jamesq: (Rage)
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.
jamesq: (An actual picture of me.)
On the left, a horrible example of religious oppression against women. On the right, a fairly typical wetsuit with a hood:

On the left, a horrible example of oppression.  On the right, a wetsuit.

I'm usually the first guy to call out religion for its oppression of women. And let's be clear, I think modesty dress codes, especially those that Muslims have, are at best, pointless bullshit and more often simply the systematic oppression of women. I don't like niqabs, burqas, and their ilk.

But you don't free women by stripping them. You certainly don't get them used to the idea that they can relax their religious dress codes by forcing them off the beach and back into ghetto-like enclaves. And that's the practical effect of these bans - it keeps Muslim families off the beach, because the message received isn't "secularism is a worthy goal, give it a try", it's "you are other, and we don't want you here". Nobody assimilates where they're not welcome.

The presence of a burqini on a woman should just mean "this woman wants to relax on the beach". Kicking them off the beach is a dick move. Maybe some women won't switch over from a burqini to more "western" swimwear. But if she's at the beach with her family, and the family isn't driven away, I bet her daughters will consider it as they grow older. Or maybe not - that's a valid option too.
jamesq: (An actual picture of me.)
It's Saturday morning, so I'm sleeping in - or I was until I hear a knock at the door. A man and a woman are there holding copies of the Watchtower, which I guess makes them Jehovah's Witnesses.

It takes me a few moments to wake up, don sufficient clothing to not horrify/blind people with my near-naked body, and climb the stairs, so they've obviously been there long enough to consider that no one is home. As I answer the door it appears that they've just noticed this sign on my mailbox:

Seriously, do you look at a no-smoking sign and say *aha it's a cigarette, so that means I can still smoke a pipe!*

"Oh, hello. We just wanted to share some Good News™ with you, but we were wondering what this sign meant."
"It means I don't want you coming to my door and sharing your so-called good news with me."
"Oh, well have a nice day."
On the bright side, it is a very nice day out.

But seriously, what did you think the sign meant? I wish I had been a little more awake so I could have snarked at them about it - asked them what they thought a red slash through a man and a woman holding a religious text was trying to communicate to them - a man and a woman holding religious text. I'd have enjoyed getting them to either admit that they're 1) dumb, 2) unobservant, 3) didn't think it applied to them because they're not hawking a mere religion, they're telling The Truth™. Perhaps all three. Alas, the appropriate snarky response is not always at your fingertips.
jamesq: (Default)
I was thinking about religious groups that have active proselytizing missions - specifically the Mormons, but also the Jehovah's Witnesses and assorted Evangelical groups too. The stated goal of these missions is to win converts. However, I find it hard to believe that they're that successful at it. There's simply not that many people in a hostile world that would put up with being woken up on a Sunday morning to be preached too while thinking "Coffee gooooood".

A more important aspect of missions is to increase group coherence. Running into lots of hostile people is a good way to foster an us-versus-them mentality, which should protect against defections.

My point is not to argue that one or the other is more important - I'm sure they both are. What I want to know is if the leadership of the groups acknowledges the importance of fostering group coherence. When talking amongst themselves, do they say "we know we don't get many converts, that's not the point. The point is to make the missionaries more afraid of the outside world".
jamesq: (Default)
I have the day off so I went out running late in the morning. After I finished, I was still about a klick from the house so I was walking back. Coming towards me were two bright-eyed, pimply-faced and ever-so-eager young men in suits and ties.

Can you guess who they were? Of course you can!

Holding a Copy of the Book of Mormon, Elder Visit-The-Infidel-With-Explanatory-Pamphlets tries to give it to me.
"I have a gift for you!"
"If I didn't take the gift from the cute red-headed girl who works for you guys, what makes you think I'll take it from you."
"But, but, it's a present."
I'll leave aside the fact that this so-called present is really a set of chains for the moment.

So my compulsion to tweak the noses of Mormons continues. I suspect it's part of a greater urge to tweak the noses of any evangelical type, but Mormons are what I have to work here in Cowtown so that's who gets their shit disturbed.

As an aside, It's been observed by some that if I'm macking on Mormon missionaries, I'm getting pretty desperate. I must think on this.
jamesq: (Default)
I was walking to work this morning when I became aware of someone rushing to catch up to me. I disengaged my iPod as the person came in beside me.
"Hi there, I was wondering if you would like a gift?" she said.
It was a Morman missionary, unusual in two ways. She was female. She was alone. I had previously believed that only men could go on missions (perhaps I misunderstood that - it might have been only men can become elders). I'd also thought that there was a requirement that they travel in pairs, presumably for safety. Live and learn I guess.

She was holding a copy of the Book of Mormon and a handful of pamphlets. No doubt these were the gift she wanted me to have.
"No", I say, then by way of explaination I add, "I'm an Atheist."
"Well is there anything else I can do for you", she asks.
"Nope", I say as I redon my earphones and continue on my way.
It was a few seconds later when my mind latched onto the (probably unintentional) double entendré of her last statement. Then it registered just how adorable she was. Petite, red-haired, a figure only slightly concealled by the prim black jacket/skirt combo she was wearing. Yum.

What I should have done is ask her out for coffee.

The chances of a coffee date with a Morman missionary ending with freaky circus sex are vanishingly small. However, the hour spent would have been entertaining as she tried to convert me to Mormonism and I tried to convert her to Atheism.

Hmm. Maybe I'll see her again wandering around the Dalhousie Hive - I've been told that the missionaries rent apartments in [livejournal.com profile] garething and [livejournal.com profile] stephtopia's building.
jamesq: (Default)
There I was walking home from the CO-OP with groceries when what do I see coming my way? Two well-dressed, clean cut, young men wearing name badges proclaiming that they are Elder Ezekiel and Elder Nathaniel. Swell, I think, here we go again.

They motion for me to stop as I'm passing. I do so and take off my headphone.
"Could we help you with your bags?"
"That's alright, I think I can manage."
"Well then, can we share a message of Jesus' love with you?"
"No. God is evil, and it would be immoral to worship a being who has brought so much misery and suffering to the world."
They had some kind of response to that but I had replaced my headphone and was walking away from them at this point.

Sometimes I can be a real prick. :D
jamesq: (Default)
So I've got to really watch my mood. A lot of shit's been happening lately and it's all been simmering under the surface, which is a recipe for another round of depression and/or pissing off the people closest to me.

Read more... )

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