Horror of Family Court, Religion & Burning Witches
"To do evil a human being must first of all believe that what he's doing is good ...
"Ideology [or religion] - that is what gives devil-doing its long-sought justification and
gives the evildoer the necessary steadfastness and determination. That is the social theory
which helps to make his acts seem good instead of bad in his
own and others' eyes, so that he won't hear reproaches and curses
but will receive praise and honors." - Russian dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn
Throughout Euro-American history, women and children were considered legal property, the chattel, of the father or husband. By taking his name, the wife "belonged" to her husband. Today, women and children are not legal property, but attitudes have been slow to keep up with the law and many men still believe it is their right or privilege to control women. I experienced, first hand, the truth of this statement when I sought safety from my husband and left with my youngest children and baby in January 1996.
In our society, domestic violence is encouraged and condoned by patriarchal based religious organizations. The fundamental evangelical Christian movements (cults) that thrive today refuse to speak out against domestic violence, rape, incest and abuse because their doctrines are the foundation for conditioning women and children to accept abuse.
Women and children are taught shame, fear and guilt and that patriarchal hierarchy must be lived out in the homes. Patriarchal religion has proven to be devastating for women around the world. External oppression of a people leads to internal oppression.
Breaking the silence and “telling secrets” takes courage. A few years ago, I believed by sharing my truth and breaking my silence, my very life would be threatened. Dr. Christine Northrup writes, “In the past, millions of women healers and wise women, and the men who have supported them, have been killed for telling the truth. It is little wonder, given the collective history, especially of women, that we are afraid. I believe when we deny this fear or discount its presence in others, we only give it more power."
The courts are an extension of our patriarchal heritage that views women as less value than men. By ignoring these facts, we perpetuate the cycle of violence. The religious organizations and the courts have closed their ears to my cry for help. My task is to "make known the unknown."
Wealthy perpetrators, supported by America's Family Court system and attorneys, can continue to commit crimes of violence against their victims by harassing them and stalking them through the courts. When you do not have monies for your own legal defense, you can be victimized indefinitely.
A few months before I finally left my husband, I had gone on an extended trip (without Mr. Warner) with my younger children, and nursing infant to attend the funeral of Betsy Close's father. I was sane and strong enough to make this trip, and encouraged by Mr. Warner to take the children and my nursing infant. When I left the home seeking safety from my ex-husband a few months later, I was labeled mentally ill, psychotic, suicidal and emotionally unfit to be a mother and became a "criminal" to be hunted by the Sheriffs.
At my temporary custody hearing, my attorney, Mr. David Gearing, in his opening statements to the Court, February 28, 1996, said, “Her, (Mrs. Kathy Warner), custody is being challenged now, willfully, intentionally, with full knowledge and with acknowledgment of her husband as to her qualities for 20 years. She has been fit, proper and capable of doing that for twenty years. And, now, we are calling into question her emotional stability and mental health and ability to raise these children. She has been given that role. It is a distraction. We have three doctors who are ready, willing and able to testify, on rebuttal, if necessary. They give her a clean bill of health.”
On March 10, 1996, I was forced, by an Order of the Court, and by my ex-husband, Marty Warner, his attorney, his family and religious supporters, to do something that raged against my good conscience, my common sense and against all my motherly instincts. After a temporary custody hearing, a Court Order signed by Judge Albin Norblad forcibly removed my nursing baby and two youngest children from me. I obeyed the Court Order and gave my children over to my ex-husband. I drove to the hospital, rented a breast-pump and later collapsed and went into shock. I could not understand what had happened and why. I have not yet recovered from the shock; perhaps I never will....
The price for my own safety and freedom in 1996 was an imposed, unnatural and unwanted separation from my eight children, including my nursing infant. The injustice committed against me is not just the physical separation from my children, but the willful desecration of the mother-child relationship and bond, a sacred spiritual and emotional entity.
Many mothers who seek safety from abuse are routinely prohibited from having even the most basic contact with their own children, not because they were unfit parents, but because they were outspent, out represented, and out-maneuvered in a court atmosphere not prepared to understand the needs of families dealing with domestic violence.
Battered women may lose their babies and children, their homes, their friends and their livelihood. Survivors of childhood abuse will often even lose their families. Rarely does society recognize the dimensions and long lasting effects of this reality for the victim. After over a decade of personally seeking assistance from advocacy groups on a local, state and national level, the advocacy system, as is, has offered me nothing.
Forcibly taking a mother's children, and then controlling her emotionally by withholding contact must be publicly recognized as one of the greatest forms of 'mis-use' of the American justice system and one of the greatest hidden vehicles for wide-spread socially approved physical and emotional abuse and control.
I have concluded by my present circumstances, that the judicial and religious organizations and people who have aided my former husband, Marty Warner, all embrace the same views regarding women and children. They believe male power is absolute over women and great harm will come to those who question and/or defy that power. I believe this is the mentality that causes and perpetuates abuse. (Learn more about the danger of Dominionist Christian ideology and practices.)
Some attorneys and advisors believe that the Circuit Court Judges of Oregon used me as “an example” to show what they do to women who defy their power.
"Losing Custody of your child is shameful and elicits public condemnation. It is also the symbol of "patriarchal ownership" that exists still today. The chattel laws of the past are very much alive and the only women who retain custody after divorce are those whose husbands did not fight. When we divorce in this society, we are divorcing the protection of marriage, like an umbrella, the rights given to men were shared with the wife.
"Once divorced, we are not protected under the law and, therefore, our children are not protected either. Nor do we have a rightful claim to the children we birthed. We are set adrift in a society still clinging to archaic practices. The manipulation and retaliation, the denial and complicit behavior of community are foundations in patriarchal society where male superiority is king, and women who fight back against this rule are punished severely. Mothers desperately, both individually and collectively, need to be vindicated and our good names restored." - Melissa Barnett, Mothers of Lost Children Advocate
America was founded on principles of greed, religious intolerance and slavery. Christians like to rethink the reality to make it sound better but the Pilgrims came here because they were "better" than the fallen masses of Britain and Europe. Instead, they created a land where women and children had no rights, where people could be bought and sold and where blacks were only partially human. Four hundred years later things are still pretty backward. As a society, we are slow to look at our own mirrors and shadows.
The fundamental Christian conservatives want to “take us back to the good ole days.” The so-called "religious right" believes that Christian values will save society from its sins. Each person should seriously study and learn how the Christian Church has attempted "to save" societies in the past.
For the past 1,000 years white Europeans and Euro-American “Christians,” have been on a planet wide rampage of conquering, plundering, looting, exploiting and polluting the Earth as well as raping and killing the indigenous communities that stood in the way.
Americans eliminated tens of millions of Native Americans so effectively that Adolf Hitler considered it a model for purging Germany of Jews and other undesirables. America fostered the Ku Klux Klan and African-Americans were subjected to decades of lynching, racist violence and Jim Crow Laws in their communities without the protection of the government. We, a Christian nation, seized the property and imprisoned Japanese American citizens during WWII.
Throughout my marriage, my ex-husband, Mr. Marty Warner, and his religious supporters and counselors exorcised me for being a witch.
In the late 1690’s the Christian Church revived witch trials in Salem, Massachusetts, instigating a reign of terror on women. Many believe this widespread church and state-sanctioned torture and killing of “witches” set the stage for modern society’s acceptance of violence against women. See Burning Times Film Documentary
"Witch hunts" will continue to be very much a part
of American history, as long as fundamentalist
and religious institutions teach people to fear an
oppressive, vindictive, ruthless, patriarchal god.
Millions of women were burned as witches by
the Catholic Church during the Middle Ages.
Beginning in the sixteenth century and peaking in the seventeenth century, the Christian church was similar to a terrorist organization, being the instigator of indescribable horrors of the infamous Inquisition. In France and, later, in other parts of Europe, tens of thousands of innocent men and women—even children—were persecuted, arrested, imprisoned, tried in secret, tortured, flayed, hanged, or burned at the staked due to the church’s obsession with heretics, witches, herbalists, midwives, sorcerers, black magic and demon-possession.
An excellent documentary film, The Burning Times,
and the books, The Dark Side of Christian History
by Matilda Joslyn Gage, exposes how the Christian
and Catholic Church in cooperation with local
governments instigated a reign of terror in the
sixteenth century. Death by torture was the method
of the church for the repression of women’s intellect–
knowledge being held as evil and dangerous in her
hands. Those condemned as sorcerers and witches,
as "heretics," were in reality the most advanced thinkers
of their ages.
False accusations and hysteria-driven trials led to torture, burnings at the stake, and ultimately to the destruction of what had been an organic and holistic way of life for women. The Burning Times, suggests that this widespread church and state-sanctioned torture and killing of "witches set the stage for modern society's acceptance of violence against women. The crimes committed by these women were using herbs, performing the duties of a midwife, and refused to "submit and conform" to the Papal Church. Men were instructed by priests of the Catholic Church to "beat their wives out of charity." Does any of this sound familiar?
Matilda Joslyn Gage writes, “The Parliament of Toulouse burned
400 witches at one time. Four hundred women at one hour on the
public square, dying the horrid death of fire for a crime which never
existed save in the imagination of those persecutors and which
grew in their imagination from a false belief in woman’s extra
ordinary wickedness, based upon a false theory as to original
Inga Muscio, author of C-nt–A declaration of Independence writes, "The Inquisition justified the–usually sadistic–murder, enslavement or rape of every woman, child and man who practiced any form of spiritual belief which did not honor savior-centered phallic power worship. Women who owned anything more than the clothes on their back were religiously targeted by the Inquisition because all of women's resources and possessions became property of the famously cuntfearing Catholic Church. Out of this, the practice of sending "missionaries" into societies bereft of savior-centered spiritualities evolved."
I agree with author James Redfield. He writes, "A group consciousness which speaks constantly of separation and superiority (our religious and legal systems) produces loss of compassion on a massive scale, and loss of compassion is inevitably followed by a loss of conscience."
Fundamental Legalistic Christian Values & Ideology
Jeff Sharlet exposes the far right conservatives and the “elite” fundamental Christian establishment in society in his book, The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power. In public, they host Prayer Breakfasts; in private, they preach a gospel of "biblical capitalism," military might, and American empire. Citing Hitler, Lenin, and Mao as leadership models, the Family's current leader, Doug Coe, declares, "We work with power where we can, build new power where we can't."
Sharlet's discoveries dramatically challenge conventional wisdom about American fundamentalism, revealing its crucial role in the unraveling of the New Deal, the waging of the cold war, and the no-holds-barred economics of globalization. The question Sharlet believes we must ask is not "What do fundamentalists want?" but "What have they already done?"
Part history, part investigative journalism, The Family is a compelling account of how fundamentalism came to be interwoven with American power, a story that stretches from the religious revivals that have shaken this nation from its beginning to fundamentalism's new frontiers. No other book about the right has exposed The Family or revealed its far-reaching impact on democracy, and no future reckoning of American fundamentalism will be able to ignore it.
The work of James Dobson and John MacArthur perpetuate the problem of domestic violence among evangelical Christian families. They are dispensing life-threatening advice to abused Christian women. "Both Dobson and MacArthur are high-profile evangelical leaders with enough influence and ability to make a positive contribution to the plight of battered women which would result in lives being saved." Instead, "their words are often used to send Christian women back into the danger zone with counsel that encourages them to try and change violent husbands or return to violent homes as soon as the 'heat is off.' The last time I looked, assault was a crime, but Christian women are generally not encouraged to report that crime."
Judith Herman, M.D. maintains that the function of domestic violence is to preserve male supremacy. “Perpetrators understand intuitively that the purpose of their behavior is to put women in their place and that their behavior will be condoned by other men [women] as long as the victim is a legitimate target. Thus, women live with a fear of men which pervades all of life and which convinces women that their weakness is innate and unchangeable." - "Trauma Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence---from Domestic Abuser to Political Terror"
I have concluded that many individuals who embrace anti-abortion ideology and legislation regarding “legitimate rape” truly do not love babies or mothers – their rhetoric and laws are about contempt of women and their need to punish “fornicators.”
I will always treasure the memories and joys of motherhood. Being abused by my husband, his cults and their leaders, and enduring violence, is not a part of God's marriage covenant. I believe when there is violence and cruelty; the marriage covenant is permanently severed. My ex-husband, Mr. Warner, at the time of our divorce and to date, found his support from family members, the community, the judicial system, and pastors, elders and church members at Bridgeport Community Church, Their church doctrine did not believe I had a right to divorce. Crimes of violence are supposed to be endured. It disturbs me that many Christians cannot find compassion in their hearts for victims of violence (women and children), due to their strict adherence to church theology.
As I listen to adults speak about the abuse issues within their marriages, I am convinced that we live in a society where the covenant of marriage is glorified and idolized. Christian parents honor their marriage covenants to their death and sacrifice their own children. As they keep the marriage and family together, they seem oblivious to the consequences the children will suffer from witnessing the violence and abuse within their homes and parents’ relationship.
Our society appears to be shocked by the violence exhibited by our youth. It is difficult for society to understand that the children learned violence at home as a way of resolving conflict. Terrorism is often taught without ammunition and bombs by those who abuse power and get what they want–no matter what the cost.
Many children in households throughout America learn “male-supremacy” and “strong over weak” messages from their parents. Children are watching, listening and learning by our interactions in the private and professional sectors. Sadly, children are learning the “domination game.”
I believe that the extremely patriarchal view of the roles of men and women in our society harm everyone and hinder our human evolution and ability to live fulfilling and mentally healthy lives - both for men and women. It alienates us from each other and isolates us from the divine.
Related Article: Witch Hunts: The End of Magic & Miracles by Helen Ellerbe
Coral Anika Theill's published works address abuse and trauma recovery and most recently, wounded Marines and Montford Point Marines. Her writings have encouraged and inspired numerous trauma victims and wounded Marines and service members recovering from PTS and TBI. Coral's positive insights as a survivor have also earned the respect of clinical therapists, advocates, professors and authors.
BONSHEÁ Making Light of the Dark has been used as a college text for nursing students at Linfield College, Portland, Oregon. In July 2011 Coral received the Lester Granger Award from the National Montford Point Marine Association. In 2002 she received a Writer's Award from iUniverse Publishing Co. She is also a contributing writer for Leatherneck Magazine and Short Rations for Marines. Her October 2011 Leatherneck Magazine article, "Invisible Battle Scars: Confronting the Stigma Associated with PTS & TBI," is cited in the U.S. Army War College "Psychological Health Notes."
Ms. Theill is a survivor of childhood sex trafficking, molestation and abuse, rape, domestic violence, marital rape, spiritual abuse, and nearly twenty years of “legal stalking” and judicial injustice. Before her marriage, she was co-valedictorian of her high school class, completed pilot training and ground school (age 17- 19) and worked as a court reporter and legal secretary. She survived twenty years of domestic violence and now lives under a “state address protection program” from her former husband, Marty Warner of Independence, Oregon.
Her case speaks loudly of the insidious crimes that are legally permitted and condoned under the guise of church and state-sanctioned domination of males in marriage. The message that the current judicial system gives to many domestic violence and rape victims is that they are not worthy, and that no one cares. This needs to change.