Tuesday, 11 February 2014

This week in Royal Commissions...

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse sitting in Sydney in December 2013. Picture: http://www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au/resources/image-gallery/

While the government has been busy instigating yet another expensive and unnecessary party political royal commission, a commission of substance, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, has witnessed Salvation Army Commission James Condon cry while apologising to victims.

Commissioner Condon said that the Salvation Army was "trialling" a policy known as People First, that places secondary importance on the reputation of the church. "The priority is the survivor, not protection of the Salvation Army," he told the hearing.

Putting people first is sadly a revolutionary concept for religious organisations that have a long history of sexual abuse. These pathetic organisations have no concept of how out-of-touch their responses to abuse have been over the past decades. Some, such as the Catholic Church, continue to be. It is only under the watchful gaze of a royal commission that they may finally begin to act as any reasonable person would expect them to: like human beings helping other human beings in need.

It would be perhaps unfair to call Commissioner Condon's tears 'crocodile', but his response seems a bit rich coming from the leader of an organisation that is still, at its core, an ultra-conservative cult which takes the Bible quite literally and may or may not agree with putting gays to death.

When Archbishop Pell demanded any royal commission into sexual abuse also take into account secular organisations such as the Scouts, he did so knowing full well that organised religions were the most egregious perpetrators of child abuse. He no doubt hoped to distract people from the worst organised religion has to offer (read about Pell's deplorable history of responses to abuse in David Marr's excellent Quarterly Essay). On this count, he's probably failed.

Churches are the only organisations that not only claim possession of the physical child, but ownership of his or her soul for god. Churches are the only organisations that even if they're not physically abusing children, actually institutionalise verbal and mental abuse as part of their doctrines. How many countless children have been mentally abused through the threat of eternal torture promised by pathetic old men who would then go on to physically abuse them?

Of course, these days the churches plead love and life, glossing over the mass murder, god-sanctioned slavery and sacrifice of women to save men that's the core of the book they hold so dear.

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