|SNAP Statement Regarding Bishop Long of Atlanta
September 22, 2010
Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
We hope that anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered misdeeds by Pastor Long will come forward, get help, call police, expose wrongdoing, protect others and start recovering. If you have information that would either prove or disprove these allegations, it is your moral and civic duty to speak up now.
Regardless of what happens with the pending lawsuit against Long, this case should remind us all that sexual predators are often powerful, charismatic and well-loved. It would be comforting if those who preyed on the vulnerable were obvious social misfits whose appearance would somehow set off alarm bells and give us ‘the willies’ or ‘the creeps.’ They rarely do. Usually, predators are among the last people we would suspect of sexually violating others. At a party, the predator isn’t some oddball sitting alone in a corner because others feel uncomfortable with him. Most often, the predator is the guy throwing the party.
We must overcome the dangerous myth that because someone is successful or warm or caring, he or she “couldn’t have done that!”
Finally, some will likely minimize Long’s alleged misconduct by noting that, in the eyes of the law, his accusers are technically adults. In our view, that’s sorely misguided.
An educated, allegedly holy man who holds the revered title of minister or priest cannot ever have truly consensual and/or healthy sexual contact (whether once or repeatedly) with a congregant. It is always morally wrong and psychologically harmful, no matter how young or old the congregant is.
Ministers always hold an exalted position, and when they have any sexual involvement with parishioners, it is always wrong and hurtful.
In any religious setting, there is an inherent power imbalance between clergy and church members. It is like a doctor-patient or therapist-client relationship, where any sexual contact is expressly forbidden. And for good reason: because it almost always results in devastation, with individuals and with congregations.
It's the duty of church officials to help congregants understand this. And it’s the duty of lawmakers to both help prevent this egregious and hurtful misconduct and to help those who suffer from it expose predators, get healing and achieve justice. The clearest and easiest way to do this is to reform archaic, arbitrary an predator friendly laws that don’t acknowledge this reality.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 22 years and have more than 9,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
Contact David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, SNAPclohessy@aol.com), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, SNAPblaine@gmail.com), Peter Isely (414-429-7259, email@example.com), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)
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