Religion and Violence Research Team

Overall Goal:

The team’s objective is to develop creative ways in which churches and their leaders might respond more effectively to family violence through speaking engagements, consultations, scholarly publications and writing in explicitly religious periodicals.

Team History:

For more than 20 years, the Religion and Violence Research Team, led by Nancy Nason-Clark, has been examining the story of what happens when religious people look to their faith communities for help in the aftermath of violence in the family context.  Adding religion to the research mix on family violence is, surprisingly, a relatively new idea, given that religion is an integral part of the context of many, indeed most, people’s lives.  Using a variety of methodologies, and working together with many Christian denominations, we have collected data from victims, clergy, churches, and shelters.

In the past ten years, this research agenda has extended beyond the Atlantic area to Jamaica, Croatia, India, the United States and Western Canada.  Again, using a variety of methodologies, data has been collected from over 1300 men who are court-mandated to attend a batterers’ intervention program, clergy members, criminal justice employees including judges and probation and parole officers, faith-based therapists treating men who have been abusive, volunteer board members at a faith-based agency providing batterer intervention programs, aboriginal treatment providers, agency executive directors, victim/survivors, and community advocates.  All of this data contributes to filling in the missing pieces of the puzzle regarding how best to combat family violence, particularly in families of faith.

Making a Difference:

Team members continue to author and distribute various materials aimed at reducing violence in families of faith. As well, team members continue to speak regularly on the issue of family violence in various locales – both near and far.  Our focus continues to be on understanding the interface between religion and abuse and on building bridges between the steeple and the shelter.

The RAVE Project:

The RAVE Project website

Training for faith communities is essential. The RAVE project is currently developing, evaluating, modifying and implementing a training model for pastors and their congregations related to collaborative community-integrated responses to abuse and the process of bridge building to community-based services.  Bridge building has one major purpose: to connect two discrete bodies of land utilizing a common structure.  The training will assist churches and their leaders in paving the pathway between the steeple and the shelter, or spiritual guidance and practical support.  Referrals and support between churches and community agencies must be based on trust and good working relationships, honoring of professional and occupational talents, differences and unique strengths, and bidirectional in nature.  It is both a way of working and a way of thinking.  Are churches safe places to disclose that you have been abused by a family member?  Are community agencies a safe place to disclose that your faith is a vital part of your life and decision-making?

Team members

  • Nancy Nason-Clark, Sociology Department, UNB (Team Coordinator)
  • Terry Atkinson, Senior Pastor, Brunswick Street Baptist Church, NB
  • Lori Beaman, Canada Research Chair in the Contextualization of Religion in a Diverse Canada, Religious Studies, University of Ottawa
  • Lois Mitchell, Convention of the Atlantic Baptist Churches, Saint John, NB
  • Sheila McCrea-MacCallum, Retired Pastor, Nazarene Church, PEI
  • Barbara Fisher-Townsend, Sociology Department, UNB
  • Cathy Holtman, Sociology Department, UNB
  • Stephen McMullin, Acadia University, Wolfville, NS

Major Publications:


  • Responding to Abuse in Christian Homes: A Challenge to Churches and Their Leaders by Nancy Nason-Clark, Catherine Clark Kroeger and Barbara Fisher-Townsend. (South Hamilton, MA: House of Prisca & Aquila;  Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Press, 2011)
  • No Place for Abuse: Biblical & Practical Resources to Counteract Domestic Violence (Revised) by Catherine Clark Kroeger and Nancy Nason-Clark. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2010)
  • Beyond Abuse in the Christian Home: Raising Voices for Change by Catherine Clark Kroeger, Nancy Nason-Clark and Barbara Fisher-Townsend. (South Hamilton, MA: House of Prisca & Aquila;  Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Press, 2008)
  • Refuge from Abuse: Hope and Healing for Abused Religious Women by Nancy Nason-Clark and Catherine Clark Kroeger. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2004)
  • No Place for Abuse: Biblical and Practical Resources to Counteract Domestic Violence by Catherine Clark Kroeger and Nancy Nason-Clark. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001)
  • The Battered Wife: How Christians Confront Family Violence by Nancy Nason-Clark. (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1997)

The FVRC Research Article Series

Referred Articles, Chapters in Books, and Other Publications

Members of the Religion and Violence Research Team have published many scholarly articles or chapters in books related to their research on Christianity and family violence and written numerous pieces for the religious press, as well as information pamphlets for wider distribution. For a complete listing, please contact the Religion and Violence Team Coordinator by email Nancy Nason-Clark.

Graduate Students Mentored by the Religion and Violence Team

  • Christy (Terris) Hoyt
  • Amanda (Henry) Steeves
  • Michelle Spencer-Arsenault
  • Lisa Hanson
  • Lenora Sleep