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[personal profile] jamesq
Trigger warning: child sexual abuse.

I just read another story of a man of god abusing kids. I can't say that I'm particularly surprised by this so-called revelation.

Do you remember when you first heard about this sort of thing?  For me it was the Mount Cashel orphanage. I remember making jokes about it that way that clueless young men do, and I'm happy I woke up to not being quite such a dumbass as I was then. Still, at the time it was always Newfoundland priests, and not some larger group.

Later came the Boston Archdiocese abuse that was depicted in the excellent movie, Spotlight.  Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.  I expanded my idea to Roman Catholic priests in general.  Probably something to do with their vows of chastity.  Again, I hadn't put all the pieces together, and thought that child sexual abuse was akin to frustrated sexual desire (in fact, plenty of priests suffer from that, and break their vows discreetly with some willing adult partner, never having considered abusing kids).  Of course, as someone who's had a lifetime of thwarted desire, I've never once thought about abusing kids, because, ew.

I could list more (and more, and more) examples of priestly abuse.  The Duggars, Bountiful, the jackass in the first link, I could fill pages of text with a minimum of effort.  And of course, you don't have to be particularly religious.

But I think being religious sure helps.  Specifically the authoritarian sorts of religion.  You know the ones with self-proclaimed prophets, and strict hierarchical rules where men rule the roost, and women and children obey.  I think that sort of religious belief is toxic and lends itself to abuse of all kinds, especially sexual abuse.  Because if you think that god almighty has given you dominion over some subset of your fellow humans, and you start to think that your own desires are equivalent to god's will, well, giving in to those desires is inevitable.  Combine your sexuality to your authority, and it's just going to happen.

No, religion isn't necessary - it's really the authoritarian impulse combined with feeling entitled - but Lordy, religion sure helps.

And of course, being entitled, they think that simply feeling momentarily bad about what they've done is sufficient punishment for god to forgive them.  Funny how their desires and God's Will always align? It would be comical if it weren't so self-serving... and if it wasn't clear evidence that they haven't learned a damn thing... and if they weren't raping kids.  Could there be a bigger failure to feeling remorse than thinking God is OK with you raping kids?

As people know, I'm not a big fan of Pope Francis.  Oh, he's better than John Paul II and Benedict XVI, but that's a low bar.  Of note, he still hasn't turned over all the molesters or molester-enablers over to the secular authorities.  It's all nice to be the light-and-fluffy Pope, but until he accomplishes this basic task, he's all flash.  I suspect he's hoping that whatever reforms the Roman Catholic church has quietly put into place will do the trick, and the current crop will simply die off.  Of course, as long as the church is a secretive organization that sincerely believes they're doing god's will and that they're entitled to some authority over the rest of us, I guarantee that there's a new crop coming.

So what do we do?  We insist on secular oversight on any organization that works with vulnerable populations.  We educate people on consent.  We insist that molesters don't get a walk.  We acknowledge that it's a moving target we'll likely never reach, and we redouble our efforts in spite of that.

I look at other groups with this combination of entitlement due to God, and a vulnerable population in a subservient position, and I think "Yep, someone's getting molested there".  Maybe I'm wrong, but I doubt it.  Shine some light into those societal nooks and crannies.

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