Religious Law or Civil Law; What Should Govern in the Case of Sexual Abuse by Clergy?

Written by FASPE Seminary Fellows: Cornelia Dalton, Deacon Andrew J. De Silva and Alissa Oleson

“For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good.” This line of Scripture taken from Romans 13:04 lies at the intersection of religious and civil law. It also lies at the heart of a piece by Basyle J. Tchividjian, executive director of Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (GRACE), who argues that religious leaders are obligated to work with the proper civil authorities and professional experts to address allegations of sexual abuse swiftly, thoughtfully, and with as much dignity and respect as possible for the victimized child. In Jewish tradition, the concept of dina d’malkhuta dina—the law of the land is the law—speaks to the same matter. Tchividjian advocates for having policy protocols in place at schools and places of worship, addressing the concerns of the wider community, and placing the needs of the victim first.

Read the original article on Currents in Theology and Mission.

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