1st Edition

Understanding Clergy Misconduct in Religious Systems Scapegoating, Family Secrets, and the Abuse of Power

By Candace R. Benyei Copyright 1998
    220 Pages
    by Routledge

    222 Pages
    by Routledge

    In Understanding Clergy Misconduct in Religious Systems, you’ll take an incisive look at why sexual misconduct occurs in religious systems and how to implement proactive strategies for holistic change. Applicable to both Jewish and Christian communities, this illuminating exploration takes a look at the psychology behind scapegoating, why it is perpetuated, and how you can quell the damaging tradition of silence.

    Understanding Clergy Misconduct in Religious Systems helps you see leaders of religious institutions in a way that the world has been afraid to see them--in a glass clearly. Enriched with metaphoric myths and fairy tales instead of technical jargon, its unique systemic perspective reveals the psychodynamics behind the obsession with family secrets and lets you understand this dysfunction from the perspectives of victim, abuser, and counselor. These specific areas will both inform and aid you in dealing with this difficult subject:

    • the religious institution as a family system
    • the religious system as an illusion of the perfect family
    • the concept of God-transference and the overidealization of clergy
    • clergy personal relationships and clergy congregational relationships
    • vulnerability and the psychology of the victim
    • strategies for healing dysfunctional religious systems

      Understanding Clergy Misconduct in Religious Systems comes at just the right time--in an era when little has been written on the subject, especially from a systemic perspective, this work comes at a time when the phenomena of clergy sexual misconduct has rocked the very foundation of religious systems worldwide. Whether you’re a lay congregational leader, judicatory administrator, pastoral counselor, psychologist, or seminarian, you’ll find that the coping strategies and intervention techniques it outlines will guide you in pinpointing the sickness at its source and restoring felicity and order to your religious leaders and their communities.

    Contents Foreword
    • Preface
    • Acknowledgments
    • Chapter 1. The Congregation as a Family System
    • The Role of Rules
    • Power and Projection
    • The Impact of History
    • The Religious Institution as a Family System
    • The Congregation as a Marriage
    • Summary
    • Chapter 2. The Illusion of Eden and the Fortified City
    • A Lack of Emotional Nourishment and the Hunger to Be Filled
    • Faith, Belief, Trust, Commitment, and the Hope of Security
    • The Fear of Conflict
    • The Fortified City: The Public Face of Prosperity That Hides the Private Face of Poverty
    • God in the Garden: The Idolization of the Spiritual Leader
    • Summary
    • Chapter 3. God-Transference, The Good Object, and the Make-Up of Ministers
    • God Transference and the Good Object
    • The Makeup of Ministers
    • Summary
    • Chapter 4. Mirroring God: Clergy in Relationship
    • Relationship as Marriage
    • Relationship as Vocation
    • Summary
    • Chapter 5. The Issue of Clergy Sexual Misconduct
    • Sexual Harassment and Sexual Abuse
    • The Issue of Power: Abandonment, Authority, and Animal Force
    • How It Happens: Misconduct from the Part of the Perpetrator
    • Summary
    • Chapter 6. Vulnerability and the Psychology of the Victim
    • How the Primary Victim Becomes Involved
    • Why the Victim Doesn’t Disclose
    • Secondary Victims
    • False Accusations
    • A Matter of Ethics
    • Summary
    • Chapter 7. The Scapegoat as the Bearer of Evil
    • Scapegoating in Families
    • Scapegoating in Communities
    • Scapegoating in Congregations
    • The Price They Pay: The Destructive Effects of Scapegoating
    • Summary
    • Chapter 8. Untold Tales and Skeletons in the Closet
    • Pandora’s Box
    • Institutional Patterns and the Painful Footprints of a Secret
    • Incestuous Systems and Collegial Collaboration in the Service of the Secret
    • Summary
    • Chapter 9. The Case of Hope Church
    • The History of Hope Church
    • An Analysis of Behavioral Patterns
    • Chapter 10. Reowning Responsibility
    • Personal Responsibility
    • Ethical Behavior and Ethical Systems
    • An Ethic of Responsibility
    • Corporate Responsibility
    • The Role of Consultants in Reowning Responsibility
    • Reowning Responsibility Through Preventative Maintenance
    • Reowning Responsibility by Creating Boundaries
    • Reowning Responsibility Through Proactive Clergy Training
    • Summary
    • Chapter 11. Postscript: Becoming a Functional Spiritual Family
    • The Creation of Holy Space
    • The Preservation of Tradition
    • The Creation and Maintenance of Ethical Community
    • Developing and Nurturing a Sense of Mission
    • Enabling an Experience of God
    • The Changing Face of Religious Institutions
    • Appendix: Clinical Presentation of Survivors of Sexual Abuse
    • Notes
    • Glossary
    • Index


    Benyei, Candace R.