Religious scandals of ’87


When clergymen get into trouble, it reminds one of the uproar among television preachers (Bakker, Swaggert) in ’87 (Pear­ly-gate).  That exposed the human stumblings – alcoholism, sexual misconduct, hush money, cover-ups, deceitful fundraising and accounting, lavish lifestyles, addiction to prescription drugs, nervous breakdowns, mudslinging (among ‘dear brothers’ who ‘love’ each other) and hiding behind biblical language.

Mainstream society is turned off by this and the forced happi­ness, sanctimony, and emotionalism, which get some of the audience so worked up, they cry, jump, and dance about.

These churches want a simplistic world of: a literal bible, answers for everyth­ing, black and white choices, a safe catharsis, fantasy, a perfect future life (to compensate for this one?), and to live through their leaders who tell them what and how to think and feel, and who fight their battles for them – ‘Devil, we’re going to give you a licken tonight’.

The followers deny their feelings, go to extremes (not one drop of alcohol, not once glance at pornography), twist history to make doom imminent, are anti-intellectual (evolution), are narrow (premarital relations, abortion, divorce, homosexuals), are simplistic (school prayer, knee-jerk forgiveness without restitution even before the facts are in), are backward (women’s lib, civil rights, censorship, stem cell research, morning after pill), and lonely.

When their leaders stumble over sex, money, or power, some followers continue to follow them blindly (showing they believe what they want to be­lieve).  Other followers, however, become disillusioned.  There is more hope for them because such disappointment and deep thought can lead to realizing: we are all human, issues are not black and white, life can proceed without all the answers, the world is pluralistic, not singular (one way, one truth, one course of study, one career, one mate for life), compromise doesn’t mean­ selling one’s soul, each coincidence is not the work of God, there will always be problems, and one should believe in oneself and think for oneself and not put  leaders on pedestals.

They can observe what rarely comes up – that many adults are not very religious and are well-adjusted and happy.  The religious can be too – by slowly maturing.  Not what they want to hear; but the disasters above show they need to and to face matters (through sensible therapy or whatever).  Then they can gradually grow into more effective­, happy people.