With priests now having to wear QR codes which identify them as abusers, is it a surprise everyone is an atheist?

By Charlie Sawyer

Published May 24, 2023 at 11:50 AM

Reading time: 2 minutes

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It’s official, atheists and agnostics are on the rise, they’re raring to go, and have been growing in numbers. A recent survey, conducted by The General Social Survey, has found that just under 50 per cent of all Americans are unwavering in their belief of God’s existence. The poll also revealed that 34 per cent of Americans never go to church, the highest figure recorded in five decades. Could the tight Bible grip hold on the US finally be loosening?

It’s a well-known fact that trust and loyalty in the Church has been dipping for some time now. The US landscape has been completely transformed over the past 20 years or so, with an uptake in liberalism and progressive politics resulting in a decrease in religious affiliation. Gen Zers have also had a big impact on these figures, with a 2022 study revealing that 34 per cent of gen Z were unaffiliated to any church, compared to 29 per cent of millennials and 25 per cent of gen X.

But the real question is, can we pinpoint a couple of major reasons as to why people are heading towards Starbucks rather than Sunday service? Perhaps it has to do with the obscene number of sexual assault and molestation cases that’ve emerged from directly within the church.

In 2015, a film titled Spotlight recounted the Boston Globe’s extensive investigation into widespread and systemic child sexual abuse in the Boston area by a number of local Catholic priests. It was a massive hit, and also a serious and stark reminder of the prolific crimes that still continue to occur across religious spaces.

In what’s potentially the most dystopian and terrifying move yet, Catholic French priests will now be required to carry QR ID codes to identify whether or not they’re currently being faced with, or have previously been faced with a sexual abuse charge. According to The Week, the new ID cards, announced at the French Bishops’ Conference, can be scanned by a mobile phone, bringing up a green, orange or red light depending on the priest’s status and career history.

The church has stated: “By flashing the QR code, with a smartphone or tablet, an indicator indicates whether or not the ordained minister has specific restrictions on the exercise of his ministry, but without specifying the nature, in order to respect the confidentiality of this personal data.”

The ID cards, which have been evidently brought in to strengthen the fight against systemic child abuse within the Church, have been widely criticised—duh? François Devaux, a former president of La Parole Libérée, described the proposal as “one of the Catholic Church’s top three most stupid ideas.”

It is legitimately insane to consider the fact that individuals visiting churches or convening with religious figures may now need to scan a QR code to check whether or not it’d be safe to bring their children along. If you’re needing to go to such extreme and bizarre lengths to reassure people, there’s clearly a much bigger issue that needs to be properly addressed—a global history of mistrust and abuse across religious organisations worldwide.

An independent inquiry recently found that about 216,000 children are estimated to have been sexually abused by thousands of French Catholic priests, deacons and other clergy since 1950, as reported by Al Jazeera.

Faith is dropping, quite literally. And yes, gen Zers’ renewed perspective on the world might have something to do with it. But in reality, the Church itself is the only concrete thing truly responsible.

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