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DemBones DemBones Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-18-07 02:27 AM
Original message
"260 reports of abuse yearly in Protestant churches "

June 15, 2007
BY ROSE FRENCH

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The three companies that insure the majority of Protestant churches in America say they typically receive upward of 260 reports each year of young people under 18 being sexually abused by clergy, church staff, volunteers or congregation members.

The figures offer a glimpse into what has long been an extremely difficult phenomenon to pin down -- the frequency of sex abuse in Protestant congregations.

Religious groups and victims' supporters have been interested in the figure ever since the Roman Catholic sex abuse crisis hit five years ago. The church has revealed that there have been 13,000 credible accusations against Catholic clerics since 1950 -- 228 a year.

Protestant numbers have been harder to come by because the denominations are less centralized than the Catholic church. Some of the only numbers come from three insurance companies -- Church Mutual Insurance Co., GuideOne Insurance Co. and Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Co. Together, they represent a large chunk of all U.S. Protestant churches.

http://www.suntimes.com/lifestyles/religion/429030,CST-...
**********************************************************************************************************

Logic has always suggested that the numbers would be fairly equal, given that those who have studied pedophilia and ephebophilia find that 1-2% of all men are involved.

Has anyone heard this news about abuse among Protestants on television or radio or seen it in print elsewhere? It's an AP story, came out on Friday. . . The better to bury it, perhaps?
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hedgehog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-18-07 08:14 AM
Response to Original message
1. IMO, here's the difference.
I recall a scandal in the Church regarding pedophilia back in the late 80's, early 90's. I was the witness to an unhealthy relationship between a teenage girl and a priest while I was in high school back in the 70's. At the time, I had no idea what to do, and I can understand most people including the bishops being befuddled. But, by the 90's, we all knew about child abuse, and we expected the bishops to clean up their act. Instead, we've seen another 15 years of cover-ups and reassignments while good priests have been hounded out of the Church because they dare mention the possibility that the Vatican is wrong on certain subjects.

One group of churches acts swiftly and decisively to correct the problems as they arise. Meanwhile, the bishops continue the cover-up. Insttead of approaching the victims with humility, they've called out the lawyers.
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shrike Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-18-07 09:18 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. Oh, there are cover-ups
You just don't hear about them. Here's why:

Not to excuse the behavior of the Catholic hierarchy, but as a sometime-member of the media I can vouch for the fact that there's a storyline in place: the Catholic Church is rife with corruption and pedophiles and the bishops do nothing but cover-up. Protestant churches, on the other hand, have a zero tolerance policy towards child molesters and nip these problems in the bud practically before they start.

Again, I'm not trying to excuse the bishops' behavior but I've seen this kind of storyline in action. If you ever get a chance to go over to Buzzflash's archives, Robert Parry has a great description of just how the media works in these situations.

From my experience, it's sheer laziness that causes these storylines to form: okay, we know there've been scandals here in the past, ergo we can rehash a lot of what we already know, fit this new story in the pattern, and go home early.

In my area, there's been several scandals with a local Baptist Church: one affair between minister and student was ignored 'til the two ran off together. You can bet the church didn't approach the victims' family "with humility" in that instance.

I've actually heard non-Catholics and non-religious people grumble about all the priest-pedophile coverage: they say a) other denominations have their scandals, too, the media doesn't cover them. b) some of these victims may just be looking for money (unfair, I know.)
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Matilda Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-18-07 08:50 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. Some years ago, I accidentally came across a website
that was put up by a Jehovah's Witness, documenting the culture of abuse within that religion.

I have no idea how I came upon it, but I'd never read or heard anything about abuse amongst this
particular sect, so I read it. Many people had contributed to it, women of all ages, but young
people of both sexes who'd been abused by church elders, often for many years. Some had managed
to leave, but many suffered in silence, or were told to keep quiet by their own families.

For them it was particularly difficult, because the Witnesses are such a closed community, and for
many there was the feeling that if they left they would be completely alone, because there was no
outside community support for them - they simply didn't know where to go. The few who were brave
enough to speak out against their abusers - always those in positions of power - were threatened
with expulsion unless they withdrew their allegations, and few felt they could survive outside the
tight community they'd known all their lives. And not one person said they had the support of their
families - probably the parents and relatives were just as frightened of the consequences of being
expelled as the victims, so nobody else ever helped.

It was a very sad website, because it left one feeling that for most of these people, there would
never be any brighter future.
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shrike Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-20-07 09:10 AM
Response to Reply #3
5. So sad
I hated to bring up money in my earlier post, but unfortunately the threat of lawsuits and six-figure settlements seems to be the only thing that brings people around. Money is the only thing that gets their attention, which is one of the reasons I don't fault most plaintiffs or their attorneys.
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DemBones DemBones Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-20-07 10:54 PM
Response to Reply #2
7. Exactly. There is a storyline in place so every story about

abuse allegations against a priest is PAGE ONE NEWS, WITH MEDIA COVERAGE 24/7 ON CABLE NEWS CHANNELS while stories about ministers and rabbis, even when the minister or rabbi has confessed to abusing children, are page thirty news, and not mentioned on television news.

As for cover-ups, during the great "crisis" someone at DU made the claim that no rabbis were pedophiles. A quick search showed that not only was this untrue, but that there were extensive efforts to cover up the stories of rabbis who have abused children and/or adolescents. These rabbis had not merely abused one or two children, either; their sins were legion.

Cover-ups also occur among mainstream Protestants, Mormons, and Jehovah's Witnesses. I would not be surprised to learn that the same is true of Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, etc. Those who have studied pedophilia say that 1-2% of all men are pedophiles, and that most are married men.

It's not celibacy that makes men molest children or adolescents, it's something about their psychological makeup. If sexuality is genetically determined, perhaps the sexual preference for children or for adolescents (ephebophilia) is also genetically determined. We know that attempts to treat pedophiles/ephebophiles are rarely if ever successful. Most men who go to prison for those crimes are arrested again for the same crimes after they are released.

I don't think it's unfair to suggest that some who come forward with claims of abuse, whether against priests, ministers, or rabbis, are looking for money. The Catholic Church has doled out millions to people who accused priests of abusing them, often with no proof whatsoever of the claims.

Claims in these cases are very often based entirely on "recovered memories," which are not considered valid by most psychiatrists and psychologists.

I'm going to start another thread about the irresponsibilty and laziness of the media in one particular case in Boston.
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AngryOldDem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-19-07 09:53 AM
Response to Reply #1
4. You nailed it
Ever hear of/read the Doyle/Peterson/Mouton report that came out in the late '80s? It predicted how bad the abuse scandal would get, almost down to the penny of how much this would cost the Church. It urged Church officials to come clean immediately about the scope of the problem as one way to get a handle on it. All bishops received a copy of the report; most quietly filed it away, most likely in the round file.

It has always been infuritating to me how they think that by not recognizing there is a problem, it will go away. That goes beyond pathological denial, IMO. It goes beyond arrogance.

I know one abuse survivor who has told me that all he really wanted was a simple apology. He didn't even get that. Instead, he got years of hell which finally made him file suit. I've heard others say the same...their love and devotion for the Church would have outweighed any kind of punitive suit, IF the Church had had the forthrightness and compassion to offer an apology and any kind of assistance.

With 20/20 hindsight, the true solution -- recognizing and dealing with the problem up front, and not trying to shift blame elsewhere -- is so simple yet comprehensive that it makes what the Church is faced with today even more tragic.

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hedgehog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-20-07 12:27 PM
Response to Original message
6. Besides all of the above, didn't the Big Guy say something once
about pointing out the splinter in your neighbor's eye while ignoring the beam in your own? Let's clean up our house first before we go around patting ourselves on the back because the neighbors have a messy house, too.
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DemBones DemBones Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-20-07 11:43 PM
Response to Reply #6
8. The neighbors, and the media, have been pointing to our house for a long time.

I think it's only fair, and about time, that it be reported that the neighbors have the same problems in their houses.

Some, particularly the media, have been ignoring the beam in their own eye for a very long time while pointing out the mote in ours. Many have claimed celibacy is the mote in our eye.

The fact is that 1-2% of all men are pedophiles and most are married men but the media, and some Catholics, have used the tragedy that some children have suffered to bolster their arguments for allowing priests to marry and women to become priests. I think that using the pain of children to advance any political agenda is despicable.

You seem to imply that I suggested we "pat ourselves on the back" because Protestants have problems, too. I take that as a personal insult since I said nothing of the kind.

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Matilda Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-21-07 11:14 PM
Response to Reply #8
10. Abuse, whether emotional, physical or sexual, is about power.
Perpetrators are people who are not at ease with themselves, have identity problems, and/or
unresolved issues of abuse in their own childhoods. To make themselves feel strong, they must
find someone weaker and more vulnerable to attack, and it can just as easily be emotional or
physical as sexual (the Christian Brothers in Australia became notorious for violent beatings of
children in their care). I agree with you - being married or not has little to do with the
problem - when it's an issue of power, you can have a married man who will abuse his wife as
well as children, his own or other people's, because he's a disfunctional person, not because
he's sex-mad or frustrated. I think these people are often very angry, but instead of trying to
explore their own consciousness to find out why, they attack others in one way or another. Sex
can be part of it, but it's not the beginning and end of the problem.


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JNelson6563 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-24-07 07:13 PM
Response to Reply #8
12. It started hundreds of years ago, actually
Remember, the first thing any organization (especially a religion!) must do is to hammer on the predecessor(s) with criticism so as to establish credibility for their own existence. Luther is a prime example with his message on the door and all that. Of course his writings demonstrate he hated Jews with a great passion and it's clear he was in cahoots with the German princes/nobles in their oppression of the common folk. Yeah, a real swell guy but hey! At least he wasn't Catholic! :eyes:

As has been shown in this thread there are horror stories among every religion (can't remember poster who commented on JWs but that is TRULY a dark, ugly world!). The Catholic Church has been painted as evil for so long many can't imagine it to be otherwise.

Interestingly enough, having been raised Catholic and attended Catholic school, I had never heard a bad word against any other religion. Pretty much everyone else I knew, who was raised in a different sect of Christianity, had been taught to some degree Catholic = bad. *sigh*

Julie
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shrike Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-21-07 09:34 AM
Response to Reply #6
9. I'm not saying we shouldn't clean up our problems
However, this "storyline" tendency in the media is a problem not only for the Catholic Church, and us as Catholics, but for America in general. It's one of the reasons we're in the mess we're in, i.e., the Iraq war et. al, and I think it needs to be pointed out whenever possible.

BTW, I like my bishop's policy, here in our diocese. A couple of years ago, an allegation was made against a priest in the eastern side of the diocese. The allegations were from long ago, when he was in Florida. The diocese investigated, turned over everything it uncovered to the county prosecutor, then held a press conference stating exactly what had been done, and that the priest in question had been put on indefinite leave; he would have no more contact with parishioners of any kind. Prior to the press conference, announcements of the situation were made at every Sunday mass in the Diocese.

I remember feeling sorry for the priest in question; what if he'd been innocent (he wasn't, the prosecutor found there was enough there there to proceed, and it all ended up in a plea bargain.) But I suppose complete disclosure is better than the opposite approach.
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DemBones DemBones Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-21-07 11:47 PM
Response to Reply #9
11. Yes, investigative journalism is virtually nonexistent in the US today.

If it were not, there would have been earlier investigations into child abuse allegations against clergy of other religions instead of just reporting, often inaccurately, about Catholic priests accused of abuse. There has been so much that they have ignored because they were given a "story line" and they ran with it.

I am noticing that as this AP story makes its way to other sites, such as the NY Times, an interesting thing is happening. They cite the fact that there have been 13,000 credible accusations against Catholic clergy since 1950, but leave off the fact that that amounts to 228 accusations per year, fewer than the yearly average of 260+ accusations against Protestant clergy. The Protestant number will be even larger when they get the data on other groups not insured by these three insurance companies, but it already exceeds the Catholic number. Talk about a cover-up!

I think it's very revealing that various sites are editing out that yearly figure for Catholics. The average person skimming over the story may see 260+ for Protestants and 13,000 for Catholics and not realize the 13,000 are spread over 57 years. Even those who note the different ways of reporting used are unlikely to take the time to figure out the yearly rate for Catholics is 228. The media clearly maintain the perception that priests are more likely to be pedophiles than ministers are, or they want the public to, or both.

Although I'm annoyed at what seems to be bias, I'm more annoyed because this is information that really is vital for parents to have. If Protestants feel secure that their pastors couldn't be pedophiles, that it's just "a Catholic problem," their children may be in danger. The safety of vulnerable children is at stake and I don't think enough is being done to protect children. While the number of pedophiles is a small percentage of the population, they typically have many victims. The media could be doing far more to inform parents about keeping their children safe from those who prey on children.
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