Money Where Our Mouth Is: Five Things Pro Life People Can Do For Rape Victims

Platitudes are for the lazy ones.

Those of us who actually want to do something to help other people are often left floundering at the gate by platitude profferers. Our desire to help and heal dissipates in the wallow of insincerity and we go back to our internet-browsing. That’s what will probably happen with the media storm over Congressman Akins’ remarks about rape. People will wear out their outrage by being outraged and nobody will help anybody at all.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

If you are not one of the lazy ones, if you do want to help heal our culture, here are five suggestions.

Money Where Our Mouth Is:  Five Things Pro Life People Can Do For Rape Victims

1. Preach from the pulpit that rape is a sin. I was the spark plug behind the Day of Prayer for an End to Violence Against Women here in Oklahoma. As far as I know, that’s the first action of this kind, anywhere. My reason? I’d been sitting in pews for years, and I had never heard even one sermon, one homily, one aside, saying that rape is a sin.

When I brought this up in speeches to women’s groups, the result was invariably a firestorm of “right-ons,” “you-said-its” and “amens.” When I tried to talk to clergy about it, they either got angry with me for daring to question them, or they started talking about the evils of abortion.

That situation inspired the Day of Prayer for an End to Violence Against Women. The plan was to get the heads of denominations, as opposed to rank and file clergy, to come to a luncheon and sign a pledge against violence against women.

I don’t think it would have gotten off the ground except for my own wonderful religious leader, Archbishop Eusebius Beltran. Archbishop Beltran said yes immediately. His name had enough mojo with the other heads of Oklahoma denominations that they started signing on.

Archbishop Beltran also wrote a pastoral letter speaking out against violence against women from a theological standpoint. Father (now Bishop) Anthony Taylor came up with the idea of having the laity in all our parishes sign a petition proclaiming their support for an end to violence against women. The Priest Council, with Archbishop Beltran’s full support, got behind this and we ended up with over 20,000 signatures.

But the key thing from my perspective was that I finally got to hear a sermon saying that rape was a sin.

I remember Archbishop Beltran’s face as well as that of my own pastor. They neither one said it out loud, but you could see it in their expressions: That’s all you want? For us to say that rape is a sin?

The answer is yes. That’s what I want. I don’t know when clergy got so diffident about things like sin and hell, but they need to get over it. Rape is a sin. It is a mortal sin and those who do it can go to hell for it.

The Church needs to use its moral and prophetic voice to tell people that violence against women in general and rape in particular are sins. It may sound obvious, but we live in a culture that gives such mixed messages on this that it is absolutely essential. If you are a priest or pastor, nuff said. If you are a pew-sitter like me, maybe you should raise the issue with your pastor.

2. Agitate for laws that lock monsters up and keep them there.I know that this one is going to get me in bad with a lot of people. But so far as I’m concerned rapists are one of the best reasons for prisons that I know.

3. Agitate for laws that support and help pregnant women. Over on Slactivist, Fred Clark wrote a post on August 10 criticizing pro-life groups because they aren’t supporting the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (HR 5647.) The legislation intrigued me. I think I may author a similar bill on the state level. I had the staff at the Oklahoma House of Representatives analyze the bill looking for abortion funding or some such hiding under its skirts. There is none.

What that means is that while Mr Clark and I obviously disagree on the issue of abortion, we both support this piece of legislation and would like to see it become law. I don’t think that his criticism of “pro-life groups” is well-taken, btw. Most of these groups operate within a laser-like focus on legislation that directly affects the sanctity of human life. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, while it certainly will help create a climate that will allow women to chose life for their babies and is thus pro-life, does not deal directly with abortion, embryonic stem-cell research and euthanasia. Political action groups have to focus if they are going to be effective.

I know from personal experience that the leaders and members of these same groups do support legislation of this type as individuals. They’ve helped me when I tried to pass it in the past.

In my opinion, the reason this legislation is being ignored by pro life people in Congress is that they can get away with it. No organized group that put them in office is pushing them on it. More to the point, they are against it (although most of them wouldn’t admit this in public) because the corporations who paid for their campaigns and who own them almost like indentured servants don’t want it.

It so happens that the party which is the most completely owned by corporations (notice, I said the most owned; both parties are to some extent.) is the Republican Party. Those who get elected by saying they are pro-life also tend to be Republican. That means that so-called “pro-life” members of Congress are the ones most likely to oppose this bill.

This also means that pro-life people are especially well-placed to advocate for this and similar pieces of legislation. After all, whose votes put these birds in office in the first place? Write them a letter. Then, check and see if they tell you the truth when they answer.

4. Donate to your local rape crisis center. 

5. When a political candidate comes to your door, sends you a survey, or asks you for a donation, tell them that you want them to do something to help rape victims. It’s ok — in fact, it’s good — to tell them that you are pro-life and pro-woman. Then follow through by asking him or her later what they did in this regard.

I could go on with this. I could tell you that when you talk to political candidates about this, they may lie to you. But you already know that, don’t you?

We’ll deal with that issue later. For now, it’s enough that you look at the Money Where Our Mouth Is list and pick out one thing that you’d like to do to help rape victims.

We are pro-life. That means we want to heal our culture. These are baby steps, but real steps, down that path.

  • Mr. V.

    Thanks for posting this, Rebecca. Rape is indeed something we need to come down strongly against. It’s also a sin and a crime that seems to be growing all the time. Here in Kansas, there’s a public website where one can plug in their address and see what sexual offenders are living in their area after being released from prison. It’s scary just how many there are, and many of them are repeat offenders.
    I agree with you, we need to have strict and non-negotiable punishments for rape. But in my opinion, there’s a much bigger war necessary to be fought in order to stop or at least lessen the incidences of rape. Rape, in my opinion, is one of the symptoms of the sickness prevalent in our nation, as far as sex goes. The proliferation of pornography, that conditions men and boys to view women as objects, needs to be pushed back down into the sewer from which it emerged. Rap music, and other styles as well, that glorify treating women in a horrible fashion needs to be criticized, publicly and by every sector of society. I could go on and on. There’s just too much stuff out there, in every form of media across the land, that portrays women as nothing more than sexual objects. People need to cry out against this unhealthy flood of sexual imagery. And as much as I hate to say it, we need to stop allowing pornographers to stop peddling their filth under the protection of the First Amendment. I agree strongly in Freedom of Speech, but I think we have allowed the envelope to be pushed to an unacceptable extreme. The point of that freedom was to allow people to speak up, to be able to criticize and censure the government when needed without fear of retaliation. It was not for the purpose of filling our cities with filth.

    Whew. I’ll stop here before I end up posting a whole essay as a comment. :D

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      I think you are absolutely right. Thank you for this “essay.” It’s a spot on.

  • Amanda Castro

    Well said. There are many pastors who will turn a blind eye to violence against women and find it easy to preach on mainstream topics, if they even do that.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Amanda, I don’t know why this is, but it is true.

  • Karyl Entner

    Before you said, “write a letter” I had alway made note of that and the bill number. The “news” is all about the economy, economy, economy, and these really important issues lie buried and slip through when no one is looking. I’m going to find out. My rep, I think, will vote correctly on this, but I want to make sure he hears my voice. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Karyl, it’s great of you to do that! Thank you.

  • Jessica Hoff

    What a good post – and full of excellent practical suggestions. Thank you Rebecca.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Thank you Jessica.

  • Manny

    Rebecca, are you aware of a specific Catholic charity that focuses on rape? I’d certainly like to help.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Manny I googled “catholic charities rape” and came up with a whole page of rape crisis centers and rape hotlines run by Catholic Charities. That’s a good place to start. Thank you — very much — for asking!

  • Angela Young

    I had to click on your first post on patheos from Google reader and then unsubscribe from your other site and subscribe to this one, but I’m here. I’m glad I figured it out :) Great post. Angie

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Glad you made it Angie. Welcome aboard!

  • Neenergyobsever

    OK, Rebbeca, A little disagreement but, not much with a really good article.
    1. Of course, when our churches don’t preach against sin, they are no longer churches, they are socoal clubs. I don’t know enough to have an opinion on the Catholic Church but the Lutheran Church is infamous for this. It needs to change.
    2. Again of course, crime of violence need to be punished, and we’re not getting the job done.
    3. Here I have some problems, as a business guy, I think its very good businesss to do this, if your employees are so useless that you can do without them for 90 days, they shouldn’t be there. My problems are these: We’re already buried in regulation, I’m in a small (<10 employee) business and I spend ~30% of my time filling out government forms. Some businesses are better but some are worse. It's taking too much productve time. Second, like most stuff coming out of Congress this bill let's the regulators decide what needs to be done, maybe it would be all right if Congress really would do oversight but, they don't. If they are not willing to write clear, objective rules for the agency to enforce, the agency will construe to do the worst they can do to a business. And small businesses no longer, if they ever did, have the resources to comply. It hurts amall businesses far more than large, and jobs mostly come from small business.

    4 and 5 Sure, I already do!

    Good article, good ideas, just a bit less government meddling.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      The solution to #3 is easy. Exempt small businesses of 100 employees or less. Not the ideal solution for everyone, but workable. I agree about handing things over to agency regulators who aren’t elected and not answerable to the people. That’s how we got the HHS Mandate. If I move forward with this bill on a state level, I may get back to you for input as I’m putting it together.

      • Neenergyobsever

        Although it goes against my philosophical beliefs, that is a solution I can live with. And yes the healthcare mandate and the EPA is what has made me so aware of the propensities of regulators.

        I am at your service, of course.

        • Rebecca Hamilton

          “Although it goes against my philosophical beliefs, that is a solution I can live with. ”

          Welcome to politics, my friend!

  • D’Nea Smith

    Awesome post!!! Thank you for the information! I’ve shared your post on both Twitter and Facebook.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Thank D’Nea!

  • Marisa Bernard

    At the conclusion of your article, I turned to my husband and asked him if he ever remembers a sermon on “rape is sin.” Neither of us had (Both raised in the church… husband Catholic and me Protestant). My husband’s theory is that most pastors don’t preach about rape is sin because they believe people already know rape is wrong, just as they know murder is wrong (even the rapist and murderer know what they do is wrong). Pastors tend to gravitate to topics such a promiscuity, adultery, and pornography because these are the areas many sitting in the pews struggle with. The vilest of sin tend to go hand in hand with some sort of addictive behaviors and grave mental issues that won’t be resolved by a message on sin on Sunday morning… I’d love your thoughts on this, Rebecca.

    Also, I am baffled that pro-lifers would oppose the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act because those who “own” them oppose it… advocating for legislation they ignore and oppose… who in the world can we trust? How can I vote in confidence knowing I’m making an informed decision? I get so tired of politicians playing us for the fools… it’s truly maddening!

    I’m so thankful we found one another, Rebecca! Thank-YOU for being forthright and sharing with integrity!


    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Thank you Marisa. I’m glad you’re here.
      One thing: You’d be surprised how many rapists try to justify what they do; also how many others are willing to do it for them. Consider the case of Roman Polanski. That’s why the Church needs to speak out.

  • Biltrix

    I think that a lot of what you have said here can be summed up with the word educate. Our culture avoids addressing the gravity of this issue with more than just talk, because most people either shun it off as taboo or they don’t feel that it touches them. People need to be made aware that it does touch them. We don’t like to hear it, but we live in a sick culture. The more it goes without being properly addressed the more the remedy will become more intolerable than the sickness itself.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      I agree!

  • Wendy Macdonald

    Thanks again for bringing up a topic that needs to be brought up. I don’t know what the statistics are but I bet everyone knows someone who has been molested or raped. That alone is a reason this topic should be addressed more often. There’s a lot of hurting people out there that need our support.
    ~ Wendy

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Thank you Wendy. You are so right.

  • adrienne warren

    umm well a day of prayer is nice but, as a rape survivor, (I had the morning after pill after my rape, my mother didn’t have that option. All my life the first expression on my mothers face when she sees me is a wince of pain, I guess I look too much like him) my mothers mother was raped by the priest she cleaned house for, she gave up the baby for adoption (my mom). 3 generations of raped women, Keep praying cause so far it has done little good. How about demanding health care, housing, child care help, mental health care and support (not just the ohh goody you get to be a saint and bare all the pain the rapist gives and the pain of child birth and the pain of seeing the face of your rapist every day in your child or you can bare all that pain and give joy to another happier family while you well everyone loves the woman who gives up her child for adoption, so long as she disappears forever after giving birth. No your not the “Real” mother, just the bio womb, honored so long as faceless and nameless and never ever asking ‘what about me? Cause that just makes you a selfish cow. sorry to rant but a whole lot of pain talking. And that’s my point. In all the talk about abortion and rape seems the only pain no one talks about is mine, my mothers, my grandmothers. All I ever hear from the pro life crowd (And I have a huge huge long long list of choice quotes ) is 1. questioning the woman if her rape was violent enough to be rape, 2. Blaming the woman for getting raped in the first place. and many many many offering such sage advice as ‘just relax and enjoy it. to Give thanks to God for the rapist giving the woman the gift of life.

    What other then prayer and platitudes what really do you have to offer real help to real women in real pain? Hey here’s a thought just for one, next time you talk about rape and abortion why not try talking about the lives of women not just their wombs and the baby. A woman’s life does not end at conception.