Pervy pastors and the nature of the profession

A (trigger warning!) Florida man was arrested and fired from his job after being caught taking pictures up a woman’s skirt at his pace of work. That place of work was a church, the woman was a parishioner, and the man arrested is a pastor.

Serious question: Why don’t church leaders seem more concerned about the frequency with which this stuff happens, which in turn relates to how easy it evidently is to achieve the designation of “pastor”?

I figure that folks at the top don’t see any way to stop what people leading any of the thousands of congregations across the country are doing, or they don’t really care.

I’ll give a lot of hypocrites the benefit of unearned doubt and suggest that it’s probably more the former. When someone wants to become a physician, an attorney or a plumber or otherwise enter a formal profession, they not only have to train in areas in which they’ll be working, they also have to pass competency tests in the form of licensing exams and in most cases attain a degree from an accredited institution.

Even the powers that be wanted the path to becoming a pastor more rigorous, what would this even look like? Describing your intimate conversations with the Lord almighty? As it is, people evidently have to be members in good standing in their churches and be free of obvious scandals, and a degree in theology can help, as can formal counseling experience. But I suspect that there are a lot of pastors out there who go into the field for exactly the wrong reasons and glide into it with a minimum of genuine leadership experience.

While plenty of doctors and other formally educated and licensed professionals turn out to be fuckups and lechers, in such cases, if nothing else, the offenders aren’t actively acting in ways contrary to the positions they embody. Yes, it’s bad when a lawyer or a coach hits on, or worse, a client. But religious leaders are supposed to be at the top of the morality chain. Instances of sexual indiscretion, in theory, should be at the lowest among church congregation leaders. While I have no data handy and I don’t presume that the typical pastor, minister or priest is a dirtbag until proven otherwise, it seems pretty clear from a boundless Roman Catholic Church sex-abuse scandal and daily stories like the one linked above that pastors are nowhere near the occupational leaders in avoiding this kind of shit, and more likely wallow about near the bottom of any coherent list.

Of course, pretending that this is a surprise would be worse than farcical; it would require willful blindness. The fact that Evangelical Christians support Donald Trump more eagerly than any other well-defined group tells you everything you need to know about how seriously they as a rule treat the whole “sexual purity” matter, and if you’ve been awake at any point in the last century or two, you shouldn’t need this additional evidence to convince you of the obvious.

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