RMC Briefings

Our weekly online briefings offer a unique opportunity to get behind the headlines, with a panel of speakers quizzed by our journalists

Does purity culture enable sexual abuse in churches?

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The scandal of the serial sex abuse history of the global evangelical preacher, Ravi Zacharias, has caused deep shame to his organisation whose theology extols the virtue of chastity.

But in a Religion Media Centre online briefing, Emily Joy Allison argued that it is the evangelical theology around sex and the purity culture which actually enables sex abusers to be active and escape censure in a church. Emily is a theology graduate and performance poet from Tennessee, author of #ChurchToo​, named after the social media movement she founded which led to thousands of women confirming they too had been victims of abuse in church.

She explained her research and conclusions in a discussion hosted by Rosie Dawson, with Linda Kay Klein from the USA, and Hannah Baylor, Kate Mounce and Andrew Graystone from the UK.

REPORT: The hypocrisy of purity culture enables sexual abuse in churches

“There’s a conservative evangelical tribe that has a particular interest in this. There’s equally a Church of England tribe that is as committed to purity culture, institutionalises it and at the same time, institutionalises its own hypocrisy about sex”

Andrew Graystone



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