LCA members have a good understanding of factors that may contribute to domestic and family violence, and its impact on children, according to the results of a recent online survey.
The survey was developed by the Christian Research Association (CRA) and was included on the website for Hidden Hurts Healing Hearts, the LCA’s campaign for the prevention of domestic and family violence, which was launched in November 2017.
However the survey report, which gauged the attitudes of respondents to domestic and family violence, also suggests LCA members have more to learn in this area.
Pastor Ian Rentsch, the Coordinator of the Prevention of Family and Domestic Violence Campaign, said some respondents indicated that individuals may contribute to the violence inflicted on them.
‘This position indicates the need for more education within the church, as there is no excuse for using violence’, he said. ‘The perpetrator must take full responsibility for the recourse to violence.’
Pastor Rentsch said most survey respondents agreed that some religious beliefs and practices have been used to justify violence against women. ‘Using Scripture as an excuse to abuse women and children is never acceptable’, he said. ‘Several comments made by women indicated that, as victims, they felt that they were not supported by their congregations, with one respondent stating that her congregation had “shunned” her after she left a violent relationship.’
The survey suggested there was a growing awareness of domestic violence within the church and the wider community which, Pastor Rentsch said, provided ‘a solid basis on which the LCA can continue to generate a deeper understanding of the issues and responses to them’.
This will include:
• Training of pastors and church leaders, so that people in positions of trust in LCA congregations and institutions can provide appropriate support to people who experience domestic abuse. Training will be rolled out across the LCA in 2019.
• Raising awareness of the underlying causes of domestic and family violence, so that we can avoid being judgemental of a victim, or excusing a perpetrator.
The report also recommends further research in the area. The Hidden Hurts Healing Hearts project is actively considering this recommendation, Pastor Rentsch said. ‘Above all, we will be led by Jesus Christ to work for peace-filled relationships in our church and community that will truly reflect his reconciling love for all creation’, he said.
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