For the second time in recent weeks, a cadre of protesters assembled outside Hope Community Church in Raleigh during its Sunday morning service.
Critics say that the megachurch—which operates multiple locations across the Triangle—didn’t properly respond when faced with allegations of sexual assault and harassment perpetrated by church members and employees.
The Raleigh chapter of the recently formed NC Protection Alliance originally published allegations by several women who were involved with the church, covering their reported assaults and the church’s subsequent response. The Protection Alliance also organized the protests outside the church, which stands in western Raleigh on the border with Cary.
At the first protest on November 29, about a dozen people flanked either side of the entrance to the church, which continues to hold in-person services. Demonstrators held signs emblazoned with statements such as “Believe survivors,” “No Hope here,” and “Sexual abuse is not very Christian.”
A few passing cars honked or hollered their support. At one point, a woman walked over from the church’s packed parking lot to ask about the reason for the protest, listening as a couple participants shared their experiences. The woman asked if she could pray for them, and a few protesters bowed their heads as she did.
At a second protest two weeks later on December 13, a handful of the church’s critics held signs reading, “Listen, believe, support,” and “Stop protecting abusers #metoo.”
Hope Community Church has thus far declined to comment directly to the INDY, but the church does offer a detailed statement on its website.
“Hope Community Church was made aware of allegations of sexual assault accusing individuals associated with the church,” the statement begins. “Our first priority is always the safety and well-being of our congregation, community and staff, which is why we take all reports of sexual harassment, misconduct and assault extremely seriously.
“We are incredibly saddened for anyone to experience the horrors of these crimes, and our thoughts and prayers are with all survivors of sexual assault as we believe these situations are traumatic, painful and deplorable at every turn,” it continues. “We stand with survivors and strongly encourage them to reach out to local authorities in expectation that truth will surface and any guilty party will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”
The statement also says the church is “investigating third-party consultants” to provide an external review of policies and procedures as well as “creating a more comfortable reporting process.”
The statement twice asserts that “there has been much misinformation” shared on social media or otherwise shared, but it doesn’t elaborate or offer specifics.
Katie Jane Fernelius contributed reporting to this article.
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