The Troubling Similarities Between #MeToo and #QuietExodus
There appear to be some points of intersection between the #ChurchToo and #QuietExodus critique of conservative evangelical churches/institutions. Some common tendencies in the way sexual abuse and racial sin/injustice are sometimes handled in such places:
1. Misconstrued and misapplied theologies of forgiveness, grace, and God’s sovereignty that undercut biblical requirements of repentance, discipline, and moral responsibility.
2. General blindness to the interpersonal and institutional dynamics of *power* that lie at the heart of abuse/racism—a blindness exacerbated by vertical authority structures in tradition-centered communities.
3. An erroneous view of the sanctity of the Church and the sufficiency of scripture leading to a fundamental suspicion toward (and often refusal to cooperate with) “worldly” institutions such as the criminal justice system or the secular academy.
4. General silence around, and stigmatization of, unsettling topics like sex/sexuality/abuse and racism, leading to insufficient equipping and vigilance among leaders and members.
5. Primacy given to the sincere intentions of church leaders and members: Nobody *wants* women to be harmed or African American to be excluded, therefore, we must not be harming or excluding them.
6. Burden of proof of wrongdoing placed upon the allegedly abused/sinned-against rather than abuser/perpetrator, leading to a culture of implausibility/doubt for victims of wrongdoing.
7. The pursuit of truth publicly condemned as “slanderous” and “divisive,” leading the accused abusers/perpetrators to perceive themselves over time as the true victims.
8. Operating according to an implicit moral statute of limitations, accused abusers/perpetrators often defend themselves by repeatedly emphasizing that the alleged wrongs took place “long time ago,” whether 20 or 200 years ago.
9. Assumption by men and non-minority members that they understand the experience of women and black Christians, owing to the belief that correct theology takes precedence over lived experience, thus, listening to them is nice but unnecessary.
10. Motives of accuser/complainant or the veracity of the complaint itself sometimes viewed with skepticism based on cultural stereotypes—of women (co-instigating “seductresses”) and of African Americans (“race-baiters,” “lazy,” inherently criminal).
11. Investigations of wrongdoing often center on self-preserving institutional concerns (“Did we respond rightly?”) rather than the concerns of the wounded victim (“How can we care for this brother/sister?”).
(Interestingly, a few days later, Duke followed this up with another thread that gave a different (although complementary) perspective on the Quiet Exodus article, which provides an encouraging counterpoint. You can read it here.)