In the aftermath of last year’s shooting at a Baptist church in Charleston, South Carolina, it was clear that many of the people who were victims of hate crimes had faced a similar ordeal.
But, for many of them, those experiences were a long time in the past.
The reason they felt emboldened to step forward is because they felt empowered to say they were not afraid to speak out, to share their stories.
And, as the church shooting continued to shape the national conversation, many people realized that they needed to step out of the shadows.
In December of 2015, Pastor John Hagee, founder of the conservative Christian movement Focus on the Family, told a gathering of Christian leaders in Atlanta that “the Christian faith needs to become a force for peace” and that “there is an opportunity here.”
He called on Christians to use their own lives and the voices of others to “get out there and change the world.”
Hagees words echoed many of his most popular books, including The Way Forward: A Call to Action for a Renewed Christianity, which is a compilation of lessons learned from his most recent book, The Purpose Driven Life: A Biblical Proclamation for a New American Century.
The book’s subtitle?
“Change the world through the power of God’s Word.”
Hagee has also spoken out about the need for a “New Evangelical” Christianity that was “fiercely committed to a love for all men, women and children.”
And in February, he told his own audience at a conference, “We have a choice.
We can either become a new evangelical movement that can make a difference in the world or we can turn the other cheek.”
He also talked about the role of “leadership,” which he called “a new church of the world,” and how “God is not going to take your leadership away.”
He added, “There’s a new word: leadership.
The world needs a leader.
That’s the only way you can get change.
You can’t be a follower and be a slave to leadership.
You have to be a leader.”
But for many Christians, the words “leaders” and “leadersy” weren’t words that they were accustomed to hearing.
And for many, those words were words they heard a lot.
It was something they learned on TV and in the news.
In fact, the word “leadershype” had been coined by a New York Times columnist, Elizabeth Kolbert, in the year that Hageebes book came out.
She used the term to describe the kind of emotional energy she saw in those young men and women who “grew up hearing a lot about leadership” but were unable to articulate that kind of leadership.
In a column for the Times in 2017, Kolbert wrote, “They grew up listening to the leaders, and then hearing more about the leadership than the leaders.”
What’s more, there were some who were reluctant to step up to the plate and share their story because they were fearful of being “called a liar.”
For example, when a young man who was sexually assaulted by a priest was recently identified by a church pastor, he said, “I just couldn’t believe it was happening.
I didn’t know if I could come forward.
I didn and I was ashamed.”
But the church pastor told the young man that he had been called a liar because of his “disagreement with the leadership.”
That pastor had told the story to his own congregation and to the congregation of the other young men who had been sexually assaulted.
That pastor then told his congregation that the man who had come forward was not a liar.
The pastor then proceeded to tell the young men that they had to “come out of hiding” and share his story.
But that pastor had also told his parishioners that he did not want the young people who had had sexual abuse to go through what the young priest had gone through.
The young men had not been given the opportunity to tell their own story, but now, the young church member was being asked to share his.
The parishioner was also being asked by the pastor to “speak up” about what had happened.
So the young parishionar was asked to go public and speak up.
And then the pastor told them to tell everyone who he knew.
That young man told the pastor that he was the one who had sexually assaulted him, and that he could not come forward because he was afraid.
The church pastor had been “bullying” the young woman, and the pastor had done so because he didn’t want the parishionars who had known him to see the young pastor as a liar who had done the wrong thing.
In this new age of social media, where people are so accustomed to the notion of a one-way conversation, this kind of bullying can become even more dangerous.
And as we hear stories of abuse and false accusations on social media and see a rise in “toxic masculinity,” it becomes more difficult