Rachel Dolezal, the white woman who pretended to be black, was a victim of extreme Christian indoctrination and Young Earth Creationism as a child.
Dolezal, the disgraced former NAACP leader, is currently at the center of a media firestorm after being exposed as a white woman posing as a black woman. However, what is not being widely reported is the physical, mental, and intellectual abuse Dolezal suffered as a child.
Dolezal is a victim of her parents radical Christian extremism.
Reports indicate that Dolezal grew up in an abusive home where corporal punishment was common, and access to TV, books, and other outside influences was strictly limited; a home where dinner was denied until the Bible was read; a home where the parents spoke in tongues and treated the adoption of additional children as a means of evangelism and proof of their extreme faith.
Reverb Press reports Dolezal’s parents, Ruthanne and Larry Dolezal, are Young Earth creationists. In fact, Larry once worked for Creation Ministries International, which is run by Ken Ham, the celebrity Young Earth creationist and Christian fundamentalist behind the infamous Creation Museum.
Before the scandal, in an interview with The Easterner, Dolezal discussed her extreme Christian upbringing and abuse, explaining that her parents abused her and her four adopted black siblings with a “baboon whip.”
Speaking of the abuse suffered at the hands of her extreme Christian parents, Dolezal said:
It’s a painful thing to talk about my childhood.
The physical abuse of children is common among extreme conservative Christians like Young Earth creationists. In such homes discipline is often confused with corporal punishment and beatings, and often those beatings involve a “rod,” or some other implement beside the hand.
In fact, many Young Earth creationists feel unable to make moral decisions without divine guidance. The man who Dolezal’s father went to work for and supported when she was a child, Ken Ham, recently argued that without God’s guidance there would be nothing preventing him from sexually abusing children or animals.
Ham is not unique among Young Earth creationists in his self-reported inability to engage in moral reasoning without the crutch of an imaginary God. Recently another leader of the Young Earth creationist movement, Eric Hovind, argued that if evolution is true, it wasn’t wrong for Josh Duggar to sexually assault little girls, including his sisters, “because what one evolved bag of molecules does to another bag of molecules just doesn’t really matter.”
Growing up in such an emotionally and intellectually confusing and threatening environment is difficult for any child. To be taught the patently false notion that the earth is only 6,000 years old, that the Biblical flood is an actual historical event, and all the other attending nonsense associated with such radical and extreme views does real damage to children struggling to distinguish reality from the fantasies of their deluded parents.
While the emotional, intellectual, and physical abuse Dolezal suffered as a child at the hands of her Christian extremist parents is no excuse for her deception and dishonest behavior, it may be useful in trying to explain and understand her actions.
After all, being raised in the upside down, backwards world of a Young Earth creationist or similar Christian extremist home must have devastating effects on any child. The fact is children are vulnerable, and lack the emotional and intellectual tools to process and come to terms with their parents profound failure to understand and accept the world as it is given.
To be indoctrinated and brainwashed at such a young age would be a difficult hardship for any child, and perhaps for Rachel Dolezal, it proved too much. Escaping the ugly world of her parents’ Christian extremism, Dolezal may have reinvented herself, exchanging one fantasy world for another.
(For more on this story, see Love, Joy, Feminism)