Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Sex abuse in the Protestant church

with 2 comments

Sex abuse and pedophilia are obviously not restricted to the Catholic church: as has been pointed out, we have seen too many instances of pedophilia in our public schools—but in public schools, notifying the police is generally done immediately. This approach is rare  when such things happen in the Catholic church or in private schools. The first instinct for the church and private schools is to protect the (undeserved) reputation of the institution by denying the event, covering up the event, and in general blaming the victim. Public schools tend to worry more about their students and less about their reputations.

Now, it seems, Protestant churches seem to have fallen into the pit of protecting the institution’s reputation. Democracy Now! has a good interview (with transcript) of the issue. Their blurb:

Is the Protestant world is teetering on the edge of a sex-abuse scandal similar to the one that rocked the Catholic Church? We are joined by reporter Kathryn Joyce, whose cover story in The American Prospect profiles Boz Tchividjian, a law professor at Liberty University — a school founded by Reverend Jerry Falwell — and former prosecutor who worked on many sexual abuse cases. Tchividjian used his experience to found GRACE — Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment. GRACE made headlines in February when the famous evangelical school, Bob Jones University, hired it to interview faculty and students about their experiences with sexual assault, then fired it before the it had a chance to report the results — only to hire it back after a public outcry. Tchividjian is the grandson of the famous evangelist, Rev. Billy Graham.

Written by Leisureguy

8 May 2014 at 11:25 am

Posted in Daily life, Law, Religion

2 Responses

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  1. I don’t think that Bob Jones University or Liberty University is a protestant university. I believe their origin and faith heritage is from the free church movement (akin to the Anabaptists). It comes as no surprise that sexual abuse can be found in any religious institution. I do think it is important for the writer to make the distinction of protestant or free-church/evangelical. Most protestant organizations have a governing hierarchy, while free-church/evangelical organizations are independent. If I am correct that Bob Jones is a free-church entity, then there is no governing body above the University that monitors or has responsiblity for their actions/inaction.


    Mark Eggert

    8 May 2014 at 11:48 am

  2. Very interesting point. My ignorance of the governing structure of religious institutions is exposed, and I appreciate the new information. Yes, I can see that the treatment of things like sex abuse would vary a lot depending on whether it occurred within a hierarchical organization with a defined governance vs. a loose confederation of independent local organizations.

    However, I think both groups are susceptible to “we must protect the reputation of the institution” fallacy that leads to cover-ups and victim-blaming. Partly this is because those in the institutions invest them with such overriding importance: the institution’s reputation becomes paramount, which leads to bad decisions.

    I was using “Protestant” in the loose sense (sounds better than “incorrectly”) to refer to any Christian church not a part of the Catholic or Greek Orthodox (or, I suppose, Coptic—my ignorance again) churches. But clearly the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is not a Protestant church, though I think it qualifies as Christian.

    Come to think of it, how is “Christian” to be defined. Once we used the Nicene Creed as the marker, but that takes out Unitarians and also Universalists (now combined), the Society of Friends, and others.



    8 May 2014 at 12:04 pm

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