Andrew Bolt has been doing a fantastic job of defending the church from the ABC’s lies and misrepresentations about Domestic Violence. Now one of Julia Baird’s main sources for her report claiming that evangelical christians have the highest rates of Domestic Violence has spoken up.
ABC’S SOURCE: ABC WAS NOT FAIR IN SMEARING CHRISTIANITY
The ABC falsely claimed our worst wife beaters were evangelical Christians who went to church sporadically.
The academic whose work the ABC cherry-picked, Professor Bradford Wilcox, says the ABC anti-Christian series of reports that relied on that central – and false – claim “fails the basic journalistic test of fairness“:
On the one hand, the church is charged with “both enabling and concealing (domestic violence)”…
But it also states: “Research shows that the men most likely to abuse their wives are evangelical Christians who attend church sporadically.” Here, they are drawing on my research on religion and American marriages (they neither contacted me nor mentioned me in the story, even though they relied heavily on my empirical findings). They speculate that it’s the kind of men “who are often on the periphery (of church life), in other words, who sometimes float between parishes or sit in the back pews”, who are most likely to abuse. That’s not the full story, if they are basing this claim on my research. In my study of the nominal evangelical husbands who were most abusive, I found that it was evangelical Protestant men who infrequently or never attended church who were most violent.
How do you blame Australian churches for a big domestic violence problem if it is men who infrequently or never attend church who have the highest likelihood of being violent? How would bad Christian preaching, teaching or counselling be a major factor in spousal abuse if the worst abusers are rarely or never in the pews? It doesn’t follow.
Indeed, what may be happening in the real world is that churches and religious institutions actually reduce the odds that husbands or wives abuse one another. On average, messages about love, forgiveness and fidelity may actually make for better husbands and wives, especially when they are reinforced by a community of believers that is struggling to live out values and virtues generally supportive of strong marriages.
Indeed, in the US, the evidence suggests religious attendance reduces the odds of domestic violence. Work by University of Texas sociologist Christopher Ellison shows that husbands and wives are less likely to report they are abusive if they attend weekly; they are also less likely to report they have been abused if they are part of a church community. My research indicates couples report significantly higher quality relationships if they attend church together.
The point is not to suggest that abuse is not present in the church in Australia, or that lay and clerical leaders have not made big mistakes in addressing abuse. Abuse, and failures to adequately address it, can be found throughout the nation — including the church.
But it is to suggest that the ABC story completely ignores the possibility that churches and religious institutions may be having some positive role in reducing the prevalence of domestic violence among their active adherents. Instead, the story fails the basic journalistic test of fairness by presenting an almost completely negative picture of Christian approaches to domestic abuse, one that does not square with the evidence that churchgoing couples, in America at least, appear to be less likely to suffer domestic violence and more likely to enjoy happy marriages.
The ABC reports that this article was based on a year-long investigation. So they had a year to get this right.
But the truth conflicted with the agenda, you see, and once again the agenda won. Christianity must be portrayed as malevolent.