Accountability Without Stereotyping
Another high-profile evangelical Christian pastor is under investigation for possible sexual abuse. If he turns out to be guilty, he will join the list of pastors and priests who abused and victimized those whom they were supposed to serve and support.
The investigation should be thorough and comprehensive. If he is guilty, he should be removed from his position and held fully accountable to the extent that the law provides. And, if there were any who knew of his transgressions and looked the other way, they too should be held accountable.
I believe all leaders everywhere — in any setting — should be held accountable for their conduct. I especially feel this way when it comes to communities of faith, given the degree of trust placed in such leaders.
At the same time…
The fact that many faith leaders have fallen into scandal and disgrace does not mean that all, or most, faith leaders are guilty of immoral, unethical, or illegal conduct.
The sins of some do not (or should not) indict the character of all.
Whether we’re talking about religion, law enforcement, education, gender, race, political persuasion, income level, or any other consideration…
We should steer clear of generalizations and focus on holding those individuals actually guilty accountable for their misconduct.
Just because you were mistreated by one pastor doesn’t mean all or even most pastors are bad. The same is true for police officers, teachers, bosses, or anyone else.
Unfortunately, too many people today are far too quick to make over-generalizations and snap judgments.
It’s true that some approximations or generalizations can be made with respect to buying or spending habits or other such data. Nevertheless, when it comes to matters of character and justice…
Every individual deserves the benefit of the doubt and the presumption of innocence.
This is something our society once respected. It’s to our detriment that we seem to no longer be as committed to that principle today.
May that not be the case with you and me.
May we eschew unfair generalizations and harmful stereotypes. Instead, may we remember that all the people in our lives are (first and foremost) individuals.
They deserve to be treated as such.
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