Experts report as many as 400 pastors, deacons, elders and church staff members will resign this Sunday after their names surfaced on the list of users revealed in the Ashley Madison hack.
Writing for Christianity Today, Ed Stetzer, the executive director of LifeWay Research, and a well-regarded expert on church leadership, reports:
Based on my conversations with leaders from several denominations in the U.S. and Canada, I estimate that at least 400 church leaders (pastors, elders, staff, deacons, etc.) will be resigning Sunday. This is a significant moment of embarrassment for the church—and it should be.
The fallout from the Ashley Madison hack has been troubling for many users, particularly religious conservatives.
Family values advocate and serial child molester Josh Duggar was but one high-profile conservative Christian exposed as a user of the infamous website for individuals interested in arranging extramarital affairs.
In addition to Duggar, another high profile conservative Christian caught in the Ashley Madison storm was Christian YouTube star Sam Rader.
However, the shame of hypocrisy is not reserved for Christian conservatives only. Friendly Atheist reports Hamza Tzortzis, a Muslim apologist and lecturer for the Islamic Education and Research Academy was also a user of the Ashley Madison site.
While there is a great deal of schadenfreude in seeing pompous “holier than thou” religious figures being exposed as hypocrites, we must not lose sight of the fact that the Ashley Madison hack was a crime placing many private citizens at risk.
The hack and release of such sensitive and personal information raises real concerns about the right to privacy, and the morality of “outing” individuals for their private behavior in the bedroom.
Former congressman Barney Frank, speaking with Bill Maher on Real Time about the the right to privacy in the context of outing of gay politicians, made the following comment:
There’s a right to privacy. But the right to privacy should not be a right to hypocrisy. People who want to demonize other people shouldn’t then be able to go home and close the door, and do it themselves.
Frank’s analysis seems fair and just. People who are paid to stand up every Sunday and preach to the flock that adultery is a sin, while at the same time using a web site to cheat on their spouse, are hypocrites and legitimate targets for outing, and probably should resign.
Bottom line: Practice what you preach. Or better yet, don’t preach at all.