The Atheist Sex Scandal


Humans are tribal creatures. Let’s face it, we don’t like it when our “group” is accused of things, even if those accusations are accurate. For the last few years, I have been disappointed to see people who identify as atheists, agnostics, skeptics, and secular humanists defending members of “our group” who have been accused of sexual assault to a ridiculous degree. Many people seem to be so unwilling to accept that such a crime could happen at conferences that they attend, and could be perpetrated by people that they idolize. I can understand this reaction to a certain degree: who wants to find out that their hero could so casually hurt another human being? But at the same time, these are people who claim to hold rationality above all else and yet they are reacting on pure instinct.
So I’ve decided to put together this little project. Okay, so it’s not so little, but here it goes. Everybody knows about the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal, and atheists are particularly quick to lay judgement on the Catholic Church as a result. I think this judgement is completely justified. So lets look at this scandal and compare it to the more recent scandal in atheism. More importantly, lets look at how both groups have generally reacted towards the scandals in their communities.
Obviously this project is a bit too much to handle in one post, so I’ll break it up into a few posts. In the first post I’ll look at the facts. I’ll talk about the accusations and the lawsuits within the Catholic Church, and then I’ll do the same for the atheist community to the best of my ability (since the latter is more modern, it’s going to be made up more of accusations than of lawsuits). In the second post, I will look at how Catholics have responded to the sex abuse scandal. I will look mostly at the Vatican and the pope, but I will also look at certain lay-Catholics. They will be both positive and negative responses and I will respond to them with my own interpretation when I feel it is necessary. I will do the same for atheism in my third post. I will look at some of the big names in atheism, but I will also look at some relatively unknown names. In my fourth post I will compare the reactions of Catholics and atheists, and I will also look at how atheists and Catholics have reacted to the scandal in the other’s movement. And in my fifth and final post I will discuss whether or not I think atheists are reacting rationally towards the current scandal and why. I will also discuss how I feel we can best resolve these issues.

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