Commentary
By Jenna Barnett 1-08-2018

The 2018 Golden Globes looked like a star-studded funeral — one that announced, with vibrato and champagne, a farewell to workplace sexual assault, harassment, and inequality. The black attire both marked and called for the death of many things endemic to Hollywood: the careers of predatory performers and moguls, a culture of silence, and statistics like this one: One-in-three women ages 18-to-34 have been sexually harassed at work.

And if the Golden Globes were in fact a funeral to patriarchal workplace inequality, Oprah delivered the eulogy. As Oprah pointed out in her address, she became the first African-American woman to be given the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement. Her focus — like much of the night — was on stopping and overcoming harassment and violence:

I want tonight to express gratitude to all the women who have endured years of abuse and assault because they, like my mother, had children to feed and bills to pay and dreams to pursue. They're the women whose names we'll never know. They are domestic workers and farm workers. They are working in factories and they work in restaurants and they're in academia, engineering, medicine, and science. They're part of the world of tech and politics and business. They're our athletes in the Olympics and they're our soldiers in the military.

And I would add: They’re our preachers at the pulpit and our parishioners in the pews.

As Oprah’s speech continued, #Winfrey2020 quickly began trending on Twitter, understandably. She certainly sounded presidential.

But, perhaps even more than presidential, she sounded pastoral:

What I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have. And I'm especially proud and inspired by all the women who have felt strong enough and empowered enough to speak up and share their personal stories. Each of us in this room are celebrated because of the stories that we tell, and this year we became the story.

I hope we tell this story in churches, as well.

I hope we stop avoiding scripture passages like Judges 19 and the rape of Tamar.

And I hope we stop spreading the dangerous myth that abuse and harassment doesn’t happen among Christians.

Hours before the Golden Globes, the pastor of my church, in Washington, D.C., talked about sexual violence from the pulpit. The segment lasted only a couple of minutes — it wasn’t the focus of the sermon — but it mattered deeply. This was only the second time in my life that I’d heard a pastor in a church preach on sexual violence. And I attend church more than your average millennial.

I hope and believe that this silence in the church is dying.

More and more people are tweeting #churchtoo, and thousands of evangelical women have declared #SilenceIsNotSpiritual, urging churches to end the silence on violence against women. Pledges and social media campaigns like these are essential for visibility — they are a crucial first step.

And now, it’s time for us to take the step from Twitter to the pulpit, from pledging to preaching.

By the end of 2018, the Sojourners Women and Girls Campaign has the goal of collecting 100 sermons and prayers from across the country on violence against women. And when the Sunday rolls around where we have found our hundredth sermon, you’ll find me in the pews wearing all black. I’m ready for a funeral. 

Have you heard a sermon on violence against women? We want to hear it and we want to spotlight it. To submit a sermon, send the audio or text to women@sojo.net. For resources on how your faith community can combat domestic and sexual violence within the walls of your church, read this article for starters.

Jenna Barnett is the Women and Girls Campaign Coordinator for Sojourners.

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"The Golden Globes Held a Funeral. Now Let's Hold One in Church"
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