September 2001

    After Terrorism, Online Support Groups Seek Survivors and Spiritual Comfort
    By Heather Elizabeth Peterson

    The anonymous nature of online support groups for minor-attracted adults caused difficulties for members seeking information on whether any forum participants had been killed in the September 11 terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C.

    Four planes were hijacked in the attacks and used as suicide bombers; the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York were destroyed, and the Pentagon outside Washington was severely damaged. Over six thousand people remain missing and are believed dead.

    Forums throughout the Internet were early in breaking the news of the attack. Members flooded the indexes of the offender/survivor forum Healing Together and the general adult-minor-attraction board Open Hands with messages asking whether any participants had been harmed. Other forums, such as the newsgroup alt.abuse.offender.recovery and the female child-love board Butterfly Kisses, also received posts expressing concern about the attacks.

    The steering committee of the girl-love board GirlChat issued the following statement: "Our hearts go out to the people of lower Manhattan and to all Americans in this sweeping world tragedy. And our prayers and wishes are with the persons, friends, and families of those that have been injured and, more sadly, with those who have lost loved ones in this tragic act of cowardice. We especially grieve for the children - both those whose voices will never live to laugh again and those who now raise their voices in bewildered mourning."

    The most active forum was the boylove board BoyChat, which placed the animated picture of a flickering candle at the top of its index. Members who were known to be New Yorkers slowly checked in as the day proceeded. One member, 5150, posted a vivid account of a friend's escape from the World Trade Center.

    As the media began to report that the primary suspect in the terrorism was a radical Islamic group, flame wars broke out at BoyChat over what role religion had played in the attacks.

    On several of the forums, members posted messages telling of friends and family who were missing or killed.

    "I know that two people I grew up with, Ted L. and Tommy G., did not make it out of the towers," wrote John Doe at the Prayer Room of the Christian Boylove Forum (CBF). "I used to sail with Teddy and Tommy was the little brother of a very good friend of mine. Please keep them in your prayers."

    Thoughts and prayers were posted at the forums for the missing and killed, their loved ones, and, in some cases, the perpetrators of the attack.

    "I visited the prayer service at my church last night and many people prayed," Oliver posted at CBF on September 14. "I think I was most impressed by the number of youth who chose to read scripture and speak. Among them was a young man who prayed for the terrorists who committed this inhumane act. While so many of us prayed for the victims, family, and justice, this boy prayed for the souls of those who killed the many thousands who died in the recent attack."

    A number of minor-attracted adults who do not hold religious beliefs reported that the event had deepened their understanding of significant topics. "Not," Webmaster of the boylove-oriented board Religious Debate Chat (RDC), believes that the event stimulated discussions relevant to issues that are discussed on the boylove boards. "In the final analysis, it wasn't so much Boeing aeroplanes that became weapons as disaffected adolescent males," he says.

    On September 10, the day before the attacks, "not" posted a message at RDC entitled, "Prayer for non-believers." In the post he said that, as a non-believer, he can understand prayer as "just another form of talking to myself, no different in quality from my (often too) rich plans, schemes and other imaginings. In praying for something, I am preparing my mind . . . maybe all too often to accept the unjust possibility that that particular something may not come to pass."

    Just hours before minor-attracted adults would begin discussing the most suitable forms by which to express remembrance and wishes for the future, "not" summarized the benefits and difficulties of prayer for non-believers: "Conceptually at least I can give thanks, can even pray for justice and intervention, safe in the knowledge that to have any chance of getting to first base I will need to act on my own prayers and enlist others to my cause, whatever it might be today. The tough challenge is finding suitable words."

    Related Articles

    Philia Subject Index: : Secular Groups and General Articles

    Related Link

    My Family, Ground 0. By 5150. [BoyChat]

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    © 2001 Heather Elizabeth Peterson
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