Just as the world mourns the loss of Christopher Hitchens, news is breaking about the scope of the sexual abuse problem in Dutch Catholic institutions. The Guardian writes about a recent report with some shocking findings. Really shocking, even after years of such abuse scandals:
Based on a survey among more than 34,000 people, the commission estimated that one in 10 Dutch children suffered some form of abuse. The number doubled to 20% of children who spent part of their youth in an institution whether Catholic or not.
Hitchens and a lot of his New Atheist colleagues would often go beyond saying that there’s no reason to believe that a god exists all the way to saying that belief and the institutions based on it are harmful. That’s the line Hitchens towed when he debated Tony Blair on the statement “Be it resolved religion is a force for good in the world” back on November 26, 2010. (The transcripts are available in a neat little volume from Anansi.)
Blair clearly lost the debate. While Hitchens tossed out a million arguments for his side, some great and some that deserved to be questioned, Blair didn’t believe that one could look at the totality of religious endeavors and say yay or nay, whether it’s been on the whole harmful or helpful.
Blair seemingly couldn’t argue for his side, while Hitchens was more than happy to fill his role and trounced Blair. Still, I tend to agree at least in part with Blair’s view of things. I look at some of the deeply religious people I’ve known, I remember the good works their belief has led them to do, and I just can’t say religion is always a bad thing. To me, dismissing the good by pointing to all the religious atrocities through history is an unproductive comparison.
Then there are reports like this. I hardly even know what to say about it, other than it would make great evidence for many of Hitchens’ arguments.
Post revised at 12:38 p.m. for clarity. Thanks to Whitworth for pointing out a muddy part.