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The Gospel According to Q

According to Lord Acton, religious leaders should be held to a higher moral standard than ordinary people. Future historians should bear that advice in mind when assessing America’s religious right and its current leaders.

MARYLAND EASTERN SHORE – “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” Lord Acton wrote in a letter to an Anglican bishop in 1887. Acton was considering how religious historians should handle past crimes committed by the church’s leaders. In his view, religious (and political) leaders should be held to a higher moral standard than ordinary people. When historical accounts fail to do that, they “serve the worst better than the purest.”

Future historians should bear Acton’s guidance in mind when assessing America’s religious right and its current leaders.

I know from my experience in the Soviet Union that clerics should not be exempt from moral judgment. Aleksey II, Patriarch of the Orthodox Church during my youth, was long suspected of KGB membership and happily worked hand in glove with the Soviet and then Russian state. Today, Alexey’s successor, Patriarch Kirill, has not hesitated to do the bidding of a former KGB operative, President Vladimir Putin, whether justifying Crimea’s annexation or stoking fear and loathing of homosexuals.

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