Not Guilty

The other day a friend told me about a poster he saw which made me both sad and angry. It was a photo of several eight year-olds dressed in their Sunday best, kneeling at the altar of a Catholic church, apparently taking their first communion. The large caption underneath read: Not Guilty.

Catholicism, indeed most if not all of Christianity, teaches the concept of original sin–that man is basically born bad. And of course if people are born bad, they need redemption, justifying the need for and existence of the Church.

I will be the first to admit that human beings are fallible, that we all make mistakes, and that a small percentage of us do very bad things (which is why we have prisons). But to teach innocent, young, impressionable children who do not have the capabilties and perspective to think for themselves that they are sinners is nothing short of reprehensible. It certainly doesn’t help their self image and self esteem and in some cases probably becomes a self-fulfilling propehcy.¬†And for those who later in life become unable to see through this fallacy, it can create tremendous guilt which plays out in innumerable ways.

As ponderous as it is, the Church, does slowly grow and evolve. After incontrovertable evidence from science a few centuries ago it stopped teaching that the Earth is the center of the universe. And just a few decades ago, it allowed mass to be spoken in English (instead of Latin) so that congegrants could actually understand what was being said. Hopefully the Church will grow and evolve to the point within a few decades (not centuries) that concept of original sin is no longer ingrained in the minds of innocent, impressionable eight year-olds.

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