Friday, February 22, 2013

United Nations chides U.S. for laxity on clergy sex abuse

In a report adopted this month in Geneva, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child chided the United States for “failing to fully pursue cases of child sex abuse in religious groups.”

As reported by the Reuters news service, the Committee wrote in its report that it was “deeply concerned at information of sexual abuse committed by clerics and leading members of certain faith-based organizations and religious institutions on a massive and long-term scale.” It also found a “lack of measures taken by (U.S. legal authorities) to properly investigate cases and prosecute those accused.”

The Committee arrived at its conclusions after a routine review of U.S. compliance with the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child.

In response to the Committee’s report, SNAP, the world’s largest support network for clergy sex abuse survivors, issued a statement. In some other western democracies, wrote SNAP, “courageous political leaders have launched governmental investigations into heinous clergy sex crimes and cover-ups. But little if anything of comparable significance has happened in the U.S.”

“The right to practice one’s religion is precious,” continued SNAP. “Even more precious, however, is the right of children to grow up without being sexually violated, especially by those who claim to be religious guides.”

The U.N. Committee’s report shows that the world is watching. The United States loses moral authority when it allows the rubric of religious freedom to trump the rights of children.

If religious institutions do not stop the cover-ups and begin implementing effective measures of clergy accountability, then sooner or later, government institutions will intervene, as they have in some other democratic countries.

Religious freedom does not include the right to cover-up clergy sex crimes. Religious freedom does not include the right to let accused clergy predators church-hop without accountability. Religious freedom does not include the right to leave church kids at risk of rape and molestation by ministers, or the right to leave church parents in the dark about accused clergy predators.

The Southern Baptist Convention’s unconscionable failure to implement clergy accountability systems cannot rightly be shielded under the guise of religious freedom. It’s not religion. It’s the hateful machination of a huge religious institution’s self-serving spare-no-cost protection of its own power structure. The cost, of course, is paid by kids.

The world is watching.