Deliver Us from Evil: Resisting Racial and Gender Oppression

Deliver Us from Evil: Resisting Racial and Gender Oppression

Deliver Us from Evil: Resisting Racial and Gender Oppression

Deliver Us from Evil: Resisting Racial and Gender Oppression


Exploring the history of resistance to racial and gender oppression--from a slave women in 19th-century America to a woman patient of Sigmund Freud, this book traces the failed promises of the American Revolution in the oppression of subordinate groups. Poling reviews resistance by analyzing communities that understand evil as the abuse of power.


Some years ago several students, clients, and colleagues challenged me to take evil in the world more seriously, and with their help I began to see with new eyes.

I remember the story of a White woman whose father had beaten her, imprisoned her in closets, and controlled every aspect of her life until she got married. All the while he functioned as a local church leader and deacon. When, as an adult, she shared her story with pastors and other church leaders, she was stigmatized as a neurotic who needed special care and discipline rather than treated as a person suffering from injustice.

For much of the time I knew her, I offered her pastoral care and counseling according to textbook advice on how to help a person who was unstable and needy. I missed seeing that her behavior was a form of resistance to evil. in spite of childhood abuse and professional incompetence by pastors like me, she refused to be consoled and continued to seek help and solace from leaders of the church. Seen from another perspective, she insisted that pastors and teachers ordained by the church live up to our responsibilities. She insisted that we understand her pain and provide the resources she needed for healing and for the expression of her spirit.

As I began to see her behavior as resistance rather than neurosis, I had to face the limitations of my own ministry, and I became concerned about the silence of the church. Why did I see her resistance as a problem rather than a resource, and how could I help my community see her courage in the midst of evil?

A few years later I listened to the story of an African American man, a victim of his father’s terror and tyranny. Because he had been an active leader at school and church, teachers and church leaders had known about his family’s problems. But no one intervened to protect this young child, whose physical and psychic survival was a daily challenge. I learned . . .

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