Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Child Rape Penn State Catholic Church ''Everyone's doing it''

They may well be, but that hardly makes it right.

In one with which I am in total agreement, the writer argues throughout the article that reality and the behavioural safeguards that it keeps in place, all but disappear when the incredible, in the form of religion, takes precedent to become the guiding light and the moral compass of its adherents.

What was it that Orwell said, ''As with the Christian religion, the worst advertisement for Socialism is its adherents''

Yes quite, he also said, ''One cannot really be a Catholic and grown up'' although I feel he did a disservice to the truth by singling out Catholicism, rather he might have said, one cannot really be religious and grown up.

The free pass we atheists, we realists, are expected to afford those that embrace the most preposterous beliefs, is quite frankly far beyond the pale. I'm not going list even a few of the thousands of bizarre beliefs that we are asked to respect the believer for, suffice to say, were the ''religious'' tag not attached to ridiculous articles of faith, then half the world would be in the asylum.

Perhaps a better quote might have been, one cannot be a realist and religious. The two are totally incompatible. And it this point that the writer repeatably makes throughout her essay. If religion becomes your reality and the ''law'' of a deity takes precedent of the laws of man, then all things become possible in the unreal world that these people have chosen to create.

Child Rape, Penn State and the Catholic Church: Is Religion Especially Bad?

The child rape scandal at Penn State raises inevitable comparisons with the Catholic Church. Does religion make these kinds of abuses worse?
By Greta Christina
November 22, 2011

I can't be the only person who heard about the Penn State child rape scandal and thought, "Holy crap -- it's just like the Catholic Church." The abuse of power by a trusted authority figure; the coverup by people in authority; the unwillingness of witnesses to speak out; the grotesque, morally bankrupt defenses of a beloved institution by its followers... all of it is depressingly familiar.

And I can't be the only critic of religion who's been wondering, "Hmm. If Penn State has been acting like the Catholic Church... then did the Catholic Church child rape scandal actually have anything to do with religion?"

I still think it does. But it's a complicated question. Let's take a closer look.

Apologists for the Catholic Church and its role in the extensive child rape scandal often use the "But everyone else does it!" defense. "Priests aren't the only people in positions of trust and power over children who abuse that power," they say. "Parents, relatives, teachers, babysitters, coaches -- they rape children as well. It's all terrible... but it's unfair to single out the Catholic Church as if it were special."

Atheists and other critics of the Church typically respond to this defense -- after tearing their hair out and screaming -- by pointing out: The rapes aren't the scandal. The coverup is the scandal. The rapes of children are a horrible tragedy. The scandal is the fact that the Catholic Church hid the rapes, and protected the child-raping priests from discovery and prosecution: lying to law enforcement, concealing evidence, paying off witnesses, moving child-raping priests from diocese to diocese so they could rape a whole new batch of children in a place where they wouldn't be suspected. The scandal is the fact that it wasn't just a few individuals in the ranks who protected and enabled the child-raping priests: it was large numbers of Church officials, including high-ranking officials, acting as a cold-blooded matter of Church policy. The scandal is the fact that the Church treated their own stability and reputation as a higher priority than, for fuck's sake, children not being raped.

And many critics of religion have concluded that the nature of religion itself is largely to blame for this scandal. They have argued that religion's lack of any sort of reality check, and its belief in a perfect supernatural moral authority that transcends mere human concerns, makes religious institutions like the Catholic Church far more vulnerable to abuses of this kind.

By some strange coincidence the original photo in the article is the exact same one as this from my archives. Well perhaps not exactly the same, as I'm sure the sharper eyed among might discern.

I've made this argument myself. And in my own writings on this subject, I've asked what I thought was a rhetorical question: "If these scandals had taken place in any organization other than a religious one -- would you still be part of it? If it were your political party, your softball league, your university, your children's school, your employer? Would you still be part of it? Would you still pay your league dues and show up for softball night? Would you still pay your tuition and send your kids off to the school every day? Or would you be walking out in moral outrage?"

But it seems that this question wasn't so rhetorical. It seems that, at least sometimes, the answer to that question is, "Yup -- we'd be defending our school."

At least sometimes, the answer is, "If we see our coach raping a child -- we won't alert the police. If we're in positions of authority in a school and we hear reports about our coach raping a child -- we won't alert the police, and we won't investigate. And if we hear that a coach at our school raped children, and that the authorities at the school knew about it and didn't alert the police or investigate, we will become outraged -- not at the fact that the rapes occurred, not at the fact that the witnesses and school authorities did nothing, but at what we see as unfair treatment of the perpetrators, and at the very fact that the media is covering it."

Clearly, defending the indefensible is not unique to religion.

Clearly, institutions centered on something other than a belief in the supernatural are perfectly capable of inspiring this grotesquely contorted form of loyalty. This unwillingness to believe that the people and institutions we admire could do anything that vile; this ability to rationalize actions we would normally find thoroughly despicable when we've made a commitment to the people who perpetrated them... this clearly isn't just about religion. This is about the more fucked-up directions that the human brain can go in.

So I want to take a step back. I want to be rigorous, and ask: Is there anything special about the child rape scandal in the Catholic Church? Does the fact that the Catholic Church is a religious organization have any effect on how the child rape scandal has been playing out for them? Is there any real difference between the child rape scandal in the Catholic Church, and the child rape scandal at Penn State?

I've been looking at this hard. And I'll acknowledge that I don't think the difference is as great as I'd originally thought. The degree to which many students and supporters of Penn State have behaved like blind religious zealots has, quite frankly, shocked me.

But I still think there is a difference. There are non-trivial differences between these two scandals: differences of degree, and differences of kind. I want to look carefully at those differences and at whether religion has any part in how the Catholic Church has behaved, and continues to behave, when it comes to the rape of children.

How Much Worse Was It?

1: Scope. At Penn State, one man, former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, has been charged with the rape of seven children. In the Catholic Church, over 4,000 priests raped over 10,000 children. According to conservative estimates. The actual numbers are likely to be much higher.

And at Penn State, about eight school officials and staff members are currently thought (according to grand jury records) to have turned a blind eye to the alleged rapes. In the Catholic Church, the Church officials who either ignored the rapes or deliberately acted to conceal them number in the hundreds -- going all the way up into the top echelons of the Church hierarchy.

That is a huge freaking difference. To be comparable in scope to the Catholic Church child rape scandal, the Penn State scandal would have to extend to multiple major universities across the country, with a deliberate campaign of concealment extending throughout the Association of American Universities and into the top levels of the Department of Education. And as appalling as the recent events at Penn State are, that's clearly not what we're looking at.

Have non-religious institutions sheltered and defended child rapists? Yes. But have any of them done so on anywhere near the scale that the Catholic Church has? Not to my knowledge.

And it's hard to see religion as irrelevant to that. Religion is uniquely unfalsifiable -- and it thus has a unique lack of any sort of reality check. And most religions have a belief in a perfect moral authority, and a belief that it understands the wishes of that moral authority and knows the right way to interpret them. So because of this lack of reality check, and because of this belief in a perfect supernatural moral authority that trumps human morality, religious institutions have a uniquely powerful armor against any sort of criticism or self-correction. And because of that armor, appalling situations -- like the widespread rape of children by priests -- have the capacity to spin wildly out of control, with a scope that's hard to imagine in secular institutions.

2: Duration. As far as we know, the alleged rapes of children by Sandusky at Penn State, and the conspiracy of silence about them, have been going on since about 1996. The rapes of children by Catholic priests had been going on for decades -- possibly centuries -- before people finally began talking about them. Go to page three.


PatO said...

Partial score:

Syracuse: ONE accused pedophile
Penn State: ONE accused pedophile
Catholic church: 4,392 accused pedophiles (U.S. alone, according to their own, internal, John Jay report of 2004)

Penn State and Syracuse lead the college divisions, but the Catholic church is a professional pedophile protection program.

Anonymous said...

Covering the Catholic sex abuse cover-up.

Himself said...

Staying with our ''stuff you couldn't make up:

The Vatican never gave a satisfactory answer to that question. On the contrary. A cardinal close to the pope called the scandal “petty gossip” and even some bishops who acknowledged wide-scale abuse blamed it on the freemasons, on homosexuality and on the loosening of society's sexual morals following the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s (a particularly odd fallacy, since so many cases of abuse stem from the 1950s and earlier).

On Good Friday, Pope Benedict's own preacher compared the incrimination of priests in the sex abuse scandal to past examples of persecution of Europe's Jews. Public relations are not exactly a strong point in Rome.

Perhaps it wasn't really child abuse, it could have been just, 'Intimate, Fatherly Behavior'

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Church abuse victims want prosecutions

Anonymous said...

Commission identifies 800 priests, monks who abused children.

In total, several tens of thousands of children were faced with unwanted sexual contact from church officials between 1945 and 1985, Deetman said.

A survey by the commission shows that one in 10 people who were children during that period had to deal with abuse or potential abuse, but within church institutions the figure was one in five, the report said.