Sunday, February 26, 2017

Another child abuse scandal

This is a difficult article to read. It's another inquiry into child sexual abuse, this time of the 150,000 children sent abroad from the UK after World War II.

Those children weren't all abused, and not all of the perpetrators were from religious institutions. But many were. And the stories are horrendous!

For example, there's this one from Clifford Walsh:
He is now 72. Fremantle is where, in 1954, aged nine, he stepped off the ship from London, looking for the sheep he'd been told outnumbered people in Australia 100 to one.

He ended up at a place called Bindoon.

The Catholic institution known at one point as Bindoon Boys Town is now notorious. Based around an imposing stone mansion in the Australian countryside, 49 miles north of Perth, are buildings Walsh and his fellow child migrants were forced to build, barefoot, starting work the day after they arrived.

The Christian Brothers ruled the place with the aim of upholding order and a moral code. Within two days of arriving he says he received his first punishment at the hands of one of the brothers.

"He punched us, he kicked us, smashed us in the face, back-handed us and everything, and he then sat us on his knee to tell us that he doesn't like to hurt children, but we had been bad boys.

"I was sobbing uncontrollably for hours."

His story is deeply distressing. He tells it with a particularly Australian directness. He is furious.

He describes one brother luring him into his room with the promise he could have some sweet molasses - normally fed, not to the boys, but the cows. The man sexually abused him.

He claims another brother raped him, and a third beat him mercilessly after falsely accusing him of having sex with another boy.

"We had no parents, we had no relatives, there was nowhere we could go, these brothers - these paedophiles - must have thought they were in hog heaven."

He has accused the brothers at the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, the first time he has fully disclosed his experiences.

At the time he says: "I was too terrified to report the abuse. I knew no other life.

"I've lived 60 odd years with this hate, I can't have a normal sexual relationship because I don't like to hold people," says Walsh. "My own wife, I couldn't hug."

He was troubled by all the memories.

"I couldn't show any affection. Stuff like that only reminded me of what the brothers would do all the time."

Bindoon is now a Catholic College. Again, not every person who raped children was a priest. And not every priest rapes children - far from it. But these are people who get respect just because of who they are.

Churches expect - and almost always get - our automatic respect. They claim to be our moral leaders, and nearly everyone seems to go along with that. Certainly, the news media and our politicians do. The religious section of my local newspaper is titled "Faith and Values." Church leaders regularly claim that 'you can't be moral without God.'

And yet:
The Australian Royal Commission recently estimated that 7% of the country's Catholic priests were involved in child abuse.

And such is the scope of sexual abuse allegations in the Catholic and Anglican churches in the UK that entire strands of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse are dedicated to them.

This story is horrific for many different reasons, and it wasn't just the churches who let such things happen to children, but the British government, too. Child rape is vile no matter who does it. I don't mean to imply otherwise.

But religious groups are different, because they claim to have the high ground. They claim to be our moral leaders. They claim to have an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving deity on their side. Well, where was he when children were being raped by his own priests?

The Catholic Church, in particular, tells us that contraception is immoral, that abortion is immoral, that homosexuality is immoral. Well, why should we listen to anything they say, when priests were not only raping children, but the church was helping them by covering it up and moving those priests to new, unsuspecting parishes where they could find fresh victims?

Of course, it's not just the Catholics, and it's not just Christian churches. But it's Christian churches here, in English-speaking parts of the world. And the Catholics have a rigid hierarchy that many Protestant denominations don't have (especially the smaller sects). With power comes responsibility.

And again, if you really do have an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving deity on your side, where the fuck was he? Your god would not be worth my worship even if he did exist. (Of course, if you've ever bothered to read your own Bible, you'd already know that.)

It is long past the time when we should have stopped giving churches and church leaders our automatic respect. If you want our respect, earn it.

It is long past the time when we should have stopped accepting the claims of religious leaders about morality. They know no more about morality than the rest of us, and many of them have demonstrated that they know far less.

It is long past the time when we should have stopped accepting all of their claims, without good evidence first backing up those claims. If child rape won't open our eyes, what will?

1 comment:

Mary said...

Ah's always been for the weak minded and many of those leaders are corrupt with power