Australia - The national body of the Baptist Church has formally apologized to victims of domestic violence. According to them, victims of domestic violence have been let down by churches' "ignorance" and "failure" to care for abused congregants. Global research into domestic and sexual violence reveals some shocking and intolerable facts; one-third of women and girls experience violence in their lifetime.
The Baptist church is the fourth Australian church to apologize to victims of domestic violence in the past four months, behind the General Anglican Synod of Australia, the Uniting Church Synod of Victoria and Tasmania, and the Sydney Anglican Synod, ABC News reports.
In a statement, issued by the National Council of Australian Baptist Ministries, they have tried to take responsibility for the actions (and inactions) of Christian churches that have allowed these abuses even happening for so long.
We failed to recognize the existence of violence and abuse in our homes, and when we did recognize it, all too often we didn’t do what was necessary to protect those who were being abused…
Sorry for letting you down when you sought our help; sorry for ignoring your pain and suffering; sorry for failing to make your safety and well-being our priority. We pray for your healing and recovery, and thank God for the people who work and serve to support you and other family violence survivors. We cannot erase the failures of the past, but we commit to do better in the future.
Everything began as women started to publicly tell their stories of domestic abuse for the first time and they have been sharing personal stories of harassment and abuse in Christian communities using the hashtag #ChurchToo. Those stories are, among other thing, a part of the Baptist-led 'No Place for Violence Here' campaign to improve churches' awareness of and responses to family violence.
"[We need to] recognize that we have a serious problem with domestic and sexual violence in churches, Christian homes, and society. Stop acting as though no problem exists, and stop covering up and ignoring abuse," Dr Hill, the founding director of the Global Church Project, wrote in a blog post.
On Monday, Common Grace (a group of 35,000 Australian Christians from different denominations) published an educational resource called Safer intended to help Christian leaders and congregations to understand how domestic and family violence can start to recognize different kinds of domestic and family violence to get help for victims, etc. In it they also write - In recent years, the Australian media has shone a spotlight on violence within the home. Communities have rallied to the cause. But many church members have not yet been able to wrestle with the idea that they are likely to have victims – and abusers – sitting next to them in Sunday services.
The apologies are certainly a good start but it is obvious that churches, and also other institutions, could and should do much more to stop the violence and to help those people who are already abused.
Photo Credits: Australian Baptist Ministries