Christian religion and child cruelty

Hi Grit

This post may not be popular with some, but I think it is a subject that needs to be aired. It was brought to my attention by a news item concerning a church minister who is actively promoting child cruelty amongst his congregation.  The minister has allegedly actively condoned the action of a father who branded his child because he thought the child was a witch and, in other cases he has encouraged parents to send unruly (what he calls “witch-children”) back to africa so he can pray for them to die!

Whilst this may be an extreme case, child cruelty and sex abuse in the church is not a new phenomena.  Over the past few decades in the UK there have been a number of cases of child abuse involving the clergy. In those situations, as in this case, there is one significant omission – reaction from the church! I cannot recall the church making any definitive and meaningful statements on the issue. They have not come out in public and set forth a plan to investigate, address and combat the incidence of child sex abuse by the clergy. In addition, they need to publicly and loudly condemn such abuse. I know that someone will correct me if I am wrong, but in the UK I have yet to see one case where the church has instigated an action against a child abuser in their midst and made it public.

In my view there are two issues here. Firstly, the church needs to implement a strategy to limit the potential for acts of child abuse. This could be done by better training of the clergy, including a more detailed psychological appraisal of clergy applicants. Strict regulations and guidelines should also be introduced in respect of the way in which the clergy is allowed to act and interact with children. Why should they be treated any different to other professionals who deal with children?

The second issue is celibacy. A large portion of the Christian church promotes the ideal that their clergy must be celibate. In these cases it is a matter of dictate rather than choice. It is no defence to say that people have the choice not to become clergy. If they have a calling to a become a minister in a particular church, this should not be denied by their need to have a sexual partner or companion. It is blatant discrimination. Furthermore, such a position is not supported by the scriptures. These types of religious sexual restrictions provide the temptation for child abuse.    

It would seem that the clergy does not like to air its dirty linen in public, but we are talking here about child abuse, and there is no justification for hiding this behind closed doors. In the UK in 2001, a national vetting body was proposed for the clergy, following 26 criminal cases of clergy child abuse, and that is potentially just the tip of an iceberg. There are two issues here. Firstly, it is not a totally independent body, which is should be. Secondly, it is amazing how little information regarding the findings of that organisation has published in the past five years.

The US Christian churches have also made the issue of prosecution of the clergy in child abuse cases more difficult, as an article in 2002 shows. Laws have been passed, perhaps unwittingly, that allow the church to continue to hide the child abuse actions of their clergy.

The peoples relationship with the church is meant to be built on faith and trust. It is apparent from these issues that there are those within the clergy who abuse that faith and trust in respect of their actions towards children. The Christian church, by its actions and inactions, is condoning that abuse and it is time this was bought to an end. The Church, like all other social, political and commercial organisations, should be subject to independent public scrutiny.

When Jesus said “Suffer the children” he did not intend the word “suffer” to be taken literally.

the Brit

PS: For those of you interested on the issues of child abuse and what can be done about it, please visit the site “Child protection: serious business” listed on our blogroll.

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6 Responses to “Christian religion and child cruelty”

  1. Megan Bayliss Says:

    Brit, CONGRATULATIONS to you. Now stay strong because you can bet that you will recieve some flack for daring to air black collar crime. Have a read of a recent article I wrote on Black Collar Crime (http://imaginifbusiness.blogspot.com/2007/01/black-collar-crime-clergy-abuse.html) in the churches.
    I have worked with women sexually abused as children by their parish priests. Their road back from hell is long and arduous.
    I’m not convinced that it is the absence of a sexual mate that turns a priest toward kids. Sexual abuse is about power over. Who has more power, trust and confidence that our priests? Clergy abuse is the ultimate in abuse of trust and betrayal.
    I do share the view that the Catholic Church needs to consider marraige for their Priests. With all the affairs that the priests have, there’s going to be few of them going to heaven!
    Child Sexual Abuse has to end. Thank you Brit for taking a stance. Any body else care to voice their opinion on the topic?

    PS: I’ll be in touch shortly by email Brit! We have a long weekend here this weekend and I think we are going away tomorrow night. All depends on how the Boy is feeling. He has a sporting injury (from cable skiing!!!) and is in pain.

  2. britandgrit Says:

    Hi Megan,

    Sorry for the delay in your comment popping up. You got caught as spam because of the extra link. I’d turn that off, but then we would be swamped by ads for, well, things we don’t want to inflict on our visitors.

    As to the topic of the Brit’s post, I have much to say on that. However, having been the victim of a weird religious up bringing, I have to save it up to the point where a rant pops out.

    Sorry about your Boy, and my hopes that he recovers quickly.

    the Grit

  3. britandgrit Says:

    Hi Megan

    Thanks for the comment.Like Grit I hope your son is recovering

    Regards

    Paul

  4. Megan Bayliss Says:

    LOL – is that what happened. When my comment failed to show I thought God conspiricacy!!!! Have just logged back in to redo it and there it was.
    Thanks for your well wishes toward Boy. This is the second injury he has had since December. First it was his shoulder from playing Laser Tag and now he has Achillies Tendonitis from the collective wear of Laser Tag, Snorkelling and Cable skiing. Geeze, when I was a kid I just had a push bike!!!!! I don’t know if he’ll be up to going away for the night but we’ll see. A visit to a coveted gem factory is on offer and he’s been dying to go there. Cheaper for me if he doesn’t!!!!!
    Expect to hear from me shortly Brit.

  5. britandgrit Says:

    Hi Megan,

    My son played football for years without injury. Then, after he gave that up, he managed to break his nose playing Frisbee!

    the Grit

  6. Anja Says:

    Thanks so much for writing this. Well done.

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