Rev. Dr. Amy Butler has been ousted from her $250,000-a-year job at Manhattan’s famed Riverside Church after pressuring a group of people under her leadership to accompany her into a sex shop.
The sex toy shopping spree happened on May 15 while Butler, known as “Pastor Amy” by congregants, was in Minneapolis for a religious conference with two assistant ministers and a congregant from Riverside Church.
During a break from the conference, Pastor Amy suggested they check out the Smitten Kitten, a local sex shop. When one of the assistant ministers, a gay man in a committed relationship, said he was uncomfortable with that idea, Pastor Amy insisted.
Feeling “pressured,” the man agreed to tag along with the women. Inside the store, Pastor Amy offered to buy him a sex toy. He politely declined her offer.
Then Pastor Amy offered to buy a $200 vibrator for another assistant minister, a single mother of two. The woman accepted the sex toy but later said she really didn’t want it and had only taken it because she feared professional retaliation.
At the register, Pastor Amy allegedly said, “Is this a church business expense?” then whipped out her church credit card.
Upon returning to New York, the two assistant ministers filed a formal harassment claim, prompting the church to hire a third-party investigator who interviewed both of them and substantiated the claims.
In response, Pastor Amy and church officials agreed it was time for her to go. A joint statement from Butler and Church Council chairwoman Marilyn Mitchell reads:
Rev. Dr. Amy Butler and the Riverside Church Council are announcing that after five years of leadership, Pastor Amy will not be renewing her contract as Senior Minister. The Council thanks Pastor Amy for her leadership and asks all congregants to pray for her continued ministry as a leader in the progressive Christian world.
Ironically, just last year Pastor Amy published an essay on Baptist News Global titled “From #MeToo to #ChurchToo to #NeverAtChurch” accusing a male “lay leader” from Riverside of acting “inappropriately” toward her and other female staffers.