The Abuses of Organized Religion

The Southern Baptists make up the largest protestant denomination in the US.

And in 2019, the Houston Chronicle revealed that its 47,000 affiliated churches faced 380 accusations of sexual abuse.  Plus, remember Tammy-Faye and Jim Bakker and 21-year old church secretary, Jessica Hahn? Jerry and Becky Falwell and the pool boy?

And then there are the continuing scandals involving the Catholic Church around the world! In the UK, the Church of England allowed sexual child abusers to hide for decades. Many studies document the many other abuses of organized religion.

Interesting statistics from The Economist: 

  • Southern Baptist membership peaked at 16.3 million in 2006
  • Membership today – 13.7 million
  • In 2006, 25% of Americans were white evangelicals, today that percentage has fallen to 14%
  • Membership has declined most in the 18-29 year old age group

Political Potency

Still white evangelicals remain politically potent! The holier-than-thou represent a Republican Party plurality, and are the US’s most powerful special interest group. This group has invested heavily in winning the abortion battle and the culture wars. But with declining membership,  how long will they keep winning?

Also, it seems perverse that an institution whose white male leadership has a history of the sexual abuse of women, led the campaign against abortion. I have to wonder how many abortions the abusive pastors and elders have paid for! I guess they have a formula:

  • Coerce
  • Abuse
  • Deny, deny, deny
  • Pay for abortions to get rid of the evidence
  • Hide
  • And then, in private,  fall on their knees to beg forgiveness! 

We’re living in a period awash in cruelty — not only with abuse scandals, but also with mass shootings, political barbarism and the atrocities in Ukraine. How much will the pummelling act of experiencing the news these days lead to empathy erosion? Where will the forces of re-humanization come from? Apparently not from our religious elites.

David Brooks, New York Times, “The Southern Baptist Moral Breakdown”, May 26,2022 

The Abuses of Organized Religion

The abuses of organized religion are not the exclusive territory of Christian denominations or of the United States. It is a global problem. However, the political potency of the US evangelical movement underlines its hypocritical self-righteousness.

Indeed, where will you spend eternity?

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