After several weeks of no activity (no comments), the discussion about atheists in the priesthood on the Community of Christ's Facebook wall kicked up again. Of course, I got into it because I'm absolutely stunned that there are church members who are absolutely OKAY with members of the priesthood who are not only atheists, but also keeping it a secret from others in the church. I wrote a post on this blog about it (can't remember what day, though). Its outrageous that people think its okay for someone to maintain a sacred office of the church (part of the leadership) if they do not believe that God exists, that an afterlife exists, that we live in a spiritual universe. Its baffling that such a person would go along with something they believe to be a lie. I cannot comprehend this at all. It defies logic. And it infuriates me that there are members in the church who are a-okay with the deceit and the hypocrisy.
Then came the news that another teacher was suspended after a reporter revealed his porn film star past. One guy (who happens to be openly gay) on my Facebook, who is okay with closeted atheist priesthood members, posted an article link on his wall. As expected, he does not believe that anything a teacher has done in the past should affect the teacher's job. He shows a consistency in belief, which is: it is okay for someone to withhold critical information from others because their priesthood office or their teaching career is more important than the needs of the community. This gets to the heart of the integrity issue. I fall on the side of disclosure. If you're in a position of some privilege or leadership in which you have power to make decisions over others, then there does need to be a higher standard that is imposed. If they cannot abide by it, step aside and let those who have no problem take their place.
About the porn star turned English high school teacher and crew coach, the local Fox affiliate station in Boston ambushed Kevin Hogan with their discovery that he had starred in some porn films last year under the cheesy name Hytch Cawke in films with provocative titles like: Fetish World, Just Gone Gay 8, and Ass Fucked By a DILF. When confronted with his alleged past, Hogan said: "I don't know what you're talking about." The overzealous reporter seems confident that Kevin Hogan is Hytch Cawke. Having seen pictures of both, I'm not certain. Hytch Cawke looks a lot skinnier than Kevin Hogan, though a guy could put on weight in a year's time.
Earlier this year, a substitute teacher in Florida was discovered to have been in a few porn films and was dismissed from his teaching duties. When he approached the American Civil Liberties Union for possible legal action for wrongful termination, an ACLU lawyer said that if he had been in most any other job, he'd have a case, but because his job involved being around underaged children, they would not touch his case at all. The great defender of our civil liberties denied representing the fired substitute teacher! What does that tell you?
I've read a few comments people have made on the current porn star turned teacher scandal on various articles. I'm stunned by the cluelessness and lack of moral principles. Many seem to think that this scandal is a violation of the teacher's right to privacy or right to have a sex life. If only it were that simple! Yes, a teacher who is gay or an atheist does have the right to a private life. They shouldn't be fired for what they do in the privacy of their own bedroom (so long as it doesn't involve underage people). But that's not what this teacher is accused of doing. He starred in a few pornographic films. That means he put his sex life out into the public for consumption by others. This means he made public his private activities and therefore, he forfeited his "right to privacy." It simply does not make logical sense for someone who wants to be a teacher to make a porn film. I mean, who makes a porn film anyway? Don't these people understand that anytime you have a job that puts you in close contact with children, you are going to be scrutinized more? Especially if you're a man. The fear of child molestation is very real, as we've all been reminded of again most recently with the Penn State scandal (which I've been meaning to blog about).
Like it or not, teachers are a role model for children. They have a lot of influence on their students. Perhaps an even bigger influence on children than parents once they reach a certain age. It is difficult for a teacher to maintain his or her authority and respect if his or her students were aware of something like this. More than any other profession, the moral standards of teachers has to be held to a high level because children do look up to teachers, whether we want to admit it or not. I know myself and how I was as a teenager, and I certainly did admire a few teachers, including one to an almost hero-worship level. I would have been devastated if I learned that one of my teachers (particularly one I admired) had made a pornographic film (especially a gay one). It would be hard to respect such a teacher. Making a pornographic film is an indication of poor judgement. And in this economy when there are many people with a teaching degree and not enough teaching jobs available, it makes sense that standards would be set high.
I'm not saying that Kevin Hogan is a bad person. There is nothing illegal about making pornography. But let's get real here. Teaching is probably not the best career for Hogan. I wish a reporter would ask him why he wanted to become a teacher and what he was thinking when he decided to make a few pornos. That's just not a logical career trajectory for someone who wants to be a teacher. I can understand someone who volunteers as a tutor or teaches English as a Second Language. But with the various stories of porn stars becoming teachers, it appears to be an indication that maybe these men had an attack of conscience and after their stint in porn, they decided they wanted to redeem themselves by giving back. However, it doesn't work that way. Don't people get it? We live in the Age of the Internet. Everything you put out there is a potential boomerang (yes, my blog counts!). If someone really wanted to keep his or her life private, it would be a wise idea to not put anything out on the Internet or on video. And if you decide to, then take ownership. If someone discovers something and faces you with it, then don't cry about it.
I guess despite the lesson in this story, I'm still baffled that there are people out there who are okay with deceit and hypocrisy. How can we establish trust and relationships based on respect if its considered okay for a person to withhold critical information from others? Information such as not believing in God if they happen to be an atheist Priesthood member or that they had done a pornographic film in the past. Of course people aren't going to be honest if they covet the Priesthood or a teaching position and they have something in their past (or present) that they know would disqualify them. But that's what living an honest life (a life of integrity) is all about. You disclose and let the chips fall where they may.
This brings to mind an Orwell quote that I love: "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." So, enablers, stop defending those who would deceive others. If we value honesty, we have to start by being honest. This means not withholding critical information from others who have a right to know. This is called living with integrity. There's no other way to live.