CC image courtesy of Flickr, andy li.
By Shade Ardent.
TW: Content discusses rape, and other forms of abuse.
Recently Homeschoolers Anonymous was given access to a worksheet from The Institute of Basic Life Principles‘ training center. It is titled ”Why Did God Let A Four Year Old Boy Be Molested By A Fifteen Year Old Neighbor?’. The Institute of Basic Life Principles is run by Bill Gothard, who is currently facing a lawsuit for molestation, rape, and sexual harassment. The Institute of Basic Life Principles has many training centers around the world.
This series will look at each reason and demonstrate how they are revictimizing.
11. To see the need for a daily schedule for the best use of time.
‘Free time’ is a dangerous and unwise commodity. The phrase ‘Idle hands are the devils workshop.’ is true. The wise parent will schedule productive activities throughout the day so that a child does not have time to get into trouble.
Again, it is apparently the child’s fault and the parents’ fault for the abuse. Gothard contends that abuse would never have happened if the children had both been occupied appropriately. According to Gothard, the appropriate thing to have been doing was to be around adults and memorize lots of Bible verses.
Fundamentalism requires children to be little adults, never playing. In reality, play is important to children’s development, enabling them to come to a greater understanding of their environment.
It cannot be said enough – the choice to abuse was made by the abuser. There is no blame on the child for being abused. There is no blame on the parents for trusting someone around their child. Parents are only responsible for the abuse if they have either done it themselves, or have been aware of abuse going on (present or past) and still allowed their child to be around the person.
Free time is not to blame for abuse happening, the abuser and their choice to abuse is the reason.
12. To remind the father to pray a daily hedge of protection.
Each day it is important for the father to pray a hedge of protection around each member of the family and to ask God to rebuke the principality over the family in the name and through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Here, the responsibility is being placed on the father. The umbrella of authority places the father at the head of the household, in control of everything, and as a go-between between God and the family. It is his job to be perfect, so as to protect his family from sin. When anything bad happens to someone in the family, the first question is ‘were you under the umbrella of authority?’ with the implication being that if you had obeyed (don’t be alone with children, don’t have free time, don’t sin, etc.) then nothing bad would have happened. The next question asked is of the father, which is generally some form of ‘are you right with God?’, because a father who has done everything perfectly will have a perfect family, untouched by sin (unless they leave his umbrella).
Childhood sexual abuse is no small thing. It has far reaching consequences for both the abused and the abuser. There will be further negative consequences if its not reported and even more still if the child is blamed.
The first step that should be taken when a child discloses that someone abused them is to call the police and report it. Always report. Reporting abuse means that someone will investigate, and hopefully prosecute the abuser. It means that the abuser will, hopefully, not have the chance to abuse more children.
The church frequently investigates itself, and takes the words of an abuser over those of the abused. They side with the abuser when they allow them to repent and then continue being a part of the congregation, as though nothing had ever happened.
Statistics show that by the time an abuser is caught, they have had between 20 and 150 other victims. It is important now, more than ever, to report abuse and prevent it from being repeated within the church.
Gothard’s methods of blaming and shaming the victim and their family is a means of silencing. Fundamentalism cultivates very carefully a culture of silence and fear of outside authority. They capitalize on this with these kinds of teachings.
Who will report abuse to the police when God himself blames you for your abuse? Who will report abuse against their child when the church has said you are to blame for your child’s hurts?
To keep their power intact, fundamentalists rely on us believing the words that have been written down about the bible, or the words that have been spoken about the bible. It uses a top-heavy system of authority in order to squash any doubts, questions held by those who are supposed to be following God and authority.
Gothard employs some very specific cultic and fundamentalist strategies to blame, shame, and silence. The main method being used here to silence doubters is to completely fill their sermons, speeches, literature with so many Bible quotes that it is almost impossible to look up all of them. Even though we were required to memorize large portions of the Bible, we were also taught to accept their statements without questioning.
It was a double-bind: memorize, but never doubt.
Listen and believe, those were our mandates. And we did. We listened, we believed, and so we were victimized over and over again. When it comes to reporting abuse, we are simultaneously disbelieved and blamed for the abuse having happened.
People love to say to us, “But I would never be taken in by such things,” or “I would have looked up all the verses and discovered that they were lying,” but they don’t understand how it was. It is dismissive of our reality, and arrogant. It sets themselves up as better than we were, and blames us for believing. We were helpless, conditioned to obey.
When one combines this method with the blame and shame assigned through these teachings, it is no wonder we feel helpless against abuse, and against reporting abuse. Why report if it’s our fault?
And when it came to abuse, we knew it was our own fault.
Escaping their Bible, their beliefs, is a lifetime of work, and these publications don’t make it any easier.
End of series.