#SilenceIsNotSpiritual – A Beginning
Little did I know that these courses would impact me personally. While growing up, I had experienced a handful of incidents that ranged from harassment to manipulation to sexual violence, but I had repressed those memories. With the help of a circle of trusted counselors, I was able to walk through them—and oceans of tears. Thank God for a redemption that is raw, tangible, and real. I needed it—and still need it—far more than I knew.
One of the most painful realizations was how the church is prone to be silent when a woman experiences harassment, assault, or all-out violence, especially when the violence occurred in the church itself. Why would a church that purports to follow the One who reached across barriers to talk to the woman who was bleeding, who offered a Samaritan woman “living water,” and who disarmed a mob set on stoning an adulteress remain silent on violence against women?
I was working through a question: What does empathy look like for women who come forward to tell their stories only to face dismissal, gossip, degradation, and even accusation? I called my dear friend, and a trusted spiritual leader Rev. Lisa Sharon Harper, to ask what we could do together to speak up for our sisters. Her answer is seared in my memory. “Belinda, this is possible, and now is the moment. History has never seen a denominationally broad, racially diverse, global movement of women standing together for women. If you are serious about inviting everyone—and I mean everyone—I am in.”
After I hung up, I took to my knees, thanking God for making a way forward. Nine days later, after countless sleepless hours, hundreds of phone calls, and other work done by a small army of dedicated women elders, theologians, leaders, advocates, activists, community organizers, directors, writers, speakers—and above all—sisters, #SilenceIsNotSpiritual was born. We began with more than 150 signatories, leaders from many faith traditions and ethnic backgrounds, each with her own story. We wrote a statement inviting people to break the silence on violence against women, launching it during Christmas week. In those early days, we were gaining more than a thousand signatures a day. We’ve just launched in Brazil with plans to launch in Nigeria soon.
#SilenceIsNotSpiritual is facilitated by One Million Thumbprints, Freedom Road and The Imago Dei Fund.