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6/18/08                                                                                       View Comments

The cult of church leadership

Sent in by JSH

I used to attend church multiple times per week. I now no longer attend at all. My story:

I was raised Presbyterian Church in the United States of America (PCUSA). I went to a PCUSA church in Southeast Texas. I won't name the church; let's just say its name implies there weren't any other Presbyterian churches in the immediate area when it was founded. This large church is split between yuppies and fundies (and fundamentalist yuppies). When Bush was elected, the fundies (in other Protestant churches also -- this was at least a statewide phenomenon) decided this was the time that "strong leadership" would take back the church, the nation, the planet, the Milky Way, etc. In the quest for strong leadership, the session nominated a woefully under-qualified con artist who knew exactly what to say to leadership-starved fundies. You know, like how they voted for Bush.

While the session maintained as much silence as they could on the subject, the new pastor was abusing staff to the point where many quit. The session covered up his bad behavior so as to avoid accountability for hiring him (and to keep the sheep from knowing how unworthy of submission and obedience their leadership was), and he kept ramping up the bad behavior as he got away with more. Eventually, there was a committee formed for the sole purpose of examining his sermons (the term 'plagiarism' came up) and they took away his church credit card and put a lid on his expenses. Many consultants were hired. Said consultants, paid by the church, concluded that those protesting the new pastor needed "loving church discipline,, and that it was un-bibilical to leave the church or withhold tithes in protest of the pastor.

Here is where I point out that many conservative PCUSA churches withhold donations to the denomination in protest of it's left-wing (on some issues, in their opinion, whatever) slant. Hypocrites.

None of this caused the pastor to lose his job. That took a relationship with a woman not his wife that can be best described as "improper as hell." That was covered up by the session and the pastor was allowed to resign 'voluntarily' -- to spend more time with his family. This was during the pastor's divorce; he is marrying the "other woman."

Have I mentioned that when you get divorced, your ex-spouse gets subpoena power over your employer, and if you use an employer-provided cell phone to call your sweetie-pie, that will wind up being documented in a way that's available to the general public? I'm just sayin'.

I've dealt with that church's "leadership" on other topics. Based on my dealings with them, the ex-pastor is clearly just a symptom of the cult of leadership that has infected the church. The leader supposedly submits to God, and you submit to the leader. If you can't submit to the leader, whom you can see, how can you submit to God, whom you can't see? That, and since faith is defined as believing in baseless claims presented as fact, if you believe what your leader tells you to believe (the world is 6000 years old, the leader isn't a sleezebag, etc), the leader gets the blame if you've believed wrong, and Jeebus won't send you to hell for your error.

Basically, this church treated its pastor the way the Catholic church treats molesting priests; pawn them off on another church somewhere else, but keep it quiet so the organization as a whole doesn't take the hit. This 'ex' pastor is still ordained and eligible for another ministry position. He's taken part in ordinations in other presbyteries as "The Rev XYZ". I give him two years to fast talk his way into another pulpit, blaming church politics for his ouster at 'my' church.