Thursday, March 17, 2011

Church and State

Vox Day takes a look at the numbers when it comes to abusive social workers vs pedophile priests:

Note that in the United States, 10,667 people made allegations of child sexual abuse between 1950 and 2002 against 4,392 priests. This represented around 4 percent of the 109,694 priests who were ordained and active during that time. Given that there were 13,000 allegations of abuse in one state representing one-fifteenth of the U.S. population in 2009 alone, this indicates that state social workers are 951 times more likely to abuse a disabled person under their supervision than a Catholic priest was to sexually abuse a child.

This doesn't excuse what the pedophile priests did nor does it excuse the diabolical decision of the Vatican to permit homosexuals to join the priesthood in the first place. They eminently deserve whatever punishment they receive, in both this world and the next. But it puts the scale of their evil deeds into the proper statistical perspective. And while one could argue that physical beatings and psychological abuse are not as bad as sexual abuse and should be omitted from the comparison, one also has to keep in mind that none of the crimes committed by the priests rose to the lethal level either.

It also shows the tremendous hypocrisy of those who simultaneously claim that there is no truth to religion and yet attempt to hold religious individuals to a higher standard than they hold anyone else. Social workers and schoolteachers commit far more abuse, sexual and otherwise, than religious leaders, especially if religious leaders who are openly in direct violation of their religious standards are omitted from the equation as logic dictates they must be. (Why should we be surprised that a man who rejects the Church's stand on homosexuality should also reject the Church's stand on the sexual abuse of children or anything else?) But it is quite clear from the reaction of the state agency to the crimes of its agents that the Catholic Church's reaction to the crimes committed by its priests was an entirely normal bureaucratic one. It can, and should, be condemned by Christians who believe in a higher standard for Christian leaders. Secular individuals, who don't believe in any such standards, have no such grounds for similar condemnation, especially when they show so little interest in the far more common crimes committed by secular agents of the state.

As Vox notes, this is not an attempt to minimize the horrible abuses that priests engaged. And I don't know if I necessarily agree with his description of the Vatican's decision to allow homosexual priests to continue to serve as "diabolical," although the impact on the victims of abuse and the image of the Church certainly was.

The key point is that while Christians--particularly Catholics--are held accountable for every crime or misdeed ever committed by a priest, secularists--who in general support the power and authority of the state over religious institutions--never accept any responsibilities for the abuses, crimes, and, at times in history, mass murder perpetrated in the name of or under the authority of said state.