The #MeToo Reckoning: Facing the Church's Complicity in Sexual Abuse and Misconduct, By Ruth Everhart
The #MeToo Reckoning
  • Length: 264 pages
  • Dimensions: 5.5 × 8.5 in
  • Published: January 14, 2020
  • Imprint: IVP
  • Item Code: 4582
  • ISBN: 9780830845828

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  • 2020 Publishers Weekly Book of the Year - Religion

★ Publishers Weekly starred review.

The #MeToo movement has revealed sexual abuse and assault in every sphere of society, including the church. But victims are routinely ignored by fellow Christians who deny their accounts and fail to bring accountability to the perpetrators. All too often, churches have been complicit in protecting abusers, reinforcing patriarchal power dynamics, and creating cultures of secrecy, shame, and silence.

Pastor and survivor Ruth Everhart shines a light on the prevalence of sexual abuse and misconduct within faith communities. She candidly discloses stories of how she and others have experienced assault in church settings, highlighting the damage done to individuals, families, and communities.

Everhart offers hope to survivors as she declares that God is present with the violated and stands in solidarity with victims. Scriptural narratives like those of Tamar and Bathsheba carry powerful resonance in today's context, as do the accounts of Jesus' interactions with women. God is at work in the midst of this #MeToo moment to call the church to repentance and deliver us from violence against the vulnerable.

"In The #MeToo Reckoning, Rev. Ruth Everhart takes the church to task in what has been an abysmal response to sexual abuse behind its closed doors. Laying out proof of the abuse of the most vulnerable among us in the place that should be the most safe, she gives suggestions for how pastors, congregations, and the church at-large can begin to serve everyone through openness, victim support, and use of the legal system. With an unapologetic voice, she calls for the protection of individuals from predators who have too easily been not only allowed to serve but protected by spiritual leadership from pastors up through the highest liturgical powers that be. With personal experiences detailed as well as those of other pastors, The #MeToo Reckoning is an engaging, thoughtful, and necessary book in these times that Jesus asks of his church, 'What will you do with me?'"

Lisa Samson, author of Quaker Summer, The Church Ladies, and Love Mercy

"Ruth Everhart writes with great insight and passion. She shines a steady, penetrating light on sexual abuse in the church. Alas, this book is entirely necessary."

Neal Plantinga, author of Not the Way It's Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin

"This is a book for survivors, for churches who have failed victims, for those who seek to mourn with those who mourn, and for those who love justice and endeavor to bring healing and renewal. By weaving together biblical narratives and contemporary stories with her own painful past, Ruth Everhart unflinchingly confronts the culture of silence, shame, and denial that too often characterizes a Christian response to abuse. This is a book of reckoning."

Kristin Kobes Du Mez, professor of history and gender studies at Calvin College and author of A New Gospel for Women

"In her remarkable clarion call for change, Ruth Everhart reminds religious leaders tempted to view #MeToo as a dismissible modern political movement that variations of 'me too' have echoed off the walls of the church since its foundation. This book begs us all to answer the question: How much longer will we shut our ears to the voice of God heard in the cries of 'the least of these'?"

Linda Kay Klein, author of Pure: Inside the Evangelical Movement That Shamed a Generation of Young Women and How I Broke Free

"Individual bodies can't heal until they receive a diagnosis. Likewise, the body of Christ can't heal until it learns what is making it sick. With bold storytelling and deep engagement with the biblical text, Ruth Everhart diagnoses the unchecked power, patriarchy, and shallow forms of forgiveness that plague many Christian communities grappling with abuse. She also points to the cure: a better, more biblical practice of justice for victims. May this book ensure that more victims' cries for justice are finally heard."

Katelyn Beaty, author of A Woman's Place: A Christian Vision for Your Calling in the Office, the Home, and the World

"In The #MeToo Reckoning, Ruth Everhart creatively interweaves real-life stories of how Protestant churches have been complicit in the sexual abuse of women with counterpart stories from Scripture. In telling the stories—both the real-life stories and the biblical ones—Everhart does not flinch from pointing out how those who held the reins of power used silence, evasion, threats, and denial to protect abusers. In each case, she goes beyond denunciation, however, to point out how they could and should have acted differently. The result is a gripping, prophetic call to churches to halt the cover-ups of sexual abuse of women and secure justice for the victims. An eloquent, spiritually deep wake-up call. This book had to be written!"

Nicholas Wolterstorff, Noah Porter Professor Emeritus of Philosophical Theology, Yale University

"The church must pay attention to the #MeToo movement. Among us are victims of sexual abuse who have been marginalized and perpetrators who have received easy grace. Through case studies and a careful look at Scripture, Ruth Everhart helps us understand the religious and cultural dynamics that foster sexual violence against women and children. I highly recommend The #MeToo Reckoning as a resource for congregations committed to preventing and confronting sexual violence."

Nancy Werking Poling, editor of Victim to Survivor: Women Recovering from Clergy Sexual Abuse

"Throughout the Bible, the wrath of God is directed toward injustice. In The #MeToo Reckoning, Ruth Everhart shows that the church deserves God's wrath for its complicity in sexual abuse and misconduct. In a personal, pastoral, and prophetic way, she explores the depth of the problem, connects it to Scripture, and offers us a needed way forward."

Henry G. Brinton, Presbyterian pastor and author of the novel City of Peace

"In The #MeToo Reckoning, Ruth Everhart shines a fierce light on the ways churches have been complacent or complicit in dismissing and diminishing victims of sexual malfeasance. Everhart's hard-won insights into the ways church leadership has failed to protect against the wolves in our fold make this book challenging but necessary reading for pastors and laity alike."

David Williams, pastor and author of When the English Fall

"I am deeply grateful for Ruth Everhart and her timely work. The #MeToo Reckoning bears witness to the pain Everhart and others have experienced as survivors of sexual assault, affirming that women's voices need to be heard—and affirmed—if churches want to create safe spaces where girls and women can thrive. I am especially grateful for Everhart's work at dismantling the patriarchal structures, systemic and otherwise, that have allowed some to continue abusing others without reprisal. And I appreciate Everhart's careful consideration of Scripture and her insistence that Jesus longs for his people to end sexual assault in all its manifestations. In a time when #MeToo survivors are numberless, this is the good news we need to hear."

Melanie Springer Mock, professor of English at George Fox University and author of Worthy: Finding Yourself in a World Expecting Someone Else

"Like the prophets before her, Ruth Everhart has a piercing, lucid, and urgent message: as long as the church idolizes power—the power of the institution or the lone charismatic leader, success, or patriarchal masculinity; as long as it holds up the strong at the expense of the vulnerable—it fails in its mission. Though this is not an easy book, it is ultimately hopeful, revealing with practical and concrete wisdom, a path forward. The work is suffused with inspired and delightfully original readings of biblical texts."

Debbie Blue, pastor and author of Consider the Women: A Provocative Guide to Three Matriarchs of the Bible

"This book shouldn't need to exist. It's a difficult read, not because of the writing, which is heartbreakingly eloquent, but because of the subject: the abuse within the body of Christ that is at the same time sexual and spiritual. Through wise exposition of Scripture, Ruth Everhart challenges religious institutions as places where abuse is too often discounted, denied, and concealed. I applaud the brave souls who share their stories of pain, including Everhart, and for her courageous call for change that is healing and just. May her wisdom hasten the day when there are no more such stories to tell."

Kathleen Long Bostrom, author and retired minister

"Ruth Everhart's writing is genuine prophetic speech. It not only uproots, it also plants. Her voice helps unmask a system that has kept women in the shadows for too long. At the same time, her pastoral heart helps heal, touch, and encourage thriving survivors like me. The #MeToo Reckoning reminds us that Justice is knocking at the door and asks us, How will you respond?"

Jeanette Salguero, associate pastor and COO of Calvario City Church, senior vice president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition

"The #MeToo Reckoning should be required reading for all church leaders. Everhart gives churches precisely what they need—practical solutions for preventing and responding to abuse. Through powerful storytelling and insightful scriptural analysis, Everhart shows how we got where we are, why abuse matters, and how the church can find a way forward. This book has the power to promote real change."

Jen Zamzow, adjunct faculty at Concordia University Irvine

"Ruth Everhart knows and understands firsthand as a survivor and a pastor that all too often Christian communities are quick to dismiss and marginalize those who have been abused within their midst while at the same time empowering (and sometimes celebrating) those who abuse. Her unique confrontation with this dark reality provides Ruth with a much-needed perspective that the church must hear and learn from if we genuinely love and follow the Jesus we profess to love and follow. We are fortunate to have such a voice of wisdom in our midst who is also a tremendously gifted communicator. The #MeToo Reckoning is a critical warning shot across the bow of Christendom that I pray will help wake us up before it's too late."

Boz Tchividjian, abuse attorney and founder, GRACE

"Ruth Everhart has given the church an amazing gift: truth, courage, and hope for a way forward. What a powerful resource for faith leaders everywhere!"

Anna Carter Florence, Peter Marshall Professor of Preaching, Columbia Theological Seminary

"I felt a kindred spirit with Ruth as I read The #MeToo Reckoning, from our shared survivorship to our dedication to equality for women to both of us being ordained ministers. Her words mirrored many of the thoughts and desires of my own heart for survivors. Ruth skillfully weaves the real-life stories of her own personal trauma and the stories of abuse victims she has served with scriptural narratives and modern survivor-focused interventions and solutions. And while I carry a strong personal skepticism that the institutional church will ever significantly change, Ruth presents a clear path forward for the church, a path I would love to see taken. This book leaves the church without the excuse of 'I didn't know any better,' for anyone who reads The #MeToo Reckoning will certainly know how to do better. I believe this book will serve as a healing balm to many survivors, especially those who have chosen to remain within Christianity and keep fighting for change."

Ashley Easter, abuse victim advocate and CEO of Courage 365

"Pulling back the curtain on the mishandling of sexual abuse within Protestant churches, this incisive work from . . . Everhart boldly calls for communal repentance and change."

Publishers Weekly, starred review, October 2019

Read an Excerpt


Preface: To My Readers
1. Power and Patriarchy
2. Silence and Shame
3.The System and Secrecy
4. Accountability and Justice
5. Purity Culture and Rape Culture
6. Betrayal and Deceit
7. Vulnerability and Voice
8. Apologies and Amends
9. Lamentation and Clericalism
10. A Way Forward
Name Index
Subject Index


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Ruth Everhart

Ruth Everhart is an author, speaker, and pastor who has served Presbyterian (PCUSA) churches for more than twenty years. A graduate of Calvin College and United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities, Ruth travels widely to speak at churches, conferences and retreats. She has written for publications such as Christian Century, Sojourners, and the Washington Post, and is the author of Chasing the Divine in the Holy Land and the Christianity Today award-winning memoir Ruined. She lives near Washington, DC.

Ruth Everhart says "We can no longer think of abuse as being solely the work of sick individuals. We must examine the system."
Boz Tzchividjian says "The #MeToo Reckoning is a critical warning shot across the box of Christiandom."
Linda Kay Klein says "Remarkable clarion call for change."
Katelyn Beaty says "May this book ensure that more victims' cries for justice are finally heard."
Ruth Everhart says "#MeToo is not a feminist issue, or a women's issue. It is a justice issue."