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Betrayal of Trust: Clergy Abuse of Children

By Annie Laurie Gaylor

Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.
P.O. Box 750
Madison, Wisconsin 53701
Copyright 1988, Annie Laurie Gaylor

The first nonfiction book addressing the religious scandal of molestation of minors by members of the clergy was "Betrayal of Trust: Clergy Abuse of Children" by Annie Laurie Gaylor, which was published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation in 1988. Although the book is now out-of-print, and cites cases dating to the 1980s, it unfortunately is not out-of-date; all too little has changed since the first public exposure of pedophilia by priests and pastors. "Betrayal of Trust" (92 pages) documents the patterns of denial, inaction, cover-up, collusion, "forgiveness of sins," and blame of victims endemic in many church congregations and denominations. Print copies (Kinkos-bound) and a few used copies while they last are available from FFRF, PO Box 750, Madison WI 53701 for $10 ppd.


"He's a respected member of our community. . ."

". . .one drop of ink in crystal clear water. . ."

"Hey, Father, we've got a little problem. . ."

"It's not our job to judge . . . it's the Lord's job."

"He's a wonderful person. He's got our support 100 percent."

"When he preached, his face was just shining like an angel."

"It's not for you to judge. That's for God to do."

"He's a good man. If he did this, he will have to answer to God when he dies."

"I thought he was doing the right thing, because he was a priest."--Eleven year old boy victim

"I feel like my church has betrayed me."--His mother

"We have the right to know if an abuser is living among us."--Letter to editor

"Something like this can destroy a person."--Parent

"Being a preacher, we thought he was a good man."--Father of girl victim

"This is the worst case of sexual abuse I've seen during my 30 years in law enforcement."--Sheriff

"He wrapped himself in religious piety, used his position in the church and the community to shield himself and . . . to find children . . . to seduce them."--U.S. Attorney

"The defendant used his position of trust to get these girls."--Prosecutor

"Dressed up in sheep's clothing, he is a wolf that preys on our children."--Prosecutor

"This family turned to the church for help, and all the doors slammed shut."--Victims' Attorney

"I think the Catholic Church has its atonement to make as well. They helped create you."--Judge

"Priests now have a license to sexually betray their parishioners and the church will turn its back on innocent victims."--Attorney


Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns or figs of thistles?
"A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
"Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them."
--Matthew 7:16,18,20

"Since the primary motive of the evil is disguise, one of the places evil people are most likely to be found is within the church. What better way to conceal one's evil from oneself, as well as from others, than to be a deacon or some other highly visible form of Christian within our culture? . . . . I do not mean to imply that the evil are anything other than a small minority among the religious or that the religious motives of most people are in any way spurious. I mean only that evil people tend to gravitate toward piety for the disguise and concealment it can offer them."
--Martin Buber
Good and Evil

". . . [Regarding] the convention that clergymen are more virtuous than other men. Any average selection of mankind, set apart and told that it excels the rest in virtue, must tend to sink below the average."
--Bertrand Russell
"Religion and the Churches," 1916
(Philosopher/ social critic)



This publication is dedicated to Sherry,
three times the victim of religious men,
and to the multitude of children
betrayed by "pillars of the church."



The author is indebted to newspapers and reporters in North America for disclosing the facts on clergy abuse of children, sometimes involving exemplary investigative journalism in the face of heated controversy. The author is also grateful to the many readers of Freethought Today who conscientiously clipped and sent in many of the news accounts used in this book, as well as to several individuals, especially former minister Dan Barker, for encouraging an activist stance.