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No Harm, No Foul? Part 2

Feb 02, 2008 — Categories:

So let’s assume for a minute that institutions like the church, when confronted with the disclosure of unethical behavior like sexual harassment or abuse, tend to act in their own best interests. On the surface, this is what I call the “institutional protection agenda.”

So let’s assume for a minute that institutions like the church, when confronted with the disclosure of unethical behavior like sexual harassment or abuse, tend to act in their own best interests. On the surface, this is what I call the “institutional protection agenda.”

The institutional protection agenda looks like this:

  • Its policy is designed first of all to avoid liability for the misconduct of its agents.
  • The language in its policy reflects this: “an affair with a congregant” implying consent.
  • It hires lawyers whose job it is to “handle” a complaint, insulate the judicatory from contact with the victim(s), and direct all communication and activity to avoid liability.
  • It uses its funds to pay lawyers.

This institutional protection agenda will almost always mean that the judicatory ends up in civil litigation with victim/survivors who expect more from their faith community. And the judicatory usually loses.

There is an alternative agenda: the “justice-making agenda.” This agenda is driven by the values and teachings of the faith community.

  • Its policy is designed to act in the face of disclosure of misconduct to support those harmed, hold those responsible accountable, and do everything possible to insure it doesn’t happen again.
  • The language in its policy reflects this: “sexual abuse or exploitation by a clergy person.”
  • It hires lawyers whose job it is to assist the judicatory in accomplishing its policy and they take direction from the judicatory leaders rather than the other way around.
  • It uses funds to make restitution to those who have been harmed and to support training for prevention.

This justice-making agenda rarely results in the judicatory ending up in civil litigation because it keeps faith with its people and provides for those who deserve support and healing. The great irony is that the justice-making agenda costs much less than the institutional protection agenda.

So which agenda really protects the institution?

Rev. Dr. Marie M. Fortune
FaithTrust Institute
www.faithtrustinstitute.org

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Misconduct by the Pastor

Posted by Annonymous at Jul 13, 2011 07:05 PM
I am over ten years past my experience with Clergy Abuse and still to this day it can overwhelm me. I am glad that there is someone that is out there in the forefront seeking to educate and inform people about this issue. No one really knows the damaging effects this type of abuse has on the victims and their loved ones. Also people always think of the children and while that is a horrible horrible offense this happens as much or more to adult women and men every day. From my experience this type of abuse is harder to cope with given that children can have no responsibility, and no one would ever blame them and even though it is still the fault of the pastor to have proper boundaries, adult victims often blame themselves as much as those around them simply because they are adults. Its effects of deep pain and suffering will last a lifetime and where is the church in the lives of these victims? I can assure you we are nothing more than a prayer, if even that, in their efforts to offer healing. Left on their own to manage their heartache, they often never attend church again. The real tragedy is that there is not more culling of those that believe they are called to minister when somewhere in their background is this tendency waiting to master the minds of their unsuspecting parishioners. I see only only churches protecting themselves from the victims and no healing .. they are the truest hypocrits, here to offer solace to the hurting people and yet only to those that are not it's victims. Anyway .. i have some rather justified anger. THanks for what you do!

clergy abuse of victims

Posted by Cynthia Curtis at Jan 03, 2017 02:14 PM
I and my daughter was abused by clergy with them managing to cause my daughter such emotional problems it eventually wound up in her death. They have falsely accused me by spreading falsehoods by clergy and members of the congregation to the extent that I have no life.