“They submitted their resignation as an act of atonement”

– reparation for an offense or injury
– making atonement for harm and hurt.
– reconciliation in the truth and justice of God

The Work of Atonement

Atonement was an initiative of a group of concerned advocates, working for survivors of sexual abuse at the hands of the church, and also those who have been falsely accused. Atonement’s principal goals have included:

  • Support victims of abuse and the falsely accused in the face of the ongoing injustices and the silence of the churches.
  • Joining with others in campaigning for truth, transparency, accountability, integrity, fairness and justice in safeguarding.
  • Challenging the deficient and damaging structures and processes in churches that continue to perpetuate abuse.
  • Pressing for reform that calls out, challenges and banishes vested power interests resist change in the church.

Our goal was to play our part working with other organizations to establish the adoption and implementation of the Human Rights Act (1998) and Nolan Principles for conduct in public life in congregations and denominations (especially the Church of England).

Atonement has highlighted several specific instances of abuse in the safeguarding processes within the Church of England. Articles draw on and reference news, reports and accounts concerning safeguarding. Whilst this has sometimes meant refuting the narratives promoted by the Church of England and others seeking to weaponize safeguarding, Atonement ensured that any counter-claims made could be properly evidenced. 

The principal concern in the first instance was the composition and performance of the Church of England’s National Safeguarding Team, its Core Groups and general operation. This included the extremely poor handling of the Bishop George Bell case, and the Carlile Review that exposed the shortcomings of the Church of England and its safeguarding processes.

The more recent concerns have focussed exclusively on the Church of England’s Independent Safeguarding Board (ISB), including its claims to be professional and independent.  With the suspension of the ISB Chair for findings of data breaches by the Information Commissioner’s Office, and numerous other safeguarding process failings now in the spotlight and under investigation, other more established campaigning groups are well-placed to take forward the work of challenge and reform. 

We welcome the engagement of the Charity Commission as a party to these concerns, and other regulators now engaged in specific inquiry include the Information Commissioner’s Office, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, and most recently, the Independent Investigation into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA). All of the regulators currently engaged are now in receipt of substantial bodies of evidence that testify to the problems that victims of abuse, and victims of church safeguarding process, continue to encounter. 

October 2022

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