Friday, May 25, 2012

What Is It With Child Rape And Organized Religion?


If you watch closely, barely a day will pass when there isn't some scandal somewhere about a cardinal, bishop or priest raping a child or covering up the rape of a child by another cardinal, bishop or priest. It's almost impossible to separate the Catholic Church from systemic child molestation. But that isn't fair. Many psychopaths seek out careers in organized religion and there seems to be a tendency among people in organized religion careers to rape children. Society should do something about that. And it's certainly not just the Catholics. The Mormons are probably the worst child predators of all-- but they're just best at not letting the news leak out of their own closed community. Romney's Finance co-chair, Frank VanderSloot, a neo-fascist billionaire from Idaho, is probably best known for covering up Mormon child molestation in his state. I just got back from a trip to New York, where the problem with religious perverts preying on children isn't among Mormons, like in Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Nevada and Wyoming, but with Hasidic Jews. Who would even imagine such a thing? And, like the Mormons, the Hasidics are very careful to keep their scandals inside the community. Keeping sex scandals out of the press always take precedence over protecting children from serial sex abusers.

My friend Danny lives on the far west side of Greenwich Village, where there are a lot of transvestite street hookers. "At least a third of their business," he swore to me, "comes from Hasidics driving in from Brooklyn." You could have knocked me over with a feather. [UPDATE: Danny called to say that I made a mistake and that some of the Hasidics who drive into his Manhattan neighborhood looking for "chicks-with-dicks" are from New Jersey and Westchester. "They're not all from Brooklyn," he said.] Who knew? Apparently everybody... at least everybody inside the tight-knit Hasidic world. Not many others. The rest of us see stuff like this report in the Daily News:
A mass rally for men only drew more than 40,000 ultra-Orthodox Jews to Citi Field Sunday to denounce the Internet and its pervasive impact on family life.

An overflow crowd of another 20,000 bearded men sporting long black coats and big black hats filled nearby Arthur Ashe Stadium for the unprecedented attack on modern technology.

Unable to enter the Queens stadiums because of the strict separation of the sexes enforced by the organizers, more than 15,000 Hasidic women watched the speeches at six sites across the tristate area-- thanks to live-streaming on the Internet.

The rally was organized by a little-known rabbinical group called Ichud Hakehillos L’tohar Hamachane-- the Union of Communities for the Purity of the Camp-- to spread the word that online activities can lead to porn, child abuse and other acts of immorality.

But Eytan Kobre, who runs a Jewish family weekly magazine in Brooklyn and serves as the group’s spokesman, insists it is not calling for a ban on Internet use, but wants to use filters to manage it.

“With one click, all of a sudden, you lose control and are whisked away to a world you never intended to see, and it overtakes your life,” he said. “As a community, we are asking, is it worth it?”

Kobre cited social media like Facebook and Twitter that he argues can lead people away from prayer, community and family and cause social ruination.

“I know that Facebook ruins marriages,” he said.

Patrick McHenry is not Hasidic but...

Facebook, huh? How about religious fanaticism? Earlier this month the NY Times started exposing a scandal as repulsive and hideous as anything related to the Catholic Church. It's not just about demented religious nuts raping children. It's about demented religious nuts covering up and endangering children-- an a D.A. who went along for his own careerism.
The first shock came when Mordechai Jungreis learned that his mentally disabled teenage son was being molested in a Jewish ritual bathhouse in Brooklyn. The second came after Mr. Jungreis complained, and the man accused of the abuse was arrested.

Old friends started walking stonily past him and his family on the streets of Williamsburg. Their landlord kicked them out of their apartment. Anonymous messages filled their answering machine, cursing Mr. Jungreis for turning in a fellow Jew. And, he said, the mother of a child in a wheelchair confronted Mr. Jungreis’s mother-in-law, saying the same man had molested her son, and she “did not report this crime, so why did your son-in-law have to?”

By cooperating with the police, and speaking out about his son’s abuse, Mr. Jungreis, 38, found himself at the painful forefront of an issue roiling his insular Hasidic community. There have been glimmers of change as a small number of ultra-Orthodox Jews, taking on longstanding religious and cultural norms, have begun to report child sexual abuse accusations against members of their own communities. But those who come forward often encounter intense intimidation from their neighbors and from rabbinical authorities, aimed at pressuring them to drop their cases.

Abuse victims and their families have been expelled from religious schools and synagogues, shunned by fellow ultra-Orthodox Jews and targeted for harassment intended to destroy their businesses. Some victims’ families have been offered money, ostensibly to help pay for therapy for the victims, but also to stop pursuing charges, victims and victims’ advocates said.

...Pearl Engelman, a 64-year-old great-grandmother, said her community had failed her too. In 2008, her son, Joel, told rabbinical authorities that he had been repeatedly groped as a child by a school official at the United Talmudical Academy in Williamsburg. The school briefly removed the official but denied the accusation. And when Joel turned 23, too old to file charges under the state’s statute of limitations, they returned the man to teaching.

“There is no nice way of saying it,” Mrs. Engelman said. “Our community protects molesters. Other than that, we are wonderful.”

The New York City area is home to an estimated 250,000 ultra-Orthodox Jews — the largest such community outside of Israel, and one that is growing rapidly because of its high birthrate. The community is concentrated in Brooklyn, where many of the ultra-Orthodox are Hasidim, followers of a fervent spiritual movement that began in 18th-century Europe and applies Jewish law to every aspect of life.

Their communities, headed by dynastic leaders called rebbes, strive to preserve their centuries-old customs by resisting the contaminating influences of the outside world. While some ultra-Orthodox rabbis now argue that a child molester should be reported to the police, others strictly adhere to an ancient prohibition against mesirah, the turning in of a Jew to non-Jewish authorities, and consider publicly airing allegations against fellow Jews to be chillul Hashem, a desecration of God’s name.

There are more mundane factors, too. Some ultra-Orthodox Jews want to keep abuse allegations quiet to protect the reputation of the community, and the family of the accused. And rabbinical authorities, eager to maintain control, worry that inviting outside scrutiny could erode their power, said Samuel Heilman, a professor of Jewish studies at Queens College.

“They are more afraid of the outside world than the deviants within their own community,” Dr. Heilman said. “The deviants threaten individuals here or there, but the outside world threatens everyone and the entire structure of their world.”

Scholars believe that abuse rates in the ultra-Orthodox world are roughly the same as those in the general population, but for generations, most ultra-Orthodox abuse victims kept silent, fearful of being stigmatized in a culture where the genders are strictly separated and discussion of sex is taboo. When a victim did come forward, it was generally to rabbis and rabbinical courts, which would sometimes investigate the allegations, pledge to monitor the accused, or order payment to a victim, but not refer the matter to the police.

...The degree of intimidation can vary by neighborhood, by sect and by the prominence of the person accused.

In August 2009, the rows in a courtroom at State Supreme Court in Brooklyn were packed with rabbis, religious school principals and community leaders. Almost all were there in solidarity with Yona Weinberg, a bar mitzvah tutor and licensed social worker from Flatbush who had been convicted of molesting two boys under age 14.

Justice Guston L. Reichbach looked out with disapproval. He recalled testimony about how the boys had been kicked out of their schools or summer camps after bringing their cases, suggesting a “communal attitude that seeks to blame, indeed punish, victims.” And he noted that, of the 90 letters he had received praising Mr. Weinberg, not one displayed “any concern or any sympathy or even any acknowledgment for these young victims, which, frankly, I find shameful.”

“While the crimes the defendant stands convicted of are bad enough,” the judge said before sentencing Mr. Weinberg to 13 months in prison, “what is even more troubling to the court is a communal attitude that seems to impose greater opprobrium on the victims than the perpetrator.”

And, because of the huge political clout in the ultra-orthodox Jewish communities in Brooklyn, the corrupt Machine politician who holds the District Attorney's job, Joe Hynes, leaves all these matters to the community-- meaning to the primitive Bronze Age rebbes who have all the power over their brainwashed followers. Normal Jews living in the 21st Century-- rather than the 18th-- find this as bizarre and unacceptable as anyone else would.
Former mayor Ed Koch told me he thought Hynes "made a terrible error here."
"This community does not deserve to have any preferential treatment" and "he should treat them exactly as he would anyone else," he said.

Koch, who is Jewish, said Hynes should prosecute the rabbis who interfered with victims reporting accusations of abuse.

"We're all equal under the law and they have to subscribe to the law without getting preferential treatment," Koch said. "It's just dead wrong. And there's no explanation to make it right in any way."

Michael Fragin, an Orthodox Jew and Republican political operative, said amending legal strategies to accommodate religious leaders puts people in jeopardy.

"I think that's inappropriate," he said of Hynes' reported strategy. "I think we should expect one standard when it comes to legal issues. If someone commits a crime against me, I don't want them held to a lesser standard. And as a parent of six, I want my kids to be safe. Safety, for any parent, is the most important thing."

Michael Lesher, an Orthodox Jewish attorney who represents abuse victims, says that not publicizing the names of the Orthodox Jews accused and convicted of sex crimes has "done much more to obscure crimes in the Orthodox community than to fight them," as he wrote last month.

Lew Fidler, a Democratic councilman from Brooklyn who, years ago, ran two of Hynes' political campaigns, defended the D.A.'s response to the times.

"It makes sense to me," Fidler said. "One size does not fit all. It makes sense to me intuitively that sometimes the full frontal assault is not what gets you the most [results]."

He said these communities are heavily controlled by rabbis whose dictates carry more weight than police, school and elected officials.

Fidler said Lesher, in calling for the names of sexual abusers to be made public, doesn't appreciate the dynamics of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community.

"I wish Lesser was right that in any community, people would never sweep something like this, hush hush, under the rug," Fidler told me. "And obviously there's a big push-pull in the Orthodox community on this that I don't see eye-to-eye with. But I think Joe Hynes has to live in the real world and he has to live in the world that they're in."

Fidler knows firsthand how influential rabbis in this area can be.

He was heavily favored to win a special election for a State Senate seat covering Borough Park, but found himself repeatedly attacked for, among other things, once having described himself as a "bacon-and-eggs kind of Jew."

It wound up going to a recount. Fidler, a popular Democrat, leads his little-known Republican opponent with just 87 votes, with an additional 119 paper ballots to be counted on Monday.

By the way, these religious fanatics-- all denominations-- are dangerous to society. If you're not registered to vote, keep in mind that these religious people do vote. The Hasidics vote and the religious extremists from all faiths vote. And they vote their hatred and hypocrisy. Watch this video and decide if you need to vote or not:

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At 3:43 PM, Anonymous Jill said...

At some point we have to start looking at whether religion CAUSES sexual perversion, or if people of deviant sexuality such as pedophiles are attracted to religion because of the threat of punishment. NO ONE should be able to hide behind a deity, or a religious hierarchy, to avoid prosecution for the exploitation of children. It's high time we stopped pussy-footing around "people of faith" and started pointing out the obvious.

It's time we stopped allowing our government to give religions preferential treatment, just because they have a whole bunch of people who believe that their imaginary friend is the true imaginary friend. And it's time we really started looking at the so-called "morality" as it's practiced in these groups...and get some statistics on how many crimes, especially sex crimes, are committed by atheists. I think we already know the answer.

At 3:37 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I don't believe that the problem with high rates of child abuse within religious institutions is due to religion per se but, rather, the more patriarchal 'faiths' which hold as a foundational belief the innate inferiority of women. Whenever the heirarchy of a particular religion is entirely male (as in the SBC, the LDS and, of course, the Catholic church to name the big three) it's a certainty that a great deal of child abuse is going on. And woman abuse, if that's relevant to this discussion.

At 12:41 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I just read a book about Hasidic Jews from the viewpoint of a young woman who left the sect. The book is called Unorthodox and I could not believe the horrible rituals and traditions against female members. They are required to shave their heads (but are "allowed" to wear wigs), can not walk on the same side of the street as a male, are not allowed into temples, become "unclean" during their period, and have to be checked by a bathhouse attendent each day of their period to verify when it is over. Women are discouraged from continuing education beyond high school and the main reason she left was to attend college.


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