September 14, 2010

Do Methodists Have Clergy Sex Abuse Problems Too?

Ken KlecknerWhen one thinks of child sexual abuse, one immediately thinks of Catholic priests. And yes, when one thinks of Catholicism, child sexual abuse has joined the ranks of other likely associations such as Popes in Prada and genocide via HIV/AIDS in Africa based on opposition to contraception. It isn't that all Catholic priests molest children; it is that the conspiracy of silence which has enabled such crimes over the decades reaches all the way to the top of the Catholic hierarchy. Indeed, ordinary Catholics who continue to contribute money to their local churches are funding a criminal empire (see How to Leave the Catholic Church if this bothers you).

But no matter how much blame it may make sense to lay at the feet of Catholics, they are not the only branch of Christianity to have serious problems with child sexual abuse. Some Southern Baptist clergy, for example, also appear to have great difficulty refraining from child rape. Just like victims of Catholic sex offenders have been coming together to speak out, support one another, and try to stop the abuse, victims of Southern Baptists have also been organizing.

We have not heard nearly as much about the Methodists, but that is not necessarily because their clergy has not been molesting children too. In fact, the Orange County Sheriff's Office Sex Offender Squad just arrested Pastor Kenneth Kleckner of the Ocala West United Methodist Church on multiple counts of transmitting harmful material to a minor and one count of soliciting a minor. Might Methodists have a problem too?

One of the things those who molest children in the name of Christianity seem to have in common is that they all have their defenders. And no, I am not referring only to Bill Donohue. It seems like each time one of these cases surfaces, members of the church or community in which the alleged offender resides come out of the woodwork to defend them. To see a particularly startling example of this in the Pastor Kleckner case, head over to Deep Thoughts and check out this comment thread.

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