There are some days when I am thrilled to report positive developments within the Protestant world about the slow but steady shift taking place on issues relating to child sexual abuse. Just a few years ago, there was very little private or public discourse within most Protestant circles about abuse within the Church. Besides the ignored cries of survivors and a few advocates, public acknowledgment and dialogue on this subject was off limits. As a result, children continued to be at risk in our churches and survivors continued to be silenced through blame and false pity.
In the past year, I have encountered more and more folks who are beginning to realize that the Church has been largely silent — and this silence has had excruciatingly dark and grave consequences for countless individuals and for the very soul of the Church. Through some amazing (and many very painful) set of circumstances, I believe a growing number within the Protestant community are finally beginning to realize that there is an epidemic of child sexual abuse within the Church and that silence and inaction are unacceptable.
Three years ago, I was invited by a major Protestant denomination to lead a seminar that focused on issues facing the church related to child sexual abuse. Five people attended. Though I was a bit disappointed, I was encouraged to be able to connect with some abuse survivors who had been deeply hurt by their church. So when I was asked this year to lead a similar seminar, I was expecting a low turnout. To my amazement, the room was full. What an encouragement to witness the thawing hearts of professing Christians who acknowledge that we have much to learn about protecting children, serving survivors and demonstrating repentance to those we have hurt or ignored.
This acknowledgment was demonstrated this past week when the entire General Assembly (annual meeting of pastors) of the theologically conservative Presbyterian Church of America (PCA) unanimously and publicly adopted Overture 6 – perhaps the most robust statement on child protection adopted by any Christian denomination.
Read the article.