Welcome to Bristol, Virginia/TennesseeIn a development which — unfortunately — I don’t find surprising in the least, religious leaflets being distributed in Virginia are blaming the victims of rape for the crimes committed against them. The Bristol (VA) Herald Courier reports on this (WebCite cached article):

Nineteen-year-old Keshia Canter handed three burgers, fries and milkshakes to a car-load of Tuesday afternoon customers at the Hi-Lo Burger’s drive-though window. A lady sitting in the backseat leaned forward, between the two men in front, and handed her a leaflet: “Women & Girls” it said across the top.

“Even though nothing is showing, you’re being ungodly,” Canter recalled the woman telling her. “You make men want to be sinful.” …

Minutes later, Canter’s mother, Pam Yates, who owns the restaurant, returned from the bank. Canter handed her “Women & Girls” and Yates started reading.

“You may have been given this leaflet because of the way you are dressed,” it begins. “Have you thought about standing before the true and living God to be judged?”

It continues with one essential theme: The sins of men are, in part, the fault of women, specifically women in tight-fitting clothing. Yates was annoyed. Then she got to a section on page two:

“Scripture tells us that when a man looks on a woman to lust for her he has already committed adultery in his heart. If you are dressed in a way that tempts a men to do this secret (or not so secret) sin, you are a participant in the sin,” the leaflet states. “By the way, some rape victims would not have been raped if they had dressed properly. So can we really say they were innocent victims?”

The hand-out is signed “anonymous.”

In the eyes of religionists like this, crimes like rape are not the result of sociopathic thinking or criminal behavior. They are, instead, compulsions forced on unwitting men by their wily and wicked victims — sort of like invisible puppet-strings. Blaming the victim for crimes is not new, and it’s not even always religiously-motivated … but when it’s rationalized by religion, that tends to prevent people from seeing how invalid this sort of thinking is.

Note also how eerily similar this is to the mindset behind the Catholic Church’s approach to handling the abuse of children by its clergy, as I blogged previously: “It’s the kids’ fault … they — and the Devil within them — made me do it!”

Taken to its extreme, this kind of thinking leads to customs such as compelling women to shroud themselves entirely in a burqa, or even preventing them from going out in public at all, as was common in Afghanistan under the Taliban regime. This robs women of any sense of identity or individuality and reduces them to the level of mere property.

Hat tip: iReligion Forum at Delphi Forums.

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  • Steven Thorne

    I don't believe that all Christians blame the victims. But many do. I walked out of a church service when I heard a pastor preach that "the meaning of Christianity was that a women who had been raped had to forgive her abuser." Actually I think that the best meaning of Christianity SHOULD be that no one would have been raped at all, but barring that there was a God who saw and would hold the guilt accountable. But I understand how annoying and sickening it is to see self righteous people hold victims to higher standards than they do abusers. Too many Christians are quick to judge or throw Scripture around and don't know the damage they are doing.