Guest / Limited Access /
Sovereign Grace Ministries: Courts Shouldn't 'Second-Guess' Pastoral Counseling of Sex Abuse Victims
Image: James Thompson / Flickr
Sovereign Grace Ministries: Courts Shouldn't 'Second-Guess' Pastoral Counseling of Sex Abuse Victims

In response to a civil lawsuit alleging that it covered up numerous cases of child sexual abuse, Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) has pledged to "carefully review" each accusation.

However, the lawsuit—which claims the association of Reformed church plants discouraged victims' parents from reporting abuse to authorities and had victims forgive their abusers in person—has also prompted the denomination to cite its First Amendment right to religious freedom.

Specifically, SGM has defended its freedom to provide confidential pastoral counseling free of government infringement.

"SGM believes that allowing courts to second-guess pastoral guidance would represent a blow to the First Amendment that would hinder, not help, families seeking spiritual direction among other resources in dealing with the trauma related to any sin including child sexual abuse," Tommy Hill, SGM's director of administration, said in a November 14 statement.

Such a stance strikes some legal observers as more of a smokescreen than a legitimate defense.

Boz Tchividjian, founder and executive director of Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (GRACE), which has investigated sex abuse allegations previously for New Tribes Mission and currently for Bob Jones University, readily acknowledges that he does not know all the facts. But the former Florida child abuse prosecutor takes issue with the SGM statement.

"Quite frankly, any time an institution—a Christian institution—responds or defends its behavior as it relates to sexual abuse allegations with quoting laws and hiding behind constitutions, it causes me concern," said Tchividjian, a law professor and grandson of Billy ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedFor First Time, State Bans on Same-Sex Marriage Upheld by Appeals Court
For First Time, State Bans on Same-Sex Marriage Upheld by Appeals Court
Get ready for a Supreme Court showdown after Sixth Circuit says two judges shouldn't make a decision for 32 million citizens.
TrendingA Decision in Ferguson: How Should Evangelicals Respond?
A Decision in Ferguson: How Should Evangelicals Respond?
The grand jury has made a decision in Ferguson, now we have to make ours. How will we respond?
Editor's PickStockpiling Treasures in My Junk Closet
Stockpiling Treasures in My Junk Closet
How I got rid of 1,000 things and finally found shalom.
Comments
Christianity Today
Sovereign Grace Ministries: Courts Shouldn't 'Second-Guess' Pastoral ...
hide thisMarch March

In the Magazine

March 2013

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.