12 August 2010
Black church leaders urge government to increase child protection measures for pastors
Black church leaders in partnership with the Evangelical Alliance and Churches Together in England (CTE) are supporting a call being made by the Churches Child Protection Advisory Service (CCPAS) to Government requesting ministers of religion be included in the list of individuals who must register with the Independent Safeguard Authority (ISA.)
The group also plans to re-affirm the need for all pastors to undergo safeguarding training and for all churches to have child protection procedures.
The mandate has been proposed following a critical meeting facilitated by the Alliance and CTE. The gathering invited black majority church leaders, NGOs and child protection professionals to respond to issues of child protection emerging in a small element of rogue UK based African churches. The discussion topic was raised by Channel 4's Dispatches programme "Britain's Witch Children," shown on 26 July.
The emergency meeting was set up following a joint media statement from the Alliance and CTE condemning churches who abuse children, particularly any church that brands children as witches.
Steve Clifford, General Director of the Evangelical Alliance, said: "We are taking every step within our power to ensure exploitative practices conducted by a small minority of unaffiliated pastors are entirely stamped out and a higher expectation of accountability is firmly established. We remain extremely disappointed that Dispatches implied such abusive behaviour is being committed by more than a very small minority."
Dr Joe Aldred, Secretary of Minority Ethnic Christian Affairs for Churches Together in England said: "In light of recent evidence shown in Dispatches we jointly re-affirm our whole hearted commitment to ensure excellent child protection standards are upheld within all UK churches. This should be delivered in the form of increased education and registration at the ISA and all other appropriate regulatory and ecumenical agencies. CCPAS have already made huge strides in training up to 5,000 African church leaders in optimum standards of child protection over the last few years alone."
The Alliance and CTE will send a letter to thousands of churches reminding them of child protection policies implemented by Alliance member organisation and partner CCPAS. The letter will stress the importance of having appropriate child protection systems in place and will call on all churches to continue to operate a policy of zero-tolerance of abuse in their ranks. It will reassure recipients that none of the churches or pastors featured in Dispatches is a member of the Alliance or CTE.
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Notes to Editors
The Evangelical Alliance
We are the largest and oldest body representing the UK’s two million evangelical Christians. For more than 165 years, we have been bringing Christians together and helping them listen to, and be heard by, the government, media and society. We’re here to connect people for a shared mission, whether it’s celebrating the Bible, making a difference in our communities or lobbying the government for a better society. From Skye to Southampton, from Coleraine to Cardiff, we work across 79 denominations, 3,500 churches, 750 organisations and thousands of individual members. And we're not just uniting Christians within the UK – we are a founding member of the World Evangelical Alliance, a global network of more than 600 million evangelical Christians. For more information, go to www.eauk.org.