By James A. Haught Daylight Atheism


Surprisingly, an important theologian and Catholic scholar says all religions do more harm than good.

Writing in the Harvard Divinity Bulletin (spring-summer 2019), Dr. Robert Orsi of Northwestern University delivers a blistering indictment titled “The Study of Religion on the Other Side of Disgust.”

Robert Orsi

He says that, “on balance, in the long perspective of human history, religions have done more harm than good.” He repeats that all scholars of faith should “pause to stare into the depths of the truth that religions have, over time, done more harm than good.”

Dr. Orsi describes how he grew up in a devout Italian-American Catholic family, went to mass several times weekly, and devoted his life to faith as chairman of Catholic studies in the Religion Department at Northwestern. He has written several religious books.

He focuses most of his disgust on the Catholic pedophile scandal and on bishops who tried to hide the sordid abuse of thousands of children. In fact, he says he’s writing a new book “about the role of Catholic sexuality and sexual abuse in the formation of boys at a Jesuit high school in New York City in 1967-71.”
But he also lashes Protestants. “I say on this day that I am disgusted with Catholicism and, by extension, with all religion.” Addressing fellow religion scholars, he wrote:

“Perhaps some of you are disgusted, for instance, by how cravenly evangelicals have embraced political corruption in the United States today in order to advance the allegedly Christian agenda of ostracizing and harassing young LGBTQ people, curtailing women’s reproductive rights and basic health care, and reviving a toxic white Christian nationalism.”

He quotes psychologist Richard Sipe, a former Benedictine priest, who estimates that half of Catholic clergy violate their vows of celibacy. Dr. Orsi gives a long account of repulsive sexual aggression forced onto Catholic youths.

“Church authorities are generally without concern for the children, sometimes very young children, for the teenagers, or for the men and women of whatever ages with whom priests are having sex. Their primary concern has been the protection of the church’s prerogatives, above all its political influence, property and finances.”

He adds:

“Please make no mistake about this: It is impossible to separate ‘religion’ here from the rape of children, young people, women, seminarians and novices…. Disgust teaches me that the history of religion is always also a history of perversions…. Disgust reminds me of the sexual abuse of indigenous people at the hands of Catholic missionaries… and of the sexual abuse of orphans, of children with disabilities, of drug-addicted teenagers.”

Dr. Orsi wrote that it’s difficult for him to voice contempt for the church that has engulfed his entire life. “Do you think this is easy for me? I needed to tell you what has brought me to this horrible place.

He concludes:

“Disgust is the final step in the explication of the idea of lived religion. On the other side of disgust is a clearer vision of how religion is actually lived in everyday life, with its intimate cruelties, its petty as well as profound humiliations, its sadism and its masochism, its abuses of power and its impulses to destroy and dominate.”

America has many university religion departments, scholarly religious foundations, and other religion research centers. I wonder how many of the experts quietly share Dr. Orsi’s view that religion is harmful?

The Northwestern scholar didn’t mention religion’s worst flaw: that it’s based upon lies, supernatural fairy tales that affront the intelligence of educated modern people.


Religion is a cancer of spirituality.

The psychologist Erich Fromm has a wonderful essay on the difference between priests and prophets.

The prophets announce God’s message.

The priests hijack the message, lock it away, and give people an access to God in return for obedience to the priests and of course, money for the priests.

Religion is evil.

Spirituality is good.

Down with religion.

Up with spirituality.



That is not a response: it’s an emotional reaction.

Can you do better than a petulant 13-year-old? Can you actually address the points he made here, one by one?


8.15: No Pat, it’s your crappy a**e again. You despise the Catholic Church – a church that cradled you and from which you benefited hugely when you belonged to it. Your analysis as per usual is so childish, so infantile, so ignorant…your inner horsecrap comes out frequently.


Pat: I agree with the distinction between religion and spirituality if, by the latter, you refer to the essence in individuals which moves them to think and act with care, consideration and respect for others and our shared environment. That, of itself, suffices. There is no need for a God or his alleged rules and regulations of religious requirements to guide our spirituality.
The realisation of the harm done by, and in the name of religion, is long overdue.
“Good without God ” seems more altruistic than “Good because He’s watching and might punish me.”


MMM, Spirituality is not confined to caring and acting, although caring and acting are vital.

The appreciation of nature, animals, music, art etc are all connected to spirituality.

As such, you can have two kinds of spirituality – a God centred spirituality and a spirituality without God.

God is important, I would say vital, in my life. But I have no fear of God and his punishments.

My thoughts and relationship with God are based on two way love and my desire to try and be “good” for goodness’ sake and not for fear of punishment or hope of reward.

But I readily admit that there are many atheists who leave religious people in the halfpenny place when it comes to good actions and indeed healthy, as opposed to, stinking thinking.


12.20: MMM: your so called good without God philosophy as practised by godless/atheistic regimes has left monumental legacies of horror, murder, mayhem, death, deprivation, famine….need I go on? Your damning of religion is so obviously biased and partisan. Yes, there is a clear distinction between religion and spirituality, but religious belief is also a noble ideal.


Dear MMM,

The hundreds of millions of deaths as a result of Godless ideologies such as Nazism, Communism, Maoism and the incalculable millions of babies (40 to 50 million each year ) slaughtered in their mothers’ wombs because of agnostic/atheistic secularism is a testament to and empirical evidence of how barbaric mankind becomes without the true light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.


There are 125,000 abortions globally every single day and the slaughter of the innocents is coming to Northern Ireland thanks to Sinn Fein, the Labour party and the SDLP.



I’m conscious that this debate could turn into a competion to determine which ideology, Christian or non-Christian, was worse than the other, but this is where it’s going.

You’ve forgotten that Roman Catholicism and other Christian denominations, all the way from Augustine, approved so-called ‘just war’. And this approval extended to the killing of literally millions in both world wars of the twentieth century.

No godless ideology has approved more human slaughter than the Roman Catholic/Christian one.


Your last sentence, MMM, is true. I hate to admit this, but it is true.
Roman Catholicism turned God into a wrathful, domineering terror-to-come, while holding up its clerical caste and its baroque rituals as the antidote to this.
Yes, there have been glorious moments of heroic virtue, but behind it all lay the above.
Even such saints as Julian of Norwich, with their soaring spirituality, felt it necessary to impose upon themselves extreme suffering in search of God..when all the time he already was within them.
If God exists (and I believe he does), then my religion has drawn a veil between me and him, that I might not see him fully, but rely on it to paint a fuller picture: a very much darker one.


Hymn – There’s a wideness in God’s mercy – Lyrics
There’s a wideness in God’s mercy,
Like the wideness of the sea;
There’s a kindness in His justice,
Which is more than liberty.
There is no place where earth’s sorrows
Are more felt than up in Heaven;
There is no place where earth’s failings
Have such kindly judgment given.

But we make His love too narrow
By false limits of our own;
And we magnify His strictness
With a zeal He will not own.
There is plentiful redemption
In the blood that has been shed;
There is joy for all the members
In the sorrows of the Head.

For the love of God is broader
Than the measure of our mind;
And the heart of the Eternal
Is most wonderfully kind.
If our love were but more simple,
We should take Him at His word;
And our lives would be all sunshine
In the sweetness of our Lord.

Liked by 1 person

Thank you Magna.
I well appreciate that many people have a spirituality, and corresponding profile of altruistic behaviour, not essentially dependent on a “fear” of God’s retribution, but based on a loving relationship bound up with their understanding of a caring benevolent Creator God, such as +Pat comments above.
But it’s indeed the moot point as to how much human behaviour is motivated primarily by wariness of divine retribution and the pervasive interdicts of religion: and, of course, the use of such a mandate by the self appointed purveyors of religion.


Apparently, Orsi isn’t a priest; never was.

His article is not an easy read, as it was clearly written for fellow academics in his field of research.


In the Harvard Divinity Bulletin Fr Orsi’s article is sub-titled, ‘Modern Catholic sexuality is a dark and troubled landscape’.
Certainly no other body of Mainstream Christians has tolerated depravity to such an extent as as the RCC.


He is right about the toleration of depravity by the RCC, its hierarchy and clergy. The emphasis is not on God but on promoting the man made establishment.


Begorra hi. Religion has become like football. The game is played but the team is mine. The ball is a fistful of £5rs. As the Boss says The wise person is one who brings from the storehouse that which is old and that which is new

Liked by 1 person

8:42am Yes. Sadly that is very often the case.
But – St Paul’s letter to the Galatians, chapter 5 verse14 – “For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbour as yourself.”.
That’s a quote from The Law, the Pentateuch: Leviticus chapter 19 (verse 18).
Here’s a short children’s cartoon expositing that chapter (and it’s neither Catholic nor Protestant,but Reform Jewish).


Good Evening Fly hi.
Begorra fly if religion is football the church is brilliant at scoring own goals.
Some need to be permanently dropped some made subs some not fit for purpose.
Management don’t seem up to the job. Time for a few women in the team.
Bye bye fly hi.


Actually if you read that article it’s full of incorrect information about health and HIV transmission.


God Himself will tell you of my great faith which is only surpassed by my greater humility


I have a feeling that this is only the tip of an iceberg we have heard so far about Wonersh and the other seminaries in England. The dioceses pay over £30 000 a year for each seminarian they send to the sex clubs run by the church. Condoms and lube not included.


Pat, you’re the absolutely bestest and spiritualest bishop ever. I feel that I can only approach you on my knees. I’m in love with you Pat and confess, God forgive me, am very jealous of your husband. Would you consider maybe a wee fling, Pat? Sure nobody will ever know.


2.33: The only “ex” Magna knew was the “ex-it” from seminary when he was flung out! Who the hell could have a relationship with that crazy, dysfunctional madman?


Oh but Mag was gaaaaaawjissss back then. Thin-eyed, blue haired, blond-framed. Everyone fancied him. His dorty jocks, surreptitiously filched from his room when he were up the Graff hurling like a legend, fetched a small fortune on the black market.

When he cut and went back to de Black Nort, the whole population of Cunty Cilldara was gutted.

Brenda and Jockstrap Jones would have such fun with little old Maggers if they had been around back then. Alas, with Mag, the bloom has somewhat gone orf the rose.


any man that goes to an atheist event and shows his support to an organisation that ridicules people of faith is no friend of Jesus Christ.


@ 4:36 pm

Says you.
That’s exactly where people of faith need to go and you’d never know, you might even meet Jesus Christ!.


4:36, people of faith need to go to an atheist event? Rightttttt, ermmm ok 😂😂😂


+Pat, your GDPR request will be answered as it’s EU law. Your files are bleached. Lovely blank canvas.


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