Two stories this morning that show Christianity under fire, both earned and unearned.
Federal prosecutors have opened an investigation of child sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests in Pennsylvania, using subpoenas to demand secret files and testimony from high-ranking leaders in what victims’ advocates say is the first such probe ever launched by the U.S. Justice Department.
But here is the kicker:
While the subpoenas hint at possible charges of sexual exploitation of minors and fraud, legal experts said that if federal prosecutors can show that church leaders systematically covered up for child-molesting priests in the past five years, dioceses could also be charged under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO, the law originally passed to bring down the Mafia.
That’s right folks. It is possible the Roman Catholic Church will be prosecuted just like the mob. In his tweet on the matter the host points out how the RCC has entirely earned such treatment. I am not Catholic so I don’t want to get too critical here about Catholic stuff, but I will say this, having a church, any church, prosecuted as a criminal organization does enormous and scarring damage to the gospel itself. When you make that the only church to stand throughout Christian history, and the largest in the world, the damage is pretty hard to get your head around.
If the RCC is smart they are going to move very quickly to get out ahead of this, and the rest of Christianity darn well better. The key is going to be to somehow maintain some sort of Christian unity while condemning this crap. Christianity has enough fire coming in from more conventional sources to take this kind of damage. Consider for example, a WaPo piece from this morning.
The Christian conspiracies that keep evangelicals on Trump’s side
Ostensibly the piece is a reaction to a book cum movie entitled “The Trump Prophecy.” Now even I will admit the book is the kind of claptrap in Christian guise that has plagued us since virtually the beginning of the faith. But Payne and Doak use it as a jumping off point to examine just that – the various heterodox cultish garbage that has formed around genuine Christianity for centuries. They start way back with Nero.
The problem with the piece arises when you realize that they treat these fringy, cultic movements as if they are the mainstream of Evangelicalism, which is pure blue-bubble hogwash. You want to know what keeps Evangelicals on Trump’s side? — Results.
Sure, just as Christianity generally has been plagued by cultish weirdos throughout its history, Evangelicalism has its share. And doubtlessly, they are part of the Trump coalition. But, and this is a huge “but,” the vast majority of Evangelicals that voted for Trump did so reluctantly and because he was, by a far cry, a better alternative than Hillary Clinton. These same reluctant Trump voters remain behind him today, along with a significant few converts from the #NeverTrump crowd, because he has produced what he promised. No conspiracy theory necessary.
But that said, when we have people taking shots at us like this piece does, we can ill afford own goals like what the Roman Catholic Church has done with the sex abuse scandals. I thought we were supposed to be smarter than Elizabeth Warren?