An Expose’ on Deception, Shaming, and Soul Destruction
This coming May 31, 2019, will be an entire year removed since The Washington Post released a weblog post written by Joshua Pease entitled, “The Epidemic of denial about sexual abuse in the Evangelical Church.” I find it very difficult to report these findings in that much like the Catholic church, the Protestant and Evangelical church are as guilty if not more so in it’s own widespread sexual abuse cover-up.
I am at the time of this writing, confessing to each reader of this blog post, much as did the apostle Paul, that I am in constant need of an overflowing of The Master’s grace, moment by moment of my life, coupled with the supernatural faith and love that comes only from above. It is due to my willingness to submit daily in His Holiness that aids me as one of His servants, in seeing myself as one of the “Chiefest Sinners of all.”
For it is within this humility that I was moved by conviction and concern for those who are the victims, to record these findings in a hope that as God’s grace is constantly extended on my behalf, other sinners and those who have been victimized by sexual abuse will somehow become drawn into the only true loving and saving grace of our Beloved God and not from men nor human institutions. 1 Timothy 1:14-16
It became ever-so-evident to my own personal research in the examination of these vile acts of sexual misconduct and Paedophile within the church settings, that both are an abomination as well as evil cultic practices that destroy the entire victim’s soul. [see the link about abomination:] https://www.gotquestions.org/abomination.html
My efforts in this blog post are to highlight and provide the reader with some of my findings concerning sexual abusive religious groups while offering helpful data to better serve healthy church communities in ways of an effective response to an allegation of sexual abuse in your own church community.
Betrayal of Trust
Of the hundreds of thousands of Protestant, Evangelical, and Christian churches throughout the United States of America, a very large amount of churches are keeping well within the basic functions of the church’s role locally and spiritually- nourishing the soul, comforting those who are sick, providing services and activities for those in various church gatherings.
But behavioral scientists remind us all too often, that the most basic of social institutions “the family” is increasingly subject to frailty and failure. Sociologists of religion likewise know and have documented that very much like families, “churches” are as dysfunctional as families thus both are guilty of grave sins that are often silenced, ignored and denied. Within the church, this matter of not reporting sexual abuse is all too common than previously believed within the Evangelical and Christian church institutional systems.
Spiritual and Pastoral abuse is more prevalent than most people believe. The various manifestations of spiritual abuse are inflicted by persons who are accorded respect and honor in society by virtue of their positions of religious authority and leadership. When such leaders violate the sacred trust they have been given, when they abuse their authority, and when they misuse their ecclesiastical office to control their congregations, the results are both catastrophic and spiritually desolate!
Some Characteristics Associated with Cultic Groups
According to Michael D. Langone, Executive Director of International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA), concerted efforts at influence and control lie at the core of cultic groups, programs, and relationships. Many are not fully aware of the extent to which members may have been manipulated, exploited, or even abused. Below, he submits an analytical tool to aid you in determining whether a specific group is a cult.
The Group displays an excessively zealous and unquestioning commitment to its leader and (whether he/she is alive or dead) regards their belief system, ideology, and practices as the Truth, as Law.
Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished.
The leadership dictates, sometimes in great detail, how members should think, act, and feel [for example, members must get permission to date, change jobs, marry-or leaders prescribe what type of clothes to wear, where to live, etc…,
The Group is elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for itself, its leader(s), and its members.
The group has a polarized us-versus-them mentality, which may cause conflict with the wider society.
The leader is not accountable to any authorities.
This above listing by no means is an exhaustive representation of social-structural, social-psychological and interpersonal behavioral patterns within a cultic environment, to learn more, log on to the Spiritual Abuse Resources, https://www.spiritualabuseresources.com/
The Lost of Innocence and Normalcy
The remainder of this blog post will focus very briefly, on the emergence of the Paedophile [sexual abuse of children is the focus of this blog] in the late Twentieth century and what effective measures church communities can take toward a proactive response to allegations of sexual abuse in the church. My fact findings are a combination of the review of multiple articles and books on this recent trend. [ As a thought, all of the most recent data surrounding all forms of sexual abuse list a distinction between sexual misconduct as opposed to child sexual abuse of clergy.]
The actions upon the victims of abuse perpetrated by religious authorities are destructive, often characterized by guilt, betrayal of trust, and shame, especially as it is likely to be hidden by a church or those who are the abuser. These life-altering acts can violate a child’s physical, emotional, and spiritual integrity while having an emotional crisis well into adulthood.
Ultimately, recovery in this very complexed matter of religious abuse entails a long process including victims readjusting their perspectives on life, if any at all, as a whole. All of the mental health professional literature reported that most victim-clients suffered from psychological symptoms (e.g., suicidal ideation, depression, and phobias with nearly a quarter diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.) [ source: Religion-Related Child Maltreatment: A Profile of Cases Encountered by Legal and Social Service Agencies.]
The perpetrator of sexual abuse, in this segment, the Pedophile according to the diagnostic manual of the American Psychiatric Association states that pedophiles are adults who are sexually attracted to prepubescent children, and they may or may not be attracted to other adults as well.
Multiple clinical findings conclude that pedophile’s attraction toward children is that of a “fixation” which is sometimes exclusive and sometimes in conjunction with an attraction to adult as well. Other professionals do not understand why and how a sexual attraction to children develops, yet there is an over-reaching consistency that most pedophiles have hundreds to thousands of victims and that many of them, 29% were abused as children. [ source is from Predators, Pedophiles, Rapists, and Other Sex Offenders by, Anna C. Salter, Ph.D.]
The largest professional organization on the treatment of sex offenders in the world, Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers contend that “although many, if not most, sexual abusers are treatable, there is no known ‘cure’! Sexual abusive behavior is a life-long task for some abusers. In an additional source from the Journal of Psychiatry and Law 34/Summer 2006, pg. 204-208, Gregory DeClue, Ph.D., states in his article that there is zero worthwhile treatment and management for sexual abusers in the treatment at decrease recidivism.
Some Cultural and Historical Sexual Revolutionary Constructs
Researcher Steven Angelides conducted a research project that completed a multi-generational study of the emergence of the Pedophile in the late twentieth century. In this project, his focus was to explore the cultural and historical conditions structuring the emergence of the Pedophile revolution in Western culture. Below is the summation of his findings with no additional interpretation from me within this blog post. I wish only to provide data and sources for the reader.
“The category of the Pedophile emerged in the 1980s as a response to the sweeping challenges to forms of normative masculinity posed by feminism, gay liberation, and gay rights and the child sexual abuse movement. The image of the predatory Pedophile was homosexualized and enlisted in the process of constructing subordinated or negated masculinities.”
He continued by stating that “such a dynamic of competing masculinities served to recuperate the once normative and hegemonic but now somewhat beleaguered masculinities. This was a defensive projection of a homophobic and heteronormative discourse that served on the one hand, to deflect attention away from the fact that child sexual abuse had been exposed as a problem inherent to dominant and not marginal forms of masculinity and male sexuality and, on the other, to half the advancing campaigns for homosexual equality.” [source, The Emergence of the Paedophile in the Late Twentieth Century, by Steven Angelides.]
And now, my Lord, wipe out from the earth the flesh that has provoked your anger,
but the flesh of righteousness and uprightness establish as a seed-bearing fruit forever.
And do not hide Your Face from the prayers of Your servant, Oh Lord!
The Book of Enoch 84:6
The Damning Finding of Activities Within The Church
The George Gallup Report reported in 1987 that child sexual abuse in the church was a growing problem. Others expressed outrage that churches are providing sanctuaries for pedophiles among their official ranks and that there was no one with any authority within the Protestant church to police the clergy. [see Betrayal of Trust: Clergy Abuse of Children: Freedom From Religion Foundation, by Annie L. Gaylor].
Powerful articles from the above-mentioned Washington Post by Joshua Pease and The New Republic written by Kathryn Joyce entitled, “Evangelical Churches with the Widespread accusation of sexual abuse,” submits the following well-documented data:
Churches and Pastors failed in protecting members.
In the Protestant church design, there is an absence of a centralized theological ruling body of officials to monitor ministers. Such matters reflect the marks of autonomy versus bureaucracy.
Assessed abuse causes: Authoritarian leadership, twisted theology, institutional protection, there was an obliviousness about the severity of the problem.
Under reporting or never reporting sexual abuse within the church to the police.
Willful cover up from the church leadership, who was viewed as “privileged” while blaming and shaming the victims and their families.
In a multi-author collaborative study entitled Child Sexual Abuse in Protestant Christina Congregation: A Descriptive Analysis of Offense and Offender Characteristics, Religions 2018, 9-27, this study attempted to uncover the common offense, offender, and victim characteristics of child sexual abuse that occurs at or through activities provided by Protestant Christians churches, the overwhelming majority (80%) of offenses included contact offenses. This means that most offenses involved direct and physical contact between the offender and their victim(s) [usually sexual assault, groping, or a degree of rape] in comparison to non-contact offenses [child pornography on a church computer] at 7.4%.
Five specific location-types of at the church, the offender’s home, off-site church-sponsored activity, and the victim’s home emerged from this study. 41% of all sexual abuse in all instances of Catholic Priest occurred inside the offender’s home [most Priests live in a Rectory directly located on church grounds, Protestant clergy do not.]
The church office as a location for sexual abuse suggested as high as 92% of all instances of sexual misconduct occurred primarily in a church office. These findings support the notion that sexual abuse that occurs at the church seems opportunistic in nature (e.g., during a counseling session)
Most offenders are mostly white which mirrors what is known about most sex offenders and those who identify as Protestant Christians (Pew Research Center 2007). The average offender age (40.4 years) in comparison to a prior study on clergy sexual misconduct in 1998 by researchers, who found that the age range of clergy who have engaged in sexual misconduct was to be between 51 and 60 years of age.
Sexual misconduct is defined as any activity in which a clergyperson, single or married, engaged in sexual behavior (sexual intercourse, kissing, touching or hugging with sexual intent, or use of sexually explicit language) with a parishioner, client, or employee of the church.
In the context of congregations, clergy who commit sexual misconduct has been found to suffer from high levels of narcissism, need for affirmation of their sexual identity, and sexual compulsion. [source Friberg, Nils C., and Mark R. Laaser. 1998. Before the Fall: Preventing Pastoral Sexual Abuse. Collegeville: The Liturgical Press.]
Men who commit child sexual abuse are likely to suffer a range of issues from being less likely to pursue romantic relationships with individuals their own age to suffering from severe mental disorders and related issues. [source Miller, Laurence. 2013. Sexual Offenses against Children: Patterns and Motive. Aggression and Violent Behavior 18:506-19]
Effective Response to Allegation of Sexual Abuse in Your Church
How a faith institution confronts and responds to any form of abuse will not only have the opportunity to save and or destroy lives but will also speak loudly about whether this church values the lives of individuals over the reputation of the leadership and or the institution. The last segment of this blog post is to provide connect links and information for effective ways for ministries to deal with abuse issues, and for victims of abuse.
The following listing of “what to do if your church has an issue with any form of abuse’, is obtained from an article: Responding with Excellence to an Allegation of Sexual Abuse within the Church, written by Basyle J. Tchividjian, Currents in Theology and Missions 45:3 (July 2018)
Below is the link of the pdf file: http://currentsjournal.org/index.php/currents/article/view/134/153
Mr. Tchividjian is the executive director of Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (GRACE). The website link: https://www.netgrace.org/
Ways that your church may assist and or welcome abuse survivors:https://religionnews.com/2014/05/16/7-ways-welcome-abuse-survivors-churches/
National Sexual Hotline: https://www.rainn.org/about-national-sexual-assault-telephone-hotline
Grace and Peace
Alonzo E. Thornton, D.Min.