A Pioneer in Children’s Advocacy Retires

A Pioneer in Children’s Advocacy Retires
Dr. Rita Swan

Dr. Rita Swan Speaking at a CFFP Conference

 

Anyone who follows the issue of religious child maltreatment—particularly cases in which children die from “faith healing”-related medical neglect—has heard of Dr. Rita Swan. I have had the honor of working with Rita and consider her a friend. Now this pioneer in child advocacy has announced she will retire at the end of this month.

 

Rita began fighting to protect the health, safety, and lives of children before few people had even heard of religiously “inspired” abuse and neglect. Tragically, Rita had experienced such problems firsthand. She and her husband Doug had been members of the Christian Science Church, an organization that has discouraged members from seeking medical care for themselves and their children. As she writes in her memoir, Rita and Doug, both having been indoctrinated in the Church’s teachings, allowed their young son Matthew to die from spinal meningitis in 1977. Read More »

A new pilot program for faith communities who put children first

A new pilot program for faith communities who put children first

childrens hands big reversed and cropped

This year marks the beginning of an important movement to protect children from abuse and neglect that is enabled by ideology. And the most important players are faith communities that are ready to be role models in child protection.

The Child-Friendly Faith Project has just launched the pilot phase of its hallmark program: the Child-Friendly Faith Communities Designation Program. It’s one of the ways we are carrying out our mission to partner with faith communities to protect children from maltreatment that occurs in certain religious and cultural settings. Read More »

In Memoriam: The CFFP Remembers Rev. Keith Wright

In Memoriam: The CFFP Remembers Rev. Keith Wright

Keith Wright

The Child-Friendly Faith Project has lost a wise, compassionate, and courageous advisor. On January 9, Rev. Keith Wright, who had served congregations for nearly sixty years, passed away. Many people in the Austin community loved Keith as a pastor and as a friend. He was absolutely devoted to his family, especially his wife Mona.

I admired Keith before I met him or even knew much about him. In 2008, as I was researching my book Breaking Their Will, I was struggling to find material written by those who truly understood the issue of religious child maltreatment. Then I came across Keith’s book Religious Abuse: A Pastor Explores the Many Ways Religion Can Hurt as well as Heal. Upon reading the description, I immediately ordered it from Amazon.

When the book arrived and I poured through it, I appreciated its unpretentious, straightforward style. Furthermore, I was thrilled to see that it had a chapter devoted to children. The chapter, as well as the rest of Religious Abuse, is a caring and direct explanation of the yin-and-yang nature of religion. That is, its ability to both heal and harm. I was also struck by the fact that the author was a survivor of religious child maltreatment. As he explains in the book’s introduction, when he was a boy, Keith’s mother died after members of her Christian Science church community prevented her from getting medical care.

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What does a victim of child sexual abuse look like? Don’t ask Christianity Today.

What does a victim of child sexual abuse look like? Don’t ask Christianity Today.

girl with red veil shutterstock_reducedAn embarrassing apology published by Christianity Today shows that leaders in the faith community still have a lot to learn about child sexual abuse.

The readers of Christianity Today have taught the magazine a lesson—they know more about child sexual abuse then its editors do.

Last Monday, CT published an article on its Leadership Journal website written by an unnamed pastor who is serving time in prison on sexual abuse charges. The article, entitled “From Youth Minister to Felon: My spiral of sin destroyed my life and ministry,” was intended to prevent abuse. Instead, however, it showed that CT editors can be just as insensitive to victims of abuse as many religious leaders have been. Read More »