The Evangelical Alliance has issued a report Reviewing the discourse of ‘Spiritual Abuse’. There is a press release about this:
A new report that highlights the risks associated with adopting the vague and incoherent terminology of ‘Spiritual Abuse’ has been released today by the Evangelical Alliance. The term ‘Spiritual Abuse’ may be well intended, but it is not fit for purpose.
Produced by the Evangelical Alliance Theology Advisory Group (TAG), the report outlines how ‘Spiritual Abuse’ is a seriously problematic term because of its own inherent ambiguity, and because attempts by some to embed it within statutory safeguarding discourse and secular law would be unworkable in practice, potentially discriminatory towards religious communities, and damaging to inter-faith relations…
There is also an Executive Summary available here.
The document references several other pieces of work, including:
All of this is significant in the context of the recently reported Church of England case in the Diocese of Oxford: Priest found guilty of spiritual abuse.
Christian Today has reported the Evangelical Alliance story thus:
Evangelical Alliance rubbishes ‘spiritual abuse’ language: It could ‘criminalise’ conservative teaching on sexuality.
Jayne Ozanne is quoted in that report, responding to the criticism of her paper (linked above). Her full quote in response to the EA criticism is as follows.
“I am deeply perplexed, as I’m sure others will be, as to why the Evangelical Alliance have seen fit to effectively dismiss the concept of Spiritual Abuse, rather than looking to work constructively with victims to create a safer and more caring Church. Their report contains various unfounded claims, which feed the notion that certain parts of the Church are under threat from secular society. Assertions such as “the use of Spiritual Abuse terminology has proliferated in such a way that its further use risks damage to fundamental freedoms of religious thought, expression and assembly” are at best defensive, and at worst scaremongering. In addition, I do not believe my paper has been fairly or accurately characterised and would urge people to read it for themselves.’