November 23, 2017 5:11 pm

#ChurchToo: Hashtag explains sexual assault goes beyond politics and Hollywood

Hashtag #ChurchToo is being used by social media users to shed light on sexual assault.

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Social media users are shedding light on sexual abuse that occurs in religious organizations using the hashtag #ChurchToo.

COMMENTARY: Me too, but now what?

The hashtag began circulating online this week after it was started by Twitter users Emily Joy and Hannah Paasch. The writers shared their stories online, explaining that those who have experienced sexual harassment, assault, or sexism of any kind in religious spaces, need to speak out.

“A day of reckoning is coming for the church, as it is with Washington & Hollywood. Share your story on #churchtoo,” Paasch tweeted.

WATCH: #MeToo movement becomes more than a hashtag

Joy, a poet and yoga teacher from Nashville, Tenn., opened up about her own experience with a “youth leader” at an evangelical church, who pursued a relationship with her. Joy explained she was 16 years old, and he was in his 30s.

She added that she was eventually made to apologize for their interactions.

Several others began using the hashtag this week, writing stories of their own experiences with religious leaders, and how many of their claims weren’t acknowledged.


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Thomas Horrocks, a pastor from Indiana, spoke on the movement noting that churches should be the “safest place on Earth.”

Joy later noted on Twitter that many of the stories shared through the hashtag had similar themes, such as patriarchy, homophobia and purity culture.

And the problem isn’t limited to churches. As Vox explains, prominent Islamic figure and Oxford University professor Tariq Ramadan has also faced several accusations of rape and harassment.

WATCH: Roy Moore accuser Leigh Corfman details alleged assault at 14 years of age

The #ChurchToo hashtag is a spin-off of the #MeToo movement, which opened up the conversation about sexual misconduct in Hollywood to the greater public.

READ MORE: #MeAt14 sends poignant message amid Roy Moore assault allegations

Since the Harvey Weinstein controversy broke, several women have come forward sharing their experiences with assault and harassment.

High-profile celebrities, journalists and politicians — such as actor Kevin Spacey, NBC News host Mark Halperin, and Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore — have been accused.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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