Diana Garland from Baylor University’s School of Social Work has just completed a study examining the prevalence of clergy sexual misconduct in churches and the characteristic environment in churches where clergy sexual misconduct occurs. The study found that 3% of women in congregations had been victims of clergy sexual misconduct. That’s too many. One is too many.
This study is a great resource for beginning a conversation in your church about the destructive nature of clergy sexual abuse and is a great way to introduce the idea of creating child and vulnerable population protection policies for your church. You can read about the findings of the study here: http://www.baylor.edu/clergysexualmisconduct/. The website also provices good resources including a sample code of ethics that your church can use and an article on strategies for preventing sexual misconduct in your church. The BGCT also provides sample policies that you can adapt for your church, reporting requirements when sexual abuse happens, suggestions on running background checks and other resources at www.bgct.org/brokentrust.
We all wish that minister sexual misconduct was not a problem. We wish it didn’t happen, that no one would ever be victimized, that congregations wouldn’t be torn apart, that church really would be a safe and welcoming place for all people. But wishing just won’t make it happen. We’ve got to educate our churches about the problem of clergy sexual misconduct. We must create and abide by policies to protect our churches and those who come to worship with us. We must run background checks and reference checks on vocational ministers and volunteers alike. Wishing won’t make the problem go away, but we can begin to make our churches safer places.
Tags: Clergy sexual misconduct