11 thoughts on “READER’S QUESTIONS & COMMENTS – Alastair Lichten, head of education at the NSS answers questions

  1. John Hall says:

    (At the Book Launch event on 29th September, 2021): ‘Have the various Church authorities acknowledged the content of this book and if so, how have they responded. Furthermore, with so much evidence of such treatment of children, supposedly in the “past”, can we safely assume that it is no longer happening?’

  2. Michael Moloney says:

    No, church leaders have not responded. When I was researching for my book, I printed leaflets making the key points, in a restrained way, and distributed to 100 churches. When I returned to a sample number of churches several weeks later the leaflets had been removed. Churchmen don’t want to hear challenges to their beliefs, and we are all a bit like that. We look for confirmation of our existing biases.

  3. Alastair Lichten says:

    There is a tendency to frame this as an horrific problem that has come to light and has been dealt with. However child sexual abuse in religious settings is an ongoing crisis. We have seen interim reports from the Independent Investigation into Child Sexual Abuse and this is not just an issue of the past it is still happening. A big problem is the deference to those in positions of authority, they are special.

  4. John Dowdle says:

    (At the Book Launch event on 29th September, 2021): According to https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-58681075, ‘Young more likely to pray than over-55s – survey’. This – I believe – is questionable based on more general data available, which suggests that young people are far less religious in nature than older people. What do the speakers think about this?

  5. Alastair Lichten says:

    Polls questions are often phrased to obtain the desired response. Opinion polls should be read in the light of all the available evidence, they are simply one data point. There is plenty of evidence that young people today are the least religious in history.

  6. David Warden says:

    (At the Book Launch event on 29th September, 2021):The chronology of your experiences was a little unclear in the book. Were you at school in the 1950s/1960s? I went to a CofE primary school in the 1960s – there was no hint of abuse or cruelty or overbearing religiosity. Is the panel aware of any academic research into the issues raised in Michael’s book which might indicate how widespread abuse is both now and historically?

  7. Michael Moloney says:

    I attended many different schools in the 1950s/1960s in Ireland and England without seeing abuse in most of them, so I am not surprised that David never came across a hint of it. However, I believe religious education in school can inadvertently help groom pupils in subtle ways for abuse in religious institutions, such as the abuse I encountered in the Oratory church in Birmingham. I think there is a wealth of evidence, not so much from the UK but credible reports from Australia the USA, and Europe that substantiate abuse in religious settings. Also, the nature of abuse is that it is not done openly and I would suggest that there might have been abuse, but it was unseen.

  8. John Dowdle says:

    (At the Book Launch event on 29th September, 2021): What about Freud’s ideas of sexual motives in children? This has nothing to do with the idea of “sin” being involved. The truth is – surely – that clerics gravitate towards religion because – as perverts – it provides an opportunity for them to exploit children and others for their own gratification.

  9. John Dowdle says:

    That is a good question that is dealt with in my book. Chapter 11, titled ‘Clerical Child Abuse and Augustine’s Influence’ examines evidence provided by the church’s own John Jay report, that paedophiles gravitate towards clerical roles. Cases of child abuse are significantly higher within the clergy than other sections of society.

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