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.
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.