Starting in 2002 with the sordid unearthing of a fetid pile of priestly pedophilia in Boston, the ensuing public tearing of clothes and gnashing of teeth with each new eruption of clergy abuse has missed the point almost entirely.
I recently posted about the latest scandalous eruption earlier this month in Pennsylvania involving alleged sexual abuse mainly of children by several hundred Catholic priests.
Preying on children
The preying of Catholic priests on innocent children is not, as the news stories and water-cooler gossip assumes, about the wages of an enforced unnatural lifestyle among the all-male clergy in which all sex was verboten, or the complicity of the church hierarchy in fully knowing about the rampant pedophilia (and other sex crimes) but purposefully covering it up.
For years and years.
All that was bad and terrible, of course, but the root reason for this still-growing stain on humanity, this mass mortal sin inflicted on Catholic congregations worldwide, is the purported divinely bestowed authority on the institution and its deputized minions.
What I’m saying is that if people actually believe an invisible, omnipotent deity has granted absolute holy status to an institution and its keepers on earth, the prelates of such church bodies automatically are deemed superior to the rest of the great unannointed, unwashed mass of humanity. And, thus, can demand our fealty.
Our deluded species
Unfortunately, evolution has created an entire species, Homo sapiens, who fervently do believe this kind of apparent nonsense, and instinctively have for millennia (and still) honored and trusted religious clergy above mere mortals.
I was raised Catholic, and I’ll never forget the first time I went to confession with a priest in a darkened room seething with guilt and silence. Even at that young age I was wary of this stranger behind the screen who I had been led to believe had power over my soul. Why, I wondered? Who says?
So, under the Catholic system of infallible moral superiority, children are brought up to not only respect priests (and nuns, who can be punishingly cruel to kids in my personal experience) but revere them almost as demigods.
Sadly, it’s a very, very short step from reverence to allowance, as evidenced by the thousands of kids provably sexually abused by Catholic priests globally. Quietly, pliably, innocently, as they would intuitively comply with the request of a beloved parent.
Why indoctrinate kids?
Why, pray tell, do we think Catholic and Protestant denominations are so uber-focused on indoctrinating the young in their superstitious beliefs? Because it’s the gift that reliably keeps on giving for lifetimes if started early. This article in the online Christian site GotQuestions.org summarizes the faith’s perspective on indoctrination. I previously posted, here, on how the Christian Right continuously tries to insinuate its faith in American schools.
So, in my mind, the invented idea that a “God” has anointed the Catholic church and its prelates and clergy with superior godliness and a divine authorization to control people’s lives is dangerous from the get-go. But adults, I regret, have the right to believe any stupid, unfounded thing they want. Little we can do about it.
But, in my view, it’s criminally negligent to expose children to this kind of superstitious claptrap and to faux “religious authority” figures.
Perpetuating faith through children
Yet, that is exactly how the system strategically and resolutely perpetuates. With new blood continuously infused with false, invented beliefs and unearned reverence for arbitrarily appointed human beings, each new generation carries on the dangerous traditions and made-up assumptions of the old.
If children were separated from such moral and physical hazards, they would never have been subjected to the unending horrific abuse in the Christian West during these past many centuries.
Kids should be rigorously shielded from superstition, of which religion is a card-carrying, legacy member. We must never stop insisting that “religion” and superstition are exactly the same, despite religion’s always ubiquitous presence in the world.
Religion exists not because it’s true (zero proof exists) but because our DNA evolved with highly imaginative capacities. We imagine things not because they’re actually there — we do it even when we know they’re not — but simply because we can. You might check out The God Gene: How Faith is Hardwired into our Genes, for a primer on this.
Just as President Trump bullies and lies, not because it’s right and just, but because (so far) we allow him to.
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