Basic Facts about Collusion

Author's Definition: the conscious or unconscious collaboration of two or more individuals to protect those engaged in unethical practices. (Note: When clergy sexual abuse, domestic violence, or incest within the congregation is involved, persons often collude to protect other colluders!)

Persons who collude may do so actively (the fighting mode) or passively (the flight mode).

Collusion is usually far more devastating to victims than the primary abuse.

The DEMONS are NOT the perpetrators. They aren't the colluders, and certainly not the survivors. I've named the collective demons in an acronym--DIM thinking--DENIAL, IGNORANCE, and MINIMIZATION.

Behind collusion one will always find some form of DIM Thinking* (Denial, Ignorance, and Minimization). Ignorance here may refer to one or all of the following: mis-information about the dynamics of abuse, resistence to attempts to provide education, or a choice to ignore what one knows. Colluders may be guilty of DIM Thinking about the abuse, about collusion itself, or both.

Examples of passive collusion:

  • A member of the congregation decides that it is "none of my business" to get involved when she overhears the girls in her youth group discussing how uncomfortable they have felt in the past when alone in a counseling session with the minister or youth leader.
  • Rev. Smith is approached by a member of his friend's church about concerns that the member's pastor, one of Smith's close friends, has been seen several times recently in restaurants at a table-for-two with a recently-widowed member of the congregation. Rev. Smith chides the member, telling him: "I know your pastor well. We fish together at least once a month. Why he was even president of our Ministerial Alliance last year! I'm going to pray that your spirit will be cleansed of this suspicious nature." Rev. Smith refuses to speak to anyone else about the problem. He does not even confront his friend. Biblically speaking he "walks by on the other side." (See the story of the Good Samaritan for further insights.)
  • A pastor ignores the recommendations of his denomination, refusing to encourage his congregation to adopt policies which would help insure safety and adequate supervision of the children and youth during church-sponsored programs and events.
  • Bishop Johnson puts a letter from a victim in his "low priority" stack. In it, the young woman is voicing her weariness that she continues to be left hanging as the adjudicatory committee of their denomination holds meeting after meeting without taking any decisive action. She asks that the bishop call her at his earliest convenience. Later, when confronted by the victim's husband, he defends his passivity, saying: "I didn't see anything in the letter that needed a response."
  • Examples of active collusion:

  • Upon hearing of the allegations being investigated against his pastor, a church leader manages to find out the alleged victim's name, then calls other church leaders and key people in the community to make certain they know that the accuser is "crazy" and "has a history of immoral and untrustworthy behaviors.
  • Mrs. Anderson, a wealthy congregant, certain that her denomination did nothing wrong by ignoring the reports of "trouble-making" victims for almost two years, contributes $500,000 to help denominational leaders find the best attorney to defend itself against a civil suit.
  • Several members of a congregation tell their minister's wife that she is no longer welcome in their services, but that her husband will continue to occupy the pulpit, even though she has recently been forced to go to a shelter for safety. They tell her that they are very disappointed that she is not willing to forgive, move back in the parsonage, and quietly try to once again make things work.
  • Denominational leaders tell victims that there is no money to help with their therapy. Yet these same leaders take in millions of dollars every year for missions or other causes to help oppressed people around the world. In addition, they have no difficulty announcing that they have a fund set up to help ministers who have been terminated for a variety of causes, including sexual abuse of congregants.


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    This article, like all at is copyrighted by the author. Other writers, by copyright law, may use up to 300 words in other published works without asking permission, provided the author is given full credit. This includes "DIM Thinking" a term, coined by Miller. Others are encouraged to download and/or distribute copies of any of these articles, for educational purposes, PROVIDED any page distributed is done so without alteration. The copies must include this message and the contact information below: by Dee Ann Miller, author of How Little We Knew: Collusion and Confusion with Sexual Misconduct and The Truth about Malarkey.