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Silence: The church, like the NFL, has little to say on domestic violence

Silence: The church, like the NFL, has little to say on domestic violence

Writing for Religions News Service, Autumn Miles reflects on the negative role the church played in her experience of domestic violence.


“Too often,” she writes, “it can be easy to assume that some issues are less prevalent in the church. We forget that, as a collective of individuals shaped by the culture at large, sin is indiscriminate in whom it touches. Many church leaders do not realize that all evils are present in their congregations, especially sins that carry a heavy culture of silence.

“A new LifeWay Research poll shows that 74 percent of pastors misjudge the prevalence of sexual and domestic violence within their congregations. Considering that the World Health Organization estimates that 35 percent of women globally have experienced sexual or physical abuse, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports that this statistic for men is 25 percent, it is past time pastors learned how to recognize the signs of domestic abuse and effectively address it.”

Miles sees parallels in the way male elders in her church mishandled her separation from an abusive husband and the way NFL commissioner Roger Goodell handled the Ray Rice case.

“This culture of silence presents a tremendous challenge to pastors, but education can play a key role in addressing how to help individuals in threatening situations, she writes.

Do you agree that the church does a poor job educating and helping members cope with domestic violence? How could it improve? Have you had an experience of the “culture of silence”?

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