Thursday, November 15, 2012
Religion • Pastoral Misconduct a Riveting Read
There was a time when no one dared talk about a pastor misbehaving. If someone did, they were quickly shushed and accused of the sin of gossip while the wayward preacher remained protected.
It is not a new thing. When I was a young boy, a Pentecostal church opened nearby.
The strange sounds coming from it stirred curiosity, so my friend went with me to a service Apparently something had surfaced regarding the pastor’s nefarious conduct. This was showdown night.
The pastor, pounding the pulpit in his defense thundered, “And how can I effectively preach about the evils of sin unless I have gone out and tasted a little of it for myself?” A chorus of ‘amens’ and ‘hallelujahs’ filled the church and drifted out to the area.
And he got by with it. My little friend and I looked at each other in disbelief. Going to church to become better didn’t make too much sense at the moment. Why could two little 5th graders see it and the congregation not?
When word got out in the 1980s that I was writing a book on clergy and church malfeasance, titled, Don’t Call Me Brother, the first book that really took on church corruption and misconduct from an insider, an uproar ignited; hate mail and death threats came in, including one by phone from one of the leading television ministers in America.
Things eventually turned around and pastors (except the corrupt ones) began endorsing the book saying that it should be read by all church leaders to see how church misconduct can be prevented in the future. Amen to that.
The book by Anson Shupe with Janelle M. Eliasson Nannini. “Pastoral Misconduct-The American Black Church Examined,” just released by Transaction Publishers, does not come as expose or sensationalist literature but from the standpoint of a sociologist going into depth as to WHY these things happen and how the congregations often pave the way for corrupt clergy.
Shupe-Nannini describes it as, “opportunity structures” for leadership exploitation, or clergy malfeasance. They go on to say that “the term, ‘opportunity structures,’ originated within anomie (strain) theory in the sociological sub-discipline of deviant behavior, or deviance.”
By worshiping the pastor more than worshiping God, congregations can be manipulated to put a preacher on such a pedestal that followers can make themselves vulnerable to his every wish and desire.
This means compliant to allow these pastors to live like kings, paying them a highly inflated salary and also, with ‘celebrity’ conferred upon them. With the excessive use of authority that follows, many sincere, innocent people open themselves to be financially fleeced or sexually abused by the righteous. It is all detailed in the Shupe-Nannini book.
With all the churches popping up—ministers without credentials (mental or academic) suddenly appearing on the scene—people can easily be duped by phonies. New Age Churches and “Emerging Church” movements are being birthed and growing while preaching a false gospel. Tragically, these so called churches who have strayed far from God and His Word, manage to entice people to visit by offering ‘easy Christianity’ that will get them to heaven without any moral effort. Indeed these fake churches make their followers comfortable in their sins.
Even worse, many of these people who come with a clean heart and sincere desire to find God, virtually get spiritually destroyed. And Satan takes a bow. We now have to teach people to be cautious, and not to be mesmerized or blindsided.
This latest Transaction book concentrates on the black church and dissects famous black ministers, along with those who claim to be ministers. Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and Eddie Long are spotlighted along with many more. Even Louis Farrakhan of The Nation of Islam is discussed.
There are so many powerful celebrity ministers in the black church that it justified a book of its own. White ministers and their churches, many of whom I have tangled with, are dissected thoroughly in Mr. Shupe’s previous book, Rogue Clerics-The Social Problem of Clergy Deviance, which also should be in every library.
Both of these books will appeal to all.The public will be intrigued, Christians and their leaders can learn how to avoid such destructive problems, scholars should have it in their libraries due to the sociological-anthropology aspect, and the atheists will love it, raising their hands in the air triumphantly proclaiming, “See? I told you so!” It’s a fascinating read for all. Because the book is packed with familiar names, the reader will not want to put the book down until the last page is read.
Don’t despair. There are plenty of good sold-out-to-God pastors around along with churches; black, white and integrated which will bless your life. Pastoral Misconduct will give you the wisdom to decide.
Transaction Publishers is an imprint from Rutgers University. They publish easy to read scholarly books on all disciplines. Website: http://www.transactionpub.com. For further info, call toll-free: 1-888-999-6778