We thought as we are approaching the second BadFaithed Home Truths Conference which will be held on line this Autumn 2020 – that we should reiterate the recommendations sent to Bishops across the Anglican Communion back in 2018 in the light of such little progress made in the areas which we recommended immediate action. We are currently looking at ways in which to build some resource into Bad Faithed coffers to enable more work to be undertaken to further the work of this network, in the light of organisational challenges for so many churches in so many of the areas nominated. If you know of foundations, or interested individuals who would like to support this work please be in direct contact with our office at firstname.lastname@example.org – Thank you so much
Here are our recommendations, which would be good to see incorporated in central governance and diocesan office deliberations and policy management, as reminders for improved attention on these areas of vulnerability in ministerial households.
This conference calls on denominations to respond to the presence of domestic abuse, coercive constraint, ecclesial abuse, spiritual and financial abuse in their own households of faith, and within the homes of clergy.
- Housing: there are substantial difficulties of housing inherent in tied properties which are attached to the license holder. Potential homelessness within a three-month arc awaits many spouses who report emotional or physical abuse on the part of their partner. Do does long-term impoverishment after fracture of a clerical household due to many having seriously limited assets to divide going forward, especially for those without another property to secure the ongoing safety of any children and the ‘injured’ spouse – all of which compounds the many harms of the domestic abuse and breach of trust which occasions the reporting in the first place.
- This Conference calls on church authorities to address the vulnerabilities which tied housing inevitably places those subjected to domestic abuse. The conference seeks a specific commission to be established to explore how to develop safer terms of reference for the onward provision of housing for spouses and their children rendered vulnerable to ongoing abuse due to the tied housing compact, Homelessness poses an immediate threat to their well-being long after the abusive spouse has been left, or left or been disciplined. This vulnerability is directly attached to the loss of housing. The limits and extent of their responsibility for the onward well being of family members living in tied housing, should be clarified at all stages in the family’s journey of participation in the professional life of the church. The scope of that responsibility should be nationally set and applicable across dioceses, synod areas, regions – provided at a level of equality across dioceses, synods, regions, not subject to a diocesan, regional postal lottery.
- Furthermore, this conference calls for raised awareness by the authorities, to enable the release of appropriate resources to support those whose marriages collapse, and the facilitation of early reporting rather than silencing of domestic abuse, whenever and wherever it occurs.
- This conference notes the role of shaming the ‘victim’ due to complex psychological transference dynamics at work, which requires particular and careful attention by the ecclesial authorities. The ambiguous closeted circumstances of a ‘goldfish bowl’ environment of the clerical household require further understanding and research, particularly in relation to the perverse dynamics set up with congregations, while advising that truly independent networks of professional support and reporting be established apart from the current and historically ‘in-house’ appointments of Bishop’s Visitors, many of whom are relatives or friends of serving clerical professionals.
- It is essential that appropriate early day intervention be facilitated, and that the processes governing how this is accessed and what is entailed as potential outcomes are understood by all those involved as professional households in the delivery of churches’ ministries.
- Attention to the impact on children as well as spouses. Whatever the reasons given by perpetrators and the institutions which have effectively over time defended them, domestic abuse in whatever form it manifests does immense and frequently life-long harm to those who are its victims and those dependants who are immediately impacted as family members. The conference calls on church authorities and foundations to make provision for not only the immediate safeguarding needs of those affected by clerical violence and abuse within the household, but also the long-term needs of psychological support and economic repair which are occasioned by this abuse and its aftermath.
- Congregations. As a conference we were called to attend to the tertiary audience of abuse by Professor Elizabeth Kopping. Professor Kopping called attention to the significant secondary harm on impacted congregations and parishes where abusive ministers serve. The collapse of a marriage due to abuse, the consequent abrasive abandonment of parochial work and ministry, the associated behaviours which have occasioned any disciplinary measures feeding whispered conversations and fomenting divided opinions, and the stark deconstruction of ‘the safe moral space’ of the clerical household, clearly degrade the values intrinsic to the gospel message and significantly undermine the message of loving kindness which the church has been commissioned to foster. Furthermore each and every marriage solemnised by an abuser’s hand, every conversion, confirmation, baptism, blessing, confession, communion wafer received, prayers shared, pastoral visit undertaken, is queried, undermined, and loss of faith and trust in the work and ministry of the wider churches vocation destabilised and subjected to the unravelling of profound shock and disappointment.