Upcoming Seminars

The next Inform seminar will be held online: 

Sexual Abuse framed by Faith or Belief – Exploring boundaries and contexts
Wednesday 22 July 7-8:30pm

Some of the information covered in this seminar is like to be upsetting or triggering for some of those in the audience, there are a number of specialist services which might be helpful – here are links to lists of UK
US, and Australian-based resources and support for those affected in any way by sexual abuse.

If you are looking for other kinds of support or help in a different geographical area, Inform may be able to point you in the direction of other support organisations if you send us an email. 

Please register your attendance by making a voluntary donation to Inform before 6:30pm on 22 July.

Please make sure that you share your contact details with Inform so that we can send you a link to the Zoom meeting. If you cannot make a donation at this time, but would still like to 
attend, please email [email protected] directly.


Many of the cults and new religious movements of the 1970s were assumed to be awash with abusive behaviour. However, high profile cases of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church have highlighted the pervasive potential of religious groups to be affected by behaviour understood as sexual abuse. This is a problem not confined to any particular religious context. 

The dynamics of sexual exploitation of minors have now been well explored and safeguarding frameworks are becoming more standard. Are there lessons that can be learned from working with children which can be applied to situations involving adults? 

In many cases abuse appears to be incidental to the theological and ethical frameworks; in other cases, the sexual activity has explicit justification within a belief framework that is later framed as abuse by outsiders or ‘survivors.’ 

Does the framing of the behaviour make a difference for understanding the harm caused? To what extent are concepts like ‘spiritual abuse’, ‘fraud’ or ‘moral injury’ helpful in understanding the dynamics of adult sexual abuse in religious contexts? 

This online Inform seminar will consider the issue of sexual abuse occurring within religious contexts in hopes of identifying new ways of considering the problem and potential ways of mitigating harm. There will be a series of short presentations by speakers, followed by informed responses and then a general discussion.

Confirmed speakers and respondents include: 

  • Eileen Barker, professor emeritus of sociology with special reference to the study of religion, London School of Economics
  • Leethen Bartholomew, head of the National FGM Centre at Barnardo's
  • Mary Finnigan, journalist and broadcaster - co-author with Rob Hogendoorn of Sex and Violence in Tibetan Buddhism - the Rise and Fall of Sogyal Rinpoche. 
  • Amanda Lucia, associate professor, University of California-Riverside, USA
  • Gordon Lynch, Michael Ramsey professor of modern theology at the University of Kent
  • Lisa Oakley, associate professor of applied psychology at University of Chester and chair of National Working Group for child abuse linked to faith or belief
  • Michelle Tonkin, Rigpa whistle-blower and former Buddhist nun
  • Theo Wildcroft, visiting fellow, The Open University and alt-ac.uk
  • Belinda Winder, professor of Forensic Psychology at the specialist sexual crime unit at Nottingham Trent University
  • Linda Woodhead, distinguished professor, department of politics, philosophy and religion, University of Lancaster

In the organisation of this seminar, we are grateful for the support of the Religion and Sexual Abuse Project, funded in part by the Henry Luce Foundation.

The event will be officially recorded by Inform. Guests may NOT record, film or
take screenshots of the seminar without prior permission.