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Spoils of the Kingdom

Spoils of the Kingdom: Clergy Misconduct and Religious Community

Introduction by A. W. RICHARD SIPE
Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 184
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  • Book Info
    Spoils of the Kingdom
    Book Description:

    In Spoils of the Kingdom, Anson Shupe investigates clergy misconduct as it has recently unfolded across five faith-based groups. Looking at episodes of abuse in the Roman Catholic, Mormon, African American Protestant, white Evangelical Protestant, and First Nations communities, Spoils of the Kingdom tackles hard questions not only about the sexual abuse of women and children, but also about economic frauds perpetrated by church leaders (including embezzlement, mis-represented missions, and outright theft) as well as cases of excessively authoritarian control of members health, lifestyles, employment, and politics._x000B_Drawing on case evidence, Shupe employs classical and modern social exchange theories to explain the institutional dynamics of clergy misconduct. He argues that there is an implicit contract of reciprocity and compliance between congregants and religious leaders that, when amplified by the charismatic awe often associated with religious authorities, can lead to misconduct.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09240-4
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. xv-xxx)

    Rightly it can be taken for granted that communities of faith seek integrity. At the same time we have to admit that the history of religions is peppered with misconduct, malfeasance, crime, and corruption of its elite—its clergy and leaders.

    The beginning of the twenty-first century is no exception. In fact, the sexual abuse crisis pounding the Roman Catholic Church provides for examination a textbook for case studies of clergy misconduct. Although there is no monopoly on clergy misconduct in any one religion, the spotlight on Catholic clergy can serve all faith communities because of the extent of revealed...

  6. 1 Communities of Faith and Clergy Malfeasance in Modern Times
    (pp. 1-39)

    In the year 2000, Cardinal Bernard Law controlled the Archdiocese of Boston, at the time the fourth largest archdiocese in North America, with unquestioned authority. By spring 2002, however, the prelate was immersed in a nationally publicized scandal and voices were heard calling for his resignation. At one point Cardinal Law was deposed during two-day/seven-hour discovery hearings by attorneys representing clients claiming to have been victims of priestly sexual abuse. Worse, his eminence had to submit to the humiliation of answering questions aimed at determining if he was complicit in a corporate conspiracy to protect clerical pedophiles. His first videotaped...

  7. 2 The Logic of Social Exchange Theory and Clergy Malfeasance
    (pp. 40-55)

    The notion of applying a social exchange cost/benefit model to help illuminate heinous aspects of clergy malfeasance might initially seem incongruous. After all, social exchanges are conventionally thought of as concerning gift giving/sharing, equity, reciprocity, and distributive justice. Real examples of clergy misconduct dealt with here, however, involve power inequities, conflict, emotional-physical harm, and, often, crime. Religion as sacred symbol systems, and religious institutions as interactive outgrowths of such systems, might seem best interpreted by other approaches, such as symbolic interactionism or bureaucratic studies.

    This chapter delivers a contrary assertion: The social exchange equation in which all social actors ongoingly...

  8. 3 The Iron Law of Clergy Elitism
    (pp. 56-85)

    In his bookPapal Sin, contemporary Catholic historian Garry Wills (2000, 2) cites nineteenth-century British Catholic historian Lord Acton’s famous dictum, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” What most people do not realize, as Wills points out, is that Lord Acton was not writing of power generally. Instead, he was purposefully indicating Catholic ecclesiastical authority and the papacy itself.

    There is a singular truth in Acton’s claim, though it is not restricted to the Catholic hierarchy: There is an almost inevitable tendency in religious groups, unless they rigorously eschew both institutionalization and the cultivation of hierarchy, to...

  9. 4 Authenticity Lost: Faith and Victimization
    (pp. 86-107)

    Authenticity of a religion is not an objective matter to be measured; it is a perception of legitimacy by a critical mass of believers in a faith community’s traditions and leadership authority. Whether the community is hierarchically or congregationally operated (e.g., Shupe 1995, 36–38), local or national, the effects of clergy scandal can range from prison sentences of clerical deviants to organizational devastation.

    For example, within the episcopal (monarchical) reality of the modern American Catholic Church, an obscure cleric, the Reverend Alvin Campbell, wreaked havoc in small congregations in Morrisonville and Rochester, Illinois. Campbell had been an Army chaplain...

  10. 5 Reactance, Crime, and Sin
    (pp. 108-124)

    In early 2004 a play was produced by a small Chicago theater company. Written by an experienced off-Broadway playwright named Michael Murphy (not a Catholic) and titledSin: A Cardinal Deposed, it was based entirely on the depositions of Cardinal Bernard Law (and similar documents) taken during the midst of the Boston priestly pedophile scandal. The main characters were Law and a lawyer for the plaintiffs. Murphy summarized his purpose when he told a reporter, “The breakdown in our moral fiber in society is what appalls me. Why are kids shooting each other? Why are priests raping boys? Why are...

    (pp. 125-142)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 143-148)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 149-155)