[Crimes of Preachers in the United States]
Theosophist, December, 1881
“The Crimes of Preachers in the United States”1 for the last five years—from May 1876 to May 1881, “translated out of the original newspapers and with previous translations diligently compared and revised,” is the latest production of Mr. M. E. Billings, an attorney, of Waverly Town, and the author of “Sinful Saints.” He gives the names of the criminal clergymen, their residence, the names of their parishes and the denominations to which they respectively belong as well as the crime they have been guilty of. “In the aggregate he reports 917 crimes of clergymen in the short space of five years” in the U.S. alone.
We will not give the detailed account of the disgusting crimes enumerated. We will simply copy from the Truth Seeker the following:
Of these 917 crimes on the part of the Christian clergymen, 456 were against women in a sexual way, and 81 against women in other ways, or 544 against women especially.
Of this list of 477 criminal preachers the denomination of 208 has been preserved, leaving 269 not designated. Of the 208 the Methodists have 27, Baptists 42, Presbyterians 22, Catholics 19, Congretionalists 13, Church of Englans 12, Campbellites 6, Lutherans 6, Adventists 5, United Brethren 3, Hebrews 2, Dunkards 1, Universalists 1.
The percentage of the crimes of those whose denomination is preserved, as compared with the whole number, is as follows: Methodists 30 per cant. Baptists 20, Presbyterians 10, Catholics 10, Congregationalists 6, Lutherans 6, Epicopalians 5, Campbellites 3, Adventists 3, United Brethren 1. 4, Hebrew 1, Dunkards 0.5, Universalists 0.5.
The definitions or names of crimes are chiefly those given by the several church courts where the reverend scoundrels were tried, sometimes probably given to partially hide the real offence. The compiler was enabled to ascertain that “unchaste conduct” meant a gross and beastly assault by the “divine messenger” upon a lady’s chastity, and that “unministerial conduct” meant eitehr “adultery, rape, or seduction of some susceptible sister.”
1. We have been repeatedly and unjustly accused of bearing ill-will to the Western Clergy, and while copying all the evil reports about them we can find, not to have taken notice of the good they do. We can copy but what we find in the news and—no more. We bear no ill-will to any creed especially, and are ready to publish reports of the remarkable doings of any class of men whatever. Hence, we do not see why we should be more particularly careful not to hurt the feelings of the class of men under notice, than those of any other class of men. The subject has a distinct bearing upon the cause we advocate and represent, and it is our special object to find out which of the four great world-religions is the more likely to promote morality among men.