The following is an excerpt from the article “The More We Love, the Harder We Fight: 15 Principles for Fighting Corruption. Lessons from Rachel Denhollander for Sexual Abuse and Corruption Applications from Our Experiences Confronting the NCI Fraud” by Michèle Lewis O’Donnell, PsyD and Kelly O’Donnell, PsyD on 27 November 2019.

In reflecting upon some of the recent interviews with Rachel Denhollander (e.g., MinistryWatch, October 2019 and Christianity Today, January 2018) I was struck by how  the core principles that emerged regarding cases of sexual abuse are also applicable for any form of abuse and corruption. These principles are especially relevant to situations of corruption in churches, mission agencies, and other organizations, where whistle blowers and victims are vilified and verifiable accountability via independent reviews is rare.

The 15 principles I summarize below are based primarily on Rachel Denhollander’s October 2019  interview with MinistryWatch (direct quotes are in bold font) and my own experiences confronting corruption. I make applications to a specific case, the international Nordic Capital Investment KB fraud (NCI). This protracted, covered up case of corruption, first publicly confronted in 2007, continues to mar the international church and mission community. In spite of the successful prosecution of one major person by the Swedish government (2008-2010), there is still so much more to examine, uncover, disclose, and learn. And millions of dollars to return.   

Principle 1: In cases of abuse and corruption, name names and call out specific situation.

“Naming names and calling out specific situations is the only way people will understand what the [abstract] principles look like when they’re put into effect.” (Denhollander) NCI: The Integrity Petition (Shine the Light-Together) the PETRA People Network weblog, the Loving Truth and Peace weblog (Professional Review), and the Into Integrity weblog (and podcasts) list specific people, leaders,  and organizations, requesting their assistance and disclosures.

Principle 2: Abuse or corruption doesn’t usually come to light without courageous whistleblowers.

When the whistleblowers are also victims, fellow Christians must not misconstrue the strong words or emotions of victims, like anger, for unrighteousness, and end up blaming victims.
NCI: It took courageous whistleblowers to confront this fraud in the Christian church and missions world. Many victims were too embarrassed or afraid to come forward. No one who was net positive (benefitted with stolen money from the ponzi fraud) came forward in transparency publicly. My husband and I have experienced wrongful dismissals (2006-current) while trying to shine the light on overlapping areas of organizational dysfunction and financial fraud.

Principle 3: The right motivation, “based on right and true ideas” must underpin the efforts to expose abuse and corruption.

The right motivation helps people persevere and be resolute in the face of evil: “the more we love the harder we fight.” NCI: In our efforts to confront the NCI fraud, “loving truth and peace” (Zechariah 8:19) have been guiding concepts, as too our commitment to agape (I Cor. 16:13-14). The historical examples of morally courageous people, who acted with costly integrity—Solzhenitsyn, Havel, von Moltke, Churchill, Bonheoffer, to name a few–have also been inspiring.

Principle 4: Good investigation, for instance good journalism and independent reviews, can shine light into dark places.

NCI: Rand Guebert’s Professional Review of the NCI fraud, multiple wrongful dismissals, and poor organizational governance, made connections between individuals and organizations in the web of corruption that many people had not detected.

Principle 5: It takes a skilled, well-positioned, and well-supported survivor to be heard in the face of powerful and corrupt people and organizations.

NCI: Because of our strong social support (family, churches, colleagues) and professional skills we have continued to be productive in our work and resolute as psychologist/advocates, although sadly, it has come at a high price as defamatory remarks and rumors have circulated in ministry networks we helped establish.

Featured Image: Jeff Kowalsky / AFP /Getty Images

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