Thursday, September 28, 2006

suffer the children

*Warning this post will make some people angry. If it does, good, that is what I am aiming for. Maybe if you get angry enough you will do something besides sit on your butt.

“What God the Father considers to be pure and genuine religion is this: to take care of orphans and widows in their suffering…”
-James 1:27

Have you ever seen the remains of a suicide bomber in the aftermath? If not, I suggest you look.

Why? Because they have a commitment beyond any church in the United States. And no, they are not all insane, not by a long shot. They believe wholeheartedly that they are doing God’s will and live it until death. If only religious groups in the United States had such faith.

Faith to reach out to hurting men, women, and children. NO, I am not talking about promises to “pray” for them and then doing nothing. I know this firsthand. I was homeless a long time ago. Yet I attended a church. I asked the pastor if he knew anyone that could help me find a job. His response? “We’ll keep you in prayer.”

There is enough of doing nothing already. Too often they insist on attending church or whatever they call their building far beyond insisting that they reach out to the children dying in the streets. One has to wonder how much attending might have to do with keeping money flowing.

Does my criticism make you angry? Too bad you aren’t that angry about child abuse.

I remember a pastor I knew once. He was a nice and well educated man. But in 1987 he was making over 30 thousand dollars a year as a pastor to the church. That is probably close to 40 thousand now in today’s terms. Yet firemen, police officers, and youth workers make far less and they are the ones who work to save the dying.

The Apostle Paul is said to have walked 20,000 miles throughout the Roman Empire telling people about his beliefs. There is no documentation stating that he ever asked for “donations”. Ever. What commitment. What real commitment. I doubt there would be too many these days that would be willing to sacrifice so much for their beliefs.

Except suicide bombers.

I live in a town that has a population of less than 30,000 people. There are numerous churches costing well over $100,000 to build. Some are close the million dollar range.

Yet there is not a single women’s shelter.

I worked with a woman who was being beaten by her live in boyfriend. Who also happened to be a minister. She wanted out but had no where to go. I contacted an organization in town that is supposed to help abused women. They would not help her. You know why? Because at the moment she called she was not being beaten. A few days had passed.

That pisses me off.

This woman had no place to go because of the pathetic excuse for a boyfriend / minister had long ago separated her from her friends and family. I wonder how much money he collected on Sunday mornings in the donation box. Probably enough to pay for bandages for that lady.

Religious groups talk about commitment. But most of the time that is all it is. They spend millions of dollars sending missionaries overseas while children are being tortured right in our streets.

Few of you have any idea the kind of torture some of these kids have endured. Most of you would not be able to sleep at night if you knew. But our commitment is to the collection plate and the building fund. Not to the very purpose that religious groups are supposed to address.

Let me enlighten you. Read this and remember it the next time you think you are doing “enough” by sitting in an air conditioned million dollar auditorium.

A father describes how he abused his son:

“I was putting a large Ziploc bag over his head and taping it around his neck with black duct tape and raping him to the point that he would turn blue, pass out. At that point I would rip the bag off his head, not for fear of hurting him, but for the excitement.
After seeing him pass out and ripping the bag off his head…I’d jump up on his chest and masturbate in his face and make him suck my penis…as he started to come back awake. While he was coughing and choking I would rape him in the mouth.”

• A man shot off a teenage girl’s arm for the sexual thrill it gave him.
• A rapist of 13 year old girls preferred to anally rape them on cement floors so it would hurt more.
• A father would use lit candles to cauterize the cuts he would inflict to his daughter’s vagina and around her nipples.
• A father who knew his 9 year old daughter was afraid of the dark would tie her to a tree in the woods and allow different rapists to come into the woods and rape her in the night.
Excerpted from Anna Salter’s book, Predators: Pedophiles, Rapists and Other Sex Offenders.

That is the tip of the iceberg. And what are we doing? Spending literally tens of thousands of dollars on carpeting in the church.

I know atheists who are more committed to saving these kids than any so called holy person. We are more interested in filling seats than filling the bellies of kids. More interested in fancy decorations than in building shelters for abused women.

I remember watching some charlatan on TV going on about people needed to send him money so that he could do God’s work. On his hand, a diamond ring that had to cost in excess of $100,000.

Another TV minister with millions of dollars worth of equipment to spread his message who spent some of the donation money on hookers.

Another TV minister who actually said that if he didn’t get a million dollars in donations, God would kill him. He got that million dollars too.

There is a religious channel that anyone with cable can tune into. In the background of that show, are gold seats, fancy backdrop images, and people sitting around in fine tailored suits. All of that costing thousands of dollars. While they ask for more money from people who can’t afford it and who are easily manipulated.

I remember attending a church on the last day the old pastor was going to be there. His sermon? Admonishing people for not tithing enough. For not contributing enough money to the “church.” Translation: he was leaving because he wasn’t making enough money.

An old school friend of mine is a revival preacher. His most recent sermon talked about people’s lack of commitment to come to church 2 hours a week and sit their backsides in a pew. It is a crying shame that more emphasis, or any emphasis, was placed on people getting out of those seats and reaching the children in our communities.

Some gangs actually have their members recite prayers. Sometimes there is god-like admiration of the gang leaders. Those gang leaders are certainly willing to go out into the communities and reap their own harvest. I also did a gang seminar at a church a few years back. Not 100 feet from the church was gang graffiti. Someone isn’t doing their job there. But the gangs certainly are.

Those in the religious community are often more appalled at sex on TV than the RAPE OF CHILDREN. They are certainly more willing to do something about the TV sex than rescue children.

"The apathy of the people is enough to make every statue leap from its pedestal and hasten the resurrection of the dead."
-William Lloyd Garrison

Apathy is often disguised as feel good religion. When the point of many of these religious beliefs is supposed to be just the opposite. Yet if I were to go into a religious institution with this message, I would be the one being crucified. That already happened to someone over 2,000 years ago. He went against the money making, power hungry, religious icons of the time. He showed rage only once, when he turned tables over outside a temple protesting the use of the temple as a means to make money. And he was crucified for that.

Now the churches that arose from those lessons, have forgotten them. They have become the very things that they were supposed to be against.

Sure there are some who are fully committed to doing what they are supposed to do. And to them I say, “thank-you”. But they are far fewer in number than those who are not.

We are more concerned about the feel good music in church, the so called correct translation of a bible, the numbers of attendees than we are about the widows and orphans in need of care. We should not only be ashamed…But sickened. Those who are so concerned about "the message", the feeling they get from "feeling" righteous, yet do nothing but go to pot luck suppers and run their mouths gossiping about people with no intention of getting dirty to help others...should just shut their mouths.

Murderous groups like al-Qaeda draw in millions of dollars a year to fund a war that is trying to kill you. But they are not buying carpeting, building fancy churches, or paying ministers ridiculous amounts of money to do what they are supposed to do. Jihadist groups blow themselves up to prove their commitment to their beliefs. Our religious groups blow up their wallets to prove their commitment to apathy.

And kids are the ones suffering for it.

"But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto Me: for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven."
(Matthew 19:14)

Thursday, September 21, 2006

the world is a ghetto

“I am the mess you chose. The closet you cannot close, The devil in you I suppose. 'Cause the wounds never heal.”
-Lyrics by Staind

We make them then leave them scattered about like a childhood mess. Stash them away in a dark lonely closet. And then exorcise them like devils from our souls.

Like ghosts long forgotten they roam among us. Invisible to most, unrecognized by many, and worthless to themselves. They are the abandoned, the neglected, the abused, the shadows in the corners of our cities, our towns, and our minds.

These children are rich and poor, from “good” neighborhoods and bad. It doesn’t matter the geography the pain is all the same. They float in the streets like yesterday’s discarded newspapers. They are trampled on like old singed cigarette butts. Wasting away in a well lit wasteland. Whether their nails are dirty or manicured and polished. Their eyes adorned with make-up, glitter, or bruises. Their throats are dry from the crying that no longer comes, their tears their only means to quench a thirst that never dies. A hunger that is soul deep.

We have forgotten them. But the molesters have not. The gang leaders know well where they are. The only ones paying attention to them are the predators. And they circle them like vultures ready to descend.

They duck bullets and sometimes absorb them into their tender flesh. We duck our responsibilities and absorb nothing into our conscience. They carry scars sometimes in their flesh but always in their spirits. Their homes are sometimes shacks we wouldn’t allow our dogs to live in and sometimes they are mansions built by hands of greed. Regardless of the kind of roof over their heads, they live in a world that has become a ghetto.

We call them deviants, lost boys, and future convicts. We call them many things.

Predators call them food.

But most shamefully no one calls them at all. Their shadows are burned into memorialized graffiti covered walls, overpriced shopping malls, and sometimes on the backs of milk cartons. And like those cartons when we are finished with them, thrown into the dumpsters of our alleys and our minds.

It doesn’t matter what the name of the street they live on is called. Doesn’t matter which side of the tracks they live on. Doesn’t matter if the tracks they see run through their barrios or run over their veins. The ghetto is a state of mind not a cobweb of streets.

We forget them and they remember everything. They remember the bruises, the scars that never fade; the beds they are violated in are the beds we made. Made by our priorities of recycling cans instead of lives. Feeding dogs instead of their hearts. As we protest to release monkeys from their laboratory cages we build plenty of cages for our kids and leave them to die. We ponder as to why they rattle those cages with suicide and gunfire.

Our complacency can victimize them as much as the streets. Our world which feeds on power and greed becomes a home for kids who have nothing to live for but warfare and shots exchanged on schoolyards. We wrestle with crocodiles for the entertainment of a reality show and allow snakes to live in their playgrounds.

No matter how many “keep our streets clean” signs we put up, the world of the forgotten child is nothing more than a global garbage dump. And all the world becomes a ghetto.

We prefer paper over plastic. Cable TV for prisoners over decent school books. No child left behind, because the gangs are glad to pick them up. And as our kids line body bags, our governments line their own pockets.

And we wonder why shell casings fall in the classrooms.

While we fill our living rooms with an endless cavalcade of reality shows…Our children fill the morgues. From the streets of Boston to the backwoods surrounding Baton Rouge…

The world is a ghetto.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

What stupid sounds like

Meanwhile in Australia...

POLICE say a youth gang in Adelaide's northern suburbs that has committed almost 100 criminal acts in the past 12 months is not a "threat" to the public.,22606,20445476-5006301,00.html

You honestly would have to work hard to say something any more stupid than that.

You better wake up down under…

Friday, September 15, 2006


"The family. We were a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another's desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together."
~Erma Bombeck

My favorite Christmas was when I was about 10 or so years old. I was so excited that I remember getting up at around 3 in the morning. I got this Star Wars space ship, a bunch of action figures and tons of stuff I really loved.

My cousins from another state also came in to see us, as they usually did every Christmas. Despite being so far apart from each other, my two cousins and I were very close. We spent that day with a big family get together including a great breakfast and dinner.

Even though I grew up with my grandparents they raised me like their own.

I remember my grandmother taking me to school every morning. We were so very close and I guess I was a little too attached to her, if there is such a thing. I remember crying, not wanting to leave her in the mornings way past the age most kids would. I can’t say for sure, but I now wonder if that attachment was because my biological mother left me when I was much younger. Regardless I still had a good home life and two very loving grandparents who devoted their lives to making mine as filled with love, security, and happiness as much as possible. They were strict, but I was safe.

I remember going on family vacations, trips to Disneyworld, Chicago, and to distant relative’s homes. I remember climbing into my grandparents’ bed as a youngster when I had nightmares. I remember being sick and having them comfort me with a cool rag and soothing words. I remember the smell of a big breakfast cooking in the mornings, the smell of the early summer morning on the first day of summer break. I remember going fishing with my granddad and catching dozens of fish. I remember Easter egg hunts, birthday cakes, and playing cops and robbers with my uncle.

We all have connections. Well, most of us anyway. Our earliest memories, back to our childhood. Our first Christmas. Our 3rd birthdays. Sitting on grandpa’s lap as he tells fables and fairytales. Family dinners. Relatives long gone now. New arrivals to the family. The pitter patter of little feet. Saturday morning cartoons. Favorite breakfast cereals and hopping into bed with mom and dad on the first day of summer vacation. Crawling into momma’s bed to escape the monsters of our nightmares.

Most of us have that.

But not everyone. Many children have none of that. And some of them have memories they’d rather forget. Scars that will never go away. Scars that sometimes come back in the nighttime. Having no momma’s bed to crawl into when the nightmares come. Living a nightmare that they cannot awaken from.

Imagine no connectedness at all. Never the same family Christmas twice. Different faces for every birthday. Spending summer vacations in a group home. Calling a different foster parent “mom” every year.

Imagine having no one in the world that you have a shared history with. 6 billion people in the world and not one of them is closer to you than the lady at the check out counter.

That is what some of our young people have known their entire lives. Never knowing a “home.” Safety being a fleeting thing that is never permanent. Always a new stranger, always being the new kid in school, year after year. Making friends only to lose them again to another move. No connectedness beyond an acquaintance with a dozen different people a year.

There could be no loneliness like that most of us could comprehend. It is the stuff of bad dreams. Living on a deserted island in the middle of a crowded world. Being alone in a sea of faces. Connectedness is a meaningless word for too many children.

So they seek out connections with alcohol, drugs, violence, and gangs.

Working with these kids, I go home in the afternoons and look at my own. Sometimes I as I play with them I have to fight the urge to cry. Because I know that even though I am not the best father in the world, I am there for them. I do so greatly love them. I know that they have what so many of the kids I work with do not have. A connection. A loving home and a heart full of memories that they will take with them for the rest of their days. I think of how much I love them and couldn’t live without them and then I think of the kids I work with. How there has been no one like that for them.

And it tears me apart.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Only Stolen

Only one of many. Stolen by only a few.
Not an act of God. Not in the name of God. Not lost.
Only stolen.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Most Offensive

“You were bold and strong, and ready to begin your life
All for nothing, you were sacrificed
You began alone, and so it will be when you die
All for nothing, will you be remembered?”
- David Draiman

Political correctness, boycotts, protests. It seems like everyone is offended about something these days. Too often it is crap that doesn’t matter. Too often it is crap that isn’t that important, stuff that people pick up to make their own crusade because it makes them feel important. At the drop of the hat people make protest signs and picket places which only draw attention to what they are protesting in the first place. They want something censored or abolished and end up being a media fed free advertisement for the very thing they despise.

Sometimes people should just shut up.

There is actually an organized group self proclaimed feminists complaining about the name of a restaurant called “The Pink Taco”, saying it is vulgar, sexist and offensive to women. I had never heard of the place until they started protesting it. They just gave it free advertising. I also wonder how many of these people have ever bothered to protest about how lenient the laws are on child molesters. I guess that isn’t as much of a feminist priority as the rape of young boys and girls.

People protested at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland complaining about how KISS should be inducted.

PETA protested in Washington DC saying that eating chicken could spread bird flu. Which is not even scientifically sound.

Flight attendants, (politically incorrect to now refer to them as stewardesses) protested a movie called Flight Plan because some of the “attendants” in the movie turned out to be bad guys. I wonder why Psychiatrists didn’t protest Silence of the Lambs because Doctor Hannibal Lector was a serial killer.

People protest record stores for selling CD full of curse words, because they are too lazy to simply monitor what their kids listen to.

People protest movies saying that violent movies make kids kill. Not poor parenting, mental illness, abuse, or exposure to real violence at home mind you. It is movies and video games they say. Even though most kids never kill anyone.

People protest TV saying that the average child is exposed to 8,000 murders and 100,000 acts of violence on TV by the time he completes elementary school. Yet the “average” child never murders anyone.

Protest, protest, protest. Pseudo-hippies, wannabe activists, attention seeking, “cause” needing, junk science educated idiots.

Here is what is offensive to me…and what should be offensive to everyone. Here is what people should really be protesting. Something that isn’t easy to fix, so people are afraid to try.

People are more offended at the phrase, “fuck you” than they are at the fact that 1 in 4 girls will be sexually molested before the age of 18 in our society.

People are more offended at fake violence on TV than they are at the fact that the average pedophile will molest between 50 and 150 children. People are more offended at the abuse of animals than the fact that the total number of children reported for suspicion of child abuse and neglect in 1998 was 3,154,000. OVER 3 MILLION!!!

It is offensive that in 1866, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) was formed a full 9 years BEFORE the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty for Children was founded in 1875. (The first child protective agency in the world.)

And yet we can’t seem to figure out why kids are going into schools and shooting each other to death.

We cannot seem to figure out why there continues to be an ever exploding gang population. We cannot seem to figure out why kids in foster care, in group homes, and in residential facilities are aggressive, defiant, and sometimes violent. We see reports of youth violence and hear the media drum the same old line of “motive unknown”. We know the motive, if we would just open our eyes. If we would just prioritize what is really important.

Saving the whales, conservation, and speaking your mind is fine. But if our kids continue to be victimized, tortured, forgotten by the system, and used as sexual fodder then there will be no youth left to enjoy all that we have fought so hard to “save.”

I work with these kids every day. I see pain in their eyes that most people cannot fathom. I see and hear things that most people would find nearly unbelievable. Because they don’t want to think that people can be so cruel. They don’t want to acknowledge that monsters do exist and that they do not live under our beds. Monsters that feed on our unattended and forgotten children. Monsters that sometimes live in our churches, in our schools, and sometimes across the street.

So instead they bury their heads in the sands of half baked crusades while our self absorbed society continues to bury our children under a mountain of bureaucracy and continuing neglect.

And that is what is most offensive to me.