A Matter of Faith (Or: Who Believes in the Tooth Fairy)


Image Source: Leunig

An indulgent piece today! Things are moving very slowly on the Royal Commission. Each Commissioner has already been paid about $100,000 in salary, but nothing has been announced as to its plans for activity. The enquiry is very much off the mainstream media’s radar, so this account has had to focus on background issues, such as who is involved, how matters should proceed and attempts to give some insights into the possible tactics the churches and other institutions will employ.

If the present protocols for staff in institutions are to be improved in the wake of the enquiry, selection processes need scrutiny. Psychological testing is part of the process for many professions. No-one wants a loony in the Army. Teachers are being assessed for their commitment to learning. Medical students are chosen in a process which involves assessment of patient empathy, etc. Something of this nature should be mandatory for those who wish to work with children in institutions. Details could be provided by the appropriate experts.

What this is all leading up to is the question usually asked by victims and their supporters at some stage or other. That question is “How can a clergyman do what he did and believe in God?”

An American film producer who has recently completed a documentary on a case involving a priest who ran a school for deaf children and abused his charges has one theory. He likened it to the situation of a cop fabricating evidence against a person who he is convinced is guilty. This is a “good cause” corruption rationalisation process. The cop thinks it is all right to frame the person because, otherwise, a guilty person might get away with his crime because evidence cannot be collected normally which would lead to a court conviction.

Similarly, he claims, the bad deed of the priest is off-set in the priest’s mind by all the good he is doing, such as raising money for deaf children’s education. If the abusive priest believed in God, then he is assuming that his God will trade off an evil for an apparent good work. This is very warped logic.

The trade-off theory does not require a belief in God. The cop mentioned above could just as easily be an atheist.

We all know about the drunk who beats his wife and kids on Friday night, then repents when he sobers up on Saturday and promises to never do it again. The pattern is repeated every week. Presumably, some priests promise God each time they abuse that they will never do it again in return for forgiveness. Yet they continue to abuse until the authorities stop them. That is, assuming they DO believe in God.

The modern savvy citizen is well acquainted with people who do not actually hold the beliefs they espouse. Politicians are the worst offenders. So, why is it that everyone seems to assume that all clergy believe in God, or indeed in Christian principles? This, after all, is the sole basis of their status in the community and gives them their power distance advantage over their victims. It would be a very interesting research project to subject a bunch of them to a lie-detector test on their beliefs. Granted the polygraph is not believable, but it would still be interesting to at least see their reaction under close scrutiny!

TOMORROW: Economic considerations

That’s all I can say

Lewis Blayse (né Lewin Blazevich)


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