My month is almost up, and I have thoroughly enjoyed my stint as guest editor. I want to thank all those who have commented and congratulate them on, as a whole, very substantive and well thought out comments. I hope you will have good points to add to this offering. Here it is:
by Allen C. Dexter
Just as my last article on hypocrisy appeared, the news coverage suddenly exploded about the new sex scandals bedeviling the Catholic Church – scandals which have since landed firmly in the lap of the Pope himself.
Worldwide wasn't the only entity immersed in hypocrisy. All religions, along with political parties, seem to be especially prone to the evil of hypocrisy.
Why is that so?
I'm sure we could dredge up a lot of contributing factors. However, I believe it all boils down primarily to the old adage that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Anyone who finds him or herself in a position of great power feels they have to do anything necessary to keep their followers and the public from noticing that they, like the famous emperor, might be lacking some necessary moral, doctrinal or intellectual raiment. They stand in danger of their followers and the world at large realizing that they aren't as perfect, wise and infallible as they claim to be.
When the claim is made that you and your organization is the only real representative of Christ, like the WWCG and the Catholic Church have maintained, the perceived need to deceive the faithful and the world at large becomes ever more urgent. When religion seizes control of political parties, the same phenomenon comes into play.
Thus, as soon as something unsavory rears its ugly head, damage control begins and “spin” sets in. If it can be completely covered up and kept from the public, so much the better. Otherwise, denial, obfuscation and questioning the honesty and integrity of the accuser is usually the next courses of action.
Of course, the possibility that the poor people might get offended, turn bitter and lose their salvation has to be emphasized. That gives a righteous and loving motive to the whole thing.
Any of us who spent any time at WWCG headquarters or were closely associated in any way with the ministry have witnessed this image building and deliberate fabrication in action. When we wrote letters to members and listeners and when we visited church members and potential members in the field, the image and welfare of the “work” was always foremost in our minds.
One graphic example of this occurred while I was assisting the pastor of the New York City church between late 1960 and the beginning of 1962.
There was one particular member, an African American young man, who didn't seem able to hold a job and support himself. He ended up homeless in the middle of a New York winter and caught pneumonia from the exposure. He ended up in the hospital, the very hospital where his sister was a nurse. I think she is the one who alerted the church to his condition and situation.
He refused antibiotics that he really needed to treat his condition and his sister appealed to the pastor to try to change his mind. This put him in a bit of a quandary, to say the least. He knew the adverse publicity and possible harm that could come on the church, but he had to uphold Herbert's radical doctrine.
His solution was to manipulate the man into saying he would not take the medication even if his minister told him to do so. He then told his sister that her brother had just told him he wouldn't take the medication even if he told him to. He thought it a rather clever way of taking the church off the hook. I often wonder if he still has that opinion. He seems to have disappeared into the ether, and I doubt he is or has been with any of the splinters.
No matter what excuse or justification may be employed, the fact of the matter is that religious organizations and political parties are first of all interested in their image. That image is the basis of their power and influence. Without that image, they fear they will lose their supporters and, ultimately, their lofty positions, power and income. Few have the moral courage to stand up and speak honestly and forthrightly under those circumstances.