Tchividjian: Protestants Worse than Catholics in Dealing with Abuse?

Via HuffPo:

The Christian mission field is a “magnet” for sexual abusers, Boz Tchividjian, a Liberty University law professor who investigates abuse said Thursday (Sept. 26) to a room of journalists.

While comparing evangelicals to Catholics on abuse response, ”I think we are worse,” he said at the Religion Newswriters Association conference, saying too many evangelicals had “sacrificed the souls” of young victims.

“Protestants can be very arrogant when pointing to Catholics,” said Tchividjian, a grandson of evangelist Billy Graham and executive director of Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (GRACE), which has investigated sex abuse allegations.

On one hand, Tchividjian’s job is to investigate and deal with child abuse cases in Protestant churches. That’s probably going to give him a jaundiced view of the situation. On the other hand … ouch.

My guess is that the decentralized nature of Evangelical churches makes it much harder to deal with child abuse systematically. With the Catholic church there is a large and well established institution that can be blamed, forced to deal with the situation and sued if necessary. An evangelical church can afford to just push out the criminal (and the victim) and pretend that it doesn’t reflect on their institution.

  • http://www.agnostic-library.com/ma/ PsiCop

    While it’s true that evangelicals’ decentralized nature (vs. the R.C. Church) makes it easy for abusers to fall between the cracks, as it were, there’s another consideration. The R.C. Church is a large organization with a lot of financial resources and clout. They can … and in fact, have! … used legalistic tactics and other means to actively interfere efforts to investigate abuse. They’ve resisted subpoenas, sometimes to the point of being held in contempt of court (e.g. the Rockford diocese); have sent abusers and/or knowledgable officials out of the country in order to evade discovery (e.g. Cardinal Law); they’ve contrived their finances and assets in order to prevent accusers from getting at money (e.g. the Milwaukee archdiocese); hire private investigators to dig up dirt on accusers (e.g. the archdiocese of Boston); and so on.

    These are tactics that decentralized organizations inevitably find harder, if not impossible, to do — aside maybe from colossally-large ministries and/or megachurches that have many millions of dollars in the bank and can spend a lot on lawyers, private investigators, etc. Small, independent churches with no direct connection to any other, won’t be able to pull these off.

    • Jeffrey Hoffman

      Don’t kid yourself. Independent fundamentalist evangelical organizations like Bob Jones University always have plenty of money to fight in court. “Independent” churches in their orbit also receive plenty of assistance when there is a legal challenge. BJU exercises a de facto pivilege and political influence within their community (two members of the County Council, including the chair, are former BJU employees, and many people in local law enforcement have ties to the school) such that, to victims and survivors of abuse, it often seems we are fighting City Hall to have our voices heard and to find justice. Things are not always as they seem on the surface… and the principals of fundamentalist colleges always like to seem as though they are the underdog in an unequal fight. That’s a politically advantageous position to hold. For a clearer picture of how BJU acts in court, see http://richmerritt.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/defendants-trial-brief.pdf or http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1982/1982_81_3.


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