Opinion: BadChristian's not-so-secret misogyny is where the rot of #churchtoo thrives
BadChristian Podcast: you have a problem of the Numbers 32:23b variety.
Several weeks ago, those of us who closely follow #churchtoo witnessed a Twitter exchange between Emily Joy, one of the founders of the #churchtoo movement, and the hosts of BadChristian Podcast.
After declining BadChristian's invitation to speak at their conference later this year, Emily was forced to explain, in detail, why she wasn't interested in sharing a platform and equal time with men like Preston Sprinkle, whose homophobic rhetoric contributed to the culture of hostility toward and marginalization of LGBT individuals in the church.
In short, she wasn't up for defending her existence as a bisexual woman in a setting where those who thought her orientation was the result of brokenness, disease, sin, or trauma were given equal airtime and respect.
The response from BadChristianPod and their fans was instantaneous and overwhelming. "How can anyone change minds without interacting with their detractors?" came the overwhelmingly white male cry.
The floodgates were opened, and the rush of Christian men who seemed to believe that they held a monopoly on intellectual discourse because they entertained those who disagreed with them surged through Emily's timeline until, one mute at a time, it was calmed in Biblical fashion.
It didn't take long for BadChristian's male supporters to begin openly mocking her desire for safety - saftey that they never need and cannot understand.
But the story didn't stop there. No lessons were learned that day about respect for boundaries and protection of the marginalized. No, the rot just moved indoors, first with a - frankly disastrous - "defense" of the event on the podcast (which you can hear on their Facebook page, or if you need to ration your calm today, read a great recap here), and then with a lengthy take-down party at BadChristian donors' Facebook headquarters.
In December, I met a new friend on Facebook who mentioned that they had, by accident, retained an old membership to BadChristian Club, an exclusive, closed Facebook community for financial backers of BadChristian. Through a clerical error, this person had not been removed from the Club after they stopped financially supporting the podcast. My new friend, whose anonymity I will protect, sent me screenshots of a conversation which took place in the Club shortly after the Twitter interaction.
Setting aside the crude and repugnant ad hominem attacks, these screenshots are the very definition of deliberately ignorant privilege. Despite all the talk about engaging with those who disagree in order to cooperatively learn and grow, none of these gentlemen seem to feel that learning something new is a priority, so I'll take the liberty of breaking down this "new word."
Cis (Cisgender): Your gender identification "matches" societally with your assigned sex at birth. No one uses your cishet identity as an excuse to write laws about how you can express yourself as your gender, which bathrooms you are allowed to use, or whether or not you are fit to raise children. The church acknowledges your gender as "normal" and "divinely ordained." You are never in fear of your life or health on account of your gender.
Hetero (Heterosexual): You are attracted to one gender, different from and generally considered to be the "opposite" of your own. You never have your ability to marry or adopt thrown into jeopardy on account of your orientation. You don't have to watch the judicial system decide whether or not business owners must offer you the exact same paid services they offer everyone else. You don't get accused of "having an agenda" when you celebrate seeing other heterosexual couples on television. You don't get told you are "broken" or "gross," are never rejected by the Church for being straight, and no one attempts to beat, electrocute, or psychologically torture the straightness out of you.
Patriarchy: The systems in place which allow cisgender, heterosexual men (that's most of you, BadChristian Club commenters) to maintain imbalanced power over women and members of the LGBTQIA community.
The real kicker here is not just the grossness of BadChristian's host-sanctioned misogyny, or even the fact that they thought they were safe to be this violently sexist because of the culture Toby, Matt, and Joey have created in BadChristian. It's the fact that each of these comments betrays a very real and very dangerous way even progressive, "edgy" Christians maintain rape culture in the church and perpetuate what Emily has attempted to address with #churchtoo.
There's a lot to be revealed in the way BadChristian's supporters responded to Emily's refusal.
Attacking women for standing up, calling them sexist names in an attempt to discredit their stories, and accusing them of only seeking attention are three gigantic ways rape culture in Christianity is allowed to thrive. Calling women who seek big change "extreme," denouncing feminism, and making crude insinuations about their past trauma just compounds the vile systems of oppression women face in the church.
And for men who have never had to face the challenges of sexism the way women do, it takes real work to put themselves in women's shoes and honestly examine how that privilege has shielded them from the kind of violent consequences others face.
BadChristian has a respectably-sized following, the podcast alone boasting 26k followers on Facebook and slightly more on Twitter. The hosts all benefit from white, straight, cisgender male privilege. I'm not just tossing around social justice word salad here: this demographic in particular has the most blindness to what those without these privileges face.
I have news for the men in BadChristian's community: words can be very violent. You just don't think they are because they rarely are for you. When people with as much privilege as you have are criticized, the unpleasantness generally ends there.
When white men speak up about race, they rarely face violent retribution for it the way men of color do. When straight men discuss orientation or cisgender men discuss gender, they don't face the level of threat and vitriol that men in the LGBT community do. And when men at all discuss sexism, they are far less likely to get rape and death threats than women making those same points.
For BadChristian's hosts and supporters to call out Emily Joy for protecting herself, mocking her fear for her safety and minimizing her concerns at the potential backlash shows that, for all their braggadocio about "engaging with people who disagree," they are terrible at actually listening to others. The sexism gets more obvious when we see how BadChristian applauded male rapper Lecrae for being "abrasive" just weeks before Emily had the gall to stand up for herself.
For these same men to, in the presumed safety of a closed group, hurl such malicious accusations and insults toward a woman who spoke up to their harassment instead of catering to their egos shows that they have no real intention of combatting the virus that leads to #churchtoo.
To BadChristian Podcast, Matt, Joey, and Toby, and all of your supporters: I urge you to take a real look in the mirror and confront your thin veneer of wokeness. Dig deep and find some humility. Learn to listen.
Try to see how accepting money from people who feel comfortable exhibiting such sexist garbage, confident that you will not call them out on it, makes you complicit in all the worst ways.
You can focus on the security breach in your Club, or you can address the disease you allow to run rampant which makes these leaks necessary. You can whine about being outed, or you can do better. You can hide in the comfort of your privilege, or you can begin really listening to women and members of the LGBT community, who face threats, violence, and harassment in a way you will never experience.
If you want to be truly "edgy" in the Christian community, try telling these members of your Club that if they're comfortable calling women "cunts" and "bitches" for standing up for themselves (presumably, with the same mouths they use to speak love to their wives and daughters) you don't want their money. Try taking a stand.
I'll leave you with this, from your own Facebook page:
Author's note: In the interest of due diligence, I consulted both a lawyer and a professor of journalism before posting the screenshots I received from BadChristian Club Facebook. I was assured in both instances that even closed groups do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy and posting the images was legally solid. I made no alterations to the screenshots I received, apart from obscuring the name and face of my protected source.
Two days after this article was published, I received a request to blur the names of the perpetrators of the sexist and verbal abuse from the BadChristian Club. While I am a firm believer that people who commit bad behavior should not be protected from the consequences of that behavior, I was reminded that many people in BadChristian and similar communities are in various stages of transparency with their families and friends. Some of these people could face consequences, not for their inflammatory rhetoric, but for their presence in a community full of questioning and departing Christians. I don't believe people should be punished for questioning or leaving the church, and so I decided to edit the post and replace the unedited screenshots with censored ones (the single exception being Toby's comment, as he is a leader of BadChristian, obviously public in his role in the community, and responsibile in part for the happenings in the group.) Thanks for understanding as I made this difficult decision, and as always, my info is available on this site for further interaction and questions.