Friday, October 17, 2014

Ex-Gay Warlock Pastor Charged With Abuse

I think that headline may hit more buzzwords than any I've ever written. But that's because this story out of Eubank, Kentucky is so bizarre. It starts out as a sadly too routine story of sexual abuse by a member of the clergy, but goes downhill from there.

Not only is the accused a pastor, but he is also a member of the "ex-gay" movement and describes himself as a warlock. It's not that unusual to run across an "ex-gay" pastor in some fundamentalist churches, but I was under the impression that a warlock pastor was something of an oxymoron in those circles.

The victim, a 16-year-old boy, alleged sexual abuse by youth pastor Rex Murphy that took place over a six-month period, accompanied by threats of witchcraft and black magic. Murphy was recently arrested and charged, and apparently confessed to the allegations.

Eubank Chief of Police Colin Hatfield called the accusations “very graphic and to the point.”

“The victim stated that the suspect told him on numerous occasions that by brushing his skin or shaking his hand…he could tell his sins by the power he has. He comes from family of warlocks,” Hatfield explained to WKYT.

The police chief noted that Murphy had threatened the boy with witchcraft if he told his parents about the abuse. “He was very scared, because the suspect, in the victim’s eyes, had been threatening his life in the form of Wicca, witchcraft, black magic,” Hatfield pointed out to WLEX.

In an interview with police, Murphy asserted that he “thought he would be able to help the victim with his battle with homosexuality because he, too, had experimented with homosexuality,” Hatfield said. Murphy allegedly told the boy that he could see his sins by touching him.

This is one of the reasons that I think the idea of reclaiming the term "warlock" is fundamentally pointless. I know the etymology linking it to "oathbreaker" could very well be wrong, but so is using it to mean "male witch." In mainstream culture the image of a warlock is something akin to Julian Sands' portrayal in the 1989 horror film - an evil worker of magick who goes around hurting people just for the heck of it.

When people like Murphy who claim the title turn out to be abjectly horrible human beings it just confirms that image in peoples' minds. There are books and movies that feature good wizards, like Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings, but warlocks are generally portrayed as not only evil, but unspeakably so. That sounds like a lost cause to me.

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