#MeToo encouraged many people to share their stories of sexual abuse. We are also seeing the accusations of sexual assault from many famous actors and politicians taken more seriously. So there is definitely a cultural shift of our society paying more attention to the severity of sexual violence. The church has historically dealt with a great deal of sexual violence despite continual attempts to silence survivors. A new hashtag, #Churchtoo, gives those abused in the church another platform to come forward and share their story.
A woman who revealed her rape during a youth group prayer section, only to be asked if she’d repented.
Another who fled an abusive marriage, only to be told by her pastor to return home and “submit” to her husband’s will.
Another who, as a child, was told to “cover up” after a male classmate had been caught masturbating while looking at her.
Another who felt compelled to get an abortion lest her church community find out she’d been — in their eyes — impure.
Here are a few more stories:
A prominent "on fire for Jesus!", pro life youth leader at my ex-church accidentally got pregnant from a one night stand, but decided to get an abortion as she was too ashamed for anyone at church to know she had sex before marriage. #churchtoo
— Asha Dahya (@Ashadahya) November 21, 2017
#churchtoo: when I was told that I shouldn't have gone over to his house by myself. Not that they were sorry. Not that his role would be changed. Just that I shouldn't have gone over there alone (wearing a dress) because it caused him to be "overcome by lust"
— hannah (@hannahelisabeth) November 21, 2017
#churchtoo : here’s an issue that I feel passionate about.
I was sexually & physically abused by a bf who was also a member of my church.
When I went to my church leaders for help the discouraged me from going to the police & encouraged me to give him another chance.
— Beth (@alittleotmark) November 21, 2017
The misogyny embedded within many religions does provide an extra barrier for women who are abuse survivors. You can see in the above stories how sexual violence is actual justified by religious dogma.
In case you didn't already know, #churchtoo should be letting you in on the reality that purity culture, patriarchy, complementarianism, and the rest of the misogynist BS has led to widespread abuse of women.
— Stacey Midge (@revstacey) November 22, 2017
Former fundamentalist Christopher Stroop started a popular hashtag, #EmptyThePews, for Christians who are unhappy with the bigotry and lack of concern for sexual violence in the church.
If you have doubts about your church’s overt or subtle white supremacy, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and general toxicity, now is the time to leave and to do so publicly, in protest. You don’t have to stop being a Christian if you’re not able to embrace atheism, agnosticism, or some other form of nonedom. You don’t have to stop going to church (there are great progressive churches out there!). But if your church said nothing about Charlottesville last Sunday, or defended Trump’s whataboutism, are you going to sit there in silent complicity? Please don’t. Take a moral stand, and make yourself heard. #EmptyThePews
Sexual assault and misogyny is a problem everywhere, but religious communities (who appoint themselves the leaders of morality) have a lot of work to do. If religious communities don’t adapt in this changing world, their numbers will continue to decline.