The name Billy Graham is synonymous with America’s evangelical movement, “televangelism,” and the infamous Moral Majority. The Billy Graham Crusades were legendary, and Graham, today, 94-years old, is seen as being the most popular televangelist of all time.
At the Religion Newswriters Association (RNA) conference last week in Austin, Texas, Billy Graham’s grandson dropped a bombshell that should have made a huge impact in the national media, but — perhaps for obvious reasons — was barely reported.
Evangelical Basyle “Boz” Tchividjian (image, left, with Rev. Billy Graham,) is a Liberty University law professor focused on sexual abuse in the church — and a man who just happens to be Billy Graham’s grandson. On Thursday, he told the RNA audience that when comparing sexual abuse in the church, “I think we are worse” than Catholics.
Tchividjian, who is also the executive director of GRACE, Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment, says that the culture of Protestant Evangelical churches makes it harder to report sexual abuse of minors, and makes it harder for those who report the abuse to be believed.
He also accuses evangelicals of trying to protect the church before trying to protect the children.
“Earlier this summer, GRACE spearheaded an online petition decrying the ‘silence’ and ‘inattention’ of evangelical leaders to sexual abuse in their churches,” Sarah Pulliam Bailey at the Religion News Service reported:
Mission agencies, “where abuse is most prevalent,” often don’t report abuse because they fear being barred from working in foreign countries, he said. Abusers will get sent home and might join another agency. Of known data from abuse cases, 25 percent are repeat cases, he said.
“The Protestant culture is defined by independence,” Tchividjian said. Evangelicals often frown upon transparency and accountability, he said, as many Protestants rely on Scripture more than religious leaders, compared to Catholics.
Abusers discourage whistle-blowing by condemning gossip to try to keep people from reporting abuse, he said. Victims are also told to protect the reputation of Jesus.
Too many Protestant institutions have sacrificed souls in order to protect their institutions, he said. ”We’ve got the Gospels backwards,” he said.
Tchividjian is the author of Invitation: Billy Graham and the Lives God Touched.
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