The Racist Roots of the ‘Apocalypse’ of the Southern Baptist Convention Sex Scandal
This story continues to haunt evangelical purity culture and post-purity spaces, according to scholars like Sara Moslener, who is both a professor of religion and director of the After Purity Project at Central Michigan University. In an interview with The New Republic, Moslener explained how evangelical girls learn to fear sex before marriage. Therefore, when aggression or abuse occurs, they have no means to recognize it – all premarital sex is dangerous. They are also taught to fear men. But as society has identified black men as the abusers, they are essentially “inducted into the logic of lynching.” They come to believe that they need the protection of their fathers, brothers, and other valiant white men, the very people who are most likely to harm them. Moslener pointed out a great example of this lynching logic in a tweet answer to the SBC scandal, “The answer to abuse in the church is biblical patriarchy. Real men protect women and guard the church, standing firm on the Word of God as Kingsmen.
The fact that the SBC has pushed its crusade against “critical race theory”, while being aware of its own rampant sexual abuse, further suggests that racial terror is still very much present within the organization. It’s particularly interesting to note that the SBC started attacking the CRT long before the CRT became the bogeyman of the day, because Noted by Robert Downen, as part of The Houston Chronicle team whose 2019 report helped bring sexual abuse within the SBC into the spotlight. In the lynching culture, white men can project all their sins onto the dark-skinned other. It could be argued that the recent scapegoating of LGBTQ+ people and public school teachers as groomers and pedophiles is an extension, rather than an aberration, of this project, given the threat the two are supposed to pose to society. masculinity and white supremacist interests.
The fact that white histories of abuse have primacy is also tied to the racial terrorism that underlies SBC traditions. I documented this phenomenon in a previous article for The New Republic on the so-called deconstruction movement, and Anthea Butler, aassociate professor of religious studies and African studies at the University of Pennsylvania, pointed this out in the context of the ongoing scandal. “You know what I really want to see in the next few months/years?” Butler tweeted. “A similar report on African American denominations and sexual abuse in the church, just like this SBC report… #notholdingnotmybreath.” Theologian and preacher Kyle Howard also Express regret that “in many cases church abuse is not a real problem until white people experience it”. Butler and Howard have constantly sparked a dialogue about racism within evangelicalism, as well as the influencer Jo Luehmann, host of the straight white american jesus podcast Brad Onishi, public historian Jemar Tisbyand author and founder of the Public Religion Research Institute Robert P. Jones.