According to a new Pew Research Center survey, one in five Americans have no religious affiliation, and one third of adults under 30 years of age have no religious affiliation. The survey also shows that the "Religiously Unaffiliated" also have a poor view of religious institutions with 70% saying these institutions are too interested in money and power, and only 52% saying these institutions protect and strengthen morality. Politically conservative individuals constitute one fifth of the "Religiously Unaffiliated."
Young people also want and seek out role models and below the fold I offer two more reasons why people, especially young people, won't be flocking to church anytime soon.
First, there are men of the cloth like the recently resigned Roman Catholic priest, Monsignor Kevin Wallin, 61, who was arrested at his Connecticut apartment on January 3, 2013. Wallin, who was paid a stipend from the Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut, until his arrest had resigned in 2011 from his priestly duties after those in the church discovered he was a cross-dresser who was having sex in the rectory at Bridgeport's St. Augustine Cathedral. Oh, and also, for allegedly dealing crystal meth from the church. Authorities have said Wallin was dealing up to $9K a week in crystal methamphetamine in the Waterbury area, and there is some evidence that he may have been producing it too (or at least he had a gallon bag of the stuff at one of his two apartments). Authorities also have said that the former Monsignor Kevin Wallin laundered his drug-making profits into a pornography/sex-toy store that he purchased. All of which begs the question: why is this man, who owns a business, receiving the free services of a federal public defender for the indigent? Wow, this guy knows how to play every system out there.
Second, meet former pastor at the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Gaston County, North Carolina, Larry Michael Bollinger, 66. He stood accused of raping Haitian girls while doing church work in that country. The Reverend Bollinger had pleaded not guilty to his charges, and 25 to 30 members of his church, including his wife, Margaret (but not his two adult children) were in court to support him as he pled not guilty. At that time, the current Holy Trinity Lutheran Church pastor, Nancy Kraft, said of Bollinger's supposed innocence: "Sometimes really good people make mistakes, but the news doesn't like that."
Now, here's the rest of the story as told yesterday by the Department of Justice press release:
Former Minister Pleads Guilty in North Carolina to Engaging in Illicit Sexual Conduct in HaitiNo word yet from Rev. Nancy Kraft about yesterday's guilty plea.
WASHINGTON – A former minister pleaded guilty today in North Carolina to engaging in illicit sexual conduct in Haiti, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina Anne M. Tompkins and Brock D. Nicholson, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Georgia and the Carolinas.
Larry Michael Bollinger, 67, of Gastonia, N.C., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge David S. Cayer in the Western District of North Carolina to two counts of engaging in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign place. Bollinger was charged in an indictment filed on May 15, 2012.
According to filed court documents and court proceedings, Bollinger was a former Lutheran minister who performed missionary work in Haiti. Court records show that Bollinger regularly travelled to Haiti and served as the Haiti director for a Lutheran charity. Bollinger admitted that from about August 2009 to October 2009, he sexually molested four Haitian females, between the ages of 11 and 16. According to court records, one of the victims said that Bollinger offered to give her food and money in exchange for sexual acts.
Bollinger has been in federal custody since he was charged in May 2012. Each count of engaging in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign place carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. A sentencing date for Bollinger has not been set yet.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimlani M. Ford of the Western District of North Carolina and Trial Attorney Michael W. Grant of the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS). The investigation was conducted by ICE-HSI.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse, launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ offices and CEOS, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
Meanwhile, as America's young are taking note of these news stories, they are finding other things to do besides go to church, finding other ways to enrich and deepen their lives. Really, who can blame them?