It's the problem of Clergy Sexual Misconduct. A "problem" that shames its victims into silence and systematically takes away their voice.
Although there have been some denominations with the courage to name the problem and provide healing for victims, there is much more work to be done. For example, simply developing a protocol to deal with this horrendous issue is not enough. EVERY CHURCH must become a place that is safe for women. We must stand with victims and say, "We believe you!" We must give them back their voice. We must say in advance, "We will not ignore or diminish your pain, and here is how we will come alongside to provide healing."
The purpose of this website is twofold:
1) To provide INFORMATION about Clergy Sexual Misconduct. "Accurately naming the behavior is an important step to reshaping our thinking about this troubling reality in the church, and how we name it reveals our belief about it. Holding clergy accountable with compassion and purpose and providing healing resources to churches and survivors is dependent upon an accurate starting point. Only when we name the behavior accurately can we hope to have a healing outcome for all involved."
As Beth Ann Gaede states in the preface to When A Congregation is Betrayed, Clergy Sexual Misconduct is NOT a matter of a a "relationship" gone awry but an abuse of power.
It is vitally important for leaders in the church who care about the congregation to become educated about this subject. Sadly, however, the opposite is often true. "For some reason, perhaps because of denial, many churchleaders try to do this difficult work (of dealing with CSM) without preparation and without asking for outside assistance. If people without training or guidance try to respond, the outcome can be disastrous. One of the entities that will pay dearly for a lack of preparation for dealing with clergy betrayal will be the congregation." (When a Congregation is Betrayed, p.4) And the cost to the victims can hardly be comprehended.
Please use the RESOURCES tab above to find websites, articles, books and personal stories.
2) To create INCENTIVE for denominations and churches to develop policies and practices that will ensure that churches become safe places not only for children, but also for women and other vulnerable people. Does YOUR church or denomination have a policy to deal immediately and compassionately with Clergy Sexual Misconduct? Is it readily available to everyone in the congregation? Do you know that your church is a safe place instead of another "good-old-boys club"?
Please use the DENOMINATIONAL POLICIES tab above to see which churches have policies in place.
Perhaps this website can be a starting point for people who "love justice and righteousness" to come together to reflect the heart of God in dealing with this very important problem.