Jason Martin


This reflection focuses on patterns of power abuse and dysfunction within the Protestant Church. The analysis focuses specifically on the troubling prevalence of Adult Clergy Sexual Abuse (ACSA). The fields of psychology, trauma-informed therapy, social work, and public policy have contributed substantial bodies of work and research on the context, causes, and impacts of ACSA. Current research argues that this work and research can be significantly enhanced and strengthened given the tools and insights offered by a sociological lens. The methodological approach is participant observation that comes from first-hand engagement in ACSA survivor support groups and advocate networks. In systematically reflecting on this participant observation, the application of sociological theoretical frameworks leads to the following three possibilities. 1. A sociological approach facilitates a transformation in how ACSA survivors are viewed. This perspective encourages moving from the “SUCCUMB” to the “THIEVES” model for ACSA survivors. 2. A sociological approach highlights the tendency for faith-based institutional power to preserve, insulate, and protect itself from transformative structural change. 3. A sociological approach facilitates grappling with and re-imagining an institutional response to ACSA that avoids protectionism and reductionism, leading to a typology of potential institutional responses.



Clericalism, Clergy, Sexual Abuse, Misconduct, Barth, Thieves, CSM, ACSA

Research Articles