Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Foley Part 3

As this story unfolds (see the latest in the Washington Post at ), I cannot help but shake but my head about the ignorance it shows about sexuality issues and their coverage. Added to the alcohol excuse, we are now being told that Representative Foley had been sexually abused as a teen by a clergy person. Is that supposed to help us understand lurid emails soliciting teenage pages? Yes, such sexual abuse is soul scarring, if it did happen, but it doesn't explain away or excuse abuse of another generation.

Have you heard any progressive religious leaders in the media talking about the Foley "situation"? But, there was Tony Perkins the head of the Family Research Council on CNN saying that the reason that members of Congress didn't act was "because they would be seen as homophobic or gay bashing." Apparently Newt Gingrich has been saying the same thing.

This IS NOT a story about Congressman Foley's homosexuality. For the record, an attraction to 16 and 17 year olds isn't pedophilia either. In fact, given how teenagers of both genders are held up as the sexual ideal in our culture, it's probably very common. That doesn't mean that adults can morally act upon it.

It is a story of sexual harassment and the abuse of power. As I said yesterday, it is also an abuse of power that the leadership didn't take immediate action to stop it. I wonder if the public would have felt differently if a sixteen year old female page was getting these types of emails from a Congressperson; I would not have.

I have written before about the criteria for a moral ethical sexual relationship -- consent, nonexploitation, honesty, mutual pleasure, and protection. I've also written before that a sexually healthy and moral adult understands that there is a difference between having a sexual feeling and acting upon it -- including emailing about it to someone who by definition is not in a position to consent or not be exploited.

I joined three other progressive faith leaders to in responding to this story on Faith in Public Life. You can listen to the audio at

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