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AttemptingReason

They could present it as some priest not being "real" priests, but there would still be the breakdown of full trust given to priests. Is there more to the comic than just that frame?

Inkysand

First, I've been reading your blog since the infamous Atheist Anger post. You have won a continuing fan!

Second, this is a beautifully done article. Religions based in faith will always cause harm because they are dependent on keeping that faith intact, no matter what. This does cause harm and always has, and you ably point out the connection in this instance.

Brava, m'ija. Sending you virtual kisses.

J. J. Ramsey

"Once you start telling children that you can't necessarily trust everything the priest tells you, you undermine the whole foundation of your religion."

Wait a minute. Certainly in Christianity, no one but God is supposed to be totally infallible. Even in Catholicism, there are limitations on papal infallibility. Why is the idea of a clergyperson being fallible supposed to be more of a threat to religious education than the idea of teachers and parents being fallible is to secular education?

the chaplain

J.J., I think one needs to keep in mind that these coloring books are intended for a very young audience. Children in this age group simply may not be capable of making the fine distinctions that you point out. How long does it take for them to realize that their daddies aren't the strongest men in the world, or that their parents sometimes make wrong choices? How long does it take them to recognize that their schoolteachers are sometimes mistaken?

From infancy, priests are included in a special class of people that children are taught to trust. Greta Christina points out that the Church has a very good reason, its self-preservation and perpetuation, for instilling this belief and this trust. And with respect to the examples we've both cited - parents and teachers - the Church again has powerful reasons for placing itself on a plain above these other authorities. The Church wants, eventually, to be either the sole (ideally) or highest authority in the lives of its adherents.

Parents and teachers ultimately want to teach their charges to think and behave independently. Contrast this attitude with that of the Church, which needs to keep people in a perpetual state of dependence upon itself. Absent that relationship of dependency, the Church (Catholic and Protestant alike) will surely die.

Greta Christina

What the chaplain said, J.J.

I would also add: Secular teaching differs from religious teaching in another very important way. Secular teaching can be confirmed (or refuted) by personal experience or experimentation. Religious teaching can't be.

And as Dennett pointed out, the very fact that religious teachings can't be confirmed in the real world makes believers (not all believers, but a lot of them) place *more* trust in the teachings and teachers -- not less. The belief has to be supported by common agreement -- otherwise it falls apart.

So religious teachers are accorded a special status. And it's expected that their teachings are to be trusted, even without any evidence supporting them.

J. J. Ramsey

"How long does it take for them to realize that their daddies aren't the strongest men in the world"

I could be wrong, but I think kids learn that their teachers aren't perfect and their daddies aren't the bestest and strongest well before they leave grade school, and by that point, the idea that the priests aren't perfect isn't going to be an earth-shaker.

"Parents and teachers ultimately want to teach their charges to think and behave independently. Contrast this attitude with that of the Church, which needs to keep people in a perpetual state of dependence upon itself."

But not necessarily upon particular individuals in the Church--and that goes double for several strains of Protestantism. If the authority structures of religions were as fragile as you surmised, we probably wouldn't even be having this conversation.

Jud

Fucking sad that the kids get the comic book and the responsibility to protect themselves, but there's no fucking coloring book for priests that says "don't rape the kid, dammit!"

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