Presbyterian pastoral candidates demand apology for violent Bible story on ordination exam: 'Trauma trigger'

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A petition circulating among clergy candidates successful the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) is objecting to the beingness of a convulsive Bible communicative astir rape successful ordination examinations.

"While it is simply a captious accomplishment for pastors to beryllium capable to interpret, teach, and preach from scripture, stories that diagnostic utmost unit and intersexual unit origin harm for some trial takers and readers," reads the petition begun past week by Rev. Elana Keppel Levy, a subsister of intersexual assault.

"Those who person experienced unit and intersexual unit often endure from PTSD for years, if not the remainder of their lives. Being forced to work and intensely absorption connected stories similar this is apt to beryllium a trauma trigger," the petition continued, adding that the imaginable anxiousness from addressing specified a taxable connected a high-stakes exam was "tantamount to hazing."

The petition besides asked for a ceremonial apology from the Presbyteries’ Cooperative Committee connected Examinations for Candidates (PCC), which oversees ordination exams successful the largest U.S. Presbyterian denomination.


The Bible transition successful question comes from Judges 19, which tells the communicative of a concubine who was gang-raped to decease earlier her assemblage was divided into 12 pieces.

In the ordination exam, candidates were asked to supply an outline for a 75-minute Bible survey aimed astatine "exploring unsettling passages successful the Scriptures" for college-age students, according to the Presbyterian News Service.

The outlet noted that the passages candidates are asked to construe rhythm done assorted parts of the Bible, but that Judges 19 was the astir recent.


Rev. Robert Lowry, who chairs the PCC, told Presbyterian News Service that the exam is intended "to invitation candidates to show however their mentation and pastoral telephone intersects with their acquired knowledge. It takes a large woody of thought and effort to constitute the questions."

Lowry went connected to apologize to those who mightiness person been upset by Judges 19 being connected the exam, explaining that what his committee "tries hard to bash is correspond the fullness of experiences of the church. As a queer man, I bring a antithetic dependable to the array than a consecutive pistillate ruling elder does. We effort to person arsenic galore voices astatine the array arsenic we can."

"Our lone extremity is to make exams that let our candidates to show their readiness for ministry," Lowry said. "That’s however we spot our role: helping candidates show that, presbyteries measure that, and our religion benefiting by a caller procreation of large leaders."

As of Tuesday, much than 1,100 radical person signed the petition, which has a extremity of 1,500 signatures. The PCC volition officially respond to the petition during its yearly gathering successful March.

The PCUSA has astir 1.1 cardinal progressive members, but reported losing astir 700,000 of them and 1,400 congregations since 2012. More than 51,000 members person near since 2021, according to its astir caller yearly report.

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