Sunday, May 22, 2011

Religion does not protect children from abuse

The only thing that exceeds the outrage about Roman Catholic priests raping children is the cover-up and apathy consistently shown by Roman Catholic leadership regarding these predator priests.

This came to mind yet again this week when two stories crossed my path. One is that a Dutch priest openly served on the board of "Martijn," a group that campaigns to end the Dutch ban on adult-child sex. The priest also engaged in acts of pedophilia. His superior has said he knew of these acts, and the priest's membership in Martijn, and even of two instances where the priest had been fined by police for exposing himself in public - but he said he didn't think that was sufficient reason to ban that priest from the Catholic order.

And the other is the absolutely laughable, completely abhorrent study of sex abuse in the Catholic Church that found that the turmoil of the free-love 1960s was to blame for the Catholic Church's widespread sexual abuse of recent years. The study - conducted by's John Jay College of Criminal Justice and commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops - is shameful and has been widely ridiculed and condemned. The report claims that incidents of abuse spiked in the 60s and 70s - rather than admitting to the reality that from the 80s to the present, people have started finally reporting these acts to the media and demanding, publicly, for the church to respond.

Of course, no religion has a monopoly on their religious leaders sexually-abusing children and other leaders covering up their acts. It happens in a variety of branches of Christianity. It happens in Buddhism. It happens in Islam. It happens in Judaism. It happens in Hinduism. And it happens in religion so easliy because so many parents assume that, because their kids are involved in religious-sponsored activities, they are automatically safe - the Invisible Magical Friend will protect them, and everyone who is within that religion are good people.

A priest, pastor, clergy or other church leader is in a perfect position to take advantage of a child. If you are going to remain under the God delusion, then please at least talk to your kids about strange behavior instead of strangers. Talk to them openly about what inappropriate behavior is: be explicit. A great resource to help you is a book written by Jan Hindman called A Touching Book, which, in a non-threatening way, explores the method that so many pedophiles, including religious teachers, use with children they harm: secret touching. Have you talked to your kids about what they should do if any family member, any teacher, any neighbor, any clergy or religious person -- okay, ANYONE - asks them to keep a secret, or tells your kids that if they tell that secret, the kid will die, YOU will die, their pet will die, etc.?

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