#ChurchToo exposes sexual abuse in the church

The Threefold Advocate

March 29, 2018

By Megan Koontz

For years Emily Joy sat in the back of her home church, unable to tell the truth about what kind of man her pastor was. Now, she’s free to be honest

The #ChurchToo movement was spurred on by the #MeToo movement and started by activist and writer Hannah Paasch and spoken word poet Emily Joy. Joy was groomed and raped by her youth pastor at the age of 16 and felt shamed by the culture of the megachurch she grew up in. She never shared her story with anyone in her church. After attending Moody Bible College and feeling the shame follow her, Joy finally gained the courage to confide in Paasch, whom met at Moody, the secret she had been hiding, according to The Huffington Post.

On Nov. 20, 2017, Paasch posted a tweet offering the hashtag #ChurchToo and asking women who had experienced sexual abuse within the church to come forward with their stories. Within 48 hours, people around the world were using the hashtag to recount stori es of pain and abuse they had experienced within the church.

Soon thereafter, the hashtag #SilenceisNotSpiritual followed, and women who are considered prominent in the church—including Beth Moore, Jen Hatmaker, Emily McFarlan Miller and Serene Jones—and 150 other women, published a statement challenging churches to stand by women who had experienced abuse in the church.

The root of abuse that happens within the church, according to Paasch and Joy, is often linked to the purity culture that permeates evangelical churches, the “theology of abstinence that singles out women and slut shames everyone who engages in any kind of sexual activity outside of marriage. Purity culture is the religious antecedent to rape culture, as it lays the bulk of the responsibility for maintaining the sexual purity of both genders on women’s attire and behavior,” Paasch said.

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