church (Baptist) pastor, Bishop Eddie Long who has been accused of sexual abuse by two men, now 20 and 21. They say they were abused when they were 17 and 18. You can read the brief story by pressing this sentence.
This morning as I exercised at the health club, watched CNN and prayed the Holy Rosary to myself (yes, I can multi-task)CNN did a segment on this developing story. The reporter went to great lengths to say that the men allege the abuse happened when they were 17 or 18, but that Georgia State Law says the age of sexual consent is 16! Have you ever heard a reporter declare what the age of sexual consent is in any state where a priest has been accused of similar crime?
More and more we are learning that when a person who has religious authority, such as a bishop, priest or minister,(Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Orthodox, Muslim, etc) abuses a child or a teenager by taking advantage of them sexually, that this type of abuse has even greater traumatic, psychological consequences for the one abused. One person characterizes this type of religious abuse as "slaying the soul!"
The age of consent issue raised by the CNN reporter does bring another dimension to these sordid scandals. I don't know if it is still true, but within my memory, meaning as a teenager, South Carolina State Law allowed 13 year old girls to marry (they also allowed 16 year olds to drive school buses well into the 1990's!). In fact when I was a teenager one of my supervisors at a fast food joint who at that time was in her late 40's told me she had married at 13 and had her first child at 13 years old. Her husband at the time was 21! Was that sexual abuse? She was pregnant before they married.
Oh, by the way, this pastor is a conservative black pastor opposed to gay marriage and many of the other hot button issues of the day. I wonder if there is any correlation? And shall we accord to him what is not accorded to Catholic priests with allegations of this sort: innocent until proven guilty?" Catholic priests are presumed guilty until proven innocent and even then the doubt lingers! Read about a Glenmary priest in my diocese who was cleared of allegations of sexual abuse in West Virgina. His story is hair raising on many levels, the least of which is how the media in general and SNAP in particular considered him guilty prior to any legal process and continue to make shrill statements after he was cleared. He has been reinstated in his parish in Claxton within our diocese. READ ABOUT HIM HERE.