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A Reflection on How the Black Church Addressed Sexual Abuse in the Past


The Black Church holds a rich history deeply intertwined with the African American community's journey through centuries of struggle and triumph. However, like any institution, it has not been immune to the painful reality of sexual abuse. While the Black Church has been a beacon of hope and resilience, addressing sexual abuse in the past has been complex and often fraught with challenges.


This blog reflects on the historical handling of sexual abuse in the Black Church, acknowledging both the shortcomings and the efforts towards healing and change.


Silence and Secrecy

In the past, the Black Church, like many other institutions, grappled with the shame and stigma associated with sexual abuse. A culture of silence and secrecy prevailed, leading to cases often going unreported or being brushed under the rug. Fear of tarnishing the Church's reputation, along with distrust in the legal system's ability to bring justice, contributed to this veil of silence.


Lack of Awareness and Education

Historically, the Black Church faced limited access to resources and information on how to address sexual abuse effectively. Education on the impact of abuse, trauma, and mental health issues related to survivors was scarce. Consequently, many leaders were ill-equipped to provide appropriate support to victims, perpetuating a cycle of silence.


Spiritual Implications

Spiritual beliefs played a significant role in the handling of sexual abuse cases within the Black Church. Some victims may have been dissuaded from seeking help from secular authorities, with an emphasis placed on forgiveness and divine healing. While forgiveness is a powerful principle, it was sometimes misused to downplay the gravity of the offense and discourage legal action.


Community Pressure

The close-knit nature of the African American community sometimes led to the protection of alleged perpetrators, particularly if they held positions of authority within the Church. Fear of causing divisions within the community, coupled with a desire to preserve unity, occasionally hindered the proper handling of abuse cases.


Evolution and Change

Despite the challenges faced in the past, the Black Church has not remained stagnant. Over time, as societal awareness of sexual abuse grew, so did the Church's recognition of the need for change.


Empowerment of Survivors

In recent years, survivors of sexual abuse within the Black Church have been increasingly empowered to share their stories. Their courage has shed light on the dark corners of abuse, challenging the Church to confront its history and work towards healing and reform.


Advocacy and Support

The Black Church has made strides in collaborating with advocacy groups, therapists, and legal professionals to gain a deeper understanding of sexual abuse and its impact. This has helped in providing more comprehensive support for survivors and holding perpetrators accountable.


Implementing Safeguarding Policies

To protect the vulnerable, the Black Church has started implementing safeguarding policies, including background checks, mandatory reporting mechanisms, and comprehensive training for leaders and volunteers. These measures aim to prevent and address abuse more effectively.



The historical handling of sexual abuse within the Black Church reflects a complex journey marked by silence, struggle, and a deep yearning for healing. While the past witnessed challenges and shortcomings, it is essential to recognize that the Black Church, like any living institution, evolves and learns from its past experiences. Today, there is a growing commitment to confront sexual abuse, support survivors, and work towards creating safe and nurturing environments within the sacred walls of the Black Church. By acknowledging the past and embracing change, the Black Church takes steps towards a future marked by compassion, accountability, and a renewed dedication to protecting its community.




This article features LaTishia LaNier, the author of the book "Generational Curses, No More!" and the host of "The Talk Storm," a talk show that airs on Thursday evenings at 6:30 PM Central and 7:30 PM Eastern on Facebook Live and YouTube Live at facebook.com/latishia.mckinnie75/. "The Talk Storm" explores various topics and is inspired by LaTishia's recently released book. LaTishia is a passionate advocate for change within the Black Church and is available to provide assistance to churches if needed. To get in touch with her for more information or to request support for your church, you can visit www.lmckenterprises/latishiaspeaks.com. To purchase "Generational Curses, No More!" and learn more about her book, please click the following link: https://amzn.to/46DSKR3 or Barnes and Noble https://bit.ly/3zaDOKo.


LaTishia LaNier-Mckinnie Author of Generational Curses, No More!

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