As a Christian survivor of sexual assault, I’m tired of famous men using religion to dodge accusations of abuse

As a Christian survivor of sexual assault, I’m tired of famous men using religion to dodge accusations of abuse

Some Muslims welcomed Tate’s conversion (or reversion) to Islam. However, many Muslims – especially women – weren’t celebrating Tate’s newfound love for God. “What has been particularly worrying for many in the Muslim community in the West is that Tate has become a role model for some Muslim men, especially after expressing his admiration for Islam in this YouTube video,” Yousra Samir wrote in Al Jazeera.

Similar to Brand, Keke Palmer’s ex-boyfriend Darius Jackson got baptised amidst domestic abuse allegations raised by Palmer. In an Instagram post that has since been deleted, Jackson told his followers that he was ‘extremely blessed to have repent & be baptised in the name of our Lord Jesus.’

In a court filing, made in November 2023, Palmer highlighted several events of alleged abuse. But, Jackson filed a counterclaim and alleged that Palmer was verbally and physically abusive towards him. Palmer was granted a temporary restraining order and temporary sole custody of her child.

What do all these men have in common? They discovered a newfound love for God a short while after allegations of abuse materialised. We can’t police people’s relationship with God. Everyone has a different way of encountering religion that cannot be disputed. But, the timing doesn’t seem to be a coincidence.

In Christianity, there’s a concept of being ‘born again.’ It essentially means that the old you has gone and you are a new creation in God. Are these men using religion to show the world that they’ve changed?

Pastor and speaker Chioma Alade believes that many people turn to religion or faith during times of adversity or when faced with challenges. “Christianity offers unique opportunities through the personhood of Jesus Christ for redemption, eternal hope, and healing. However, this can also attract those uninterested in Christianity or change, but in pursuit of a rebrand,” Alade says.

Christianity and other mainstream religions prioritise love and forgiveness. Does this mean we should allow alleged abusers into religious spaces without any critique? Alade believes God is a God of justice – and whilst he isn’t afraid of the mess in our lives, he cares just as much for us as the people we hurt.

“A necessary part of Christian repentance is restitution. If we have wronged anyone, we are required to make it right,” she says. “If these men have wronged and abused someone and are sorry for their actions they should submit themselves to the relevant authorities,” she says.

For Alade, she believes: “Christianity – when honestly pursued and not used – holds up a mirror to us, always imploring us to do the right thing. Whilst we can come to God as we are, it is impossible to walk a Christian life and live unconvicted of our wrongdoings. We do not get to remain the same.”

Churches and religious organisations have a right to protect their congregation. Especially considering the history between churches and sexual abuse. The Roman Catholic Church received over 900 complaints and over 3000 cases of child sexual abuse between the years 1970 and 2015. The BBC reported that the church of England had 383 cases related to abuse, of which 168 involved children.

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