Someone Always Knows

One cool thing about living in Nashville is that you get to meet really talented folks who have really broad backgrounds. I have, for instance, met a number of people who have worked for a long time in the music industry here in town, both in the secular music industry, which is huge, and the Christian music industry, which is also enormous. Some folks might only be on one side of the divide or the other, especially if they are “the artist.” But a lot of artists–back-up singers, producers, musicians–work both industries.

And I have heard from lots of people that, while each industry has its share of debauchery and each side has its share of bad people and even though there is indeed really shady stuff going down in country music, it’s nothing like the coercive, exploitative evil that happens on the Christian music side. I know people who have gotten out of Christian music to work in country music because it is less toxic.

I’ve been thinking about that in terms of the Eddie Long situation down in Atlanta. The Black Snob says in her post, “I recently spoke with a friend who has ties to the gospel music industry about this issue and he is adamant that the Long accusations are true and have been known in the community for years.” [emphasis mine]

I’ll admit my biases up front. Obviously, for my own reasons, when a pastor is accused of something, I’d like for him to be given the benefit of the doubt until all the facts are in.

I also know that there are folks who have figured out that, if they put themselves into positions of leadership in the church, the cover that position provides them is so great, that they can carry on in ridiculous ways for years, it can be a widely-known open secret, and still, they are protected at the expense of their victims.

And this is something the Christian church, by and large, has failed to effectively protect itself against–across schisms, sects, and denominations.

Honestly, I don’t know how you close that loophole.

Maybe you don’t have to. Maybe you just have to know that it’s there.

But the thing that strikes me is that someone always knows. Someone always knows that the pastor was carrying on with a parishioner or that the youth pastor was molesting kids or that the treasurer was lining his own pockets from the collection plate or that the CCM producer needs a blowjob from you before things can get started.

Maybe they don’t know for sure what’s going on (though I’m always struck by how clearly a lot of folks know the score), but they know something’s not right.

It’s never as secret as folks need to pretend it was when it comes out.


4 thoughts on “Someone Always Knows

  1. And that’s why those kinds of things keep happening – the people who know, or suspect, that something not right is going on aren’t doing anything about it. They’re looking the other way and saying “It isn’t my responsibility to stop this wrong.” The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing, and that’s what happening.

  2. I think it’s too simplistic to say that good people are letting evil triumph because it’s not their responsibility to bring it to light. Anything with a common goal people deeply believe in can be manipulated into a system of open secrecy – a church, a family, a political party.

    I think, more often than not, it’s not that people don’t think it’s their responsibility, it’s that they think they are more responsible for the group’s greater success and that bringing attention to wrongs will harm the larger goal. In the meantime, the group rots from the inside and people suffer and the larger goal suffers anyway.

  3. Just a few thoughts:
    I walked away from organized religion in my late teens. It isn’t that I became an atheist or that I thought it was all worthless. My difficulties stemmed from what Aunt B. is talking about here, and what The Black Snob discusses:

    How could someone who claimed to follow Jesus, the original community organizer and social rabble rouser, not stand up and demand that the needs of his people be heard?

    It dawned on me that everything I was learning was directing me to wait for a promised outcome at some mysterious, unspecified later time. Sure, I know that delaying gratification is part of being an adult, but waiting for the ‘next world’ or the ‘next life’?

    The thing about Jesus is that he didn’t just tell his followers about the wonders yet to come. He got off his ass, got down in the gutter, and worked to give them a taste of those wonders. When offered a chance to trade his mission of service for earthly wealth and political power, he turned it down flat. He even got in the faces of the religious and political leaders of the time and told them what he believed to be the unvarnished truth. He knew it would get him tortured and killed, too.

    So when I see religious leaders dressing themselves in finery and cloistering themselves in unreachable hierarchies, I know something’s wrong there. (Tangentially, this is also why I don’t regret voting for someone other than Obama in 2008. Obama talked the lofty talk, but his actions painted a picture of someone whose first active impulse would be to serve the same privileged and entrenched interests that Bush had served. He’s proving my instincts and analysis right.)

  4. Do you ever read Fred over at He is an amazing writer who talks about this stuff all the time.

    There are lots of reasons people don’t speak up:

    1. No one likes the person who speaks up. You get called a liar, nonbeliever, the Devil, or even accused of seducing the person (if you’re a victim). If you’re a kid, well, you’re just a kid, what do you know? People don’t want to believe their leader did bad things, because it means everything they learned from that leader or did with that leader, or what have you, is tainted. Their whole community is tainted.

    2. Even when everyone knows it’s true, very often *nothing happens.* Everyone whistles and pretends it didn’t happen and makes noises about “forgiveness” and “repentance”. The troublemaking complainer is encouraged to leave. Only if the police or the lawyers get involved will anyone actually deal with the issue, and not always then.

    3. And yeah, I’ve seen all of that first hand.

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