Pennsylvania and the Catholic Church

By Dr David Laing Dawson

A cult is a cult is a cult is a cult.

The Cathedral at Chartres, I suppose because of its magnificence as well as its age and physical location, allows one, as I did, to stand in it and outside it and imagine the 14th century: the fields stretching off in the distance, the peasants on foot and oxen cart slowly approaching this edifice, dressed in rough cloth tunics and hand sewn goat skin boots, bringing what offerings they could. This cathedral was built to impress, and impressive it is. And that I suppose is its purpose. It is, in modern vernacular, awesome, and in the centuries before this, designed to instill awe.

Standing there it is easy to imagine those illiterate peasants approaching the castle of knowledge and salvation. They did not yet understand why there was night and day or why water ran downhill or some fell ill with fever and others didn’t. And the church, for the next few centuries, would try to keep it that way.

And at Chartres, more than other cathedrals and churches, it is easy to see and experience the power of the building, and to understand its purpose by imagining the first hundred years of its existence.

Power and control. And, more quietly of course, sex.

What a con. What a magnificent con.

I’m not really knocking it, for we humans seemed to need an organizing system and some guiding principals sent to us from on high. Even now, in parts of the world where we have socially evolved to the point where we can, through very human processes, set those rules and expectations ourselves, many of us still yearn for the help of God. And, God knows, the Catholic Church, for much of its existence, has been no worse than Islam, Scientology, Mormonism, the Peoples Temple Agricultural Project, or the Branch Davidians.

But I would like to point out that it is we humans who have, within our own secular governing bodies, in many parts of the world, arrived at the conviction that a.) women are full citizens with equal rights, b.) men do not have the right to non-consensual sex with women, and c.) we adults really shouldn’t be sexually abusing children and teenagers. Note that it is not Joseph Smith, the Pope, the Imams of Saudi Arabia, or Jim Jones who arrived at those conclusions.

Cults. It is what they are all about of course. They strip women of power. They permit non-consensual sex or, at the very least, coercive sex with females. And they justify the sexual abuse of children, pre or post pubertal children, male and female. And they all prey on the innocence and naivety of our less educated, less wary and less suspicious citizens. They are all, all, all about power, control, and sex.

Someone pointed out that if it had come to light that over 300 Jiffy Lube employees had been discovered to have sexually abused over 1000 children it would be the end of Jiffy Lube, but the Catholic Church will continue, as will Islam, and it seems there are always a few charismatic psychopaths (male) hanging around ready to start new cults.

Though it has been heartening to see, over the past 50 years, that increasingly large percentages of the citizens of most advanced nations, when polled, say they are either not religious, or do not belong to any particular religious group or cult.

6 thoughts on “Pennsylvania and the Catholic Church

  1. As usual, your piece is excellent and stands by itself. However, sometimes it helps to distinguish religions, which are human-derived sets of customs that manipulate (but also help many to get through their days), and the idea that there is something more profound than the reality we experience. Some of us label this “god” with no implication of a connection to religions. It is something philosophers and neuroscientists address in as objective fashion as they can, without presumption that it concerns individual existence. They do not discard the “god” idea with the religious bathwater.


    1. Your comments here raised my eyebrow.

      Do you remember going into Chartres many years ago where we looked at the repentance wheel of stones on the floor. I can’t remember what it was called . But clearly one was meant to drop to on one’s knees and crawl from stone to stone to atone for ones transgressions Forgiveness required one’s cents into the church box I assume.

      The building outside( if I recall) was crammed with frightening gargoyles to put the fear of God into one. Some comfort that would be ! However the people did shelter in the building when marauding armies attacked the citizens . Heavy doors etc. But then the odd martyr helped to persuade the vulnerable. It is always amazing to me how such great buildings were constructed!

      Trump should grovel on the prayer wheel for a bit I would have thought. NO sign of that though. What would put the fear of God into him one wonders?


      1. regards cents in the collection box. The church has according to the reports paid BBBillions in the last fome 3 decades to quiet the offences, to pay or in fines. They do not need the pennies, but as reported on NPR coverage they have this point they drive home: given a decision between food for your family of enriching the church, enrich the church. That way their staff can have immunity for ” inappropriate contacts” which is code for rape and sodomy.


  2. The Interim Grand Jury Report, Redacted makes a point of pointing to the problems of law as it is and the reality of how long it takes for many to get the courage to report. Statutes of limitations, they said, need to be rethought if this problem is to be effectively addressed. We can only hope, given how much the G.J. heard of police abetting in the cover ups, including destruction of evidence.


  3. Granted–the church is an ideological institution. Real religion (“to restore the connection”) is neither an ideology nor a thing nor capable of being institutionalized. “Cult” might be best defined as an ideological organization that possesses and controls its members on a purely psychological basis and prevents anyone from leaving. In a cult, religious ideology is merely a psychological tool, not its real interest. Power and control are its real interest.

    What always gets me about sexual abuse in the church, is how pedophilia is separated from homosexuality. Are these not mostly men abusing boys? Is that not homosexual pedophilia? The reason this is so steadfastly ignored is the simplistic modern ‘religion’ that homosexuality is ‘good’ and pedophilia is ‘bad’; therefore the two are permanently separated. A few years ago, when a Catholic priest said this problem has as much to do with homosexuality as it does with pedophilia, he was immediately crucified by the press for speaking heresy.


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