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09 June 2012

Repudiation: Violent Clergy

There are some excellent blogs that cover this topic on an ongoing basis, such as Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters, and quite a few atheist blogs.  My purpose is not to attack religion in this post, but to highlight a few examples of religion being used as a cover or an excuse.  So, let's start with the current headlines:

Megachurch Pastor Creflo Dollar is in the news today, arrested for having struck his teenage daughter.
The 15-year-old daughter of megachurch pastor Creflo Dollar told authorities her father choked and punched her, and hit her with his shoe during an argument over whether she could go to a party, according to a police report.
Dollar's 19-year-old daughter corroborated most of her sister's story, but Dollar disputed it, telling a sheriff's deputy he was trying to restrain her when she became disrespectful. When she began to hit back, he wrestled her to the floor and spanked her, according to the police report.
This type of story is not unique to protestant megachurch leaders.  Perhaps the best known ongoing scandal is the Roman Catholic Church cover-up of pedophile priests.
Archbishop Charles Chaput estimates that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia has spent more than $11 million on the ongoing clergy abuse crisis and that does not include the trial of Monsignor William Lynn. Chaput stressed that the money to pay the bills will come from the sale of excess property owned by the archdiocese.
Lest it look like I'm just objecting to Christian organizations, let's look at recent news regarding my faith, Judaism.  In fact, Judaism has its own problem with pedophiles and failure to report them.  The Failed Messiah is a blog that pays attention to problems with the Hassidic movement.
Despite frequent examples of rabbis not reporting abuse and rabbis threatening victims who want to report child sexual abuse to police, [Chabad spokesman Rabbi Yaakov] Behrman thinks the law should not be changed in order to make their non-reporting a crime.
This from a man whose own employer, the Chabad-Lubavitch 'news' service, has not written a word about the massive child sexual abuse scandal rocking Chabad's Australian headquarters. In fact, no one from Chabad's International Headquarters in Brooklyn has said anything to condemn or distance itself from the alleged coverup conducted by its Australian headquarters and the intimidation and harassment of alleged victims by Chabad leaders there. And no one – not Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, not Rabbi Avrohom Shemtov, not Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky – have said anything to console or support the alleged victims (of which there are, at this point, at least a dozen vetted by police).
The Chabad community's behavior toward the alleged victims is so offensive that police have condemned it in open court.
There are plentiful examples in other religious communities, but I trust this collection is sufficient to make my point.  Religions are currently being used as places where those who are violent, particularly against children, can hide and can justify their misdeeds.

Many of these same religions have been injecting themselves into politics for the last several election cycles.  The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees that the government will not establish a state religion or interfere with the exercise of religious faith, but numerous churches are endeavoring to see their precepts enshrined into our laws even if their institutions are not explicitly "established".

I'm reaching a point where I am thinking that the tax exemption for religious institutions is no longer appropriate.  No, this is not a suggestion that religious freedom be limited, just that collection plates be taxed like any other business income.

I welcome your thoughts, either in comments below or send me an e-mail at


  1. I read about this yesterday. I got a good chuckle from this story.
    It is time for tax exempt status to end for churches.

  2. I appreciate your thoughts on this, and posting as well. I scratch my head a lot, wondering about the tax status issue, and reading here, as well as some other sensible blogs, why is it I fail to find any legislator bringing this issue up for action? Teacher..if you know of one, please direct me that way.
    Thanks, Tom

    1. Sorry, but I don't know of any politicians who would dare to challenge the tax exempt status of religious institutions. They fear being called out as employees of Satan or some similar nonsense. They fear being called atheists. (By the way, I am not an atheist). I think it is going to take a lot of religious pragmatists (folks like the Freedom From Religion atheists are not going to be able to do this alone) to call for fair taxation of religious institutions before any politician utters a peep.

  3. I agree that churches, tv ministries, religious associations should be taxed. Too many of them use their tax exempt status to pervert, promote and publish hate & violence agendas that reflect the selfish, discriminatory views of individuals in the organizations and not the Divine Creator.

  4. It's really a simple solution. Take away all church's tax exempt status and make them apply for charitable status under the 501c3 status. Then they must comply with the law or be held accountable.


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