Category Archives: Religion

What is it with the Right and disrespecting our troops?

Australian troops in Afghanistan and Iraq have fought and died for the Australian national anthem, and yet back here, far from any war zone, fanatical right-wing unpatriotic “Christian” zealots are busy changing the words and indoctrinating vulnerable kids with their un-Australian agenda:

THOUSANDS of schoolchildren are being forced to sing an alternate version of the Australian national anthem that installs “Christ” as the country’s head of state and removes any reference to the Southern Cross.

In a move that outraged parents’ groups have labelled “disrespectful”, some 50 Christian schools of mixed denominations have replaced the second verse of Advance Australia Fair with the lyrics, which begin, “With Christ our head and cornerstone, we’ll build our nation’s might”, for school assembly renditions.

Our diggers must be rolling around in their graves. As Jim Wallace might say – “Just hope that as we remember Servicemen and women we remember the Australian national anthem they fought for – wasn’t a bad religious parody!”

Other rightwingers are angry that their supposed allies didn’t take the opportunity to remove the inconvenient “boundless plains to share” bit.

UPDATE: After a psychologist announced research indicating that monogamy is “not natural”, fears are high that the Australian Christian Lobby will start campaigning against it. Long being at war with things that are “not natural” (from IVF to homosexuality), the fundamentalists are expected to turn on monogamy and marriage for being some sort of a modern social construction.

Jim Wallace could announce his “defend traditional infidelity” campaign any moment.

An embarrassment of malice and stupidity

It’s quite an extraordinary phenomenon: people exchanging nasty and stupid communications like the below not only with people they know are sufficiently nasty and stupid to take it at face value, and to spread it further – but they send them out far and wide, to friends, to family, to acquaintances, to the community at large, apparently confident that these views are actually likely to be held by a majority of their countrymen; apparently unaware of how embarrassing it really is.

For example, this utter idiocy sent to a friend of mine by a member of their extended family:

IMPORTANT

AUSTRALIA WILL BE HOLDING A CENSUS IN AUGUST

DO NOT LEAVE THE “RELIGION” SECTION BLANK. BE SURE TO AT LEAST TICK CHRISTIAN (OR YOUR UPBRINGING FAITH).

1,000,000 MUSLIMS WILL TICK THEIR BOX.

10,000,000 AUSTRALIANS WILL LEAVE IT BLANK THEN WONDER WHY A MOSQUE IS BUILT IN THEIR NEIGHBOURHOOD!!!

PASS THIS ON TO ALL YOUR FRIENDS.

Um, no, I don’t think I will, because I don’t want them to think me a paranoid loon. Anyway, what’s wrong with a mosque in my neighbourhood? Do you think my kids (well, cats; I only have cats at the moment) will CATCH MUSLIM? Instead of the Christianity they’ll catch by walking past one of the many local churches?

And… what do you think the connection is between the survey and the building of mosques? Do you think the government is going to start building mosques? One in every street that houses a muslim, perhaps? Seriously?

And… “10,000,000 AUSTRALIANS WILL LEAVE IT BLANK”? Wow. Given that we non-religious types haven’t yet managed to remove marriage discrimination, and we’re still contributing taxpayer money for school chaplains instead of qualified counsellors, and apparently NSW is about to lose ethics classes because Fred Nile would rather the kids of non-religious people sat quietly in a room once a week contemplating their impending eternal torment… well, I’m impressed to learn that we’ve apparently managed to talk the millions of Australians who filled in actual religions on the last census into not doing that this time. How did we do it? Was it reminding people that if they say they’re Christian they’ll be assumed by politicians to be represented by that crank Jim Wallace of the Australian “Christian” lobby? Was it a general discomfort about what organised religion had been doing in their names? Or was it the evil secular humanist mind-control ray we’ve installed in every computer screen?

(It definitely wasn’t the last one. Forget I said anything. Fooorrgettt.)

It is sad to think that there are those out there who are so disconnected from reality that they could actually believe the above. Who are so determined to believe that their base discomfort with other cultures is something to be proud of, something to hope others share, something to justify any paranoid fantasy no matter how absurd.

These people need help. They need to be encouraged to question the sillier bits of their delusion until they start to see through the whole rotten edifice. And then they can start to unpack the hostility towards their fellow human beings that prompted them to accept something so nasty and hollow.

I don’t know that I really want to ask this – but what disturbing rubbish have those in your extended circle been sending you? Did you let them know, gently, just what you thought of it, and try to help them rejoin the rest of us?

UPDATE: Best retort to this I’ve seen:

@jonathonoake Remember to put ‘male’ on your Census forms, otherwise the government will build a Fernwood gym in your area.

SNAP.

Burqas: because we’re all against special privileges for religion

Apparently the tiny number of Australian women in burqas is causing a great deal of upset around this Wide Brown Daily Telegraph.

And you can understand why. After all, when the police pull us over, ordinary balaclava-wearing Australians have to take them off. When we go into the bank, we’re forced to remove our menacingly dark-tinted motorbike helmets. When we go fencing, those wearing those wussy total face masks that protect against epee-in-the-eye are mocked for the UNAUSTRALIAN NANCY BOYS THEY ARE.

So it’s entirely legitimate for us to be up in arms about the full face-covering burqa and for Today Tonight to compare it with fanatics in Afghanistan who MURDER OUR TROOPS. We don’t want weird exceptions for religious groups – why shouldn’t they live under the same rules as the rest of us?

Except of course that obviously religious organisations shouldn’t pay taxes like ordinary Australians.

Obviously they should get exemptions under anti-discrimination legislation to enable them to discriminate against employees in ways that no other organisation can, for entirely arbitrary prejudiced reasons that have nothing to do with the requirements of the jobs in question.

Without a doubt they should get special funding from the taxpayer to run their own schools.

Naturally we should pay religious organisations to provide unqualified school chaplains in place of qualified counsellors – what they lack in actual ability to provide proper care to vulnerable children, they make up in ability to provide taxpayer-funded religious indoctrination.

And why wouldn’t we accede to the demands of the minority of people who oppose marriage equality on religious grounds and continue to discriminate against gay people in the law?

So yes, special rules for some religions. But not the bad ones we don’t like (not that we’re being racist, because Muslims aren’t a race, they’re just a cultural group that we can single out and stereotype in ways indistinguishable from racism).

Because that just wouldn’t be fair.

Coalition finally standing up to religious lobby

Finally, the Liberals object to religious lobbyists dictating to ordinary Australians.

A member of Tony Abbott’s front bench said religious representatives were entitled to their views, but they weren’t shared by most Australians…

Coalition frontbencher Kevin Andrews said the issue was not as clear-cut as the religious representatives suggested.

“In my movement about Australia, that’s not the view that the great majority of Australians have at this stage,” Mr Andrews said.

Discovering the existence of separation of church and state, and realising that support for discrimination against gay people was now a minority view, Kevin then agreed to support marriage equality.

No, not really.

Reminding us why ALP inactivity is preferable to Liberal Party destructiveness

And the week of appallingly backwards and destructive policy by the Victorian Liberals continues:

Fury as Baillieu rams through pro-discrimination law

The Victorian Government has cast the rules of Parliament aside to reintroduce a bill that will allow faith-based groups to discriminate on grounds such as religion, marital status or gender.

Seriously, whenever there’s a terrible Labor government and you’re thinking “the Liberals can’t be any worse than this”, please remember – YES, THEY CAN.

UPDATE: You know what’s even more galling about this? That when Labor went to remove those exemptions for discrimination from the Act, they compromised and permitted religious organisations to discriminate on employees’ private lives so long as they could show a connection between the role and the ground. Religious schools could still sack the gay teacher, they just couldn’t sack the gay gardener.

But even that wasn’t good enough for the bigots. They needed to sack the gay gardener. Sanitarium needs to be able to sack the single mother. St Vincent’s Hospital needs to be able to sack the divorcee. How could they provide services if they can’t?

So what was the point of the ALP giving them the concessions they did? The ALP might as well have said, no, we’re not going to permit you to discriminate against employees on the grounds of what they do in their private life at all. Clearly you can’t compromise with these people.

Let’s hope that when this issue is revisited, next time Labor is in – and it had bloody well better be revisited – that Labor doesn’t even try compromising with the bigots. It’s not like they could be any more hostile to it, anyway.

I hope that these people live long enough to see gay marriage legalised and all forms of discrimination against gay people ended, I really do. Because unlike their victories, which are temporary and on the wrong side of history, once that psychological barrier is crossed, that’s it. Short of a collapse of civilization and the rise of a theocratic heart, they’ll never be able to undo it, any more than racists can revive apartheid or misogynists can take away women’s vote. I hope they live long enough to see it – and I hope we don’t have to wait all that long for the discrimination to end, either.

Things they don’t want to hear or see

I wasn’t going to comment on Robert Clark’s silly (and fucking outrageous) plan to get police to issue on the spot fines for swearing in public, until I read Dee Madigan’s remarks on The Drum and realised just how this is going to affect vulnerable people:

In fact, what is considered to be ‘normal community standards’ is highly subjective at the best of times. It should not be a decision made in the heat of the moment by a policemen who, let’s face it, would be unlikely to be objective about someone they are right in the middle of having a problem with.

And it means that any person in any sort of dispute with police has a way to be charged immediately. And this is where the new laws are most insidious.

Empirical evidence in New South Wales, Western Australia and the Northern Territory shows that laws which focus on offending behaviors have a disproportionate impact on juveniles and minority groups. For example, in Western Australia, Aboriginals are 15 times more likely to be charged for swearing. And in New South Wales, offensive conduct crimes also have a disproportionate impact on Indigenous communities, and more often than not are used to deal with young people who are deemed to be showing disrespect to authority.

So, while swearing doesn’t actually hurt someone (and no, being offended isn’t the same as actually being hurt), laws that punish people for swearing can become a form of social exclusion which can be incredibly damaging to the most vulnerable groups in our society.

That’s very true. I’ve written before about how laws targeting things like begging result in homeless people being locked up because they have neither money nor identification; this is just one more quiver in the bow of the nastiest members of the police force. The vulnerable who use coarse language because it’s all they’ve ever known, will find themselves lumped with fines they can’t possibly pay. The mentally-ill, the drug-affected, those focused on bare survival – in practice, this will be a tool to make life even more difficult for those only just hanging on.

And for what? To protect our precious, dainty ears from hearing centuries-old English words? For fuck sake.

ELSEWHERE: On the subject of morons imposing their ‘being offended” on the rest of us:

A billboard company has defended its decision to bow to pressure to remove advertisements promoting safe sex among gay couples.

HIV campaigners are outraged the safe sex promotion featuring a fully clothed, hugging gay couple has been pulled from Queensland bus shelters by Adshel.

The Queensland Association for Healthy Communities launched its “Rip and Roll” advertisements a week ago and yesterday learned they were being scrapped after about 30 complaints.

You can guess by whom:

Australian Christian Lobby: People power wins in removing offending ads

If you’ve got the stomach, you can read the actual complaints here.

Got that, people we have an irrational prejudice against?

UPDATE (4.45pm): After protests, Adshel has now reversed its decision, with one of the silliest excuses ever:

Adshel CEO Steve McCarthy said the company had been the “target” of a an organised campaign by the ACL. He said in a statement: “It has now become clear that Adshel has been the target of a coordinated ACL campaign. This has led us to review our decision to remove the campaign and we will therefore reinstate the campaign with immediate effect.”

Wait, so if the ACL hadn’t admitted its link that would’ve been okay? It’s not that the objections were fatuous and discriminatory – it’s that they were organised?

Shoddy Frankston rail line results in new local member who thinks being gay is equivalent to dangerous driving, assault and murder

Well, we have an early contender for douchenozzle of the week: new Victorian Liberal MP Geoff Shaw.

Here’s one of Mr Shaw’s constituents, a young gay man objecting to the Liberals’ new plan to restore discrimination against gay people, unmarried people etc if the discriminator is a religious organisation – even a commercial business owned by a religious organisation where the religion has precisely nothing to do with the conduct of the business:

In his letter, Mr Quilligan told Mr Shaw that churches should not be allowed to ”impose their beliefs on others … in non-religious/mainstream or secular settings”.

”I’m 20 in a week. I’m able to vote. I want to work, live and love freely during the course of my life, and I want to do that without thinking that I can’t,” he wrote.

And here’s the offensive and asinine reply fired back by Mr Quilligan’s representative in parliament:

Mr Shaw replied the same day, quoting Mr Quilligan’s line back at him and adding: ”What if I loved driving 150kms per hour in residential areas?

”What if there was a convicted sex offender who stated that, or a child molester? Can they still do what they want? Under your statement the answer is yes. What if one wanted to get drunk, take drugs, steal and murder? What if one loved this? Can they also do what they want without thinking that they can’t?”

Um, no, Geoff, those things involve infringing other people’s rights. Dangerous driving puts other members of the public at risk. Sexual assaults and child molesting and murder and theft all have victims. Drug-taking and drunkenness are health issues.

In contrast, being gay victimises no-one. Consenting gay partnerships do not take away other people’s rights.

Essentially, the crimes against other people that you list are fundamentally different from a gay person wanting not to be discriminated against by potential employers simply for being gay.

There’s no alternative conclusion to draw from that email: Mr Shaw is an idiot. He’s an idiot who thinks being gay is somehow like committing criminal offences against other people. Worse, he’s an idiot with a vote in state parliament who thinks that he and other bigots have a right to discriminate against employees on grounds that have nothing to do with their employment, and that you’re oppressing him if you take away his “right” to do so. His right to sack them for no good reason trumps their right to be treated fairly at work. If you want to use his fatuous and offensive analogies, he’s like the… what was it? Oh yes, child molester, who argues that his imagined “right” to molest children, to wreck their lives to satisfy his own personal fantasies, is more important than their right to go about their day unmolested.

State Labor already left in massive discrimination exemptions, so that religious organisations and subsidiaries could sack employees on grounds of sexuality, marital status etc, so long if they could find a way that it was connected with their employment role.

But even that is not enough for the new “moderate” state Liberal government, already shaping up to be the worst since Kennett. No, religious organisations need to be able to sack the gardener for being gay. It’s the only way to keep their geraniums pure.

Oh, and you might have missed Mr Shaw’s maiden speech to parliament, which he opened with a parody of the “acknowledge the traditional owners of this land” recognition, acknowledging instead:

…the original owner of the land on which we stand – God, the Creator, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of the Bible.

Ooh, snap. Take that non-Christian indigenous people unfortunate enough to live in Mr Shaw’s electorate.

Well done, people of Frankston. Pissed off about the shoddy trainline, this is who you’ve put into parliament to represent you. Excellent work.