Is Damian Thompson the British Bill Donohue?

Someone tell him that that is no status to which one should aspire. He’s just written a brief, cranky complaint about Dawkins’ righteous smackdown of the Catholic church. Here’s the totality of it.

Richard Dawkins’s latest attack on the Catholic Church is worthy of a dribbling loony on the top of a bus. He calls the Church “the greatest force for evil in the world”, “an institution where buggering altar boys pervades the culture” and describes it “dragging its skirts in the dirt and touting for business like a common pimp”. (Pimps in skirts – that’s a new one.) And all in The Washington Post.

The peg for this piece? The Pope’s offer to make special arrangements for Anglicans converting to Rome, a matter I would have thought was none of Prof Dawkins’s business. But I’m not going to bother to argue with any of his points, because these are the ravings of a man who appears to have lost all sense of proportion. Seriously: is there something wrong with him?

Why, no, Damian! What’s wrong with you?

Let’s start with the quote-mining. He did not call the church “the greatest force for evil in the world”. He asked a question, “What major institution most deserves the title of greatest force for evil in the world?”, and gave a general answer, “In a field of stiff competition, the Roman Catholic Church is surely up there among the leaders.” I would have thought that the English could comprehend their own language, but apparently that isn’t necessarily true of religion columnists. Quelle surprise!

Second, Dawkins’ characterization of the Catholic church was spot on, and justified by a recital of its flaws: that bizarre belief in transubstantiation, its misogyny, its deadly opposition to contraception in Africa, its homophobia, its history of pederasty. It’s not simply a matter of administrative reshuffling of priests between the Church of England and the Vatican, as Thompson seems to imply, but an attempted merger brought about by enticing the most reactionary of the Anglican priesthood, something that will not correct the sins of the church, but worsen them.

By the way, Dawkins wasn’t the only person to notice the nasty implications of this merger. So did I. It’s even the subject of some humor.


So what’s wrong with you, Damian? Are you blind to the obvious?