Monday, November 19, 2007

Seduction... Religion

Churches, internet, schools, sports teams.

Where ever the girls, the teenagers and the young adults are, they can be seduced.

As both Sara Robinson and Maggie Jochild make clear, all hell is starting to break loose among the Baptists.

I add my voices to their two, making us a trio talking of religions in trouble. Except in my case, I was raised Mormon.

(Mom... you may not want to read this post. Seriously.

But none of this was either your doing, or anything you could have stopped. It was the culture of the times, and of the church I was raised in.)

Sexualized at age seven in Amherst, Mass, about a month apart, by both a guy who was somewhere between 16 & 20, and a girl of about 10, I lost my virginity in Europe at age 12. I immediately turned around and started seducing everyone I could. I continued to do so until my suicide attempt at 43, when it became more-or-less all at once obvious to me that a life lived as I had lived it, lying to everyone, in pursuit solely of getting laid, was a life I was unwilling to live (and could see absolutely no way to do anything else.)

That was five and a half years ago. And yes, thank you; I am fine now. No, I wasn't magically cured. It was a long, hard road, and it included some rough times, relapses and some major problems along the way. It was not pretty. Eventually, slowly, I got better. And then I got well. *smiles*

How many church girls did I seduce? I don't know. Lots. How many times did I go to my Bishops and ask for their help? Many. They took names. They always asked specifically who had I been with, getting very specific as to what we had done down to details which made even me, uncomfortable. But I said to myself, "It's my Bishop, ordained by God. And they ALL ask me the same questions. 'How I touched her, where I touched her, how many times...' It must be God's will."

The only Bishop I never went to about these issues was the primary one I had growing up -- my best friend's father. I would have felt too weird. Now, as a full grown-up, I regret that. He was one of the few sane adults in my life, and probably would have given me straight advice.

I walked out of the Mormon church never to look back, at 22. Not that it really matters to this post, but my current religious practice is a syncretistic blend drawing from Zen Buddhism, Advaita Hinduism, and both ancient and modern religious rituals, as well as modern insights into biology, historical practices, and language. The basics are: Take care of people. Safe space. Pay attention. Communicate. Think for your self. All in daily living. (As if there were some other kind of living. *smiles*)

At least half of all Mormon girls I personally knew growing up, had sexual activity of some kind before they were 18. The whole culture was about repressed sexuality -- it was everywhere. Which I guess explains Utah's high teen birthrate. They suppress sexual education, tell the children not to do "those things", and then are all surprised when kids do what kids do. With four kids and all their friends around, I know what kids do.

After the Baptists, the next major high-SDO religion to get clobbered by these accusations Sara and Maggie speak of, may well be the Mormons.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be a much tighter nut to crack. You're either in the Mormon Church, or you're out, which makes it much, much harder for people to leave. Unlike the Baptists, where you can drift away and at least find yourself with another Christian religion. For the Mormons, they've been taught since Day 1, all other religions are wrong; theirs is the only true way. Thus the betrayal has to be especially brutal, and the Mormons are willing to forgive and cover up almost anything, in order to get their promised Eternal Glory in the Celestial Kingdom, and not be separated from their friends and family.

My own very best friends from childhood still don't know I left the Mormon Church. And even if they suspect, we simply don't talk of it. Even if they were to know, it isn't something I think any of us would ever bring up with their parents, though frankly, their parents -- my second parents -- would understand better than anyone.

Is there sexual abuse within the ranks of the Mormons? Yes. Do I know of it directly? Yes. Would I say so under oath? Yes. But that almost isn't the point. Unlike the Catholics and Southern Baptists, I don't think the Mormons have a lot of Bishops and Branch Presidents preying on their charges. Their system had way too many checks and balances for that to not be caught, early on. I think.

What the Mormons have is an enormous amount of predation of older guys on younger girls. Guys in their twenties just back from their missions hooking up with girls in their early teens and it's considered fine or at least, culturally understood because they are "Elders". But also, molestation of young girls from about 5-10 by the usual suspects: older brothers and teen friends of the family, many of whom were themselves sexualized young. It runs generation to generation and is accepted as simply the way it is.

None of it is getting reported (at least, it didn't used to be.) It was ALL managed through the Bishops. And since I've not heard a goddamn thing, not a hint of a peep of a murmur of the LDS community anywhere having any sexual scandal, I'm going to say it still isn't being reported -- at least not in any way which anyone links through the LDS connection, if indeed, it is being reported, which I strongly doubt.

This is almost off-topic, but not quite. Someone should run an analysis of how many freshman girls (17-18 years old) enter BYU or Ricks College, only to drop out after one year because they've met a returned missionary (21 - 23 years old) who has swept them off their feet and married them, taking them out of college and into the kitchen. Just curious. I'm sure it's less now than 30 years ago. But I wonder what the percentage is. MUCH greater than in the general population. These are the cultural boundaries at which I'm pointing.

Perhaps a magic sex fairy has sprinkled pixie dust over their entire culture and all of a sudden they are "pure" since I was a kid. And perhaps Tinker Bell is real and Peter Pan truly takes little boys to Neverland. Or, um, that's the Catholics. With the Mormons it would be Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, with Alice, the eternally seducible pure young girl. Who is just a bit naughty.

Read Sara & Maggie.

Then breathe. All things in time.

It's been a generation's work to deal with the Catholics. It will be perhaps half a generation to deal with the Baptists. Everything has its season. And all good things come to those who wait.

I am of two minds about the following... I wrote it just as I was about to hit the Post button. And then sat here for ten minutes deciding if I should include it. It really doesn't go with the rest of the post.

An open Mormon church, easy with its sexuality, welcoming of people truly in Christ's name, committed to social justice and the ecology, with its already existing formidable missionary skills. THEY could sweep the Western world in a wave of conversions picking up the lost souls from churches too timid to change. Just as in the late 1970's, under enormous pressure the Mormons changed their stance on blacks having the priesthood. And now, almost 30 years later, half their membership is of color. Not here in the United States of course. But around the world. Taking the jump paid off. We shall see if they have any balls.