I’d like to say the path to confronting misconducting ministers — whether that misconduct is sexual, financial or otherwise — was direct. Indeed, the unspoken lesson, after sundry scandals (great and banal) has been:
- Powerful or well-connected ministers can do what they want.
- If you stay in print, this is doubly true.
- Accusers (I’m thinking of ministers here) will end up suspect.
- Libertines will come out of the woodwork of offer defenses.
- The Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association guidelines enable this process by quieting discussion and disabling accusation.
Unitarian Universalist minister and blogger Dan Harper reviewed a book about the late minister of All Souls Church, New York, Forrest Church, and focused on how his misconduct was treated therein. Indeed, since it was in the press — an example from the New York Times in 1991 — his case was one of the few cases that (formerly) young ministers could mention in mixed company without fear of reproach. I’m glad someone’s talking about it, but I’m jaded that anything will really change (short of generations changing) and it’s certainly colored my view of how the ministerial guild works. (I am, by choice and intention, not a member of the UUMA.)
But go read the carefully written post Dan wrote.