On the heels of the #MeToo movement, “evangelical” women are rallying together to raise awareness about violence suffered by women in churches. The movement, called #SilenceIsNotSpiritual, is also a call-to-arms for churches to begin to actively combat violence against women. While it’s absolutely true that churches should be at the forefront in the battle against violence towards women, the problem with the #SilenceIsNotSpiritual campaign is that many of the most prominent names attached are not evangelicals. Claiming to be an evangelical movement when it’s clearly not calls into question the movement’s motives.
The campaign’s website states that “#SilenceIsNotSpiritual is a call to action to the Church to stop standing by and start standing up for women and girls who experience violence. Spearheaded by more than 150 initial signatories, #SilenceIsNotSpiritual reflects the collective voice of thousands of men and women across the global faith community.”
In the statement, the signers confess,
We face an urgent and defining moment in history. As Christian women leaders, we recognize those in the churches who stand with and support survivors of violence. We are thankful for their example of holy and just relationships. Following their and others’ faithful witness, we choose to rise and speak up. We will not retreat from the pain in our midst. Women of all faiths, races, cultures and backgrounds are bravely breaking their silence, yet many in communities of faith do not match their bravery with action. Instead, feeling the problem is too pervasive, they have acquiesced, leaving whole churches and communities paralyzed.
But doing nothing is not acceptable. Silence is not spiritual. And action is not optional.
This moment in history is ours to steward. We are calling churches, particularly those in our stream of the Christian faith—Evangelical churches, to end the silence and stop all participation in violence against women. We call our pastors, our elders, and our parishioners who have been silent to speak up and stand up for all who experience abuse. There is no institution with greater capacity to create protected spaces for healing and restoration for survivors, as well as confession, repentance and rehabilitation for perpetrators.
To this end, we, as women elders and leaders, issue a call of action to end violence against women.
The statement then asks “Evangelical churches [to take] two streams of action: 1. To stand with women who experience violence … 2. To stand up for women who experience violence.”
Violence against women is a grave sin before God and should not be tolerated by Christians. It’s imperative for all Christians, whether a pastor or not, to enter into the suffering of women who’ve suffered abuse as well as to be proactive in rooting out predators in our churches and calling them to repentance. Whenever the abuse is criminal, and it often is, church communities need to turn the perpetrator over to the civil authorities.
However, I suspect that the #SilenceIsNotSpiritual movement is an underhanded attempt to wormhole identity politics and liberal theology into the life of well-meaning churches. Two of the more famous signatories, Rachel Held Evans and Jen Hatmaker, are not only not evangelicals, but one (RHE) is clearly a heretic and the other (Hatmaker) is well on her way to embracing heresies. And both women want churches to jettison the Bible’s teaching on sexuality.
Both of those women, as well as many of the other original signees, are well-known for their disdain for evangelicalism. It strikes me as odd and suspicious that those who deny the core tenets claim to speak for evangelicalism.