Crime

The scandals of the Catholic Church are well known. To this day the church is still acceding to multi-million dollar settlements  — the latest is a $210 million agreement between the Archdiocese of St. Paul & Minneapolis and 450 victims of priestly abuse.

But the Catholics are hardly alone either in producing abusers or in concealing their abuse. Evangelicals are their soul mates in criminally deviant and sinful behavior. Although evangelicals commit more crimes against girls, visit more prostitutes and unlike Catholic priests (who are unmarried) they commit adultery.

Evangelicals also follow the Catholic model for dealing with their crimes – protecting the abuser and dismissing the victim. However, unlike Catholics, evangelicals belong to a very loose confederation. There is no central authority setting rules. Each church is free to decide its own code of conduct. Which means that estimating the scope of abuse is far harder.

Evangelicals also differ from Catholics in that they are big on victim blaming — from accusations of flat-out lying to charges that the victim brought it on herself. Even when the victim is prepubescent.

Sexual abuse by church leaders creates cognitive dissonance among church members. They have been told since birth that the church is an oasis of morality in a desert of sin. Tales of sexual assault don’t jibe with that core belief, especially when the perpetrator is a religious leader. And, as witnessed in the Josh Duggar affair, evangelicals believe the best way to deal with sexual abuse is to treat it as a sin, subject to spiritual counseling, rather than a crime, deserving a criminal remedy.

Evangelicals also love sinners. I suspect in their philosophy forgiving the sinner makes them feel righteous and superior. Although I’m not sure how it helps those sinned against.

You have to believe that witnessing a procession of guys busted for sexual sins — gnashing and wailing and begging God for forgiveness — while their ‘adoring’ wife bravely stands beside them — and the congregation embraces them — might give a man, prone to sinning, the belief that there isn’t much downside to behaving abominably.

Hasidic and other ultra-orthodox Jews have the same desire to keep their crimes in-house. With Orthodox Jews, the situation is exacerbated by a deep distrust of goyish American law enforcement. Some Jews even believe that it is mesirah (or banned) to turn a Jew over to non-Jewish authorities. Although, as you might imagine, in this legalistically obsessed community there is a variety of opinions.

While it’s hard to say for sure, it seems likely that religion does not make a man more likely to be a pedophile, visit prostitutes or commit adultery. But it does make it more likely that his crime will be covered up.

Fundamentalist Muslims take it one step further. They solve the crime against women problem by defining behaviors most people think as criminal as not criminal. For example, blaming unmarried women for their own rapes. Giving married men unlimited sexual rights over their wives. And permitting wife beating.

If religious people are confused as to what to do if they uncover a crime here’s a simple rule — report it to the police. Colleges should follow the same procedure.

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