If I was a Protestant Minister… Sam Miller’s Numbers Wrong?

On Thursday, March 6, 2008, prominent Cleveland businessman Sam Miller gave a speech defending Catholicism from media bias at the City Club of Cleveland (Ohio). The full text of the speech was published in the May-June issue of the Buckeye Bulletin. Several Catholic blogs, including this one, posted the speech taking the media to task on its bias against the Catholic Church in under-reporting the “societal sin” of pedophilia. I for one am thankful for Mr. Miller’s defense and support. However, it has been brought to my attention that Mr. Miller’s numbers concerning pedophilia conviction rates for Protestant Ministers may be in error.

Jay Brown wrote me saying:

“I’m afraid that I can’t believe this particular statistic in quotes below:

“… 10% of the Protestant ministers have been found guilty of pedophilia.”

So we are to believe that 1 in 10 protestant ministers have been convicted of pedophlia? What!? There is no possible way this number is correct by even an order of magnitude. Please explain.”

Here’s the full paragraph of Sam’s in question:

“Now let me give you some figures that you as Catholics should know and remember. For example, research by Richard Blackman at Fuller Theological Seminary shows that 12% of the 300 Protestant clergy surveyed admitted to sexual intercourse with a parishioner; 38% acknowledged other inappropriate sexual contact. In a 1990 study by the United Methodist Church, 41.8% of clergywomen reported unwanted sexual behavior by a colleague; 17% of laywomen said that their own pastors had sexually harassed them. Phillip Jenkins concludes in his book “Pedophiles and Priests” that while 1.7% of the Catholic clergy has been found guilty of pedophilia, 10% of Protestant ministers have been found guilty of pedophilia.

In my quick google on the numbers it appears that Mr. Miller either has been misquoted in print or he is confused concerning Phillip Jenkins conclusion within his book “Pedophiles and Priests”. Without access to the book myself, I was still able to locate a review of the book by William A. Donohue [Catholic League, A Review Essay on Phillip Jenkins “Pedophiles and Priests” fromCatalyst, May 1996] that may help in disclosing the source of this apparent discrepancy.

Here’s two relevant Paragraphs from the review,

Were it not for the way the problem of clergy sexual abuse has been socially defined, the public would know that the problem is hardly confined to the Catholic community. Indeed, as Jenkins has written, “In reality, Catholic clergy are not necessarily represented in the sexual abuse phenomenon at a rate higher than or even equal to their numbers in the clerical profession as a whole.” The biggest difference between the Catholic and Protestant clergy in relation to this problem is due mostly to reporting procedures: there is no counterpart among Protestants to the highly centralized data keeping done by the Catholic Church, hence it is often difficult to make comparisons between the clergy of the two religions.

Notwithstanding the difficulties that such data comparisons hold, the available information on clergy sexual misconduct shows that the problem is bigger among Protestant clergy. For example, the most cited survey of sexual problems among the Protestant clergy shows that 10 percent have been involved in sexual misconduct and “about two or three percent” are “pedophiles.” With regard to the “pedophile” problem, the figure for the Catholic clergy, drawn from the most authoritative studies, ranges between .2 percent to 1.7 percent. Yet we hear precious little about these comparative statistics.

Be it either an case of Mr Miller having been misquoted in print or by his own confusion or error, the charge that 10% of Protestant Ministers having been convicted of pedophilia is most serious, especially, concerning the nature of this sad subject and crime. A charge that needs substantiation and/or clarification for the sake of truth and honor. If I were an Protestant Minister I would expect nothing less…

Anyone out there have the expertise or further knowledge to help clarify the facts?

Hat Tip to Jay Brown – Hope this helps.


52 thoughts on “If I was a Protestant Minister… Sam Miller’s Numbers Wrong?”

  1. I don’t have to be a lawyer to see that the 10% CAN be proven as misquote/misuse of what Mr. Jenkins was saying, but the 10% CAN’T be proven as true or false on its own.

  2. And actually, the numbers from Mr. Jenkins – the Chicago study he was using regarding priests, was 1.8% not 1.7% or all that I have seen so far.
    4% from John Jay Study.
    Dr. Podles’ opinion (yes we are allowed to have opinions without defamation) is up to 10% for priest perpetrators. His opinion is based on those that did not come forward.

    I would agree with Dr. Podles if you included adults. I haven’t seen a study with those numbers, as of today, for the Catholic Church.

    But I was looking at the content of Mr. Miller’s speech, not necessarily his figures.

    1. @ opey124

      Publishing an opinion that is clearly stated as an opinion is quite different from fabricating statistics and claiming they are accurate conclusions from a scientific study that does not exist.

      Like you, I see no problem with stating reasonable opinions that are identified as opinions, though I don’t have the legal expertise to know if one can publicly state an outragiously derogatory opinion and not have committed an act of defamation.

      My purpose in making my original post was to present information in response to the question at the top of the page.

      It was not my intention to have an ongoing debate about the finer details of defamation so I’ll decline to take up any more space here responding to others. I thank all who have taken the time to read my posts. Hopefully the link to Bean’s clarifying story has been helpful.

        1. One source says this talk was given originally on March 6, 2003, and others say Thurs., March 7, 2008. The former date also falls on a Thursday. Which date is accurate?

    2. [quote]Quote:”But I was looking at the content of Mr. Miller’s speech, not necessarily his figures.”[/quote]
      Excuse me….but the ‘figures’ COMPRISE a large part of the ‘CONTENT’….you simply cannot separate the two.

      It has been categorically PROVEN to be a spurious number….drawn originally from an article in Sojourners magazine. This has been retracted and corrected, and a letter from Phillip Jenkins himself posted, that denied ever making that claim. He further goes on to state that he has no idea of the numbers particularly of ‘protestant’ offenders, but he would be very surprised if it were more than a FRACTION of ONE PERCENT.

      What this DOES do…is raise legitimate questions as to just how reliable any OTHER figures used by Sam Miller are. I mean….if he was THIS CARELESS…using secondary sources with obviously no attempt to verify them…even though many thoughtful, honest people….RC and Protestant alike….knew just from reading it…that it simply could not be accurate.

      Sam’s article/letter thus is reduced to an ‘apologetic’ rhetorical diatribe, entertaining…but not to be taken seriously or believed as fact….much like what Bill Donahue writes.

      For example, he goes on and on about all the ‘good works’….the ‘taxpayer savings’ provided by the RC church…he claims at NO COST to the taxpayer…but fails to mention that many of these ‘charities are FUNDED by the Federal Government…and thus, do NOT come directly from the pockets of ‘charitable’ catholics.

      So…for me….ALL of his numbers are rendered suspect, due to his obviously faulty methodology. Yet…organizations like this one STILL, years later…have up the original article….still post responses (erroneous) TO that original article…and have not, to my knowledge….even attempted to correct the misinformation…and verify the other alleged figures. Is THIS honesty? Is THIS integrity? Or…are they just so happy that they have a ‘talking point’ that, on the surface, appears to ‘absolve’ the RC church…that any falsehood or error is justified?
      Enquiring minds want to know!

  3. If you do a simple web search using terms like “pator charged” “minister arrested” “youth pastor charged” and similar terms you will find that MANY Protestant clergy have also been involved in the issue of child sexual abuse. But since most Protestant churches are autonomous and there is no one head, reports do not always make it to national media. So the public sees Catholic priests involved in the sexual abuse scandals and assume it is a “Catholic thing.” It is not. It is societal issue and is found most frequently in the home. Catholics are a major religion and as such get a lot of attention. The point is, the problem is there among Protestant clergy as well as many other groups like Scouting, child care centers, schools, etc. But the media make it appear as if it were limited to the Catholic Church and Catholic priests.

  4. I was forwarded a copy of Mr. Millers article by a fellow church member. It isn’t the percentages of either the Catholic Church or the Protestant Church that I wish to address. I was raised Catholic and attended Catholic schools in Chicago. I am now, amoung other things an ordained Baptist Preacher (and no, Baptists are not Protestant! A Pro-testant was one protesting the abuses of the Catholic church and came out. Baptists never came out of the Catholic Church, they were never part of the Catholic Church to begin with). All religions are corrupt and embrace false doctrine and are “good works” oriented. I am a Born-Again believer whose faith is in Jesus Christ. What I have is not religion, but a personal relationship. I am a Christian by conversion (New Birth) and a Baptist by conviction only because our only source of authority is the Bible, not the traditions of man. Are all Baptists, then, children of God? Most certainly not. There are ‘saved’ people in other denominations. It is because they are not trusting in church membership, good works, sacraments, etc., for salvation, but in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. Book of Ephesians 2:8-9: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

    1. “…because our only source of authority is the Bible, not the traditions of man.”

      I would like to present some argument, if I may. 1 – You don’t hold Christ as an authority? 2 – The Bible is a tradition of man. 3 – The Catholic Church is responsible for the creation and preservation of the collection of writings called the Bible. 4 – Without an “authority,” who determines how the Word is to be interpreted?

      I do appreciate your clarification on Protestantism and Baptism, as I am not well-schooled on other denominations. Is that what you would prefer to be called?

    2. A “protestant” is anyone who is in protest against the Church or rejects her authority whether he calls himself a protestant or not. In relation to the Catholic Church and to Catholics, he is a protestant. When I was a Baptist, I called myself a Christian or an evangelical. I virtually never called myself a Baptist.

      It seems to me a tiny percentage of protestants identify themselves according to denomination. Most will first identify themselves as Christians.

  5. These statistics are alarming regardless, but keep in mind there are probably more than 10 times more protestant ministers than there are catholic priests. So the chance of percentages grows when this factor is worked into the equation. No group needs to be looking down their noses to any other group. All are probably guilty to the same proportion.

  6. From the Gospel of John: “I pray Father: THAT THEY ALL BE ONE”, “EVEN AS YOU AND I ARE ONE” (this tells us how much oneness). Why: “SO THAT THE WORLD WILL BELEIVE THAT YOU HAVE SENT ME”.

    Seems to me that the world doesn’t beleive that. Seems to me also that the reason is that we don’t care enough about iur Lord’s most fervent prayer just before going to the cross for us, to say: “YES LORD”.

    Do all of these juggled percentages, and accusations serve to make us one?
    Does thinking that the only oneness can come from all others doing it our way; or even by returning to a fold that was corrupt when it divided, not when part broke away, as some are careful to say.

    Just think about this: If we searched our hearts and deleted everything we cling to in our Christian beleifs that makes walls between us, holding fast only to what we have in common, we would truly be saying: “YES LORD”. He would be smiling, and the world would beleive, and would say: see how these Christians love one another.

    For God’s sake Christians: “it is not The “APPROACH” to God that is important. It is the God that we approach”.

    When we TAKE SERIOUSLY JOHN’S GOSPEL anf our Lord’s pleading and prayer, “SO THAT THE WORLD WILL BELEIVE
    THAT YOU HAVE SENT ME” then and only then will we truly see God’s Glory change the face of this world.

    Overall,we are NOT even remotely trying to do that.
    As Dr Phil would say: “How’s that working for us?”

  7. Reading all the above, I honestly find that the central issue, that of Catholic Priest vs Protestant ministers sexual abuse has been lost. Does no one realize that the Catholic Church, i.e. it’s priests have been roasted, toasted, convicted, disclaimed by the media and the courts while Protestant ministers, Jewish Rabbis, and God knows how many Muslim Mullahs, guilty of sexual depravity or misconduct have gotten a totally free ride! Let’s have some semblance of equanimity for God’s sake as well as the sake of mankind!

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