Mon | Aug 21, 2017

George Davis | The Church hasn't failed us

Published:Wednesday | January 25, 2017 | 1:00 AM

There's nothing wrong with kicking a man when he's down, especially when under normal circumstances, said man is so high and mighty that he's out of the reach of all boots. The Church, not only the Moravian variety, is being kicked mercilessly at the moment, with the lustiest blows being delivered by those who've suffered grievances at the hands of church leaders and acolytes within a system of intimidation, secrecy, vindictiveness and wild contradictions.

Even God, it seems, loves irony. And how ironic it is that days after the Church-led furore over the dancehall scene depicted on the cover of the 2017 Yellow Pages directory had just died down, a 64-year-old clergyman, Rupert Clarke, would be dominating the news cycle after being caught in a compromising position with a 15-year-old girl in his motor vehicle in an isolated spot in St Elizabeth.

The facts are that all over the world, adults, especially those in positions of power and authority, have been guilty of sexually abusing children, boys and girls with impunity. The case involving Rupert Clarke provides context to the point being made.

Allegations of financial manipulation fit in with the considered opinion of celebrated American sex crimes specialist, Judith Lewis Herman. Herman asserts that the aim of the perpetrator of a sex crime against a minor is to establish and maintain domination by shaming and terrorising the victim.

According to Herman, this tactic, which results in the victim of sex abuse being dishonoured, allows sexual abuse to almost become impervious to the dictates of the law.

In plain language, this situation emboldens sexual abusers and weakens the underage victims who believe they'll be seriously harming themselves while bringing shame on to their families, were they to report that someone like a pastor is having sex with them. Additionally, the situation as Herman describes it is perhaps what causes a young victim of sexual abuse to fret about the damage that reporting the sex crime will cause to the pastor's reputation and standing within the church community.

 

Wrong focus

 

Rather than focus on how the crime is affecting them, the victim is worrying about a baying mob of church members and other establishment figures blaming them for causing the pastor to be hauled before the courts when all he did was 'tek likkle p*m p*m'.

For those local church leaders who've recently resigned after being accused of failing to act on claims of sexual misconduct made about senior figures within the church establishment, there should be only the faintest sympathy. The fact that the men have been unable to publish anything to suggest that said claims were investigated thoroughly and action taken subsequently satisfies me that they believed the allegations would never have surfaced.

I am accusing them of taking a calculated career gamble by not pursuing the claims so as not to damage their own standing within the Church. I am accusing them of failing to act because they did not want to bear the accusation of instigating the fall from grace of one of their own. I am accusing them of believing in the cultism of church and choosing perhaps to pray about the alleged gross misconduct of one of their own rather than consulting the police and engaging in a process to establish facts.

I am accusing them of failing to fulfil the roles given to them by the Church, even as they were treated with respect and reverence because of the lofty titles they held.

Make no mistake, the Church has not failed us. The Church didn't compel or enable the actions of the pastor mentioned in my column last week. What has failed us are the people. The people who lead the Church. The people who worship the leaders of the Church on par with God. The people who demonise those who claim abuse by leaders of the Church, even if the accusers themselves are members of the Church. Those are the miscreants who continue to perpetuate wrongs.

Selah.

- George Davis is a broadcast executive producer and talk-show host.

Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and george.s.davis@hotmail.com.