But now keep silent, my sister, he is your brother; do not take this matter to heart.  

I recall investigating a particular mission field where a missionary had admitted to sexually victimizing a young daughter of another missionary.   The field leadership called a meeting of the missionaries and informed them of the abuse and then gave them strict instructions never to mention the matter again.  They were even warned that further discussion would be considered “gossip” and would subject them to discipline.  Because of the admonition to be silent, many of these missionary parents never asked their children whether this perpetrator had also abused them.  It was not until years later that some of these parents learned for the first time that their children had also been victimized.   This heartbreaking silence protected a perpetrator while at the same time robbed these abuse survivors of years of counseling and healing leaving them feeling abandoned and worthless. Such silence declares victims to be worthless as it builds a wall of protection around perpetrators.   There is nothing silent about being silent.

Untitled - photo courtesy of Cuito Cuanavale via Flickr

Untitled – photo courtesy of Cuito Cuanavale via Flickr (Image source)

The book of 2nd Samuel provides the horrifying account of the rape of Tamar by her brother, Amnon, both children of King David.  Next to the sexual assault, the most egregious aspect of this story is the utter silence that dominated those who learned of the offense.  When Tamar disclosed the abuse to her brother Absalom, he responded, “But now keep silent my sister; he is your brother. Do not take this matter to heart.”  Even worse is the response of King David, who had actually directed Tamar to Amnon’s house to prepare him food. Scripture says, “Now when King David heard of these matters, he was very angry”.  David may have been angry, but he remained silent and did nothing.  As a result of the horrific assault and the subsequent silence by those who should have loved and protected her most, Tamar became a “desolate woman” and Amnon walked away vindicated (though death soon caught up with this monster).

The identity of the perpetrator seemed to be the fuel for Absalom and David’s silence.  Absalom virtually says so when he tells Tamar to be quiet because “he is your brother”. Whether it’s a notable pastor, staff member, or a well- respected member of the church community, the identity of the alleged perpetrator is still what drives many in the Church to embrace silence. Not long ago, I was speaking with someone regarding a physician within a Christian community who sexually abused numerous children.  Though many were suspect of this individual’s bizarre behavior with children, they remained quiet due to the fact that he was a physician who was “needed” within the community.  Once again, children were abandoned as a perpetrator was protected. 

In her book, This Little Light, Christa Brown recounts that after being repeatedly sexually victimized by her youth pastor, she finally gained enough courage to report the abuse to the church music minister.   Upon learning of the perpetrator’s identity, the music minister made young Christa promise that she would not tell anyone else of the abuse. A few weeks later, the church announced that the offending youth pastor had accepted a “calling” to another church. Not only did the church’s silence allow an offender to escape justice and move to a new church of unsuspecting victims, but it shouted to young Christa that she was worthless and not worth protecting.

A silent church will always protect perpetrators over God’s little ones.  A silent church will always abandon the very ones God holds precious.  In fact, a silent church is no church at all. God was certainly not silent in the face of evil, neither should we.

 

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Boz Tchividjian

Boz Tchividjian

“Boz” Tchividjian is a former child abuse chief prosecutor and is the founder and executive director of GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment). Boz is also an Associate Professor of Law at Liberty University School of Law, and is a published author who speaks and writes extensively on issues related to abuse within the faith community. He is the 3rd-eldest grandchild of the Rev. Billy Graham.

41 Comments

  1. When leadership uses Jesus’ name to silence victims, it’s one of the worst blasphemies imaginable. God said a bruised reed he will not break, but these leaders crush those bruised reeds into the dirt. Calling them white-washed tombs seems an understatement.

  2. I am increasingly amazed at the number of people who tell those of us who have been abused in the church (whether sexual, physical, emotional, spiritual, etc.) that we should keep quiet. Just today I was told that by telling my story, I would alienate people. And in my mind I’m thinking, “So?” I’m not telling my story to win friends. I’m telling my story so that other victims can know that they are not alone, that what they experienced really is abuse, and that the fact that they were made to believe that they are worthless to the church and to God, that message is a lie straight from the pit of hell. The sad thing is, those in the church who know my story are like Amnon and David. Some are walking away free, others are angry but won’t do anything.

  3. I think there’s a danger in the rhetoric you’re using to describe the churches which cover up abuse.

    You are making very rigid, absolute, black-and-white statements, like “A silent church will always protect perpetrators over God’s little ones.” and “A silent church will always abandon the very ones God holds precious.” and a silent church is no church at all.”

    I think there’s a degree to which your rhetoric may be perpetuating some of the “othering” that actually fuels the denial that leads churches to be silent on or even cover up abuse and other evils happening within their communities. I think that abuse gets covered up primarily because people have a thought process like “This is such a wonderful church community, abuse could never happen in this community.” or “He is such a good pastor and leader and wonderful person, he couldn’t possibly be abusing anyone.” and then this leads people to dismiss allegations of abuse, rather than investigating them.

    I think it’s important for us to emphasize the opposite message of what you’re putting forth here–that the churches in which abuse happens ARE real churches. They are real in the sense that they could be your church, they could be my church, and the people committing the abuse could be someone who is a close friend, a well-respected member of the community. And they are real churches in the sense that they may actually be supportive communities that have a lot of great things going for them and are doing many good things.

    And unless we depict this reality truthfully, we risk encouraging people to fall into, or stay in, the false mindset in which people think that “only bad people do bad things” or “only broken or dysfunctional communities have abuse happen in them”. It’s not as simple as a whole church being evil or broken or “not a church”. There can be unwholesome dynamics lurking in church communities that have lots of good things going for them, and I think that unless we admit this, we’re going to continue to see people covering up abuse.

      • No, Ellen, that’s not what I’m trying to communicate.

        I’m trying to communicate that one of the main reasons, if not THE largest factor behind denial, is the idea that “This abuse couldn’t possibly be real, because our church community is so wonderful, and nothing like this could happen in our community.” or because “This person is such a wonderful person, he couldn’t possibly commit abuse.” This is hardly speculation–these are the exact sorts of comments that people tend to make when in denial that abuse is going on, the sorts of rationales that they use to dismiss abuse.

        What I’m saying here is that the rhetoric that the original poster is using, the rhetoric of labelling churches that cover up abuse as “no church at all”, or using other negative labels to somehow paint this problem as something that only “bad churches” or “fake churches” do, is rhetoric that I actually see as facilitating or fueling the thought processes that lead to denial.

        I think that this, the idea that “this couldn’t happen to us because it only happens to bad churches and we’re a good church” or “he couldn’t commit abuse because only bad people commit abuse and he’s a good person”, is the main facilitator of denial of abuse.

        I think this is a much bigger factor than, as you describe, the fear of being judged negatively. I think people know that abuse is serious. I think that when people are in denial, they’re not as often admitting that the abuse is real and fearing retaliation, I think more likely, they’re not admitting that the abuse is real, because it causes so much cognitive dissonance with the idea that they love their church and/or the particular person being accused of abuse.

    • Alex, I’m so confused by your comment. At first you seem antagonistic, then supportive, then…well, I simply just don’t understand what you are trying to say. I HOPE you are saying that we have to acknowledge that this happens in every community. And that these people appear as your every day, run-of-the-mill, average Joe; or your charismatic pastor; or charming dad; or caring teacher; or your knowledgable medical doctor; or trusted family friend. Because that’s who they really are. And they are everywhere. How do I know? Because the man spoken of in Boz’s post is my perpetrator and he appeared in my life as ALL of the above. And what may now is considered a dysfunctional community knowing what we do now (20/20 vision), it did not look, feel, or act like that when we were immersed in it. It was the best of childhoods, a utopia. Until one brave girl found her voice.

      • I think what you’re saying seems really in agreement with what I’m saying…the idea that people who commit abuse seem normal, and that from the inside, a church in which abuse and cover-up of abuse happens, might seem like a wonderful church and community to many of the people in it.

        I think the key idea I’m trying to communicate is that if we make statements like a church being “no church at all” because of how they cover up abuse, it may make people in these churches blind to discovering and admitting the problems that are going on.

        No one who loves their church and feels comfortable there is going to think that it is “no church at all”. And in order for us to root out these problems, we need to reach the people who are in the churches where these things are taking place.

        And perhaps more importantly, WE need to admit that these things may be happening in our churches. We need to be open to that possibility so we can ask the tough questions and entertain the difficult possibilities.

        I think that speaking negatively or dismissively of whole church communities sets up a sort of “us-them” mentality, like “this only happens in bad churches” which prevents this sort of thing from happening.

        So like, in Boz’s post, I agree with all the things he’s saying about how damaging abuse and the cover-up of abuse can be. I don’t like his choice of headline though, or his concluding paragraph, because they seem to be reinforcing the “othering” mentality, the idea of this only happening to other churches, far away from us…someone else’s problem.

      • Diana, I think what Alex is taking issue with (and correct me if I’m mistaken, Alex), is that it isn’t the case that when churches are silent, according to Boz’s post, they “will always protect perpetrators over God’s little ones [...], will always abandon the very ones God holds precious. In fact, a silent church is no church at all.” He is not defending silence, but saying that there’s danger in disowning these churches as not being real real churches, because this enables predators to hide more easily within them.

        It’s a great post, Boz, but I do agree with Alex regarding the statements he singled out. People in churches are just as sinful as people in secular communities, but I agree absolutely that silence in cases of sexual abuse (and other predatory acts) is, effectively, cancerous and extremely damaging and abusive to the victims.

    • Mr. Zorach,
      it is clear to me that you in defense of a system that does deliberately protect and cover up.
      Why? because the system does what it must to self protect, at the expense of its victims.
      I speak in reference to the documentary carried out by social psychologist, Dr. Philip Zimbardo, professor (then) at Stanford U in California.A painfully thorough piece of literature, the book is his documentation of his experiment, Stanford Prison Experiment, “The Lucifer Effect,” a New York Times bestseller..

      • I think you may be misunderstanding my comment. I think covering up abuse is a horrible thing.

        What I’m saying is that rhetoric that labels churches as “no church at all” for being silent, may be actually making it more likely that people in positions of power choose to be silent and cover up abuse, because it paints a picture of abuse as something that only happens in “bad churches”, and thus creates cognitive dissonance when people want to speak up against abuse, dissonance that leads people to think: “This can’t possibly happen in my community.” and then dismiss the allegations or even attack or shame the person making the accusations.

        I think it’s important that we take great care to talk about this issue in such a way that clearly communicates that this is something that can happen in communities that we may love deeply and feel many warm feelings towards. I didn’t get this from Boz’s post. The rhetoric and tone of the post here seemed to be such that it seemed to be painting this problem as something that only happens in bad churches, churches that aren’t real churches.

        That’s where I take issue. So like, instead of making a statement like: “A church silent in the face of evil is no church at all” I’d rather make positively-framed statements like “Why it is so important for churches to be open and transparent in the face of evil” or “How churches can respond to allegations of abuse in healthy and transparent ways” or “why it is of key importance to investigate allegations of abuse”.

        This applies to just the headline, but I think the same idea comes up at many points in this post, especially in the closing paragraph.

        • I disagree with your view of the headline and closer because the way boz framed it caused me to believe, rightly, that a “church” that is silent on abuse, is not walking in the light as Jesus walks in the light and a ministry of hiding things in the dark is no true body of Christ. i can judge whether to join an outwardly appeaaring happy church by how they deal with sin in the church

        • Maybe the answer is to stop calling our churches good. Isn’t saying we go to a good church just pride, and also implies nothing bad happens there. Just allowing a church to continue to call its self good and saying bad things could happen by some bad people who go there but we are good look at all the good things we do is cover up. It is cover up because it distracts from the crime and the criminal. May of us MKs were told to keep quiet because we would harm the good name of the mission and even God if we told. As if God needs to be protected. Anyone can be an abuser and every time they abuse they are bad and those who excuse and cover up are also bad.

    • Alex you have given some reasons why those who hear about abuse in their churches may not believe the report and so remain silent. These are not excuses and do not make them good people by keeping silent even for their reasons. Those in leadership who tell a victim to keep silent are always black and white evil. Not only are they evil but they are criminal, it is the law to report abuse. And those churches where the leadership covers up crimes is a front not a church. Even evil people know how to give good things to their friends. It is not a church even if it has that legal definition. Yes I am sure there are some good people in those fronts who not knowing what is going on are good Christians.

    • Wow. Its always important that assault survivors watch their rhetoric..thats the real problem here..for the love of God..since you know how to communicate withiut “othering” I suggest you have just volunteered to spearhead your churches assault prevention education and action plan..I was sarcastic about the first part of this but sincere about the second. Please make your church a safer place.

  4. I grew up on a mission field. My father is the most saintly of all saints, well that is the appearance.
    But scratch the surface and it was a childhood full of abusers; sexual, physical and the mental manipulators. While many parents were in remote areas doing true missionary work, we children went to the mission boarding school.

    Forward 3 decades and now the sordid truth is emerging. Investigations (including the GRACE report into one boarding school) have revealed school after school worldwide with accounts of criminal abuse.

    And yet my father, who has never been lax in preaching his version of the gospel, says he does not care what happened to the children of his fellow missionaries. He labels anyone who raises the issue as having “bitter spirits” or “doing the work of the devil”.

    And alas many of his fellow male missionaries and ex missionaries are doing exactly the same thing. As for their female counterparts, they have no voice and therein lies another strand of this sordid story,

    • Shary,
      I am standing with you in agreement that the church or ‘going to church” is raised( or lowered as it seems appropriate) to the level of a Fetish of Honor…

      As the body of Yashua Messiah, since that is what the church is supposed to be, when evil is hidden and concealed.. on purpose.. using scripture to support this criminal abuse…who needs the church?
      really?
      Who needs it.. Lu, don’t you see that?

      Who deliberately goes back to a place where predators thrive?
      And.. this is not just *my* opinion..predators in prison, interviewed during their incarceration freely admit.. Churches are the safest places to engage in child abuse; why? because christians are naiive; so ready to “forgive and forget”, to”look the other way” since, after all… they HAVE to keep silent and forgive ..not matter what happens to their children whose lives are trashed, ability to accept god really loves or protects THEM..because mommy and daddy didn’t help ( often.. daddy is the one who tore their little bodies and souls)..and God says to honor them..and they let it happen and kept hurting you

      I could go on..and on….
      Lu, do you get the point?

  5. @Alex Just because i can see the truth in this article does not prevent me from understanding that sexual and other forms of abuse do not occur in churches everywhere, whether they are mostly Godly or not. I am reminded of scripture about people that do not come to the Light because their deeds are evil. until i see a church that is willing to address sin in their midst in the Light, i will doubt that they are a true “church”.

  6. Alex, thank you for the clarification. I believe I know exactly what you are saying because I have/am living it. Mine was not sexual abuse, but the abuse that said, “You are unwanted, unworthy, valueless – by this church and by God – until you measure up to a standard that we are never going to define for you.” I had no idea what I had done wrong. All I was told was that I was such a horrible person that I could do nothing in the church except attend services and I was to tell no one – not even my husband – that they had made this decree. For over 10 years.

    All “hell” broke loose when they discovered that I had “told.” I and my husband were immediately told to leave the church. The consistent message that we have received since then – and only from a handful of people who are brave enough to communicate with us – has been that we should not say anything at all negative about the church, that no one believes that what I went through would ever actually have happened because they are such a wonderful church with such godly leadership, and that I am the problem because I pointed out the problem.

    They can’t begin to imagine that this actually took place even though I am aware of it happening to others, as well. People say they “just can’t understand why the pastor would allow such a thing.” And since they can’t fathom it, they have turned on me for “lying” and for “trying to hurt the church.”

    Does this resonate at all with what you are trying to convey?

    • Yes! That’s exactly what I’m getting at…when people say that you should not say anything negatively about the church, people don’t believe you because they think it’s a wonderful church or that the leadership is “godly”.

      I think that people are most likely to act this way if they have a very rigid “all or nothing” view of their church or its leadership–like they see the church and its leadership as directly sanctioned by God and unerring. I think this is so dangerous because every church is run by humans and humans are always inherently imperfect.

      I think there’s another side though…like that was the “all” of “all or nothing”, but there’s also the “nothing”. What I was originally bothered by in Boz’s original post was that some of the language he’s getting at gets at the “nothing” side of things, like the idea of a church being “no church at all”.

      I think humans live in the gray area between sin and God. Like…we’re all able to receive God’s love, but none of us are able to live it out perfectly. And I think it’s important to talk about people and about churches in these shades of gray, talking about them in ways that makes them able to experience healing and wholeness from God. I don’t know if this is making much sense?

      • Alex, while humans live in gray areas, this sin is not a grey area. When confronted by something that is clearly evil, church members have a chance to firm up their faith and integrity and act godly. But when they respond with greyness, they reveal shabby spiritual lives. That’s just how it is.

        They can have any number of reasons for it, but the fact is they faced an important spiritual battle, and they refused. Those around them are going to legitimately question the meaning of their faith.

      • Alex, I am truly bewildered by your flood of words.
        I think this is the author’s point: No matter how much good a church does, if it sacrifices it’s children to protect reputations, it is not the bride of Christ. The good that it does is self-centered. They have their reward.
        You appear to be looking at this in a funhouse mirror.

  7. From reading posts around the web by people that have attended bju it appears to me that the structure was all about rules and submitting to the authority of the rulers. that reminds me of Jesus confronting the pharisees “…now do ye pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness.” Jesus didnt excuse behaviour, He called it out in the pharisees, perhaps because they were representing the temple
    and God.
    There is a difference between the son of the bondwoman and the son of the promise.

  8. The difference between jacob and esau is clearly seen by esaus total lack of care for women and children. Gen:33:12-14
    This difference is also profound in Jesus ministry on earth, when the disciples argue about who is greatest among themselves, Jesus brings a little child to himself. He also noted the consequenses of offending one of these little ones.
    the apostle paul expounds the difference between walking in the Spirit and walking by works. He says people that are justified by their works are fallen from grace.

  9. By covering abuse in the church we destroy the victims in a horrible way. by covering the abuser we enable him/her to stay that way. a pedophile can come to true repentance through the atonement of Jesus blood and santification of the Spirit but this comes first by the word Repent. covering sin gives the devil the ability to keep the victim and perpetrator locked in torment.
    it is my opinion that a person that has truly repented of abusing children would not put themselves in a place where they were ever alone with children again. an alcoholic, though in recovery, does not seek a job as a bartender. i have seen too many churches put people with confessed sin in abusing women or children right back in a seat of temptation. i think this should be church policy-never alone with children- more than the policy bju uses…no jewlry

  10. Alex,

    Thanks for your clarification? I am still befuddled even with your plethora of words. Maybe it’s just too simplistic to look at the scriptural picture of the church in this. Here’s what I mean: Christ is the head of the church. Any church claiming to be part of “the church” (with Christ as the head) will not, cannot be silent. It’s against His nature and it’s impossible b/c any church with Christ as the head will care for its little ones, the (seemingly) least of these who matter the most in the kingdom of God. (Mark 10:14, Matthew 18:6)

    I believe that in essence you agree with these principles, but that you are simply hung up on Boz’s choice of words. Perhaps we should stop debating the word choice here and direct our efforts and energies toward rescuing those whose view of the Son of God is being blocked by the offenders (i.e., pastors, teachers, doctors, parents, friends, and all too often – “the church”). That’s all we’re saying.

    • Just to be clear: I am NOT questioning the salvation of those who lead or worship in those places (although it’s possible). I’m simply saying that Christ isn’t TRULY the head of the churches that are afraid or silent because He is neither of those things.

  11. Two things that aid religious upper management to remain quiet on child sex abuse.

    1. Ephesians 4:29 RHE
    Douay-Rheims
    Let no evil speech proceed from your mouth: but that which is good, to the edification of faith: that it may administer grace to the hearers.

    Hard to say anything worse then the details of child sex abuse.

    2. Privileged communications may be exempt from the requirement to report suspected abuse or neglect. Until this Privilege is denied in cases of child abuse or neglect, the silence will continue.

    At last count, in this 21st century, forty four states still allow this baloney.

    https://www.childwelfare.gov/systemwide/laws_policies/statutes/clergymandated.pdf

    Its fascinating that there’s no record of Jesus Christ reading the ‘Tamar sexual assault’ in the synagogue.

    Equally fascinating, no record of any disciples, not even Dr./Apostle Luke asking Jesus Christ the correct way of handling child sex abuse. Nothing.

    Imagine the millions before us that could have been spared the experience if only it had been talked about.

  12. Cristina Agramonte

    The Jehovah Witnesses also encourage victims to forgive and not prosecute pedophiles and are threatened with being disfellowshipped if they bring reproach on the Organization by warning other members of a pedophile in the congregation. They publicly criticize the Catholic Church for pedophile priests yet they have thousands of serial pedophiles.

  13. Who cares if some human says some church isn’t a “real church” if the members and leaders conspire to cover up sexual abuse of its children!

    I’m not going to waste anybody’s time by asking how you define “a church” or even what a “real” church might be in comparison.

    I don’t care how anybody defines those terms.

    I don’t care if your church is a “real church” or not.

    Statistics says that 22% of the people sitting in the pews on Sunday are childhood sexual abuse survivors.

    We child victims don’t care if it is a “real church” or not. Let us be your judges. When we who were child victims found out that the church cared more about its reputation than the damage that elder or deacon had done to us, we learned all we needed to know about that church.

    Jesus said if somebody causes one of these little ones to stumble, it would be better for that person to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his or her neck. The perpetrator causes the little one to stumble. The one who commands silence causes one of the little ones to stumble. And the one who agrees to silence causes one of the little ones to stumble.

    I would remind the perpetrators and the silencers AND the silenced that Jesus also said, “See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.” Do you Perpetrators, Silencers and Silenced have any idea of the danger you stand in when our angels are standing there as you silence us?

    And remember one other piece of scripture, Proverbs 24:11-12:

    Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay each person according to what he has done?

    I grew up in a church that was respected (and with good reason) for its teaching and discipleship and mission emphasis. I was a leader in youth groups and scouts and served as an elder as an adult. Nobody knew about the elder (my dad) with the degree in Bible who abused me for years and threatened my life if I ever told or the deacon (another female relative) who repeatedly exposed herself to me and teased me about it.

    Or at least I thought nobody knew.

    Imagine my shock when I ran into a man who had been a pastor there during those years and he said, “It’s amazing how well you turned out given the family you grew up in.”

    My church has changed. But I’m not sure they really understand the scope of the problem even yet.

    Thank you, Boz, for speaking against our silencers.

  14. A Christian blogger has written about some very sobering statistics here. I thought you’d like to see what she had to say since it dovetailed so nicely with what you said. Thank you for giving victims a voice at last. (I am also a survivor of abuse at the hands of a “godly” Christian–in my case, a spouse.)

    • Thank you, Captain!

      That page you referenced is going in the right direction. It must stop.

      Why should anybody—ANYBODY—believe the Church has any answers if we aren’t any different than any other institution or general slice of the populace?

  15. I have read and re-read and re-re-read the comments on Boz’s post.

    Can we change direction? I mean at least in the conversation about Boz’s post.

    The main point isn’t whether the any given church is a good church, a church, a real church, or a fake church. This isn’t about how bad it is/was at BJU or any other religious institution.

    The link in Captain Cassidy’s comment is quite interesting. And it is part of that change of conversation direction I’m talking about:

    —”40% of an average congregation have been violently wounded by some kind of horrific abuse.”—

    What’s been done and is being done is unconscionable. There is no reason in the Body of Christ that such things should continue. I read this recently by a professor at a seminary:

    The Church started as a fellowship in Palestine.
    It moved to Greece as a philosophy.
    It migrated to Italy as an institution.
    Lastly, it went to Europe (and the west) as an enterprise.
    When spoken to his class, one student asked, “But isn’t the Church a body?”
    He affirmed that was true.
    The student then asked, “If a body becomes an business, isn’t that prostitution?”

    —We have become too big to be a fellowship.
    —Is there anybody in any given church that is in deep enough relationship with the members and leaders to know about the abuses?
    —Is there anybody who is willing to stand up and speak to the abusers?
    —Is there anybody who is equipped to come alongside the survivors?
    —40% of the congregation is bleeding to death.
    —50% of the men are involved in pornography.

    What are we going to do to make it different?

    Personally, I help lead 12-week groups for abuse survivors. But the churches I’ve been in find it too risky, too messy. So the work is being done outside the church. I have given permission to the local sexual assault agency to air my story on the local public access channel and on YouTube. I help train new volunteers at that agency. And most recently, my story in greater depth than before is presented at http://listenconspiracy.com/. Perhaps more men will be free to tell theirs.

    ♥ What will you do?
    ♥ What will the Church do?
    ♥ How can we turn this around and present the Bride of Christ holy and spotless?

    ♥ What courage is needed to make the change and who has that courage? ♥

    I suspect it is us ♥survivors♥ who have the passion and knowledge to begin leading the Church into the storm of abuse and healing. But we need a pastor—a real shepherd not one of the hirelings—to step up with us.

    Who in this conversation is willing to engage in the construction of a fellowship where the abused and abusers are both called to healing?

    • What seems to have been overlooked is that many victims of abuse leave the church scene, some temporarily, some permanently.

      While victims remaining within the religious scene are often restricted by loyalties within the groups they are in, those who have dropped out are often not confined by such loyalties and may be prove to be more motivated in the fight against sex abuse within religious institutions.

      My own personal journey is one of arriving at the point of being an Agnostic after a missionary childhood that had serious abuse all around. The mission concerned has little interest in sorting out it’s past and despite assurances that the abuse will not occur again, due to “policy changes”, the latest offender was jailed for 58 years, only weeks ago.

      And the abuse will go on and on, unless the church wakes up to reality that sexual abuse is rife amongst many of it’s institutions and cannot be eradicated with a band aid approach.

      • Those of us who are survivors or working with survivors know that leaving the church is one of the big issues, to be sure.

        I’m finding that another bit of the language problem that tends to cloud my thinking is using the term “the church” as in the Body of Christ in general and not a specific local church.

        When we discuss the issues in the Catholic Church, we’re talking about a much more cohesive construct than the plethora of denominations, non-denominations, church schools, boarding schools, and the terribly wide experience of what it means to be in a church.

        Since there is no larger hierarchy or authority structure in the Church Universal, it is much more difficult to take action. That’s why each of us needs to make noise where we are located. That is the only way a broad change can be instituted.

        I must tackle the church body where I am “planted” (for lack of a better word). But if enough of us (survivors and non-survivors) make it hard to pretend it doesn’t happen here, then perhaps this ship can right its list and choose a godly course.

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