World Truth Day for Pell and Hickey

8 07 2008

By now you’ll be aware of Cardinal George Pell having been caught lying misrepresenting the truth about his knowledge of sex abuse within the priesthood. Regular visitors to this blog will also recall the sex abuse scandal in WA involving the leadership of the Catholic Charismatic Bethel Covenant Community, and of the Church’s endeavours (as with the Terence Goodall case) to wash its hands of the affair, though the incidents have hitherto not received much national media attention. You’ll remember that Barry Hickey, the Archbishop of Perth who is aligned politically with Pell and has in the past engaged in identical antidemocratic ad baculums against Catholic parliamentarians, told the West Australian newspaper in May that the Church had received no complaints about sexual misconduct at Bethel before 2007, a claim denied by ex-Bethel members.

The Archbishop was lying. The West Australian has secured a copy of a report, outlining complaints about sexual misconduct perpetrated by leaders of the Bethel Community, that was handed to the Archbishop in August 2000. Read the rest of this entry »

Meet Clare at Rantspace

25 06 2008

Clare linked to me from a post in which she had some interesting things to say about skepticism, and about which I’ll say a bit more shortly. But she has a far more pressing and harrowing tale to tell about her experiences as a victim of clergy sexual abuse, experiences which have not caused her to reject theism, but which have heightened her awareness of the dark places that religion mixed with authoritarianism can lead. I encourage you to read it.

Towards the end of her narrative, Clare mentioned coming “from a long line of family with psychic ability,” and that might explain her position on skepticism. She divides skeptics into two camps: “There are those who debunk claims of the “miraculous” by finding and offering a rational scientific explanation, and there are those who debunk any claim they don’t understand and/or that hasn’t been proven.” A truly enquiring mind, she argues, “will go looking for evidence both ways rather than either a) debunking or b) sitting back waiting for the proof to be handed to them.” Well, strictly-speaking the word debunking, a transitive verb meaning “to expose the sham or falseness of,” would only apply to the first kind of skepticism. I’m not sure that many the majority of skeptics would fall into the second camp (just as I doubt that the majority of atheists would be strong atheists), but I gather Clare either has had, or believes she has had experience of such individuals.

I don’t think that there is much Clare says in this post or in the comment thread that I would disagree with. I agreed with her that if we are presented with a phenomena and a claim of supernatural causation for said phenomena, we ought not to dismiss the phenomena out of hand. (I think I’ve heard Joe Nickell, a skeptical investigator of the paranormal, express a similar view on the Point of Inquiry podcast.) But we are under no obligation to accept the claim of supernatural causation if the claimant has not provided sufficient supporting evidence.

Anyway, have a look at what Clare has to say about skepticism yourself. As for you, Clare, welcome to my blogroll.