I’ve been here at the Child-Friendly Faith Project for almost three months now, and already I’ve been so inspired by the work that this organization produces, collecting and distributing resources and supporting survivors in so many capacities. I’m honored to be a part of it as we move forward into this new decade, and I’m looking forward to the new projects and expanded work that is on the horizon. Of course, it’s impossible to talk about the future without addressing the uncertainty of the present.
Times now are tough. There’s no escaping that fact. Here at the CFFP, we’ve been devastated to cancel trips and events and miss seeing our supporters across the country. We’re even more concerned by the rise in child abuse and neglect and faith healing as a direct result of the ongoing pandemic. (Learn more in UNICEF’s new technical guidance.) In crisis, children are at a higher risk of violence, so we must all be especially vigilant. Check out End Violence Against Children’s resources for tips on how to protect children during this time of global concern. Here at the Child-Friendly Faith Project, we will continue to turn our attention to exposing dangerous faith healing practices and protecting the children who will be put at risk by misinformation and ignorance.
As we expand our focus to include the trauma of the current moment, we won’t be letting up on our other work! Over the past eight years, the Child-Friendly Faith Project has accomplished some amazing work, especially given our all-volunteer team and limited financial capacity. Our advocacy supporting the survivors of Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch has been critical in exposing the abusive practices that had been hidden away for decades. In 2019, survivors of physical and sexual abuse at the home for at-risk youth filed a lawsuit against the facility, arguing that leaders should have done more to protect the children in their care. Our board has been so proud to support survivors of the Ranch by providing storytelling outlets through our blog and other publications and hosting reunions, offering Ranch alumni a chance to reconnect with old friends and meet new ones. (Interested? You can read more about our relationship with the survivors of Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch here.)
We’ve built networks within secular and religious communities, attending and speaking at conferences and summits, and partnering with other organizations working on ending religious child abuse and neglect. In California and Washington state, our team worked to protect children from religious abuse, resulting in CA state Senator Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) thanking us by name for our support and educational efforts. Leaders at the Child-Friendly Faith Project have exposed dangerous religious practices, including the Genesis II Church of Health and Healing’s “miracle cure” – which was actually just bleach.
Now, I’m looking towards the future, buoyed by the success of the past. As we move forward through this year, I’m excited about new campaigns and new partnerships. One major project that our team is looking forward to is the upcoming launch of our End the EAD campaign. This project will work to educate secular activists and thought leaders about the Ecclesiastical Abstention Doctrine. This doctrine is a dangerous allowance for religious educational institutions to avoid being held accountable for their actions, putting their students in jeopardy. Keep an eye out for news of this campaign in the coming weeks!
In addition, we’ll be sending out a new monthly newsletter with exciting tidbits including religious child maltreatment in the news, a rotating featured resource, volunteer and donor profiles, and blog posts from Child-Friendly Faith Project leaders and other leaders in this sector.
We know that keeping our supporters informed about all the exciting changes coming to the CFFP is critical! Thank you for your support of our advocacy. Our team can’t wait to share our progress with you.