#ChurchToo Hashtag Breaks Through Denial Of Widespread Abuse By Church Leaders
Some people want to deny that there’s a problem with criminal behavior by Christian leaders, despite the fact that week after week, new stories of embezzlement, physical and sexual assault, and even murder by priests and pastors keep coming forward.
Now, on social media, the victims of sexual abuse by Christian clergy are coming forward in droves to break through this denial. There are so many of them that they’re using a special hashtag: #ChurchToo
Here’s a sample of what they’re saying:
I was sexually assaulted by a youth pastor from Ocean View Baptist Church in MB when I was 16 years old in 1999. He destroyed my trust of the church, and he now claims I’m a liar and I “ruined HIS life”. #churchtoo
#churchtoo I had severe trauma response after rape. It was 27 years later before I faced what happened & began to process. Church says, “Couldn’t have been that bad or she wouldn’t have stayed 30 years.” It was that bad, I left & am criticized for divorcing. No good options… Asked if I would discontinue my “campaign” against 2 good men: the pastor who is recorded lying, slandering & breaking confidentiality. Elder husband who was abusive for 30 years. I am labeled the liar and problem. Why WOULD anyone speak up?! Favorite part of letter from elders: We have a duty to protect the church spiritually from destructive people like you. (Not from slanderers, abusers, cheats, liars. Just a woman who dares to talk about what she experienced.) Elders NEVER met with me. Thinking of friend forced to “confess” before the church by her dad for getting pregnant at 15. Her dad abused her sister from 7-19. Friend still married 35+ years later. Dad never held to account although abused & I informed church elder Hypocrisy of abusers stuns me.
Between the ages of 6 and 12, one of the Sunday school teachers would take me into a room, lock the door, and make me sit on his lap while he rubbed all down my legs. He’d talk to me in a soft, creepy voice and gave me candy afterwards. I had to see him every Sunday. #ChurchToo
An Elder (frmr church) started “ministering to” a young blonde new Xtian (buying her bras and panties, meals alone.) He fell in love w her & got BUSTED. The elders issued one statement “He has sinned, he has confessed that he sinned (never specifics) & it’s time to forgive & move on.” He remained an elder with no consequences. They asked HER to stop coming to church. A week later she hung herself. It made me ill. #churchtoo
I found out that my church knew about my abuser a few years before one of his victims went to the police. They chose to protect themselves and the church over the victims. That betrayal hurts as much. #churchtoo
I don’t find Jesus in a church that chose avoiding a lawsuit over supporting me in my sexual abuse healing by a church employee. I’ll continue warning abt said church being unsafe as culture of ignorance prevails. #churchtoo
#churchtoo – I was first molested by an elder, the “church grandpa” who was seldom seen without a baby or kiddo in his arms.
The priest at my middle school told all parents to make sure all the girls buttoned their shirts allll the way to the top, every button, even if they had undershirts on because, and I quote “Where else was [he] supposed to look?” Idk not the 13 yr old girls chests? #ChurchToo
StJohn Missionary Baptist Church of Lexington, KY & House Of Prayer of Nicholasville, KY AND Lexington, KY enabled my childhood rapist to continue taking advantage of vulnerable people and destroying children’s entires lives. I AM NOT THE ONLY ONE. #ChurchToo… I wish that people that claim #ChurchToo is unnecessary could’ve witnessed members of the church I grew up in call me a liar, tell me I wasn’t going to win my case, told me to go home and pray, kept silent and said/did NOTHING when he took advantage of MORE women w children.
“Those people weren’t real Christians.” Is the priest who asked a sexual abuse victim not to report the crime a fake Christian? Is the congregation who decided to equally punish the married mid30s sound engineer and the 16 year old he’d been abusing for an “affair” full of fake Christians? Is the Sunday School teacher who made an 11 year old apologize to and hug her rapist s fake Christian? Is the youth volunteer who asked a rape victim what she was wearing a fake Christian? Is the leadership team of a denomination, either simply ignorant or worse willfully ignorant of abuse dynamics, that does not create a transparent and detailed abuse response plan, full of fake Christians? Are the Sunday school teachers, volunteers, and ministers shaming girls for their sexuality and bodies at every turn, fake Christians? #churchtoo
I think most people probably assume that the reason I mostly didn’t do church youth group is because I was homeschooled and homeschoolers don’t like youth groups, but it’s not actually why. It’s actually because of #ChurchToo
One of my friends was raped by someone so she told a pastor about it for counsel, and then he raped her too. People kept trying to shut her up about it and now she struggles with her faith #churchtoo
I was told by evangelical relative that I shouldn’t have worn that bathing suit in front of my abuser since it would turn him on and men can’t be expected to control themselves. I was 7 when I wore “that bathing suit.” #churchtoo
My first sexual assault was from a youth pastor. I was 18 and a scared college kid. He slut shamed me into silence. He told me I made it too easy. I left Christianity soon thereafter. #churchtoo
A youth pastor eyed me and another 14 yo as he said he needed a submissive, godly wife. Our fierce mothers stopped that train, but sr pastor said we were all “overreacting.” #churchtoo
My mother married a preacher who molested me and my sister. I was told that he repented and if God forgave him so should I. #churchtoo
throwback Thursday to the time that an entire Catholic school harrassed and bullied me for my views, sexuality, my “being Russian” and anything else they could get their hands on, and I was told to get over it and that it wasn’t that bad. now I have awful nightmares about the place all the fucking time and thinking about the place makes me cry and I can’t function properly in classes because it reminds me of my holy school of 10 years and I have breakdowns. you fucked me #churchtoo
Only after years of horror and anger as I peeled away some truly problematic theology and abuse of power. #churchtoo is addressing a lot of those horrors. But it’s still my childhood and a part of who I am today.
I was told that me being molested as a young child was somehow my fault. And how rape victims will never be seen as good option for a wife because we aren’t “pure” anymore. Maybe I don’t want to be someone’s wife who believes that load. #churchtoo
#ChurchToo because i remember being told by the youth pastor and his wife that if your skirt was above your knee then you’re asking for it.
Purity Culture. Authoritarianism. “Forgiveness.” Holiness Doctrine. Literally everything about the church I was raised in contributed to years of spiritual, emotional, and sexual abuse. And I’m not even sort of unique. #ChurchToo
I was raised one of #JehovahsWitnesses and was repeatedly raped by my stepdad. When I told the elders, they made my rapist a ministerial servant. I was the bad guy who left the organization. #churchtoo
#churchtoo Youth Pastor had a four year affair with a 15 year old girl. Head pastor swept it under the rug and didn’t properly address it. YP did eventually go to jail for statutory rape. Years later I found out the church lost a lot of people after this happened and I had confirmation that nobody was okay with it and nobody trusted the pastor after that.
Childhood best friends dad was a church elder and was caught multiple times in compromising situations with young girls in the church. But he’s not a bad guy, it’s not what it looks like. “Helping” a 7 year old girl pee isn’t weird at all……#ChurchToo
As a veteran detective assigned to investigate sex crimes for over 12 years, I can attest that criminal cases involving church people are the hardest to prosecute. Church leaders cover it all up, tell the abused to seek forgiveness and tell abusers to get counseling. #churchtoo
I personally know of 3 mid-20s youth pastors who married girls from their youth groups. Waited to go public after HS graduation. #ChurchToo
I was raped by Clergy when I was five after Sunday mass. Two years later, before moving to States, I was drugged and gang raped by the altar boys, at a slumber party. When I learned the vocabulary to ask why children are so appetizing, I was discarded by my peers. #churchtoo
#churchtoo because the only people who told me not to report my assault were involved in chapel life at my uni. The church is not excused.
#churchtoo I was in my early teens on an overnight boating trip and had my underwear thrown all over the yard. Then the boys told me they could rape and kill me right there and no one would care. Beat up a few weeks later, and I never went back.
The most frustrating thing about #churchtoo is feeling like I could talk forever and never run out of stories. Everyone from my father to my pastors to the boys I was in youth group with were part of it. And I don’t know if being the victim or being told I was crazy was worse.
a stranger nearly twice my age. He should have known better. I think the thing about the #ChurchToo hashtag that really got to me was that one girl talked about her parents blamed her for it. When my parents found out they treated me like the criminal.
Only a few will acknowledge that my ex-pastor was a predator. He somehow manipulated us, my parents, and the congregation that we were apart of. Today he’s still a pastor and widely excepted in the religious community, although a select few know what he truly is. #churchtoo
Joining the senior choir when I was 14. Went to robe room to be fitted. Man took his penis out, shook it at me with a leer. He was a deacon. #Churchtoo
I was 7 a church goer in his 50’s found me alone and brought me near the house of the priest where nobody would passby and touch my parts. I didnt know it because i was a kid til it hit me a week after. I still feel awful and I heard he did it too to my 2 other friends #churchtoo
Our church leader told us that we should be like the good sons of Noah who covered his sin and were blessed. If we exposed our leader’s sin, he told us that we would be cursed like Noah’s son Ham. #churchtoo
I’ve never been sexually assaulted by a man who didn’t identify as Christian, who wasn’t an active member of a church. #churchtoo
I was a student getting a degree in Biblical Studies when I was raped. If the gospel had been enough for anyone, it would’ve been for me. I was immersed daily in the gospel. I needed professional trauma counseling. The church told me otherwise. I believed them. #churchtoo
My husband hit me in the mouth. It was swollen & blue for a week. The LEADER of the #DomesticViolence support group at my church told me I wasn’t being abused & needed to submit & empathize more b/c my husband had a lung disorder #churchtoo
#churchtoo I knew a traveling evangelist as a preteen. Sammy Nuckolls aka the “peeping preacher”. He stayed in my home. My brother and I loved him so much we named our dog after him. We didn’t know he was planting cameras in bathrooms to spy on innocents in the shower.
#churchtoo My daughter, at 15, and three other girls, down to the age of 12. He went to prison, but only served 2 years of an 8 year sentence, which started as 20, with 12 suspended.
Jr high at a christian school. Us girls told on the boys who were physically harassing us. Boys got a 10 minute talking to. No investigation. No calls to parents. We received the message loud and clear – we didn’t matter. #churchtoo
#churchtoo. The minister molested me from ages 13 to 16. Forty years later my sister tells me my family thought something was wrong, but didn’t do anything. Now I can’t go to church or face my family.
One of my youth pastors slept with and / or tried to sleep with several of the girls that were in his youth group. Myself included. #ChurchToo
#churchtoo #sdachurchtoo My parents gave me a watch with heart & key charms & made me profess to stay pure until marriage. This after they allowed me to continue to be sexually abused by a man in the church.
When I was 15, my virginity was forcibly taken by a young man being groomed for the clergy. We were on the church softball team together. #churchtoo
I was asked to step off the praise team and not participate in youth because I dated outside my race #churchtoo
My parents’ pastor was also our family counselor. He told Mom and me that if we wanted Dad to stop beating us, we had to stop making Dad angry. I was 6. #churchtoo
My life would be a lot easier right now if my 4 years of sexual abuse by a church employee were made up. #churchtoo
I also had a older church member try to follow me into the restroom but I blocked out that incident he was the deacon at the church and best-friends with the pastor! #churchtoo
When I was 15 the president of the youth Aaronic Priesthood Council in our church groomed me and then continually convinced me to masturbate in front of him for nearly a year. #churchtoo #lds
Me and another girl at church camp finally got the courage to say that a guy had repeatedly groped our breasts. Our pastor’s wife told us it was no big deal and that he didn’t know any better. We were 15. #ChurchToo
I was 4 when an adult male undressed me. I couldn’t leave, call, or read the Bible. #churchtoo
When I was 12, i was sent to live with a pastor and his wife. The first night, he snuck in my room and told me he saw “the demon lust in me” and he was going to “exorcize” it out. #churchtoo
A former youth pastor at my church raped a 14 year old girl, only served 2 years and now is back in church leadership at a new church. #churchtoo
The #churchtoo hashtag is a big reason why I can’t participate in organized religion anymore. Covering up sexual assaults to save pastors and priests make me sick to my stomach.
I was emotionally and sexually abused by a guy I met at church, starting at 13 years old. The church leaders knew and protected him. When he was arrested for armed robbery they said they were surprised it wasn’t for rape, as he was actively doing it to others. #churchtoo
When I was 12, I was called a whore by my minister @ a youth camp because I wore skinny jeans and hung out with one boy. Little did she know that I was helping him accept his sexuality as a gay man and to not feel ashamed of himself. #churchtoo
We were presumed guilty. He was fortunate to have a family that held important positions in the church. I was made to go to our congregation’s purity seminar and proclaim my virginity in front of the women in attendance. #churchtoo
I stopped believing in organized religion when one of my youth group friends was groped and paid for her silence by the Deacon who was decades her senior. #ChurchToo
I was on a church trip the summer of my sophomore year and my leader asked my friend (also a female) and I to make out while he watched. Then asked us to not tell anyone. #churchtoo
#churchtoo My parents were pastors. I watched the entire church leadership cover for a minister who had a wife, and his mistress living under her roof. He had children by all his children. As a teen, I knew I would end up being the outsider.
Priest told me to ask for forgiveness for being molested—will never forget. Was looking for counseling and compassion and just received more shame #ChurchToo
At my former church in Mississippi, the grandmother of a 14 year old girl walked in on the 60 yr old pastor raping her. The church got angry the grandmother came forward. ‘we don’t want to cause waves in the community’ #churchtoo
#churchtoo because the priest at my parish growing up was caught with child porn on his computer.
I was 13 and the pastor’s daughter. A prominent church member molested me and I reported him to the church. The church covered it up, fired my father, and made the church member an elder. #ChurchToo
I was part of a Christian teen group. When one of the boys got one of the girls pregnant, she was kicked out while he was allowed to stay. I questioned the leader. He said her sin was “visable.” I quit immediately. #churchtoo
Every SINGLE one of my close friends was approached romantically by grown men from the time they were twelve or thirteen on. #churchtoo
#churchtoo Having been sexually assaulted in 3 previous churches, I hope churches are beginning to listen.
I absolutely loved my church. I went to them for help to get away from my abuser. I was told to go back- “submit and comply.” A few days later he nearly killed me. I left that church. #churchtoo
A preacher/principal told the junior high aged girls bible class that if we maintained eye contact with men we were asking to be raped. #churchtoo
My father was a traveling minister, praising Jesus on stage while sexually abusing inside my family. He’s still a minister, in Texas, avoiding deadbeat dad laws #churchtoo
had to secretly arrange a police sting to have his son’s youth group leader/molester arrested because the pastor would not; he wanted to keep it quiet while they prayed for the molester to change. The pastor knew it was going on for more than a year. #churchtoo
A fellow member went to the pastor told him my father was molesting me. Was told to mind her own business and stop trying to break our family up. #ChurchToo
#ChurchToo one of my closest friends was excommunicated by the JWs & kicked out by her dad (her fam were told not to see her again) because another member of their church tried to take advantage of her while she was drunk. He wasn’t punished.
I was 11. Pastor’s wife pulled me aside to tell me I was promiscuous and a burden to the church. Pastor asked me to stop attending a week later. He told me it was his fault, not mine. #ChurchToo
This is not what the moral high ground looks like.