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Thread: Why do we, particularly atheists and agnostics, give deference to clergy

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    Why do we, particularly atheists and agnostics, give deference to clergy

    I consider my self a bit of an amateur sociologist (I realize this opens me up for criticism and taunting ). I like to observe what seems to be human nature and then question why.

    An example is what type of person drives slow in the fast lane during rush hour leaving many car lengths to the car ahead of it. As I pass them I observe the individual and categorize them. For instance someone with a new car "in transit" tag will generally be more careful, I have concluded. Also an individual that has a classic car will leave unnecessary car lengths, in my opinion. There are others that would be inappropriate and not politically correct to mention.

    One other facet I've observed is it seems to be individuals are unnecessarily kind to the clergy. Now this is going to go in many uncomfortable directions but I'm curious what others think. I'm curious what both the religious and atheists and agnostics think about my thesis.

    Preference to Parishioners From my experience as a previous every Sunday parishioner, experience on a church council, and now a believer that does not attend church, I found the politics of religious organizations to be among the worst. For instance for those that attend you will see in the bulletin each week how far behind budget they are. Miraculously the budget is made up around Christmas. Christmas donations up because of attendance? Partially. But the majority of the make-up comes from the three or four 1% class that gets a visit from clergy between Christmas and New Years. These are the same church members you will see at lunch with clergy periodically, get home visits, and get the quick, packaged annulments.

    The next group clergy must suck up to are the three or four women that compete for organization of the ladies guild, the funeral pot lunches, and Sunday school.

    And finally the loud voice in the community. Clergy needs to make sure the voice of the community stays in line.

    Tax Favored Treatment The tax code is very generous to clergy, which I guess is taught in Seminary. "Members of the gospel may exclude the rental value of homes furnished by churches as part of their compensation. This includes the portion of a retired minister's pension designated as a rental allowance..." "A minister is entitled to deduct mortgage interest and real property taxes paid on a personal residence even if the amounts expended are derived from a rental allowance that is excluded from the minister's gross income."

    Do you think this will be one of the "tax loopholes" that will be addressed in the coming tax debate. Doubtful. Who wants to be seen as attacking the clergy.

    Fire and Brimstone vs Pacifist Generally the minister will be one of hell and damnation or a "peace monger". In either case what they say in their Sunday morning sermon often has a political bent to it. I guess the parishioner has the option to find a church that is more "politically" acceptable. No harm not foul one could say.

    Criminals
    We have seen a number of clergy convicted of crimes and astronomical church settlements. I really don't want to discuss this area.

    Largess of the Church My wife and I wnt to Rome last year and visited the Vatican. OMG. It is very, very, very impressive. Yet there are the poor, the needy, and hungry throughout the world.

    Even with the above it appears to me, individual members of the clergy are provided exceptionally good treatment, seldom challenged or held accountable for their statements. It is especially surprising to me to see agnostics and atheists treat members of the clergy with exceptional deference. I think I have seen it on HM where there seems to be a low "bow" by atheists and agnostics to members of clergy.

    I understand this topic will likely be met with a loud gasp. But knowing I am among friends I think it will be met with the seriousness it is intended.

    Besides, I don't like the limp-wristed hand shakes from members of the clergy. It creates a lack of trust in my opinion.

  2. #2
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    Good topic, and one I generally agree with. I think those of us who are believers do a far better job of challenging and *gasp* disagreeing with the clergy than those who disagree with the majority of the clergy's beliefs. It's almost as if they are walking on eggs when they're involved in a discussion with the church leaders who post here.

  3. #3
    I'm thankful to have this forum for discussion and conversation...this honestly has been almost as much of a help as my seminary classes in helping form my current faith identity. Having the chance to interact, argue with, and be pushed back on what I believe by folks of very many backgrounds is awesome...it forces me to think about what I believe, why I believe it, and how that informs what I think about other issues.

    I hope nobody feels like they need to walk on eggshells around me...I wear big boy pants.

    "Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence." 1 Peter 3:15-16 (NRSV)

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    Quote Originally Posted by LutheranHusker View Post
    I'm thankful to have this forum for discussion and conversation...this honestly has been almost as much of a help as my seminary classes in helping form my current faith identity. Having the chance to interact, argue with, and be pushed back on what I believe by folks of very many backgrounds is awesome...it forces me to think about what I believe, why I believe it, and how that informs what I think about other issues.

    I hope nobody feels like they need to walk on eggshells around me...I wear big boy pants.


    Its people like this that make me want to say Hey there could be something to this. I cannot say in my own mind that there is or is not someone or something of a higher authority involved. Your beliefs are strong young one. Do not ever give up on dirt bags like me.



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    Do we have lots of members of the clergy on Hmax that I'm unaware of? Or is it just the one really nice, incredibly respectful guy that moderates in his spare time?

    Cause if you two are basing your entire theory off of how we treat one person, I'd say your methodology and sample pool need a lot of work.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LutheranHusker View Post
    I'm thankful to have this forum for discussion and conversation...this honestly has been almost as much of a help as my seminary classes in helping form my current faith identity. Having the chance to interact, argue with, and be pushed back on what I believe by folks of very many backgrounds is awesome...it forces me to think about what I believe, why I believe it, and how that informs what I think about other issues.

    I hope nobody feels like they need to walk on eggshells around me...I wear big boy pants.
    I've never held back on you. Poof theory and big bouncer in the sky both come immediately to mind.

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    Is it just me or have we seen a significant increase in atheist themed threads recently? Why is that?
    Paddle faster, I hear banjo music!

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    Quote Originally Posted by RedPhoenix View Post
    Do we have lots of members of the clergy on Hmax that I'm unaware of? Or is it just the one really nice, incredibly respectful guy that moderates in his spare time?

    Cause if you two are basing your entire theory off of how we treat one person, I'd say your methodology and sample pool need a lot of work.

    Come to think of it, you're right.
    "It just shows that we're changing the program," Petteway said. "Coach Miles and the guys we have on our staff and our players, we're changing the culture of Nebraska basketball, and this is just the beginning for us." - HuskerOnline.com 2-16-2014

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    I have a lot of respect for what Luth has to say about Christianity. I may be an agnostic, but I was raised Catholic and I suppose I paid as much attention as most to Christian theology. There may be some who don't agree with him on some points, but you should just say so, if you do. He seems pretty open to discussion and debate.

    I hammered him pretty good on gun control a while back, and so far I haven't been hit by a lightning bolt.
    "It just shows that we're changing the program," Petteway said. "Coach Miles and the guys we have on our staff and our players, we're changing the culture of Nebraska basketball, and this is just the beginning for us." - HuskerOnline.com 2-16-2014

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    Quote Originally Posted by Husker in Spokane View Post
    Is it just me or have we seen a significant increase in atheist themed threads recently? Whi is that?
    Obviously some of our resident believers are starting to question their faith and thus are exploring the option of atheism.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RedPhoenix View Post
    Obviously some of our resident believers are starting to question their faith and thus are exploring the option of atheism.
    The bad news is they were probably right in the first place and now we're all going to hell.
    "It just shows that we're changing the program," Petteway said. "Coach Miles and the guys we have on our staff and our players, we're changing the culture of Nebraska basketball, and this is just the beginning for us." - HuskerOnline.com 2-16-2014

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    Quote Originally Posted by huskernut View Post
    The bad news is they were probably right in the first place and now we're all going to hell.
    At least we will have company!

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    pray for me ;)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Husker in Spokane View Post
    Is it just me or have we seen a significant increase in atheist themed threads recently? Why is that?
    Flushing out targets for the "cleansing".
    Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us.Bill Watterson, cartoonist, "Calvin and Hobbes"

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    pray for me ;)
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    Quote Originally Posted by RedPhoenix View Post
    At least we will have company!
    I pre-purchased extra property for just such an occasion. I promise to give a fair deal to all HM members.
    Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us.Bill Watterson, cartoonist, "Calvin and Hobbes"

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    Even with the above it appears to me, individual members of the clergy are provided exceptionally good treatment, seldom challenged or held accountable for their statements. It is especially surprising to me to see agnostics and atheists treat members of the clergy with exceptional deference. I think I have seen it on HM where there seems to be a low "bow" by atheists and agnostics to members of clergy.
    My take. I don't need to be a Christian, Jew, Muslim, etc., to recognize that a pastor/rabbi/preacher/Imam/other that leads a congregation is usually considered a good person who is trying to lead his followers through examples of patience, self-sacrifice, and understanding. That kind of commitment in my mind deserves my respect and deference. The same respect, IMO, that should be given to our school teachers.

    That said, when a preacher/rabbi/Imam/witch doctor/Misc. uses their platform to preach intolerance, ignorance, or outright stupidity (looking at you, Westboro idiots) I will have no problem unloading on them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RedPhoenix View Post
    Do we have lots of members of the clergy on Hmax that I'm unaware of? Or is it just the one really nice, incredibly respectful guy that moderates in his spare time?

    Cause if you two are basing your entire theory off of how we treat one person, I'd say your methodology and sample pool need a lot of work.
    RevHusker stops by on occasion to the football board. That's the only other person I can think of...

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    Contrary to what it appears some believe and they stated above, this is a topic I have often thought about. That is why I provided the 5 specifc itmes in the OP. HM is a reference I made since we can all relate to it. It makes no difference to me if there is no interest in the topic.

    However, it seems the responses above provide evidence my conclusion is accurate.

    And the no comments speak volumes also.

  18. #18
    In fairness there's a lot of folks watching weather today...not a lot of activity on the board at all.

    "Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence." 1 Peter 3:15-16 (NRSV)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Crawdad View Post
    My take. I don't need to be a Christian, Jew, Muslim, etc., to recognize that a pastor/rabbi/preacher/Imam/other that leads a congregation is usually considered a good person who is trying to lead his followers through examples of patience, self-sacrifice, and understanding. That kind of commitment in my mind deserves my respect and deference. The same respect, IMO, that should be given to our school teachers.

    That said, when a preacher/rabbi/Imam/witch doctor/Misc. uses their platform to preach intolerance, ignorance, or outright stupidity (looking at you, Westboro idiots) I will have no problem unloading on them.
    Do you feel the same about law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line for us?

    What makes clergy any different than the rest of us? We are all sinners.

    It is easy to take issue with the "Westboro idiots". What about the good clergy we all like and respect. Yet in my accounting practice two of the clergy were much more aggressive than 90 % of my other tax clients, on the border of being fraudulent.

    Since we are all sinners, when the Catholic incidents, for example, have shown they may not deserve the respect given, why do they automatically deserve respect? Shouldn't clergy be treated like anyone else, and if we disagree with them we should state our disagreement?

    When I couldn't make it to church I watched Jimmy Swaggert for the music and drama a few times. He had a great voice singing the old time songs. And he was very entertaining. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't a follower of his and didn't get caught up in his ministry but he had a great message, great entertainment, and like I said, great religious music. How do we know most clergy don't have some type of secret they are running from?

    Yet, I think, as you stated, we are conditioned to give them respect and deference. Is it the right thing to do for us, our loved ones, and the member of the clergy?

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    Quote Originally Posted by LutheranHusker View Post
    In fairness there's a lot of folks watching weather today...not a lot of activity on the board at all.
    I'm not sure what "fairness" you are referring to, but I do understand the storm has decreased activity. I believe most people (not part of a congregation) and parishioners are less than honest with their clergy because of the fear of being chastised for any challenge to his/her authority. I don't think that is good for the member of the clergy or for the congregation. The member of clergy gets a false sense of domination/authority which in the end is not helpful. After all, isn't a large percentage of the job of clergy to raise money to fund the local church and the payments to the Synod.




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