By now, almost everyone who has been awake for the last three weeks is aware of the emerging conflagration in Hollywood, which began with the exposure of longtime sexual assaults by Miramax producer Harvey Weinstein–and the ensuing coverups by everyone who knew about it.
Weinstein, as we know, is neither the only sexual predator in Hollywood, nor is he even the worst offender. (My take: they are throwing Weinstein overboard to cover for worse offenders.)
In the aftermath of Weinstein’s indecent exposure, other sex scandals in the entertainment, political, and news media have come to the surface, some of them involving high rollers on both the left (Oreskes at NPR) and right (O’Reilly at Fox).
I am all for the exposure of such matters, even in the Church. When we’re dealing with sexual assaults, it’s best to uncover the family jewels, lay them bare for the whole world to see, punish the wrongdoers, affirm and support those wronged, and re-examine what happened to help prevent it from recurring.
Having said all of that, Christians need to be measured in their assessment of Hollywood, given that there is a mother lode of such family jewels in otherwise conservative Christian circles. Many high-profile conservative figures–from C.J. Mahaney to Joshua Harris to Tom Chantry–are proving to have been complicit in the coverup of sexual abuse, or, in Chantry’s case, possibly directly guilty of said acts.
(Chantry currently awaits trial, and he is entitled to a fair trial. I would be remiss, however, if I did not acknowledge that the body of known evidence does not look encouraging for him.)
And to that extent, I think Libby Anne is generally on the money. I would, however, qualify that with these observations:
(1) In Election 2016, evangelicals, particularly conservatives who voted for Trump, had a very bad set of choices. The other alternative was a woman who built her career by covering for a man who is known to have committed such assaults.
(After all, I hope we are in agreement that when a sitting Governor pulls out his tallywhacker and tells a state employee, which is what Paula Jones was, to “come over and kiss it”, that is every bit as serious as Trump–assuming he actually acted up to his brags–“grabbing [a woman] by the pu$$y.”)
Ergo, voting for Trump does not equate to moral equivalence with Weinstein, although Hillary Clinton is in the same league as those who knowingly covered for Weinstein.
(2) I would also be careful in assessing the “evangelical response” to child sex scandals. Many evangelicals are speaking out, although not as boldly as I would like. Many are simply voting with their feet.
This is why Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) is in financially-tenuous condition today, as parishioners are fleeing the SGM ranks and many churches–formerly enthusiastic affiliates of SGM–have severed ties with SGM. Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) even broke off their sweetheart deal with SGM’s “Pastor’s College” in the wake of the Nate Morales scandal.
And while Doug Phillips and Bill Gothard–and the boards that enabled them–have had their covers blown, it’s not like the evangelical world has rushed to defend them.
When they were exposed, some wondered aloud how that would impact homeschoolers. My prediction then: very little.
I was correct. While homeschoolers, many of whom relied on Gothard and Phillips for materials, didn’t go back to public schools, they are, as a group, voting with their dollars.
The market for homeschool curriculum has matured greatly over the years. Gothard and Phillips–while pioneers in homeschooling–are far from the only games in town.
Where Libby Anne is correct, however, is with respect to the Donn Ketcham scandal. This is because the Donn Ketcham scandal–which I referenced here–exposes the very same insidious dynamic in the Church that we see in Hollywood:
(1) with Ketcham, you had a medical missionary who was in high demand in impoverished Bangladesh, who attracted a large following on both sides of the pond, and whose removal would have had serious consequences. Sadly, as a result, a victim who spoke out was ostracized. Ketcham’s fellow missionaries covered for his immoralities as they told his victim, “Donn is needed here. You aren’t.”
(2) with Weinstein, you had a major movie producer who could make or break careers in Hollywood. Making him happy was often the difference between waiting on tables and making millions of dollars.
Just as with the missionaries in Bangladesh who covered for Ketcham, for everyone who wanted to make money in Hollywood, there was a benefit to keeping silent. Like Ketcham, Weinstein was needed, whereas actors and actresses–like missionary kids–were always a dime a dozen.
The takeaway for the Church?
When we compare the Ketcham affair with the Weinstein affair and others in high news and entertainment, one thing becomes obvious: in the case of Ketcham, the Church body–Association of Baptists for World Evangelism–acted exactly as the world operates.
They may disagree on worldviews, but the people involved–in Hollywood and the Church–are equally cold, calculating, cunning, and willing to throw people under the bus to look good and make money.
THAT is what needs to change.
What we see in Weinstein is exactly what we should expect from Hollywood.
At the same time, we ought to demand better from the ranks of the redeemed.