Evangelicals: The single most important change for #MeToo

Evangelicals: The single most important change for #MeToo

In the last days of 2017, riding the wave of the #MeToo movement, a group of 140 evangelical women released a petition on “Breaking the Silence on Violence against Women and Girls.” Under the hashtag #SilenceIsNotSpiritual, it invited “the community of faith” to “join this historic moment . . . sparking genuine change in the very place we call our home – the local church.” The petition has quickly garnered more than 5000 additional signatures.

More specifically, the petition issues a two-fold call to action for evangelical churches. First, it urges the creation of “protected spaces” so that survivors of sexual abuse who offer their stories will be received “with empathy, love, and care.” Second, it calls on faith leaders to cease their “silent assent” to harmful “systems, structures, and practices” and “to fight both systemic and individual injustices.”

This is the kind of talk that makes me want to pump my fist in enthusiastic support. Read More »

Left Behind: When will Baptists catch up with #MeToo?

Left Behind: When will Baptists catch up with #MeToo?

Andy Savage (Credit: Christian Today)

 

At a Southern Baptist mega-church in Memphis, pastor Andy Savage admitted to having a “sexual incident” with a 17-year-old girl twenty years earlier. The congregation’s response? Silence? Boos? No, a standing ovation.

The admission came after the now-grown woman, Jules Woodson, posted a January 5 #MeToo account on social media, describing conduct constituting sexual assault. Woodson said Savage offered to take her home after a church event and instead drove her down a dark dirt road to an isolated area where he had her perform oral sex on him. Savage was then a youth pastor at the Houston-area Woodlands Parkway Baptist Church.

Woodson wrote that she was motivated to come forward after seeing Savage’s social media posts in which he decried Matt Lauer and other men accused of sexual assault and misconduct. Soon after the post was published, Woodson painfully recounted her story for a local Memphis TV station.

Shortly after the alleged assault, Woodson reported Savage’s conduct to associate pastor Larry Cotton, but like so many other victims of clergy-perpetrated abuse, the teen received little support. “He said something to the effect of, ‘So you’re telling me you participated?'” Woodson told the Austin American-Statesman. “This wave of shame came over me, greater than I had ever felt before.” Read More »

An Open Letter to the Alabama Baptist Pastor Group

An Open Letter to the Alabama Baptist Pastor Group

More than 100 Alabama Baptist pastors have signed a public statement denouncing “sexual abuse, assault, harassment, and exploitation of women.” Christa Brown, a survivor of sexual abuse, an outspoken critic of the Southern Baptist Convention, and a board member of the Child-Friendly Faith Project, responds.

To Baptist Pastors of Alabama:

I am puzzled. You have joined in on the #MeToo movement to make public your opposition to sexual abuse, harassment, and assault, yet you have avoided any mention of the elephant in the room: Roy Moore.

Moore, a Southern Baptist churchgoer and US Senate candidate, has been accused by multiple women of having sexually harassed and assaulted them when they were in their teens and he was in his thirties. One of the women said she was abused by Moore when she was 14.

The people of Alabama have an important decision to make: whether a man with multiple corroborated allegations of sexual abuse, including allegations involving minors, is fit for the US Senate. Yet your statement of generalities says nothing about the man that Alabamians are hearing about in the news every day. Read More »