Updated: Sep 7, 2021
Joshua Harris made amends for the marketing email situation yesterday. He emailed out a correction and even included my statement, as he had promised. I HIGHLY respect and appreciate him for this. Thank you, Josh.
A few have asked why I'm so protective of the online deconstruction community when it comes to Josh. He has shown a pattern of marketing and profiting off "apologies" for the harm he contributed to purity culture (as a household name for many of us). He crowd-funded an apology documentary, heavily edited out queer voices, and then sold it back to the people he created harm for. The documentary also centered him as the protagonist, which highlights the red flag of self-produced apologies as monetized creative projects. Despite charging, his apologies became cheap and his attempts to reenter the public sphere held by those healing are harmful to those literally traumatized by his previous work.
But I believe his apology in this situation because he respectfully and selflessly made amends.
Some have asked what Josh should do. Eventually, I believe there is a place for Josh's work, but his target audience won't be people questioning, doubting, or deconstructing Fundamentalism. His work would be great to educate church leadership about recognizing and reducing systematic abuse and enabling. In the church/denomination Josh helped start, there were many harmed by systematic abuse. In some cases, victims mentioned going to Josh for help, but it seems that it wasn't followed through on or they were silenced. I learned that Josh bravely opened up about these experiences recently on a live video hosted by someone I highly respect. Raising awareness of how abusive leadership manipulatives those around them to cover their tracks is so important, and this is where Josh can really shine. Also donating proceeds to organizations that will help spiritual abuse victims afford therapy would be an incredible sign of good faith.
I believe he has the resources, connections, experience, marketing know-how, and skills it would take to cleverly break this message of stopping abuse enabling through to church culture despite leaving the faith. His role isn't going to be the hero for people who left Fundamentalism. His appropriate role isn't to serve as a mentor either. I believe Josh's role is to find a back-the-scenes way to produce and amplify others to reduce systematic abuse.
Josh showed a willingness to learn today in a way I madly respect. I'd be a fool to not see it. And his bravery to open up about leadership abuse really encourages me. Thank you, Josh, for making amends, not just an apology. When the time and project are appropriate, I can't wait to see what you produce next.
The Life After Podcasy