Continued Abuse of Power


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    And shame it is to see — let priests take heed -
    A shitten shepherd and a clean sheep
    Geoffrey Chaucer (c.1340-1400), Canterbury Tales, General Prologue {Parson}


    Christian Churches continue to exert political power. This takes many forms, from Roman Catholic bishops in Ireland instructing their diminishing flocks on how to vote in State referenda, to US Baptist ministers fund-raising for extreme right-wing politicians; from English bishops sitting in Parliament to European Christian Democrats keeping Turkey out of the European Union explicitly because it is not a Christian country.

    Christian Churches are still active throughout the world, fomenting dissent against governments. By attributing their own political views to God, they are able to justify any form of illegality. To subvert an elected government might be treason against the state, but to fail to do so would be treason against God. Those who believe themselves to be guided by God inevitably believe that their divine inspiration supplies a higher authority than any man-made law. God's law over-rides all others. So it is that Churches ignore national laws that do not suit them. They smuggle illegal books into dozens of countries. They continue the long tradition of vandalising non-Christian religious icons. They defy court orders in Asia, Europe and the Americas. They protect war criminals, child molesters and other criminals from the secular law. They perform illegal ceremonies and hold illegal meetings. Around the world a stream of adults and children die through so-called exorcisms and other privations sanctioned by fringe and mainstream Churches alike*.

    Most Churches - including the normally progressive Anglican Church - accept and practice exorcism


    In 2012 the chief exorcist of the Vatican revealed some improbable beliefs in a rare interview. According to him the Anti-Christ was waging a war against the Holy See and the Devil was lurking in the very heart of the Roman Catholic Church. Father Gabriele Amorth, then aged 85, claimed to have performed 70,000 exorcisms. He said people possessed by Satan vomit shards of glass and pieces of iron the size of a finger. According to him, the Devil can remain hidden, and speak in different languages. At times he makes fun of Father Amorth. The machinations of the Devil explain all sorts of ills within his Church from widespread violence and paedophilia committed by Catholic priests to the large number of Cardinals who no longer believe in God. He also revealed that "His Holiness believes wholeheartedly in the practice of exorcism. He has encouraged and praised our work"*..

    School children are often taught religious opinions as though they were established facts, often by schoolmasters who have been selected for their religious orthodoxy. In Britain schools are legally obliged to teach school children hundreds of hours of religion, yet most children leave school without ever having spent five minutes studying the elements of law, medicine, economics, politics or philosophy. In the USA they might never learn any science and leave school without understanding, or even ever having heard about, the most important ever discovery in biology. Many will leave school believing the Bible to be the literal word of God, unaware that hardly any modern theologians share this discredited view.

    Despite their unlawful behaviour, Christian Churches continue to enjoy significant privileges in countries around the world. Churches are often state-funded, they run state schools, and sometimes state universities, they operate their own courts, and they are exempt from numerous taxes and from certain laws.

    In Britain clergymen enjoy personal privileges such as exemption from conscription and from jury service. Bishops still sit in the House of Lords, even after parliamentary reforms made in 2000. By favouring a minority in this way other people are penalised: those others pay more taxes and shoulder a greater burden of civic responsibility while being under-represented in the legislature.

    Another area of concern is the Church's commitment to stopping child abuse in its ranks, or lack of it. Widespread child abuse is now acknowledged in many Churches mainly in English speaking countries where the matter has been investigated by secular authorities. Churchmen have acknowledged that paedophiles will be attracted to Holy Orders by the prospect of easy pickings and that it is impossible to identify a genuine vocation from predatory opportunism. Widespread abuse has been revealed in every country where it has been properly investigated. It is curious therefore that no Church seems to have thought to carry out its own global investigations, so that perhaps millions of children are still being sexually abused around the world in the countries where the secular authorities are not powerful enough or not willing to instigate investigations.

    State funding of sectarian schools in many countries is widely seen as another source of scandal — leading in Northern Ireland for example to the perpetuation of ancient religious conflicts. The so-called Troubles in Northern Ireland only make sense when seen as the last vestige of the Wars of Religion that raged throughout Europe in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth centuries, and the unique sectarian school system in Northern Ireland explains why this vestige has survived in modern times from one generation to the next.

    As Richard Dawkins has pointed out we allow parents to turn their children into Christian (or Muslim, or Hindu, etc) children, but would not contemplate parents imposing other personal preferences and beliefs in the same way. Some people now regard religion as a form of child abuse*. Even in technically secular countries regressive religious ideas still hold sway — denying legislative, social, medical and scientific advances and promoting ignorance. Many people in secular societies are mystified and frightened by the effects of Christianity especially in the USA where, even in the Twenty First Century, surveys reveal the continuing strength of fundamentalist religious beliefs that contradict facts. Over half the population reject the Theory of Evolution and believe the world to be less than 10,000 years old — including some 25% of school teachers. Around 20% of Americans still believe that the sun orbits the Earth.

    Higher up the academic ladder, theologians are over-represented, particularly in the older universities where anachronistic professorial chairs are reserved for them. In many countries Churches retain a stranglehold on certain disciplines. For example, there are really two distinct sets of university philosophers — the ordinary university academics and the theologians. In some countries the theologians enjoy a monopoly in philosophy departments, a vestige of medieval times when scholasticism, a long discredited form of theological philosophy, enjoyed a similar monopoly. In other countries there are parallel structures of theologians and academic philosophers. In either case theologians are appointed to university chairs for their orthodoxy, not for their intellectual ability. To appreciate how bizarre this it, it is rather as though universities continued to fund pre-scientific disciplines like alchemy or astrology, and to appoint professors of these subjects on the strength of their Christian belief.

    The grip of the Church is still powerful in other fields. Around the world Christian laws still limit what other people can do, especially on Sundays and other Christian festivals. Different countries suffer different restrictions, but the pattern is similar, always limiting people's freedom to have fun and to do what they want to do: restrictions on drinking alcohol; restrictions on singing and dancing; restrictions on games, sports and gambling; restrictions on buying and selling; restrictions on art galleries, exhibitions, music, theatre, cinema, concerts, circuses and other public performances. In some places it is still almost impossible to travel by public transport on a Sunday.

    Kit on sale to Christians expecting the imminent End of the World


    Perhaps most worrying is the phenomenon of End-Timers in the USA. End-Timers represent a reappearance of an early Christian movement that imagined that it could help trigger the End Of The World by promoting events that would presage the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

    An image of the Rapture, from an End-Timer website
    End-Timers imagine themselves experiencing a "rapture" - being carried bodily up into heaven
    before the rest of us perish in gastly ways predicted by the Bokk of revelations.

    A children's version

    Reading works such as the book of Revelation early Christians set themselves to destroy the Roman Empire. This was the motivation for their repeated acts of arson, but their ultimate goals were wars around the world and civil breakdown everywhere. Just like these early Christians, modern End-timers believe the end of the world to be imminent, and imagine that they can accelerate its arrival by arranging to come to pass the same events that those early Christians looked forward to: world war and civil breakdown. The parallels are precise, with the European Community (created by the Treaty of Rome) playing the role of the Roman Empire.

    We have no idea how many End-Timers are currently seeking political office in the USA — certainly dozens, possibly hundreds or thousands. They represent a real threat to world peace — potentially occupying high offices in government and the armed forces. Any internet search will reveal large numbers of web-sites promoted by End-Timer Christians of various degrees of virulence, many working to “hasten the inevitable”, anticipating a Third World War and the Second Coming.







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    §. It is not only the Roman Catholic Church that still sanctions exorcism. Reports of children being tortured to death during exorcisms sanctioned by various Churches in Britain appear regularly in national newspapers in the early twenty-first century. Exorcisms are also common in the Orthodox Church — many of the faithful were horrified by the case of a Romanian priest, Daniel Petru Corogeanu, and four nuns sentenced in 2007 for killing a fifth nun during an exorcism. She had been chained to a cross and denied food and water for days then suffocated. The outrage was not at the priest's exorcism — perfectly normal in the Orthodox Church — but at his arrest, trial and conviction, a unique event in the Orthodox Church. For more see and.

    §. CHIEF EXORCIST SAYS DEVIL LURKS IN THE VATICAN - 'Cardinals who do not believe in Jesus and bishops who are linked to the demon' By Nick Squires, The London Telegraph, 10 March 2010, see also

    §. Hitchens, God Is Not Great, Chapter Sixteen (“Is Religion Child Abuse”)


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