Organized Religion as Organized Crime

Mary Clifford, St. Cloud State University

his paper is a theoretical exploration of the differences and similarities between traditional organized crime structures and the structures that are found in organized religion. While ultimately the goal of this project is a more comprehensive look at formal structures of many different religions, this preliminary work is focused primarily on the structures of the Catholic Church in the United States. More importantly, information structures that lie within and between formal organizational structures are proving to be the most interesting. Like the "families" in traditional organized crime structures, the Church has operated in a way that protects the inner sanctum at all costs. Further, information about activities that go directly against Church doctrine and are in violation of the law are "handled" within ranks regardless of the law. Three court cases that have used RICO statutes to outline the prosecution of Catholic priests who have been accused of sexual crimes are used to provide additional information that proves interesting for the discussion

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Updated 05/20/2006