Child abuse is institutional as well as individual #churchtoo
After inviting me down to Charleston in May and hearing my story, Church Creek Presbyterian's board has decided not to apologize. It felt good to be heard out and believed for everything I said happened to me and to hear that others had corroborated some of my story. They didn't dispute anything; they essentially admitted everything including the harsh disciplinary culture that pushed spanking, yet they refused to say they were sorry or acknowledge that the church as a church and the board as a board had any responsibility.
In fact, and this is bizarre, they think only individuals can share blame, and a couple elders apologized, one for not speaking up when he might have thought kids were being punished too harshly and the other for not realizing that crazy statements he could roll his eyes at were heard and accepted by children. It was admitted that children were spanked by child care workers, elders, and others not their parents, and the pastors office was used as a quiet place to spank with implements provided. All this, but the church had no written policy of spanking (or any written policy), but their school The Charleston Christian School (CCS) did, and pastors, teachers, elders and invited speakers on family life and child rearing all taught that true christian parents had to spank their kids.
As so much else in our society, there is a racial angle to this story. There is a controversy now in their denomination the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) around the issue of corporate vs individual responsibility for slavery and Jim Crow. 1st Pres of Jackson, which was around in the days of slavery, has apologised for its roll. And the denomination as a whole has apologized as the defendants of the Southern Presbyterian Church. Many elders in the PCA including but not limited to black pastors, are pushing for more churches to do the same, but at Church Creek, the elders do not believe any of these apologies are appropriate.
It's the we weren't there defense, and only individuals can sin. A black pastor from Charlotte who preached there for Reformation Day evidently was too confrontational, failed to "read the room," and upset a lot of people, so there was no appetite for a corporate confession regarding harsh discipline.
When we met, the elders offered to privately tell anyone else who had an experience similar to mine the same things they told me. Basically it's all true about the culture of abusive discipline, but we're not sorry as a church. None of the hardliners are left. The church and school are a new place, and none of this supposedly happens anymore. However, they will not put any of this in writing, either to me or the church, will not produce a report for the congregation, or proactively seek out anyone hurt in similar ways. Thats up to me. So that's what I'm doing. Not just at church creek but anywhere fundamentalist christian right churches abused children as part of their grand strategy for taking back America.
I am launching FloggedToo as an ongoing gospel mission to confront churches with institutional sin, demand (not litigate like they're afraid we might) public repentance and restitution for PTSD, support survivors with grants for counseling and medical bills, and persuade parents not to flog their kids no matter what supposed religious "elders" say.
Much more to come...