Books: Clergy Sexual Abuse and Lack of Victim Care
Is Nothing Sacred? The Story of a Pastor, the Women He Sexually Abused, and the Congregation He Nearly Destroyed by Marie Fortune. This book is the disturbing story of a predatory pastor who abused many women in his congregation, some who were minors at the time. The story is true, though names are changed to protect the privacy of the victims. Marie Fortune served as a counselor for many of the victims, and she tells their stories in a very compelling way. The book shows how poorly churches and denominations are equipped to deal with clergy sexual misconduct and how often perpetrators escape accountability.
This Little Light – Beyond a Baptist Preacher Predator and His Gang by Christa Brown. Mrs. Brown writes of her experience being abused by a Southern Baptist minister, and how the denomination was unwilling to protect its children. She shows that the minister escaped scrutiny for his conduct because a conspiracy of silence within the church. She describes a Baptist “good old boys” network that enables misconduct, betrays victims and protects abusers.
Clergy Sexual Misconduct – A Systems Approach to Prevention, Intervention, and Oversight by John Thoburn and Ron Baker. This book deals with sexual misconduct as a family systems issue. Based on their research the authors believe that 30 % of ministers have engaged in sexual behavior that is inappropriate and that more than 15% of ministers are addicted to pornography. They say that the average number of women victims of clergy misconduct is seven per congregation affected. The book suggests therapy approaches for offenders and the healing of offenders’ marriages. This book does not deal much with the impact on or care for victims.
Ministerial Ethics – Moral Formation for Church Leaders by Joe Trull and James Carter. This book is written by a Baptist ethics professor (Trull) and a long-term pastor and denominational leader (Carter). It is being used as a seminary ethics textbook. The book has several helpful appendices with sample “codes of clergy conduct” of various groups and “A Procedure for Responding to Charges of Clergy Sexual Abuse.” This latter resource elaborates on “hearing the accusation, confronting the accused minister, preparing for the formal hearing, conducting the formal hearing, and ministering the the victims of clergy sexual abuse.”
Victim to Survivor – Women Recovering from Clergy Sexual Abuse. Edited by Nancy Werking Poling with a foreword by Marie Fortune. This book is a compilation of the stories told by six women who were victimized by clergy they trusted. The stories are disturbing, and the survivors of abuse reflect various levels of recovery and resolution. One of the common elements in all of the stories is the deep feeling of betrayal by a trusted spiritual leader and the desire to see him held accountable for his misconduct. There is a particular emphasis on understanding the vulnerability that makes women potential prey for predatory abusers.