Evangelical Christianity and Controlling the Language

Evangelical Christianity and Controlling the Language June 3, 2019
A sign seen outside of a hotel in Monteverde. It’s more important not to leave your values in the car than your valuables. Fits with our word pondering.

By now I’m sure you’ve seen we have a new filter in place on the comments here. I heard this morning that the filter happened to cut down on spam and also to be in compliance with Google Ads policies concerning content with obscene language. It has nothing to do with the fact that Patheos hosts religious content.

If your comments end up in moderation due to the new filter just sit tight. I’ll approve them when I can. Hopefully in the next few days they’ll tweak the filter to more accurate. It’s hard to discuss issues of sexual abuse, Quiverfull and women’s issues when the words “Rape,” “Uterus,” “Vagina” are flagged. The tweaking that needs to happen will remove words from the list like “Blow” and “Job” yet keep “Blowjob” I had started a list of flagged words as they pop up in comments so we’re know what not to say.

Being that NLQ has the best readers spam has never been a problem here. The readers tend to flag spam and put in the moderator queue immediately for me to deal with. In fact I’ve laughed over much of what ends up in that box. Nigerian spammers still haven’t mastered the art of correct language usage, tipping off anyone that might take them seriously that it’s just another Nigerian scam. See more about Nigerians and their various permutations at 419 Eater.

I ran up against this a couple of months ago at Jerks 4 Jesus. Google spanked me for colorful vulgarity and refused to pay any of the ad revenue. I removed Google ads because a) the money coming in was a few pennies occasionally, not enough to make a difference. and b) I’d rather have the freedom to say what I would without some very prissy bean counter at Google pearl clutching over the language used. None of this has ever been about money for me, unlike some once associated with this site.

Let me get something straight. I love language, even colorful vulgarities, nasty dirty words by the world’s standards. Sometimes I think about the historical context of some of those words, and how usage has changed through the years. How words change from culture to culture. Rarely am I offended by the word usage of others.

This led me to start thinking about the tendency of cults to both inhibit language and control all conversation. How many times have we seen churches, particularly some of the Baptist and Independent churches change wording and acceptable language in the midst of a sexual abuse scandal? Restricting language is a slippery slope even while there are legitimate reasons to do so.

Don’t like that people are talking about someone raping a teen or a child? Reframe it as harmless discipline, or a consensual encounter, fight hard with anyone that tries to refer to the incident any other way. Tell your people that they’ll be kicked out if they don’t forgive, and forget this consensual encounter, or call it by another name. After all pastor/youth leader/bus driver So N So is so so so sorry and repentant. Sweep it all under the rug.

This is what abusers do to strip sexual assault victims of any power, to denigrate and deny what happened. To make it all go away. To shut them up. To make them go away. We see it again and again. Bruce Gerenscer writes about it often, as does Hemant Mehta of The Friendly Atheist.

High demand environments love their coded language. We’ve seen more of this wholesale control of public language everywhere since President Trump was elected, to the point where certain government agencies are now censoring language used in scientific reports.

Do you know who else loved to restrict languages and words? Every single dictatorship and petty autocrat that ever existed. Name anyone, from Adolph Hitler to Charlie Manson, and you’ll find restricted speech and coded languages along with the violence and repression.

While some slight censorship is sometimes necessary to keep a safe and polite environment what the church has been up to lately falls more within the purview of the Stalins and  Hitlers, it’s just to protect themselves from rightfully earned criticisms.  And that’s just not right.


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About Suzanne Titkemeyer
Suzanne Titkemeyer went from a childhood in Louisiana to a life lived in the shadow of Washington D.C. For many years she worked in the field of social work, from national licensure to working hands on in a children's residential treatment center. Suzanne has been involved with helping the plights of women and children' in religious bondage. She is a ordained Stephen's Minister with many years of counseling experience. Now she's retired to be a full time beach bum in Tamarindo, Costa Rica with the monkeys and iguanas. She is also a thalassophile. She also left behind years in a Quiverfull church and loves to chronicle the worst abuses of that particular theology. She has been happily married to her best friend for the last 32 years. You can read more about the author here.

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