Sunday, June 03, 2007

Christian Prayer As Rape Prevention

I don't know who wrote the original, but this chain mail caught my eye:

"A girl went to a party and she ended up staying longer than planned, and had to walk home alone. She wasn’t afraid because it was a small town and she lived only a few blocks away. As she walked along under the tall elm trees, Diane asked God to keep her safe from harm and danger. When she reached the alley, which was a short cut to her house, she decided to take it. However, halfway down the alley she noticed a man standing at the end as though he were waiting for her. She became uneasy and began to pray, asking for God’s protection. Instantly a comforting feeling of quietness and security wrapped round her, she felt as though someone was walking with her. When she reached the end of the alley, she walked right past the man and arrived home safely. The following day, she read in the newspaper that a young girl had been raped in the same alley just twenty minutes after she had been there and had been. I could have been HER, but SHE prayed.

Repost this as A GIRL RAPED IN (your city) if you truly believe in God… "

In case this was a spoof chain mail designed to mock the power of prayer, I did a search and found other copies and versions of this where it was treated seriously.

I saw another version of this which had the girl bravely going to the police to identify the rapist, who is conveniently brought in for the line up, and once she ID's him, the man promptly confesses. She then bravely faces this admitted rapist to find out why he didn't rape her and learns that the rapist waited for the next girl because he saw two men walking with her.

This chain email is deeply troubling because:

1) It turns God into nothing more than an omnipresent form of mace.

2) It says that Christians should feel smug about the suffering of non-Christians who are similar in all ways but their faith. Because prayer can prevent suffering, all suffering becomes self-inflicted.

3) It says that Christians who dodge a clear and persistent harm should do nothing to remove or reduce that harm so others don't get hurt. After others get hurt, then Christians can come forward heroically to wrap up a tragedy in a nice neat bow.

4) It reinforces victim blaming since no lesser being than God decides who is worthy of being spared from rape.

5) It reinforces stereotypes about who rapists are and where rapes are most likely to happen.

6) It creates a false picture of what the legal system is like for those who are pure and innocent which implies that those who are treated poorly by law enforcement must not be pure or innocent.

Here's my version:

A girl went to a party and she ended up staying longer than planned, and had to walk home alone. She wasn’t afraid because it was a small town and she lived only a few blocks away. As she walked along under the tall elm trees, Diane asked God to keep her safe from harm and danger. When she reached the alley, which was a short cut to her house, she decided to take it. However, halfway down the alley she noticed a man standing at the end as though he were waiting for her. She became uneasy and began to pray, asking for God’s protection.

A moment before she started running back the way she came, she recognized him as a man from her church who hadn't missed a service in years and who was respected by all who met him.

Instantly a comforting feeling of quietness and security wrapped round her, she felt as though someone was walking with her. When she reached the end of the alley, she walked right past the man but she never arrived home safely.

The following day, the other girls who were at that party read in the newspaper that a young girl was missing. It could have been them who had been abducted by a stranger from out of town, but they had prayed the whole way home. When questioned gently, two sisters remember walking by the man from church and getting a weird vibe. When they can't back up that vibe with any evidence, they are treated like criminals until they retract their statement. They are pushed to say that the man they saw was a stranger. By the time they leave, they are convinced that it must have been a stranger they saw the night before. Christian men don't do bad things to Christian girls.

I doubt this version will be circulated by the Christians who loved the other version. Prayer is no longer a silver bullet and the rapist doesn't fit the un-Godly rapist stereotype. For many people the fantasy presented in the first version is the one they choose to believe because it isn't as unsettling as my version.

Hat tip: Blue Linch Pin


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:25 AM   3 comments links to this post

3 Comments:

At June 04, 2007 9:49 AM, Blogger The Speaker said...

The next chain letter subject line will probably go something like this:

"Christian girl raped repeatedly in blanktownof, blankstate-I guess she just didn't pray hard enough"

Ha. What a joke! I find this theory sickening. I am a Christian. I find the first chain letter extremely disturbing. God doesn't choose to protect people based on whether or not they ask Him to. In the midst of rape, I prayed. God didn't combat down out of heaven to lift the rapist off of me, as presented in the first chain mail. He didn't wrap his warm and secure arms around me, in fact it was quite different at the time I remember just calling out for God, and afterward wondering why He hadn't helped me. I'd like to know who all has received the chain mail so I can mail them your version of the story. It's more accurate. Christians are no less prone to rape than non-Christians. Rape knows no religious boundaries. For anyone to believe that prayer prevents rape is ignorant and to believe that God is sitting around in Heaven waiting on someone to be raped or pray and only has those two options is disgusting. That is not who God is. I wouldn't serve a god like the one portrayed in the first chain letter. And that's just my two cents.

With much respect, jessieh

PS: I’d like to repost this. If there is a problem with this please let me know. I will remove it from my blog.

 
At June 04, 2007 10:34 AM, Blogger Marcella Chester said...

Jessieh, you can repost it as long as you include a link to this post at the beginning so people know where you are reposting it from.

 
At June 05, 2007 2:50 PM, Blogger Seeing Eye Chick said...

The only way for a woman to avoid Rape {and its no guarantee} is to listen to her instincts, and act on them.

To me the whole scenario was one in which the young woman KNEW instinctively that she was being sized up for prey, and that she was physically isolated, and at a tactical disadvantage.

Prayer was a reaction to a feeling of self-imposed helplessness, because if she turned back and ran away, she would look like a "Bitch" or Over-reactive. And that in itself carries a social stigma.

She did not want to appear helpless, she did not want to appear mean or appear to reject this man at a distance {because that would make her a judgemental--see Bitch.}

So she ignored that little voice in her gut and pushed forward into a bad situation, hoping that God would protect her, reward her for ignoring her most powerful tools. Her brain and her instincts. And that God would also prevent this potential predator from starting rumors about her being mean, or accusatory, or otherwise obsessed with rape.

This culture trains its girls to be nice to a fault. And by *nice, I mean as if, if you appear powerful, then you are not nice. IN this paradigm, Those two qualities cannot coexist within an acceptable woman.

You are either a little lamb all dressed up for the slaugter, or you are a bitch with a mouth full of teeth and good right hook, and sense enough to run away if you get the impression that things aint right.

 

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