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Memo to: Clergy colleagues

Jul 03, 2011 — Categories: ,

Re: The Weiner problem. In case there is any confusion about the cautionary tale presented to us by the bad behavior of Congressman Anthony Weiner recently revealed to the entire world, let me be clear.

Memo to: Clergy colleagues

Re: The Weiner problem

In case there is any confusion about the cautionary tale presented to us by the bad behavior of Congressman Anthony Weiner recently revealed to the entire world, let me be clear.

As clergy, we have much in common with Weiner.  We are called into service to our communities.  We are given an extraordinary degree of trust by our people.  We are expected to act in their best interests.  We are in a very public role of leadership.  Our people deserve our attention to business, our good judgment and, on occasion, our willingness to go the extra mile for them.  And we certainly have the capacity for the same extraordinary stupidity which he exhibited.

As has been pointed out ad nauseam, Weiner broke no laws, did not pay for sex, did not cheat on his wife, and did not rape anyone.  All true so far as we know.  Rather he engaged in incredibly juvenile and disturbing behavior by tweeting and sexting sexually suggestive and explicit text and photos of himself to women he didn’t even know.  And he lied about it.  Beyond the yuk factor, perhaps if Weiner were a private citizen with these proclivities, this matter would have been between him and his spouse (once she found out).   But he is a public servant whom his constituents trust to represent them in the Congress.  This behavior does not suggest maturity or good judgment, both of which would seem to be important attributes of someone with these responsibilities.  Minimization of his behavior does not serve him, his family, or his constituents.  His decisions to acknowledge responsibility for his actions and then to resign from Congress were the right decisions.   By his own behavior, he compromised his ability to function as an elected official and fulfill the duties of his role.

He could easily have been a clergyperson engaged in the same behaviors.  The same critique would apply.  Yes, there is a higher standard for people in leadership, no matter the size of the community, because we are public figures entrusted with responsibilities, expectations and applicable boundaries.  If you are not comfortable with the expectation that you live up to a higher standard in your personal and professional lives, then perhaps you should consider another career.  The rules do apply to us all.  And particularly when it comes to the internet and social networking. Reckless, narcissistic, juvenile behavior will always find its way back to our doorsteps.
So thank you Anthony Weiner for providing us with this case study.  May the lessons learned not be lost on the rest of us.

Rev. Dr. Marie M. Fortune
FaithTrust Institute

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Posted by Judy Braun at Jul 08, 2011 04:41 PM
You are so right on. As Christians we are called to a higher standard. Clergy are the public visual of that standard.
I always enjoy your wise words!

the Weiner Problem

Posted by Eileen Norrington at Jul 08, 2011 04:41 PM
Very well stated, Marie!

memo to clergy colleagues

Posted by Rev. Mark Nelson at Jul 08, 2011 04:41 PM
As always you are right on target, Marie. Certainly there are behaviors that are not specifically mentioned in any policies, but Mr. Weiner's kind of wandering behavior is a serious problem nevethteless. Yes, it adolescent behavior by an adult, more than that the recipients of his e-mails and pictures are being taken advantage of. They are being led to believe that he is personally intereseted in them. He has clearly stepped out of his role as a powerful leader. His resignation was appropriate.

Held to a Higher Standard by choice

Posted by Rev Cheryl Wallace at Jul 08, 2011 04:42 PM
Thank you for your posting on this subject. It is very true, we are held to a higher standard. Thank you for being willing to speak this from the mountain top. God Bless you and your ministry. May many search deep within their souls... are they called to this position or did they choose it. Thank You to all clergy that continue to conduct their lives, unseen to most, in the Highest Integrity!

Higher Standard of Conduct

Posted by Judy Callahan at Jul 12, 2011 05:29 PM
When I first learned of this I thought, "doesn't anybody get this? This guy's in Congress!". Thanks for putting it into such clear, concise words. It's becoming more apparent everyday that those who achieve power and status need courses in Humility 101; How to Act Like a Grownup 102; and Stupid is as Stupid Does 103!