The evil that men do lives after them. The good is oft interred with their bones.
Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Act 3, Scene 2
Are many of our religious organizations and institutions morally and spiritually corrupt and bankrupt? Are they only interested in protecting themselves from their misdeeds and a public outcry for accountability? If so, they should no longer be able to hide and coverup their evil deeds. Power, greed, and lust are the emotional center of predators. Because of their self-centeredness, they hurt others and themselves. Love of God and of humanity is absent in their lives even though they publicly pretend to be holy. To protect the vulnerable and the innocent, the hiddenness of predatory behavior needs to be exposed and legal measures be put in place so as to charge and convict all predators.
Predatory sexual abuse scandals within our churches and synagogues claim thousands of known and unknown broken lives. In the past, victims feared to complain and/or were shunned by their congregations if they brought any charges against their “beloved” clergy predators. This type of hypocrisy drives people away from religious institutions. The spiritual, emotional, and psychological damage done to victims, particularly children and congregants, is incalculable. I wonder whether sexual predators have ever truly repented of their behavior, whether they have ever sought forgiveness from their prey, and whether God will ever forgive them. Predatory clergy and their superiors are like the wolf and hireling in Jesus’ parable of the hireling and the good shepherd (John 10:11-15). Clergy predators scatter the sheep and fail to bring their flock to God.
Many worthy women and men have stepped up to tell predators that they will no longer be intimidated by those in positions of power. More people need to support them. As Edmund Burke once said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”
But we have a huge TRUST problem that everyone needs to deal with in our houses of worship, in our public, private, and governmental institutions, and with each other. How can we rebuild trust? For starters, let us:
- Banish all predators from houses of worship and institutions and remand them to legal authorities.
- Encourage good men and women of faith who live out their faith in love and service to be a positive role model for everyone. They should not succumb to the temptation of self-righteousness and/or narcissism.
- Encourage guilty parties to admit their sin, to seek forgiveness from their victims and God, and repent. Wherever possible predators should provide financial restitution to their victims so that they can get psychological and spiritual help.
- Seek God’s grace and forgiveness and live according to the will of God.
- Fight the good fight.
In conclusion consider these words from Paul’s letter to the Galatians.
Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow. If you sow to your own flesh, you will reap corruptions from the flesh, but if you sow to the Spirit, you will reap eternal life from the Spirit. So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest-time, if we do not give up. So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith. (Gal. 6:7-10)