Domestic abuse more prevalent among Anglican churchgoers, new report finds

Discussion in 'Religion and Spirituality' started by themickey, Jun 10, 2021 at 4:57 PM.

  1. themickey


    Damning data on domestic violence in Anglican church

    A landmark report has found the incidence of domestic abuse is greater amongst Anglicans in Australia than the general population.

    The report, commissioned by the Anglican church, also found that perpetrators used Biblical teachings to justify abuse, and that those who attended church regularly were more likely to have been in an abusive relationship than those who didn't.

    Key points:
    • Anglicans were more likely to report experiencing intimate partner violence than general population
    • Almost 9 in 10 victims did not seek help from their church
    • Christian teachings "sometimes contribute to and potentially amplify situations of domestic violence"
    Despite this, the research — which includes surveys on prevalence, clergy and survivors in Anglican communities — showed almost nine out of 10 victims of domestic violence did not seek help from their church.

    "All Anglicans will feel deep sadness over these results," the Primate of Church, the Most Reverend Geoffrey Smith said. "But armed with this data we can develop a better response to protect those within our church communities from domestic violence."

    The report, the first of its kind in Australia, showed church leaders were "more aware" of domestic violence in the broader community than in their own ranks: nine in 10 clergy and lay leaders thought domestic violence was common in this country, but only six in 10 thought it was as common in churches.

    It is unclear whether they were asked if they had considered it might be worse in the churches.

    Regular churchgoers more likely to have experienced violence
    The National Anglican Family Violence Research Report, conducted by researchers from Charles Sturt University, surveyed more than 2,000 men and women aged over 18 in December 2019.

    When asked "Have you been in a violent relationship with any partner", 22 per cent of Anglicans who had been in an adult intimate relationship said yes, compared to 15 per cent for the equivalent group of the Australian public. When given specific examples of abuse, 44 per cent of Anglicans said they had been victims of domestic violence, compared to 38 per cent of the general population.

    Anglicans who attended church regularly were more likely to have experienced both intimate partner violence and spiritual abuse. But only 88 per cent of victims said they'd sought help from their church. And, while three-quarters of clergy had been aware there were victims of abuse in their congregations, many leaders said they lacked confidence in their capacity to respond.

    Professor Naomi Priest, a social epidemiologist at the Australian National University, said the findings were probably just "the tip of the iceberg". The results likely underestimate the problem of domestic violence in the church for several reasons, she said, including because of potential recruitment bias.

    "The prevalence study uses data from a non-probability online panel. It is well documented that these sorts of panels are not transparent enough about how they recruit their participants, and that the companies that run them do so through a wide range of means," Professor Priest said.

    "We also don't know the context in which people were completing the survey, which is a particular issue related to family violence. [For example], are they doing it at home on the couch with the perpetrator right there with them?"

    Second, she said, "the study also does not include participants who used to attend an Anglican church but no longer do so — and we know that DV and related issues are major reasons why women and survivors leave churches."

    The convenor of the Family Violence Working Group, the Reverend Tracy Lauersen, said the finding that "there is a significant intimate partner violence problem within the Australian Church population" was "tragic" and "confronting" but hoped the insights would help attempts to prevent it.

    When given specific examples of abuse, 44 per cent of Anglicans said they had been victims of domestic violence, compared to 38 per cent of the general population.

    Perpetrators misusing biblical teachings
    The research was commissioned after an investigation by ABC News in 2017 revealed a significant cultural problem with intimate partner violence in Australian churches, whereby abuse was too often ignored, minimised and enabled by clergy, some of whom told women to endure and even submit to it. Many leaders were unaware of the dynamics of abuse or insistent it could not occur in faith communities.

    A robust debate erupted about prevalence and the relevance of American research finding that people who attended evangelical churches sporadically were more likely to abuse their partners, with regular attenders less. What was lacking was precise Australian data.

    In response, then Anglican Primate of Australia, Archbishop Philip Freier, told The Drum that victims of domestic violence deserved an apology from the church.

    Archbishop Philip Freier told The Drum in 2017 in that victims of domestic violence deserved an apology from the church.

    A few weeks later, the General Synod of the Anglican Church apologised to victims of domestic violence, acknowledging they had been let down by church leaders and teachings, and promised to undertake independent research into the nature and extent of family violence in Anglican communities.

    Shortly afterwards, clergy wives told their stories to the ABC — of husbands insisting their role as women was to submit to "male headship" — a literal interpretation of the Bible whereby the man is the "head" of the woman.

    The ABC reported the doctrine was being used by perpetrators to justify their abuse on these theological grounds, as well as others relating to forgiveness and the sanctity of marriage.

    The new research confirmed this, finding "Christian teachings sometimes contribute to and potentially amplify situations of domestic violence". Strict teachings on "marriage as a lifelong commitment, the submission of the wife to the husband, unconditional forgiveness, and suffering for Christ — whether they are taught by church leaders, internalised by victim survivors, or co-opted by abuser in this way - are harmful for those who experience abuse," the report said.

    It also found nine out of 10 clergy believed abusers misused biblical teachings to support abuse — and eight out of 10 recognised the doctrine of male headship was a factor "at least some of the time".

    Crucially, however, the researchers found that teachings on equality, mercy and love could help empower victims to leave.

    Why is domestic violence worse in the church?
    On Wednesday the new Archbishop of Sydney, Kanishka Raffel, responded to the report on Twitter, saying "all forms of domestic abuse are incompatible with scripture and Christian faith".

    But the question of why domestic violence appears to be worse in the church remains largely unaddressed by leaders.

    Professor Priest argues there are answers in a growing body of research. She says empirical evidence shows "systems, cultures and teachings related to patriarchal gender roles and structural gender inequality are associated with domestic violence, including failure to acknowledge it as an issue and to respond to it appropriately in faith communities".

    Teachings about divorce, marriage and forgiveness, along with "cultures of silencing and denial" have also been identified in the literature.

    But crucially, Professor Priest said, the dynamics and divers of domestic abuse must be recognised.

    "Focusing on domestic violence as an individual aberration or sin — as is seen by some of the clergy in this report who describe reasons for domestic violence in terms of narcissistic personality or alcohol abuse — rather than as related to structural, systemic cultural issues in churches related to gender equality and interpretations of scripture, are also reasons suggested for the higher proportion of domestic abuse in churches," she said.

    "The ongoing lack of awareness, knowledge and skill of church leaders and investment in deep cultural and systemic change regarding domestic violence is also likely to contribute to these higher proportions."

    Simon Smart, the executive director of the Centre for Public Christianity, said he was encouraged the Anglican Church was taking intimate partner violence seriously.

    "It's clear that domestic violence in its multiple forms is a major challenge for our society and the church is not immune from the problem — it may even be especially susceptible to it, given that perpetrators misuse Christian teaching for abusive purposes," he said.

    "The Anglican church is the first church to step forward and look deeply into this issue, and that is a hopeful sign that it might be able to take steps to do something to protect vulnerable people — something churches should be in the business of doing."
  2. johnnyrock


    That's not surprising when a major theme I. The Bible is that women should not only submit to the man, but they are not authorized to have leadership positions within the church. Combine that with cultures - such as ours - where domestic violence is not a deal breaker for an athlete, CEO or entertainer. However, if any of the aforementioned gets a DUI, Twitter goes off the rails about taking an Uber. DUIs are dangerous. Even more dangerous is a violent culture that doesn't protect kids or women.

    Domestic abusers aren't supposed to have guns. However, the tribal nature of the military and police will often help the abuser and cover it up. Not everywhere of course. Buy the fact that it still happens, in this day and age is insane. Domestic violence crosses economic and racial bounds.
  3. The Bible does portray how God wants healthy marriages to function.

    People often do not do what God's intended will is. 1 Peter 3:7-9 BSB:

    Husbands, in the same way, treat your wives with consideration as a delicate vessel, and with honor as fellow heirs of the gracious gift of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.

    Finally, all of you, be like-minded and sympathetic, love as brothers, be tenderhearted and humble.

    Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.

    FortuneTeller likes this.
  4. themickey


    "Gods will" is imo a total load of bs! Its a fantasy, a myth.
    What in effect is being said, "I must be good because God commands it".
    In other words, not because "I" want to be good, but because someone else is commanding me to be good.
    No wonder Christians struggle with temptation and guilt and hypocrisy.
    Because they are attempting to live a life outside of themselves.
    The Catholic church is an example, hugely pious priests and nuns but a history of abuse toward children. Why? Because there is no God Father in reality, but according to their imagination.
    There may be a God, there may be a Creator, but nothing close to what Christians believe imo.
    Christianity is a largely fake doctrine because humans cannot achieve anything unless it comes from YOURSELF.
    You have to want to do something, not because something else is commanding you.

    Last edited: Jun 11, 2021 at 10:04 AM
  5. themickey


    As an aside and speaking from experience, why do you think children of godly parents are most often little fucking bastards?
    It's because they are forever being preached to and told how they should live their lives, mostly in an authoritarian manner. "You must do this, you must do that, blah blah", on and on.
    Then told there's pain coming if you don't conform.
    johnnyrock likes this.
  6. johnnyrock


    It amazes me that you think treating a woman right is almost like taking care of her like a dog. It's almost like you believe a woman is not capable of a fruitful life without a man taking care of her.

    Thanks for the in depth confirmation of my thesis.
  7. God created us and gave us all that we have. To everyone reading this: think about the concept that you did not create yourself. You also did not cause the plants to grow that provide people with food. You did not set the earth precisely as it needed to be in relation to the sun so that your needs for warmth would be met. Not only did you not create your own spirit, but everything experienced in life comes from what was created by God.

    The point I’m trying to make is that obeying God is for different reasons than what we experience in any other relationship where obedience is a factor. God, as Creator, has the right to a relationship with us and to give us commands. Because He is a righteous and good God, He has commanded people to do what is right.

    I do agree with you that many who say they are Christians use religion as a way to control others.

    I also agree with you that many children of “godly parents” rebel, feeling like Christianity is simply a list of rules. Those that I talk to that fall into this category have never been able to tell me that they have ever experienced a two-way relationship with God based on the forgiveness found in Jesus. They have mentioned feeling just as you described:

    “It's because they are forever being preached to and told how they should live their lives, mostly in an authoritarian manner. "You must do this, you must do that, blah blah", on and on.​

    Then told there's pain coming if you don't conform.”​

    But that’s where one who is born again differs from one who is not.

    Without experiencing God’s grace in a personal way, without having been born again, unbelievers are likely to think Christianity is simply about following rules. But when one becomes a believer and is indwelt by His Spirit, the relationship with God has changed to a new understanding. God no longer is the strict Judge, but the forgiving Father.

    For myself, submission to God and His Word can be described as follows:

    1. Understanding that as my Creator, and as the most Perfect Being Ever, God is worthy of my obedience, unlike any other relationship AND can be trusted to continue to be good and want my good.

    2. Understanding that God has graciously forgiven my sins, at a great cost to Himself. This also gives me the desire to do whatever God desires of me, out of friendship.

    3. Understanding that obedience to God, should never be done out of a sense of working to achieve God’s favor. Instead, my desire to obey is to show love back to God.

    So, what kinds of rules are we talking about that are so difficult to obey?

    Jesus summed up His rules by saying to believers:

    This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. John 15:12​

    Last edited: Jun 11, 2021 at 12:59 PM
    FortuneTeller likes this.
  8. So abuse is terrible in Australia. What else is new?

    Maybe it's the kangaroo's fault!

  9. johnnyrock


    My question remains. Why should the wife obey the husband? Without pointing to a scripture to make your point, why - logically - does the same New Testament you are quoting say the woman should OBEY?

    Either Paul is a controlling sociopath who differs in the teachings of Jesus, or the New Testament is contradicting itself.


    Love does not require obedience. Abusive husbands require obedience.
  10. johnnyrock


    The NT does say Paul killed a bunch of Christians before his conversion. Even Peter doubted Paul's apostleship. Are we sure we want to take the word of an opportunistic killer?