Prominent Christian leaders such as Beth Moore and Kay Warren have joined thousands of people who are now sharing their stories of sexual abuse and harassment in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal in Hollywood.
Twitter users began sharing their traumatic experiences under the #MeToo hashtag after actress Alyssa Milano shared a post from a friend on Sunday, saying: “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too.’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”
The online movement has since prompted some users to share stories of abusive pastors and church members.
Popular evangelist and Christian author Beth Moore revealed in a tweet that a mentor had advised her not to speak about sexual abuse in church.
“A well meaning mentor told me at 25 that people couldn’t handle hearing about sexual abuse and it would sink my ministry. It didn’t. #MeToo,” Moore tweeted on Sunday.
Kay Warren, co-founder of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, and wife of megachurch pastor Rick Warren, recounted the sexual abuse she suffered when she was a child.
“A pedophile molested me when I was a little girl. It’s taken decades to heal. #MeToo,” she tweeted.
Thousands of people, including men, have since used the #MeToo hashtag to share their stories or to indicate that they have experienced sexually abusive behavior. Many of the stories that have been shared online were within a church context.
“The co-pastor of my dad’s church and my father, they both molested me. One around 6 the other one around 16, I will probably never heal,” one woman wrote, according to The Christian Post.
Evangelist and activist Alveda King told Charisma News that she also experienced sexual harassment when she was applying for a job decades ago.
King recounted that she was being interviewed for a job at an agency in Atlanta, Georgia when the interviewer told her, “Why don’t you cross your legs and lean back, and we’ll talk.”
She said that she was dismissed from the interview when she did not comply with the interviewer’s request.
King, who is a vocal abolitionist in the church today, also noted that she has encountered some sexism and other types of behavior throughout her career as a state legislator and a presidential appointee.
According to Atlantic Training, about one in three women between the ages of 18 and 34 experience sexual harassment at work, and 81 percent of women have been verbally sexually harassed in the form of jokes, name-calling, and others.