That’s what I felt like last night around 11 pm. Then I started crying.
First, I want to thank all of you for joining me in asking Leadership Journal to #TakeDownThatPost. Seeing so many of us rally on twitter, and on facebook, and reading the e-mails you were sending … it was extraordinary.
I also wanted to say this, in case they ever have the chance to read it.
To his wife: you are an incredible woman. What you did when you left him was amazing, and courageous, and I – a stranger you’ve never met—am proud of you. You did the absolutely right thing in what must have been one of the darkest times of your life.
To his victim: I wish there was a way to express how much my heart broke for you. My horror if my rapist had the opportunity to manipulate and deceive Christian leaders all over the country would be inexpressible. Hopefully you didn’t know that he’d been given a platform, but if you did, I hope you know that everything we did to get that post removed, we did for you. You are a child of God, and we love you.
It took the Leadership Journal five days to remove the post, and there were some significant bumps along the way, but they did, ultimately do the right thing and removed it. And not only did they take it down—the absolute best I was hoping for—they apologized. And it wasn’t a non-apology of “we’re sorry you all were stupid enough to be offended.” It was a real, legitimate apology.
I read it, and I laughed, and rejoiced. We did it. They listened. It was . . . incredible. This week had been so hard because I fully expected them to continue ignoring us, to delete our comments, to silence our criticism, to block us and ridicule us. Since when would a Christian media outlet recognize that they’d screwed up so epically? I was cynical, and my cynicism made me angry because I desperately wished that I didn’t have a reason for it. I hated that an entire editorial team had been taken in by a manipulative abuser, and that they had allowed a rapist into a pulpit to spread his lies.
And then I cried, because oh how I wish I weren’t so surprised that they’d done the right thing. It is a sorrowful thing to know that it is so extraordinarily rare for a Christian organization to admit to wrong doing.
So, thank you, Leadership Journal and Christianity Today for not taking the road that so many Christian leaders before you have taken.
But what now?
They were right in one thing: Christian leaders desperately need to be educated about child sexual abuse, clergy abuse, rape, and sexual ethics. To me, it is the most glaring and hideous fault in the modern American church, that they are negligently ignorant about this issue and the lives that are at stake.
I would like to see the Leadership Journal replace that hideous screed with posts—not just one, but many, and again and again and again in the years to come—from the perspective of victims and those who work with abuse survivors of all kinds. The American evangelical church knows nothing about abuse—not physical abuse, not domestic violence, not spiritual abuse, not sexual abuse—and that needs to change. Now.
They need to go to pastors like Jeff Crippen, who have been working with abuse survivors for decades. They need to ask the leaders at GRACE to do an entire series about how to identify abuse and how to properly respond to victims, especially children.
They also need to think about bringing more diversity into their editorial staff. All of them are men. I can’t help but believe that if they had a woman on the editorial staff, this atrocity would never have happened. Women are the targets of sexual violence in a way that men simply aren’t, and because of that we are going to be much more aware of what sexual violence is and the ramifications that it has on victims.
During this week, it was women who were leading, women who were telling our stories, women who were starting and participating in the hashtags #TakeDownThatPost and #HowOldWereYou. Men were there—good, amazing men—but the overwhelming majority of the voices calling on Leadership Journal were women.
We are half the church, after all.
So—you did the right thing, Leadership editors. You apologized. You took it down.
Don’t let it end with that.