Popular Christian comedian John Crist’s upcoming Netflix special, “I Ain’t Prayin’ for That” was put on hold a Netflix spokesperson confirmed on Thursday, according to Religion News Service. Earlier this week, Christian news outlet Charisma News published accounts from five different women who said Crist used his Christian celebrity status to sexually harass them.
“I was truly blinded by his celebrity status,” a woman referred to in the article by the pseudonym, Kate, said. “There were a few moments I thought, ‘Hey, this is kind of weird,’ but the same phrase kept playing through my head that stopped me from leaving: ‘It’s OK. He’s a Christian. He won’t do anything inappropriate.'”
In response to the allegations, Crist released a statement to Charisma News apologizing to those who were hurt.
“Over the past number of years, various women have accused me of behavior that has been hurtful to them. While I am not guilty of everything I’ve been accused of, I confess to being guilty of this — I have treated relationships with women far too casually, in some cases even recklessly,” he said, adding:
My behavior has been destructive and sinful. I’ve sinned against God, against women and the people who I love the most. I have violated my own Christian beliefs, convictions and values, and have hurt many people in the process. I am sorry for the hurt and pain I have caused these women and will continue to seek their forgiveness. I have also hurt the name of Jesus and have sought His forgiveness.
In addition to Netflix shelving Crist’s comedy special, WaterBrook (a Christian publishing branch of Penguin Random House) told Religion News Service it decided to postpone publication of Crist’s book, “Untag Me: The Subtle Art of Appearing Better Than You Really Are,” scheduled for release in March.
Christian social media users weighed in on the controversy surrounding Crist, expressing sadness, calls for the church to believe women and for Christian leaders to pursue holiness:
Very sad news about John Crist. I heard rumors of this a year ago and had no way to verify the veracity of the claims. I pray God grants him the grace to repent and what He draws the women Crist hurt near.
— Allie Beth Stuckey (@conservmillen) November 7, 2019
I was anxious about posting this because so many people vehemently love John Crist and I know there will be pushback and minimizing of these accounts.https://t.co/uD7SbEO6Sx
— Joy Beth Smith (@JBsTwoCents) November 6, 2019
New (and, I think, important):
"John Crist, Failure, and Warnings to Heed for Christian Leaders."
Some thoughts on how we all might respond:
"Heed the warning. Run toward holiness. Rest in Christ."https://t.co/NpWLc2GnXs
— Ed Stetzer (@edstetzer) November 7, 2019
This isn’t the first time a well-known Christian has been in the news for abusing their power to sexually exploit women. Last week, news broke that former teaching pastor Andy Savage was starting a new church, despite his admission two years prior he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl while he was her youth pastor in 1998. Christian sexual assault survivors and their supporters expressed outrage over the fact he was able to return to a position of Church leadership.
As we continue to have discussions about the #MeToo movement, we can’t overlook the reality that sexual abuse occurs in Christian circles too. Just because someone is a Christian doesn’t mean they are incapable of using their influence to coerce, harass and abuse others. If you are a Christian who has survived sexual abuse, assault or harassment, you’re not alone.
If you or a loved one is affected by sexual abuse or assault and need help, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.