Weekend Update 8/27/2016: Homophobic pastor is a child molester… surprise?
For several years Dan Savage ran a recurring column at the Stranger called Youth Pastor Watch, where he would publish stories of youth pastors convicted of sexual molesting (usually) underage church members of either gender. And I’ve linked to and commented on the phenomenon of both anti-gay religious leaders and anti-gay political figures who have later been caught up in sex scandals, again, usually involving underage victims. Savage has also frequently said, “If children were sexually molested at Dennys’ restaurants as often as they are assaulted at churches, it would be illegal in all 50 states to take your children to Dennys’.” It isn’t that all religious people are child molesters, but most child molesters find communities willing to turn a blind eye toward their suspicious behavior among organized religion.
A perfect example is the story of former New Jersey Assemblies of God paster Gregorio Martinez: American Preacher Molested a Teen Boy, Then Fled 2,000 Miles. Martinez was convicted of sexually molesting a 13-year-old member of his congregation, and between the reading of the jury’s verdict and the sentencing hearing, he fled the country. For many months no one knew where he was.
A couple of reporters working for the news site NJ.com got a tip, and when they presented it to their editor, he authorized a trip to Honduras to try to catch the guy. Note! It wasn’t U.S. law enforcement who went looking for him, it was a pair or reporters! By the time the reporters located the church where Martinez had been working, he had fled again. But here’s the truly astounding part: the reporters learned that 1) Martinez was given a job at another church based solely on the recommendation of one other pastor—no other vetting was attempted, but even worse, 2) with several church members googled the pastor and learned he had been convicted of molesting children in the U.S., the response of church leaders was to claim it wasn’t their responsibility to report a criminal wanted by a foreign country!
Unfortunately, after he fled, it was discovered that Martinez had molested a 15-year-old boy there in Honduras. Martinez was eventually captured, but only because the reporters from New Jersey filed a lot of stories that got a lot of attention online about their attempts to find him, which shamed the law enforcement people into taking action.
I’ve also posted before links to stories about how many times various churches have lobbied for laws that shield child molesters from prosecution:
- New York Catholic Church Spent $2M Lobbying Against Child Sex Abuse Accountability Laws,
- The Catholic Church is fighting to block bills that would extend the statute of limitations for reporting sex abuse,
- US Catholic church has spent millions fighting clergy sex abuse accountability,
- Catholic Church lobbies to avert California sex abuse lawsuits.
As I said of anti-gay politicians and vocally anti-gay religious leaders many times: “I really don’t understand why anyone, particularly in the media, doesn’t immediately assume that a legislator or prosecutor or governor or preacher who pushes for anti-gay bills has a scandalous sexual secret. I mean, when someone can create an entire web site devoted to chronicling the prominent anti-gay folks who are later caught in a gay sex scandal: GayHomophobe.com, it’s time to stop turning a blind eye to the issue!”
It has happened so many times, that I’m getting a little impatient at both law enforcement and the media. Seriously, if the media just moved a few resources into looking into the backgrounds of the most vehemently anti-gay religious leaders, all the evidence indicates that they would find dozens of scandals. Scandals generate ratings, right? I’m at the point of saying that not looking into these guys should be considered a breach of journalistic ethics. I’m sorry, the evidence is fairly clear: the more they preach against queers in the name of Jesus, the more likely they are to be sexual predators.
Emphasis on predator. Real people, often children, are victims as institutions such as these churches and the Republican party enable these molesters. And as I said when I posted one of these weekend updates on a related topic, the sexual dysfunction and community denial and cover-ups are not a bug, they are a feature of the rightwing ideology.
And speaking of nice, loving Christian politicians: ‘I lost. The ni**er won’: Alabama GOP mayor gets racist on Facebook after losing to black candidate. Okay, so not every single Republican is racist, but most racists seem to be Republican.
Speaking of people claiming to be religious, I love this article from the Washington Post: Where in the Bible does it say you can’t be transgender? Nowhere. I’ve done the article one better in past posts and pointed out that the Bible seems to be pro-genderfluidity (or maybe agender?):
“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
But then, I actually read the Bible all the way through more than once—unlike most of the people on the anti-gay right.