Not liking the pastor at my church

As many of you know, I am not Catholic, but will become one in a few years. I am forced to attend an Anglican church where I cannot stand the pastor. I am very uncomfortable around him, for reasons I do not wish to say, he is a very warm and fuzzy kind of guy. Anyway, after the service is over, he always hugs everyone, and sometimes I don’t want want to hug him, for reasons I mentioned above. He does not respect that not everyone is a hugger, even though I tried to give him the message, and that bothers me. I am ok with a handshake, but he always wants to hug me, when I do hold out my hand, he will pull me in for a hug. Sometimes, to be nice, I will let him hug me, other days, I try to avoid him. Is avoiding him the wrong thing to do?

You do what you wish to do in this circumstance. You do not have to see him after service if you don’t care to. Nothing wrong with that.


Is there more than one exit? Just leave by another door. Or go past while he is busy hugging someone else.


This. Two further possibilities. (a) Walk straight past him without stopping, just giving him a quick nod and a smile. (b) The same as (a), minus the nod and the smile.


I think maybe the advice of the late Henny Youngman, old-time Jewish stand-up comic and master of the one-liner, is applicable here: "A patient goes to the doctor and says, ‘Doctor, it hurts when I raise my right arm.’ The doctor replies, ‘Don’t raise your right arm.’ "

Can you go to another church?


You need to tell him directly, “please respect my personal boundaries and do not hug me.”

If he goes in for a hug, step back, put your hand up in a “stop” motion and say, “please respect my personal boundaries, handshakes are fine and hugs are not.”

If he doesn’t listen, tell him in no uncertain terms that sexual harassment is serious and you will report him if he doesn’t stop touching you in an unwanted manner. Then report him to the parish board AND to the Anglican diocese.


No, I am still a minor and as much as I want to attend a Catholic church, my parents won’t let me.

Thank you all for the replies. I have tried telling my mother about this problem, she continues to claim I am being disrespectful by avoiding the pastor. How can I get her to understand?

This seems odd. If he is not respecting your boundaries, speak to his superior.

Have you told your parents that the pastor hugging you makes you feel uncomfortable and you do not want to have him do that? Since you are a minor, your parents should be in your corner and I think they should be the ones to tell him you do not welcome his hugs, not you.


No it isnt wrong for you to avoid him.

Sometimes a person can be weirdly overbearing in their desire to be warm to other people. Like if you’ve ever been in a situation with a teacher at school or at an event where they rub off as “You are going to be bubbly and warm and happy or else you are a bad person.”

I had this at the Men’s ACTS Retreat, aka, Cult Weekend. If you just want to act normal and dont act as though the weekend changed your entire life, good luck.

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A bit harsh if he’s just one of those over-enthusiastic types who just hugs people as a gesture of friendship.


So the OP should just put up with it? No, if the pastor is told to stop and keeps doing it, it is definitely harassment.


Its personal preference. Some people love to be hugged. (Not sure that hugging counts as sexual harassment?)

Personally I only liked to be hugged by people I know very well. Can you just tell him that you don’t like being hugged? I am sure you are not the only one.


It isn’t harsh to tell somebody you’ll report them after you’ve made your boundaries clear and if you get bad vibes from the experience of them hugging you. It is nicer than simply reporting them anyway.

I had this with an obnoxious coworker lady who couldn’t seem to get it through her thick skull that I didnt have an ounce of interest in her and after a month of it I felt deeply tempted to report it to HR, except I never did because it is usually men that bother women and I felt too embarrased about it. But the ordeal did make me more empathetic.

If a person refuses to respect boundaries than it is harassment. No ifs.


Nope. Not harsh at all if I tell you not to hug me, nicely, and you keep doing it anyway.


Unwanted touching is absolutely sexual harassment.

Have Catholics learned NOTHING from the sexual abuse scandals? Have you taken any safe environment training??


Did you tell your parents that you don’t want to hug the pastor? Adults shouldn’t be trying to hug children that don’t want to be hugged.


I did, but my parents do not listen to me.

Maybe she gets bad vibes from specifically him hugging her.

People can use harmless gestures of affection for ulterior reasons.

It doesnt really matter too much either way because she can set those boundaries up without having to explain or defend herself.

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