Given their rhetoric on safeguarding, the
response of religious organisations to abuse by the clergy - sexual, physical
and spiritual - has been inept, thoughtless, mean, and without any sense of
urgency. Sex, Power, Control explores the underlying reasons for the
mishandling of recent abuse cases.
Using psychoanalytical and sociological
insights, and including her own experiences as shown in the BBC documentary
Exposed: The Church's Darkest Secret, Gardner asks why the Churches find
themselves in such a crisis, and how issues of power and control have
contributed to secrecy, deception and heartache.
Drawing on survivor accounts and delving into
the psychology of clergy abusers, she reveals a culture of avoidance and
denial, while an examination of power dynamics highlights institutional
narcissism and a hierarchical structure based on deference, with defensive
assumptions linked to sex, gender and class.
Sex, Power, Control is an invaluable resource for all those in the
church or similar institutions, and for anyone concerned about child abuse.
"Fiona Gardner's analysis is brilliant and shines a light into the dark recesses of the Church of England. She explains complex phenomena in clear language. It is a masterpiece and will be turned to again and again by those who crave insight into the mismanagement of abuse within the Church of England."
Ian Elliott, Independent Safeguarding Consultant
"This book brings together many facets of abuse and shows how they are interrelated. Fiona Gardner is fearless in naming issues that the church avoids, arguing convincingly that change will only occur when we acknowledge the breadth of the problem and resolve to tackle it in the round rather than piecemeal. She shows how theology, sexism and homophobia combine to create an environment where sexual and spiritual abuse are perpetuated. Read it, weep and then resolve to be part of the change."
Revd Canon Rosie Harper
[This] public shaming [book is] much needed. I doubt whether any amount of safeguarding training or protocols will deter some highly manipulative clergy from sex abuse or senior clergy from protecting them and covering up. The prospect of public shaming might. All power to Fiona Gardner [...] for shaming both abusers and their protectors.
Robin Gill, Church Times, February 2021, pp 21
"Gardner's multifaceted experience ... enables her to do something fresh and useful. Books like this help by making people more alert and understanding."
Linda Woodhead, Distinguished Professor of Religion and Society, Lancaster University, Surviving Church, April 2021