Friday, August 30, 2013

Stand Strong For God?

My 3 year old daughter goes to a preschool/daycare that is associated with a moderate-liberal church.  Its not insular, they accept anyone and the children reflect the diversity of the area.  It's one of the few good examples I can see of secular community outreach.  They do include Christian lessons in the curriculum, but it is positive (no original sin or hell).  My daughter loves to learn and sing the songs, something I enjoyed about church.  They had vacation bible school (VBS) for the older kids this summer and my daughter picked up on some of the songs that they brought in for the little ones.  One of the lyrics she sang had something about "standing strong for god".  This was interesting to me and we talked about why it is that god would needs kids to stand for him.  Anyhow, I wondered what the biblical basis was for standing strong for god and sure enough the whole VBS is a program that churches can buy/use, surely the material would make it clear.

Here's the link:

The banner says "Kingdom Rock: Where Kids Stand Strong for God".

They have a nice daily breakdown, so lets have a look.

Day 1:
Bible Point: God’s love 
helps us stand strong.
Bible Verse: "I love you, Lord; 
you are my strength." 
(Psalm 18:1)
Bible Story: David writes about 
God's love. (Psalm 23)
Ok, so god's love gives us strength to stand strong.  This seems a bit circular: God's love helps us stand strong for god.  I suppose god could be using believers as "love to standing strength" transmogrifiers.

Day 2:
Bible Point: Family and friends 
help us stand strong.
Bible Verse: "So encourage 
each other and build each 
other up." (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
Bible Story: Mordecai 
encourages Esther to do 
the right thing. (Esther 1–9)
Actually, this one sounds fine, if you just drop the "for god" implication.  Helping one another is good and, to me at least, as powerful of a drive as food, sex, sleep, etc.

Day 3:
Bible Point: Prayer helps us 
stand strong.
Bible Verse: "Don’t worry about 
anything; instead, pray about 
everything." (Philippians 4:6)
Bible Story: Nehemiah 
perseveres to rebuild the 
wall around Jerusalem. 
(Nehemiah 1–6)
And who are these prayers directed to?  Who answers prayers?  I think that's god again and it just seems silly to pray to god, to ask for strength to stand, when you're supposed to be helping god by providing your own standing strength.

Day 4:
Bible Point: Trusting God 
helps us stand strong.
Bible Verse: "Trust in the Lord 
always, for the Lord God is the 
eternal Rock." (Isaiah 26:4)
Bible Story: Jesus dies 
and comes back to life. 
(Luke 22:39–24:12)
Ok, now I'm just confused.  If god is an eternal rock of strength, why the hell are kids being asked to stand strong for god?  Does god want us to be strong rocks?

Day 5:
Bible Point: The Bible 
helps us stand strong.
Bible Verse: "Your word is a 
lamp to guide my feet and a 
light for my path." (Psalm 119:105)
Bible Story: King Josiah follows 
God’s way. (2 Kings 22:1–23:23)

It just wouldn't be VBS without an affirmation of biblical authority.  Because what would the bible be if it didn't say in there that it's the word of god.

Of course it's ridiculous to take what Christians say at face value without understanding the subtext.  One subtext of this is that they know these kids are growing up in the Information Age, where they are going to be exposed to criticism of their beliefs.  They aren't standing strong for god, they're being asked to stand strong for their parent's and pastor's beliefs.  How about we teach these kids to stand strong for themselves, stand strong for their fellow humans, stand strong for their own morals?  God doesn't need their strength, they do.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Rape Culture, Believing the Victim

UpdateGreta has a great post making the case that it's denialism, not skepticism, that those who don't believe victims are practicing.  If I had read Greta's post beforehand, I wouldn't even had bothered writing the below. :o)

One of the issues surrounding rape culture is that the default position is to not believe the claims of the victim of rape (or sexual assault or sexual harassment).  It's clear that those who have bought into this immoral meme don't hold the same default position when presented with claims of other violations (theft, non-sexual assault, etc).  Why do these people think that rape victims aren't to be believed?  The below are a few thoughts on why this is the case.  Obligatory trigger warning here, this is from my male perspective, and while I've tried to avoid specific situational language, I don't have the perspective to know that I've avoided it completely.

The first thing that comes to my mind is the nature of rape and other sexual crimes.  Sexual consent is usually a very personal transaction.  There can often be a lack of documentation or other hard evidence of consent, or the lack there of, save the testimony of the victim.  Outside of undocumented contract law (verbal "hand shake" contract, of which sexual consent is one), most other crime victims can more easily produce non-testimonial evidence of the crime.  This said, most people are fine taking the word of victims of other crimes without demanding that they provide all of the evidence presented to a judge/jury to simply believe the victim based on their testimony.

The second thing is ignorance of the prevalence of sexual crime.  Let's start with the facts; in the US one in six women will be a victim of rape or attempted rape in their lifetime (  That's pretty staggering.  But why is rape culture seemingly ignorant of this?  The first thing is that the one in six number doesn't reflect most people anecdotal evidence from the women in their lives (friends, family, coworkers, etc).  This isn't surprising as most crime victims don't like to talk about it, for both personal and social reasons.  On top of the negative emotion that all (sexual or not) crime victims experience, there is added pressure from the rape culture itself for rape victims to keep silent; it's circular, self reinforcing.  A side factor here is the misconception that false rape claims are significant enough to warrant not believing the victims, of which there isn't great data to assume it's any larger than the rates of false non-sexual crime claims (read here

The third factor is the gender issue.  91% of rape victims are female and 99% of rapists are male (  The fact that nearly all rapists are men and almost all victims are female does highlight a rather huge divide in gender.  Regardless of the fact that an overwhelming majority of men aren't rapists (4-6%, which while small is still significant, the simple fact that the rapists are men can cause men to become emotional and defensive when the issue of rape is discussed.  If you're in denial that men are responsible for nearly all rape, not believing the victim fits the world view of that delusion.

The bottom line is that claims of rape, or other sexual crimes, aren't extraordinary and there is simply no rational reason to not believe a victim by default.  Rape culture is simply wrong about this and it's protecting rapists and further victimizing rape victims.

From Jim C. Hines: