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In Defense of the Clergy

November 12, 1987

Perhaps a word can be said to those who have become too skeptical of all who "wear the cloth" in light of recent TV evangelist scandal.

The image of a preacher taking money from poor old people as one takes candy from a baby is the extreme, not the norm. It used to be that one was considered a bit odd to enter the ministry because the pay was so poor. While most think they know what "they are really after," the truth remains that the clergy is clearly a poorly paid profession, perhaps the poorest.

Most still serve from the irresistible desire to spread what they believe to be good news and, on account of the joy they receive from increasing the faith and joy in others. Who would endure the hardships the clergy suffers even if the money were to be on par with that of other professions? Their phones ring off the hook day and night with cries from beleaguered, bewildered or perhaps bewitched persons who find the minister as one to rely upon. The light on their porches is always burning and seldom do they find a weekend to call their own.

I grant that everyone can name an evangelist, or even a local preacher, who has cheated on or left a spouse. Or they can name one who is prone to alcohol or to one of the deadly sins. But for every one of these, by whom we justify our own vanity and perversity, one can easily think of 10, 20 or a hundred who are yet faithful and dedicated, wholeheartedly serving their people while shining as lights of hope, forgiveness and moral conduct in these decadent and transitory times. And these are the ones most taken for granted.

We must ask who else is tending to the problems of our day more than the rabbi, minister, nun or priest? Who are doing more than our ministers as they seek with their parishioners to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, educate the people, take in the refugee and treat the sick and preach news that is good, contains hope and is real? Who are giving our youth moral reason to abstain from drugs, crime and sexual indulgence besides these? Who are telling the family to stay together more than they?

When the rhetoric of the pandering politician subsides, when the press drops an issue, when all that dust settles on an issue, who persists to set our streets straight, clean and wholesome? It will be the rabbi, priest, minister or nun working long after the psychiatrist leaves work and city hall closes, to marshal their people onward.

My point? Let not the character of the one sheep gone astray tarnish the image of the 99 good ones yet in the pen.

DON NELSON

Pasadena

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