JOSIAH M. HESSE
Aug 25 2017
Basyle “Boz” Tchividjian is shining a spotlight on the sexual abuse of children in Protestant churches—a scandal he says may be larger than that of the Catholic church.
Basyle “Boz” Tchividjian walks a fine line. On one side, he’s the ultimate evangelical insider. His grandfather was the famed evangelical preacher Billy Graham, who exerted immense influence over American politics, culture, and theology. Tchividjian has followed in the family business, teaching law at Liberty University, the Christian college of famed Baptist pastor Jerry Falwell. On the other side, he’s one of the most articulate critics of evangelical institutions, at times sounding like a new atheist prophet alongside Richard Dawkins or Bill Maher. He says that churches can be ideal environments for sexual predators who target children. And that traditions of shame, male power structures, and public relations myopia help keep abusers in positions of power and the abused silent.
Tchividjian sees it as his Christian duty to root out abuse in the church, and to build defenses against it. His organization, GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment) has been hired to investigate high profile Christian institutions like Bob Jones University and New Tribes Mission. GRACE revealed frightening levels of sexual abuse and, as he told me during our interview, “the common thread of institutional protection at the expense of the individual.”
Tchividjian has even had to deal with sex scandals in his own family. In 2015, he removed his brother Tullian Tchividjian from his job at GRACE after it was revealed that Tullian had committed what the GRACE board described as a “gross misuse of power” in his extramarital relations with adult members of the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Over the years, Tchividjian has come to recognize that many churches do not have policies in place to deal with accusations of abuse. And too often they blame the victims for seducing their abuser. In an attempt to combat this, Tchividjian recently co-authored The Child Safeguarding Policy Guide for Churches and Ministries, attempting to help church leaders address difficult questions about predators in their communities and how to avoid further harming someone who has already been traumatized.
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