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Department ofReligious Studies


RS Students and Faculty Discuss Christianity & #MeToo Moment

On April 12, RS students and faculty gathered in the Religious Studies Department Lobby over pizza and cookies to talk about what Christianity has to say in the #MeToo moment. In an animated conversation, students spoke to their experience of violence against women and minorities and to the power of people speaking up.  Some talked about the particular witness of childhood heroes like gymnasts Aly Raisman and Simone Biles against Larry Nassar; the gymnasts’ celebrity (like that of the Hollywood actors) helped amplify an outcry that has been present in society for millennia but silenced by structures of privilege.  We spoke of Tarana Burke’s founding of the MeToo movement years ago, and questioned why the movement didn’t gain widespread attention until wealthy white women in Hollywood aligned with her efforts.  People raised the issue of the Catholic Church’s protection of pedophile priests as an obstacle to any claim to moral authority, while biblical texts like Genesis 2 (was Eve subordinate to Adam?), 1 Corinthians 11 and 14:33-35 (did Paul allow or prohibit women from prophesying?) were discussed as evidence of both patriarchal views and new possibilities of interpretation.

Prof. Akiba Lerner raised an interesting question about where hope and transformation can come from, given the obsolescence of religious or spiritual framings post-Enlightenment and the failure of materialist framings in our own moment.  Where can identity politics take us if it elevates the personal and unique above the possibility of (difficult) community? One of the students suggested that we could begin to answer that in a new way if we brainstorm with MCC and SCCAP student leaders about how to create spaces of encounter that cross our typical identity-group boundaries.

The conversation was moderated by Profs. Kitty Murphy, Karen Peterson-Iyer and Paul Schutz.