By Vivian Harvey & Beverly Shellrude Thompson
Collusion, what is it?
As defined by author and experienced psychiatric Registered
Nurse, Dee Ann Miller, collusion is the conscious or unconscious
collaboration of two or more individuals to protect those who
engage in unethical practices. It is a symptom of a serious
systemic thinking disorder. Collusion is not a normal condition,
though individuals who have spent large amounts of time in
dysfunctional communities accept it as the norm.
Why do people engage in collusion?
In an article,
Basic Facts about Collusion, written by Dee Ann Miller,
R.N., the following reasons are suggested as to why individuals practice collusion,
acculturation (it is all they have known), (2) the need to preserve
a system that is important to them (Christian organizations;
other parts of the community) and (3) unresolved issues including
incest, drug use, addictions and other dysfunctions in the
Some religious reasons include closed system thinking, or; and in-house
problem solving (avoidance of outside intervention or
help). This is frequently demonstrated within Christian
denominations, churches, and mission boards. This example has
been seen and demonstrated by many denominations including the
C&MA. The Southern
Baptist denomination perpetuates collusion by refusing to set
forth a standard of set policies for the churches under their
The more a Christian community walls itself away "from the
world", the more it becomes a law unto itself, and a grotesque
deviation from Christ Jesus' original intention for the
community of believers.
The Patriarchal mind set helps collusion succeed by demonization
of all individuals who dare to challenge the closed system.
"Touch not Gods Anointed" is one terribly distorted, misused
section of scripture which lends Gods favor (and protection) to
whatever the leader approves. This is one great example of the
spiritual abuse accompanying the colluding life style. Another
effect of patriarchal
thinking is the ruination of personal accountability, squelching
the response and appropriate behavior towards in-house abusers
"The Family" is one more concept which aids collusion. While it
seems good to have a community of "aunties and uncles" within a
Christian community, this concept enables and protects those
deviants and predatory individuals who seek ultimate in-house
safety and protection. Sadly, within the same "Family" lives the
idea that those who have victimized children and adults need
only forgiveness and restoration; pedophilia and sexual assault
are not seen as crimes which need to be reported to the criminal
At the same time that perpetrators are protected, restorative
help aids and funds are often withheld from the victims and
What can possibly help to change this attitude of a sick system?
Before anything else, I believe awareness of this disorder is
necessary. After all, we won't change what we do not acknowledge
as a problem, I have heard it said.
One question many of us ask is this,
"What can possibly change the narcissistic perspective to one of
an unselfish and other-focused, less performance oriented and
Another couple of questions might be,
"What is empathy compared to narcissism? How can an empathetic
capacity affect our lives for the better?"
What is Empathy?
Empathy can be defined as the antithesis of narcissism, or the
ability to enter the world of another person. Children fortunate
enough to be raised in a consistently caring, nurturing
environment mirror the empathy they observe in their care
The effects of empathy could include, the experience of genuine love and intimacy in relationships;
helping people understand who they really are and what brings
authentic love and fulfillment. It might aid the lessening of
self-absorption inherent in the narcissistic mindset. It
provides a way of being that is less selfish and egotistical.
Empathetic training can be a huge step forward in shaping a
balanced, healthy world view among Christian leaders and their
families. It certainly will help to enable the works of love in
the lives of Christians as described in the first through third
gospels of John.
Please join us in a forum discussion,
Collusion and how it impacts us,
about collusion in mission agencies that silences victims, supports
perpetrators and stalls reform.