Monday, April 11, 2011

From “Give us Barabbas” To “Give us our Molesting Pastor.” The Cry of the Lemmings

I regularly visit a blog called “Deep Thoughts” written by internet friend and fellow free thinker “Mojoey.” Many of his posts are dedicated to exposing clergy who were recently indicted, arrested or convicted for theft, violence or sexual misconduct. It’s a worthy mission.

Time and again I have been stunned at the response of the congregations of these ministers, to the accusations leveled against them. But no more. Now I have come to expect it.

Invariably the congregations will side with the accused pastor while ignoring his history, the evidence, and the pain of the victims. From taking up collections for bail money, to searching the internet for blogs or newspaper reports in order to post their defense of their shepherd’s innocence, to overtly blaming and demonizing the victim -- there seems to be no limit to their capacity to elevate the accused and cloak him as the victim/ martyr.

I've tried to imagine something similar in a non-sectarian world. Would a secular club, fraternity, corporation, or non-profit organization solicit money from its members to post $350k in bail for a convicted sexual predator leader of the organization who has been indicted for committing multiple child rapes, the same crime he was convicted of 25 years previously? I can't think of a single historical example.

So what makes the church going rush to the defense of, and dig deep into their own pockets for such people? I’ll proffer three reasons:

  • First, religionists imbue their shaman with demigod like status. After all, a man who acts as a conduit between them and god must be pure of heart and thus must be falsely accused.

  • Second, because they are so dependent on their shaman, so invested in him as an oracle and anchor in their lives, that fear of his loss is overwhelming and takes precedence over justice.

  • Finally, they are so gullible that they can be easily manipulated by the perpetrator’s friends and family to ignore the hand writing on the wall, irrespective of the preponderance of evidence against him and veracity of his accusers. Perhaps Satan is behind the victim’s accusations.

This speaks volumes about the effect of religion on their minds. It so fills the psyche that it leaves little room reasoned judgment or logical discernment. It is “group think” run amok.

I imagine if Pontius Pilate gave them the choice between setting free an impoverished homeless man arrested for stealing food, or their ex-con minister accused of new multiple child rapes, it wouldn’t be too difficult a decision for them. Pathetic theist lemmings.


NewEnglandBob said...

"It so fills the psyche that it leaves little room reasoned judgment or logical discernment. It is “group think” run amok."

I also think you can add deep brainwashing to the other three reasons.

Mojoey said...

Hey - nice post and thanks for the props.

Ross said...

I haven't looked at the blog you reference, so here's some initial thoughts. While I agree that the Christian world has often badly handled this problem, and that the credibility of the church has been badly damaged, that's not to say that this is how it always happens. One of the ministry interns at a church I used to attend was unfaithful to his wife. After meeting with the church leadership team, he had to resign from his position, withdraw from Bible college, and make a public announcement about what he did in front of the congregation, and then attend counselling. He is no longer involved in paid ministry. Every church I've been involved in takes this issue very seriously. I've always respected my pastors, but it would be irresponsible to follow them blindly or put them on a pedestal as if they were super spiritual.

Anonymous said...

Veracity? Voracity seems a bit harsh for the victim.

Dromedary Hump said...

Thanks. corrected...again!!
My editor found 6,000 errors in the manuscript for my new book coming out in June. She says she's going to charge extra for my illiteracy.

Dromedary Hump said...

Perhaps we can chalk it up to Aussie theists being less stupid (read: les fanatically devoted to their clergy) than American theists.

But seriously, certainly what you descibe is not totally unheard of here. But the fact remains that defense of the indefensible actions of clergy in the US by their flock is rampant.

"Judge not lest ye be judged" , "He who is without sin cast the first stone", "innocent until proven guilty" "I kinow father X and he is a good man, the "victim" is a lying slut." All of these are comments that I have seen posted, multiple times, in response to Mojoey's wall of infamous clergy. Even when the offending minister/priest confessed to authorities!

If you can explain this madness better than I can, I'd love to hear it.

longhorn believer said...

Hump, I think your psychological analysis is spot on. Let me add my personal experience to your side of the argument. I had an uncle (fortunately I can say he married into the family) who was a Pentecostal pastor and it was found out that he sexually abused a child. Not a damn thing was done about it. I have family members that will still defend him to this day even though he's dead and gone! Later he quit the ministry when it was found out he had slept with half the women in the church, but apparently the child abuse wasn't enough to get him booted in the first place.

And recently my cousin, who lives in what I would call a cult, got upset because I had the nerve to call her pastor a brainwasher. "He's the shepherd and we're his flock. He keeps us from going off a cliff and getting brambles stuck in our feet. He's smarter than you will ever think about being". I'm paraphrasing, but that's pretty close. I told her I agreed. If he could convince that many people he was the next best thing to God himself, they were the idiots, not him!

Dromedary Hump said...

Longhorn...thanks for sharing that info.

Texas Mike said...

This “Lemming mentality” manifests itself in many ways among the religiously infected. I think a lot of it stems from low self esteem. They don’t trust themselves to make good decisions or accept responsibility for their own actions so they put their imaginary friend in charge. If something bad happens, it’s not their fault, but god’s will. If something good happens, their low self image won’t let them take credit so, glory to god. If their shaman touches little Timmy on his naughty parts it is either a test from god or the hand of the devil. Take your pick. It is very common among people who do horrible things like Andrea Yates.

It astounds me that otherwise sane and rational people give up control of their entire life to a non-existent being, or worse, to someone who claims to represent said deity.

Anonymous said...

@Texas Mike

Excellent and succinct summation.

The sad thing is that such people never learn good self-esteem because their parents would imbue this inferiority complex into them. And even sadder, in turn when they grow up, they tend to do the same to their own children. Thus you get generations who don’t trust themselves to make good decisions or accept responsibility for their own actions so they put an imaginary friend in charge.

With that said, I think the greatest hope to breaking this depressing cycle is the rise of the middle class in industrialized and emerging nations which increases the leisure time available to people (especially women) and the drop in the cost of acquiring knowledge, especially through the internet (and this is well backed up with surveys of attitudes by PEW and other organizations showing a drop in the religiosity, especially with the youngest generation).

- Fastthumbs

Ross said...

I'd consider these churches to be spiritual abusive. It's not a good idea to have a church model that invests too much power in the pastor with almost no accountability to an independent board or oversight team, or to the congregation. It's a recipe for disaster.