Belief Beat

Belief Beat

Football & Faith: Invisibility Cloaks for Abusers?

I haven’t been covering the Jerry Sandusky child-rape allegations, because it’s not a faith-related story, unless you count the Penn State football=religion, Joe Paterno=God perspective. But other religion reporters disagree, and of course there are obvious comparisons to how the Catholic Church’s sex abuse scandal was mishandled for years.

Some of the headlines:

I also think the debate over the gender of the victims makes an interesting point, though it’s cold comfort to speculate that an abuser might get stopped sooner if he raped girls instead of boys. Plus, this story (from veteran religion reporter Melissa Nann Burke) about a beloved Delaware football coach who molested teenaged girls for years begs to differ!


What do you think? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.

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posted November 22, 2011 at 6:35 pm

I think the same dynamics are at work in the case of “religious” abusers that is at work here — the common elements are authority figures backed by large, socially important organizations with reputations to protect.

The fact that these same dynamics exist should be enough to make it clear that this sort of abuse has little to do with religion or faith or God and everything to do with human nature.

Power corrupts. It doesn’t matter whether the “corruptee” is a priest or a coach or a doctor or a troop leader. Being invested with comfortable authority can make people blind to their own weaknesses or inclined to think they won’t be noticed.

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