I just watched the Intelligence Squared debate on the question of whether or not “The Catholic Church is a Force for Good in the World.” It was recorded back in 19 October 2009 and featured Archbishop John Onaiyekan and Ann Widdecombe arguing in favor; Christopher Hitchens and Stephen Fry arguing against.
The way these debates work is that the audience is polled at the beginning and the end and the results are compared. One side can get over half the final votes, but still lose because the other side gained more votes. This, of course, presents certain problems because in some highly charged debates, many people on one side won’t initially admit their position. Such was not the case on the Catholic question.
So the pro vote plummeted from 678 to 268, and the anti vote skyrocketed from 1102 to 1872. There were only 34 undecideds. I’ve never seen that before.
I think the most important reason for this result is that the Catholic Church does a lot of really bad things. The one issue that was brought up again and again was their stand on birth control. Frankly, I think the Church will eventually have to reverse its position on this issue. Eventually, people just won’t be willing stay in the church over it. This is not just about personal choice; it is about life and death in many parts of the world. And then there is the question of child rape, but I doubt that had much to do with the results.
Another reason the Catholic Church lost this debate, almost as important as the facts of the matter, is that Widdecombe and (to a lesser extent) Onaiyekan did a really bad job of debating. Hitchens and Fry were great, of course, but they didn’t really need to try. If you watch the whole debate, you can skip all of the pro debating; it isn’t worth watching.
 This is my first YouTube upload!