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I can’t believe because of … Religious Hypocrisy

With the publication of the report into child abuse in Ireland in May and its horrific findings, many will no doubt add this to the list of reasons why they can’t believe in God. This is a perfectly understandable reaction, and one which the guilty will have to answer to God for. Jesus warned in Luke 17:2 that it would be better for such a person, “to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin”.

It is not simply this report alone which gives people reason to doubt Christianity—it is one in a long line of offences attributed to those who claim Christianity as their religion. Add to that list the Crusades, slavery, racism amongst the ‘Christian’ southern United States etc.

Several answers could be given. One is that disbelief in God fares no better—it has spawned the atrocities of Communism with its long list of human rights abuses all over the world, and the awfulness of Nazi Germany to name but two. Violence done in the name of Christianity is terrible, and must be addressed, but societies which have abandoned religion have been just as oppressive as those steeped in it. A deeper answer than disbelief in God is needed.

A second strand to the answer is to recognise that there is a difference between real Christianity and what is often claimed as Christianity. Genuine Christianity results in deep change, and has been at the forefront of the righting of ills such as slavery and racism. God will be the judge of the hearts of those who claimed Christianity and carried out evil in its name—and there will be many to whom he says “'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'” (Matthew 7:23). It would be a tragedy to reject Christianity because of frauds and yet to find yourself judged alongside them.

A third strand to the answer is to realise that the solution to these moral ills is not the abandonment of Christianity, but the embrace of it. The answer is to call the perpetrators to be more Christian, not less. The Bible condemns such behaviour in far stronger terms than any human has. This is what Martin Luther King realised as challenged those claiming Christianity whilst engaging in racism. He took the Bible and called them to live out what they believed—to be more Christian, not less.

Mark Loughridge is the minister of Milford Reformed Presbyterian Church. He can be contacted on 074 9123961 or You can read more or listen online at