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,
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."