On November 21, Hannah Paasch launched a new hashtag campaign that she and Emily Joy had come up with together. #ChurchToo, as Hannah noted in the first tweet with the hashtag, is about a much needed “day of reckoning for the church.” Evangelical Protestantism is, as a rule, intensely patriarchal, and the numerous Evangelical abuse scandals now breaking are leading journalists and commentators to suggest that before this all unravels, we will be facing a problem no less pervasive than that which has come out with respect to Catholicism.
I have been working for some time on a more analytical piece about how patriarchal, traditionalist theology and doctrines Evangelicals hold to, such as Biblical inerrancy, directly contribute to the presence of abuse and the tendency to cover it up in churches. I hope to finish this in the not too terribly distant future, but in the meantime, I simply want to note how important it is not only that we are talking about misogyny, racism, anti-LGBTQ bigotry, sexual harassment, sexual assault, child molestation, physical abuse, and spiritual and emotional abuse in conservative Evangelical communities, but also that those of us who have been attempting to bring these issues into the open for a long time are finally being heard.
I believe that America’s Evangelical problem can only begin to be solved when conservative Evangelicalism’s authoritarian nature is widely exposed. And make no mistake, conservative, mostly white Evangelicals’ illiberalism is a serious national problem, given that 81% of white Evangelicals voted for Trump and against human rights and democratic norms, and that they remain the dangerously demagogic, racist, and widely (rightly) reviled so-called president’s single most supportive demographic.
I am convinced that ex-Evangelical voices are key to exposing the authoritarian and abusive nature of conservative Evangelicalism, and so I advocate for the inclusion of ex-Evangelical perspectives in national discussions. The Roy Moore scandal gave ex-Evangelical Kathryn Brightbill, who has long been speaking out against abuses in Evangelical and homeschooling subculture, the occasion to publish an op-ed in The LA Times about how normalized older men “courting” teenagers is in Evangelical homeschooling communities. Ex-Evangelicals have also recently been quoted in The Guardian and The Washington Post. Media responses to #ChurchToo, which I will link to below, are one more indicator that ex-Evangelicals are beginning to break through as a community and movement that the mainstream media must contend with in discussions about religion, politics, and Evangelicals, and that gives me some hope. Check out the range of coverage (and the powerful tweets that they quote), including the Evangelical outlet The Christian Post:
I may update this post to expand this list as necessary.
Update – November 26, 2017. More major outlets’ coverage of #ChurchToo:
Update – December 10, 2018. I fell off the wagon keeping up with all the media coverage of #ChurchToo, but you should definitely read this piece in Mother Jones and also this one. In addition, be aware that conservative Christians are holding a summit on #ChurchToo this Thursday, December 13, 2018, and they are not interested in dialogue with the creators of the hashtag and the #Exvangelical community, or in hearing that their conservative theology creates the problem, that they can’t reduce abuse in a serious way while holding on to bad theology. Thus Emily Joy is planning a day of action to talk back to these establishment evangelicals who refuse to listen to us. I hope you’ll join in.