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Does being a fundie excuse past bad deeds and crimes?


Austin

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I've been thinking about this because of another thread, but my intention is not to discuss those specific people.

I just want to see what FJers think of this scenario: a former fundie commited bad acts, even criminal acts, against people, even family members, in the name of being a fundie (God laid it on their hearts, the Bible told them so, etc.). Let's think of a mother who used the Pearls "methods" and beats her kids senseless every day and then at some point realizes that she doesn't believe this crap any more and she regrets those actions. Or a husband who forces sexual acts on his wife on numerous occasions, even when she says, "No", "Please stop", "that hurts", or "I don't want to" (in other words he rapes her).

Should those people get a pass from their victims or society when they later realize the error of their ways? Should the children just be told to forgive mommy because she was under the influence of these teachings or even brainwashed, even though it permanently affected them? Should a wife be expected to forgive her husband for raping her because he claims he was just following the Bible or "making" her follow the Bible and everything is A-okay now because he doesn't believe that crap any more?

I don't know. I'm really just trying to think this through. I've never been that influenced by any force in my life, so I cannot speak from that place. I have a very hard time imaging what it would have taken to beat my children the way the Pearls advocate. I cannot imagine a scenario where my husband would justify such evil, criminal acts upon me, even if religion suggested that he's within his rights to do so.

Under the law, we do not excuse people from their actions for these sorts of reasons. "Whoops, so sorry, believed harmful stuff then but don't anymore" doesn't fly. We assume that their basic nature allowed them to behave in those sorts of ways and that they should be responsible for those bad deeds, whether they regret them or not.

Even with insanity claims or diminished capacity claims, the bar is set very high. For instance, Andrea Yates, who had a long, documented history of mental health, did not get to walk on killing her children because she thought that's what God wanted her to do. If someone injures, rapes, or even murders because of their belief system, should religious belief ever be a justification?

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I think a person who will do a bad thing for religion will do it for any one of several reasons. I would never beat my children; I just don't have it in me. It could be a mitigating factor both legally and morally, but I don't think it completely excuses the behavior.

Most of the time, I think religion is not a reason so much as an excuse. My evidence is that you have to get really picky-choosy to justify any act based on the Bible alone. If you decided, for example, to kill an abortion doctor because such-and-such a Bible verse is against abortion, you are ignoring all the 'thou shalt not murder' and also passages that clearly state a fetus' life is not equivalent to a human beings' life.

All religious people justify our actions based on religious texts. Some people use religion to justify works of mercy and goodness, others to justify evil. It says more about you than about the Bible when you do bad things in its name.

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I think it depends on a lot of factors : What is the crime, how old was the person in question when the situation occurred, what group are they involved in?

I think some fundie groups are more cult like than others, and a younger person who was raised in a more cultic environment would get more leeway in my opinion (and usually in the legal system.) Obviously a 16 year old who was raised in say, ZsuZsu's church would be less liable to me than someone like Dougie committing the same crime.

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To me it makes a big difference if the person (say the beating angry parent, since I have that experience myself) changes. I forgave my parent who tossed the Dobson books, changed the discipline style, and got us the fuck out. I don't forgive the parent who rewrote the past, claims none of it ever happened and if it did it was OK anyway, and sends me Focus on the Family childrearing books as presents.

I do think people can grow and change. That doesn't mean their victims HAVE to forgive them, but to me it makes forgiveness possible. That extends to former fundies (esp. if they were raised that way), addicts, people with previously untreated mental illness...there are a lot of extenuating circumstances in the world.

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I think there's a difference between 'excuse' and 'explain'

Rather like how being drunk does NOT negate the behavior--you don't have to forgive the drunk parent who beat you. But it may explain why s/he behaved as s/he did. It may just give a slightly different color to things--especially since the guilty party may be just as brainwashed as the victim and is often victimized in his/her own way.

I wouldn't recommend blanket forgiveness in that case (any more than I'd recommend it in the case you're alluding to) but understanding the motivation can make processing the ordeal better for the victim.

I mean, there's a post on here right now about some of the awful things depicted in older movies re: women/patriarchy/race/etc but talks about not judging them against a modern yardstick because they weren't able to see things in a modern way. I think that *sometimes* applies to (especially young) fundies.

Going back in history and given the issues of the time, the fact that there were societal repercussions does *not* excuse my great-grandmother for refusing to rent her rooms to non-white tenants. However, it does explain it (especially since she needed the money and didn't want to loose paying (white) tenants).

Being a young fundie who was pushed hard to make choices and deal with things far beyond his/her years and make choices without enough information can lead to the dominos starting to topple does NOT justify the atrocious behavior all of this can lead to. But it does change the spirit in which the offense was committed.

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As a daughter of parents who did some pretty bad stuff in the name of God/our belief system...this is really complicated for me. I don't think my parents ever broke the law, but there were a few things that they did that could be considered abuse (withholding food, educational neglect, possibly medical neglect, spanking that occurred when we were teenagers, stuff like that). So, if they abused, they're abusers, right? But I have a really hard time saying that about my parents. I don't have physical scars (never did), but I do have emotional scars/issues that are directly the result of how I was raised.

For me, it helps that my parents have totally changed their ways since I was a kid. They are much nicer now, they don't even hit their dog, and they've said a few things that lead me to believe the regret a *lot* of their former actions. But, we've also never really talked about the bad times. They know it's affected me (hell, they paid for some of my counseling!), but we still...just haven't talked about it in any detail.

Have I forgiven them? I don't know. I know they're different people now, so in my head, it's almost like I have four parents - the two I grew up with, and the two I have now.

But it's still really, really complicated.

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I think there's a difference between 'excuse' and 'explain'

Rather like how being drunk does NOT negate the behavior--you don't have to forgive the drunk parent who beat you. But it may explain why s/he behaved as s/he did. It may just give a slightly different color to things--especially since the guilty party may be just as brainwashed as the victim and is often victimized in his/her own way.

Being a young fundie who was pushed hard to make choices and deal with things far beyond his/her years and make choices without enough information can lead to the dominos starting to topple does NOT justify the atrocious behavior all of this can lead to. But it does change the spirit in which the offense was committed.

Well put, dawbs, there is a difference between an excuse and an explanation. And many, many victims want explanations as to why they were treated the way they were. It helps them make some sense out of a mostly senseless situation.

I used to work with many abusive and potentially abusive (high risk) parents when I worked in a child abuse prevention agency. They were all victims of some sort of abuse as children. That does not mean that all abused kids grow up to abuse their children. We did a lot of research as to why some did and some didn't and there really wasn't any one explanation. But to treat the ones that were abusers, we had to bring them back to when they were victims in order for them to learn to have empathy for their children. But we never said that their own abuse is an acceptable reason to do the same to their kids. Had we just given them penalties without treating the underlying issues, they would have just gotten angrier and done the same things, often even worse.

It is a really complicated topic. I just read "Lost Boys" by Brent Jeffs, a former FLDS member and nephew of Warren Jeffs. The book gives a lot of insight as to why people do things in the name of religion. I recommend it highly.

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Did being a Manson Girl excuse any of the Tate Killers?

But in this society, yes, being a fundie very possibly could excuse someone.

Should it?

I don't know. I have to come from this first of all as a parent who may have conveyed a little of this stuff to her then very young child ( and once again, I want to state, I never bought into the Pearl's stuff. I couldn't even get her to pick up her toys without a huge, huge struggle, she was just a very strong willed child. I remember the biggest battle we had was me making her pick things up, one by one, and put them away, while her father sat ( fuming, because I was making him parent) on the edge of her bed. She howled the whole time. Took over 2 hours. I did that because other mothers were chiding me because she wouldn't pick up her toys. Yeah, we wouldn't have lasted a week in a truly fundie environment)

Anyway.. don't want to start the spanking debate again.. trying to focus on really heinous things, like the parents who have " accidentally" killed their kids while using the Pearls methods... Yes, they should be held accountable. BUT... the people who taught them this stuff should be as well. No wiggle room. No bullshitting their way out of it

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I think it depends on a lot of factors : What is the crime, how old was the person in question when the situation occurred, what group are they involved in?

I think some fundie groups are more cult like than others, and a younger person who was raised in a more cultic environment would get more leeway in my opinion (and usually in the legal system.) Obviously a 16 year old who was raised in say, ZsuZsu's church would be less liable to me than someone like Dougie committing the same crime.

I agree with this. I don't think being fundie or being raised in that world excuses anyone, but I would see it as a mitigating factor in some circumstances. Some folks, like adults who become Pearl followers even though they've had other education, would be more culpable in my eyes than some of the kids I've known who grew up fundie and pretty much brainwashed out of being able to decide right and wrong beyond the narrow boundaries of what their church told them.

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I think it could be a mitigating factor in some situations, but should not be used to excuse or justify behavior, especially crimes. I do think that people who were raised with certain beliefs are more likely to find some behaviors acceptable that most other people would not, but I don't think that their background should be a way for them to escape responsibility for their actions, or to avoid the consequences of those actions.

To me, excusing rape or child abuse because of how a person was raised or believes is not all that different than excusing someone who commits a hate crime because they were raised in a racist home or "brainwashed" by a hate group. Most people have enough exposure to the outside world to know that most people consider certain things wrong and unacceptable. If not, you wouldn't have the same people who teach parents to spank also advising them on how to avoid or handle an investigation by Child Services. At some point, you become responsible for your own beliefs as well as your actions.

I do think a person may be more likely to forgive their abuser if they think that person was acting out of their belief system or what they thought what right, but I do not think forgiveness necessarily means removing the consequences of an action or punishment for a crime. I think you can forgive a person but still wish for them to be punished for the things they've done, if for no other reason than to deter others from thinking that it is acceptable.

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I think there is a difference too between legal issues--spanking your kids to death--vs. non-legal, but scaring ones--like making your girls were dresses all the time which led them to believe that their bodies were shameful.

I've been think about this a lot lately--at what point does the abused become the abuser? As I've mentioned, liltwinstar is my sister--and yes, our parents did bad things. But bad things were also done to them in the name of God--cult-like churches, etc. So where does the responsibility lie? And can I ever figure it out?

And, how much does it matter?

I just don't know what to think about this issue. We're seeing some blogs of 2nd generation homeschoolers/fundies, who grew up thinking certain behaviors were normal. The literally didn't know some things were wrong--legally or morally. Yes they SHOULD but they don't. I don't know who should take responsibility, you know?

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I think rapist is a rapist. It's whether you believe it's justified or not.

I own my cats, I have complete dominion over them (If you believe you can actually dominate a cat, sometimes I think they own me). I don't beat them, have no desire to hurt them. Why? Because it would hurt them and I'm no desire for them to hurt.

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I take it case-by-case. The case we happen to be discussing at the moment in another thread is one of the few in which I can believe the rapist wasn't just a psychopath; his socialization was basically "she's yours; have at" from what I can see. It means he has years of therapy ahead, but it doesn't mean that he will necessarily rape again.

I don't know very many people who follow the Pearls' methods of... let's be charitable and call it "parenting". I was, however, brought up well aware that my father suffered mightily at his adoptive mother's hands. I don't believe Mavis was a fit mother, and I suspect there were psychiatric reasons for the things she did. Her biological children were also violent, and they were almost certainly some kind of mentally interesting. By contrast, her husband, Louie, was generally not violent; he whupped his kids when they misbehaved, but that was par for the course in rural poor Upstate New York. He would have been a fine parent had he married anyone else, and I'm told he was very loving towards all of us grandchildren. (He died when I was two, just before I can remember.) By today's standards, I'd consider both Mavis and Louie abusers--much as I cherish my granddad's memory, he stood by and let it happen. Did he know better? Possibly not. Would he have done a better job had he ditched Mavis and put the whole family in therapy? I like to hope so, but I can't say.

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I take it case-by-case. The case we happen to be discussing at the moment in another thread is one of the few in which I can believe the rapist wasn't just a psychopath; his socialization was basically "she's yours; have at" from what I can see. It means he has years of therapy ahead, but it doesn't mean that he will necessarily rape again.

I get what you are saying, but I don't know if I fully agree. And I really mean that I don't know. I guess I don't believe the hypothetical man is necessarily psychopathic, but I do think he's got to be a certain kind of evil to force a sexual act on a person who clearly doesn't want it and is begging him not to and he does it anyway. I get the religious notion that he believes he "owns" her and can do anyting he wants, as morally repulsive as that is, and that he is operating from that place (maybe). But even then, even if he believes he owns her, I just think he is a sick, twisted fuck, no matter what his upbringing.

We own animals and we don't force heinous, unwanted acts on them.

Forgiveness on a personal level? Maybe. Absolution on a moral level? I don't think so. And it's a crime, no matter what.

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Oh, absolutely, still a crime, he should still be culpable for it, and I really was talking years of intensive work on who he was when he raped his wife/who he can become with that history. It sounds very much like both of them want to make changes in their lives, and I believe that where rehabilitation is possible, it should be undertaken, albeit in a way that seeks to reduce risk. I think any counselor who didn't tell him to wait a very long time before attempting another relationship would be an idiot and not deserving of hir credentials, because changes that big take, yes, a very long time.

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I do think youth/miseducation makes a big difference, too. I had friends in my 20s who did all sorts of bad things, things I would never put up with now. Most of them stopped.

That doesn't really cover rape or abuse, but fistfights? Yes. Getting drunk and puking in the bathtub? Yes. Shoplifting? Yes. People get smarter & more restrained as they get older, especially if they put some effort into it.

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Sure, some of the behavior we discuss here is absolutely a crime. But (this is going to sound weird) does that matter and does it change your day-to-day interactions with the people who hurt you? I don't know. I'm not being snarky; I honestly don't know.

In the case of a marital rape situation, there are no witnesses. So what do you do - go to the police and file a report? It would clearly be a "he-said, she-said" situation, unless the kids witnessed something. So if it does go to trial, everyone gets dragged through the muck and for what? Aren't rapists convicted in a teeny tiny number of cases? Like 3% or something? So your whole life would be on trial, and you'd (most likely) get absolutely nothing out of it.

In my case, maybe some of what my parent did was a crime. But I'm 30 years old; am I going to go to the police and talk about what happened and drag my parents through court? No. I talked about things with my therapist and I continue to mull things over sometimes, and I'm in a place where I can happily live my life without the past bothering me too much. I suspect that when I have children I'll have to deal with my past on a different level, but I'll deal with that when the time comes. It does help a lot that my parents have changed - if they hadn't, my relationship with them would be strained, at best, if we even had a relationship. Part of me wants to tell my story NLQ-style, but I'm just not sure how to do that without deeply hurting people that I do care about.

So I don't know - obviously, on a social level, people should be held accountable for their crimes. But on a personal level, it's hard to do that when it's someone that you care about, and when the details of what happened are less than clear-cut, and when there are a lot of factors at play. I guess what I'm saying is that it's easy for us on the outside of a situation to say "it's rape - she said no and he did it anyway" or "it's child abuse to withhold food from your kid" and those things are true. But when you're in the middle of it? Somehow it's just not as obvious.

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Sure, some of the behavior we discuss here is absolutely a crime. But (this is going to sound weird) does that matter and does it change your day-to-day interactions with the people who hurt you? I don't know. I'm not being snarky; I honestly don't know.

In the case of a marital rape situation, there are no witnesses. So what do you do - go to the police and file a report? It would clearly be a "he-said, she-said" situation, unless the kids witnessed something. So if it does go to trial, everyone gets dragged through the muck and for what? Aren't rapists convicted in a teeny tiny number of cases? Like 3% or something? So your whole life would be on trial, and you'd (most likely) get absolutely nothing out of it.

In my case, maybe some of what my parent did was a crime. But I'm 30 years old; am I going to go to the police and talk about what happened and drag my parents through court? No. I talked about things with my therapist and I continue to mull things over sometimes, and I'm in a place where I can happily live my life without the past bothering me too much. I suspect that when I have children I'll have to deal with my past on a different level, but I'll deal with that when the time comes. It does help a lot that my parents have changed - if they hadn't, my relationship with them would be strained, at best, if we even had a relationship. Part of me wants to tell my story NLQ-style, but I'm just not sure how to do that without deeply hurting people that I do care about.

So I don't know - obviously, on a social level, people should be held accountable for their crimes. But on a personal level, it's hard to do that when it's someone that you care about, and when the details of what happened are less than clear-cut, and when there are a lot of factors at play. I guess what I'm saying is that it's easy for us on the outside of a situation to say "it's rape - she said no and he did it anyway" or "it's child abuse to withhold food from your kid" and those things are true. But when you're in the middle of it? Somehow it's just not as obvious.

Firstly, most rapes are crimes with no witnesses. People mostly don't rape people in front of other people. It's often a "he-said-she-said" because unfortunately, unless the victim gets the shit beat out of them, the issue of consent is almost always at the center of the case.

Now if that rapist is a "loved one" such as a spouse, then if the victims speaks up about it, the impact will be felt throughout the family. It is unavoidable. It is a hard time and a terrible thing to have happened. We can't pretty everything up just so no one "feels bad". I personally don't believe that a person with any reasonable amount of emotional health would choose to stay silent and allow that behavior to continue, no matter how much it's going to make others uncomfortable or how potentially "damaging" it is to anyone's psyche.

Secondly, for most crimes, there is a statute of limitations. In Pennsylvania, where I was assaulted in 1982, it is 12 years for rape. Once the clock ran out, that was that, at least from a criminal standpoint. So I seriously doubt you could go into a police station and file a report against your parents even if you wanted to do so, and I believe those statutes are in place for a good reason. In terms of civil action, that gets a bit murkier for a lot of reasons, but the perpetrator is not going to spend time in prison if the statute is up.

I guess if people took the attitude of "what's in it for me" when deciding whether or not to seek justice, there would be very little justice. It's not about not getting anything out of it. It's about truth and the knowledge that nobody involved can move forward until truth is acknowledged. I would never argue that we are the sum of our worst deeds, because everyone hurts others, inadvertently or not. But redemption cannot occur until at a minimum, the perpetrator takes unqualified responsbility (speaks the truth) and makes amends in whatever way possible.

I don't believe that every single issue need to be taken to the level of prosecution in the legal sense. But tacitly agreeing to keep all of these secrets in a family is a huge problem and is/becomes generational. Sunshine truly is the best disinfectant, as painful as that may be, and the only way to attain any sort of emotional health, in my view and personal experience.

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Oh, I totally get what you're saying - and you're right, most rapes don't have witnesses.

I guess I'm just speaking from my own personal experience where I am right now...yes, truth telling is good, people should be prosecuted (when warranted), and all of that. I agree with that intellectually. For myself, though? On a personal level? It just doesn't seem that clear cut to me.

I'm not going to go to the cops about my parents. But, am I going to sit them down and re-hash the past? I don't know. I don't know what point that would serve - do I want an apology? Or do I want something else from them? And if I did get an apology, would that make everything better? What I really want is to go back in time and fix it so the abuse/neglect never happend, but that's not possible.

Maybe that is keeping secrets, I don't know. I don't feel like I'm hiding anything because I *do* talk about my experiences with my husband, with my sister, with my therapist, here, etc. I just don't talk about it with my parents.

So, basically, I don't think there are easy answers to this.

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Oh, I totally get what you're saying - and you're right, most rapes don't have witnesses.

I guess I'm just speaking from my own personal experience where I am right now...yes, truth telling is good, people should be prosecuted (when warranted), and all of that. I agree with that intellectually. For myself, though? On a personal level? It just doesn't seem that clear cut to me.

I'm not going to go to the cops about my parents. But, am I going to sit them down and re-hash the past? I don't know. I don't know what point that would serve - do I want an apology? Or do I want something else from them? And if I did get an apology, would that make everything better? What I really want is to go back in time and fix it so the abuse/neglect never happend, but that's not possible.

Maybe that is keeping secrets, I don't know. I don't feel like I'm hiding anything because I *do* talk about my experiences with my husband, with my sister, with my therapist, here, etc. I just don't talk about it with my parents.

So, basically, I don't think there are easy answers to this.

I just want to make sure you knew that I wasn't referring to you personally at all. I should have been more clear. I was just speaking generally and what I believe based on my own experiences.

Only you can know what you need and only you can weigh the risks and benefits of approaching it with them or leaving it alone. I believe there is a price for anything and everything we do in life. Price makes it sound negative. . . maybe more of a result. I totally get that you can have a much improved relationship with your parents that you value even if they have never apologized to you directly and you might not want to do anything to upset the apple cart there. The price/result of confronting them could be the loss of that relationship. Only you can weigh all of those variables.

And no, I don't think answers to these questions are ever easy or as black and white as we'd like them to be.

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