Friday, September 27, 2013

Evangelicals "worse" than Catholics on sexual abuse

Speaking to a room full of journalists yesterday in Austin, Texas, Liberty University law professor Boz Tchividjian said evangelicals are “worse” than Catholics when it comes to responding to clergy sex abuse.

Frowning on transparency and accountability, too many evangelicals have “sacrificed the souls” of young victims, said Tchividjian, who is the grandson of evangelist Billy Graham.

Now before some of you Southern Baptist readers start mentally dismissing this guy because he’s currently a university professor – as in “aren’t they all a bunch of liberals?” – let me just point out that Liberty University was founded by Jerry Falwell and has been ranked as one of the top ten most conservative colleges in the country. With over 100,000 residential and online students, it is the largest private evangelical university in the world.

Moreover, Tchividjian previously worked as a sex crimes prosecutor in Florida, and he is the founder of a firm called G.R.A.C.E. (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment), which conducts independent investigations of clergy abuse allegations.

So Tchividjian is someone who has credentials and credibility out the wazoo. He’s telling a hard truth, and on this occasion, he was telling it to the annual conference for the Religion Newswriters Association. (You might note, for example, that the nameplate immediately to the Tchividjian's right in the RNS photo above is the nameplate for Laurie Goodstein, religion newswriter for the New York Times.) 

I can pretty much guarantee you that many of those journalists are going to remember Tchividjian’s words and, in the future, some of them are going to start looking a lot more closely at evangelical abuse stories.
So I say “thank you” to Boz Tchividjian for continuing to publicly speak out about the extent of clergy abuse and cover-ups among evangelicals. For those of us – and we are many – who were abused by the sexual predation of evangelical ministers and re-abused by the bullying of other evangelical leaders who wanted to keep things quiet, Tchividjian’s words of truth are a balm for the heart.

Related posts:
GRACE report vindicatesmissionary kids, 9/4/2010
Baptists terminateinvestigator of child sex abuse claims, 2/17/2013
Evangelicals need toconfront the reality of sexual abuse in their ranks, 8/16/2013