Billy Graham's grandson on Josh Duggar and Karen Hinkley: churches must protect victims, not offenders

Outrage about abuse in the church broke out when it was revealed that '19 Kids and Counting' star Josh Duggar molested several underage girls when he was a teenager.Reuters

Boz Tchividjian has accused the Christian community of acting "contrary" to the gospel in response to cases of abuse.

The grandson of evangelist Billy Graham, and executive director of Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment, Tchividjian made the comments in an interview with the Christian Post. He told the website that churches are guilty of sacrificing the safety and care of abuse victims "in order to protect the reputations of individuals and institutions".

"This sacrifice is most commonly demonstrated through ignoring or marginalizing victims and protecting offenders," he said.

Churches should not be safe havens for perpetrators, but rather the place where those who have experienced abuse "feel most safe and most loved," Tchividjian added, encouraging churches to take on a "gospel-centered approach".

"My prayer is that one day churches will be the place offenders feel the least safe knowing that the church is vigilantly watching over its children and won't hesitate to report suspected abuse to the God-ordained authorities. I think Jesus requires nothing less of us."

Abuse in the Church has made headlines in recent weeks following the news that a Dallas megachurch put a woman under discipline after she filed for annulment when her husband confessed to watching child pornography. The Village Church, led by Matt Chandler, eventually issued an apology for the way it treated Karen Hinkley. "In every way that we've mishandled this situation, along with others in the past, we repent and ask for forgiveness," an email to church members said.

"We realize that there are clear and specific instances where we have let our membership practices blind us to the person in front of us, in turn leading us to respond in a way that doesn't reflect our desire to be loving and caring to our members".

Further outrage broke out when it was revealed that Josh Duggar molested several underage girls when he was a teenager. The eldest son of the Duggar family, stars of the hit reality TV show 19 Kids and Counting, Josh was forced to resign from his position at the Family Research Council. The Duggars are conservative Christians, and when it transpired that Josh had been sent to a Christian group for counselling rather than be legally prosecuted, the family was accused of failing to deal with the situation adequately.

Tchividjian branded it a "tragic reminder to all of us about the necessity of immediately reporting sexual abuse to the proper authorities, regardless of the age of the offender or whether or not the crime occurred inside or outside of the home."