Two years ago, I posted an article pointing out that Christian “comedian” John Crist did not simply have a “moral failing” with multiple women: he committed sexual assault and evinces the grooming behaviors of a sexual predator. Right on cue, Christians posted comments attacking his victims as morally compromised vamps of dubious character. I subsequently wrote two more articles. In “Blame the Victim: Conservative Christianity and a culture of shaming women” I offered a response to those who attacked these women. But arguably the most noxious and offensive attack was posted just this morning to the second article, “John Crist, you don’t get to ask your victims for forgiveness,” in which I pointed out that abusers regularly exploit the Christian ethic of forgiveness to gain power and further exploit their victims. This comment, posted by a fellow named “Randal Stepp”, was not only noxious and harmful: it also taps into truly toxic misogynistic narratives that demonize victims, narratives that continue unabated in much of conservative Christianity. And thus, I thought it was worth highlighting in this article.
This is Mr. Stepp responding to my critique of Crist and his abusive behavior:
So according to Mr. Stepp, Mr. Crist has done nothing wrong by requesting that the women he groomed and sexually assaulted should forgive him. Instead, I am shameful for offering that analysis that protects, ahem, “young adulterous whores” who are “wicked” and who, unless they “repent”, will face “hellfire for all of eternity.”
I’ve seen a lot of wicked, toxic comments from conservative Christians on my blog over the years, but Mr. Stepp’s comment is among the most wicked and toxic. Now just imagine, for a moment, that a young woman is groomed and sexually assaulted by a youth pastor and the church’s head pastor is Randal Stepp. Try to imagine the horrific damage wrought by a man like that.
If Randal Stepp were a singular exception, one nasty misogynist in a sea of compassionate and wise Christians, we might dismiss his voice. But the reality is that, for all the hoopla about #MeToo and #ChurchToo, Randal Stepp is the face of countless pastors, elders, and congregants. They evince a deep hatred for and mistrust of the female gender, they serve whether by intent or effect to protect predators and abusers, and they destroy countless lives in the process.