I cannot express to your my horror and outrage at the article up on Christianity Today’s Leadership Journal. I was in a youth group like the one described, where a close friend was the victim. The reverberations of that abuse, and the abusive culture of our youth group, are still with me. And I didn’t get raped.
Leadership Journal tried to “clarify” the piece by adding first one, then two notes. The first noted that the writer “took full responsibility” for a “relationship” that hadn’t actually been consensual. However, his piece was written with that point of view, and HE was given the mic, not his victim. The second said that the editors ran the piece to serve as a cautionary tale for pastors so they could avoid lawsuits.
Yes, we’re worried about sexual abuse because churches might get sued. Not, say, because there are actual victims.
I’ve written two letters to LJ, one earlier today, after the first note was added, and then just now, after they added the clarification. I’d urge anyone who has been in a youth group, who is a victim of spiritual or sexual abuse to take the time to contact Leadership Journal and ask them to take down the post. Contact them at LJEditor@christianitytoday.com
There are also wonderful responses by other writers I’ll link to before my letters–I think these women (and men) unpack layers to this story that have really been helpful as I’ve tried to move past simple outrage to critique.
because purity culture harbors rape & abuse and What Kind of Leadership Blocks Dissent & Privileges Predators, Christianity Today? (Suzannah Paul)
On How the Church Discusses Abuse: Denying the Endorsement and A further update on #takedownthatpost: passive voice and non-apologies. (Dianna Anderson)
Because It’s Time to Take Down That Post (Tamara Rice)
Why Did a Journal for Christian Pastors Give a Platform to a Sexual Predator? (Hannah Ettinger & Becca Rose)
It’s not an “extramarital relationship.” It’s rape. (Elizabeth Esther
Leadership Journal, Christianity Today, and #TakeDownThatPost (Samantha Field)
My first letter:
Dear Leadership Journal editors,
The second letter:
- Are you really focusing on sexual abuse to avoid liability for churches? Really? You’re not worried at all about the young women and men terrorized by this kind of predator?
- Is there no attempt to question whether the person you gave a platform to is the one most qualified to speak to this issue?
- Have you thought about how the many–many!–victims of sexual abuse of churches will feel to know that you have given a mic to someone who might as well be their abuser?