Spoils of the Kingdom: Clergy Misconduct and Religious Community

University of Illinois Press
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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.

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.
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About the author

Anson Shupe is a professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne. His books include Violence, Inequality, and Human Freedom,In the Name of All That’s Holy: A Theory of Clergy Malfeasance, and Televangelism: Power and Politics on God’s Frontier, with Jeffrey Hadden.

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Additional Information

Publisher
University of Illinois Press
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Published on
Oct 1, 2010
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Pages
184
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ISBN
9780252092404
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Language
English
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Genres
Social Science / General
Social Science / Sociology of Religion
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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During the past several years the mass media in the United States has been awash with reports of priestly pedophilia, ecclesiastical cover-up, and clerical intimidation or financial settlements intended to silence victims. Based on journalistic accounts, or scholarly research, it might be assumed that this is a recent phenomenon. Journalist reports began only within the past few years. Similarly, most sociologists of religion and particularly specialists in deviance and criminology did not reflect awareness of clerical misbehavior in their work. Despite this, Anson Shupe shows that clergy deviance, whether it is sexual or otherwise, is not merely a recent problem. It is as old as the church itself and is inevitably bound to recur due to the nature of religious groups. This comprehensive analysis offers the first up-to-date analysis of sexual, economic, and authoritative clergy malfeasance across faiths and denominational authority structures. Drawing on examples taken from antiquity up until the present day, and using reports by historians, theologians, church spokespersons, therapists, social scientists, and journalists, Shupe critically evaluates clergy deviant behavior, dividing it into various types. He also makes use of the therapeutic literature, addressing victimization at the level of the individual, church, and community at large. In this way, he compares the response of the clergy to victims' attempts to mobilize movements calling for church reform. Perhaps most controversial, this book considers the possible relationship of homosexuality in the clergy to the occurrences of scandals in all religious traditions across the board. As an overview of clergy misconduct, this book is singular. There is simply no other comprehensive serious examination of this subject. Written by a sociologist for a wide range of readers, its multi-disciplinary nature, vivid examples, and wealth of research, will make the volume of interest to sociologists of religion and crime, historians and theologians, as well as a general public.
National Book Award Finalist


A clear-sighted revelation, a deep penetration into the world of Scientology by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Looming Tower, the now-classic study of al-Qaeda’s 9/11 attack. Based on more than two hundred personal interviews with current and former Scientologists—both famous and less well known—and years of archival research, Lawrence Wright uses his extraordinary investigative ability to uncover for us the inner workings of the Church of Scientology.

At the book’s center, two men whom Wright brings vividly to life, showing how they have made Scientology what it is today: The darkly brilliant science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, whose restless, expansive mind invented a new religion. And his successor, David Miscavige—tough and driven, with the unenviable task of preserving the church after the death of Hubbard.

We learn about Scientology’s complicated cosmology and special language. We see the ways in which the church pursues celebrities, such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta, and how such stars are used to advance the church’s goals. And we meet the young idealists who have joined the Sea Org, the church’s clergy, signing up with a billion-year contract.

In Going Clear, Wright examines what fundamentally makes a religion a religion, and whether Scientology is, in fact, deserving of this constitutional protection. Employing all his exceptional journalistic skills of observation, understanding, and shaping a story into a compelling narrative, Lawrence Wright has given us an evenhanded yet keenly incisive book that reveals the very essence of what makes Scientology the institution it is.


From the Hardcover edition.
During the past several years the mass media in the United States has been awash with reports of priestly pedophilia, ecclesiastical cover-up, and clerical intimidation or financial settlements intended to silence victims. Based on journalistic accounts, or scholarly research, it might be assumed that this is a recent phenomenon. Journalist reports began only within the past few years. Similarly, most sociologists of religion and particularly specialists in deviance and criminology did not reflect awareness of clerical misbehavior in their work. Despite this, Anson Shupe shows that clergy deviance, whether it is sexual or otherwise, is not merely a recent problem. It is as old as the church itself and is inevitably bound to recur due to the nature of religious groups. This comprehensive analysis offers the first up-to-date analysis of sexual, economic, and authoritative clergy malfeasance across faiths and denominational authority structures. Drawing on examples taken from antiquity up until the present day, and using reports by historians, theologians, church spokespersons, therapists, social scientists, and journalists, Shupe critically evaluates clergy deviant behavior, dividing it into various types. He also makes use of the therapeutic literature, addressing victimization at the level of the individual, church, and community at large. In this way, he compares the response of the clergy to victims' attempts to mobilize movements calling for church reform. Perhaps most controversial, this book considers the possible relationship of homosexuality in the clergy to the occurrences of scandals in all religious traditions across the board. As an overview of clergy misconduct, this book is singular. There is simply no other comprehensive serious examination of this subject. Written by a sociologist for a wide range of readers, its multi-disciplinary nature, vivid examples, and wealth of research, will make the volume of interest to sociologists of religion and crime, historians and theologians, as well as a general public.
It is widely acknowledged that the United States has always provided fertile ground for the growth of new religious movements and cults, but modern organized efforts to oppose and restrict them have been less well understood. In Agents of Discord, Anson Shupe and Susan E. Darnell offer a groundbreaking analysis of the operations and motives of these oppositional groups, which they generally group under the umbrella term of the anticult movement. Historically there have always been parallel groups opposed to certain religious movements, whether these be anti-Quaker, anti-Roman Catholic, or anti-Mormon. The authors establish the cultural context of such movements in the nineteenth century. They point out the link between modern anticult movements and nativist movements in American history. Turning to the postwar era, the authors discuss the rise of anticult movements and focus specifically on one of the most prominent, the Cult Awareness Network (CAN). CAN was a two-tiered organization. Partly composed of volunteers, donors, and families affected by cult movements, it also included what the authors call an "inner sanctum" of behavioral science professionals, attorneys, and deprogrammers. Using never-before-reported data on CAN's activities, the authors cite an extensive history of financial impropriety that finally led to the organization's bankruptcy. They offer a pointed critique, informed by current scholarship, of the "brainwashing" model of mental enslavement presented by the anticult movement that has been a central assumption undergirding its activities. At the same time, they show how increasing professionalization has gradually begun a shift of such movements to a therapeutic model of exit counseling that rejects the crude methods of earlier intervention strategies. In their analysis of the anticult movement nationally and internationally, Shupe and Darnell merge sociological concepts and social history to make unique sense of a heretofore relatively unexplored phenomenon.
This book is about how Western social psychology interfaces with an Eastern Zen Buddhist perspective. It is neither a purely Zen Buddhist critique of the former, nor is it merely a social psychological interpretation of Zen. Rather, it is an attempt to create common ground between each through the systematic comparison of certain shared fundamental concepts and ideas. Anglo-American social psychology is not much more than a century old despite having its roots in a broad philosophical tradition. Alternately, the Zen version of Buddhism can trace its historical origins to roughly 1,500 years ago in China. Even though the two arose at different times and at first glance appear stridently antithetical, the authors show that they share considerable areas of overlap. The logic of Zen contemplates the consequences of the taken-for-granted tyranny created by personal memories and culture. These traits, common to every culture, include hubris, greed, self-centeredness, distrust, prejudice, hatred, fear, anxiety, and violence. Social psychology leans more toward a "nurture" rather than "nature" explanation for behavior. Both areas of research are firmly rooted within the domain of sociological social psychology; the processes are also sometimes referred to as learning or conditioning. Zen challenges in radical terms key assumptions of both sociology and psychology concerning individual identity, human nature, and human motivation. This stimulating volume will provoke new thoughts about an old tradition and a newer area of scholarly work.
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