By Bill Mefford
Even after seeing numerous things I have worked on and am passionate about defeated, I can say I have never been as disgusted as I am right now at what is happening with the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh being shoved through the Senate at breakneck speed. His nomination has been forcibly pushed forward over the numerous credible allegations of sexual assault against Kavanaugh by brave women, especially the one made by Dr. Christine Blasey-Ford through her powerful testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.
All of those alleging sexual assault or rape have asked for an FBI investigation. Back in 1991, when Anita Hill alleged sexual harassment against nominee Clarence Thomas, before the public ever knew of those allegations, the Bush administration ordered the FBI to investigate. It is a normal and routine part of any confirmation process in the Senate when allegations are made that are detrimental to the nominee.
Further, the testimony offered by Brett Kavanaugh is the most partisan and fabricated testimony that I have ever heard from a nominee for any position seeking confirmation from the Senate. I literally have never seen anything like it. He lied repeatedly about stupid things like the groups he was part of in his yearbook. He lied repeatedly, insisting that other attendees of the party where Dr. Blasey-Ford was assaulted by Kavanaugh had signed letters refuting Dr. Blasey-Ford’s claims. That is totally not true and as a judge he knows that is the case. Their lawyers sent letters saying their clients did not recall and one of them, Dr. Blasey-Ford’s friend, admitted to Dr. Blasey-Ford that she did not know about her lawyer’s letter and she apologized for it.
But Kavanaugh showed himself to still be the belligerent, petulant, and privileged child he was in high school. He yelled at the committee, sat silent and sulking when Senator Durbin nailed him on his ridiculous refusal to call for a FBI investigation, and was rude and dismissive especially towards the female Democratic Senators, even challenging Senator Klobuchar’s question about his drinking and demanding to know if she drank. Not only does he not have the temperament to be a Supreme Court justice, he should be impeached from his current position.
I was disgusted by his irrational behavior and he only confirmed Dr. Blasey-Ford’s allegations.
However, with the ecstatic blessing of evangelical “Christian” leaders who care more about power and their spite-filled agenda than they do the dignity of women and sexual assault survivors, they have demanded that the Senate not seek to find out the truth, but to force through this nomination. I am disgusted - more than disgusted - that these people claim the same faith as me.
Supposed evangelical “Christians” and power-hungry, soulless Republican leaders are assaulting the democratic process and assaulting the nation. Indeed, this is a rape of the people of the United States by a male-dominant patriarchal Republican Party and their evangelical palace priests. This is rape upon rape. A complete and total breach of justice.
Friday morning,. before the white men who make up overwhelming majority of the Senate Republicans on the Judiciary committee voted to approve a serial sexual assaulter, I joined a number of other faith leaders who met in the Senate office buildings and prayed and protested against this sham of a process. At one point, as we gathered in the atrium of the Hart Senate office building, I was lined up, along with other faith leaders, most wearing their religious garb, while a group of about 100 activists stood across from us. It was a unique and powerful gathering.
As many of the faith leaders prayed and shared, I saw many if not most of the activists across from us crying, some sobbing. So many of the activists and the faith leaders are victims of previous sexual assault. But I could also see, as I stood there listening to the stories being shared and the tears flowing, that many of the activists (and probably many of the faith leaders as well), had also experienced spiritual abuse. Spiritual abuse comes in so many forms and also, not surprisingly, is very often accompanied by sexual abuse.
What I saw this morning through the stories I heard from faith leaders and activists (so many of them who professed to be nonreligious), is the failure of the church; the failure of the church to listen to those who have been assaulted by powerful men, the failure of a church to adequately challenge patriarchal structures that penalize women and benefit men, a failure of the church to manifest, even in its most simplistic and basic form, a gracious love for the marginalized. The church has far too often become the religious blessing for an unjust and oppressive status quo.
What I saw this morning also gave me hope. It is a hope that a new church will emerge; a church not devoted to left or right, but to loving all people with a preference for those on the margins and who are repeatedly crushed by the patriarchal and broken systems of our society. I have a hope that is not defined by a myriad of arcane doctrines, but by a real and passionate love for God and for God’s people and creation. I have a hope for a church goes beyond the declining and useless denominations and includes the religious and nonreligious; the seeking as well as those who are secure they are found, for all of us need the insights and illuminations of each other.
But my hope for this church is still only a hope. We are so far away for the realization of this hope. And that is why I am disgusted. Confirming Brett Kavanaugh reveals that we are not only a sick society, we are a sick church.
May God heal us all.