Evangelicals Confront Sex Abuse Problems in #MeToo Era

As the Roman Catholic church struggles with a new wave of clergy abuse cases, several prominent evangelical institutions have been rocked in recent weeks by their own sexual misconduct allegations against pastors and church leaders who exploited the trust they had gained from faithful churchgoers.

In many ways, the phenomenon at evangelical denominations is an offshoot of the #MeToo movement, as evidenced by the #ChurchToo hashtag accompanying accounts of church-related abuse that have been shared on Twitter.

The victims are coming forward to expose abuse in the Protestant evangelical world where some say the misdeeds have been just as pervasive, though less publicized, as the acts committed by Catholic clergy.

"I really believe churches need to enter into a season of lament, acknowledging decades of failure to understand, address and confront these horrors," said Boz Tchividjian, a grandson of evangelist Billy Graham who heads GRACE, a ministry working to combat sexual abuse in churches.

The turmoil in evangelical ranks coincides with new disclosures about abuse by Catholic clergy in the U.S., including multiple allegations against Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and a scathing grand jury report about rampant abuse in six Pennsylvania dioceses. However, the Catholic Church has been grappling publicly with its clergy abuse problem for more than two decades. For many American evangelicals, the #ChurchToo angst of recent weeks has been a painfully new experience.

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