A Stupid Bisop breaks the Godwin Rule
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Catholic Bishop Anthony Fisher has just claimed that “GODLESSNESS and secularism led to Nazism, Stalinism, mass murder and abortion” . This is a violation of the rule part of Godwin’s Law. We might not expect clerics to have enough general knowledge of society to know this rule, but it does seem reasonable to expect them to have enough empathy to understand why inappropriate Hitler analogies will just offend people and don’t advance their cause. But anyone in a position of leadership in a global organisation who is going to talk to the media should have enough intelligence to check historical references.
The Wikipedia article about “Positive Christianity” is worth reading, it includes references to Christian based race-hate in Nazi Germany as well as modern references . There is also an interesting Wikipedia page about the Religious aspects of Nazism , there seems to be room for a lot of debate on the matter of how religion fit in to the Nazi regime – but it seems quite clear that it was not an atheist regime.
Also I’m sure that the Chilean Dictator Augusto Pinochet wasn’t the only Catholic despot.
Community Services and Moral Authority
Cardinal Pell was quoted in the same SMH article as saying “we find no community services sponsored by the atheists“, of course if he was to investigate who is contributing to the religious based community service organisations he would find plenty of atheists. I know I’m not the only atheist who donates to The Salvation Army  on occasion. I wonder how many religious people would be happy to donate to an explicitly atheist organisation, I suspect that the prevalence of religious charities is due to the fact that a religious charity can get money from both religious people and atheists while a charity that advocated atheism in any way would be limited to atheist donors. If I was to establish a community service charity I would seriously consider adding some religious element to help with fund raising – it’s just a matter of doing what’s necessary to achieve the main goal.
Even if it wasn’t for violating Godwin’s law and a total lack of any knowledge of history Anthony would still have failed. We all know the position of the Catholic Church on the sexual abuse of children. The Catholic policies are implemented in the same way in every country and as far as we can tell have been done so for all time. I believe that makes them unqualified to offer moral advice of any kind.
Criticising the “Secular World”
Peter Craven has written an article for The Age criticising the “secular world” . He makes the extraordinary claim “the molesting clergy are like the brutal policemen and negligent doctors and corrupt politicians: they come with the territory because pennies have two sides“. The difference of course is that police, doctors, and politicians tend to get punished for doing the wrong thing – even when they do things that are far less serious. But the “molesting clergy” seem to be protected by all levels of the church hierarchy.
Peter makes some claims about the “secular world” as if there is a Borg collective of atheists and claims that there is an “incomprehension of Christian values“. I believe that the attitudes of atheists and the secular justice system correspond quite well with what most Christians would regard as “Christian values” – the problem is that the actions of the church leaders tend not to match that.
It’s All About Money
I would like to know why Christians almost never change church and never cease donating. Religious organisations are much like corporations, they seek new members and new revenue sources. If a significant number of Catholics were to pledge to not donate any money to their church for a year after every child sex abuse scandal then Catholic policies might change. Also if Catholics were to start changing to Christian denominations that do the right thing in regard to moral issues then the Catholic church would either change or eventually become irrelevant. If you keep paying people who do bad things then you are supporting them!
I suggest that any church member who cares about the moral issues of the day should vote with their checkbook. If their church fails to do the right thing then inside the donation envelope they should put a note saying “due to the immoral actions of the church I will donate to other charities“. I am not aware of any church that would expel members for such a protest, but I know that some smaller parishes have cash-flow problems and would rapidly escalate the issue through the management chain if even a few members were to protest in such a manner.
-  http://www.smh.com.au/national/thank-god-were-not-all-atheists-bishop-says-20100401-ri4q.html
-  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Positive_Christianity
-  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_aspects_of_Nazism
-  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reichskonkordat
-  http://salvos.org.au/
-  http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/has-the-bell-tolled-on-easters-meaning-20100401-ri1f.html