The moral failings of the church, which is supposed to be the centerpiece of morality and helping shape the lives of the broken-hearted and steer tomorrow’s leaders on a clear path to meaningful development in our communities is nothing short of religious hypocrisy of the highest order.
What is happening to the church today is almost like a 21 century religious inquisition, where the church is now being forced to confront its own hypocrisy and unacceptable behaviors that evidence shows have been condoned for a long time.
In fact, from the revelations that have come out from the mighty, all powerful Roman Catholic Church, it appeared as if there was a clearly crafted method to shield pedophile priests from any potential exposure for their shameful behavior. Some of these priests were transferred to other churches once word got out that they abused and manipulated their youngest congregation members. Some victims have been left with permanent emotional scars. Whenever the leadership of the church is confronted they plead ignorance to a litany of abuse of church power and influence.
For example, the former Catholic archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Bernard Law, was forced to resign in the midst of a scandal for his failure to defrock John Geoghan, a priest in his archdiocese who was accused of abusing more than 100 minors from 1962 to 1995. Instead of disciplining Cardinal Law, the Vatican, the world’s most wealthy and influential religious government, invited Law to occupy a prestigious position at the Vatican as well as a nice apartment in the basilica he now calls home, thousands of miles away from the sex abuse victims.
Is that how those who helped create an atmosphere where children are sexually abused get rewarded?
Last week in London, the head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI, received an unusual greeting. Thousands of people took to the streets to protest the sexual abuse of minors in the church. The Pope, who has been dancing around the issue for a long time and playing religious semantics, was forced to apologize in a way he had not done before.
“I express my deep sorrow to the innocent victims of these unspeakable crimes. I also acknowledge with you the shame and humiliation that all of us have suffered because of these sins,” Pope Benedict said during a mass in London.
The same week that Pope Benedict was in London begging for forgive ness, the Black church was also hit with a massive scandal focused on alleged abuse at the mega New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta where the flamboyant Bishop Eddie Long sits as the leader of a 25,000-member congregation.
Long is facing four lawsuits alleging he abused young Black men who were part of a select group of young men he personally handpicked to provide spiritual guidance for.
The plaintiffs appear to have some damaging evidence, such as receipts, W-2 forms, photos Long is believed to have sent to them — showing him in unusual outfits — among other items.
Aside from the fact that this latest sex scandal is rocking one of the most prominent Black churches in the country, it is also significant because this same church was the venue in 2006 of the historic funeral of Coretta Scott King, widow of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Four U.S. presidents attended that funeral, catapulting Long’s religious and financial empire to greater heights.
The twist to this unfolding story in Atlanta that is the talk in Black churches across the nation is that Long has been a leading anti-gay advocate, leading marches in Atlanta against the gay community. Now he stands accused.
The Black church has always played down issues pertaining to homosexuality, just as it does with the AIDS crisis.
In fact, a visit to Black pulpits on Sunday mornings will reveal nothing but a diatribe of conservative theology that inherently opposes gays and lesbians. Is the Black church finally coming to terms with an issue that has been swept under the carpet for so long?
Is this an inquisition moment for the Black church that has long paraded itself as the epitome of social justice representation?
But at the center of these allegations of sexual misconduct lies the abuse of absolute power, whether it is the Roman Catholic Church, the Black church or the Evangelical church where Ted Haggard, a once outspoken gay critic, fell after it was revealed that he paid a man named Mike Jones for sex for three years.
The fact is that these churches have no means of accountability. The pastor is the representation of an absolute monarchy. The poor, middle class, rich and everyone in between are steadfastly giving their offerings and paying their tithes every Sunday.
What do they get in return for these contributions from their hard-earned incomes?