It really isn’t.
I was moved and grateful for the words of a staunch and devout Catholic friend that I’ve made here, BeautyBeyondBones, in reference to the avalanche of horrifying news that has overtaken the Catholic church in the past few weeks. But I feel very strongly that she, and the rest of us who profess any form of the Christian faith, ought to know by now (or be emphatically reassured if we don’t) that this isn’t, in ANY degree, a problem primarily constrained to the Catholic form of worship.
To that degree, I am profoundly grateful for the opportunity WORLD magazine took this week to prioritize a report on the rampancy of sexual abuse within Protestant circles. WORLD’s reporting on this and related topics have grown increasingly more thorough, and I hope they continue the trend, as there is room for more growth; but this is a solid installment. I am especially appreciative of how Olasky (editor in chief) and his team have called on the expertise of Rachel Denhollander (Christian, lawyer, and first to bring charges against Larry Nassar) and the profoundly RIGHT example of Tates Creek Presbyterian Church in handling the discovery of a predator in their midst.
Here is the link to the full WORLD article: Crouching at every door
And here are a few choice quotes:
“Although the decentralized nature of Protestantism makes statistics very hard to find, we’ve particularly found opportunities for abuse and cover-ups in three kinds of situations.
“(1) Some congregations have dominating pastors with unchecked authority.
“(2) Evangelical culture has a conference and lecture circuit with celebrities and quasi-celebrities who come to cities for weekend workshops and one-night lectures that provide opportunities to sin and go, leaving behind casualties.
“(3) Megachurch leaders face the ordinary temptations but also extraordinary pressure to cover up problems, knowing that a sniff of scandal will summon packs of critical reporters.”
“Mary Lou Davidson Redding, a retired editor of The Upper Room magazine, says she warned conference directors about Hensley for many years. Here’s her account: In the early 1990s at the Blue Ridge Christian Writers Conference at Eastern Carolina State University, Hensley had tried to slip his hands onto her breasts while she was in a dormitory hall, stopping only when someone walked in on them. When Redding later told a friend what happened, that friend rolled her eyes and replied, ‘Oh, is he still doing that? He was supposed to stop.’
“More from Redding: ‘People knew his behavior, and he was still being invited to conferences.’ She decided to warn people about him. When she saw his name on a conference brochure, she called the directors to tell them about her experience with him. No director she warned ever disinvited him: ‘They overwhelmingly said to me they want their conference to be a success, that people are coming because he’s going to be there.'”
“The few cases mentioned in this story should highlight the fact that sexual abuse is not just a Catholic problem. It’s also a Protestant problem, and a deeply human one.
“Our investigations show that many churches and ministries have not always done a good job protecting and empowering the victims. As cries of #MeToo reverberate across the nation, so too have stories of #ChurchToo, in which men and women within evangelical churches voice their own tales of long-suppressed guilt, shame, and anguish. They say their trauma isn’t just from the violating act itself: Trauma festered when trusted church authorities failed to believe or protect them, failed to report the crime to legal authorities, failed to change the institutional culture that enables and minimizes the severity of sexual abuse.
“Yet because this issue has become so public, more and more churches are acknowledging the existence and severity of sexual abuse within their communities, as shown in many cases mentioned above. More churches are asking for help to help the vulnerable, so this could be a wake-up call for the Protestant world.”
Let it be so.