“Father Says” by Dr. Duane Arnold PhD

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48 Responses

  1. Disillusioned says:

    Wow. Utterly heartbreaking.

    I think we should always tell the truth, even if it hurts. Hiding the truth only enables these predators to continue in their ways.

  2. Michael says:

    This is so powerful and so needed.
    I’m honored to publish it…because art and music can change the unchangeable.
    Thank you, Duane…

  3. Jean says:


    I see the terrible damage that sexual abuse has visited on victims of evil clergy. I also can see the value in song as a godly vehicle for lament. However, in its current form, the song lacks certain elements, which if added could render the song a Christian lament.

    Generally, the lament Psalms contain the following elements:

    (1) address to God;
    (2) complaint;
    (3) expression of faith;
    (4) petition; and
    (5) praise.

    Without expression of faith, including that God hears my complaint and petition and will come to my aid, and a praise or doxology for His faithfulness, you’re left with complaints which lead to despair and/or blasphemy.

    What does the victim want? Put it out there. Even the destruction of his enemies can have an evangelical purpose so that by justice the evil might repent of their evil and receive grace and mercy from God.

    Your article is on a very relevant issue and I think writing poetry or music as an outlet for pain and suffering from clergy abuse is good. Please don’t be offended by my critique. My concern is that the song bear fruit in the souls of those who sing or hear it, and not lead them further into despair or unbelief.

  4. Xenia says:

    This is why an unmarried clergy is a bad idea.

  5. Dan from Georgia says:

    By all means, record/publish it! The church needs to be purged of this. As Disillusioned said, hiding the truth will only enable the predators. I am an artist myself and, as a Christian, I have been encouraged to paint only “safe” material. I will not do that. One day when I get back to my art, the gloves will come off.

  6. Duane Arnold says:

    Many thanks all…

    #3 Jean
    I understand your critique, but I wrote this from the point of view of the victim and intentionally avoided resolution. The reason being that so many of the victims have not come to a point of resolution themselves – not with clergy, not with the Church and, painful as it is to say, not with God. The final bridge/coda is almost a “non-prayer”. I did this as I felt it was important to be true to their experience. We want resolution – forgiveness, judgement… something… – but resolution is the very thing most find it hard to achieve. When Church itself – with all that it entails – becomes the trigger to summon up the most painful experiences, I understand why resolution escapes so many.

  7. Xenia says:

    A “Though He slay me yet will I trust Him” conclusion might give some victims hope.

  8. Duane Arnold says:

    #7 Xenia
    An interesting thought as violated trust is at the heart of the issue…

  9. Michael says:

    I like it the way it is.
    It speaks to the broken trust and the despair that comes with it…and being able to voice that is the first step on the way back to something resembling wholeness.

  10. JoelG says:

    I agree with Disillusioned. Just tell the truth like you did Duane. Why does there always need to be quick resolution? Maybe there’s no resolution on this side of eternity for some people that have been hurt so bad. Well done Duane. Just my 1 cent.

  11. Duane Arnold says:

    #10 Joel
    Many thanks. Speaking of “no resolution”, in looking through the news reports I was appalled and saddened by the number of victims who took their own lives.

  12. Kevin H says:

    This is quite powerful. It gives voice to the anguish and despair of the victims of these terrible crimes.

    I think it is better to record and acknowledge the reality of the situation and show that there are those who care and think about it rather than to keep it hidden to save face for the church.

  13. Randy says:

    My only problem is that there is no hope offered to the victim. But I’m not sure how it could be done.

  14. Michael says:

    Thank you all for your input.
    I’ve heard the finished product…and it gave me chills.
    We need this…and much more .

  15. Victor says:

    This was the problem when I reported my then ex-law 17 year old uncle for violating my then 2 year old daughter. The family was angry at me, accused me of being the molester (which makes no logical sense, but emotions run high), and so on. My ex put it in context: “in our culture, what the eldest male says is Law, and you violated that, so that is why they are so angry and confused by your actions.” The eldest male would be my ex FIL, the father of the perp. Mexican culture, Catholic (pretty much in name only). Three years later, after we thought we’d pretty much moved past this, our daughter mentioned something about not wanting to be alone with the uncle, and grandma called her a liar (not the first time) and wanted to talk to her to set her straight.

    It’s sad that we trust the mother of our older son’s classmate to watch our children, rather than their own grandmother, who was complicit in hiding and denying sexual abuse. I don’t pray fire and brimstone upon the uncle, nor the family, though I still get angry sometimes. I do pray for the protection of our children and that their angels who gaze upon the face of The Father in heaven protect them from evil.

  16. Siggy the Terrible says:

    You guys should release it at no cost,



    But to be ecumenical about it, the second chorus should read “Pastor says”.

  17. AA says:

    That is very sad, I understand how you feel. We were never able to leave our daughter with her grandmother as there was a known molester in the house. We were never confident that grandmother would be vigilant to ensure the safety of the young girls in the house.

  18. Siggy the Terrible says:

    What key?

  19. Duane Arnold says:

    #18 It’s in DADGAD tuning…

  20. em ... again says:

    just stopping by to say….

    i have some reservations with the tone of the lamentation… even tho, it lays bare the ugly wound to a trusting young soul, somehow, this ‘song’ should declare that the man is not a man of God, but a phony Father, a wolf in a cleric’s garb… as it is written (as i read it) the condemnation falls on the Church not the man

  21. Duane Arnold says:

    #20 em

    The trouble is, most of these perpetrators (and their protectors) often looked at the abuse as something not connected to being a priest or pastor… it was (is) self-delusion in the extreme. Even more troubling are the number of parents who thought it was a “good thing” that the pastor, priest, or youth minister had such a “special interest” in their son or daughter…

  22. covered says:

    Not sure what to say except wow. I just read this to my wife she is sitting and crying as I write this. Thank you Duane.

  23. Michael says:


    That was pretty much my reaction…
    For me,nothing is more powerful than a song…and I pray that the church learn to use music and art like this again.

  24. covered says:

    There is a message in every line. I can’t stand the pain caused by betrayal.

  25. Duane Arnold says:

    covered, Michael,

    Many thanks. I’ll have to say, it was more about listening to what was said by the victims and turning it into verse. Maybe that’s part of the lesson – listen first…

    It is amazing to me, I searched fairly extensively and really found nothing by Christian/Catholic singer songwriters on this subject (I may have missed something, but I don’t think so). That’s in spite of the fact that this has occupied the front pages of the local and national press for almost two decades with churches paying hundreds of millions of dollars in settlement of law suits. I guess they figure that K-Love does’t want something like this on their playlist. It’s not “positive and encouraging”…

  26. covered says:

    Good observation Duane. There is a measurable amount of responsibility & accountability with your lyrics.

  27. Michael says:


    That song will “resonate” with victims because it says that some listened and someone understood.

    That is a precious gift to people in pain…

  28. Siggy the Terrible says:

    This song speaks to the thousands upon thousands of women used as well.

  29. JoelG says:

    Michael #27 – Yes yes yes. Listening is a ministry to the world that the church needs to invest in more than ever.

  30. Ryan Ashton says:


    Based on my understanding, the idea “complaints that offer no hope are blasphemous” are not consistent with even Scripture itself.

    Psalm 88 is a dark room I go to sometimes because I find comfort that, even in Scripture, God has made a space where there is no hope, and that it’s okay to just feel pain.

    I think being able to feel pain without being lectured to pull myself back up has been a huge part of my process of recovering from religious abuse. I trust others here can relate.

    If I am reading Psalm 88 wrong, I am open to your opinions.

    But from where I sit, it seems one of the only places where God has validated the ability for us as human beings to complain and _not_ have to express faith. Because, sometimes, that’s just the way it is.

  31. Duane Arnold says:

    #30 Ryan

    Well said. I think many would agree with you.

  32. DavidH says:

    I appreciate the song. I’m not going to say I like it, but it’s powerful.

    Across our society sexual abuse is ripping us to shreds, and yet it sits beneath the radar. Most folks don’t want to deal with it, and I think that is because virtually everyone has, in one way or another, been touched by it.

    I had an uncle, by marriage, who molested his own grandsons. Fortunately for my brother and I we were NEVER left alone with this monster. He was the “nice” uncle. He was a damn savage.

    I don’t think a lot of people realize that human trafficking has become the main method for gangs to make money. A couple of years ago our school police did a presentation, and informed us that human trafficking would become the dominant gang related crime.

    We need to get our heads out of the sand.

  33. Donner says:

    Agree with the sentiment…heavy. Sad and sorrowful.

    The last stanza portrays Jesus as uncaring. That He won’t take away the pain. This is not true of the real Jesus. It is false.

    I understand that the singer is probably referring to the wooden Jesus on the crucifix, but that is implied and solely derived from the listener’s knowledge of Catholicism.

    So much of this song rings heartfelt truth. Please don’t end it with a lie. Change the final stanza to be clear that it refers to the non-living, crucifix Jesus.

  34. Siggy the Terrible says:


    Not a false portrayal of Jesus, but a “psalmic”, if that’s a word even, expression of a child or, to me, woman being betrayed, lost and in pain.

  35. Linnea says:

    Record it. What is happening under the supposed guise of God and Jesus is giving a false understanding of who God and Jesus are. The truth shall set you free.

  36. Duane Arnold says:


    Many thanks….

  37. Surfer51 says:

    Lonnie Frisbee is a life study of a victim of children’s ministry leaders.

    He tried to tell the adults what was happening to him but no one would believe him.

    So he withdrew into the comfort of the Holy Spirit he has said.

    His therapist had said to him that he had “bonded” to the age at which he had been molested.

    It is amazing to see what this man struggled with and to realize how many people responded to his ministering.

    Tough topic…great work Duane…shows you are not afraid to go to the wall and say it as it is…

    “Truth is the delineation of that which is.”

  38. Surfer51 says:

    1 Peter 2:9 New International Version (NIV)

    9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

  39. brian says:

    One of the saddest books I have ever read was “Orphans of The Empire” By Alan Gill. All the churches involved in this were trying to do good in many ways after a horrid war but more horrors followed. I tried to discuss this with the faith community I first became a Christian. The I’m a liar, you want attention discussion just really turned me off, it was supposed to so it worked so that is good. That was one time that I learned the very last place to discuss things like forgiveness, hope, redemption repentance etc was church.

  40. Potatoehead says:

    Well, Brian, at least that particular Church was toxic for you.

    All Churches are not alike.

    All of us seek a Church where we sense that we are being accepted and are comfortable.

    Going through the Churches that we don’t fit in is all part of the ongoing process until we finally arrive where we need to be.

    What I am saying is don’t throw up absolutes on just one Church experience/encounter.

    Stay at finding a place, soon enough you will find a wonderful Church where you can thrive and grow in Christ.

  41. brian says:

    I know all churches, even most churches are not like that. I do look and am trying. I agree we should not use absolutes but it was not just one experience and it was years of encounters. It took me years after that just to unpack what I was “taught”. But I get your point, thank you.

  42. Josh the Baptist says:

    Duane, as you well know, the kind of Christian art that offers up tidy answers to enormous issues in a 3 minute song is the worst kind of art.

    Good work. I don’t “like” this. It is very uncomfortable. It will not get played on K-Love.

    All three statements in that last line are compliments.

  43. Duane Arnold says:

    #37 Surfer
    Many thanks. The situation with Lonnie is apt and worth considering. This sort of abuse often becomes a life long struggle for the victim. I have a friend in their late 60s. She was molested as a child in a church situation. She still has nightmares…

  44. Duane Arnold says:

    #42 Josh
    Many thanks. Yes, there are no tidy answers. The best we can do is to acknowledge the reality of the issue and many will listen to a song before they read a news report or article.

    Appreciate the “compliments”…

  45. Duane Arnold says:

    On an important note related to this thread… Whether you are involved in a local church body, an association or a denomination, do insure that you have written policies concerning this issue in place for clergy, youth ministers, child care workers, volunteers, etc.. Also, there would be no harm in undergoing a bit of training to recognize the “signs” of abuse. Such training is available in most communities…

  46. Michael says:

    I wonder how many who read here have those clear policies in place…

  47. Josh the Baptist says:

    we do.

  48. Duane Arnold says:

    As of 2013, over 2.5 billion dollars had been paid out by churches in legal settlements on child sex abuse cases. The number now is likely twice that amount…

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