Child mistreatment in the name of God

Child mistreatment in the name of God
Wednesday December 21, 2005

Dear Dr. Miller:
A psychologist recently recommended your books to me and I’m reeling from the information. THANK-YOU. For days I have not been able to put them down. I feel so full of energy and awareness. The question I have is about religion. I have longed considered myself a “cultural Catholic” which means I don’t believe in many of the “rules” that come from the Vatican, however, I enjoy the drama of the liturgy, the deconstruction of the New Testament, the rituals and the sense of community. It seems to be one of the few institutions that teaches us to care for those less fortunate. I have found a congregation at the local university that is blessed by an enlightened priest who speaks of compassion and not sin, damnation and right and wrong. His homilies are always personal and nuanced. I have insisted that my three young children attend Mass while at the same time I have been open to them about those things I do not believe in. I have told them that they can make their own decisions on whether to attend mass when they are older. I’m starting to wonder whether this is a healthy approach. Is this too confusing to my young children???? Are they integrating unhealthy attitudes about obedience etc despite my more open approach to Church dogma??? I have tried other faiths without any real connection. cheers,

P.S. I’m not certain if your books covered this aspect of forgiveness but in my family their was a distinct air of superiority if you could forgive someone – the more terrible the crime the more enlightened you were if you forgave them. Also, the mandate to forgive and “turn the other cheek” is a gender-based edict. As a very young girl I was stunned by how women were forever forgiving and turning the other cheek while men just went about their business and had very firm boundaries about how they wanted to be treated.

AM: I read your letter twice but couldn’t understand what you actually want to ask me. I recently wrote a text about my feelings concerning religious philosophies and the silence around the problem of child mistreatment in the name of God. You will find it in my answer to a religious woman from Australia just here below. Maybe you would like to read it and to tell us what you think about it.