In the past, clergy malfeasance was mentioned only in passing by group members or adherents. The subject was invisible and those who studied it were often stigmatized as hostile to religion itself. Today clergy misconduct is acknowledged as a social problem with growing conceptual and theoretical implications.
In Pastoral Misconduct, Anson Shupe and Janelle M. Eliasson-Nannini argue that the history and traditions of black pastoral leadership, coupled with the close identity of many black congregants with their pastor, congregation, and racial subculture, creates opportunity structures that facilitate predatory behavior. Familiarity and mutual identity frequently leads victims to drop their normal levels of wariness.
Major denominations and minor sects have been studied, but this unique study by Shupe and Eliasson-Nannini pursues nuances of pastoral bad behavior in a new context. This book is not a tabloid treatment of the American black church. In fact, the black church becomes the vehicle for a major new sociological development: a theory of clergy misconduct in any minority religion.