Regardless of the 'loony' or 'dangerous' portrayals of us in the media, there are important freedoms being challenged:
* Who a person can turn to for help
* What they can believe
* Who they can associate with
In the current media controversy the arguments supporting the loss of those freedoms go like this: If Ritual Abuse cannot be happening then a person's memories of abuse cannot be real. If what they are recalling is not real then they must be mentally ill and it is wrong for gullible friends, or a Christian minister, or anyone else to take advantage of such a person and support the delusion by believing it. Because it can only be a delusion then they should all turn to a psychiatrist who holds the opinion that the memories are not real, and then the person can be cured of the delusion. This is the heart of what is being said. But it seems that even psychiatrists are divided on whether such memories can be real, especially if they only appear in adulthood. In this particular case the lady's psychiatrist affirmed that what he observed was consistent with 'extreme' childhood abuse.
The pressure is on us to stop affirming those who believe they have suffered. It is crucial in a free society that people be allowed to choose what they believe. There will always be those who say that what you believe is absurd. If free will can be taken away because what you believe is considered absurd by others then we are only one small step from locking up political opponents (or reporters!). How would you like to be classified as 'mentally ill' because others disagree with what you believe? How would you like to have your associations restricted? How would you like it if you were told who you were allowed to seek help from?
If we bow to pressure from those who say we are dangerous, or from those who say that what we believe cannot be happening, or from those who sarcastically mock our beliefs, or from those who say that that distressed people should not turn to us for affirmation and support, then our acquiescence gives implicit permission for those holding one view to bully others into silence. We stand by our conviction that paedophile and occult crime is happening in Australia. We stand by those seeking to be free from its devastating effects on their lives.
Another charge is that we or others somehow 'insert' false memories into vulnerable people's minds through suggestion or deliberate manipulation. We're sorry, but there is no need to suggest anything. That explanation requires that what people remember is not true. We are of the opinion that the false memory explanation originated as an attempt to discredit people who are remembering childhood abuse. Consider this statement: "Paedophiles can boldly and courageously affirm what they choose. They can say that what they want is to find the best way to love. I am also a theologian and as a theologian, I believe it is God's will that there be closeness and intimacy, unity of the flesh, between people. A paedophile can say: "This closeness is possible for me within the choices that I've made."" - Ralph Underwager, a founding member of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation.
Science itself is embroiled in a decades old long debate as to whether a person can actually have long suppressed memories come to the surface. Apparently one can adopt either side of the debate according to one's preferences in the false memory debate, but it seems there is no proven scientific position. Therefore it is absurd for anyone to charge conclusively that this explains what people are remembering. Regardless, when people tell us events that correlate with what other people, totally unconnected, are telling us, then we believe them. That is our choice to do so. Another freedom which some want to remove from us because they believe it cannot be true.
We have never seen our role as proving or disproving the existence of Ritual Abuse. We are a church and our prime role is as Jesus Christ commanded, to make disciples. Our focus has been to love and support those who believe they are victims, and through Jesus Christ, to see them grow in their relationship with him and thereby become fully functional in all areas of their lives. Others are far more diligent in presenting the reality of organised abuse of children. Adults Surviving Child Abuse (ASCA), produced a paper in 2006 titled "Ritual Abuse and Torture in Australia". www.asca.org.auor Click here to go to the relevant page on their website.
May God bless you,
John and Glenys Darnell
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