During the Olympics, the world celebrates the excellence of the human body, lifting up as heroes those who push beyond ordinary limits of physical endurance and train their bodies to achieve greatness. We hail the human form as a miracle, and bear reverent witness to what it can do.
Unless you’re Christian pastor Kevin Swanson, who sees the human body – specifically, young female human bodies – solely as sexual objects. In his radio address on Friday, Swanson attributed the sexual abuse of young female athletes to the leotards and the swimsuits they wear.
This is the same evangelical extremist who preaches that the Bible calls for homosexuals to be put to death. He has also said the Orlando shooting and the Paris attacks were “God sending a message” to sinners. He said the flooding in Houston was because the mayor was gay. Swanson has long pleaded with his listeners to boycott the Girl Scouts because they’re all communist lesbian feminists and selling cookies teaches women to compete with men in the marketplace, when those girls should be “trained” to let the men go and compete in the marketplace while they stay home and bake cookies.
But his latest remarks are despicable. Under the guise of a thoughtful theological sermon, Swanson explores all the reasons he believes child sexual abuse happens.
He starts by blaming parents, claiming that Larry Nassar couldn’t have molested hundreds of young athletes if their parents had not left them alone with the doctor. Swanson seems to miss the concept that the doctor should not have been sexually abusing hundreds of girls in the first place.
He also blames open showers in locker rooms. Again, Swanson’s obtuse proclamation somehow equates “proximity to a naked person” with “consent.”
Swanson insisted, “Young women have a responsibility before God to cry out when something shameful is going on. I think this is the root of it. We have to train our daughters to cry out.” He then proceeded to quote Deuteronomy to prove his point that if a young girl doesn’t report her sexual abuse, then she is as much to blame as the abuser.
He also blamed the environment created by certain “risky” sports – the ones that incur a “fair amount of immodesty” because girls wear less restrictive clothing:
“There is an infatuation with the body,” he said, “and, of course, the sexual aspects of the body as well. Some sports encourage immodesty, revealing large portions of the body and this happens in some sports. These are the risky sports. Here they are, what are the risky sports? Gymnastics. Gymnastics and swimming. These are the sports in which there is an added risk.”
Someone needs to check this guy’s internet browser history. If he’s watching a 13-year-old executing a triple backflip and the first thing that pops into his head is sex, his moral compass needs some serious calibration.
Swanson blamed the sexual abuse on everything except the one thing that actually causes sexual abuse – those who commit sexual abuse. The crowning jewel of Friday’s broadcast was when he implored parents to discourage their daughters from joining these sports, warning:
“Do you really want your daughters involved in a sport that involves a fair amount of immodesty in which red-blooded American male coaches are interacting with these girls?”
Yes, that’s right. After attributing sexual abuse to a number of factors that do not actually CAUSE sexual abuse, Swanson gave a major pass to the one thing that DOES – perpetrators – by implying that full-grown men should not be expected to restrain themselves around young girls in leotards and swimsuits, taking the “she was asking for it” argument to a disgusting new level.
If victim-blaming were an Olympic event, Pastor Kevin Swanson gets the gold.