Should "the government" crack down on religious counselors?



Bless His noodly appendage.

Praise Jibbers!


There may be specific issues in religious communities that make it more likely that they will not report abuse, but this is similar to many other tight knit groups - whether joined by ethnic, religious, political or other identities that they perceive as different from the wider society. This does present particular challenges to authorities, but I don’t think crack downs are going to be that effective (depending on what you mean by “crack down”). I’d say more consistent regulation is certainly appropriate as well as working to integrate different groups into the wider society while allowing them to keep their particular identities and some degree of autonomy. Religious freedom is important, but there are many responsibilities that individuals and groups have to promote society in general, regardless of their personal belief and identity.


Hey OP, yes you @hello_friends. :wave:

I’ve noticed an increased frequency of new accounts posting topics which propose, or at least propose to debate, religiously centred questions.

Do you perhaps come from a college class or a reddit thread or something where a bunch of people proposed signing up to boingboing to interrogate the Zeitgeist here? Particularly in relation to the views on religious topics?
Maybe not limited to boingboing in particular but there definitely seems to be an upswing in what was previously a practically non-existent trend.

Probably just coincidence.


Surely Jerry Sandusky was just an edge-case!


Gosh, zing, you got it!

The two topics he’s opened have both been primarily religious! And he’s only been active in threads involving T-Mobile, victimhood, corruption, video games, economics, charter schools, the Fear and Loathing graphic novel, and other primarily religious topics.

Bro – do you research, even?


Seems friendly, at least friendlier toward me than others, and is engaged in the proposing of topics, the central concern of which I noticed was gathering steam.

Perhaps OP sees these kinds of topics being proposed and thought it was a lark, maybe it’s of concern to OP directly with no other motivation…

Thought I’d ask and see if there was some kind of correlation.
Was in no way trying to suggest that OPs only concern was religion… that’s a… weird takeaway.

Bro – do you grasp motivations even?

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I’m re-reading your post, trying to read it in any way that suggests the writer is not primarily interested in posting topics wich propose, or at least propose to debate, religiously centered questions. And I’m failing to.

If you’re meaning to ask the author about other new accounts that do not include his new account 1) it is not obvious and 2) it is derailing and OT in any case. It could be better served as a PM or fork.

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Perhaps we should fork?

I wondered aloud, in a topic that followed a recent pattern I had recognised, if there was any kind of correlation between it (this topic) and the others.

I’m not attributing anything nasty to the practice and especially not to this topic, which I have taken direct part in, in good faith.

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I read the religious aspects of this thread to be secondary to the public health concerns of unlicensed or untrained practitioners propagating useless or bad care to vulnerable abuse victims.

From such a lens, this thread / inquiry seems eminently consistent with OP’s prior expressed positions in support of victim advocacy, violence prevention, and building stronger and more resilient communities.

The question about the role of professional regulation and standards of care when it comes to religious counseling is a thorny and nuanced one in light of the US right to religious freedom, but a timely question in light of the atrocities reported to be done by IBLP.


And a very interesting question it is, underlined by the bold questions proposed at the end of the opening of the topic:

Seems to focus on the religious aspects concerning the legality of victim advocacy etc.

I like this topic and hope for a reply from OP to my first comment. All this other stuff was an afterthought, perhaps it is coincidence. Perhaps OP has seen the, uh, interesting debates surrounding religion recently and wanted to interrogate that part of our Zeitgeist. I’m genuinely curious.

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Wow, it’s so nice to find all of these replies this morning! :smiley_cat: I have to get ready for two meetings, but I’m going to try to get started on answers . . . .

No, I wish. I am adjuncting an undergraduate class on the (sociology of) rape in the spring, and I’ve worked for over 20 years on the advocacy and now admin side of gender violence issues. I’ve been a boingboing fan for many years and, after moving to a new town, overcome with the desire to have more conversations about interesting subjects.

You’re right. I ask partly from traumatized AM radio/Fox News hypervigilance. Generally, any effort to hold fundamentalist institutions to a common standard for, say, raping children or helping to legitimize same may predictably be contested on the grounds of values as government overreach. I think it’s important to have a values-based response.

Catching criminals is a values-based response though — not always trauma-informed or sufficiently distinguished from the fundamentalist rhetoric about “family violence” based more on protecting “the family” than protecting safe, consensual relationships.

Yes, I totally missed that in my post. You’re right there’s an interest and authority usually for a licensing board or three to investigate and remedy unauthorized practice of X licensed practice.

The “unauthorized practice” issue is overlapping and also distinct from criminal or civil liability questions.

Emerging or “para” professions like life coaching, fancy personal assistants, notarios, etc. present a socially contested bundle of, OTOH, needed professional practices and/or OTOH, unscrupulous charlatans. They nearly always operating outside the capacity of particular professions to police any but the most egregious abuses.

Plus, there are professions and professional practices which do self-regulate but present sometimes similar issues of commodified, predatory practices that overwhelm the social justice mission of the profession.

Those issues are present with professions like insurance agent or realtor . . . but also medical, legal and (of course) lay clergy pastoral counselors.

I think this is really so insightful — both the emphasis on norms (values) which inhibit reporting and the need to create safety for those who want to exit a fundamentalist group or community to consider doing so.

As @LDoBe said:

There are also 24-hour crisis and/or support lines staffed by advocates to offer a safe harbor and space for people to reflect on what they want and need individually — distinct from their family or church and yet not necessarily in opposition to that group. The person in danger is usually the best judge of how to manage the risks.

Some victim services are attached to law enforcement and/or the prosecutors’ offices and are not focused on responding to gender violence (i.e. also assist victims of other types of crimes, like theft). They tend to be funded only while the case is pending and when if the criminal investigation/prosecution goes sideways (and most do), they’re not able to continue helping.

On the other hand, there’s a national — international, really — network of coalitions of advocate groups funded to focus on gender violence and help on a trauma-informed basis independently of a criminal investigation/prosecution.

I think this is true. One would expect that clergy holding themselves out to parishioners as “counselors” would be held to the same standard. Since the 80s, that expectation would be generally mistaken but for exceptional cases.

I remember that you like to post sarcastically and see that you are kidding . . . still want to add that I’m very interested in how STEM topics intersect with professional, cultural and esp. social justice topics. I have to listen and read more on the STEM topics since I’m way in the learner phase compared to many of the people who post here.

Thank you for the kind welcome! I’m still learning to communicate courteously through posting. It’s sadly easy to misunderstand people. I see the grammatical importance of the emoji. :smiley_cat:

As a closing note, I think there’s an embarrassment of riches (or parade of horribles, depending on perspective) in the intersections between multiculturalism (including fundamentalist groups) and gender when considering gender violence.


Glad to have you aboard.

The well is deep here. :wink:


I second the Glad You’re Here. And keep in mind, while we are generally a thoughtful, empathetic, funny, crass, groan inducing group of mutants, the phrase “feck off, you dirty fecker” is at all times an appropriate response :imp:

Now, back to Questions!


I have no idea what you are talking about.




Hmm … should a church that employs religious counselors who interfere with escape attempts by domestic abuse victims lose tax exempt status?

And be liable for the injuries caused by the counselor?

I really don’t know the right remedy. But I don’t believe that religion should be a shield for subpar care.


*COUG Catholic Hospitals COUGH


I am not anti religion, but I really don’t think churches should be tax exempt for religious work. I mean, I accept that the act of going to church and meeting other people regularly etc. can be beneficial to many people, but either take away churches’ tax exempt status or grant it to gaming groups or wherever else people like to meet up to have fun.