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'What About Us?' Catholic Sex Abuse Scandal Has Protestant Church Grappling with Its Own Demons

09-07-2018

The Pennsylvania attorney general's bombshell report on Catholic priest sexual abuse has apparently spurred a movement – but not in Protestant churches.

Law enforcement officials in seven states indicate that they're exploring or starting reviews of sexual abuse by Catholic priests in their jurisdictions.

Religion News Service reports that the Florida attorney general is exploring the matter.

Attorneys general are also taking action in Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, New Jersey and New York.

On Friday, evangelical sex abuse experts Boz Tchvidjian and Jimmy Hinton praised the seven attorneys general that are moving forward while also expressing concern that there's not similar momentum in Protestant churches.

Speaker and consultant Hinton told CBN News he expects it will happen. "My prediction is that you're going to see people in Protestant churches say, 'That's great about Catholics, but what about us?'" he said.

But Hinton also cautioned that investigating sexual abuse in Protestant churches is even more complicated because there's not an institutional structure that operates like the Catholic Church. That makes tracking leaders who abuse and then move on more difficult.

"We're passing people around just as much as the Catholics do – we just don't keep record of it," he said.

That, in turn, would make an investigation all the more lengthy. Hinton noted that an investigation of a Protestant church or churches "would have to rely completely on eyewitness accounts – incredibly time-consuming – as opposed to documents from church leaders."

Tchividjian, who founded G.R.A.C.E., a non-profit that consults with churches and faith-based groups on sexual abuse, is calling for a national commission to investigate child sexual abuse in both Protestant and Catholic churches as well as youth organizations.

"These institutions are never going to transform in the way they need to transform till this is brought to the surface," he told CBN News. "You can only move forward once you've dealt with the past."

In July, Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear announced the formation of a working study group to advise on issues of sexual abuse. A release stated that the group will consider how best to prevent sexual abuse and respond to reports of it.

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