"Suffer in Silence" cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

Tony Jones and Julie McMahon: secrecy and silence

"Suffer in Silence" cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward This is my personal confession of my frustration. Bear with me. The secrecy and silence around the Tony Jones and Julie McMahon case is deafening. (Please read the comments of that post. You may continue a google search if you want more on the story.) From the very beginning of this fascinating and sad story, the attempt to silence Julie and her supporters was powerful, scary, and ominous. Now I fear it has been effective. As the story gained speed and attention, the attempt to envelop the case in secrecy has been just as powerful. Now I fear it too has been effective. Nothing is being said. Life goes on for Jones. Life gets worse for Julie. Secrecy for those in power and silence for those who critique it. This is the vision statement of those in power. I've claimed since the beginning that this was not about the breakdown of a marriage. I know these are always messy and complicated. For me, it's been about the coverup, the protection of a ministry, and the perpetuation of a movement of so-called leaders and their career goals. Many supporters of Jones would like you to believe we are taking sides in the breakdown of a relationship so that it makes people like Julie's supporters look sentimentally petty. I'm painfully aware, even as I write this post, that some people will accuse me of baiting readers, gleaning traffic, sensationalizing something private for personal gain, and being trivial and small-minded for selfish reasons. I must admit I am discouraged. I'm not so much  surprised. I have a strong disdain for authority and the abuses of power that are not only prevalent but more and more acceptable. I am discouraged because the obvious agenda to silence Julie as well as the obvious agenda to protect Jones with secrecy seems successful at this point. We love to talk about caring for people. We love to talk about justice. As ideas. But when it comes to the application of these values onto specific situations with certain people, we neglect them and actually defend the abuse of power in the interest of a greater idea, and that's the protection of those in power. Bob Jones University's refusal to change anything in spite of the report from GRACE is just another case in point. Very few people seem to recognize that the way things are now is typical of the abuse of power. Some would like to claim that secrecy and silence is appropriate for the breakdown of a marriage. But some see through this smoke-screen for what it is: those in power finding ways to protect the two things they care about most: their reputation and revenue. These twin idols of reputation and revenue remain on the throne, undeterred in their mission to rule over the spiritual lives of everyone. I'm in a kind of hibernation, waiting for clarity on how to more effectively challenge the principalities and powers that seem to be winning the day. It saddens me that for some people this is good news, while for a few it is a sad reminder that power prevails. I need to continue to remind myself daily that even if we lose the battle we can still win the war.
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