Posts Tagged “slavery”
Note: I have some additional news on this item; please see below for more information.
There are times when one can only be dumbfounded by the kind of idiocy and lunacy that people spew when they’re defending and/or promoting their religionism. It’s natural this can happen, because religions — all of which are forms of metaphysics — are inherently unsupportable using objective and rational standards. By definition, then, only standards that are subjective and irrational can fit the bill. It’s the irrationality that often gets out of hand.
A great example of one Christian running his mouth off like a total moron, as the Christian Post reports, is the case of one Dr Tony Evans, who actually thinks African-Americans were better off under slavery than they are now (WebCite cached article):
Dr. Tony Evans, the first African American to earn a doctorate in Theology from Dallas Theological Seminary, chided black Americans recently for not taking responsibility for the breakdown of their families, declaring that “the white man is not making you do that.” He also charged that black families were a lot stronger and made more progress during slavery.
Evans made the comments during a discussion with DTS scholar Dr. Darrell Bock on the issue of biblical racial reconciliation last month [cached].…
“The biggest problem in black America today is the breakdown of the family…the breakdown of the family is unraveling us as a community. When 70 percent plus of your children are being born out of wedlock and the fathers are not there to tend to them, you’ve got chaos in the community. That’s crime, that’s unemployment and most of these kids are going to be raised in poverty. And that’s something we control,” explained Evans.
He then made the reference to slavery to highlight the dire condition of the black family.
“The White man is not making you do that. He’s not forcing you into that position. That’s a convenient out. In slavery when we did not have laws on our side, the community on our side, the government on our side, the broader community on our side, our families were a lot stronger. We were a lot more unified and we made a lot more progress. We’re going through regression right now and a lot of that is because of decision-making we are responsible for,” said Evans.
As the article notes, is African-American himself, making this all the more astoundingly asinine. I have no idea where this clown learned his history, but slaves’ families weren’t really very stable or “unified”; their owners could buy and sell them freely. Parents and children were often separated, and for the most part, slaves weren’t allowed to marry, at least not in a full legal sense, so “spouses” could easily end up separated, too. “Unified”? That’s just a flat-out lie.
Now, as insane as Evans’s laughable spew sounds, it’s not really his own invention. The Religious Right has been kicking around the idea that America’s southern slaves lived paradisiacal lives with strong nuclear families for years. In fact, I found an article in the New York Times back in 2011 which addressed this very notion (cached). In spite of how counterfactual it is, though, this idea persists. It’s all part of the Right’s obsession with rolling the clock back, even to times in which customs now considered heinous were the norm. They just can’t handle modernity and want to destroy it, so they whip up their own false versions of history to justify how great things were back then. This is a recipe for delusion, of course, but none of them realize it, nor do they care to hear they’re wrong (because telling them they’re wrong, means you want to kill them or something).
If you needed any more help understanding how and why the Religious Right is downright fucking insane, the idea that African-Americans were better off as slaves ought to help make that crystal clear.
Update: This morning in my email I received this from Steve Yount of A. Larry Ross Communications:
A Statement by Dr. Tony Evans
Senior Pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship
Founder and President of The Urban Alternative
May 9, 2015
“Slavery was ungodly, unrighteous and unbiblical. During slavery, the family was broken up by force by unspeakable atrocities even though African-Americans struggled to preserve it.
“To offer clarity on both my intention and meaning, the black population was largely unified in fighting against the breakup of the family being forced on them due to the evil system of slavery. Black unity was a powerful force, to the greatest degree possible within the limitations of slavery, in seeking to keep the family intact.
“My comparison to today is that we have lost some of our unity and the shared goal of keeping our family units together, and we are often making choices that are dismantling our own families and also hurting our own communities. We do not want to do to ourselves voluntarily what slavery did by force (i.e., destroy our families).
“I have always and will always stand on behalf of justice, and do not condone oppression in any form. I condemn racism on all levels, whether personal or systemic. I am saddened that my remarks were removed from the context of my entire discussion.”
This response sounds all well and good, but it doesn’t address Evans’s chief original contention that African Americans had been better off as slaves than they are now. I still submit that trope — which, as I pointed out, is not Evans’s own invention, being a rather common notion among the Right — remains absolutely not true. Even if Evans disapproves of African Americans “destroy[ing] their families” “voluntarily” rather than “by force,” and even if one assumes this is precisely what’s happening to them, there’s still a fundamental difference between then and now: Neither the slaves’ owners nor government can do so “by force,” at the moment.
Photo credit: DemotivationalPosters.Net.
Tags: african american
, black slavery
, black slaves
, christian right
, dr tony evans
, religious right
, sallas theological seminary
, tony evans
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In my experience, Christians are hypersensitive to any mention of the Crusades (along with other glorious parts of Christianity’s history such as the Inquisitions, witch-hunts, and more). They just don’t want to hear about them … even if they’re actually part of the history of their religion. They petulantly refuse to acknowledge these events as examples of their religion’s history, and get their knickers in knots when anyone dares confront them with them.
Naturally, then, what President Barack Obama said last Thursday at the National Prayer Breakfast has them in a towering rage (WebCite cached article). The Washington Post, among many other media outlets, reported on their anger and fury (cached):
President Obama has never been one to go easy on America.…
His latest challenge came Thursday at the National Prayer Breakfast. At a time of global anxiety over Islamist terrorism, Obama noted pointedly that his fellow Christians, who make up a vast majority of Americans, should perhaps not be the ones who cast the first stone.
“Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history,” he told the group, speaking of the tension between the compassionate and murderous acts religion can inspire. “And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.”
These remarks kicked up so much sanctimonious outrage among the “Christian Nation” that NASA scientists probably picked up the sound of it from their New Horizons probe out by Pluto.
Some Republicans were outraged. “The president’s comments this morning at the prayer breakfast are the most offensive I’ve ever heard a president make in my lifetime,” said former Virginia governor Jim Gilmore (R). “He has offended every believing Christian in the United States. This goes further to the point that Mr. Obama does not believe in America or the values we all share.”…
Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, called Obama’s comments about Christianity “an unfortunate attempt at a wrongheaded moral comparison.”
As someone who studied the Crusades in college — unlike all these outraged commentators — I think it’s time to clear up a lot of misconceptions about them:
- Christians these days think the Crusades were a legitimate military response to the military threat posed by Muslims. While it’s true that Muslims in the east did threaten Christians near them, and had been fighting the Eastern Roman Empire (or Byzantium) for centuries, one must remember the Crusades were carried out by western Europeans … mostly of French origin. In the 11th century when the Crusades were launched, no Muslim was a threat to the French. Not even close! The Muslim advance into western Europe which began around the turn of the 8th century had been halted at the Battle of Tours in 733/4. In the over three centuries which followed, the Muslim state in Spain had been surrounded and eroded by its Christian neighbors. The Emirate of Granada did not, in any way, threaten any of the mostly-French lords who embarked on the First Crusade.
- While it’s true that the Byzantine Empire was engaged in fighting against Muslims — which was the reason its Emperor Alexius I Comnenus wrote to Pope Urban II to request assistance in 1095 — the First Crusaders ultimately ended up not helping shore up Byzantine defenses. Quite the opposite: They left the region near Constantinople in the dust and plunged straight through Anatolia (at a frightful cost in terms of lives lost, since they had no idea what they were doing and weren’t prepared for such a venture) and into the Levant as quickly as they could. Once there, and once they’d made some conquests (e.g. retaking Antioch), they didn’t restore those lands to the Byzantines; instead, they kept them for themselves.
- The Holy Land itself had been in Muslim hands since the early 7th century, but there were still Christians living there, and western Christians had been able to go on pilgrimages there pretty much the entire time. The Muslim rulers had allowed monks to tend to pilgrims there (most of them needed some assistance after their long journey). That Muslim overlords held the region hadn’t really put a dent in Christians’ ability to live and worship there.
- The main danger posed by Muslims to Christendom, at the time the Crusades began, was not in the Holy Land, and didn’t involve the French. The real danger was that the Seljuk Turks would overwhelm Byzantium and other Christian states near it. Had the French — who, living as they did at the western end of the Mediterranean and weren’t threatened by Muslims — really wanted to help defend Christendom, the proper strategy would have been for them to place themselves at the disposal of Alexius and work with the Byzantines to rebuild their state and reacquire their lost territory. Then they would have helped Byzantium maintain more defensible borders.
- In fact, a little over a century after the First Crusade embarked from western Europe, a subsequent expedition — the Fourth Crusade — didn’t even bother going to the Holy Land at all. Instead, its armies went after their fellow Christians, the Byzantines. They drove out two Emperors in succession, sacked Constantinople, made one of their own Emperor, and left the Eastern Roman Empire a shell of its former self. Byzantium later recovered somewhat, but it was never the same again, and entered into a long decline.
- The idea that the Crusaders were trying to defend Christianity is belied by the way in which they treated the eastern Christians they came across. In addition to fighting with the Byzantines more than they cooperated, they also seized Edessa, an Armenian Christian state. They drove out the local Orthodox hierarchy, including the Patriarch of Jerusalem, installing a replacement of their own who was loyal to the Pope. Overall, their relations with eastern Christians were never very good, and the Crusaders never actually acted like their guardians.
In sum, the idea that the Crusades were a rational and proper military response to a genuine military threat, is — quite simply — fucking laughably ridiculous. French armies had no legitimate business making a beeline through many hundreds of miles of territory and trying to home in on the Holy Land. Their expedition was hideously expensive — in terms of money, resources expended, and lives lost — and punctuated by atrocities like the massacre that took place when they captured Jerusalem in 1099. None of that contributed in the slightest to the defense of Christendom against Muslim expansion. Again, had this been the Crusaders’ true goal, they’d have assisted the Byzantines in rebuilding and refortifying their Empire.
It was also often said — particularly back in the ’80s when I was studying the subject in college — that the Crusades weren’t motivated by religion, but rather by a desire for new territory. But this makes little sense. Most of the princes who made up the First Crusade had been engaged in various military expeditions for years, before deciding to embark on their expedition to the Holy Land. Bohemond of Taranto, for example, had invaded the Balkans and fought the Byzantines there some 15 years prior, and he’d engaged in a few other minor wars and skirmishes. Had he stayed home, he’d have continued those same expeditions, and could well have won new lands that way. The same was true of Raymond of St Gilles, who had fought Muslims in Spain already, and could certainly have continued doing so, had he wished to, instead of crossing the Mediterranean. There’s quite simply no way these princes’ desire to reach and retake the Holy Land in particular makes any sense, unless they’d been at least partly motivated by religion.
Getting back to the main point: Obama’s mention of the Crusades as well as other things like slavery and Jim Crow, was not an “attack” on Christians or Christianity. They are an actual part of Christian history. To deny this is to be delusional. They happened … period. Maybe modern Christians would prefer not to hear about them, but too fucking bad. Complaining that the Crusades were “1,000 years ago” (they weren’t, if you recall they were a sequence of expeditions that began in the 1090s but ended with the fall of Acre in 1291) also isn’t going to help. “It’s history,” Obama’s self-righteous critics say. “They’re in the past. They’re over. So what?” It may be true that the Crusades and Inquisitions have been over for centuries, but they were only two of Obama’s examples of the use of religion to support immorality. The others (slavery and Jim Crow) are both much more recent. Witch-hunting, which Obama didn’t mention, happens to be a present-day pastime of African Christians.
Obama also didn’t “blame” modern Christians for the Crusades; that objection is just more delusional paranoia. He also didn’t say Christians are as bad as ISIS; that too is a childish fabrication which multiple Rightists have spewed.
The real lesson Obama had delivered — and which the “Christian Nation” refuses to hear, no matter how true it may be — is that any religion can be used to justify evil. Yes, even Christianity! It happened in the past — both in the distant past, and in more recent times — and it could, conceivably, happen again. That it offends Christians to be told this, only shows how childish they really are. It’s time for them to pull on their big-boy pants and act their ages instead of getting all bent out of shape because they like thinking that the president they despise, Barack HUSSEIN Obama, is “attacking” them for something.
P.S. I still don’t get how or why Christians find it necessary to host big splashy events like “national prayer breakfasts.” After all, the founder of their own religion explicitly and unambiguously ordered them never to express their piety publicly. So why do they insist on doing it? Why won’t they obey their own Jesus?
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.
Tags: barack obama
, jim crow
, national prayer breakfast
, president barack obama
, public piety
, religious extremism
, religious extremist
, religious extremists
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Perhaps the most influential single theologian in the US is R. Albert Mohler. As the head of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, he’s the doctrinal custodian of the Southern Baptist Convention, and thus serves as one of the commandants of the Religious Right. I’m not sure why they thought they should do it, but CNN published his idiotic apologia for the Religious Right’s relentless war against gays (WebCite cached version):
Are conservative Christians hypocritical and selective when it comes to the Bible’s condemnation of homosexuality? With all that the Bible condemns, why the focus on gay sex and same-sex marriage?
Given the heated nature of our current debates, it’s a question conservative Christians have learned to expect. “Look,” we are told, “the Bible condemns eating shellfish, wearing mixed fabrics and any number of other things. Why do you ignore those things and insist that the Bible must be obeyed when it comes to sex?”
Unfortunately, despite having posed it, Al doesn’t actually answer this question. Rather, he rationalizes avoiding an answer altogether. I’ll let his dodges and swerves speak for themselves … if you can stomach reading it.
What I would like to point out, is that Al — even though he’s a strict Biblical literalist — factually lied about what the Bible says:
Some people then ask, “What about slavery and polygamy?” In the first place, the New Testament never commands slavery, and it prizes freedom and human dignity.
In reality, the New Testament most assuredly does support slavery. It does so more than once, in fact. Read on:
Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ; not by way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. (Eph 6:5-6).
Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. (Col 3:22)
I’m astonished that a supposed expert on the Bible such as Al Mohler would have said something as clearly and demonstrably untrue as this … but he did, nonetheless. Did he really think no one would notice his lie? Did he really think that people like myself, who have actually read the Bible (not only in English, but in other languages, including the original κοινη Greek of the New Testament), would not have been aware of this? Did he really think people are that fucking stupid? My guess is, he did think he’d get away with it — largely because he’s preaching to his own choir; other Southern Baptists would have taken him at his word and not questioned his statement. Regardless of his presumption of being able to get away with it, though, Al’s lie earns him entry into my “lying liars for Jesus” club.
It’s obvious by now that America’s Christofascists have to resort to lying about their own religion in order to support their hateful rhetoric. I’m not sure where in any of Jesus Christ’s own teachings they discovered the mandate to lie about him, but I’m sure they must have found it. Somewhere. I haven’t managed to find that chapter and verse, but Al and his cohorts must know what it is. I wonder if they’ll deign to divulge it to the rest of us “mere mortals”?
Photo credit: james.thompson.
Tags: al mohler
, albert mohler
, biblical literalism
, biblical literalist
, biblical literalists
, christian bible
, christian right
, col 3:22
, colossians 3:22
, eph 6:5-6
, ephesians 6:5-6
, liar for jesus
, liars for jesus
, lying liar for jesus
, lying liars for jesus
, r albert mohler
, religious right
, slavery in the bible
, slavery in the new testament
, southern baptist convention
, southern baptist theological seminary
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I’ve blogged about GOP presidential candidate and militant Christofascist Rick Santorum a number of times already. As his candidacy has slumped, I’d hoped I’d be able to avoid blogging any more about this walking train-wreck. But alas, Santorum has — once again — posed as a theologian. This time, he’s declared that Christianity — as he sees it, anyway — is the source of freedom in the US. ABC News’ The Note blog reports on his ludicrous Religious Rightist pontification, earlier in March (WebCite cached article):
Talking about American exceptionalism, Santorum said the concept of equality came from Christianity, not Islam.
“I love it because the left says equality, equality. Where does that concept come from? Does it come from Islam? Does it come from other cultures around the world? Are men and women treated equally? Are adults and children treated equally? No,” Santorum said. “It comes it comes from our culture and tradition, from the Judeo-Christian ethic. That’s where this comes from-the sense of equality.”
I’ve read this several times and cannot figure out where or how Islam comes into play in this. It doesn’t seem to be of any relevance to the subject at hand. I can only assume it was his attempt to somehow work some derision of Islam into his speech, and thus appeal to any Neocrusaders in the crowd.
As for whether or not Christianity, as a religion, supports or opposes the concept of equality, the record on that is slightly mixed. Christianity appeared in the Greco-Roman world, initially in its eastern portion, and as such was a product of that culture. Greco-Roman society was quite stratified, along many dimensions. There were a number of social classes, with the aristocracy at the top, and several layers underneath, ranging down to unskilled laborers and slaves at the bottom. The genders were divided. Ethnic groups tended to be segregated, in large cities often living in enclaves apart from others. Religions tended, too, to separate people, e.g. with Jews living in their own quarters of cities. The Greco-Roman world was one in which people were born into any number of stratifications, and with few exceptions, they stayed within them their entire lives.
The earliest extant Christian documents, the seven “genuine” Pauline epistles*, which date to the 50s CE, exhibit something of a departure from this, at least doctrinally. For example, Paul wrote, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28). (Note, Col 3:11 says something almost identical, however, that epistle is not genuine, it was written long after Paul). Paul elsewhere refers to a blending of classes and genders within the church in his day. Only in the epistle to Philemon does Paul concede that there’s any validity to any class division, and that lies in his apparent support of slavery as it was practiced then.
Later on, however, we find the early church turning away from egalitarianism. In the gospels — written in the last quarter of the first century CE — we see references to people mainly by some sort of identifier (whether it’s ethnic, professional, or social class). In his parables and comments, Jesus uses stereotypes of these identifiers, sometimes ironically (e.g. the Good Samaritan). His reported interactions in the gospels are often with groups (e.g. he dressed down “the Pharisees”). Jesus also preached to the lower classes as though their plight had virtue in itself. In general, the gospels are written assuming that people fall into various fixed classifications, that this is how things were supposed to be, and that none other than Jesus Christ himself acted as though this was the case. In only one regard is Jesus said to have resisted the prevailing class-wisdom of his time, and this was by attracting “sinners” as followers.
Subsequent Christianity either stated explicitly, or implied, that social classifications, ethnicity, etc. were all God-ordained and that everyone was required to live within the strictures of his/her position in society. That remained the case until the Enlightenment. Even then, the notion of complete equality took a long time to develop. For instance, initially the United States gave voting privileges only to white landowning males. Suffrage was expanded only incrementally over the last 200 years. Also, slavery was legal in the early U.S. and was abolished only after the Civil War. Christianity’s teachings had little to do with this, at least for the first 16 centuries or so of its existence.
It’s true that equality movements like Abolition were comprised of many Christians who believed that Christianity taught to open freedom to others, but this was not universal in Christianity. The Southern Baptist Convention, for example, was founded by southern slave-owning Baptists who opposed the Abolitionist turn their denomination was taking in the 19th century. They, and other Christians, insisted that the Biblical “Curse of Ham” meant that God had rendered black Africans less-than-human.
It is correct to say that the concept of equality can, historically speaking, be viewed as anti-Christian (and anti-Judeo-Christian). Once again, by claiming otherwise, Santorum reveals his ignorance of both history and Christian theology. Well done, Rickie … well done!
Hat tip: Apathetic Agnostic Church.
Photo credit: PBS NewsHour.
* The seven epistles in question are: 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philemon, Philippians, Romans, and 1 Thessalonians.
Tags: 2012 election
, 2012 primary
, christian right
, col 3:11
, colossians 3:11
, equal rights
, gal 3:28
, galatians 3:28
, gop primary
, jesus christ
, religious right
, republican primary
, rick santorum
, social class
, social classes
, social strata
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The Religious Right is relentless in its determination to rewrite history so as to place themselves — and their current political causes — back in time, even though most of their efforts, such as promoting Creationism and stopping abortion, are all decidedly contemporary notions. Their anachronistic views reveal their ignorance and expose them as liars. Two recent examples of this phenomenon follow, although they’re hardly unique.
First, I’m sure you heard about Sarah Palin’s NRA-propagandized version of Paul Revere‘s ride to warn the Massachusetts militia about the movement of British troops; Here, for example, is a CBS News story on her lies, which were compounded by a Wikipedia war to make it appear she was actually correct (WebCite cached article):
Dozens of changes were made to the Revere page on the Internet site Sunday and Monday after Palin claimed Revere’s famous ride was intended to warn both his fellow colonists and British soldiers.
Palin claimed, among other things, that Revere had been trying to “warn the British”; that he was firing shots into the air as he rode; and that he was ringing bells as well. Not one of those things is true, at least not in the Charlton Heston style that Palin told it. While he did end up warning the British about the militia, that was only after he’d warned the colonials — who’d been the intended targets of his warning ride — and had been picked up by British troops. By then, the cat was already out of the bag, so to speak, so he was able to tell them little of any value (and they eventually let him go). He absolutely did not fire his musket into the air as he went; secrecy had been his goal, he needed to warn John Hancock and Samuel Adams that the British were on their way to arrest them. (Not to mention, loading and shooting a musket while on horseback is not exactly a simple feat.) Revere also did not ring bells as he rode, for the same reason.
Politifact and FactCheck have weighed in on her idiotic and anachronistic comments. The best either of them can say is that Palin was “barely truthful” … and that’s being generous.
Even after caught lying, and putting NRA words into Paul Revere’s mouth, Mrs Palin irrationally insisted she was correct. That also is quite in line with Religious Right practice; no Religious Rightist ever concedes error. Ever. Not for any reason, no matter the facts, and no matter how idiotic they sound. Hence, the campaign by her supporters to make Wikipedia back up her version of Paul Revere’s ride.
My second example of the Religious Right’s ignorance of, and lies about, history is from David Barton, the man whom the R.R. hails as a historian, when in fact, he is not, and never has been a historian (either by virtue of having a degree in history or having published an article in a peer-reviewed history journal). Right Wing Watch reports (video included) on his claim that the Founding Fathers supported Creationism and dismissed evolution (WebCite cached article):
Naturally, Barton says that the Founding Fathers “already had the entire debate on creation and evolution,” and sided with Creationism.
The problem with this, of course, is that evolution wasn’t really known until the publication of On the Origin of Species in 1859, nearly a century after them. The liar Barton went on to make an even more absurd and factually-incorrect claim:
“That’s why we said we want to separate from Britain, so we can end slavery,” Barton said.
Yes, folks, according to pseudohistorian Barton, the Revolutionary War was fought not to gain independence from Great Britain, but to free the slaves! The problem here, of course, is that the Constitution those same Founding Fathers wrote after that war, contained provisions allowing for slavery in the new country, and slavery wasn’t abolished until the end of the Civil War, again, decades later.
I have no idea what it is that Palin or Barton are smoking. But they’re hardly alone. The R.R. continuously represents itself as modern-day Founding Fathers, even though the R.R. is predicated on a form of fundamentalist, evangelical Christianity that did not exist in the F.F.s’ time. They apparently just can’t help themselves. In any event, whatever their motives might be, Palin and Barton’s lies place them squarely in my “lying liars for Jesus” club.
Hat tip: Religion Dispatches.
Photo credit: Based on HaHaStop.Com.
, david barton
, founding fathers
, liar for jesus
, liars for jesus
, lying liar for jesus
, lying liars for jesus
, paul revere
, paul revere's ride
, revolutionary war
, sarah palin
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I blogged a couple times already on a report by an investigative commission in Ireland on the abuse of children in the care of the Roman Catholic Church (such as orphanages and schools) which had been released in May. That report focused mainly on the operations of facilities, which had been mostly in the care of religious orders such as the Christian Brothers. A subsequent report, released a few days ago, delves deeper into the Church hierarchy’s cover-up, and the complicity not only of the religious orders but of the Dublin archdiocese, as well as government officials, police, etc. The New York Times reports on these additional revelations:
The Roman Catholic Church and the police in Ireland systematically colluded in covering up decades of child sex abuse by priests in Dublin, according to a scathing report released Thursday.
The cover-ups spanned the tenures of four Dublin archbishops and continued through to the mid-1990s and beyond, even after the church was beginning to admit to its failings and had professed that it was confronting abuse by its priests.
But rather than helping the victims, the church was concerned only with “the maintenance of secrecy, the avoidance of scandal, the protection of the reputation of the church, and the preservation of its assets,” said the 700-page report, prepared by a group appointed by the Irish government and called the Commission of Investigation Into the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin.
The abuse — and the cover-up — were extensive, pervasive, and multi-generational. The Church’s reaction? I’ll relay what the Times reported (emphasis mine):
In a statement, the current archbishop, Diarmuid Martin, acknowledged the “revolting story” of abuses that the report detailed, saying, “No words of apology will ever be sufficient.” He added, “The report highlights devastating failings of the past.”
Note his Excellency’s specific mention of “the past.” It’s all “water under the bridge” for the Archbishop, it seems. How nice — and Christian of him to slough off any responsibility. What a way to uphold a higher standard of morality.
It wasn’t just the Roman Catholic hierarchy that allowed this to happen, though … many others colluded with the Church and were complicit in the abuse:
The report said the Irish police allowed the church to act with impunity and often referred abuse complaints back to the archdiocese for internal investigations.
The police said Thursday that they regretted their failure to act. “Because of acts or omissions, individuals who sought assistance did not always receive the level of response or protection which any citizen in trouble is entitled to expect,” Ireland’s police commissioner, Fachtna Murphy, said, adding he was “deeply sorry.”
It’s interesting how so many people are willing to apologize … but they’re only doing so after the fact, and essentially they plan never actually to truly do anything to express their remorse, or prevent such things ever from happening again. The government promised prosecutions, as the Times explains:
The Irish government vowed to make amends to the victims. The justice minister, Dermot Ahern, promised that “the persons who committed these dreadful crimes — no matter when they happened — will continue to be pursued.”
The problem, however, is that, as a result of a 2004 lawsuit by the aforementioned Christian Brothers, Irish courts caved in to the Church and have prevented the Commission from releasing the names of the abusers. Because of that, prosecutions will be next to impossible.
P.S. I assume that the fact that the New York Times reported on this, will only further convince Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, that the Times is “anti-Catholic.” He seems to believe the R.C. Church should be insulated from having its misdeeds reported publicly … and that the misdeeds of other churches and religions somehow grant the Catholic Church permission to misbehave. I guess these ideas, too, are part of the Catholic Church’s high moral standards … although most of us know better.
, archdiocese of dublin
, catholic clerical abuse scandal
, clerical abuse
, clerical sexual abuse
, commission of investigation
, commission of investigation into the catholic archdiocese of dublin
, institutionalized slavery
, irish catholic church
, magdalene asylums
, magdalene laundries
, roman catholic church
, sexual abuse
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A commission in Ireland — appointed some 9 years ago to catalog and report on abuses by Roman Catholic institutions meant to house “wayward” children — has finally issued a report on the matter. Though the institutions in question were all closed by the 1990s, revelations of these abuses were a scandal in Ireland that the commission had been appointed to address. It is a damning report listing indescribable abuses, and shows how both Roman Catholic Church officials, and the government of Ireland, cooperated in a scheme which in some cases amounted to institutionalized slavery. The New York Times reports (WebCite cached article):
Tens of thousands of Irish children were sexually, physically and emotionally abused by nuns, priests and others over 60 years in a network of church-run residential schools meant to care for the poor, the vulnerable and the unwanted, according to a report released in Dublin on Wednesday.
The 2,600-page report paints a picture of institutions run more like Dickensian orphanages than 20th-century schools, characterized by privation and cruelty that could be both casual and choreographed.
“A climate of fear, created by pervasive, excessive and arbitrary punishment, permeated most of the institutions,” the report says. In the boys’ schools, it says, sexual abuse was “endemic.”
The length of time it took to produce this report is, perhaps, a reflection of internal interference within the Irish government, which had actually cooperated and fueled the Church’s institutions, as well as a lawsuit by a Church order:
It was delayed because of a lawsuit brought by the Christian Brothers, the religious order that ran many of the boys’ schools and that fought, ultimately successfully, to have the abusers’ names omitted. In 2003, the commission’s first chairwoman resigned, saying that Ireland’s Department of Education had refused to release crucial documents. …
It exposes for the first time the scope of the problem in Ireland, as well as how the government and the church colluded in perpetuating an abusive system. The revelations have also had the effect of stripping the Catholic Church, which once set the agenda in Ireland, of much of its moral authority and political power.
The report singles out Ireland’s Department of Education, meant to regulate the schools, for running “toothless” inspections that overlooked glaring problems and deferred to church authority.
It’s understandable, then, that some in Ireland’s government had tried to hinder this investigation … their culpability in this scheme to abuse and enslave children has been exposed.
The reality of this systemic abuse got major international attention in 2002 with the release of a movie about the so-called “Magdalene asylums” (or “Magdalene laundries”), called The Magdalene Sisters. News programs in the US followed this with presentations on the issue. But while the Magdalene asylums were scandalous enough, the abuse, it turns out, was much wider in scope than that.
Given that the Roman Catholic Church holds itself up as the sole arbiter of morality and ethics in the world, one would think the Church has something to say in the wake of the commission’s report. An apology at the very least. But guess again:
The Vatican had no response. But leaders of various religious orders — who often argued during the investigations that the abuse was a relic of another time, reflecting past societal standards — issued abject apologies on Wednesday, taking care to frame the problem as something that is now behind them.
Cardinal Sean Brady, the Catholic Primate of All Ireland, said in a statement that he was “profoundly sorry and deeply ashamed,” adding, “I hope the publication of today’s report will help heal the hurts of victims and address the wrongs of the past.”
Essentially the Vatican is ducking the issue completely, and the religious orders that orchestrated these crimes are mouthing mild admissions and insincere well-wishes for the abused, in order to evade civil lawsuits that have been filed against them. (The Vatican officially condemned The Magdalene Sisters when it was released, and called for a boycott of it, so silence from the Holy See is an improvement on that … I guess.)
The next time the Roman Catholic Church tells you what’s moral and what isn’t, remember their ineffective, insincere and evasive response to this travesty. Oh, and when a Catholic tells you that atrocities such as the Inquisitions are “a thing of the past,” you might remind them that there are very likely still Catholic nuns, priests and brothers in Ireland, who’d once been part of this slavery scheme — one for which they have not even yet been brought to justice.
Tags: benedict xvi
, catholic clerical abuse scandal
, clerical abuse
, institutionalized slavery
, magdalene asylums
, magdalene laundries
, roman catholic church
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