Sunday, June 26, 2005

The Underbelly of Wingnuttism

Bobo's World is a blog which follows news about religion and crimes. Here is a snippet from last week's summary:

# On Monday, a Lawrence, Kansas jury convicted Martin K. Miller, 46, a youth group leader and board member at Victory Bible Church, of first-degree murder in the death of his wife, Kansas University librarian Mary E. Miller. Says the Lawrence Journal World:

The case included testimony about Martin Miller's four-year extramarital affair, pornography addiction, and desire to pursue more sexual relationships — all of which stood in contrast to his leadership roles at his church and his children's Christian school... Prosecutor Jones said in his closing argument that divorce wasn't an option because Miller stood to lose his roles as a youth-group leader at church and a board member for Veritas Christian School. "Murder?... Of course he knew it was a sin," Jones said. "But that was supposed to be a private sin. No one was supposed to know about that one."

# On Tuesday, a Mesa, Arizona Dennis Montoya, a minister at Word of Grace Church, appeared in court on two child molestation charges. The victim was reportedly an eight-year-old girl. Police said Montoya confessed and they fear there are more victims.

# A Rumson, New Jersey grand jury indicted Rev. Joseph W. Hughes, the pastor of Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church, with charges related to the theft of $2 million from his parish. Hughes, who has a "fondness for expensive cars, upscale restaurants and Caribbean vacations," according to the Asbury Park Press, also bought a $47,000 BMW, jewelry and assorted household appliances for a church handyman named David Rogers who, it appears, is somehow related to Hughes. The moral bearings of the church community were perhaps revealed when a group of wealthy parishoners offered to repay the stolen $2,034,428 if prosecutors agreed not to send Hughes to jail. Officials rejected the deal, noting that "[t]his was money from fund-raisers and meant for charity. There are very few instances where we would even consider not seeking jail time for this kind of theft, and this is certainly not one of them."

I haven't done any statistical studies to determine if the clergy is any more or less likely to engage in crime than the rest of the population, but they have been given a position of trust in the minds of their congregations and to breach that trust is vile. When we hear endless arguments about the ethical superiority of those who go to church or run one over the rest of us, though, it's only fair and balanced to present both sides of the issue. This is why Bobo's World is important.