A Mouth Full of Sand

School resumes at North Park Elementary today.

I’d like to commend NPR for their piece on Friday about Karen Smith, as well as their lack of the typical “the guy was such a godly guy” reporting that the rest of the world, noting especially Christianity Today, gave us.

Karen Smith it turns out was a very brave woman. She did something that most of us find difficult. She walked away from her abusive husband less than two months after they married. This was a woman who wasn’t going to tolerate that shit.

I’m not sure which manifestation of the Christian God Smith worshiped, but apparently it was different than the one I was raised to believe in because he/she didn’t expect her to “grow in his/her grace” while suffering under the hand of her own husband.

Most religious women are taught that God gives them suffering to strengthen them. This suffering includes things like abuse, rape, death of a child, and on and on and on. If a religious woman leaves her abuser at all it is usually after decades of abuse. Most religious women never leave. Shame and fear keep them bound to the evil person who drives them crazy because at home he is one thing and in public another.

Upwards of 50% of African-American women are abused. Yet churches with African-American women in their congregations are no more likely to concern themselves with this than any other typical church.

Somehow though, Karen Smith knew it was wrong. Somehow she grew up to believe that abuse was evil and not to be tolerated. Whoever taught her this fact is an anomaly in the religious world, both right and left.

In religion, suffering is everything. In Christianity it is deemed necessary for spiritual growth. It is preached from the pulpits and reinforced in bible studies. And the language used creates an entire populace ripe for abuse and abuse apologies.

Whatever sort of church Karen Smith went to, either as a child or an adult, was different. Or maybe it was just her parents and family that taught her this was not the sort of thing she had to put up with.

Either way, she was a brave woman, and a very religious person.

Yet, in the end, no amount of faith could save her from the evil intent of her abuser. And for that we should be hearing outrage from the Christian community.


A group of around 400 demonstrators participate in a protest by burying their heads in the sand at Sydney's Bondi Beach

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