Calling Out Toxic and Abusive Behaviour in the Church

— 4 minute read

The stories coming out of Christian Centre Academy / Legacy Christian Academy / Mile Two Church (see further reading below for more on what's going on) about alleged abuses are deeply concerning.

As a way of standing up for Cate Erickson, who's been leading the call for accountability and legal action in a very public way, Aaron Webster wrote a post apologizing for his lack of action in the past, as well as a call to support Cate and others as they seek justice:

I had knowledge of much of this abuse growing up and find it terrifying to think back and recall things observed or told of – yet somehow, compartmentalized – so that I did nothing about it. Yes, I left the school’s associated church. In doing so taking care of me. At times I also stood up for close friends and family members who were treated poorly – but only in one-on-one settings. I was tough - often derogatory to descriptions of abuse, conveying that the abused should “toughen up” or just get over it. Never - have I engaged in efforts aimed to take care of other students, to stop & prevent abuse, or secure justice for the abused. My failure to do so - is a deep regret of mine.

Church communities often have a strong desire to see justice done out in the world, particularly in non-Christian culture - but can be very apathetic and resistant to tackling justice inside the church:

I was very wrong in my inaction and passive approach. Skills, relationships, ability – none have I chose to employ to stand up against serious abuses - that I was aware of. “Rolling my eyes and walking away” - was far from good enough. I am sorry. I am sorry, especially to those younger than me. For whom my inaction may have negatively impacted, by leaving unimpeded - opportunities for continuing perpetration by abusive people & practices.

And then towards the end of his statement, he does a great job of clarifying that these aren't "sides" that people need to agree on before they can protect the innocent and hold people accountable for being abusive:

I don’t personally agree with Cate on many issues in a political arena. Neither she & I, nor “we”: as CCA alum, members of a community of Christian faith, or private education supporters, need to agree on much. We all though can can agree on the need to protect the innocent and hold accountable - those who knowingly perpetrate abuse and who permit known damaging practices against children.

If someone, particularly a leader, downplays issues as being "just two sides disagreeing", they're likely too scared to call out the bad behaviour, because they don't want to appear partial to a side. If you call out bad behaviour wherever you see it, then you're not on a side. You're actively trying to keep bad behaviour out of your community.

Aaron's post should serve as a warning to those who are hardening their heart towards seeing justice done, seeking the truth wherever it may be, and striving for accountability in leadership.

Via @CateSask on Twitter.

Further reading permalink