Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – yep, one more abuse scandal – here in PA

Unsurprisingly, we have yet ONE MORE investigation that shows that the Roman Catholic Church has aided and abetted the rape and abuse of children. This is now in the diocese about an hour’s drive from the state capitol Harrisburg.

There are many excuses given for the church, that it isn’t at fault. The church has hid these crimes intentionally again and again. They have lied again and again and destroyed lives again and again. The claims that these crimes are a “Cancer in the church” misses the point; the church is the cancer. The church as an entity controlled by its leaders has intentionally done nearly everything possible (awful to think what it could have done) to hide its complicity.

My spouse asked: Why no RICO prosecution? Well, it’s evidently because there is no singular entity that represents the Catholic Church in the US, though the RCC claims that they are all one happy family ruled by one man. So, yep, we get to see that the RCC uses the same dodges as any good mafia don. Now doesn’t this sound familiar “An archetype [of a racket] is the protection racket, wherein a person or group indicates that they could protect a store from potential damage, damage that the same person or group would otherwise inflict, while the correlation of threat and protection may be more or less deniably veiled, distinguishing it from the more direct act of extortion.” – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racket_(crime)    Hmmm, nice soul we told you that you have, wouldn’t want anything to happen to it… The claim has been also made that the RCC isn’t in the “business” of harming children, but funny how it uses its resources to hide this action, just like any “honest businessman”.

I know some of my readers are Catholics. I have some questions for you:

Why does this god do nothing at all?

Do you really think that the children weren’t praying?

Where is the holy smiting that this god used to do without any care for “free will”?

What about the free will of the children?

(of course these questions can apply to any religion that has its leaders abusing others.  I’m sure Catholic bashing Christians will be ever so sure that their nonsense is so much better, happily ignorant of what their fellows do.)

One could make the argument that the priests prayed to see if this god was okay with this, and since this god does absolutely nothing, decided that this was their god giving its tacit approval, as many Christians do when wanting to do something that they aren’t sure if their god will approve of.

I wonder, where does Senator Pat Toomey (a Roman Catholic) stands on prosecuting the RCC with his sponsorship of a sex offender law? Well, he is all about removing sexual predators from public schools, but it’s striking that he doesn’t mention religious institutions at all. Indeed, read this excerpt from Toomey’s own website “The Toomey-Manchin legislation provides that any state receiving federal education funds must perform criminal background checks on all school employees who have unsupervised access to children. This includes substitute teachers and coaches, who are often hired as contractors.

The bill forbids schools from hiring a teacher who has committed certain crimes, including any violent or sexual crime against a child. Moreover, the bipartisan legislation bans the horrible practice of a school helping a child molester obtain a new teaching job at another school-a practice so common that it has its own moniker, “passing the trash.”

Sounds familiar, eh?

Now when will believers cease excusing their religion and their god?

 

Addendum:

Not particularly on topic but isn’t this great

trump sheep

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41 responses to “Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – yep, one more abuse scandal – here in PA

  1. I’m my RC so I can’t answer your questions directly. However I think it’s important to distinguish between those who perpetrate the abuse and those who cover it up. My feeling is that both are just as horrendous, But who authorities target is different. Those who are involved in covering up the abuse could possibly charged with conspiracy or perverting the course of justice.

    Don’t forget also that it’s not just religious institutions that are guilty of such abuse. Here in NZ a secular arm of the state was in a similar situation and didn’t spare any effort at trying to discredit those who claimed they had been victims of abuse. As with the church, it took decades and the efforts of independent reporters before the government finally launched an inquiry. What I find appalling is that the settlements that are now being negotiated include a “gagging order”, which means that victims are effectively being silenced. In my books that’s the wrong stance for open government.

    • Barry, I’m a little confused, I thought you were a quaker or some such and it seems you are now saying you are an RC? Perhaps I’m confusing you with someone else.

      Those who perpetuate the abuse are those who cover it up because hiding something and playing make believe it will go away just keeps it going.

      As my post stated I already know that it is not only religious institutions that are guilty. It is religious institutions that claim that they have some magical omnipotent being that “loves” everyone and that this being interacts with this world.

      There’s quite a difference in that way, don’t you think?

      • My comment was supposed to start with “I’m not RC”. Blame Android type-ahead/auto-correct.

        Whether or not there is deity, and whether or not such a deity can perform supernatural acts, the church is a human institution and as such, is no better or worse than any other human endeavour. I don’t see any difference between a church and a government agency in this regard. Perhaps a government is worse due to the fact that it has more power and persuasion over rotational minds (as well as irrational minds) than a church can weld.

        As to me being a Quaker, it all depends who you ask. More people identity me as Christian or atheist than Quaker, perhaps because the latter is less familiar to people than the former two. I’ve found that no matter how I identify myself, many will understand the term differently than I do.

      • Would you agree that a church and a government differ in that one claims absolute power based in its claims that some omnipotent/omniscient/
        omnibenevolent being approves of all it does?

        and really, Barry, a government has more power and persuasion than a government? You think that some government has more power than the RCC or say Islam over what people think and do?

        I think I’ve asked you to define your term to your satisfaction and, if I remember correctly, you’ve been reluctant to do so.

      • Would you agree that a church and a government differ in that one claims absolute power based in its claims that some omnipotent/omniscient/
        omnibenevolent being approves of all it does?

        I’m not familiar wuth the Roman Catholic Church, so I need to be mindful of what I say. However, I believe the Irish referendum supporting same sex marriage is evidence that the RC church does not hold the minds of its adherents to the extent you might think. I will acknowledge that the Roman Catholic church claims to be the “true” church, but from my experience here in NZ, none of the other mainline churches claim any divine authority. The authority comes from those who make up church membership. Ultimately, the beliefs are determined by the church body, not some “higher authority”. As I have repeated on many occasions, I can only go on my experiences and observations here in Aotearoa New Zealand. Remember that only ten percent of the population here believe the Bible is the Word of God in any literal form of the phrase. And don’t forget that here in NZ, a politician citing God or Biblical passages as authority is committing political suicide.

        and really, Barry, a government has more power and persuasion than a government? You think that some government has more power than the RCC or say Islam over what people think and do?

        Yes. I seem to remember at one time there was a US house committee that investigated “un-American Activities”. You can’t deny the influence it had in the American psyche and their attitude to the left/right divide: support of socialism in any form is evil; support of capitalism is next to Godliness.

        And while I have authoritarian governments in mind, do you not think the the propaganda machines of governments such as that of Nazi Germany, The USSR and China, just to mention a few, have not welded enormous power over what their citizens thought and did?

        And how about the influence of media organisations such as Fox? Especially when it comes to adding social commentary in the guise of news. Until a few years agao, one free-to-air NZ TV chanel relayed Fox News between 11pm and 6am, while another relayed the BBC. We had and still have a free-to-air 24-hour Al-Jazeera news channel. Often, it was difficult to recognise an item reported by Fox as being the same event reported by the BBC or Al-Jazeera.

        It’s very apparent from what I read (especially on blogs) that in America, the church, Christianity, and indeed religions in general are perceived differently by believers and non-believers from how most of us in NZ perceive them.

        I think I’ve asked you to define your term to your satisfaction and, if I remember correctly, you’ve been reluctant to do so.

        If my memory serves me correctly, I believe I have described my beliefs in some detail. What I haven’t done is give it a label. I don’t like labels to the extent that when someone calls my name and precedes it with the title “Mister”, I don’t respond. I’ve made it quite clear in the past that I don’t believe in the existence of a omni-anything being . However I still believe in an metaphorical God. It’s a allegory for that which I sense from time to time. It’s an experience; a longing for what I would like the world to become; a call to action for me to do my bit in bringing that world to fruition; that which I experience during a Quaker Meeting for Worship. Again, relying on memory, I recall you found such an answer unsatisfactory. In NZ, that description is generally acceptable, but other parts of the world, America in particular, less so.

      • Barry, when I say that churches claim divine authority, I mean that they claim that their god has invested them with what is supposed “objective morality” and they claim to do what this god “wants. All churches do this; it’s the basis of what religion is. Even Quakers claim that this god wants “x” and “y”. I do agree that the beliefs are really defined by the church body but the church body claims that the beliefs are what they are told by their god. Yep, many things are claimed be literal and metaphor but at the base, there is a literal belief in some magical entity that determines good and evil.

        Yep, there was a UnAmerican Activities Committee and there were the activities of Sen. Joe McCarthy. You’ve claimed that governments have more influence than religion. It did not influence American as their religions do. The influence that the committee and McCarthy had is that some americans are afraid of socialism and that some americans know the term McCarthyism as the actions of paranoid idiots. We do have socialism, but no one wants to call it that. That’s what Social Security is, Medcaide and Medicare is. Americans aren’t quite the slavering capitalists that many folks think.  I am not arguing that governments have power, I am pointing out that you seem to think governments have more power than religion and that is not true.

        Fox News is not a government organization. You’re moving the goalposts. I find Faux News to be disgusting.

        An allegory is essentially a metaphor. If you feel something, then it would seem to be real, yes? And not need a metaphor? A longing is a longing, nothing more. A hope for equality and freedom is just that, hope, not some magical being. I have those too, but I don’t see much need for claiming that there is some force in the universe that is separate.

      • I’m curious to know what the “x” and “y” are that Quakers claim God wants. I’m not sure if I’ve met a Quaker that believes God is a being capable of desires or wants, nor do I know of one that believes in objective morality, but knowing the diverse nature of Quaker beliefs I’m sure there’s some.

        I make no claim about “some force in the universe that is separate”. I don’t see that at all. I don’t know how I can spell it out any more clearly: I believe God is a human construction. For me it’s a useful construction. For you it is not. I don’t see a problem with that.

        Perhaps I shouldn’t have commented at all, as from my observations church is a reflection of the beliefs of its adherents. And those beliefs are, to a large extent, a reflection of the society in which the church exists. But perhaps our relative isolation at the bottom of the Pacific makes us different?

        I wasn’t trying to say that some governments were worse than some churches, I was trying to make the point that churches are created by mankind, and are just as open to abuse as any other human institution, and I gave examples of governments and multinationals. If a church was to make claims that the abuse was what God wanted, then that would be different, but I’m not aware that that is the case. They are attempting to hide their skeletons or dirty linen (which ever metaphor you prefer) and that makes them no different from any other endeavour that tries to cover up its misdeeds.

      • perhaps I misunderstand the Quaker position but is it not true that Quakers think that they are expected to be pacifists ? And that they communicate with a “force” when they participate in their church functions e.g. the idea of “quaking”?

        This is where I got you trying to say that governments are worse than churches “I don’t see any difference between a church and a government agency in this regard. Perhaps a government is worse due to the fact that it has more power and persuasion over rotational minds (as well as irrational minds) than a church can weld.”

      • I’m not sure what you mean by “force”, and I have yet to see a Quaker quake. There really isn’t a set of beliefs a Quaker must hold true, but in general it would be safe to say that Quakers believe in “that of God in every person,” along with a belief in the “inward light.” Those are beliefs of a sort, and are very widely held by liberal Friends, but what “that of God” or “the inward light” means is unique to each person. What matters most is seeking to live from the conviction that each of us is of great and equal intrinsic worth, fully deserving of love, compassion, and understanding; and that treating others according to that conviction is key to transforming oneself and the world. Pacifism, or perhaps more accurately peace activism, arises frommust that conviction. There’s no rule that says a Quaker must be a pacifist.

        I was sort of musing when I wrote “Perhaps a government is worse”. A church is unlikely to be able to persuade non-believers of a falsehood whereas a government can persuade both believer and non-believer. I doubt there’s a single North Korean that doesn’t believe his/her country is the last stronghold of freedom and is facing imminent threat of invasion by the evil imperialist USA and it’s allies.

      • hmm, so where did the term Quaker come from, Barry? And I am talking about the claims of “inward light” when I talk about “force” because Quakers claim “that of God.”. It doesn’t surprise me that Quakers don’t agree any more than other theists.

        Again, you appear to be trying to retcon what you said with what you want to have said. And really, you don’t think anyone can disagree with the NK government who has to live there? Then why do people try to leave?

      • Quaker isn’t an “Official” title. The formal name of Quakers in Aotearoa New Zealand is “The Religious Society of Friends in New Zealand” or alternatively the name gifted by Māori: “Te Hāhi Tūhauwiri”. The term Quaker was originally a derisory term coined by a Judge when George Fox was before the English Courts on a charge of blasphemy. Friends become known widely known as Quakers and the term stuck.

        I think you are taking the term “that of God” too literally. Perhaps I am going out on a limb here, but I sense you understand the term no differently than do some fundamentalists. I recently read an explanation by a fundamentalist of why Quakers are pacifists. I can’t find the link at the moment, but it went something like this: Quakers believe there is that of God in every person – a small piece of God exists inside each man, woman and child (which of course is heretical as the Holy Spirit resides only in those who have come to Christ). They believe that if you harm someone, then you harm God.

        For myself and many Quakers it is a metaphor for the potential that exists in everyone to help bring “the Kingdom of God” to full fruition. I think of “that of God” as being a human characteristic that evolution has given us. It’s no more a “force” than many other human traits.

        Yes, there are Quakers who think of “that of God” and the “inner Light” as something “more” or “beyond” and is something divine. And there are times when I feel the term divine is an appropriate one. Perhaps, unlike many other faith groups, Quakers are quietly proud of the fact the they are all over the place theologically. Ask 10 Quakers what is God and you’ll get 10 different answers. But to call all (or even most) Quakers theists is kind of stretching credibility.

        In many ways, North Korea resembles Orwell’s novel 1984. One can’t openly disagree with authority without serious consequences. Most North Korieans accept the official propoganda as being “The Truth” without question. Considering the harshness of living under such an authoritarian regime, it’s surprising more don’t attempt to leave.

        Like everyone else, the message I intend to convey isn’t always the message that is actually received. Sometimes it’s the result of a failing on my part, sometimes it’s a failing on the part of the person receiving the message, and sometimes both. You and I have different world views brought about by the environments we are surrounded by. The more abstract the topic we discuss, the higher the odds that the intent of the message will be lost.

      • Yes, Barry, I know that Quakers are not the official name. They claim to be religious aka worshipping a god.

        Again, Barry, you want to claim that “of God” shouldn’t be taken literally when that only seems to be one more theist claim that parts of their claims should be literal and some figurative and how dare anyone think that they might actually mean what they say, when it can be inconvenient.

        Thanks for claiming that I fail to understand you. sigh. Different world views doesn’t get you your own reality or to make claims you can’t support and those be taken as true. you’ve claimed that no one doubts the claims of the NK gov’t. And you are and were simply wrong. I’m disappointed in you, for whatever that counts for.

      • What part of I do not believe in a supernatural being do you not understand?

        Buddhists don’t have a deity but that is still usually considered a religion.

        I simply don’t understand what you’re saying abouts the NK government. It’s a totally authoritarian state that has created a cult-like following of its leader.

      • Barry, I should know better than discussing religion with you, so I apologize. As most religions have done, Quakers, aka Society of Friends, make claims but do not agree and are one more example of humans wanting to claim some knowledge of the universe that no one else has. I do not know what you are or what you believe because you offer few answers and what you do offer seems to change as you wish. Buddhists may not have a deity (that can be an argued point) but they can and do believe in the supernatural, things that can’t be shown to happen but are based on belief. In my experience, many theists don’t like the term supernatural and wish to claim that their beliefs are just as real as an apple.

        The following is what I’m most concerned about.

        “Perhaps a government is worse due to the fact that it has more power and persuasion over rotational minds (as well as irrational minds) than a church can weld.”

        “I was sort of musing when I wrote “Perhaps a government is worse”. A church is unlikely to be able to persuade non-believers of a falsehood whereas a government can persuade both believer and non-believer.[b] I doubt there’s a single North Korean that doesn’t believe his/her country is the last stronghold of freedom and is facing imminent threat of invasion by the evil imperialist USA and it’s allies.”[/b]

        “In many ways, North Korea resembles Orwell’s novel 1984. One can’t openly disagree with authority without serious consequences. Most North Korieans accept the official propoganda as being “The Truth” without question. Considering the harshness of living under such an authoritarian regime, it’s surprising more don’t attempt to leave.”

        “As for the billions[of believers], it all depends on whether the nonsense you refer to is understood to be literal or figurative. My own experience is mostly figurative, however YMMV.”

        “Where did I claim no one in North Korea doubts/questions the government? I have said that they’re an authoritarian state that has used propaganda to persuade most of it’s citizens that it speaks the truth. Of course not every body will be convinced. But far more North Koreans will believe the lies told by their government than Americans will there government.”

        “I simply don’t understand what you’re saying abouts the NK government. It’s a totally authoritarian state that has created a cult-like following of its leader.”

        I do get tired of watching you postulating something and then as your claim is shown to be unsupported by evidence, you change it as convenient. You claim that governments were worse because they supposedly had more power and persuasion. I pointed out the influence of religion. Then you claimed that church was unlikely to be able to persuade and that no one in NK doesn’t believe in the claims of the gov’t. I pointed out religion has billions of believers and that NK has people escaping and dissidents in prison. You have made more baseless claims and trying to claim that believers may or may not what they are told by their religions, if it is literal or figurative. I agree that NK is a authoritarian state and has a cult like following of a leader. That’s pretty much what most religions are.

      • Let me try an alternative approach. The adherents of most faiths (but not all) have available to them multiple sources of information from which to gather facts regarding alternative beliefs. On the other hand totalitarian governments control the sources of information. For example the average Chinese citizen simply cannot find out the facts about what really happened at Tiananmen Square. In other words, governments can censor information in a way that isn’t generally available to religious bodies.

        I gave the example of the referendum in Ireland supporting same sex marriage as an example where the majority of the adherents of the RC church voted contrary to its teachings.

        I’m reading and responding to this thread on a 4.5 inch smart phone. While I’m typing I can see four lines of about five to seven words each, and have a window of six lines where I can refer to the comment I am responding to. I’m not able to refer to earlier comments or the original post without loosing what I have typed so it’s quite possible that what I have written is not quite what I meant to say. If that is the case I apologise. I didn’t intend to imply that governments in general are worse than religion. With religion, a rational mind is unlikely to be sucked into believing something which he/she knows is contrary to verifiable facts, whereas censorship in a totalitarian state may make obtaining the facts difficult or impossible. Does that make sense?

        On a separate issue I’d like to follow up on two assertions you make. One is that Quakers make claims but do not agree and the other is that these claims to knowledge of the universe that no one else has.

        I’d like to tackle the second assertion first. I’m struggling to think what knowledge that might be. As they have no holy book or source of authority I’m somewhat mystified what that knowledge might be. When I understand what it might be, we can discuss whether agreement is important or irrelevant.

        Finally regarding my own beliefs, it is my belief that for better or worse all religions are a creation of humankind. I am not convinced there is a deity. What else do you wish to know about what I believe?

      • Quakerism grew out of the Christian tradition, but a lot has changed over its 450 years. Rather than I attempt a clumsy explanation, I refer you to a question asked on Think Atheist: http://www.thinkatheist.com/m/discussion?id=1982180:Topic:446918

        The nearest meeting to where I live, would have more nontheist members and attenders than theists. As well as nontheist and theists, there’s also deists, pantheists, and a smattering of other beliefs. None of that is important as it’s how one practices one’s beliefs that’s important, not the theology behind it.

      • You have a point that religion can put in place an internal censor, but whether it does or not depends on where one lives and in what era. For example, protestant America and Africa (which was mainly evangelised by American missionaries) has much more fundamentalist conservative beliefs than protestants in NZ and some European countries. And biblical literalism, which to me borders on bible idolatry, originated firstly in the US as a backlash to the rise of Christian liberalism at the end of the nineteenth century.

      • So in effect, Quakerism is a meaningless term, an idea that would be unrecognizable to its founders and that has no beliefs in common. It seems the idea of Quakers/Society of Friends is nothing more than a social club. I am not asking you to show someone else’s ideas, I’m asking for yours.

        The time or place doesn’t prevent religion placing an internal censor, all that may change with time and place is what kind of internal censor and what it claims that some god wants since we know that religion changes with society and not the other way around.

        Bible literalism has always been around. It is a common claim by liberal theists that prior believers didn’t really believe in all of the bible to try to claim that their ancestors were somehow more coherent than other practitioners of religion, but their claims don’t match up with what history shows. By following the bible literally, people did many things based on their beliefs of the bible as a literal document e.g. murdering of those who don’t follow what is written in the bible, believing in a literal flood, a literal tower of babel, that there were fabulous temples and palaces, that there was a wisest man in the world, that there were battles between armies of hundreds of thousands, that there were relics, that a god/man lived and then was resurrected and went to some afterlife, etc. People in 1000s were sure that there was going to be an end times, just like people are now. People in the first century were sure that the stories they were told were true. People in the Byzantine era were searching for relics and that means that they thought the stories were literally true.

      • I don’t think Friends would believe Quakerism is a meaningless term, nor would they see it as nothing more than a social club. I think most Quakers consider Quakerism is a way of life more than it being a religion.

        Would the founders of Quakerism recognise it in its present form? Very unlikely, but why should that be an issue? Society and knowledge has moved on from the seventeenth century and Quakers have never accepted the Bible or any other text as being authoritative, so of course Quakerism has changed and will continue to change.

        Yes biblical literalism has been around for a long time, but so has argument about literalism. Even Augustine of Hippo cautioned against a literal interpretation of the creation stories way back in the fourth century.

        Yes, terrible things have happened in the name of God, but science has introduced methods of critical analysis that weren’t available in earlier centuries. Believing something as true even when all evidence points to the contrary is very different to believing something is true because it is the accepted position. Modern biblical literalist are denying several centuries of accumulated scientific knowledge. In that way they are a relatively new phenomenon.

        You say that you are not asking me to show someone else’s ideas, you’re asking for mine. I thought I was doing that. What ideas are seeking? I have made it quite clear what I believe about God, the Bible, Jesus, the supernatural etc.

        My feeling is that you believe all religion is bad and harmful, whereas I believe religion has the potential for good or harm, just as every human endevour has, including science.

      • I would make the argument if there is nothing to define a Quaker/Friend, then it is meaningless. What do they hold in common that is any different than any other group?

        Yes, I know that there have been arguments against literalism. You said that literalism has only been around since the late 19th c.

        Terrible things *still* happen in the name of god, and despite how hard rational people and the sciences have tried, idiots still claim that there are gods, or forces or some woo, and still do horrible things.

        There is little different between believing something as true when nothing supports it and believing something is true because the majority believe it aka the accepted position. This is the accepted position by creationists and theists and is not supported by anything. Again, there is nothing new about bible literalists, they have existed with or without scientific knowledge.

        I was going to ask you for evidence o what good religion can do, but honestly, you may forget any question asking you for anything. I know I won’t get it. Thanks for your time.

      • oh and don’t forget the prisons. Now compare that with billions of people believing in such nonsense as a man/god who pops out of his grave or that some man rode on a magic pony and took dictation from an angel, etc.

      • I’m sorry, But I don’t understand the context of your reference to prisons.

        As for the billions, it all depends on whether the nonsense you refer to is understood to be literal or figurative. My own experience is mostly figurative, however YMMV.

      • Barry, if no one doubts the government of NK as you have claimed, why are there people in prison for political reasons?

        It does not surprise me that you wish to claim that you have a magic decoder ring to tell you which parts of the bible are literal and which are figurative. All theists do this and it seems that you do too.

      • Where did I claim no one in North Korea doubts/questions the government? I have said that they’re an authoritarian state that has used propaganda to persuade most of it’s citizens that it speaks the truth. Of course not every body will be convinced. But far more North Koreans will believe the lies told by their government than Americans will there government.

        I don’t have a decoder ring. When have I claimed any part of the Bible as literal?

    • Barry, tell me if I am correct about your views. You are saying that you don’t believe in a literal God (there’s no such thing as an actual God) and that Quakerism functions more as a philosophy/worldview for you to guide your life and that you view “God” existing in all people as a metaphor of our shared human value in this shared human venture on earth. Is that correct? Or Inaccurate?

      • That’s very close indeed. I wouldn’t go so far as to say there is no actual God, but I have not seen any evidence that satisfies me of his/her/its/their existence.

        I believe a large number of Quakers (outside of the USA and Africa) hold similar views, or accept such a view as compatible with Quakerism.

      • But quakerism has never really been defined. It’s a general term applied to the practices and beliefs of the Religious Society of Friends. Both the theology and practices have evolved over the centuries, and I daresay they will continue to evolve. I don’t see why that should make quakerism meaningless, unless one expects a set of beliefs and practices to be frozen in time and not to change with new knowledge and experiences.

      • Yes, things have evolved. Would the first practioners agree that no one has to believe in a god to be a Quaker?

        Definitions can evolve, agreed. However, religion is based on absolutes. When does theism suddenly mean atheism?

      • It’s not the definition of Quakerism that has evolved, it’s the understanding of what God is that is evolving. In the case of Quakerism the process started back at its beginning. I see similar processes occurring in mainstream Christianity and Buddhism here in NZ, and also in traditional Maori beliefs. Why should this not be so?

        I honestly have no idea why you insist religion is based on absolutes. I find it odd that you wish to define religion. Surely that’s the prerogative of those who profess a religion, whatever form that may take. Outside of Fundamentalism (be it Christianity, Islam, or any other religion) there are no absolutes.

      • as I said to consoledreader, it seems to me that religions are based on claims of “truth”. that the universe is a certain way and that only the believers of a religion have that knowledge. It’s not just “fundamentalists” who do this, it’s all religions. If they didn’t think they were right, its rather unlikely that they would do it. This is why there are a ridiculous number of religions and why religions split.

        Again, if the idea of “god” is evolving, when does it become something else other than what the term “god” means? If the term “god” now means “nature” or physics, then why not use those terms rather than clinging to nonsense that isn’t true? Just because it makes you feel good?

        I want to define religion because by defining words we communicate, and those defintions come about by consensus. Redefining words to pretend that religion was really something innocuous seems to be little more than trying to avoid taking responsibility for the harm religion has caused and is causing.

      • How would you reconcile the fact that many believers of various traditions claim to be uncertain about belief in God with your idea that ‘religion is dependent on the claim of “truth” . e.g. the universe is a certain way that only the believers fully understand.” It would seem to me this sort of believer denotes someone that isn’t claiming to have the one TRUTH to rule them all. Implicit in their uncertainty is the idea that they could be wrong.

        Likewise, what are we to make of believers such as Barry above. He clearly identifies with a particular religious tradition (Quakerism), but it doesn’t sound like to me he believes in God in the traditional sense, nor has he claimed his ideas are a singular truth that the universe is a certain way and only he and his fellow followers can understand it.

      • The way I reconcile the claims of theists that they are “uncertain” in their belief in god is to doubt most of them. When I have run into those claims, they never last very long when one asks pointed questions to the theists involved. Many theists, especially Christians, want to claim that they are uncertain, often combined with their claims of being open minded, but then you ask them do they doubt that Jesus existed, that this entity died for them, that their god exists and that the essential events in the bible happened, they will answer that they don’t doubt at all. This is of course what I’ve experienced and your mileage may vary.

        Barry is quite correct that the Quakers have become a group have many vastly differing members, rather like the Unitarian Universalists. To me, people who want the religion but don’t want the god just want the social benefits. It’s a tribe to identify with, nothing more.

      • No doubt there are many theists who claim to be uncertain, but are really making this claim as a form of lip service and impression management or as a tactic to sound more persuasive.

        With that said, clearly PEW Landscape Survey feels that including different levels of certainty about the existence of a deity is methodologically sound: link Likewise, Richard Dawkins has proposed a scale that reflects this idea that gradations in belief are possible: link This matches up pretty well with my personal experience too.

        For some, religion is more about adhering to specific values and practicing certain rituals that one personally finds meaningful and useful than it is about holding a specific belief. A nontheist quaker or a Barry are suggesting while they may not be believe in the supernatural, they buy into the more general worldview and values and practices of the tradition.

      • I can agree with that. However, to say that one buys into the practices or general worldview of a tradition indicates that one has some connection with the reason that the practice or worldview was conceived of in the first place. I find that there is no reason to give religion any validity since other concepts can take its place without the baggage that religion has and the harm that religion has caused.

  2. I think the church comparison to the mafia is more than a bit of a stretch here. I liken it to, a fast food joint that has a continued record of illegal labor practices. The organization does not need said illegal labor practices. It does nothing official to condone them. If a particular “franchise” or division gets caught, it disavows all knowledge. Meanwhile, if a division or certain franchise is doing well, they will, at minimum, turn a blind eye to it, to the point that if investigations begin, shifting the org chart to hide the wrong doer.

    • A reason I think that the comparison fits is that the RCC knows what’s happening and excuses it just like any “honest businessman” aka the Mafia. You gotta be a member, you gotta know when to turn a blind eye, and you gotta believe in what you are doing no matter what.

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