It is tempting to think that faith in a higher being leads naturally to a sense of righteousness as a precursor of cruelty.
- Watching Salvation Army welfare workers begrudgingly dole out food vouchers to women imported as mail-order brides and then dumped might lead one to make this connection.
- Observing Catholic family counsellors pressure women into carrying unwanted babies full-term causes one to think so.
Both recent, real-world examples lead one to reflect on both the hardness of heart involved and its inverted relationship to the universal exhortation of every religion to be hospitable and merciful.
Suddenly we are not too far from:
- nuns whipping boys to force them to lick up their own vomit,
- priests spanking young girls for the sin of being penetrated by them minutes earlier,
- managers handing bodies of young orphans to the gardener for disposal in the rose bed.
I am not making this up, these are not rhetorical flourishes, this is what the Royal Commission into institutional abuse has just reported that our church welfare groups have been doing for sixty years and more.
Of course, we must not pay these criminal gangs one more cent to continue this abuse. That is an argument which we must all stand up for until we win.
That must not make us anti-theist. The self-righteous do not represent the full spectrum of those who follow a religion.
There are thousands of religious communities that are graceful in their humility and empowering in their openness. Many of has have visited them, even if only for an hour or two. Some of them are Australian.
So this is not an anti-religious sentiment, it is simply a call for secular support for the community sector that has worked so hard for so long to build the framework of community, independent of the interests of religion.
Ponder this as you next take up your burden. May righteous anger leaven your pain.