Trinidad and Tobago Humanist Association

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Dishonest arguments from Catholic Church

08 April 2008 • 360 words

If the Catholic Church wishes to be a moral arbiter, the least it could do is adhere to the tenets of honest argument.

The Catholic News newspaper, in a recent editorial on an ongoing scientific investigation on the biological roots of religious belief, opined, “From the believer’s standpoint, however, it can also be argued that irreligious behavior, or one that stands opposed to religion or God, cries out for a religious explanation. What leads one young man to kill another? What does the young criminal make of God?”

We do not know the specific answer to the latter question, although the criminological literature provides much data on the first. What we do know, however, is that religious belief does not stop the individual from committing crimes. In the prisons of Trinidad and Tobago, Roman Catholics, who make up 26 percent of our population, account for 45 percent of inmates. All other religions are similarly over-represented, except Hindus, who comprise 22 percent of the population but account for just 14 percent of prisoners. No prisoners list themselves as belonging to no religion. Surveys of youth homes show that 35 percent are Catholic. Only seven percent of the youths say they have no religion, which is the same percentage as the general populace.

The editorial goes on to say that “Most people will agree that no one institution can be blamed for the present state of the nation; that the family coming under the severe pressures of a secular world view and an education system gone awry are as culpable as any other.” This statement also does not match the facts, since secular nations have far lower rates of single-parent families than more religious societies. Germany, Britain, Netherlands, France, Denmark, Sweden, and Japan range from a mere seven to two percent of all families being headed by one person. In our nation where 93 percent of the populace belong to a religion, the single-parent rate is over 20 percent.

Instead of blaming secularism and non-believers, perhaps the RC Church, if it is truly concerned about crime and young persons, might instead question how it has contributed to the present scenario in T&T.

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