Children and the Burden of Shame
Children in fundamentalist families are often regarded as little adults, with the same sinful tendencies and the same need to be “saved.” Consequently, there may be little or no realization that a growing child needs to progress through various stages of cognitive and emotional development. Instead, childhood issues such as egocentrism, aggression, sexuality, and teenage rebellion are labeled as sins, instead of natural and predictable processes. The “sin” is attributed to an innate fault in their natures that needs to be corrected, the child is made to feel ashamed of him or herself, and is disciplined accordingly: “Shame on you,” “You’re so selfish. What’s the matter with you?” “You know Jesus sees you when you do that!” The focus is on guilt, control and force, instead of fostering self-confidence and new coping skills. The innocent child feels they are defective, bad, inadequate, or a failure. They become filled with shame.
Shame is more damaging than guilt, when we feel bad because of what we have done, not because of who we essentially are. Shame takes a heavy toll on a child’s self-esteem, and often becomes a part of their psyche that persists into adulthood.
On the other hand, good parents know that poor childhood behavior is linked to needs, not to a flawed nature, and is part of a child’s natural development.
Osama bin Laden did the world a huge service
Throughout history organized religion has been co-opted by truly warped power mad men who left destruction and horror in their wake. Osama Bin Laden and his crazed Islamic followers were such men. In a way we have him to thank for the remarkable strides Humanists, atheists and anti-theists have made in the last 10 years. He made millions of people think hard about the danger of consciously and deliberately releasing their grip on reality. Worse yet, foisting their madness on vulnerable children.
The attacks on 9/11 roused me from complacency and turned me into a dedicated foe of organized religion, for life. Whatever positive elements people find believing in fantasy are far outweighed by the danger such unquestioned belief imposes. Like Christopher Hitchens has written, religion poisons everything.
How many times must humans learn this lesson? Over and over we have had to put religion back in chains, only for this curse to break out again and be commandeered by madmen. The problem is faith and let us vow that the end of Osama Bin Laden will be the final chapter.
End the unethical practice of forcing faith on vulnerable children. End the betrayal of children by their misguided parents and guardians.
- Do we cheer the death of Osama Bin Laden? (quixoticutopia.wordpress.com)
i-am-a-post-mormon – Dustin Patzer speaks about leaving the LDS
Justin found his way out of the LDS trap. The steps he took will work just as well to spring the trap of Catholicism, Pentacostalism, or any of the other thousands of sects. The first step is to listen to the nagging doubts you have and resolve to take action. The first thing you learn is that all religious traps have the same mechanisms to keep their adherents enslaved. They all make the same claim to ultimate exclusive truth and discount all competitors. You were probably snared as an innocent child before you had any intellectual guardians at the gate to your young mind. You were taken advantage of, pure and simple.
Once you realize the truth of your situation you can look objectively at the dogma you are subjected to and see that it just does not make any sense at all. The bible is not a sacred book. The bible is an invention of thousands of men with agendas. In Justin’s case the notion that golden plates were discovered buried in a field is outlandish on it’s face.
Sample some of the other videos produced by this project. Maybe one day you will have the opportunity to tell your story.
How Idiot America got that way
… increasingly frenzied claims have become so detached from reality that they often seem like black comedy. The right-wing magazine US Investors’ Daily claimed that if Stephen Hawking had been British, he would have been allowed to die at birth by its “socialist” healthcare system. Hawking responded with a polite cough that he is British, and “I wouldn’t be here without the NHS”.
This tendency to simply deny inconvenient facts and invent a fantasy world isn’t new; it’s only becoming more heightened. It ran through the Bush years like a dash of bourbon in water. When it became clear that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction, the US right simply claimed they had been shipped to Syria. When the scientific evidence for man-made global warming became unanswerable, they claimed – as one Republican congressman put it – that it was “the greatest hoax in human history”, and that all the world’s climatologists were “liars”. The American media then presents itself as an umpire between “the rival sides”, as if they both had evidence behind them. …
How do they train themselves to be so impervious to reality? It begins, I suspect, with religion. They are taught from a young age that it is good to have “faith” – which is, by definition, a belief without any evidence to back it up. You don’t have “faith” that Australia exists, or that fire burns: you have evidence. You only need “faith” to believe the untrue or unprovable. Indeed, they are taught that faith is the highest aspiration and most noble cause. Is it any surprise this then percolates into their political views? Faith-based thinking spreads and contaminates the rational.
If children are taught to not only believe things on faith, but to also reject claims that are supported by evidence and reason when those claims contradict faith, then it shouldn’t be surprising that we get beliefs like those listed above. This sort of attitude is a great benefit to authority figures since they are, of course, the ultimate arbiters of which beliefs should be taken on faith and which shouldn’t.
What would happen if American schools instituted not just classes on critical thinking and skepticism, but actually inserted lessons on critical thinking throughout the curriculum? What would happen if students in public schools were consistently taught the importance of believing things based on evidence and reasoned arguments, not faith or slavish adherence to tradition or authorities? Who would be able to object without looking completely foolish? — Austin Cline, About.com
Religion Makes Conservative Republicans Impervious to Facts
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A Q&A with Charles P. Pierce, author of Idiot America
Question: What inspired, or should I say drove, you to write Idiot America?
Charles P. Pierce: The germ of the idea came as I watched the extended coverage of the death of Terri Schiavo. I wondered how so many people could ally themselves with so much foolishness despite the fact that it was doing them no perceptible good, politically or otherwise. And it looked like the national media simply could not help itself but be swept along. This started me thinking and, when I read a clip in the New York Times about the Creation Museum, I pitched an idea to Mark Warren, my editor at Esquire, that said simply, “Dinosaurs with saddles.” What we determined the theme of the eventual piece—and of the book—would be was “The Consequences Of Believing Nonsense.”
Question: You visited the Creation Museum while writing Idiot America. Describe your experience there. What was your first thought when you saw a dinosaur with a saddle on its back?
Charles P. Pierce: My first thought was that it was hilarious. My second thought was that I was the only person in the place who thought it was, which made me both angry and a little melancholy. Outside of the fact that its “science” is a god-awful parodic stew of paleontology, geology, and epistemology, all of them wholly detached from the actual intellectual method of each of them. The most disappointing thing is that the completed museum is so dreadfully grim and earnest and boring. It even makes dragon myths servant to its fringe biblical interpretations. Who wants to live in a world where dragons are boring?
Question: Is there a specific turning point where, as a country, we moved away from prizing experience to trusting the gut over intellect?
Charles P. Pierce: I don’t know if there’s one point that you can point to and say, “This is when it happened.” The conflict between intellectual expertise and reflexive emotion—often characterized as “good old common sense,” when it is neither common nor sense—has been endemic to American culture and politics since the beginning. I do think that my profession, journalism, went off the tracks when it accepted as axiomatic the notion that “Perception is reality.” No. Perception is perception and reality is reality, and if the former doesn’t conform to the latter, then it’s the journalist’s job to hammer and hammer the reality until the perception conforms to it. That’s how “intelligent design” gets treated as “science” simply because a lot of people believe in it.
Question: You delve into Ignatius Donnelly’s life story. In 1880, he published the book Atlantis: The Antediluvian World in an attempt to prove that the lost city existed. Yet, you characterize Donnelly as a lovable crank, and don’t take issue with him as you do with modern eccentrics, like Rush Limbaugh. What’s the difference between a harmless crank and a crank in Idiot America?
Charles P. Pierce: Cranks are noble because cranks are independent. Cranks do not care if their ideas succeed—they’d like them to do so—but cranks stand apart. Their value comes when, occasionally, their lonely dissents from the commonplace affect the culture, at which point either the culture moves to adopt them and their ideas come to influence the culture. The American crank is not someone with 600 radio stations spewing bilious canards to an audience of “dittoheads.” The concept of a “dittohead” is anathema to the American crank. He is a freethinker addressing an audience of them, whether that audience is made up of one person or a thousand. A charlatan is a crank who sells out.
Question: What is the most dangerous aspect of Idiot America?
Charles P. Pierce: The most dangerous aspect of Idiot America is that it encourages us to abandon our birthright to be informed citizens of a self-governing republic. America cannot function on automatic pilot, and, too often, we don’t notice that it has been until the damage has already been done.
Question: Is there a voice or leader of Idiot America?
Charles P. Pierce: The leaders of Idiot America are those people who abandoned their obligations to the above. There are lots of people making an awful lot of money selling their ideas and their wares to Idiot America. Idiot America is an act of collective will, a product of lassitude and sloth.
Question: What is the difference between stupidity and glorifying ignorance?
Charles P. Pierce: Stupidity is as stupidity does, to quote a uniquely stupid movie. It has been with us always and always will be. But we moved into an era in which stupidity was celebrated if it managed to sell itself well, if it succeeded, if it made people money. That is “glorifying ignorance.” We moved into an era in which the reflexive instincts of the Gut were celebrated at the expense of reasoned, informed opinion. To this day, we have a political party—the Republicans—who, because it embraced a “movement of Conservatism” that celebrated anti-intellectualism is now incapable of conducting itself in any other way. That has profound political and cultural consequences, and the truly foul part about it was that so many people engaged in it knowing full well they were peddling poison.
Question: While writing Idiot America, what story or incident made you the most incensed?
Charles P. Pierce: Without question, it was talking to the people at Woodside Hospice, who shared with me what it was like to be inside the whirlwind stirred up by people who used the prolonged death of Terri Schiavo as a political and social volleyball to advance their own unpopular and reckless agenda. There are people—Sean Hannity comes to mind—who, if there is a just god in heaven, should be locked in a room for 20 minutes with Annie Santa Maria, the indomitable woman who works with the patients at the hospice. Only one of them would come out, and it wouldn’t be him.
Question: With the election of President Obama, is Idiot America coming to an end? Or, will there always be a place for idiocy in America?
Charles P. Pierce: Look at the political opposition to President Obama. “Socialist!” “Fascist!” “Coming to get your guns.” Hysteria from the hucksters of Idiot America is still at high-tide. People are killing other people and specifically attributing their action to imaginary oppression stoked by radio talk-show stars and television pundits. That Glenn Beck has achieved the prominence he has makes me wonder if there is a just god in heaven.
Question: Are there any positive signs that we are moving away from Idiot America? If you could create a twelve step program to America back on track, what would be your first suggestion?
Charles P. Pierce: Remember that perception is not reality, that opinion, no matter how widely held, is not fact. An old and wise friend of mine said that the only question that any American citizen is required to answer is “Do you govern or are you governed?” It has to be answered in the former, and that answer has to be continuous. We have to get back to that.
(Photo © Brendan Doris Pierce, 2008)
From Publishers Weekly
Journalist Pierce delivers a rapier-sharp rant on how the America of Franklin and Edison, Fulton and Ford has devolved into America the Uninformed, where citizens hostile to science are exchanging fact for fiction, and faith for reason, and glutting themselves on reality TV and conspiracy theories. Pierce makes no apologies for his liberal bias, and some conservatives—notably evolution opponents and Rush Limbaugh—endure a good deal of bashing. Pierce writes that in the U.S., Fact is merely what enough people believe, and truth lies only in how fervently they believe it. He supports his thesis with references to James Madison and other founding fathers, who may have foreseen and rued the emergence of cranks who would threaten the Enlightenment-based nation they were shaping. Although the book is not likely to win any converts from the right wing Pierce so energetically decries, it is an engaging catalogue of those unscientifically verified truths that enthrall and impassion millions of Americans. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Liars for Jesus
February 18, 2008
Amazon.com reviewer: Steven L. Roberts (Madison, WI)
Liars for Jesus by Chris Rodda is one of the best written and most important books about contemporary American politics that I have read in years. The only problem with this book is that it was apparently published with the author’s own money, making its availability somewhat limited. This book should be widely read and discussed, because it helps explain why the Christian Right seems so incomprehensibly loony to most of us who are not part of that movement, and, conversely, why they attack the rest of us with such unfettered zeal.
There has been a series of revisionist “history” books published since the end of WWII which give a “Christian” version of American history that attempts to paint the Founding Fathers and subsequent American culture in a way that is in agreement with contemporary Fundamentalism. We have now had a couple of generations of conservative Christians who have been buying into this version of history and reacting angrily to an America that assumes fundamental principals like the separation of church and state to be at the core of what America stands for.
Author Rodda systematically lists and then busts a series of myths that these spurious history books have generated. She leaves no stone unturned in doing so.
Things get really scary when she starts quoting Supreme Court opinions written by Rennquist, Thomas and Burger, and it becomes apparent that members of our highest court do not know the difference between real history and Fundamentalist wishful thinking.
The book is a fascinating study in how the desire for a different set of facts can, over time, morph into an alternative if deluded “reality”.
There is an insidious clandestine effort underway driven by Christian fascists to pollute the common person’s understanding of American history and the part religion plays in that history. This is not merely the usual difference of interpretation that ethical historians normally write about. As Michelle Goldman explains in her book, “Kingdom Coming”, what is dangerous is that a gradual shift has occurred so that what would have been unthinkable rubbish ten years ago is now embraced by the fascists as absolute truth.
Others, trained from childhood to follow authority blindly, accept the lies as truth. Since kids in sham homeschools never encounter any other point of view they readily accept the lies. Which is exactly why their misbegotten parents sequester them in their sham schools to begin with.
Accordingly, this propaganda posing as history is being freely passed around over the Internet and incorporated in textbooks sold to the child abusers engaged in lying to their children. Revisionist history books by several different authors (David Barton, Peter Marshall, Mark A. Beliles (Author), and Stephen K. McDowell to name a few) are widely used in sham homeschools along with grossly distorted books on science that are teaching ID and creation myths and calling it science.
Intelligent Design (ID): somewhere, at some point in time, someone did something, somehow, for some reason, that affected the history of life somehow – Michael De Dora Jr, CFI in a Tweet
Parents do this because they trust the likes of James Dobson, Michael Farris, Phylis Schafly, and Pat Robertson and they have no critical faculties. James Dobson, the high priest of religious child abuse, insists the most important quality a child can have is obedience. According to him children are inherently incorrigible and they must be whipped to convince them to obey what they are told to do. These are the methods totalitarians use.
We know from engaging parents on public discussion forums how deranged these people are and how futile it is to try and hold an intelligent discussion with them. A constant retort is, “well that is your opinion”, facts mean absolutely nothing. Their brains are reduced to a worthless pile of rotten cells that serve no function. Thus, we see the result of The Rise of Idiot America.
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The Essential Role of an Enlightened Witness in Society
The Essential Role of an Enlightened Witness in Society
by Alice Miller, Ph.D.
Since adolescence I have always wondered why people take pleasure in humiliating others. Clearly the fact that some people are sensitive to the suffering of others proves that the destructive urge is not a universal aspect of human nature. So why do some tend to solve their problems by violence while others don’t?
Philosophy failed to answer my question, and the Freudian theory of the death wish has never convinced me. It was only by closely examining the childhood histories of murderers, especially mass murderers, that I began to comprehend the roots of good and evil: not in the genes, as commonly believed, but often in the earliest days of life. Today, it is inconceivable to me that a child who comes into the world among attentive, loving and protective parents could become a predatory monster. And in the childhood of the murderers who later became dictators, I have always found a nightmarish horror, a record of continual lies and humiliation, which upon the attainment of adulthood, impelled them to acts of merciless revenge on society. These vengeful acts were always garbed in hypocritical ideologies, purporting that the dictator’s exclusive and overriding wish was the happiness of his people. In this way, he unconsciously emulated his own parents who, in earlier days, had also insisted that their blows were inflicted on the child for his own good. This belief was extremely widespread a century ago, particularly in Germany.
I found it logical that a child beaten often would quickly pick up the language of violence. For him, this language became the only effective means of communication available. Yet what I found to be logical was apparently not so to most people.
When I began to illustrate my thesis by drawing on the examples of Hitler and Stalin, when I tried to expose the social consequences of child abuse, I encountered fierce resistance. Repeatedly I was told, “I, too, was a battered child, but that didn’t make me a criminal.” When I asked for details about their childhood, I was always told of a person who loved them, but was unable to protect them. Yet through his or her presence, this person gave them a notion of trust, and of love.
I call these persons helping witnesses. Dostoyevsky, for instance, had a brutal father, but a loving mother. She wasn’t strong enough to protect him from his father, but she gave him a powerful conception of love, without which his novels would have been unimaginable. Many have also been lucky enough to find enlightened and courageous witnesses, people who helped them to recognize the injustices they suffered, to give vent to their feelings of rage, pain and indignation at what happened to them. These persons never became criminals.
Anyone addressing the problem of child abuse is likely to be faced with a very strange finding: it has frequently been observed that parents who abuse their children tend to mistreat and neglect them in ways resembling their own treatment as children, without any conscious memory of their own experiences. It is well known that fathers who bully their children through sexual abuse are usually unaware that they had themselves suffered the same abuse. It is only in therapy, even if ordered by the courts, that they discover, stupefied, their own history, and realize thereby that for years they have attempted to act out their own scenario, just to get rid of it.
How can this be explained? After studying the matter for years, it seems clear to me that information about abuse inflicted during childhood is recorded in our body cells as a sort of memory, linked to repressed anxiety. If, lacking the aid of an enlightened witness, these memories fail to break through to consciousness, they often compel the person to violent acts that reproduce the abuse suffered in childhood, which was repressed in order to survive. The aim is to avoid the fear of powerlessness before a cruel adult. This fear can be eluded momentarily by creating situations in which one plays the active role, the role of the powerful, towards a powerless person.
But this is not an easy path to rid oneself of unconscious fears. And this is why the offense is ceaselessly repeated. A steady stream of new victims must be found, as recently demonstrated by the pedophile scandals in Belgium. To his dying day, Hitler was convinced that only the death of every single Jew could shield him from the fearful and daily memory of his brutal father. Since his father was half Jewish, the whole Jewish people had to be exterminated. I know how easy it is to dismiss this interpretation of the Holocaust, but I honestly haven’t yet found a better one. Besides, the case of Hitler shows that hatred and fear cannot be resolved through power, even absolute power, as long as the hatred is transferred to scapegoats. On the contrary, if the true cause of the hatred is identified, is experienced with the feelings that accompany this recognition, blind hatred of innocent victims can be dispelled. Sex criminals stop their depredations if they manage to overcome their amnesia and mourn their tragic fate, thanks to the empathy of an enlightened witness. Old wounds can be healed if exposed to the light of day. But they cannot be repudiated by revenge.
A Japanese crew shot a film of therapeutic work in a prison in Arizona, where the method was based, inter alia, on my books. I was sent the video cassette and found the results very revealing. The inmates worked in groups, talked a lot about their childhood, and some of them said, “I’ve been all over the place, and killed innocent people to avoid the feelings I have today. But I know that I can bear these feelings in the group, where I feel safe. I no longer need to run around and kill, I’m at home here, I recognize what happened. The past recedes, and my anger along with it.”
For this process to succeed, the adult who has grown up without helping witnesses in his childhood needs the support of enlightened witnesses, people who have understood and recognized the consequences of child abuse. In an informed society, adolescents can learn to verbalize their truth and to discover themselves in their own story. They will not need to avenge themselves violently for their wounds, or to poison their systems with drugs, if they have the luck to talk to others about their early experiences, and succeed in grasping the naked truth of their own tragedy. To do this, they need assistance from persons aware of the dynamics of child abuse, who can help them address their feelings seriously, understand them and integrate them, as part of their own story, instead of avenging themselves on the innocent.
I have wrongly been attributed the thesis according to which every victim inevitably becomes a persecutor, a thesis that I find totally false, indeed absurd. It has been proved that many adults have had the good fortune to break the cycle of abuse through knowledge of their past. Yet I can certainly aver that I have never come across persecutors who weren’t victims in their childhood, though most of them don’t know it because their feelings are repressed. The less these criminals know about themselves. the more dangerous they are to society. So I think it is crucial for the therapist to grasp the difference between the statement, “every victim ultimately becomes a persecutor,” which is false, and “every persecutor was a victim in his childhood,” which I consider true. The problem is that, feeling nothing, he remembers nothing, realizes nothing, and this is why surveys don’t always reveal the truth. Yet the presence of a warm, enlightened witness – therapist, social aid worker, lawyer, judge – can help the criminal unlock his repressed feelings and restore the unrestricted flow of consciousness. This can initiate the process of escape from the vicious circle of amnesia and violence.
© Alice Miller, 1997.
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The Root of All Evil
In The Virus of Faith, Dawkins opines that the moral framework of religions is warped, and argues against the religious indoctrination of children. The title of this episode comes from The Selfish Gene, in which Dawkins discussed the concept of memes. The Root of All Evil? is a television documentary, written and presented by Richard Dawkins, in which he argues that the world would be better off without religion. The documentary was first broadcast in January 2006, in the form of two 45-minute episodes (excluding advertisement breaks), on Channel 4 in the UK.«
Richard says: The connection between religion and child abuse
You actually believe that don’t you? Wow, now it seems as though the whole history of the human race is a sad tale of permanently damaged children. I don’t know how you sleep at night.
Actually, I don’t sleep so well at night and I obviously have not researched the entire history of the human race but you have brought up an important point. What historians tell us about the lives of children past takes a strong stomach to digest. It is a tale of almost casual acceptance of infanticide, murder, rape, slavery, sexual abuse and abandonment. Was this a result of religion? Certainly as far as Christianity goes some of it definitely was and remains so today. The proximate cause: the insidious dogma of original sin and the idea that babies are corrupt the moment they leave their mothers womb. Christian apologists skip over the toxic portions of their bible and vigorously try to downplay them, but original sin is a defining feature of most Christian sects.
Why not redact the bible to get rid of this doctrine? Simply because you cannot eliminate this doctrine and still wind up with Christianity, for many sects. You have to have the fall to make any sense of Jesus, not to mention to explain a womans pain in childbirth. As far as the rest of the toxic verses in the bible, it seems the least Christians could do is add marginalia to call attention to the inappropriateness of these verses. For example, the advice to batter and stone children. That would be a good start. I’ll believe Christians are responsible moral people when they stop shuffling their feet and do something about one of the most horrific books in our libraries. I leave you to ponder: redact or add marginalia?
Today progressive forces are working around the world to put an end to child battering. Who opposes this? In the main, Christians. And please don’t shuck this off on “bad” Christians. The reason parents (and teachers in 20 states) batter their children so freely is contained in the bible which is the common source of guidance for all believers in Christianity. Given holy direction means some parents batter their children with absolutely no sense of guilt, indeed some are proud to announce they are following their Lord. Ruthless twisted people like James Dobson must share the blame.
If religion is to be regarded as such a positive force in human lives, and if our holy books offer the best moral guidance humanity can conceive of, and if these holy books have been around for centuries, why was wanton cruelty extensively visited on children in the past? Historically, religion was far more prevalent as a means of social control than it is now. I mean, if you were so incautious as to say you did not believe, the establishment would cook your a**. Priests carefully attended to those who did not show up on Sundays (maybe they still do). Given these facts, why didn’t the holy books exert the beneficial power modern adherents extravagantly claim for them now? Indeed, examine the world around us today and you will see children pressed into military service, abandoned on the streets, sold into slavery, sexually abused, and murdered with impunity. In the midst of golden temples to religion stocked to the rafters with holy books.
Nick Frost, a professor at Leeds University has chronicled the history of child welfare in his seminal anthology, Child Welfare, Historical Perspectives, portions of which are available on line through Google Books (according to Amazon books, this tome is cited by over 100 other works):
I would guess that most modern people are shocked reading this book and find the facts documented by Nick Frost hard to believe. I have no problem believing what his anthology relates and there is ample evidence the scholarship is well substantiated.
Just last month the Ryan Commission in Ireland released their report. Anyone with a heart is horrified by the details provided in this report. How such despicable treatment of vulnerable children could exist for decades in Catholic institutions should make us all stop and demand some answers. The horrors meted out by Irish Catholic institutions bears witness to what happens when a system has power over people and that system is not answerable to those people. Moreover, when that powerful system refuses to hear the cries of children. Bad Christians? No, I say bad systems. There is undeniable evidence the children tried to escape and tried to get help. Their cries were ignored. Why? Will some practicing Christian please tell me why the cries of the children were ignored? What systemic problem in religion allowed this to happen in modern times.
Here is a taped session of a victim responding to the the Ryan Commission:
(Read the comments viewers left, this video segment is powerful and some say it may even result in all the Catholic orders in Ireland having their bank accounts frozen.)
Will Kott did the transcript and has this to say:
“A question is asked about the Ryan Commission report on child abuse within institutions run by the religious orders in Ireland. After the panel had spoken the questioner responded and his response…well see for yourself.
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