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Quote of the Day: Dana Nessel Calls for Law Outlawing Clergy Having Sexual Relations with Parishioners

dana nessel

We are seeing countless episodes of clergy members who are having sexual relations with their (church members) in a spiritual setting; I mean, right in the church, right in the confessional. And we think that there are a lot of these clergy members who have quite honestly taken advantage of people and taken advantage of their authority or power.

It’s a very powerful thing if you are an individual who has represented yourself as sort of the conduit to heaven, you know for salvation…well then you have a lot of influence over another person’s life. You know, we see cases all the time of a clergy member saying, you know, ‘Do what I say or else you’re not going to go to heaven.’ And that’s a type of power, a type of authority that we just don’t think that anybody should have to be able to exploit for a sexual purpose.

If attorneys have a sexual relationship with a client that they represent, they lose their law license for that, you know? Same thing with a doctor. So why should it be any different for members of the clergy?

We don’t think that it is a First Amendment issue, and we’d be willing to go to court on that if we had to. But I think that there are just certain positions of authority that should not be exploited for sexual purposes, and this is one of them.

I’m not afraid and I won’t apologize for wanting to ensure that any institution around the state understands that if they have been engaged or aiding and abetting in the coverup child sexual abuse, absolutely if there are charges that can be brought, we are happy to entertain those charges and to file them. But we’re hopeful that through the process of this investigation, when we find out more about what has happened in the past, we’ll be able to prevent that from happening in the future.

— Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, WWJ Newsradio 950 Interview, July 9, 2019


  1. Avatar
    Danny Campbell

    Unprofessional though it may be for clergy to have sex with adult parishioners, I’d be happy if they’d just not have sex with the kids.

    • Avatar
      Hugh D. Young

      I agree to an extent….They also need to stop shouting out to the world that ‘fornicators’ are going to hell, seeing as they don’t seem to be the least bit concerned about their ‘indiscetions’……….Or do they really see themselves as being that ‘special’? I really wouldn’t doubt it!

  2. Avatar
    MJ Lisbeth

    As someone who survived childhood sexual abuse by a priest, I am glad she has taken such a stance. As I am not a lawyer or legal scholar, I do not know whether it would be possible to outlaw sexual relationships between clergy and parishioners without running afoul of the First Amendment. I do think, however, that churches and other religious institutions are no more capable of policing themselves than Wall Street brokerage firms are.

    I applaud Ms. Nessel’s body of work, with one notable exception: Her dismissal of charges against some of the officials responsible for the Flint water crisis.

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    Gee what a concept…oh wait…I thought the Law of God supposedly stopped that. If God’s law doesn’t mean much, I don’t see how man’s law would change their behavior!!

    • Avatar
      Hugh D. Young

      God’s Law is only as good as they can use it to beat someone else over the head with, and tell them they’re going to hell!

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    It’s a wonderful idea with one ENORMOUS flaw. Unlike doctors and lawyers, clergy aren’t licenced by the state. They may be overseen by a religious body like the Catholic Church and certain mainline protestant churches, but others serve at the pleasure of a local church’s board of directors. Still others answer to no authority other than their own conscience.

    Now if they made it so that abusing a position of authority or perceived authority could land one on the sex offender registries that might work. One would have to run a search to know that the new megachurch was run by a sex offender, but still, you’d have that option, plus the offender would be prevented from many jobs where they might easily find more victims.

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    I agree that it needs some kind of regulation and oversight from the government, but I suspect the Christians will cry out that it’s a form of persecution and take-over from the government. But again, there’s the separation of the state and church.

  6. Avatar

    good concept, but Christians in the usa will scream persecution and unconstitutional. they use this to cloak their ridiculous behavior. it needs to stop. more power to this movement. great idea about the tax exempt status ellen.

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Bruce Gerencser