The Roys Report writes about the arrest and charges against several present and former leaders of a Christian fraternity at several universities in Texas, for “continuous sexual abuse of a child.”
Some people call her a muckraker who craps into her own nest, but I believe that the investigative journalism of Julie Roys and her collaborators, as well as of others in the Catholic and Anglican context, is extremely important for the health of the church of Jesus Christ.
Situations like the ones described in this article are not harmful to the victims alone but are like cancerous growths in the Body of Christ: ignored and untreated they damage the health of the whole body.
A few years ago some Evangelicals looked almost gleefully at the Catholic Church when more and more cases of abuse and cover-up by clergy, all the way up to prominent Cardinals, came to light; but there have always been problematic free church groups like the extreme wing of the Exclusive Brethren. A few years ago massive historic abuse situations were revealed in Protestant and Anglican schools in Germany, Canada, and Australia, and a year ago a series of investigative reports by some Texas newspapers uncovered not only a massive clergy abuse problem in churches of the Southern Baptist Convention but also an abject failure on the part of the denominational leadership to deal adequately and appropriately with this problem, all under the cover of “local church autonomy.”
Today we know, not least through the work of Mrs. Roys and the Roys Report, that these cancerous growths flourish in all church traditions, including Pentecostal churches, the predominantly Charismatic independent churches, and even in the most prominent megachurches. For much too long and much too often leaders in all traditions and denominations have looked the other way, have sometimes shown more empathy with the perpetrators than with the victims, and have worried more about the reputation of their respective institutions than about the well-being and safety of the flock entrusted to them.
I cannot tell to what extent this problem also exists in free churches in Germany and Austria; but statistics tell us that churches with a very conservative theology were men rule their families and pastors rule their churches, and dissent and criticism are discouraged, are particularly vulnerable and prone to both domestic abuse and violence as well as clergy abuse. And we do have such churches on the fringe of the Evangelical movement in the German-speaking countries. But even if everything were in order in our own circles and churches we cannot disclaim all responsibility: the church is, despite its sadly divided state and despite its geographic spread, one body, and “if one member suffers, all suffer together“), the whole Body suffers.
So it is high time for us to no longer look the other way but to intercede for these situations and for the victims, and where necessary, have the courage to speak up.__________
- particularly the Raven-Hale group in England, North America, and Australia[↩]
- Fortunately Southern Baptists have now begun, not without some internal opposition, to acknowledge the problem and to take measures to deal with it and prevent it in the future.[↩]
- I am not commenting here on the Eastern Churches (Orthodox and Uniate) because I have no information. But I don’t suppose that they are entirely free of this problem.[↩]
- 1 Corinthians 12:26 (ESV[↩]