A group of abuse victims, whistleblowers, ministry workers and activists have launched a campaign against the use of non-disclosure agreements by major Christian organizations.
On Wednesday, the #NDAFree campaign was launched by an international group of Christians aimed at ending “the misuse of non-disclosure agreements,” or NDAs by Christian groups and organizations. The group launched a website that features stories of survivors who felt like they were silenced in their abuse because an NDA prohibited them from speaking out.
“In some ways, an NDA can look reasonable,” Lee Furney, one of the group’s organizers and an advocate for abuse survivors, told Christianity Today. “But find for me the perfect NDA, and it’s still not perfect. There’s no transparency. No accountability. You can’t track them or how they’re used. And they’re binding the conscience for the future, saying I can’t change my mind, regardless of the situation.”
He added, “It’s time to set people free.”
According to Church Leaders, NDAs were initially used by the tech industry to protect secrets and keep employees from switching over to competitors. But the agreements now can be used as a means to protect an organization’s reputation while silencing people from speaking up, lest they pay the consequences.
Some churches and church ministries have also called on volunteers to sign confidentiality agreements.
NDAs can also include prohibitions against disclosing the non-disclosure agreement, which has negatively affected those who signed them.
John Sather, who worked for Campus Crusade for Christ (Cru) for 45 years, had to seek therapy after facing a bitter dispute with the leadership team after he left the parachurch organization.
In 2019, Sather and his wife signed an NDA thinking it was necessary to leave Cru. Later, Sather asked to be released by the agreement, but the ministry refused. The couple is now speaking out against the NDA.
Noting that he cannot talk about anything covered under the NDA, Sather said, “I’ve learned in therapy how important it is to speak, but an NDA is this suffocating thing, when the very thing you so desperately want to do is tell your story.”
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Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer. He is also the co-hosts of the For Your Soul podcast, which seeks to equip the church with biblical truth and sound doctrine. Visit his blog Blessed Are The Forgiven.