As others have pointed out, child sexual abuse is not a problem exclusive to religion. Plenty of organizations in which adults have authority over children contain predators. What is unique to churches, however, is the degree of authority priests and pastors have over the adults who would normally protect these children. It’s a power they used to share with nobility, but today, with the exception of certain legal establishments that we recognize as corrupt, it’s theirs alone.
A new case out today in our local paper illustrates the problem:
The 13-year-old’s mother told police that she noticed several phone calls on her daughter’s cell phone from the pastor months ago. The woman took away the phone for a while, but didn’t speak to her daughter about the situation.
It is possible that the woman would be as hesitant to follow up if the adult in the situation were a school teacher or a sports coach, but is it likely? How about the others who discovered the situation?
Church staff members confronted Ramirez-Toxtle and he admitted the child’s allegations, but said he never had sex with her, the complaint said. “He was given a letter reprimanding his behavior, and police obtained a copy of this letter,” the complaint said.
The church staff knew about the problem. What did they do? They complained to the authority they recognized: the perpetrator of the abuse. They impotently shook their collective fingers at him instead of submitting him to the appropriate authority in this situation.
I applaud the person who recognized that this wasn’t enough, who took this matter to the police. As for the rest of them, if the fondling of a 13-year-old girl isn’t enough to make them question the proper amount of authority to grant those who claim to speak for God, what will it take? What secular horrors will they submit to on that authority? More than that, what horrors will they allow to be inflicted on others before they act?
That is the evil that the authority of religion introduces into our society.