There's a lot of criticism of what churches and religious organizations do, but maybe not quite so much of what they are. This is only natural since it's easier to point out flaws or problems in behavior than it is to argue that there is something inherently or intrinsically wrong in something's very nature.
It's an issue that's worth approaching, though, because such an argument, if successful, will be much more devastating.
Ophelia Benson writes:
I say it is, because it is a powerful but wholly unaccountable institution which tries to impose its dogmatic rules on everyone. It's authoritarian, and it's officially all-male. The source of its power and authority is its imaginary relationship to an imaginary god.
Those features taken together are enough on their own to make it an intrinsically immoral institution. It bosses people, on the basis of an invisible unaccountable god, and it answers to no one. That's a god-based dictatorship, and that's intrinsically immoral. It excludes half of humanity from even the possibility of sharing its power, and that's intrinsically immoral.
And those features aren't all. There's its long long history of murderous persecution of "heretics" and other rebels against its arbitrary unaccountable power. There's the squalid history of the Vatican as a state. There's the blood-chilling history of Ireland's industrial "schools" and Magdalen laundries. There's Savita Halappanavar. And there is of course the sprawling history of child-rape by priests and the church's refusal to obey the law and report its child-raping employees to the police.
The fact that people aren't forced to submit to the Catholic Church doesn't counter this argument, though this is a weak rebuttal given the fact that Catholic leaders actively work for ways that would force people to live under their church's rules. The fact that the listed problems exist elsewhere also doesn't amount to a good rebuttal because "intrinsic" doesn't mean that the quality at issue is unique.
The fact it's theoretically possible for the Catholic Church to reform and change also doesn't counter this argument; first, because it's had plenty of time and second because that doesn't change it's nature now. What's "intrinsic" to something can change over time, after all. A theoretical future Catholic Church might not be intrinsically immoral, but that doesn't affect what we have right now, today.
So the questions raised are: is an unaccountable dictatorship intrinsically immoral or not? If not, why not? If it's morally acceptable when the dictator is God but not when the dictators are human, why? How is it morally acceptable when it's still humans who are providing all we know about the alleged will of this alleged god?