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Western University

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Feminist Philosophy Quarterly

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Clergy sexual abuse is both sexual and psychological violence, but it is also a paradigmatic case of spiritual violence that rises to the level of religious trauma. In this paper I argue that the spiritual violence of clergy sexual abuse diminishes, and in some cases may even destroy, a survivor’s capacities for religious faith or other forms of spiritual engagement. I use and illustrate the value of feminist methodology, as developed and advanced by Alison Jaggar, for generating and pursuing philosophical questions about religious experience. Feminist methodology’s sensitivity to theorizing situated subjects who stand to each other in relations of racialized male dominance helps us see the ways in which clergy sexual abuse is gender-based violence in both its causes and effects. It also helps us both ask and answer questions about religious faith in the unjust meantime from the perspective of those who endure spiritually violent faith communities.


Published version. Feminist Philosophy Quarterly: Special Issue, In the Unjust Meantime, Vol. 5, No. 2 (2019). DOI. © 2019 Theresa W. Tobin. Used with permission.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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