Thursday, September 23, 2010

Piety and Impropriety

The gay anti-gay preacher thing is getting to be like a joke you have heard so many times you have memorized the punchline. Elizabeth Tenety, writing at the Under God blog at the Washington Post, tells us about this weeks' outed hypocrite, Bishop Eddie Long:
Bishop Eddie Long denied allegations that he coerced three of his male congregants into sexual relationships after lawsuits were filed against him claiming "sexual impropriety."

The AP reported that the Georgia megachurch pastor "abused his spiritual authority to seduce [young men] with cars, money, clothes, jewelry, international trips and access to celebrities," a claim, if true, that would make Long not only an abuser, but a hypocrite. From the report:
Long has called for a national ban on same-sex marriage and his church counsels gay members to become straight. In 2004, he led a march with Bernice King to her father's Atlanta grave to support a national constitutional amendment to protect marriage "between one man and one woman."

Long is far from the first religious leader to face allegations of sexual impropriety in recent years.

Ted Haggard was a Colorado megachurch leader and president of the National Evangelical Association when it was revealed that he was involved in a gay affair. In fact, the now 'completely heterosexual' Haggard weighed in on the allegations against Long, saying, "Nobody's guilty until the court says he's guilty."

The Catholic church has been plagued by an international sex abuse scandal for nearly a decade.

Several ultra-Orthodox rabbis in Brooklyn have been arrested or sued for abusing boys in the past few years.

Is there a relationship between piety and impropriety? Or do we simply pay more attention to the hypocrisy of religious leaders when they fall? Bishop Eddie Long: New Birth Missionary Baptist Church leader denies allegations

Comments are interesting. There are several from people who belong to a group called SNAP - Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. It seems somehow the very lowest, to take advantage of the faithful.

The question is a good one: is there a relationship between piety and impropriety?


Anonymous ha-ha said...

I don't know if the allegations about Long are true or not but it's interesting that you bring up the Roman Catholic situation

basically, they have long tolerated gays as priests, who find it a respectable place to hide since celibacy is a requirement

since, celibacy is required, gays qualified for priesthood because they vowed to not indulge any sexual desires

given their tolerance, how odd that you would attack them for it

September 23, 2010 11:05 AM  
Anonymous David S. Fishback said...

Ha-ha actually reveals the tragedy of the Catholic priesthood.

I would posit that the following has been at work.

1. The Catholic Church traditionally has condemned homosexuality.

2. Boys growing up in the Church want to be good Catholics. If they do not marry, then they will be looked upon with suspicion.

3. So they have two choices: Marry anyway, but disappoint their wives; that is certainly not a proper thing to do -- particularly since divorce is prohibited. Or try to be celebate in an acceptable manner by becoming priests.

4. I suspect that many priests started out be deciding that they would be celebate and that that would be the way to square their allegiance to the Church and their own sexual orientation.

5. While some people probably can be lifelong celebates as part of what they view as a higher calling, I suspect that many people cannot. So many of those priests, who began with the best of intentions, eventually "succumbed" to their natural desires, but in terribly inappropriate ways.

If the Church did not condemn homosexuality, then its gay members would not have to hide. But it is the hiding that can be emotionally devastating to people. That emotional devastation often manifests itself in self-destructive behavior or in behavior that is destructive to others.

So the crisis in the Catholic Church may well be one of its own doing. And I am very sad about this, because the Catholic Church, at its best, has been a great force for good in the world.

September 23, 2010 12:45 PM  
Anonymous ha-ha said...

except for the second to last paragraph, I agree with what David is saying

one thing I might add is I have a feeling the church hierarchy was well aware of the fact that many of their priests were gay and were fine with it as long as they agreed to celibacy

all unspoken, I'm sure, but a form of tolerance nonetheless

I think that has now changed because of the scandals and the hierarchy feels they made a mistake and are actively discouraging gays from participation in the priesthood

September 23, 2010 1:44 PM  
Anonymous Robert said...

I'm not sure if a "don't ask, don't tell" policy such as anonymou is postulating in the past for the Catholic hierarchy qualifies as tolerance. It seems more like exploitation to me: we will take your work as long as you don't bother us with your reality.

September 24, 2010 9:25 PM  

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