Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
Toxin du jour
Glurge: Christian girl who prays for protection while walking home late one night is saved by two angels who keep her safe from rape.
Example: [Collected on the Internet, 2000]
This story is best viewed as an inspirational tale meant to stress the importance of prayer in daily life, not as an account of something that actually happened. Nothing in it lends itself to verification; no last name or date or city is given. Indeed, we supposedly know what the rapist said in explanation of his unexpected confession ("Because she wasn't alone. She had two tall men walking on either side of her") but we aren't told his name, a detail that would make running down news articles about this man's conviction and sentence a snap.
As a bit of inspirational fiction, "Angels in the Alley" (its oft-used informal Internet title) not only misses the mark but lands a wicked backhand against the very folks a caring God would look to spare further harm. Because "Diane" prays she is passed over by the rapist, but another girl who traverses the same alley twenty minutes later is not so fortunate — she is victimized in the way Diane would have been. Prayer doesn't stop the rape; it merely diverts it from one potential victim to another. Diane's entreaties to the Lord thus have the effect of precipitating the sexual assault of another woman who otherwise would not have been raped. Hardly a ringing endorsement of God's mercy,
Beyond the "displacement of an evil result onto another" concept, (halting the evil as opposed to merely redirecting it would have been a better game plan for these alleyway angels), this story does a huge disservice to the many in real life who have been sexually assaulted. It implies they didn't pray hard enough, else their rapes would have been prevented too. Victims of such attacks carry enough emotional scars without prayer advocates adding one more: God must have intentionally turned his back on them, because he sends angels to protect the truly worthy.
The truly worthy, the truly unworthy, and all manner of folk in between can and do get raped, beaten, murdered, and have any number of horrible fates visited upon them. Belief in a world populated with invincible spirit guards that can be summoned to keep watch over us by the mere utterance of a heartfelt prayer might be ever so comforting, but the reality of life is far different. Good people, even prayerful people, can have bad things happen to them. To think otherwise is to draw comfort from the notion that all those who have been victimized mustn't have prayed hard enough, or that deep down they just weren't good people after all.
Barbara "blame the victimizer, not the victim" Mikkelson
Last updated: 9 July 2001
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