An Afternoon with Political Writer in Residence Andrew Graystone - Can the Church Heal?
23rd January - 23rd January 2022
Can the Church Heal? A talk featuring activist Andrew Graystone
Recent years have seen a succession of revelations about abuse in church contexts. When he found himself unwittingly pitched into the world of church abuse, Andrew Graystone was disturbed to find that almost all victims said that their original abuse was less damaging than the subsequent trauma inflicted by the church. What has gone so badly wrong in a church that hopes to offer a route to restoration? Can the church heal? Or is coercive control hard-wired into its nature?
Andrew Graystone is a theologian and writer who walks with many victims of church abuse. For his recent book Bleeding for Jesus, he travelled from the UK to Zimbabwe to South Africa to tell the story of John Smyth QC, the most prolific abuser in the Church of England.
Smyth’s UK victims were all young privileged conservative evangelical men, who subjected themselves to vicious beatings on the promise of spiritual advancement. The book examines how Smyth selected and groomed his victims on the basis of their spiritual and emotional vulnerability.
It describes how he used and abused scripture and other religious texts to legitimise his activities, and considers how Biblical literalism, religious deference, and commitment to an exceptionalist Christian eschatology are key enabling factors for spiritual abuse.
Speaker Andrew Graystone is perhaps best known as being ‘the man outside the mosque’; after the Christchurch terrorist attacks, Andrew stood outside his local mosque in Manchester with a handwritten sign bearing the simple message: ‘You are my friends. I will keep watch while you pray’. Having spent time working in religious broadcasting, including for the BBC, Andrew remains a radio commentator while working in the church and voluntary sector. His books, including Too Much Information? Ten Essential Questions for Digital Christians (2019) offer thought-provoking contexts for contemporary faith.
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