we look at the specific points we have observed in the ‘Content' part
Derogatory opening condemning religious teaching of children. The
three opening lines are interesting: “When we
consider whether religion has done more harm than good” – not
that this would say anything at all about its truth or authenticity
– "we are faced with…..” In other
words he is not trying to determine the truth or authenticity of religion,
he's just trying to throw mud. So, please understand this chapter
has nothing whatsoever to do with why, for instance, Christianity
is valid, genuine and worth considering. This chapter is all about
the abuses that the author can drag up.
many children? He
goes on to ask or wonder how many children have been maimed by compulsory
inculcation of faith. What he should be asking is how many children
have been tainted by teachings about dogmatic beliefs outside Biblical
beliefs, that come either from human, organisational religion (which
on occasion Roman Catholicism has been) or cultic indoctrination.
That would be a valid area of consideration. No doubt there have been
many children who have received teaching that is erroneous, fearful
and fanciful. This needs saying and it must be clarified that these
descriptions are completely different from basic Sunday School teaching
of small children which focuses on Bible stories.
it should also be distinguished from is the vast amount of secular
teaching that children are given which teaches them that they are
insignificant, unloved and a nuisance – which is exactly what a considerable
number of children in our Western societies receive directly from
their parents attitudes, words and actions – which the writer does
not speak about!
also add further comment which I have made previously: anyone who
teaches in church knows that children do not have undefended
minds as the author suggests, for many, at a variety of ages decide
to drop out of Sunday Schools and are completely unaffected by the
teaching they have received. Young people can make up their minds,
particularly when it comes to church, which is a far healthier place
than the many authoritarian regimes of the past century and the present
when children do not have the choice to reject the teachings of the
atheistic state but are forced to abide by it. I suspect that numerically,
the numbers today that are still under strict rule of the state, are
equal to if not vastly exceeding those who attend Sunday Schools.
James Joyce's example of a bad priest – fear of hell and of torture.
A favourite ploy of
atheists is to take the writings of someone antagonistic to religion
and quote them. It's a bad technique. No doubt there are Irish priests
(and others) who, having a form of religion far that that revealed
in the Bible, use fear in their sermons. It is largely an unChristlike
approach to preaching. Even when Jesus was warning against hell, he
was very low-key.
religion is just the same as organised politics and uses similar man-made
techniques and we would never wish to defend such things. However,
if you want to portray the Church accurately (which our author obviously
doesn't want to do) then you will also mention those vast numbers
of incredibly loving, gracious and caring teachers within church who
do not force learning, but simply offer it graciously, and open to
question. There are no doubt some insane atheists and if we sought
to portray all atheists as insane we would be using the same approach
as the author does. Again, because hell is mentioned again, we would
refer the interested reader to our pages on heaven and hell by CLICKING
Indoctrination of young minds.
The subject of religious indoctrination is pursued with a sublimated
suggested that it was all down to the Catholic Church. As the author
pointed out that these failures of a particular part of the Church
have nothing to do with the authenticity of Christianity, I won't
bother to defend what cannot be defended!
If you want to consider the opposing
views of ethics of abortion, this rather rambling section is not for
you. He starts out by making the point that the foetus is a separate
person from the mother, I presume to get us to give consideration
to the foetus, but not as pro-lifers might hope. To the contrary,
he speaks first about how miscarriages are natures way of rejecting
defective bodies. What he doesn't observe is that a miscarriage can
sometimes be the result of a mother's malfunctioning body, not the
baby's. Then follows some almost incomprehensible jottings about evolution,
the point of which evades me.
then speaks about prophylaxis, which my dictionary describes as preventative
treatment of disease, presumably suggesting in humanists' terms, that
treating unwanted babies is the same as treating diseases. I hope
not! He is not clear. Perhaps it is a reference to birth control which
he later moves on to. Whatever it is, it has been “opposed
root and branch by the clergy.” Rather a sweeping statement
I suggest, used to hit out at the church yet again. At times his position
seems caring and at other times simply confusing. It is a shame that
he hasn't quite the nerve to speak out against abortion on demand,
or abortion as a means of family planning, which is what we now have
in parts of the West.
Circumcision. The ramble
continues to the subject of circumcision and generally sexual mutilation.
This, it seems to me is largely a charge against Judaism for circumcision
and Islam for female circumcision. He appeals largely to a twelfth
century Jewish philosopher to make his points.
from a point of accuracy, a few comments may be worth while. My understanding
of Jewish circumcision was that it was required as a sign or reminder
to Jewish males of their covenant relationship with God. My understanding
was that contrary to what he says, he even improved the sexual experience.
I have also heard secular doctors suggesting that it is more hygienic
to remove the foreskin. That this is painful I don't doubt, though
I have heard it suggested that the eighth day when it is required
to be done is the best time to safety and comfort points of view.
Any pain will not be remembered by the infant who has not memory at
to be quite clear I, and I suspect most Westerners, Christian or not,
abhor the practice of female circumcision which seems purely a requirement
of men in male dominated societies, and has little to do with genuine
I have a feeling that here, as well as in some of these other areas,
practice and teaching in the past has been led by those outside the
church in the medical world and religious teachers have simply followed
along. Today, I suspect many Christian teachers would take the same
view as clinical psychologists, that masturbation in itself is not
wrong, but is an indication of an inability to have self control and
which, especially in the case of married men, indicates a need to
attention to be given to the relationship of the married couple. I'm
not going to argue over the past where I suspect ignorance and fear
operated both inside and outside the church. Don't dump all the blame
on the church for your own agenda!
Child Abuse. I'm really
not sure of the point being made in the opening sentence and sexual
innocence in adults being “corrosive and repulsive.”
I think he must have something else in his mind but I do not
find an unmarried person who decides to remain sexually innocent either
corrosive or repulsive. In fact I applaud them as they stand in stark
contrast to the increasing numbers of young people and older, who
seem to have trapped themselves in a way of thinking that says they
can only be fulfilled by frequent and regular sexual activity. Such
a mentality has been the cause of increased numbers of pregnancies
in the young and certainly of STDs in the younger generations particularly
– and the fear that often goes with those, together with the disappointment
can comes later in life when they find they have been left sterile
when they now want children.
those I have counselled in respect of child abuse, I have never come
across someone who was abused by a Catholic priest when they were
a child. This is not to say that it doesn't happen but I would put
money on it happening outside the church a hundredfold more than in
the church, although it is the church which gets all the attention.
I am not making excuses for abuses within the Catholic Church (or
any other part of it) – because that cannot be defended. If the author
counselled sexual offenders he might have a more charitable approach
in dealing with those offenders, whether they be in the church or
not. Wherever there is child abuse it is an abuse of power and equally
wrong. Finally, using these sins to promote the atheists' agenda ignores
the thousands of saintly, godly and utterly righteous and caring men
and women of that part of the church to which I don't belong, who,
if the truth were known, were purity personified and an example of
what is possible to those who only know of unrestrained desire. Balanced
reporting is not a feature of this book.