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So how long has the child-rape problem existed in the church?

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on May 6, 2010

Well they want to blame it on modernity. This video begs to differ! Oh and look at that, the video cites actual documents we can check out for ourselves. Yay!

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Tim Minchin’s greatest hit ever?

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on May 6, 2010

I am late to the game, but only last night I had a chance to catch up with Tim Minchin’s latest hit, The Pope Song, and boy did I enjoy it. It’s such a catchy tune I’m afraid I’m gonna get in trouble at work for singing it under my breath. Once you hear it, you’ll know why.

Lyrics via the Skepchick

Fuck the motherfucker
Fuck the motherfucker
Fuck the motherfucker
He’s a fucking motherfucker

Fuck the motherfucker
Fuck the fucking fucker
Fuck the motherfucker
He’s a total fucking fucker

Fuck the motherfucker
Fuck the motherfucker
Fuck the motherfucker
Fucking fuck the motherfucker

Fuck the motherfucker
Fuck the motherfucking Pope

Fuck the motherfucker
And fuck you motherfucker
If you think that motherfucker is sacred

If you cover for another motherfucker who’s a kiddie fucker
Fuck you, you’re no better than the motherfucking rapist

And if you don’t like the swearing that this motherfucker forced from me
And reckon that it shows moral or intellectual paucity
Then fuck you motherfucker, this is language one employs
When one is fucking cross about fuckers fucking boys

I don’t give a fuck if calling the Pope a motherfucker
Means you unthinkingly brand me an unthinking apostate
This has naught to do with other fucking godly motherfuckers
I’m not interested right now in fucking scriptural debate

There are other fucking songs and there are other fucking ways
I’ll be a religious apologist on other fucking days
But the fact remains, if you protect a single kiddie fucker
Then Pope or prince or plumber, you’re a fucking motherfucker

You see I don’t give a fuck what any other motherfucker
Believes about Jesus and his motherfucking mother
And I’ve no problem with the spiritual beliefs of all these fuckers
While those beliefs don’t impact on the happiness of others

But if you build a church on claims of fucking moral authority
And with threats of hell impose it on others in society
Then you, you motherfuckers, could expect some fucking wrath
When it turns out you’ve been fucking us in our motherfucking asses

So fuck the motherfucker
And fuck you, motherfucker if you’re still a motherfucking papist
If he covered for a single motherfucker who’s a kiddie fucker
Fuck the motherfucker, he’s as evil as the rapist

And if you look into your motherfucking heart and tell me true
If this motherfucking stupid fucking song offended you
With its filthy fucking language and it’s fucking disrespect
If it made you feel angry, go ahead and write a letter
But if you find me more offensive than the fucking possibility
That the Pope protected priests when they were getting fucking fiddly
Then listen to me, motherfucker, this here is a fact:
You are just as morally misguided as that motherfucking
Power-hungry, self-aggrandized bigot in the stupid fucking hat

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The Pope, the Church, and skepticism

Posted in Bad Astronomy by Skepdude on April 14, 2010

READ THE FULL ENTRY AT BAD ASTRONOMY

Introduction

This is a bit of a long post. As such, I’ve broken it up into sections, to help me corral my thoughts, and make it more likely people will actually read what I’ve written before leaving comments.

Yes, that’s a hint. I’ve spent quite some time wrestling with these issues the past two days, and I’m interested in rebuttals as well as supporting arguments. I urge people to comment, but please read what I’ve written first, and please keep it civil.

So.

By now you’ve probably heard that the Pope is in trouble. A letter written and signed by him seems to indicate that he was complicit in, at the very least, holding up discussion on what to do with an Oakland priest who was a pedophile. That’s pretty awful, even more so when considering that it took him four years to get around to even writing this letter after he was informed of the trouble, and during that time the priest was still working with children. At worst, it looks very much like Ratzinger, at the time a Cardinal, may have actively stalled the Church’s actions against the priest.

Let me be as clear as I can here: if Pope Ratzinger in any way stalled or prevented an investigation, Church-based or otherwise, into any aspect of child molestation by priests, then he needs to be indicted and brought to trial; an international tribunal into all this is also necessary and should be demanded by every living human on the planet. Obviously, a very thorough and major investigation of the Catholic Church’s practices about this needs to be held. It is a rock solid fact that there are a lot of priests who have molested children, and it’s clear that the Church has engaged in diversionary tactics ever since this became public (like the abhorrent Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone who says homosexuality lies at the heart of this scandal).

The skeptic community has been up in arms about this, as one would expect, since organized religion is a major target of skeptical thinkers. There have been rumors and misinformation about all this, including a dumb article (one of Rupert Murdoch’s papers, natch) that said that Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchins — both noted skeptics and atheists — were going to try to arrest the Pope if he visited England. This has been debunked by Dawkins himself.

But the idea of Dawkins swooping in to arrest the Pope got a lot of people fired up, notably in the skeptic community. A lot of folks have sounded off about what the skeptic community should do about this as individuals, as organized groups, and as a whole.

But the ideas being tossed around, to me, are a bit confused. The bottom line is, what role does the skeptic movement, such as it is, have in all this?

It depends on which part of this issue you mean. First there’s the Pope’s behavior. Then there’s the Church’s behavior, and then why the Church did the things it did. Finally, there’s the issue of the skeptics’ behavior.

Here are my thoughts.

1) The Pope

This is actually pretty cut and dried.

I agree in part with Rebecca Watson’s premise that the Pope needs to be called before justice. However, I do in fact care who does it and why; more on that below. But the important thing is that there is a fair trial and justice is served.

Basically, it seems that the Pope was putting the Church before the children, children who were being sexually molested. That is so abhorrent that words fail.

However, I don’t know if this is specifically a skeptical issue. It’s more a human issue, and a criminal issue. If the Pope had said that the Bible says it’s OK to molest children, then yeah, critical thinking and skepticism come into play. But if he was trying to protect the Church and was breaking laws (moral or civil) to do it, then see my comment above re: resignation and indictment. That’s something anyone should understand, whether or not they are a skeptic.

Skepticism deals with issues of the paranormal, issues with faith, issues where scientific evidence can be used to test a claim. In this case, I don’t see skeptics needing to be involved more than any other interest group.

2) The Church

READ THE FULL ENTRY AT BAD ASTRONOMY

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Christopher Hitchens: Arrest The Pope!

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on April 13, 2010

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Child abuse, the Pope and organized skepticism…now what?

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on April 12, 2010

There is a literal fire storm going on on Twitter , and the catalyst I would say is Rebecca Watson’s entry about the pope, to which I linked here earlier today.  Venerable names in skepticism are wondering out loud what the “movement’s” involvement  with this issue should be? Should we actively seek the pope’s indictment? Should we just endorse it, without getting involved too much? Should we shrug our shoulders and say “that’s not my job“? Twitter may not be the best medium to discuss this issue; 140 charachters are too little for us to be able to have any meaningful discussion, so I decided to elaborate my position here.

So let us get the technicalities out of the way: this is a purely legal issue. The pope stands accused of covering up for child rapists. Some facts have made their way into the public sphere. As is the case with most things like this, many more  very likely have not. Should the pope be held responsible? Probably. Is he guilty?  I do not know! That is why we have a legal system, to sort these sort of things out.  The question “Is the pope responsible and if yes to what extent?” is not a skeptical issue; nor is it an atheist issue. It is simply, purely a legal matter.

So from this point of view, skepticism, as a movement, has not much constructive to add to the discussion. The question then becomes, what, if any, should our involvement be? This is where it becomes a bit more of a personnal choice, and it is open to speculation. One can easily maintain that the religious beliefs is what induced the behavior, but one can just as easily maintain that greed and concern for the institution and it’s well being is what induced the behavior. Or one may come up with a host of other reasonable explanations. I do not think that enough evidence has come to light for us to pretend to know for sure what motivated the alleged misbehavior. So far, it seems that a concern about the church and the church’s reputation might be the front runner.  If that were the case, what should organized skepticm’s involvement be?

I think the correct answer here is: whatever the individual skeptic feels is the right thing! This is not a skeptical issue, technically speaking, so it would be hard to argue what the movement’s response should be! On the other hand, we are all human beings, and we all have emotional responses, as we should, especially to cases so morally clear cut as child rape is. So from the human point of view, we should all feel that outrage and that desire to see whoever is responsible brought to justice. Except that we’re seeing what appears to be a lack of response in the eyes of daming evidence, and one can only wonder how much the fact that this is the pope we’re talking about has to do with anything. Is there a ridiculous double standard playing in front of our eyes? Possibly, which should make our skeptical minds get back in gear, because something that goes counter to critical thinking is, at least partially, within our area of expertise.

However, I do not agree with those that maintain that skepticism, including the skeptical organizations out there, ought to keep quiet about this issue. There is nothing wrong with a skeptical organization showing support for something they think is right, even something not within their area of  expertise.  For example, what would be wrong if the JREF endorsed the idea of legal action towards the pope? Sure they are not a moral authority, nor a legal one, but they have their own morals nevertheless. If these morals are offended by what has happened, what is the problem with them expressing that? Does that mean that CFI is bound by JREF’s actions? Of course not, JREF does not speak for all skeptics or for skepticism as a movement; JREF is allowed to maintain positions that may leave a sour note on some skeptic’s collective mouths.

In fact, I think that showing emotion, speaking up when issues such as these are involved are very important public relations tools. We want to break the public misconception that sketpics are cynical, cold, emotionless robots, right? Well then let us show some emotion; let us show that we have a highly evolved moral code; let us break the stereotype that we’re only against stuff by showing that we are for something that many other people can relate with. And let us, those of us to whom this issue is important enough to speak out, do so without being told “it’s not your job“.

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Yes, The Pope Should Be Arrested, and I Don’t Care Who Does It

Posted in Skepchick by Skepdude on April 12, 2010

As usual, the original Skepchic is right!

Yesterday morning the big news was an interesting article with a ridiculous headline: “Richard Dawkins: I will arrest Pope Benedict XVI“.

I thought my Tweet summed up my feeling on the matter:

Richard Dawkins is going to personally arrest the pope. I hope it’s like the video for Sabotage but with old dudes http://is.gd/bo707

I was wrong to assume that people would read that and think, “Yes, that is a completely ridiculous headline.” I’m kicking myself for not being clearer, because when Dawkins posted a clarification to say that no, he did not say he’d be personally arresting the pope, a lot of my Twitter and Facebook followers happily declared that it was all a big hoax. A few others declared that it was all a big publicity stunt on Dawkins’ part, and that it therefore hurt “the skeptical movement.”

Bullshit.

Dawkins’ clarification explained that while he was not going to swing into action Beastie Boys-style, he does support the actual effort currently underway to hold the Pope accountable for the systematic protection of child abusers. And that, to me, was the entire point: not that Dawkins is involved (though that is a funny image), but that the Pope may in fact answer for his crimes. So no, it’s not all a big, overblown hoax. It is a real and important story.

On to the second point, that this effort will apparently hurt the “skeptical movement”: it won’t, and it’s completely absurd to suggest otherwise.

I like and admire Massimo Pigliucci, but he is 100% wrong when he posted this (among other things) on my Facebook profile:

naturally, always a good thing to keep one’s baloney detector set to orange alert. though the basic problem remains: two of the “horsemen” are behind a sensationalistic stunt that has no chance in hell (pun intended) of actually succeeding in the real world

Bullshit, Massimo, on several points. Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins lent their support to an effort that was already well underway, and if it weren’t for that support, most people wouldn’t know that this is happening. To describe their support as a “sensationalistic stunt” is pointless cat-fighting. And to describe it as an effort that “has no chance in hell” of succeeding is simply ignorant.

The Hitch lays the smack down on da pope!

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on March 29, 2010

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Your daily dose of religious morals

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on March 25, 2010

Of course without religion we’d have no morals. Who would show us, by example…over and over again, what immorality looks like? As reported in the NYTimes:

Vatican Declined to Defrock U.S. Priest Who Abused Boys

Top Vatican officials — including the future Pope Benedict XVI — did not defrock a priest who molested as many as 200 deaf boys, even though several American bishops repeatedly warned them that failure to act on the matter could embarrass the church, according to church files newly unearthed as part of a lawsuit.

The internal correspondence from bishops in Wisconsin directly to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future pope, shows that while church officials tussled over whether the priest should be dismissed, their highest priority was protecting the church from scandal.

The documents emerge as Pope Benedict is facing other accusations that he and direct subordinates often did not alert civilian authorities or discipline priests involved in sexual abuse when he served as an archbishop in Germany and as the Vatican’s chief doctrinal enforcer.

The Wisconsin case involved an American priest, the Rev. Lawrence C. Murphy, who worked at a renowned school for deaf children from 1950 to 1974. But it is only one of thousands of cases forwarded over decades by bishops to the Vatican office called the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, led from 1981 to 2005 by Cardinal Ratzinger. It is still the office that decides whether accused priests should be given full canonical trials and defrocked.

In 1996, Cardinal Ratzinger failed to respond to two letters about the case from Rembert G. Weakland, Milwaukee’s archbishop at the time. After eight months, the second in command at the doctrinal office, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, now the Vatican’s secretary of state, instructed the Wisconsin bishops to begin a secret canonical trial that could lead to Father Murphy’s dismissal.

Pope gets knocked down

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on December 25, 2009

I don’t endorse physical violence, but I thought the way he went down was kinda funny.  Glad he’s ok though!

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Pope ‘distorting condom science’

Posted in News by Skepdude on March 26, 2009

One of the world’s most prestigious medical journals, the Lancet, has accused Pope Benedict XVI of distorting science in his remarks on condom use.

It said the Pope’s recent comments that condoms exacerbated the problem of HIV/Aids were wildly inaccurate and could have devastating consequences.

The Pope had said the “cruel epidemic” should be tackled through abstinence and fidelity rather than condom use.

Correspondents say the attack from the Lancet was unprecedentedly virulent.

“Whether the Pope’s error was due to ignorance or a deliberate attempt to manipulate science to support Catholic ideology is unclear,” said the journal.

But is said the comment still stood and urged the Vatican to issue a retraction.

“When any influential person, be it a religious or political figure, makes a false scientific statement that could be devastating to the health of millions of people, they should retract or correct the public record,” it said.

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE AT “BBC NEWS”

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