Popularity and Accountability

The conflict inherent in separating a person from their products is not new. Roman Polanski, Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, R. Kelly, and other perpetrators of heinous behavior still have fans who often find themselves questioning whether it’s ok to continue to enjoy their work. I understand the arguments on each side. One doesn’t want to consume their productions and seem apathetic to what they’ve done. Especially when it comes to those who are still living, it may seem unethical to support and continue to enrich them by listening to and watching what they’ve made. On the other hand, there are many other people who were involved in the projects they’ve developed. There’s no reason to punish bystanders’ livelihood from residual income when they’ve committed no crime. Also, when someone has created a thing, doesn’t that thing have a life of its own? Is it bad to enjoy it even though it was originally conceived by someone who has done bad things? After all, nothing is made by someone with totally clean hands. No one is perfect.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://spectrummagazine.org/views/2023/popularity-and-accountability
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Thank you Courtney
You relate abhorrent but common human failings both from perpetrators and those who blindly or deliberately support them. Stephen Lewis wreaked havoc in our Conference in the 90’s on one of his campaigns here in the South Pacific. There is a comparative discussion with use of funds obtained by illicit activity, eg the common tendency of the church to ban use of community funding from lottery earnings, as if the money itself is evil.

Thank-you, Courtney. Well said. Too often the people who make the highest professions are the most abusive–in all forms of abuse.

Uh oh, if I win the billion dollar lottery, the church will not want any of it, but I bet the colleges and summer camps would take some…

Great article! As humans it’s in our nature to build up idols and we worship our leaders. It’s a fine balance to respect then and recognize the place God had placed them in, and yet remember we’re all accountable and flawed and we need to show no favoritism in our judgment. If the leader is wrong, strengthen the victim. If ever there is a false charge, defend the leader. Seems simple but defending a leader is just too in our nature so we really need to work on our impartial defense of those that need it and accountability to all.

Turning to religion to find refuge, support or healing is like a cow going to an abattoir in hopes of finding compassion and redress.

Put simply, promoting humanism and and facilitating anyone’s direct contact with the power that makes their lives possible, is the exact opposite of what churches do.

Preachers and prophets are mid-level micromanagers whose edicts, revelations and pronouncements are like a toll booth on the old Route 66 which knowledgeable people easily avoid by taking the freeway.


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“Anyone who has been exploited or injured (whether emotionally, sexually, spiritually, physically, or mentally) should be able to turn to the church as a place of refuge, support, and healing”
Thank you for this article, Courtney.
After decades of suffering because of the sexual abuse I experienced at the hands of a head church elder, and the subsequent “sweeping me under the rug” when, as an adult, I approached the PA Conference with the information ( including providing supporting documentation), I have revamped my thinking on the church as a refuge or place of support.
I firmly believe that we should teach that when abuse happens, the first move should be to report it to authorities outside of the church.
Our manuals and guidelines are askew. Step one must always be to go to outside authorities first. This is because church leadership’s reaction is consistent—it closes ranks to protect its own reputation first. We cannot and must not keep thinking that abuse events will be adequately handled “in house.”
We must stop thinking that it is within the church walls where we will find healing and justice.
In my response here, I have called out the specific conference for the first time in my life. Your boldness in naming names inspired me to be bold as well.
Turning inwardly to the very organization where abuse is taking place, with the belief that one will find refuge and support there, is a false narrative. Especially when it’s a church.


Thank you, Dr. Ray, for shedding light on this important topic. Part of the problem, it seems to me, is that rather than teaching our young people how to employ critical thinking, we teach them to subordinate their thinking and evaluation process to the church and its identified leaders. This creates the dangerous environment for potential abuse…and it happens to adults, as well as to young people.


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