Inform Seminar [Online]: Sexual Abuse framed by Faith or Belief – Exploring boundaries and contexts

Wednesday 22 July 7-8:30pm (in London – British Summer Time)The next Inform seminar will be held online

Please register your attendance by making a voluntary donation to Inform from the link on the website here: https://inform.ac/seminars.

Please make sure that you share your contact details with Inform so that we can send you a link to the Zoom meeting. 

If you cannot make a donation at this time, but would still like to attend, please email inform@kcl.ac.uk directly.

Overview of the Seminar

Many of the cults and new religious movements of the 1970s were assumed to be awash with abusive behaviour. However, high profile cases of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church have highlighted the pervasive potential of religious groups to be affected by behaviour understood as sexual abuse. This is a problem not confined to any particular religious context.

The dynamics of sexual exploitation of minors have now been well explored and safeguarding frameworks are becoming more standard. Are there lessons that can be learned from working with children which can be applied to situations involving adults?

In many cases abuse appears to be incidental to the theological and ethical frameworks; in other cases, the sexual activity has explicit justification within a belief framework that is later framed as abuse by outsiders or ‘survivors.’

Does the framing of the behaviour make a difference for understanding the harm caused? To what extent are concepts like ‘spiritual abuse’, ‘fraud’ or ‘moral injury’ helpful in understanding the dynamics of adult sexual abuse in religious contexts?

This online Inform seminar will consider the issue of sexual abuse occurring within religious contexts in hopes of identifying new ways of considering the problem and potential ways of mitigating harm. There will be a series of short presentations by speakers, followed by informed responses and then a general discussion.

 Confirmed speakers and respondents include: 

  • Eileen Barker, professor emeritus of sociology with special reference to the study of religion, London School of Economics
  • Leethen Bartholomew, head of the National FGM Centre at Barnardo’s
  • Amanda Lucia, associate professor, University of California-Riverside, USA
  • Gordon Lynch, Michael Ramsey professor of modern theology at the University of Kent
  • Lisa Oakley, associate professor of applied psychology at University of Chester and chair of National Working Group for child abuse linked to faith or belief
  • Michelle Tonkin, Rigpa whistle-blower and former Buddhist nun
  • Theo Wildcroft, visiting fellow, The Open University and alt-ac.uk
  • Belinda Winder, professor of Forensic Psychology at specialist sexual crime unit at Nottingham Trent University
  • Linda Woodhead, distinguished professor, department of politics, philosophy and religion, University of Lancaster

In the organisation of this seminar, we are grateful for the support of the Religion and Sexual Abuse Project, funded in part by the Henry Luce Foundation.

The event will be officially recorded by Inform. Guests may NOT record, film or take screenshots of the seminar without prior permission.

We hope that some of you can make the event!