Billy Graham’s grandson blames the Church for protecting child sex abusers

Sat 26 Aug 2017
By Tola Mbakwe

The grandson of famous US evangelist Billy Graham has been vocal about the horror of child abuse in the Church.

Boz Tchividjian is the head of Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (GRACE), which investigates sexual abuse in Christian organisations.

In a recent interview with he said it’s his life’s focus to expose sex abuse in the Church because churches usually protect the abuser at the expense of the victim.

He became more passionate about the issue when he started practicing law and served as chief prosecutor in the Sexual Crimes Division.

“There was no greater defender of children than Jesus,” he said.

Tchividjian suggested that child abuse scandals are worse in the Protestant churches than the Catholic Church.

He said that data gathered from top insurers of Protestant churches a few years ago showed that there were 260 reports a year of child sex abuse by church leaders or members of the congregation. Other data for the Catholic Church reported 228 incidents.

Tchividjian added: “If you just look at these numbers, they tell us that more children are being abused within Protestant churches than in the Catholic Church. One aspect of that is that there are way more Protestants and Protestant churches than there are Catholics.

“But for me, it's important to share that statistic when speaking with Protestant audiences so that they stop pointing their fingers at the Catholic Church and engage more with their own church.”


Tchividjian, who’s also a law professor at large evangelical school Liberty University, accused churches of not creating “safe spaces” for victims. He gave an example of Presbyterian pastor who preached numerous sermons on abuse.

The pastor told Graham afterwards she had ten women reveal they had beensexually abused as children.

“I think the reason they approached her was that in preaching about it from the pulpit, she created a safe space for them to talk about it,” he said.

“Too often victims are afraid to say anything because they're afraid of how people will respond.”

When asked how church leaders typically respond to the topic of sex abuse in the Church, he said: “There are some that respond very well. The younger generation of pastors seem to get this issue more and are willing to talk about it.

“But we, unfortunately, do have a lot of pastors who don't think it happens, and prefer to embrace a false narrative that makes them more comfortable.”

Tchividjian explained a need to educate church leaders about the issue and end victim blaming when victims come forward.

He said: “Telling the victim it was their fault because of how they were dressed or were acting, or forcing them to forgive the offender, just compounds the shame they are already going through.

“Shame is a big issue with male victims of sexual abuse. I've had male survivors tell me they didn't want anyone in the church to know because they thought that they would be labelled a future offender and everyone would keep their kids away, or they would be accused of being gay.”

He added that his work with GRACE has given him a “low view of the Church” but also given him a

“much higher view of Jesus” and that’s how he keeps his faith. 

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