Let me tell you about Reverend Ryan.
He was a tenant of mine.
A sweet, young kid. God damned boy scout is what he was.
He kept his apartment in perfect order, could fix things faster and better than I ever could, and if you ever needed to rely upon somebody he was the guy you'd go to.
Only one problem.
He wasn't a reverend.
I thought he was because he got his degree in youth ministry, and so I naturally assumed he was a pastor. But as I found out later, that was nothing more than yet another college-education scam perpetrated upon the youth to support an academian scheme, but this time of a religious variety. His degree was utterly worthless.
But his moral character and caliber was not.
If you were to ask me, and in all honesty, he is BY FAR a better man than I will ever be. He is honest, he is pure, he is noble, and he is righteous in the truest sense...matter of fact if you just took me and multiplied me by a -1 you would mathematically get Reverend Ryan. I don't think the boy has ever committed a sin in his life. He is virtuous and upstanding and I am, frankly, surprised such a man exists in a modern day environment today which is so hostile to such virtue.
Ironically, this results in a paradox.
For while this is one of the most pure, innocent, virtuous and noble men I know, he cannot become a pastor because he doesn't have the right credentials.
But I know men who have become pastors.
And I know men who did jump through the hoops.
And for the most part, most of them come nowhere near the caliber and quality of man as my former tenant.
THough I don't harp on it much, one of the most worthless degrees you can get is "religious studies." I don't harp on it because it is presumed you do not enter such a study in the hopes of riches, but out of charity, altruism and selflessness.
But that cannot be further from the truth for many religious studies majors.
For like journalism, management, even economics, "religious studies" grants the major an air of authority. Jounralists always seek truth. Business management majors always seek optimization an production. And economists always seek efficiency and progress. However, in pursuing such lofty endeavors, those studies are nearly-guaranteed to be corrupted by lesser souls using the lofty position of the study to wield power and control over others for their own selfish gain by abusing its moral position. And "religious studies" is the most loftiest (and consequently, corruptible) of all because it presumably is the authority of morals and decency.
Such a discipline attracts two types, both the most opposite you could ever imagine.
Pure, virtuous, and noble saints like Reverend Ryan
worthless, lazy, (but worse) power-hungry scum who wish to abuse a religion as a means to advance themselves without work, effort or rigor.
Unfortunately experience has told me most pastors (as well as most practitioners) are not of the Reverend Ryan caliber. They are in it for themselves, in it because it's an easy subject, in it for the power immediately granted to them, in it for the business, and in it because they lack the intellectual power and capability to determine their own morality and virtue and thus rely on a religion to spell it out for them. And yes, yes, I know fellow Christian, Jewish, even Muslim, Cappy Cappites, I know you may have that one special pastor that does not fit this bill, but this is (admittedly) the personal, yet empirical, data I have experienced and I still contest the majority of clergymen/women aren't in it for "god" but in it for themselves.
The only thing that is going to convince me otherwise is when I see the church (of whatever religion, sect or denomination) start opening the priest/pastorhood to people with moral caliber like Rev. Ryan who have good hearts, instead of requiring (much like the HR witches in the labor market) "degrees" and "certifications." When religious entities start promoting good people with good intentions and good hearts to the roles of leadership and not the scamming, verminous scum willing to effectively lie and play "Game of Thrones" to get into positions of leadership then I'll start granting American religions more credit.
In the meantime, I don't care whether Reverend Ryan has the qualifications to be an actual "ordained" minister or not. He's the only man qualified to be a reverend in my book and my standards are a hell of a lot higher than most official religions'.