The Christian Right & Child Sex Abuse
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sat Apr 13, 2013 at 08:31:40 PM EST
The American Christian Right has a problem that I think has not been adequately addressed by most interested journalists, scholars and activists. The problem is that the conservative Catholic Bishops and the conservative leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) have such a bad record when it comes to child sex abuse, that it should be counting against their moral and official standing far more than it has.
The ongoing scandal of child sex abuse by Catholic clergy and cover-ups by the hierarchy is not only well-known but is so horrific that the moral and the official standing of these leaders and those who run interference for them needs to be directly questioned.

Frank Cocozzelli is an exception who proves the rule in this area. He has been zeroing-in on the way that the American Catholic Right (notably prominent neoconservatives and members of Opus Dei) has consistently defended the hierarchy against all comers when it comes to the clergy sex abuse scandal.  Frank, among others, has called for the ouster of the convicted enabler of a priest convicted of producing child pornography, Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph.  But much more could be said and done by so many more -- and not only by Catholics.  

I would like, for example, to highlight that the Catholic hierarchy not only routinely violates its contemporary claim of zero tolerance for clergy sex abuse, but has engaged in a double standard when it comes to disciplining prelates.  While Bishop  Finn remains in office, Bishop Thomas Gumbleton of Detroit who advocated that the Ohio state legislature extend the statute of limitations in child sex abuse cases, was removed from office.

That the same U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) that has done such a poor job of addressing the sex abuse scandal is stacked with and led by culture-warring, family values proclaiming conservatives appointed by the last two popes is well-known.  Much less well-known is the struggle within the SBC.  I was struck by a post by Christa Brown at the blog of the Associated Baptist Press which asked:  "When will Southern Baptist Convention address clergy sex abuse?".  Brown, who also blogs at Stop Baptist Predators, discusses how the SBC has yet to develop policies to protect children in its care.

While other major faith groups have recognized the need for clergy accountability mechanisms, Southern Baptists persist in denominational do-nothingness.

Since 2006, clergy abuse survivors, and others, have been asking the Southern Baptist Convention to implement denominational safeguards against clergy child molesters. Southern Baptists have refused.

The requests are nothing radical. We asked for the sorts of safeguards that already exist in other major faith groups in this country. We asked that the denomination provide (1) a safe place where people may report abusive ministers, (2) a denominational panel for responsibly assessing abuse reports (particularly those that cannot be criminally prosecuted), and (3) an effective means, such as a database, of assuring that assessment information reaches people in the pews.

In 2008, TIME magazine ranked Southern Baptists' rejection of a sex-offender database as one of the top 10 underreported stories of the year.

Now here we are in 2012, and Southern Baptists are still sitting on the sidelines.

Robert Parnham of the Baptist Center for Ethics sees the matter clearly

Catholic and Baptist leaders have more similarities than differences on the child-abuse front. Both have harmed church members and the Christian witness by not swiftly addressing predatory clergy and designing reliable protective systems.

By way of contrast, let's also consider that the liberal mainline Protestant denominations -- the ones that respect the moral capacity of women to determine their reproductive life, and many of which not only welcome LGTB people, who are then treated with dignity and equality, but may serve in leadership roles -- do not turn a blind eye to the problems, but also seek to prevent and address child sex abuse by clergy and others.  

These include, among others, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Presbyterian Church, USA, United Church of Christ (PDF), The Episcopal Church, and the United Methodist Church as well as the Unitarian Universalist Association.  What's more, the progressive Religious Institute has resources for religious organizations considering developing policies and programs in this area, and consults with those who are looking to improve their policies and performance.

What I have outlined here is far from a comprehensive treatment of the subject, but it is a fair sketch of the difference between the conservative churches that provide much of the base and leadership of the Christian Right and many other traditional religious denominations.  

My question is:  Can the SBC and the Catholic Bishops be taken seriously on anything else when they cannot get it together to actively protect children from sex predators -- especially their own clergy?




Display:
Finally, it's getting out into the open!  At least, more so than before!  (As I've told people repeatedly, especially people who only follow the news - it's not just a Roman Catholic Church hierarchy thing - several other conservative denominations are also guilty!)

Very good.  Very good indeed.  I have several friends who will be very happy at this news.  A couple may cry (if I can reach them - lost touch)... because of the things they'd been put through (including being blamed and punished for their own sexual abuse - one grown woman was sexually abused as a toddler and the church and some relatives STILL blamed her years later, especially because the perp was still in jail).  A few more people I know will start demanding when the church that hurt them will face the issue.

It IS a conservative problem.  I think eventually it will be tied to a combination of the autocratic and top-down hierarchal structure that is so common in the conservative churches combined with the attitudes held toward women and children found in the same.

This is good news on a painful and touchy subject!  At last one of a handful of churches repeatedly named time and time again for the problem is starting to address the issue (or parts of it are).

by ArchaeoBob on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 01:34:02 PM EST


As a Catholic, I think the bishops are all too eager to call for others to forgive them, but they don't show any sign of repentance. I wish Finn would have the decency to resign before the Vatican recalls him, but I think they won't do it unless it affects their bottom line.

by khughes1963 on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 09:58:17 PM EST

I don't think that it is an accident or coincidence that the denominations with the problems in this regard (Catholic Church, Southern Baptists) are at the Authoritarian end of the spectrum.  Not only does this lead to a mindset that clergy and other leaders have considerable "power over" others, it also leads to a mindset that church members should submit -- and that whatever happens, they owe allegiance to the church and need to keep quiet about abuse.

Mentally healthy, non-authoritarian organizations are a lot less likely to have clergy or members who believe they have a right to do whatever they wish -- and if they do find evidence of such behaviors, are more likely to realize that something needs to be done, both to help the victim and to discipline the offender.

And of course, it also comes down to having a mature and healthy attitude toward sex.   The prurient attitudes of many Catholic clergy and Southern Baptists can lead to a lot of juvenile "playing doctor" type of behavior, followed by blaming the victim and failing to acknowledge -- and willfully misunderstand -- one's own biological urges.  Except for the damage that is done to the victims, the immaturity of it all would be laughable (as well as sad).

by coralsea on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 12:28:51 PM EST



WWW Talk To Action


Hallelujah, Mike Huckabee, Hallelujah
Fox News personality Mike Huckabee had a defining moment in the wake of the Newtown massacre. One that as we enter the 2016 presidential......
By Frederick Clarkson (2 comments)
Moses And Michele: Departing Member Of Congress Spreads More Misinformation
The Religious Right's Moses fixation continues to grow.As you might recall, the Texas State Board of Education recently demanded social studies textbooks that highlight......
By Rob Boston (0 comments)
Christian Right Silent about Bob Jones U Sex Abuse Report
One of the deep scandals of our time, and apparently times past, is that sex abuse, particularly of children, has been so tolerated and......
By Frederick Clarkson (2 comments)
Boot These Bigoted Bans: Movement Seeks To Remove Anti-Atheist Bias From State Constitutions
Eight states still have provisions in their constitutions that either bar atheists outright from holding public office or require people to believe certain things......
By Rob Boston (1 comment)
James Madison and Tax-Supported Chaplains
In light of former Sen. Rick Santorum's recent silly declaration that “the words ‘separation of church and state’ is not in the U.S. Constitution,......
By Chris Rodda (0 comments)
Death to Obama; Death to "Homos"; What's Next?
When the Obama administration was young, threats against the president were common, and sometimes quite public. One notorious such incident was that of Rev.......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Rick Scarborough's America
When Stand Up Sunday was convened by Mike Huckabee in Houston it was to feature the leading spokesmen for the Religious Right agenda.  The......
By wilkyjr (0 comments)
The Republican Diversity Program... Is Working
I don't usually write directly about electoral politics, but sometimes I bring an outsider's perspective to how the inside looks to some of the......
By Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
American Christian Right Leaders in Rome
The remarkable and growing alliance between conservative Catholicism and protestant evangelicalism was on prominent display at a recent event at the Vatican. My colleague......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Religious Supremacism on the Rise Against Marriage Equality
This is a crosspost of an op-ed I recently published at LGBTQ Nation.  -- FC Christian right undermines marriage equality with religious supremacism FREDERICK......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
The Author of Loathing Lincoln Explains Why Some on the Christian Right Loathe Lincoln
One under-reported result of the 2014 elections was the rise of Neo-Confederate politics in the U.S. This included the election of unabashed apologist for......
By Frank Cocozzelli (2 comments)
A Catholic Theocracy Grows in Florida
Catholic Right pizza mogul Tom Monaghan and his Ave Maria School of Law are back in the news.  Journalist Eleanor Bader has a new......
By Frederick Clarkson (6 comments)
Mississippi Madness: Group Wants To Designate An Official Religion
A group in Mississippi is collecting signatures for a ballot initiative to change the state constitution in several ways.The proposal put forth by the......
By Rob Boston (5 comments)
I Stand Sunday Part 2
I Stand Sunday took place in Houston, Nov. 2, 2014, motivated by the cities' mayor who subpoenaed sermons from local pastors.  The host church......
By wilkyjr (1 comment)
I Stand Sunday Part 2
I Stand Sunday took place in Houston, Nov. 2, 2014, motivated by the city's mayor who subpoenaed sermons from local pastors.  The host church......
By wilkyjr (0 comments)

Charles Taze Russell and John Hagee
No doubt exists that Texas mega-church Pastor John Hagee would be loathe to be associated with the theology of Pastor C.T. Russell (wrongly credited with founding the Jehovah's Witnesses) but their theological orbits, while......
COinMS (0 comments)
A death among the common people ... imagination.
Or maybe my title would better fit as “Laws, Books, where to find, and the people who trust them.”What a society we've become!The wise ones tell us over and over how the more things......
Arthur Ruger (0 comments)
Deconstructing the Dominionists, Part VI
This is part 6 of a series by guest front pager Mahanoy, originally dated November 15, 2007 which I had to delete and repost for technical reasons. It is referred to in this post,......
Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Republican infighting in Mississippi
After a bruising GOP runoff election for U.S. Senator, current MS Senator Thad Cochran has retained his position and will face Travis Childers (Democrat) in the next senate election. The MS GOP is fractured......
COinMS (2 comments)
America's Most Convenient Bank® refuses to serve Christians
Representatives of a well known faith-based charitable organization were refused a New Jersey bank’s notarization service by an atheist employee. After inquiring about the nature of the non-profit organization and the documents requiring......
Jody Lane (5 comments)
John Benefiel takes credit for GOP takeover of Oklahoma
Many of you know that Oklahoma has turned an unrecognizable shade of red in recent years.  Yesterday, one of the leading members of the New Apostolic Reformation all but declared that he was responsible......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
John Benefiel thinks America is under curse because Egyptians dedicated North America to Baal
You may remember that Rick Perry put together his "Response" prayer rallies with the help of a slew of NAR figures.  One of them was John Benefiel, an Oklahoma City-based "apostle."  He heads up......
Christian Dem in NC (4 comments)
Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Yes, that's right. We have totally lost our religious freedom in Mississippi and it must be restored by our legislators. ......
COinMS (1 comment)
Bill Gothard accused of harassing women and failing to report child abuse
Surprised no one's mentioned this, but one of the longest-standing leaders of the religious right is in a world of trouble.  Bill Gothard has been active in the fundie movement for over half......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
Eugene Delgaudio may lose his day job as Virginia county supervisor
Surprised no one's noticed this, but one of the nation's most virulent homophobes is in a fight to keep his day job.  Eugene Delgaudio is best known as the head of Public Advocate......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)
Starkville Becomes First City in Mississippi to Pass Resolution Recognizing LGBT Residents
This caught me by surprise. I guess times are a changin in Dixieland. ------------------------------------- Cross posted from the HRC blog. Starkville Becomes First City in Mississippi to Pass Resolution Recognizing LGBT Residents January 21,......
COinMS (0 comments)
Robert Knight: Running against evolution could potentially be a winner for the GOP
In one of the starkest instances yet of how far gone the religious right is, one of its leading activists thinks that he's found another potential wedge issue that could drive more people into......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
First Catholic official convicted in child sex abuse scandal has conviction overturned
Last year, Monsignor William Lynn, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's secretary for clergy, was convicted of reassigning a priest whom he knew had molested a young boy to a parish that had a school attached......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)
Quotes From Sarah Palin 'War on Christmas" Book v. Quotes From 1920s Anti-Jewish Propaganda
The point of this comparison is not to cast Sarah Palin as a Nazi. Rather, my intent is to underline uncomfortable similarities between contemporary "war on Christmas" talking points propagated by elements of the......
Bruce Wilson (0 comments)
Francis sets up commission on how to deal with pedophile priests
Late yesterday Pope Francis announced--apparently after some prodding--that he will set up a panel to advise him on how to deal with child abuse by priests. The announcement was a forthright acknowledgment by the......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)

More Diaries...




All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments, posts, stories, and all other content are owned by the authors. Everything else 2005 Talk to Action, LLC.