Recently, in the small bowling alley where Shelby works, three immigrant women and eight children came to the counter to pay for their games. After Shelby realized that none of the women could speak English, one of them tried to apologize, saying, “Normally my husband…” Shelby asked if her husband usually did the talking. She nodded and kept her eyes glued to the floor.
We asked our supporters what concrete measures churches can take to combat abuse in Christian communities and strengthen their internal response to abuse. Some of you weighed in with some great ideas and examples, which we’ve compiled below.
This past Friday, The Wartburg Watch exposed megachurch pastor Andy Savage for sexually assaulting a teenage girl, Jules Woodsen, who has now come forward to share her story. Twenty years ago, Savage drove then-seventeen year-old Woodson down a secluded road and sexually assaulted her. At the time, Savage was an adult college student and serving as a youth pastor at Woodlands Parkway Baptist Church in Texas.
History is, quite obviously, a story. And like any story, it at times prioritizes the experiences of certain characters over others. If we try to do too much with one story, we obstruct our own efforts. Thus, good historians are wise and fair synthesizers of data, but they accept that no one story can include everyone and everything.
Last night, Sarah Bessey (we’re fans!) began a conversation about the strange, sexist, abusive, and toxic things Christian women are told on a regular basis. We’ve collected some of the most powerful tweets so far in a list--follow the ongoing conversation happening on twitter under #ThingsOnlyChristianWomenHear.
Predators seek out churches and communities that have a culture of naiveté. They’re looking for leadership that will consistently give them the benefit of the doubt and congregations that easily trust them with young people.
The way we use our power shouldn’t place other believers at risk. Power belongs to all in the body, not just a select few or a single group. We need to take practical steps to rebalance power in our churches and make them safer for those among us who, as of now, have less structural power and are more vulnerable to abuse.