In a 2002 NYTimes article, it was reported that the Center for the Prevention of Sexual and Domestic abuse reports that upward of 15% of clergy members of all religions have been involved in sexual misconduct. According to one study, only 1.7% of Catholic priests are technically pedophiles.
According to a 2012 article in Psych Central, infidelity is not as common as we have been led to believe, somewhere around 7% or so for the average couple. Another study states that anywhere from 30-60% of couples in the US will cheat at some time or another with 2-3% of children being the product of infidelity. Men are more likely than women to be unfaithful. Something like 23% of all marriages in the US will end in divorce. The highest divorce rate is among psychiatrists and marriage counselors. People with sexual performance anxiety are more likely to cheat than those who are secure with themselves. Not only that, but there are studies that suggest 50% of all ministers are divorced and something like 70% are depressed. Even worse, it is not a long-lasting career. Anywhere from 60-80% of those who enter the ministry will last less than 10 years. Only 10% will make it a life-time career. The WPost suggests that only 5.6% of clergy will be divorced.
A recent study estimated that 3.1% women who attend church at least once a month has been the target of clergy sexual misconduct (after reaching the age of 18). According to the most recent statistics, upward of 20% of American women and 15% of men in this country will have been sexually abused by the time they reach the age of 18. A report suggests that, in 2000, within the Baptist General Convention in Texas, during the 1980s, 12% of ministers had engaged in sexual intercourse with members, and 40% had acknowledged inappropriate sexual behavior. According to a site dedicated to Clergy Sexual Abuse, in the 1990s, something like 75 Catholic clergy were removed for molesting children. What was never advertised was that, at the same time 111 Protestant ministers were also removed for the same abuse. (juicy list of criminal sins by married clergy) Even Focus on the Family is not immune to it’s fair share of sexual scandals.
Christianity Today found survey found that 23% of 300 clergy surveyed admitted to sexually inappropriate behavior with someone other than their wives. There are studies that suggest that 1 in 5 – that’s 20% – TWENTY PERCENT off all Christian Conservative ministers have been involved in some sort of sexual misconduct.
“… No current theological breakdown of offending pastors exists, but a 1984 Fuller Seminary survey of 1,200 ministers showed one in five theologically conservative pastors admitting to some sexual contact outside of marriage with a church member, while over two-fifths of “moderate” and half of “liberal” pastors owned up to the same. A Journal of Pastoral Care article summarizing a 1993 survey of Southern Baptist pastors showed 6 percent acknowledging sexual contact outside of marriage with someone in the congregation. Roy Woodruff, executive director of the 3,000-member Association of Pastoral Counselors, estimates that about 15 percent of pastors “either have [violated] or are violating sexual ethical boundaries.”…”
Infidelity is a way of life in modern American. Who are we kidding, it has been a way of life since Adam allegedly had a fling with Lilith when the world was young (6000 years, right?) I don’t know about you, but I am no longer shocked or surprised over infidelity, gender, or who is doing what to whom. It’s life. The problem in this country is the fact that we are a bunch of self-righteous prudes, upstarts, whom, from day one, were out to prove we were better than our hedonistic European cousins.
One problem in this country is our prudish ‘missionary’ mentality. Over the years, there have been numerous cycles of revivals, known as the Great Awakenings. They left this nation with a completely false sense of moral imperative that skyrocketed during the later years of the Victorian Era, and into the Great Depression. A myth of the Normal Rockwell America was created, with home, faith, family, church, small town values, and patriotism. My father is a product of this mind-set. He grew up in a family where the social aspects of religion, along with faith, were the most important parts of his life. Until he was in the service, when he was nearly 19, he did not know what gays were. He did not know what a lesbian was, until 1950 – when my mother told him about them. He was that sheltered.
This false sense of morality, traditional family values and religious dominance, of this nation being a ‘Christian’ nation was reinvented in the early 1970s, following the Great Awakening of the Jesus Movement in the late 1960. This is where R. J. Rushdoony enters the scene, with his strange Calvinistic beliefs and his fascinating with an Old Testament culture that existed only in his imagination. His new religion, his cult, this magical blend of fantastical ancient Hebrew, Calvinism, a dollop of Mormonism, the racism of the John Birch Society, libertarianism, conservative fake-patriotism and rigid fundamentalism, soon attracted the attention of Bill Gothard, a very strange young man with a mommy devotion almost equal to that of Norman Bates.
Soon, this new religion, augmented by Gothad’s fascination with traditional ancient Jewish values, became a very strange cult that began, like PacMan, overtaking and consuming churches throughout the nation. One of the fascinating aspects of the new churches and the changes to church membership, via Gothard were the demands that people sign membership contracts. In all honesty, why on earth would anyone join a church where they were required to sign yearly membership contracts, knowing this is a hallmark of a cult. Once upon a time there was quite a bit of publicity about cults, about Moonies. Then Sun Myung Moon bought the Washington Times. The great brainwashing and remaking of American Christian culture had begun. Moon became so politically powerful, no one dared question who and what he was. With the exception of Scientology, no one dared discuss religious cults, unless they were weird and people died.
Those church contracts made ministers, the leaders of these cult churches all powerful dictators. Like any good cult leader, they controlled the lives of the members to a point where any deviation from the rules would result in their lives being disrupted, finances destroyed, curses, and ultimate ruination. They might also lose their salvation. You see, another part of all of this, event today, were/are the heretical and false teachings, misuse of the Bible, and outright lies about what Christianity is. When you create a culture like this, abuse is easy.
In any community, large or small, a minister holds a position of some power and respect. They become leaders. A church, for all intents and purposes is a business. Like any good CEO, a minister will take his place as a community leader. There is nothing wrong with this. It has been this way from the days of Ancient Rome. The problem occurs, like in any business, when the CEO, the minister begins abusing power. In a position of literally holding lives and families in their hands, they can use their power for good or evil. Most – almost all of them, even in the churches we love to hate, use their position for good.
It is the ones who don’t who make everyone look bad. Gothard became a petty little dictator with several million acolytes, and a weekly email list of over 90,000 ministers who received his strange and heretical teachings. They passed them, on in many cases ruining families and lives. His influence extended to the Al Molhers and C. J. Mahoneys of the world. Suddenly, it is all about power. Just watching people in positions of power and we know how they can be abusive. Members of the clergy are also more likely to be psychopaths than the average profession. The real problem is with other professions, we demand they live by ethics. We don’t demand this of the clergy. Stupidly, we assume, because they are clergy, that they are already living by these ethics.
It’s no wonder they are covering up for one another and for the abuse within their churches. When bad things happen within cults, cults hide those bad things, and have a tendency to silence anyone who complains. The same thing happens in Bill Gothard’s universe, and the people who have been following his teachings. When you consider that upward of 70,000 municipalities, police forces, fire departments, major corporations, and even branches of the military now use his character brainwashing materials that include absolute obedience and allegiance to the leader, the problems this country are now facing are almost staggering.
Being in the ministry is heart-wrenching, never off kind of job. I ran our parish office for several years. It was eye-opening. The job is 24/7/365. There is always someone needing something, wanting something. There are the usual suspects who gather, like vultures, when they learn there is a new member of the clergy in the office – and they were all women. When someone is honorable and dedicated, the job is literally exhausting, debilitating, and soul crushing. Their lives area always on display. Most of the time, the pay is okay. They are expected to live up to irrational standards, and always be happy, clappy, loving, and giving, even when they can’t stand the sight of a parishioner. Good and honorable men and women don’t live the celebrity lives of these high-profile narcissists. In a business that attracts narcissists, psychopaths, and abusers, most of the men and women who choose to dedicated their lives to helping others are the salt of the earth, just good people.
It’s the bad ones we talk about, make fun of, and use to make the lives of those who are truly good, honorable, and decent more difficult. Maybe that’s a good thing. If a person isn’t well-grounded, the adulation and constant attention a member of the clergy can receive can go to their head. I’ve known wonderful members of the clergy. I will never take anything for the years I worked with Fr. Ron and Fr. Jan in the parish office. I learned so darn much. I was fortunate in that the clergy team Fr. Ron, as our interim priest, utilized were incredible men and women. They loved the Lord. They were good and dedicated Christians, who believed in living the Gospel of Christ. I grew, as a Christian, working with them. I saw, first hand, how annoying the world can be.
Unfortunately, I’ve also had the misfortune of encountering the worst that humanity could offer. The person who molested me, as a child, was the son of a big-time Baptist minister. I later learned that his father was also a pedophile. So was his grandfather. I have encountered priests who were nothing but narcissistic psychopaths, very scary ones, at that. I had the misfortune to witness one such priest literally destroy the faith and well-being of nearly fifteen young women. Only three have returned to church, on a fairly regular basis. Unfortunately, neither have I. I have seen first-hand the damage a member of the clergy, determined to destroy the innocent, can do. One young woman told me that she would only return to the church for her mother’s funeral. She was raised in this church.
One doesn’t need to be involved in just sexual escapades to ruin innocent lives. Young people are so easily harmed that just the wrong attitude, the power plays that adults like to make, within a church, can damage them, forever. That’s what truly bothers me. We hear about the adultery, the abuse, the pedophiles, but no one ever hears about the other damage done to the innocent. I’ve witnessed it, first-hand, as one of the victims. You watch the Mark Driscolls, Bill Gothards, Doug Phillips, Rick Warrens, James Dobsons and so forth and so on of the world. It is like they don’t really give a damn about anyone but themselves. It is about power.
Christ has nothing to do with it.