Monday, June 5, 2023

#ChurchToo revelations are on the rise, after years the movement started

A withered report on sexual abuse and cover-ups at the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination in America

A viral video in which a woman confronts her pastor at an independent Christian church when she was a teenager.

A TV documentary highlighting the sexual abuse of children in Amish and Mennonite communities.

You can call it #ChurchToo 2.0.

Sexual assault survivors and their advocates in church settings have been calling on churches for years to acknowledge the extent of abuse among themselves and to implement reforms. In 2017 that movement acquired the hashtag #ChurchToo, which grew out of the wider #MeToo movement, which called out sexual predators in many areas of society.

Recent weeks in #ChurchToo have seen a particularly intense set of revelations in various denominations and ministries, reaching vast audiences in headlines and on screen with a message that activists have long struggled to achieve. has done.

“To us it’s just a confirmation of what we’ve been saying all these years,” said Jimmy Hinton, an advocate for abuse survivors and the Church of Christ minister in Somerset, Pennsylvania. “There is an absolute epidemic of abuse in the church, in religious places.”

Calls for reform will be key this week in Anaheim, California, when the Southern Baptist Convention will hold its annual meeting after an external report concluded that its leaders mishandled abuse cases and stoned victims. .

The May 22 report came on the same day that an independent church in Indiana was facing its own accord.

Moments after its pastor, John B. Lowe II confessed to years of “adultery”, longtime member Bobby Geffert took the microphone to tell the rest of the story: She was just 16 when it started. It was, she said.

The video of the confrontation has garnered nearly one million views on Facebook. Lowe later resigned from the New Life Christian Church and World Outreach in Warsaw.

In an interview, Geffert said that he is not surprised that there are so many cases now. She has received words of encouragement from around the world, with people sharing their “heartbreaking” stories of abuse.

“Things are loosening up,” Geffert said. “I really feel like God is trying to fix things.”

For many churches, she said, “it’s all about hiding, ‘Let’s keep the show going.’ People are getting hurt, and that’s not right. I still don’t think a lot of churches get it.”

Hinton – who turned into his own father, a former minister now jailed for serious indecent assault – said the viral video demonstrates the power of survivors telling their stories.

“Living people have more power than they imagine,” he said on his “Speaking Out on Sex Abuse” podcast.

Revelations of #ChurchToo have surfaced in all kinds of church groups, including liberal denominations that preach gender equality and depict pastors’ sexual misconduct as an abuse of power. The Episcopal Church broadcast stories of survivors at its 2018 general conference, and an archbishop of the Anglican Church of Canada resigned in April amid allegations of sexual misconduct.

But many recent calculations are taking place in conservative Protestant settings where a “chastity culture” has been dominant in recent decades – emphasizing male authority and female humility and discouraging dating in favor of the traditional courtship that leads to marriage.

On May 25, reality TV personality Josh Duggar was sentenced to more than 12 years in prison for receiving child pornography in Arkansas. Duggar was a former lobbyist for a conservative Christian organization and appeared in TLC’s canceled “19 Kids and Counting,” featuring a homeschooling family that emphasizes chastity and traditional courtship. Prosecutors said Duggar had a “deep, widespread and violent sexual interest in children.”

On May 26, the Springfield (Missouri) news-leader reported sexual abuse involving workers at the Kanakook Camps, a large evangelical camp ministry.

Emily Joy Ellison, whose story of abuse started the #ChurchToo movement, said the sexual ethics preached in many Orthodox churches – and the shame and silence it creates – are part of the problem. He argues that in his book, “#ChurchToo: How Purity Culture Upholds Abuse and How to Find Healing.”

Allison told The Associated Press that addressing the abuse required changes in both church policy and theology. But she knows the latter is unlikely at SBC.

“They have to go through a transformation so that they end up being unrecognizable. And that won’t happen,” Allison said. Reform work focused on “harm reduction” is a more realistic approach, she said.

Some advocates hope that focusing on abuse could lead to lasting reforms – if not in churches, then in law.

Misty Griffin, an advocate for fellow survivors of sexual assault in Amish communities, recently launched a petition campaign demanding Congress’s “Child Rights Act.” By the beginning of June, it had garnered over 5,000 signatures.

It would require that all teachers, including those in religious schools and homeschool settings, be trained about child abuse and neglect and be subject to reporting mandates, and also age-appropriate instruction on abuse prevention for students. will be required. Griffin said such legislation is important because in authoritarian religious systems, victims often do not know whether help is available or how to get it.

“Without him, nothing is going to change,” said Griffin, a consulting producer on the documentary “Sin of the Amish.”

The two-episode documentary, which premiered on Peacock TV in May, examines endemic abuse in Amish and Mennonite communities, saying it is enabled by a patriarchal authority structure, pardoning offenders and reporting wrongdoing to law enforcement. Emphasizes the reluctance to do.

The Southern Baptist Convention, whose doctrine also calls for male leadership in churches and families, has been particularly shaken by the #ChurchToo movement after years of complaints that leadership is unable to care for survivors and hold their abusers accountable. has failed.

At its annual meeting, the SBC will consider proposals to create a task force that will oversee the list of clergy credibly accused of abuse. But survivors have criticized that proposal and are calling for a more powerful and independent commission to take over that task and also review allegations of abuse and cover-up. They are also calling for a “Survivor Restoration Fund” and a memorial dedicated to the survivors.

Momentum for change grew as survivors like Jules Woodson, who went public in 2018 with a sexual assault allegation against her former youth pastor, were encouraged to tell their stories.

“I felt like, ‘Thank God there’s a place where we can tell these stories,'” Woodson said.

Such accounts led to an independent investigation, whose 288-page report described how the SBC’s executive committee prioritized the well-being of victims and the institution’s safety over preventing abuse.

The committee has apologized and made public a long-secret list of ministers accused of misconduct.

Woodson said that seeing the name of his abuser felt like a double-edged sword.

“It was in some ways valid that my abuse was out there, but it was also devastating to see that they knew and yet no one at SBC spoke up to warn others,” she said.

Woodson said she is still waiting for meaningful change: “She has offered minimal words acknowledging the problem, but she has offered zero correction and true action that would lead to genuine remorse or survivors or the vulnerable.” Will show care and concern for people who have not yet been abused.”

This article is republished from – Voa News – Read the – original article.

World Nation News Desk
World Nation News Desk
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