Episcopal priest and freelance journalist the Revd Elizabeth Eisenstadt-Evans spoke to clergy about their denominational, congregational, and personal responses to the wave of revelations of sexual misconduct, harassment, and assault that filled the end of 2017’s news streams.
Writing for Ministry Matters (an online resource for church leaders) in October, Episcopal priest Kira Schlesinger argued that many churches still protect harassers, even when their behavior is an “open secret.”
“As a young clergywoman, I am cautious of those colleagues with whom I am not close who greet me with a hug that lingers a bit too long or a kiss on the cheek that lands too close to my mouth. There are the comments about what kind of body my vestments might be covering up.” …
A domestic violence survivor and consultant, Julie Owens, told Eisenstadt-Evans,
“Faith groups don’t spend a lot of time worrying about this,” she said. “It’s mostly not talked about in churches. It’s bad enough when they get a pass from society. But when they get a pass from the church, it’s doubly sinful.”
An ELCA pastor advised using the Bible to call out that sin.
The Rev. Bonnie Oplinger, pastor of the Jerusalem Evangelical Lutheran Church in Rothsville, says it’s time to address the role patriarchy and sexism play in the church. …
“If you lift up stories in the Bible that talk about this (sexual assault) and counter them with the Gospel message Jesus gave of loving and respecting everyone, loving God and neighbor as yourself … there is no room for anything else,” she says.