Christianity’s Evidence-Based Approach to Sexual Abuse Accusations Against Moore, Weinstein, Matthews
This wave of exposure (and yes, hysteria) about sexual misconduct among leaders is a tremendous opportunity for us. The Biblical tradition breaks from much of the ancient world by introducing an evidentiary approach to accusation rather than a mimetic one. The pagan world used imitation (mimesis) to justify accusations. If you could stir the crowd up enough to imitate your accusation against some outsider, you could form unanimity minus one (as Rene Girard put it and my friend Gil Baillie taught me). It was like a wave or a flood or a fire. The flood itself was taken as proof that the wanderer or deformed person or foreigner was really a demonic evil-doer. And the fact that after he or she died people felt better was also taken as a vindication of the whole frenzied process of accusation and murder.
The Torah slowed all of that down. Two or three witnesses were required. The witnesses were required to fully bear the burden of their status as accusers by being the first to cast the stones (a legal protection of the victim which Jesus invokes as a strategy in defense of the woman accused of adultery), something much tougher to do if you know you are lying. The Bible also adds consequences for false accusations. Furthermore, it counts all witnesses equally. Female witnesses count as much as male (something I seem to remember the Quran does not do). There is no provision which says that the witnesses must be Israelites or that an Israelite witness counts more than that of a foreigner, which undermines the dynamics of tribalism and identity politics.
The New Testament invokes this principle at several points, extending the standard for criminal sanctions (such as capital punishment) to apply to excommunication.
How such principles apply to other situations which are not matters of physical execution or spiritual execution (excommunication) is an interesting exercise which may be of help to us and to the world. I think it is important to also point out that the Bible implies rather different procedures when it comes to people who are seeking power whether temporal or eternal. I’m not aware of any instances in which the Bible invokes the 2 witnesses standard when it comes to someone who is seeking an office or authority. In those cases, the standard seems to be something more like public reputation.
If we Christians want to live up to our origins, we will be both a city of refuge for the false accused and a city of refuge for the genuinely victimized. We will be a magnet for people who are telling the truth, who will know of us as a place where evidence is weighed. False accusers and false deniers will want to avoid us because we will be known as searchers for the truth, plumbers of testimony, weighers of all the relevant details. Liars will want nothing to do with us. That, and not tribalism, identity politics and hysteria are our historical heritage.
Jerry Bowyer is a Forbes contributor, contributing editor of AffluentInvestor.com, and Senior Fellow in Business Economics at The Center for Cultural Leadership.
Jerry has compiled an impressive record as a leading thinker in finance and economics. He worked as an auditor and a tax consultant with Arthur Anderson, as Vice President of the Beechwood Company which is the family office associated with Federated Investors, and has consulted in various privatization efforts for Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. He founded the influential economic think tank, the Allegheny Institute, and has lectured extensively at universities, businesses and civic groups.
Jerry has been a member of three investment committees, among which is Benchmark Financial, Pittsburgh’s largest financial services firm. Jerry had been a regular commentator on Fox Business News and Fox News. He was formerly a CNBC Contributor, has guest-hosted “The Kudlow Report”, and has written for CNBC.com, National Review Online, and The Wall Street Journal, as well as many other publications. He is the author of The Bush Boom and more recently The Free Market Capitalist’s Survival Guide, published by HarperCollins. Jerry is the President of Bowyer Research.
Jerry consulted extensively with the Bush White House on matters pertaining to the recent economic crisis. He has been quoted in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes Magazine, The International Herald Tribune and various local newspapers. He has been a contributing editor of National Review Online, The New York Sun and Townhall Magazine. Jerry has hosted daily radio and TV programs and was one of the founding members of WQED’s On-Q Friday Roundtable. He has guest-hosted the Bill Bennett radio program as well as radio programs in Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles.
Jerry is the former host of WorldView, a nationally syndicated Sunday-morning political talk show created on the model of Meet The Press. On WorldView, Jerry interviewed distinguished guests including the Vice President, Treasury Secretary, HUD Secretary, former Secretary of Sate Condoleezza Rice, former Presidential Advisor Carl Rove, former Attorney General Edwin Meese and publisher Steve Forbes.
Jerry has taught social ethics at Ottawa Theological Hall, public policy at Saint Vincent’s College, and guest lectured at Carnegie Mellon’s graduate Heinz School of Public Policy. In 1997 Jerry gave the commencement address at his alma mater, Robert Morris University. He was the youngest speaker in the history of the school, and the school received more requests for transcripts of Jerry’s speech than at any other time in its 120-year history.
Jerry lives in Pennsylvania with his wife, Susan, and the youngest three of their seven children.