| November 07, 2019 03:48 PM
Like many a millennial Christian, I’ve been a fan of John Crist for some time. I’ve followed him on Instagram, messaged his videos to my friends, and chuckled at his incisive parodies of Christian culture.
So, it was more than disappointing to learn on Wednesday the Christian comedian stands accused of sexual misconduct by several women. Charisma News, a Christian news website, published a story on Crist’s alleged history of sexting, harassment, and manipulation.
One woman says he grabbed her and “crudely propositioned her for sex” when he knew she was in a relationship. Others say he used his platform as a comedian to give away tickets and demand sexual favors in return. Their stories allege a pattern of Crist reaching out to young women on social media, expressing (sometimes aggressive) interest in sexual involvement, and manipulating them to get his way.
“Though the allegations against Crist are not criminal, we believe they are newsworthy for three reasons,” Charisma’s Taylor Berglund writes. “We believe pastors and leaders who book Crist at their ministry events need to know the person they’re signing. We believe leaders who make Christianity part of their public persona — whether or not they are formally in ministry — should [be] held to a higher standard. And above all, we believe the body of Christ must police itself and has an obligation to protect the innocent and vulnerable among us.”
Berglund also notes that it appears some Christian leaders were aware of Crist’s behavior. It continued anyway.
In a statement provided to Charisma, Crist didn’t confirm the accusations, but he did admit wrongdoing:
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. 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.
Crist has canceled his 2019 comedy tour dates. There’s no word on whether his Netflix special will still be released later this month.
In the past several years, we’ve seen a slew of powerful men held accountable for predatory behavior. Men such as Harvey Weinstein, James Franco, and Matt Lauer have all had to answer for varying levels of sexual misconduct. When Jennifer Aniston heard the accusations against Lauer, she said she was devastated. “It’s such a strange thing; it felt oddly like my dad did something terrible. I trusted him and had been interviewed by him,” she told Variety.
Many young women likely felt the same about Crist. His accusations are all the more heartbreaking because he was able to leverage an extra position of privilege as a seemingly trustworthy Christian leader.
Berglund writes, “Crist’s use of his Christian reputation to gain trust contributed to at least two women — Nora and Lindsey — losing trust in Christianity altogether. Neither affiliates as a Christian today.”
When one woman called him out for his behavior, Crist reportedly told her over the phone that she was right. Crist said, “There are days that I just wish everything would come out all at once so it would finally be done.”
Now, it is. While many hoped the #MeToo movement would deter some men from sexual misconduct, it’s clear the reckoning is not over. Those who are close to powerful people must hold them accountable. It’s particularly important for those whom we had every reason to trust.