Lauren D. SawyerJanuary 24, 2020
Photo by Mihai Surdu on Unsplash

I remember when my Old Testament professor—also a pastor and activist—invited one of his undocumented parishioners to class. She was a middle-aged Latina who told us through tears about the gang life she escaped, the multiple rapes she had endured and her fear of being detained and deported back to her enemies. We students sat, squirming in our seats, having just analyzed the story of Tamar (2 Sam 13) not a half-hour earlier. The juxtaposition of the biblical “text of terror” and this undocumented woman’s story was stark, and no doubt memorable, as I reflect on it 7 years later.

The #MeToo Reckoning by Ruth Everhart

Intervarsity Press

264p, $17

In her new book, The #MeToo Reckoning: Facing the Church’s Complicity in Sexual Abuse and Misconduct, the Presbyterian pastor and award-winning memoirist Ruth Everhart offers the same striking juxtaposition of biblical stories, parables and teachings with present-day experiences of sexual abuse in the church. Everhart shows that #MeToo is consistent with the Christian call to care for the vulnerable and to resist injustice. “I believe that Jesus is part of the #MeToo movement, whether or not the church is at his side,” she writes.

Everhart interweaves the narrative with the most recent research on sexual violence, including the roles of churches in their complicity and collusion with perpetrators, but she does so without burdening her readers with statistics and footnotes. The few endnotes she includes point toward practical and scholarly resources like those from FaithTrust Institute.

Ultimately, the hope Everhart has for her readers, and for the church at large, is for public lament.

Everhart narrates the ways in which individual churches and denominations, often unwittingly, side with perpetrators. She tells of the irksome process of her bringing a disciplinary case to the presbytery against the pastor who assaulted her. The slow progress toward justice was illuminated by the parable of the persistent widow (Luke 18:1-8). The actions of the widow encouraged Everhart to keep seeking justice, even when the odds were against her, even as she was accused of using up “the denomination’s valuable resources.”

Ultimately, the hope Everhart has for her readers, and for the church at large, is for public lament. Everhart hopes that the church can become a safe harbor for victims as it grieves its own complicity in sexual abuse.

This book is a valuable resource for congregants and lay leaders who may be suspicious of the #MeToo movement and whether it is compatible with the Christian message—one hopes they will be convinced otherwise.

We don’t have comments turned on everywhere anymore. We have recently relaunched the commenting experience at America and are aiming for a more focused commenting experience with better moderation by opening comments on a select number of articles each day.

But we still want your feedback. You can join the conversation about this article with us in social media on Twitter or Facebook, or in one of our Facebook discussion groups for various topics.

Or send us feedback on this article with one of the options below:

We welcome and read all letters to the editor but, due to the volume received, cannot guarantee a response.

In order to be considered for publication, letters should be brief (around 200 words or less) and include the author’s name and geographic location. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

We open comments only on select articles so that we can provide a focused and well-moderated discussion on interesting topics. If you think this article provides the opportunity for such a discussion, please let us know what you'd like to talk about, or what interesting question you think readers might want to respond to.

If we decide to open comments on this article, we will email you to let you know.

If you have a message for the author, we will do our best to pass it along. Note that if the article is from a wire service such as Catholic News Service, Religion News Service, or the Associated Press, we will not have direct contact information for the author. We cannot guarantee a response from any author.

We welcome any information that will help us improve the factual accuracy of this piece. Thank you.

Please consult our Contact Us page for other options to reach us.

City and state/province, or if outside Canada or the U.S., city and country. 
When you click submit, this article page will reload. You should see a message at the top of the reloaded page confirming that your feedback has been received.

The latest from america

At the heart of Sinéad O’Connor’s new memoir is her sense of transcendence and her longing for it, as well as the depth of her religious imagination since childhood.
Brenna MooreSeptember 16, 2021
Many of the short stories in Danielle Evans's new collection address the reality that so many of our current conflicts center on how to understand, heal from, punish, honor or make amends for past actions.
Eve TushnetSeptember 16, 2021
With her new book 'Beyond,' Catherine Wolff mixes well-written impressionistic summaries of various religious perspectives with personal anecdotes to answer the age-old question of what lies beyond the grave.
Candida MossSeptember 10, 2021
In 'The Five Wounds,' Kirstin Valdez Quade depicts a family in which each member embodies human weaknesses yet remains worthy of love. Each finds they are stronger together than any of them is alone.
Jenny ShankSeptember 03, 2021