After seeing allegations of sexual abuse at Christian schools like Bob Jones University and Patrick Henry College, it’s worth asking whether there’s a pattern there. Is there something that needs to change about the culture at those schools that might help alleviate the problem — or at least give the victims at those schools a way to report problems without feeling like they did something wrong?
This isn’t a problem unique to Christians, obviously, but it’s one that needs to be addressed wherever it occurs. In the case of atheist conferences, we’ve seen organizers start to promote codes of conduct and that’s a welcome sign. It’s not an admission of any wrongdoing, but a way to let attendees know that their safety is a priority and any reports of harassment will be taken seriously.
It is interesting to observe the things they tolerate (e.g., many kinds of sexual immorality) and the things they will not tolerate (e.g., lack of social etiquette). It should also be noted that Christian conventions do not need to post such a code of conduct because the attendees have been redeemed by the grace of God and gladly submit to His code of conduct in the Bible.
This is Creationist logic for you. Even when schools that preach Creationism — schools where students believe they’re “saved” — are in the news precisely because of reports of harassment and assault, Mortenson ignores it. Because when evidence doesn’t match his preconceived worldview, the problem must lie with the evidence and not his outlook. Maybe if Christian schools and conferences had a proper, transparent way to deal with these problems, we’d see fewer stories about how such cases are swept under the rug.
And let’s point out the obvious: Mortenson suggests that Christian conventions don’t need these policies because attendees are all biblical and good… but he’s also part of a culture where men have more power than women and where women must know the kind of accusations that’ll be leveled at them if they cause any problems. Just because Mortenson isn’t aware of these problems at Christian conferences doesn’t mean they don’t occur. It’s even worse there than at atheist conferences, I’d say, because there’s no recourse for victims if anything bad were to happen.
Mortenson also criticizes AA’s policy because, in his mind, atheists have no moral code anyway:
But in an atheist worldview, these atheists have no basis for this code. In their view there is no God and therefore no moral absolutes… So we are all just animals and it is the law of the jungle, the survival of the fittest. Animals don’t show the social decencies required in the atheists’ code. So why should people? This code is completely arbitrary. Certainly the American Atheists are free to make this code for their conventions. But their worldview isn’t the source of these rules.
Shorter Mortenson: Atheists don’t have a holy book… and therefore anything goes.
That’s how he thinks the atheist mind works. Then again, he works for Answers in Genesis. They’re used to just making up arguments and passing them off as facts.
AA’s Code of Conduct says: “American Atheists does not tolerate harassment of or by conference participants in any form.” You shouldn’t need a holy book to understand why that’s a good policy to have just in case anything happens. What I don’t get is why Mortenson is so opposed to policies designed to make conferences safer for attendees. If everyone acts appropriately, as he believes they do at Christian conferences, then he has nothing to worry about by promoting some version of what AA uses.