Sex Abuse Scandals: Catholic, Protestant and Secular – You May Be Surprised

by Steve Ray on November 25, 2016


Article by Dave Armstrong “Scandalous Sexual Misconduct Committed by Protestant Clergy” and it’s original source.

I kept hearing about all these scandals going on in the Catholic Church.  I would hear about scandals from the east coast to the west coast and even in Europe.   The secular press was relentless in making sure the public knew about all these scandals.  And my non-Catholic and Evangelical friends were more than happy to bring this up, the moment that they found out that I was Catholic.  I am hard on the Evangelicals because most of the criticisms were coming from the Evangelicals.  On the other hand there are some Evangelicals who are not this way; in fact they are very caring and understanding.  Here are the words of one Evangelical who in her humility didn’t have a need to trash the Catholic Church on the basis of scandals.  She wanted the truth to be known about the sexual abuse she experienced as an Evangelical.

  • “I am a survivor of 10 years of sexual abuse at the hands of my preacher father. I have now become an advocate for victims of abuse. For years I have been saying that when the full scope of the abuse within the evangelical church comes to light, the Catholics will pale in comparison. I have talked to thousands of abuse victims and it would shock you how many are preacher’s kids, missionary kids and kids who have grown up in evangelical homes. The problem with tracking these numbers is because the evangelicals don’t have the hierarchical system that the Catholics do. Abuse victims can’t take it ‘up the chain of command’ because so many of these churches have no accountability. I seriously warn evangelicals about gloating over the Catholic scandals because our day is coming and it isn’t going to be pretty when we see what has been swept under the rug for decades. God is cleaning his church and this is a day that I have long prayed for. May every pedophile and predator preacher be exposed and may our churches become safe havens for the brokenhearted.”

On another occasion a Baptist minister warned not to gloat because very soon the second shoe may fall and Evangelicals will have their own sex abuse scandals brought out in the open.   This minister saw the big picture and saw no need to throw dirt at the Catholic Church.

Why did the Catholic Church seemingly have this huge problem and other Christian and secular groups seemingly did not? I later found out that the Protestant arena had as large or larger problem with sex abuse among their clergy than the Catholic Church, according to the insurance companies that insure them.   And there was a much larger problem in the secular world.

When I was working at the post office I had an Evangelical colleague tell me how shocked he was about the sex abuse scandal going in the Catholic Church.  I was left to wonder why he was not shocked about the huge child sex abuse scandal in his own Baptist Church.   Apparently he was either unaware of it or was in denial of it.   For those who claim there is no problem, I would suggest that you go online to, Baptist sex abuse scandals.

Then there was my friend who attended Elm Brook Church, who was wondering, “What’s the big deal in the Catholic Church, why are these scandals happening?” She didn’t have long to wait, about six months after asking this, there was this child sex abuse scandal involving a youth minister in her own Elm Brook Church.  The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, November 5th, 1999 was quoted as saying “Any church — any organization — would have difficulty dealing with the overwhelming tragedy that has struck Elmbrook Church in Brookfield, where seven boys have said that youth minister Daniel Varga sexually abused them. As the investigation was beginning, Varga committed suicide.”

My compliments to the press, the Journal Sentinel, who I would say gave them very compassionate coverage.  From the secular press in general if this happened in the Catholic Church with their heavily non-Catholic bias, they would say “if only priests could marry,” as though this was the solution to the problem.   Where does this type of thinking come from?  It comes from articles on any number of anti-Catholic sites on the internet.  These articles allege that the reason for sexual abuse in the Catholic Church is forced celibacy.  Forced celibacy is not in the teachings or practices of the Catholic Church or in the Bible; it exists only in the minds of those who wish to believe it. Celibacy is in the teaching and practices of the Catholic Church and in the Bible.  The youth minister at Elmbrook was not involved in forced celibacy and yet, he was involved in a child sex abuse scandal.  He was married; why didn’t that prevent the problem?   I was left to wonder, if the youth minister at Elmbrook would not have committed suicide, would this child sex abuse scandal have even made it in the local press?

Celibacy may be problematic for some; however it wasn’t a problem for either Paul or Jesus.   The Apostle Paul says,

“The one who marries his virgin will do well; the one who does not marry her will do better” (1 Cor 7:32-35, 38).  Jesus once said that there are those who “have renounced marriage for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven” (Mt 18:12).   

By calling celibacy “forced celibacy” the detractors of the Church are misrepresenting Church teaching.   They then disagree, not with Catholic Church teaching, but their own misrepresentation of Catholic teaching coming from their own tradition.  Intellectual honesty is sadly lacking.   And it is precisely this type of intellectual dishonesty that is leading many of the greatest minds in Evangelical Christianity to the heart of the Catholic Church.   They are reasoning that if it is necessary to misrepresent the Catholic Church in order to show how wrong it is, then maybe the Church is actually right.

Then there is the cover up which, depending on the area and the Bishop, actually did happen and the secular press covered this as well.  However, it would seem, the biggest cover up was by the non-Catholic secular press in that, for the most part, the huge child sex abuse scandal in the Protestant and secular institutions was ignored.

Many years ago, I was working with a person whose father was a married Baptist minister and she said that throughout his public ministry he had multiple affairs over the years with other women in his church.  I wondered if this scandal would ever hit the press and so far it has not.  The sex abuse problem in the Catholic Church has been well covered by the secular press and the sex abuse problem in the Evangelical and Protestant arena has been largely ignored and it is the non-Catholic secular press who is involved in this cover up?    Even when it comes out that the child sex abuse problem may be as large or larger in the non-Catholic arena the liberal press meets this information with silence; they don’t report it.

I was eating in a restaurant in the Milwaukee area, while reading a book on how the Bible was put together.  A man (Missouri synod Lutheran by background) sitting across from me seeing what I was reading, engaged me in a conversation on the Bible.  Once he found out that I was Catholic he immediately brought up the sex abuse scandals in the Catholic Church.  The fact that he brought this up surprised me and so I asked him, why as a non-Catholic, would he bring up sex abuse scandals in the Catholic Church and not bring up the large sex abuse scandals in the Protestant Churches, since that was his background?   I explained to him that according to the insurance companies that insure Christian churches, the Evangelical and other non-Catholic churches have a very large sex abuse problem in their own ministries as well.

His response was actually very good; he said “according to the liberal media, the Catholic Church had this huge problem.”  I didn’t criticize him for not understanding this correctly because according to the secular liberal media, that over-reports the Catholic and under-reports non-Catholic and secular scandals, this is a very likely conclusion for him to make.

This of course brings up another related, but different subject.   Why is it that the moment a non-Catholic discovers that a I am Catholic that often times the issue of these scandals is brought up.   Why is this an okay way of talking to Catholics?  Upon meeting friends at Elmbrook, if I were to bring up the child sex abuse scandal that took place at the hands of their youth minister, would that be okay?   No, it would not!  It would not be love; it would be a put down and it would be a cheap shot.

Everyone seems to be getting in the act; for example the mighty Jewish talk show host Michael Savage got on the band wagon and lambasted the Church for their scandals.  It wasn’t long after that and one of Michael’s, Jewish rabbis was picked up in a sting operation where he was caught on tape soliciting underage girls.   Interesting, Michael didn’t bring this up on his show.

The information is out there; and the secular press is silent in its reporting of it.

  • “The Catholic Church Sex Abuse Stats: Father Jonathan Morris is a Roman Catholic priest in New York City and he is also a news contributor for Fox News Channel. In a recent news story, “Father Jonathon” stated that heavy media scrutiny forced the Catholic Church to open the books on how many sex abuse cases there have been. Since 1950, 13,000 credible accusations were brought against Catholic priests; this averages 228 cases per year.
  • Sex Abuse in Protestant Churches: Three insurance companies in the United States that provide liability coverage for 165,000 Protestant churches revealed data to the Associated Press that they typically receive 260 reports every year of children being sexually abused by Protestant clergy or other staff.

Some people are acting like modern day Pharisees pointing out the sin of others while not acknowledging their own sin.   “The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, , ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity—greedy, dishonest, adulterous –or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week, and I pay tithe on my whole income’” (Lk 18:11-12).

They are busy confessing the sins of others rather than their own sinful scandals.   But why do they confess the sins of others when Jesus spoke against this?   The answer is simple; they were often times using it as a negative recruiting tool to get people out of the Catholic Church and into the Evangelical Churches.  In fact one Baptist minister, Bart Breuer (ex-Catholic priest) said they wanted to convert all the Catholics they could get, and because of the scandal, the Church was now vulnerable. They have had some success in this as an Evangelizing recruiting tool.   In fact, in some cases, they even give the percentage of Catholics who have left the Catholic Church and joined their Evangelical churches on the basis of scandals.

However, what happens when these people, who join these churches finally realize the huge sex abuse problem in the non-Catholic churches or worse still, the specific Evangelical church that they joined has a sex abuse scandal?   “In 2011 the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life polled church leaders from around the world. Evangelical ministers from the United States reported a greater loss of influence than church leaders from any other country — with some 82 percent indicating that their movement was losing ground…”  For those people who think that evangelizing Catholics from their faith on the basis of scandal is a good thing, I think they will be sadly disappointed when people discover the full truth.

Here is an excerpt from an article by William A. Donohue, Ph. D., SEXUAL ABUSE IN SOCIAL CONTEXT: CLERGY AND OTHER PROFESSIONALS

  • In a 1993 survey by the Journal of Pastoral Care, 14 percent of Southern Baptist ministers said they had engaged in “inappropriate sexual behavior,” and 70 percent said they knew a minister who had had such contact with a parishioner.[xvii] Joe E. Trull is co-author of the 1993 book, Ministerial Ethics, and he found that “from 30 to 35 percent of ministers of all denominations admit to having sexual relationships—from inappropriate touching to sexual intercourse—outside of marriage.” 
  • According to a 2000 report to the Baptist General Convention in Texas, “The incidence of sexual abuse by clergy has reached ‘horrific proportions.’” It noted that in studies done in the 1980s, 12 percent of ministers had “engaged in sexual intercourse with members” and nearly 40 percent had “acknowledged sexually inappropriate behavior.” The report concluded that “The disturbing aspect of all research is that the rate of incidence for clergy exceeds the client-professional rate for physicians and psychologists.”[xix] Regarding pornography and sexual addiction, a national survey disclosed that about 20 percent of all ministers are involved in the behavior.” 

I as I said before, I am hard on Evangelicals on this issue because there are a number of them who are unfairly trashing the Catholic Church on this issue.  At the same time, there are some wonderful Evangelicals out there who have a sense of humility and love truth.   They are quite willing to talk about the sex abuse scandals in Evangelical churches and don’t have a need to trash the Catholic Church.  One of them happens to be Billy Graham’s grandson and this is what he reports.

  • “The Christian mission field “is a magnet” for sex abusers, Boz Tchividjian, a Liberty University law professor who investigates abuse said Thursday (Sept. 26) to a room of journalists.  While comparing evangelicals to Catholics on abuse response, “I think we are worse,” he said at the Religion Newswriters Association conference. But it’s harder to track.
  • “Protestants can be very arrogant when pointing to Catholics,” said Tchividjian, a grandson of evangelist Billy Graham and executive director of Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (GRACE), which has investigated sex abuse allegations.
  • Earlier this summer, GRACE spearheaded an online petition decrying the “silence” and “inattention” of evangelical leaders to sexual abuse in their churches.
  • Mission agencies, “where abuse is most prevalent,” often don’t report abuse because they fear being tossed from countries, he said. Abusers will get sent home and might join another agency. Of known data from abuse cases, 25 percent are repeat cases.
  • Still, he says, he sees some positive movements among some Protestants. Bob Jones University has hired GRACE to investigate abuse allegations, a move that encourages Tchividjian, a former Florida prosecutor. ”That’s like the mothership of fundamentalism,” he said. His grandfather Billy Graham split with Bob Jones in a fundamentalist and evangelical division.
  • “The Protestant culture is defined by independence,” Tchividjian said. Evangelicals often frown upon transparency and accountability, he said, as many Protestants rely on Scripture more than religious leaders, compared to Catholics.
  • Abusers discourage whistle blowing by condemning gossip to try to keep people from reporting abuse, he said. Victims are also told to protect the reputation of Jesus.  Too many Protestant institutions have sacrificed souls in order to protect their institutions, he said. ”We’ve got the gospels backwards,” he said.
  • Tchividjian said he is speaking with Pepperdine University, a Church of Christ school in California, about creating a national GRACE center.”

“Abusers discourage whistle blowing by condemning gossip to try to keep people from reporting abuse, he said. Victims are also told to protect the  reputation of Jesus.”

If so-called Christians discredit one another on the basis of scandals, they will be causing a spirit to smile; it just won’t be the Holy Spirit smiling!   How did Jesus deal with sin perpetuated against Him?  Some trash the Church in the midst of the scandals; however, Jesus died for the Church in the midst of scandals.

A person, who I was working with at the Post Office said that he had not been to church since he was married, seventeen years prior.  He commented on the hypocrites in the Church and said; “nah, I don’t need all that hypocrisy” and so he stopped going to Mass.  I mentioned to him that if bad example is a valid reason to leave the Church then Jesus should never have died for the Church. I went on to tell him that Peter denied Jesus three times; Judas sold Him for 30 pieces of silver and none of the Apostles except for John were present at His crucifixion.  And so if bad example was a reason not to be a part of the Church, then Jesus should never have died for the Church and yet He did.  He looked at me with a grin on his face and said, “I never thought of it that way, I must have copped out!” He and his wife came back to the Church within weeks.   I was actually amazed at their wonderfully quick response.  Once he realized his faulty reasoning, he was able to make a change.  How many people can do that?

TO KEEP IN CONTACT: Seek first the Kingdom of God (Mt 6:33),

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Greg November 26, 2016 at 12:16 PM

90% of the Emerald Isle attended Mass every week a half century ago. Today the churches are almost empty.
Father Gerard Moloney wrote in The Irish Times. “The church has provided its enemies with weapons of mass destruction. It has no one to blame but itself.”

Alray November 27, 2016 at 9:41 PM

Secularism and luekwarmness in the Western World was already forewarned by Our Lady of Fatima 100 years ago. That is part of the apocalypse.

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