Politicians aren’t. Doctors aren’t. Teachers aren’t. Judges aren’t. But religions and their representatives very often are. Declare yourself a religion, like Scientology, and in some countries you can get away with it. “Established” churches and religions, and sometimes even sects, not only get tax-breaks, funding for schools and special privileges, but command widespread politically correct respect. The downside is that scandals touching them are particularly delicate and dangerous, forcing the guilty to spare no efforts to practise a too-often effective “cover-up”.
One may ask why the unique aura of religion ? The answer may seem obvious to some. But I suggest that non-believers hesitate to criticize religions and their personnel, beliefs and practices, for two reasons : not only fear of alienating friends, family and the powers that be, but also a suppressed fear that maybe “God” would not like it. There is a part of Pascal in all of us : maybe, just maybe, there is some truth in religion after all. Cowardice in non-believers is as pathetic as blindness in believers.