News by email Donate


World News

Christian author defends 'outing' survivor of John Smyth abuse

by Marcus Jones
Bleeding for Jesus book cover.jpg - Banner image

Christian author defends 'outing' survivor of John Smyth abuse


Andrew Graystone, the author of a new book outlining the abuse of John Smyth, has defended his decision to name a victim who had previously been anonymous.

Bleeding For Jesus: John Smyth and the cult of the Iwerne Camps details the extent of the abuse carried out by Smyth at Christian camps as well as other settings.

It's thought around 90 boys were subject to his beatings which were explained as a way of redeeming an individual from sin.

In the book, Graystone writes of numerous failings of institutions, church groups and individuals which extended the suffering of survivors and resulted in Smyth never being brought to justice.

One of those criticized was Rev Alasdair Paine, a survivor of Smyth's abuse, who till now had kept his suffering private.

Speaking to Premier, Graystone was unrepentant over naming him.

"Had he [Smyth] been stopped when it first became possible in 1982 he would have been prevented from a lifetime of abusing.

"In the course of telling this story I had to name a Christian leader who was a victim of John Smyth

"He had known for 30 years that Smyth had offended and there were a great many victims, yet he still chose not to act appropriately

"I've been careful to protect victims but this man is the exception because by not acting he has enabled the abuse of scores and scores of people.

"If someone is in a position of leadership and has the means to stop someone from abusing then my feeling is they have a moral and Christian responsibility to do that."

Rev Paine has since released a 6 page statement in which he criticizes the decision to publically name him and defends his handling of the situation.

He said: "Mr Graystone has never contacted me to ask for permission to identify me as a survivor or to tell my story - indeed, he has never asked for my own account.

"While his references to me and my story in his book may echo aspects of my statement here, he has not obtained this account directly from me. 

"Instead, it would seem more likely that others, including those I have spoken or written to, have provided details about me to Mr Graystone without notifying me or seeking my permission."

Paine admits he struggled to deal with others who had suffered after experiencing the same treatment but states that he reported his own abuse back in 1982 and more recently when he was asked for help by another survivor he referred the situation to a safeguarding advisor who told him to have no further contact with the man. He did admit that "may have appeared uncaring".

The book also criticizes Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury - who himself knew Smyth.

In response, he said: "I want to take this opportunity to repeat the apology I made on behalf of the Church of England and myself after I met with a group of survivors in May this year. That this abuse was done in the name of Jesus Christ, in a perverted version of spirituality and evangelicalism, is the gravest of sins.

"I volunteered at John Smyth's camps and I knew him superficially; our relationship was insubstantial and our contact minimal. I was not part of his social or inner circles and knew nothing of his horrendous treatment of those in his care.

"I was first alerted to an allegation in 2013. Together with colleagues at Lambeth Palace, I ensured that the diocese to which the referral had come had informed the police and the diocese of Cape Town, where John Smyth was then residing."

The publication of the book comes after Christian charity Scripture Union apologized over its handling of the John Smyth case,

It admitted the suffering of survivors had been extended due to its inaction.

Earlier this year the Church of England launched an investigation into the case. It's expected to publish its findings next year.

A Monthly Gift Of $11 Makes A World Of Difference

In a world of fake news there’s never been a greater need for quality Christian journalism. Premier’s mission is to provide the Church with the most up to date and relevant news, told from a Christian perspective. But we can’t do it without you.

Unlike many websites we haven't put up a paywall — we want to keep our journalism free at the point of need and as open as we can. Premier’s news output takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce. No one in the USA is sharing news like we are across radio, magazines and online so please help us to continue that today.

For a monthly gift of $11 or more we’d also be able to send you a free copy of the brand new Premier Bible, a wonderful Anglicised version of the NLT packed with exclusive bonus content, reading plan and resources to help you get the most out of scripture.

Your monthly support will make a world of difference. Thank you.

Support Us
Continue the conversation on our Facebook page

Related Articles

Sign up to our newsletter to stay informed with news from a Christian perspective.

News by email