Helping End ‘Faith-Based’ Child Abuse

This guest post by Janet Heimlich, founder of the Child-Friendly Faith Project (CFFP), focuses on a new project designed to address the tragic connection that sometimes exists between religion and child maltreatment. Sadly, Texas is no stranger to this problem. The cautionary tale of fundamentalist preacher Lester Roloff and his homes for troubled teens is a case in point. TFN lobbied for years for the Texas Legislature to suspend the alternative (and lenient) licensing program the state maintained for faith-based child care providers like Roloff. That program was finally allowed to expire in 2001, and the Roloff Homes moved out of the state. Janet writes here about a new project that addresses the problem of child abuse in faith communities.

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A boy is beaten because he fidgets during a sermon. A girl is made to feel shameful about her “unclean” sexuality. A teenager is denied medical care because her community only believes in faith healing. When a religious leader molests a child, no one reports it.

Religion is a powerful and positive influence in the lives of many people. But we know that religion can sometimes be used to harm children. Fortunately, the Child-Friendly Faith Project is announcing a new program… Read More

This guest post by Janet Heimlich, founder of the Child-Friendly Faith Project (CFFP), explores the tragic connection that sometimes exists between religion and child maltreatment. Sadly, Texas is no stranger to this problem. The cautionary tale of fundamentalist preacher Lester Roloff and his homes for troubled teens is a case in point. TFN lobbied for years for the Texas Legislature to suspend the alternative (and lenient) licensing program the state maintained for faith-based child care providers like Roloff. That program was finally allowed to expire in 2001, and the Roloff Homes moved out of the state. Janet’s CFFP will host a conference on religious and cultural maltreatment on Dec. 4-5 in Austin. Click here for more information on the conference.

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I’ve been researching and writing about religious child maltreatment (RCM) since 2008. RCM is child abuse and neglect that is enabled by religious belief, usually the fear-based kind. Soon after my book Breaking Their Will came out in June of 2011, TFN was kind enough to publish a blog post I wrote on the issue of RCM and religious authoritarian cultures, the communities in which children are at the highest risk for RCM.

It was a… Read More

by Ryan

We asked Texas-based author — and crack reporter — Janet Heimlich to prepare a guest-post for TFN Insider about her just-released book exploring the tragic connection that sometimes exists between religion and child maltreatment. Heimlich raises an important question — do certain religious cultures in America pose a particularly big risk to the health and safety of children? And this meticulously researched book argues that, in fact, children who are raised in religious authoritarian cultures are at a high risk for religiously motivated maltreatment. Sadly, Texas is no stranger to this unfortunate connection. The cautionary tale of fundamentalist preacher Lester Roloff and his homes for troubled teens is a case in point. TFN lobbied for years for the Texas Legislature to suspend the alternative (and lenient) licensing program the state maintained for faith-based child care providers like Roloff. That program was finally allowed to expire in 2001, and the Roloff Homes moved out of the state. As the book reveals, this is a topic that deserves far more attention. We thank Janet -- who blogs at Religious Child Maltreatment -- for sharing this with our readers. Read More