Pecan Pie

Social Anxiety from the South

Top of the Totem: Protecting Best Interests of the Powerful

Towards the beginning of this school year, The Boyfriend™ allowed his boys to try Cub Scouts to see if that might be an activity they were interested in sticking with.  Now, I have issues with Boy Scouts of America, issues that are separate from the one I’m going to discuss here.

(If you’re interested in how the BSA treats non-believing families and their children, I’d suggest a good reading of Parenting Beyond Belief and pay special attention to Chapter 2, “Living with Religion.”)

No, this is about the guidelines presented to parents (possibly Den Mothers only?) about the protection of children from sexual abuse by pastoral leaders.  There are several packets of information, one pertaining only to the Catholic Church.  I got my hands on these through Jim who suffers willingly (most of the time) my obsession with religion and knew I’d love to read them.

I finally got around to it and was (not surprisingly) disturbed by what I read right there in the introduction.  “The damage caused by sexual abuse is devastating and long lasting.  It is even more tragic when the consequence is a loss of the faith that the Catholic Church has a sacred duty to foster.” (Updated Policy of the Archdiocese of Atlanta Concerning the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Individuals from Sexual Abuse by Church Personnel-Revised August 1, 2003)

Now, I can look at this from two angles.  One is the personal angle of disgust and anger that; 1. The loss of faith is placed higher than the other dangers of sexual violence against children and 2. That it is somehow common for bad experiences to cause a loss of faith, when in my personal experience and observation (which is obviously limited, but I have a good individual convenience sample given my interest in religion) those who have suffered great loss, pain or other distress do not seem any more likely to lose faith and may even be more likely to retain it.  It is generally not painful life experiences that cause a loss of faith, but a life of education and critical thinking.

Instead, because that whole line does truly piss me off and causes a complete loss of objectivity, I’m going to look at this from an angle of power.  How the Church can spin this in the way that best retains its power.   If we could place religion on a classist totem pole, Christianity (and Catholicism in particular) would be right at the top.  Protecting that place would be pretty important, even in the face of insurmountable bad press.  If religion is the opiate of the masses, I’d say power is the opiate of religion.  Opiates are pretty expensive and religion has a vested interest in protecting its product (faith) and investment and resources (clergy) in order to retain its consumer base (followers.)

Also, we can find Marx everywhere.  You can get over that, too.  Marx and I, we’re like dis!

Of course, all of this further implicates the BSA as a primarily Christian association, by virtue of the pamphlets being handed out, alone.  But, again, that’s a topic for another time.

I’m sure all of this makes me look like a Catholic hating fool, but I’m really not.  I love the liturgy, the pomp and circumstance, all the stage presence.  I also like to see how I can look at something and find the other factors at work…because we all know that religion is not and never has been merely out to serve the people…or god, for that matter.

Written by thelittlepecan

December 2, 2010 at 11:20 am

Posted in atheism, religion

12 Responses

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  1. Litte Pecan,

    Just wanted to say I didn’t mean to offend you over on the American Atheists blog. No part of my comment(s) were meant to imply that all atheists have never experienced ‘religious faith’ or that they don’t understand it. I see from your blog posts that you grew up in the church and have a Christian family. I’m sure you know a lot about religion. But that was the point I was trying to make with a comment that was not allowed by the moderator over there: People know a lot about religion. I did. But I had to meet the person of Jesus Christ before I saw the difference. In my comment I said something to the effect: Once you’ve met someone you can’t later change your mind and say that person doesn’t exist or that you don’t believe in him/her.

    Anyway, I’ve enjoyed reading your blog posts. Your writing is entertaining–you have a gift! And your recipes sound delicious!

    Michelle Shocklee

    Michelle Shocklee

    December 4, 2010 at 10:53 pm

    • I’m not offended. It takes a freakin’ lot to offend me.

      What bothers me (and you can read more about why in It’s All About Me… is that my experiences, NOT WITH RELIGION, but with faith are somehow invalidated because if I had been a True Believer™ I couldn’t have possibly lost my faith.

      What’s more, is that even when I explain myself, that too, is somehow not enough. I’m left with this infuriating feeling of needing to justify my former faith for a current believer because their definition of faith and how that pertained to me as a believer is somehow more correct than my own.

      I appreciate the compliment and I don’t understand why your post got moderated. I guess because it’s supposed to be a safe place for non-theist to comment without the need to explain ourselves. This blog is not like that, so feel free to speak your mind if you decide to hang around. Also, if you are a mother I’d encourage you to check out the Religious Roundtable link the right if you like to talk about or debate religion.



      December 5, 2010 at 11:13 am

  2. Well, you know in the south, the facades are far more important than fixing the crumbling decay they hide.


    December 3, 2010 at 12:01 am

    • Often true, however I believe these directives are pretty consistent across the county, so facade is important to the CC, no matter where they are.


      December 3, 2010 at 12:11 am

      • I knew someone *coughYOUcough* would point that out, and almost added that I knew it was not solely a southern thing. However, you have to admit the south takes that to a whole new level in the way it historically and culturally leeches into pretty much every aspect of life here.

        At least that has certainly been my experience.


        December 3, 2010 at 2:03 pm

        • For sure. Appearances are definitely important here. More on that to come in the future as well 😉


          December 3, 2010 at 2:10 pm

  3. And once again- it is all about appearances..


    December 2, 2010 at 4:53 pm

  4. A point of clarification. The pamphlets (and there were a load of them) were from the Archdiocese of Atlanta, not the BSA. Each BSA chapter has a charter through a sponsoring organization. The ArchATL (and wouldn’t that be an awesome name for an Aztec god? hell, it may already be) holds the charter for purty much every den in the Atlanta area. ArchATL started having anybody who works with vulnerable folk (kids, disadvantaged, elderly, handicapped) sign promise notes that they wouldn’t pork their charges. I got them because I was going to be a den leader if my guys stayed in. Fortunately for this post my guys didn’t stay in long enough for me to sign those and hand them back in.

    I have a different problem with these legal looking forms that people have to sign in order to interact with the Boy Scouts (at least those sponsored by ArchATL). It’s the same problem I have with the US military having new recruits swear they are not and have never been part of the Nazi party and the INS having people filing for residency swear they never committed a gross crime (tidy crimes apparently being acceptable) and your next employer asking you if you ever stole from a previous employer. Specifically, it’s an insulting waste of time. If I’m any of those things I’m simply going to say that I’m not. Why the hell are these groups asking the questions in the first place?

    The answer is because they can then say they have addressed the problem without actually doing anything to address the problem. It’s transparent CYA bullshit. “It’s not our fault Jim turned out to be a kid diddling, Nazi sympathizing, EMEA based crime boss. He signed this OFFICIAL LOOKING FORM saying that he wasn’t”.

    To their credit, BSArchATL (ooh, it’s getting even better. we’re talking a Cthulu worthy name now) did have other controls in place. They have a rigorously enforced policy that at least two adults must be present with any kids under the teen years and a parent or guardian had to be present with younger kids. They also do a criminal background check on any adult who wants to be an official part of the pack. But again, if you have actual controls in place why have the ridiculous forms?


    December 2, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    • Which is the same issue I have with the referenced statement. It has nothing to do with actually giving a crap, it has to do with the appearance of giving a crap so as not to disturb the masses too much.


      December 2, 2010 at 4:04 pm

  5. It’s unfortunate, because the BSA used to be much more tolerant…until they lost their gov’t funding. There’s no free-thinking boys/girls organization that can even come close to offering similar opportunities.

    Anytime you elevate suffering to a place of honor, you’re going to have problems. Hello, Martyrdom, anyone?


    December 2, 2010 at 12:22 pm

  6. I’m guessing that the Catholic leadership might suggest that it is in the peoples’ own interest that they have access to the Catholic Church in all it’s glory.

    I’m also guessing that the “Truly Faithful” would place their relationship to God as much more important than any Earthly troubles (like the priest diddling their children).

    Which kind of gets to the heart of why Religion can be so powerful, and how that power can be a force for Good or Evil.

    People are taught that the soul outweighs the body, that suffering leads to salvation, that the lowest will be elevated, eventually. Which creates an atmosphere of acceptance towards suffering.

    The Boy Scouts of America——always creeped me out. Exclusive, rule bound boys, eager to “do good” and earn their badges, wearing their brown uniforms and marching around…. Add to that their homophobia and obvious Christian leanings, and it’s obvious why my boys are NOT a part of them.


    December 2, 2010 at 12:07 pm

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