Geronimo ‘Pastor G’ Aguilar was arrested after warrants were issued against him from Texas for statutory rape. Pastor G is the head of the Richmond Outreach Center in Richmond, Virginia. Although complaints were filed in Richmond, Va, the Richmond police have not made any attempt to arrest Aguilar. It took Texas and a few brave survivors to do that.
Congratulations to the few who stood against ridicule and embarrassment to protect the greater Richmond area! Whatever the outcome of the trial, don’t let anybody (not even the ‘thought stoppers’ that lurk in all our brains) take this moment away from you. You have provided inspiration to others by standing against the opposition (who would prefer you remain bitter and silent out of fear).
In the months to come, friendships will be tested (as if they haven’t already!), loyalties might become strained. It might be difficult to ‘stand together’ because of the differences that have been embedded into the brain due to years of fundamentalist indoctrination. There are those who have sworn off all religions because of their abuse and others who hold on because it’s all they’ve got. Please, be understanding of each other and learn to embrace the variety. It might be necessary if you are to seek justice and personal closure.
If somebody who appears to be a sympathizer suddenly appears to change their mind on a few points and question other victims, please don’t shun that person! Recognize that the stakes are high for both victims and those who enabled Pastor G.
Pastor G and his co-horts will most likely demand all their followers march in lockstep. For the sake of personal closure and legal victory, please don’t follow in his footsteps! Recognize that because of your background, the most natural thing in the world is for a victim to do a ‘two step’. When your soul has been threatened with hell for not taking the right stand, of course there’s going to be confusion!
There is a four part interview with former Episcopal priest, Father Leo Booth, at the end of this blog. Booth’s book, ‘When God Becomes A Drug’ talks about most of the stages survivors of religious abuse go through when they pull away from a controlling group. One of the important things he talks about is how survivors sometimes live from extreme to extreme. Extreme fundamentalists and then, when they leave the group, go extreme in other directions. I think this is a reaction to fundamentalist interpretations regarding the church of Laodicea being ‘neither hot nor cold, but lukewarm’. The implication is the middle of the road (i.e. ‘reason’) is sinful so either be pure or, in the words of Martin Luther, ‘sin boldly’.
This is actually a recipe for disaster. Never feel pressured to ‘backslide’ in order to prove you’re not ‘like them’. On the other hand, don’t feel the need to agree with every religious opinion just to prove you haven’t rejected the gospel. You don’t have to prove anything!
No one should paint victims of religious abuse with a broad brush.
Those who have been abused might become skittish regarding sexual matters and want to withdraw and not participate in anything that requires them to allegedly violate Paul’s command, “It is a shame to speak of those things done in secret.” Other victims have quickly shrugged off false teachings about life and sex and are ready to party! Somewhere in between, there are those who just want to tell the truth and live according to their reason. There will come a time for religious debates and lifestyle discussions, but don’t force it. Try and resist latent fundamentalist anger and the temptation to disassociate yourself from fellow survivors just because they might have doubts or live differently than you.
What brought the ROC to this position is demanding that everyone march in lockstep. Please appreciate your differences and learn how to use them to make your victory complete.