I asked a simple question of my readers. The response was about what I had thought it would be.
Can someone please show me a case in the last few months of child sexual abuse / assault that does not involve a priest, pastor, or some religion related individual?
When I tried to get some actual numbers myself I found some interesting statistics.
Information on Catholic sex abuse cases is about what you think it would be but with some surprise conclusions if you’ll allow some lateral thinking.
- Apparently the Catholic clergy are not the only religious organization to fail to stop sex abuse by their employees
- Catholicism does not decrease the incidence of sex abuse among its adherents
- There are a lot of theories as to why sex abuse is so high among the Catholic clergy
- The Catholic church has hidden sex abuse cases all over the planet
For a bit of information about other clerical sex abuse I found a couple of other seemingly reasonable sources:
Here is a list of resources to study on if you want to know more about sex abuse by clergy where there are varying reports and statistics, some stating that as much as 20% of clergy are violating ethical bounds regarding sexually oriented conduct.
This page at Baylor.edu starts with this summary
The Prevalence of Clergy Sexual Misconduct with Adults: A Research Study
Diana R. Garland*
This research study involved two companion projects: (1) a national random survey to determine the prevalence of clergy sexual misconduct (CSM) with adults; and (2) a qualitative study of three groups of women and men: (a) those who self-identified as survivors who had been the objects of CSM, (b) family or friends of survivors, and (c) offenders who had themselves committed CSM. The goal of both projects was to define the scope and nature of CSM, so that effective prevention strategies can be proposed for the protection of religious leaders and congregants.
General Statistics of the Research:
- national, random survey conducted in 2008 with 3,559 respondents
- phone interviews with 46 persons who had experienced clergy sexual misconduct as adults, representing 17 different Christian and Jewish religious affiliations
- phone interviews with 15 persons who were second-hand victims of CSM (husbands, friends and other church staff members); and with 21 experts (non-offending religious leaders, researchers, and professionals who provide care for survivors and offenders)
The Prevalence of CSM
We used the 2008 General Social Survey (GSS) to estimate the prevalence of clergy sexual misconduct. This is an in-person survey of a nationally representative sample of noninstitutionalized English- or Spanish-speaking adults, conducted by National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. The 2008 survey included 3559 respondents. Although the GSS is an in-person interview, the questions we developed specifically for this project were self-administered, making it easier for respondents to report potentially painful or embarrassing experiences.
Clergy sexual misconduct was defined in this study as:
Minister, priests, rabbis, or other clergypersons or religious leaders who make sexual advances or propositions to persons in the congregations they serve who are not their spouses or significant others.
Of those surveyed:
- More than 3% of women who had attended a congregation in the past month reported that they had been the object of CSM at some time in their adult lives;
- 92% of these sexual advances had been made in secret, not in open dating relationships; and
- 67% of the offenders were married to someone else at the time of the advance.
- In the average American congregation of 400 persons, with women representing, on average, 60% of the congregation, there are, on average of 7 women who have experienced clergy sexual misconduct.
- Of the entire sample, 8% report having known about CSM occurring in a congregation they have attended. Therefore, in the average American congregation of 400 congregants, there are, on average, 32 persons who have experienced CSM in their community of faith.
Of course, CSM does not occur evenly across congregations, but these statistics demonstrate the widespread nature of CSM and refutes the commonly held belief that it is a case of a few charismatic and powerful leaders preying on vulnerable followers. In the nonrandom qualitative study that occurred concurrently with the survey, survivors hailed from 17 different Christian and Jewish affiliations: Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Seventh Day Adventist, Disciples of Christ, Latter Day Saints, Apostolic, Calvary Chapel, Christian Science, Church of Christ, Episcopal, Friends (Quaker), Mennonite, Evangelical, Nondenominational (Christian), and Reform Judaism.
There is a few things that I can conclude on a personal basis from this short bit of armchair research
- Religious clergy are NOT an unquestionably good source of morality, no matter what they say in public
- Religion does not make you a good person
- Religion does not police its own ranks in any appreciable way
- Religious groups are not protected from normal human desires in any way, their gods and prayers do not seem to protect them at all, not even from themselves.
- Religions, for all their teaching, cannot make people moral, not even for the time they are in supposed holy buildings
- Religious faith, despite all its claims, does not show any appreciable value. Those who claim to be most pious are not even highly likely to be free of the failures of even the most immoral among our species, never mind guaranteed to be free of them.
It is reasonable to then conclude that advice from the clergy has no more or less weight than advice from a good friend or trusted counsellor. This fact/idea, in and of itself, removes any value that the clergy and religion might pretend to have for society. Worse yet, the pretence that the clergy are honorable and trustworthy makes them a danger to society. We cannot be certain which of the clergy would abuse our children and friends so it is clearly wise to approach all clergy with the same trepidation that we approach all strangers.
If you are female and wander through life wondering what man will next sexually assault you, don’t forget to include the clergy. If you are worried about stranger danger for your children, don’t leave them alone at church. The clergy are no more trustworthy than any other human being on the face of the planet. Given the ration of clergy to other humans, they are statistically less trustworthy on a random sampling of both.
Think about it: 10% of the clergy you know are highly likely to be sexual predators…. so you know 5 clerics? Do you really think that half a person is valid? No, it’s probably certain that at least one of them should not be trusted with your children, wife, husband, son etc. I say that not because these people are incapable of defending themselves but because they have been trained since birth to ‘trust’ the clergy to tell them what is right and wrong. Clearly not all of the clergy anywhere in the world are capable of doing that in an objectively morally good way.