*A new and shocking LA Times report on the sexual harrassment that black female pastors have to deal with is raising eyebrows, to say the least. One lady pastor puts the blame on women for not saying anything.
“That goes to a culture where black pastors know we won’t say anything, and when we don’t, the cycle continues,” says minister Tasha Morrison.
Here’s a taste of the article:
It was a sweltering weekday morning, and the vibe inside the Rev. Rosalynn Brookins’ Los Angeles home was festive.
“Girl! You look great!” “Are you a Delta?” “Hello, room of God!”
Ten women, all professionally accomplished, most ordained pastors, had gathered in Brookins’ living room to talk about a painful but little-discussed crisis: sexual harassment in the black church.
As Brookins passed out folding fans for the heat, the Rev. Naima Lett, a TV actress and producer, opened with a prayer: “We ask that you bless this conversation, that the truth set us free….”
Over the next two hours, the truth came spilling out. The room felt like a party, a church meeting and a group therapy session, with revelations and confessions that prompted tears, disagreements and plenty of laughter.
Black women, the backbone of their churches who far outnumber men as congregants, are in a bind that is historically unique.
“The black church responds to black male clergy like they are demigods, very revered,” said the Rev. Najuma Smith-Pollard, who convened the women as part of her work for the USC Dornsife Cecil Murray Center for Community Engagement.
“You don’t rat out your pastor. You don’t bring the man of God down,” she said. “If a pastor is caught in an indiscretion, sometimes he gets moved, but a lot of black churches are not organizationally led, there is no board, so even if there is misconduct, there is nowhere to turn.”
Even now, she said, a woman is likely to be asked, “ ‘What did you do to provoke it?’ The message I kept hearing growing up was, ‘Pull your skirt down, close your legs.’”
Many of the women spoke of being molested or harassed in church and the pulpit, of feeling helpless, unsupported, with some finally questioning whether they belonged in church at all.
The Rev. Stephanie Butler-Adams, a former professional dancer, said she was invited to perform as a liturgical dancer at a megachurch in Texas. After her performance, she said, the pastor approached her lasciviously and, reaching for her skirt, asked if he could touch the hem of her garment. “He didn’t mean it as a gesture of respect,” she told me.
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