Religion is most beautiful when it nourishes the human spirit and inspires the believer to be a better person. To be a better member of their family, to engage with others in a more just way, and to be a shining example to the community. Religion is a force for evil when it is used to exploit others, oppress others, and protect those engaged in evil.
The Catholic Church has been rocked for decades by sex-abuse scandals. Hundreds of Catholic priests have been involved in abusing minors (and if we know about hundreds more than likely thousands were abusing). The initial reaction to the scandal by the church was to protect the image of the church and protect the honor and reputations of accused priests. Even today some still maintain that line of thought arguing this is all a “plot against the church”.
Orthodox Jewish communities have been rocked by similar scandals. And, like the Catholics, their response has been most often to handle the matter internally and protect their members from the system giving the needs of the offender a higher priority than the needs of the victims.
For years the Muslim community of Philadelphia has been rocked by scandals including “burqa bandits”, drug trafficking organizations, wife swaping, imam spiritual sex abuse of congregations, murders, section 8 polygamy, and almost anything else you can think of. This has mostly been within the Salafi community (although not exclusively). Of course these things don’t define the community. There is a lot of good going on as well that doesn’t make the news. Other segments of the community have seldom been hit with scandals.
The latest scandal is very troubling. In the past I’ve heard rumors of a lot of rape going on between step-fathers and step-daughters. And, part of me says this is bound to happen when you have men getting married dozens of times moving in and out of households without the marriage being registered with the state and no proper system of background checks in place. Now we have a serious scandal involving the alleged sexual abuse of a child by a step-father.
Abdul-Wali Nelson is a religious instructor from Philly who studied in Saudi Arabia. I don’t know whether Nelson (Willie Nelson) is guilty or innocent. What I do know is that the same destructive pattern has once again emerged. The focus is on protecting the rights of the man and ignoring the rights of the child. The “mandated reporters” Anwar Wright and Jamal Finch neglected their duties in reporting the allegations to authorities out of a misplaced sense of brotherhood. The mother is allegedly not seeking justice for her child for fear of being ostracized within her religious community (this is a textbook cult attitude). Meanwhile Abdul-Wali Nelson signed off social media and asked G-d for forgiveness so it’s all good… Not how this works bro.
Brothers and sisters if you are a victim of Abdul-Wali Willie Nelson or you know anything about this case or others please contact authorities. Protecting children is the priority. Not anything else.
Here is some audio from Abdul-Wali Nelson FYI. If this is a person of G-d we’re all in trouble.