by Travis Mateer
Is the world for kids essentially a series of shitty “choices” between which groups of fucked up adults they’re going to get abused and exploited by? Well, this post is about the danger of the adults who operate under a Christian savior complex, probably to leverage sexual favors or make money, if I had to speculate on the motivations.
Let’s take the charge against JD Partain of surreptitiously recording his adopted daughter undressing in her room, an act this Christian man confessed to before changing his tune. While I’ve read the charging documents, and can safely assume the main purpose of this act was sexual gratification, one can’t discount the possibility that the content of the recording, which has monetary value, wasn’t created for the additional benefit of making money.
Some “alleged” sexual predators place themselves at multiple access points, like the young man who has a trial coming up next month, Jordan Graves. While this Missoulian article only mentions the fact Graves was a public school teacher, this NBC Montana article references the church groups he was known to participate in (emphasis mine):
Missoula County prosecutors charged Jordan Graves with sexual assault and sexual intercourse without consent, both felonies.
Graves worked for Missoula County Public Schools and attended church groups in Missoula before leaving the state in 2012.
Court records show a former student went to investigators last August and reported a sex assault that happened when she was in high school in Missoula in 2011.
It’s very difficult for me to read about the “opportunities” some Christian organizations claim exist among marginalized populations without thinking first and foremost about predation and exploitation. Here is some language from the link that describes the GOD opportunity for youth in the criminal justice system (emphasis mine):
On any given year in the US there are over 740,000 teens referred to the juvenile justice system, some of whom will be confined to a corrections facility, others who will be diverted into a community-based alternative, and many who will be court sanctioned to probation. The sad fact is that, for our young people who are actively incarcerated, a detention center may be the only place they feel safe, have reliable meals, are sober, or are not facing constant trauma. For our justice involved young people who continue to stay in their communities, many continue to face adverse experiences such as relational trauma, racial trauma, community violence, and lack of access to basic needs. It is during these moments of crisis that our justice involved young people are most open to uncovering God’s story of hope in their lives.
Now, here’s a completely different opportunity. Are you an electrician? Because, if you are, you could involve yourself RIGHT NOW by helping out the LifeGuard Group with their electricity needs.
What I find fascinating about this Facebook post from the LifeGuard Group is how it directly contradicts something claimed JUST TWO MONTHS AGO about serving their first victim. From the link (emphasis mine):
Christmas came early for The LifeGuard Group, a Montana-based nonprofit organization that works to protect those in our communities against sexual exploitation and human trafficking.The five-year-old organization in mid-December welcomed the first person to its new LifeHouse, a place where rescued victims of human trafficking can stay, heal, and learn to begin a successful new life.“The LifeHouse was a pretty great Christmas present,” said Tami Hochhalter, who founded The LifeGuard Group with her husband Lowell.
So, which one is it, Lowell and Tami Hochhalter? Have you actually served your first victim of human trafficking or have you NOT yet served your first victim of human trafficking? This shouldn’t be a difficult question to answer.
An organization that uses best practices wouldn’t struggle with communicating basic facts to the public, like whether or not your organization has served a victim of trafficking or not. Other things organizations that follow best practices in this field wouldn’t do is hire family members, fail to do background checks on volunteers, or use the property for your kid’s wedding.
I started this year by publishing a letter sent to the LifeGuard group by a very courageous woman after her safety was compromised by Lowell’s dangerous lack of professionalism. Here it is again:
Why would an organization that has been burned by someone they hired NOT be more weary when soliciting assistance for their electrical needs? Well, maybe that public Facebook post on March 13th for an electrician is supposed to function more as a justification for why the LifeHouse isn’t open yet than it is to communicate actual electrical needs. But that’s just a hunch.
I had the opportunity to speak with a Christian complex’r this week who has met Lowell Hochhalter and is becoming more active in our community. This man is on my synchronicity radar, having recently come to Missoula from Moscow, Idaho, where the brutal slayings at 1122 King Road has received national attention. After my chat with him, though, I’m not sure how much more we will be speaking.
When the cameras are rolling, the attempt to gain access to vulnerable kids within the criminal justice system sounds just fine. Here’s a clip:
If this was JUST a ministry to youth while incarcerated, that would be one thing, but the scenario I’ve become familiar with involves getting an almost 18 year old with concerning demographic information OUT of incarceration by potentially addressing the critical component keeping this “youth” behind bars: a lack of housing.
Instead of just complaining about these, at best, well-intentioned Christian do-gooders, I’d like to offer an idea for a type of training that just popped into my head (maybe as a divine assignment). I’m calling this idea discernment bootcamp. Here’s how it would work.
For a modest percentage of the weekly tithing I could provide my insights as a former service provider of homeless services in order to increase the competency of do-gooders who act as easy marks for criminal elements when they lack this key tool. Don’t be a sucker of spiritual hucksters, I would cry out in earnestness before producing my ukulele and leading the congregation in song.
Before getting to my Jesus song, I’d like to give a shout-out to one final Christian complex’r who is saving the houseless with those Pallet sheds. Like so many influencers in this town who do things on the surface, Jim Hicks recently expressed his dream to change NOT the system that provides him souls to save with his sheds, but the name of the program. Here’s Hicks’ dream (emphasis mine):
Hicks said his goal is to eventually rename the TSOS the ‘Island of Hope’.
“This is just in my heart,” he said. “I just like to see that place called ‘Island of Hope’ as far as what is there, because our hope is they come (to the TSOS) they get some stability, they get the wraparound services, and they can then work on the issues they need to so that they can move forward. Our big picture is ‘street to shelter, to recovery to stability’. So that’s kind of the big picture from our end.”
Well, damn. What more can I say? How about this: Jesus ain’t happy with his flock in Zoom Town, so here’s a song that I hope goes a little further than a name change to bring some change to this sorry situation with God’s people.
Try BETTER y’all!
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Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for the Week in Review this Sunday!