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Independent inquiry urged for Sydney churches

27 March 2015

iSTOCK

THE Centre for Public Christianity, a non-denominational media company based in Sydney, has called for an urgent independent inquiry into domestic violence in the churches, and clergy responses to it.

In particular, it claims that conservative Evangelical churches that teach the doctrine of male headship, should be establishing an inquiry in the light of a recent media debate on the subject (News, 6 March).

The founding director of the Centre, Dr John Dickson, and a research fellow, Dr Natasha Moore, have written that the discussion should concern all church leaders. There is no question, they say, "that domestic violence happens in church commu-nities and in 'Christian' marriages. As has been made so abundantly and devastatingly clear in the ongoing work of the Royal Commission [into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse], the Church is by no means immune from problems affecting the rest of society."

They continue: "There is no question that some biblical teachings have the potential to be abused by controlling and violent people. . . There is no question that all forms of emotional, psychological, verbal, or physical abuse are utterly irreconcilable with a right understanding of Christian teaching. . .

"There are varying interpretations among Christians of the biblical passages relating to submission and headship, but not all are valid; to equate submission with control flies in the face of both the letter and the spirit of such passages."

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