Activists against sexual violence have reportedly reached a wider audience across ministries and denominations at an increasing intensity over the past weeks, reports said.
The Beginnings Of The #ChurchToo Movement
The Associated Press reported the #ChurchToo movement is making a comeback in the face of the cover-up of sexual abuse committed by Southern Baptist Convention pastors. The media outlet cited circulating videos online and a TV documentary exposing Christian leaders through testimonies of victims.
While NBC 7 highlighted that the movement now encompasses revelations on a variety of church groups that even include "liberal denominations that preach gender equality and depict clergy sexual misconduct as an abuse of power."
According to a short video documentary by TV News Reporter Nicole Johnson, the #ChurchToo movement began four years ago with the aim of exposing sexual assault committed by religious leaders. Johnson explained that the movement was an offshoot of the #MeToo social media campaign. The movement has blown up online as stories of sexual assault experienced by men and women in various religious communities flooded social media platforms.
NBC 7 said it was the sexual abuse story of Emily Joy Allison that launched the #ChurchToo movement in 2017. Allison came out with a book, "#ChurchToo: How Purity Culture Upholds Abuse and How to Find Healing," where she recounted her experience of shame and silence bred by the preaching of sexual ethics by a majority of conservative churches.
Allison expressed hopes in an interview that a radical, unrecognizable transformation will happen among churches on the issue of sexual assault. She said the law would probably intervene should this transformation not take place.
The #ChurchToo Movement: All About Being Heard
Psychiatrist James Montgomery explained to Johnson that abuse will always be an issue of power. Montgomery said it doesn't matter whether the claims of sexual assault be proven true or not but that these people need to be heard.
Pennsylvania's Church of Christ Minister and abuse survivors' advocate Jimmy Hinton confirmed Montgomery's statements in a recent episode of his podcast, "Speaking Out on Sex Abuse." Hinton called sexual abuse in religious communities an epidemic.
"For us, it's just confirmation of what we've been saying all these years. There is an absolute epidemic of abuse in the church, in religious spaces," Hinton said.
Hinton shared that his father, a former church minister, was a perpetrator of abuse. He revealed turning in his own father and pointed out that the #ChurchToo videos prove the efficacy of stories told by the victims of sexual abuse. He stressed that survivors are unaware of how powerful they are beyond what they can imagine.
The circulating video, which has been viewed 1 million times, involved a woman, Bobi Gephart, confronting Indiana-based NewLife Christian Church & World Outreach Pastor John B. Lowe II, for the sexual abuse he committed against her at the age of 16. The video went viral on Facebook for it contained Lowe eventually admitting to the abuse.
Gephart later said in an interview that what happened was "Good trying to make things right." She raised that the "show" or the #ChurchToo movement will continue as long as the church keeps covering up cases of abuse, which just hurts people more. She pointed out that this is something churches don't seem to get.