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19 January 2018

Press release

The language of abuse

The language of abuse

 Abuse is becoming an all too common news headline, happening in a variety of settings. Sadly, this includes the Church. The recent case involving a Church of England vicar and a survey by CCPAS have highlighted the need for more action in this area.

Dr Tani Omideyi, chair of the Evangelical Alliance board commented: "We know that churches have not always been the best at dealing with abuse and we must help them do better.

"At the Evangelical Alliance, we are committed to helping churches be healthy communities where people, including those who are vulnerable, are encouraged to flourish. Indeed, we are holding a major conference on Tuesday, 20 February 2018 called Above and Beyond, to make sure churches and charities can be well run for the glory of God.

"Compassionate care should be afforded to those who have experienced, or are vulnerable to, abuse. People in positions of power should be supported to be transparent and accountable. Healthy churches need the support of robust safeguarding language, legislation and training.

"The Evangelical Alliance is committed to encouraging churches to take safeguarding issues seriously, putting everything in place to ensure that Jesus can be made known throughout our communities."

Dr David Landrum, director of advocacy commented: "We are aware of concerns that have been raised about the language of 'spiritual abuse'. This term is clearly problematic because it is so difficult to define and so easy to misuse. Safeguarding expert Professor Keith Brown has noted, 'As it stands, the term 'spiritual abuse' is open to all sorts of interpretation, and thus is not a helpful term; though clearly many have felt they have been 'spiritually abused', and we must accept this and respond to this appropriately.'

"We agree with Professor Brown that we must respond well to victims but that the ambiguity in terminology is unhelpful. Indeed, there is a risk that dividing abuse into special categories may do more harm than good.

"Let's be clear: coercion, exploitation, and the abuse of power is wrong in every context. The setting is relevant, but does not define the abuse. The current legislation is clear and robust, ensuring abusive behaviours can be identified and dealt with.

"We are working with other agencies to more clearly define psychological and emotional abuse, coercion and control in religious contexts, and to ensure that a robust safeguarding approach is developed. This will help the Church prevent abuse from occurring, deal well with it when it arises, and model what good Church discipleship should look like."

More information about the Above & Beyond conference on 20 February 2018 can be found here: http://www.eauk.org/church/stories/5-reasons-why-above-and-beyond-is-an-essential-day-for-your-church.cfm 

Media Enquiries

Danny Webster
Tel: 07766 444 650
Email: info@eauk.org

Notes to Editors

  1. Interviews available on request
  2. The Above and Beyond conference addresses a wide range of legal and regulatory issues that churches and Christian charities navigate including safeguarding. Information about the conference is available here. Bookings can be made at www.eauk.org/aboveandbeyond   

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.