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Dear Conservative Christian Leaders: Why Are You Silent about Rape?

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The example of Willis illustrates the true danger of the false equivalency created by having heterosexual marriage as the master sexual ethic. Victims of rape are seen as complicit in their attack by virtue of being in a “compromising situation,” whether that is alone in a car with a man, as in the Willis case, or being drunk, as in the Steubenville case.

You need to face the fact that your master sexual ethic is not only failing, it is doing harm. It is not preventing sex outside of marriage and it is certainly not preventing rape. Your ethic is supporting the ideas and culture that make rape so prevalent.

I call on you to teach consent as your primary sexual ethic, to teach that a woman never deserves to be raped regardless of what she is wearing or doing, to reprove your followers for using threats of rape to harass people whose ideas they do not like. I urge you to educate your young followers that meaningful consent is enthusiastic and that it can be given only by people in full control of their faculties and when there are no negative consequences for refusing. I challenge you to use your public forums, your news conferences, television appearances, and radio shows to launch an anti-rape campaign that makes the rules of meaningful consent abundantly clear.

You teach that knowledge of the truth makes you responsible for acting on it. Now that you know the truth of the harm being done by your silence, you are responsible for taking action. If you remain silent, we will have no choice but to conclude that either you do not take your faith seriously or that you have a vested interest in seeing rape continue.