It’s Not Something the Mennonites Will Tell You

Fred Clark writes, concerning John Howard Yoder-

Herald Press, the Mennonite publishing house that produces many books by Yoder, has decided to acknowledge and confront this problem  [i.e., the fact that Yoder was an abuser of women]. Herald has announced that all future publications of books by John Howard Yoder will include this statement:

John Howard Yoder (1927-1997) was perhaps the most well-known Mennonite theologian in the 20th century. While his work on Christian ethics helped define Anabaptism to an audience far outside the Mennonite Church, he is also remembered for his long-term sexual harassment and abuse of women. At Herald Press we recognize the complex tensions involved in presenting work by someone who called Christians to reconciliation and yet used his position of power to abuse others. We believe that Yoder and those who write about his work deserve to be heard; we also believe readers should know that Yoder engaged in abusive behavior. This book is published with the hope that those studying Yoder’s writings will not dismiss the complexity of these issues and will instead wrestle with, evaluate, and learn from Yoder’s work in the full context of his personal, scholarly, and churchly legacy.

Yoder- the disciple of peace (to hear his followers tell it) was a man who practiced violence- against women.  It’s not something the Mennonites will tell you.  Well done to his publisher for doing it.  It’s a shame his violence wasn’t exposed while he was alive.  It certainly does cast his work in a new light, the light of hypocrisy.  [Indeed, he was as hypocritical as the morally suspect parsons who preach against sin whilst secretly practicing deviant behavior].


3 thoughts on “It’s Not Something the Mennonites Will Tell You

  1. Michael Pahl 7 Jan 2014 at 8:32 pm

    What do you mean, “It’s not something the Mennonites will tell you?” Herald Press is a Mennonite publishing house. And AMBS, the Mennonite seminary where Yoder taught while much of the abuse took place, is actively encouraging conversation about this (see link below). Yes, this was swept under a rug of secrecy for some time, and that was wrong – people in power keeping silent about abuse of power in their midst. But at present it is, in fact, the Mennonites who are talking about it. Here’s a link:


    • Jim 7 Jan 2014 at 8:42 pm

      i mean that it isn’t mennonites at large who are willing to tell the story of yoder’s misdeeds. his publisher is doing the right thing. discussions are beginning. but those two facts make the silence of the vast majority of his followers/ students that much more deafening.


      • Michael Pahl 7 Jan 2014 at 9:04 pm

        Just because you don’t hear them doesn’t mean they’re not speaking. 🙂

        In any case, thanks for publishing my previous comment with the link, and for re-tweeting my tweet to you on this. Much appreciated.


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