I’m Sticking with Theism, But I’ll Stick Up for the Catholic Church and Her Faithful
Just like Waylon Jenning’s, my momma tried—I attended Roman Catholic parochial school for all but kindergarten through high school. In the end, my father (who, in order to marry my mother in the 1940’s Catholic Church, had to “convert”—yeah, right) probably won out, in that my high school education was delivered by the Jesuits and their thorough presentation of theology and reasoning marked my departure from my mother’s religion. That being said, I still had to go through the early adolescent rite of passage from atheism and agnosticism to the adult conclusion of theism (although the Jesuits made that passage all the more painful as a byproduct of the stringent analytics with which they saddled me). Which leads me to declare my stand with the Catholics in the face of those who deliver thinly-veiled attacks on belief in general and religion in particular, using child abuse by the clergy as the cover.
As such a decided theist, I still think it is worth sticking up for my mother’s religion, despite the inexcusable behavior of some priests (in the further spirit of full disclosure, I served, in my pre-pubescent years, as an altar boy, plus had many priests and nuns as teachers during that time and my post-pubescent high school years; I had no experience of even a hint of any inappropriate behavior from any of these people, ever). The horrors of human abuse perpetrated by those who spurn a belief in God as a primitive superstition and religion as “the opiate of the masses” killed more people in the 20th century than did all religious wars in all of history before that era. On the obverse, believers and religious have contributed most of the lasting legacy of civilization and supportive societies, even through the darkness of the last century, not the least of which were the Roman Catholics.
Thus, for me, the choice is simple—associate myself with those who hold beliefs and live lives in support of civilization and society, despite the only too human failings of a few. The only reason that abuses by religious people (as believers) are so strictly criticized is that there is a rightful expectation of righteous behavior. Since non-believers have no such track record of producing broad-based righteous behavior among their ranks or in the institutions spawned from their world view, the expectations are appropriately very low and thus the transgressions to be expected and not nearly as noteworthy.