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The insidious influence of the church on the state

Considering only 9% of the population attend church regularly, they seem very over-represented in our Parliament.

David Marr offers some reasons for this.

“We’re a very secular nation that trusts and admires Christians. We think they’re moral people. We see them having an especially direct connection to the bedrock of our society: what John Howard calls this country’s Judeo-Christian ethic.  We trust Christians, we trust Christian leaders and we trust that Christianity is good for the country.

But to understand what’s really going on between the churches and secular politicians in Australia you have to focus on the money. The financial privileges of the churches are politically untouchable. That’s a given in Australia. The $40 million or so Hillsong reaps each year from tythes, tapes and books like Brian [Houston’s] You Need More Money won’t be taxed. But now there’s a fresh development: a flood of public cash sluicing through the churches and church organisations to provide faith-based delivery of public services. The money is simultaneously enriching and silencing the churches.

The textbooks tell us, that by supporting church morals, politicians offer a troubled electorate the sort of reassurance that persuades people to vote conservative even if it’s against their best – particularly their best economic – interests.  Support for the Christian idea of family – no poofs, no drugs, no divorce, no grown up video games, no Lesbian mothers – is the great consolation prize offered to real families whose futures have been made if not marginal then uncertain by the free market revolution of the last 15 years.

But let’s not forget in this the good old fashioned quids pro quo that flow from political backing of the churches. The service can be remarkable. George Pell declared there was no Catholic position on GST in the 1998 campaign. That was a circuit breaker. In the 2001 campaign he said he never comments during election campaigns so couldn’t protest the government’s treatment of refugees. And for the 2004 campaign, Pell – by this time Cardinal Archbishop of Sydney – joined forces with the Anglican archbishop Peter Jensen to damn Labor’s plans to divert public money from the richest church schools. Now that’s service. That’s getting your money’s worth.”

Pell also weighed in heavily in the carbon tax debate saying

“Some of the hysteric and extreme claims about global warming are also a symptom of pagan emptiness, of Western fear when confronted by the immense and basically uncontrollable forces of nature.   In the past pagans sacrificed animals and even humans in vain attempts to placate capricious and cruel gods. Today they demand a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.”

In October 2010, Pell even made a submission to the Senate’s Environment and Communications Legislation Committee which quoted heavily from Ian Plimer’s much panned book Heaven and Earth to claim there were “good reasons for doubting that carbon dioxide causes warmer temperatures”.  In 2011, despite having zero scientific qualifications, he delivered the annual Global Warming Policy Foundation lecture in London in which he liberally quoted Christopher Monckton.

Tony Abbott described Pell as a mentor and “one of the greatest churchmen that Australia has seen”.  Pell is now under investigation, not only for his role in covering up child sex abuse, but also allegedly being a perpetrator.  But that doesn’t stop Attorney-General Brandis from meeting with him secretly in Rome.

Whilst still wielding great power, particularly in Coalition ranks, the Catholic Church is in decline.  The Pentacostals, whilst relatively small in number, are now the fastest growing religion in Australia.

In his maiden speech, Scott Morrison singled out Hillsong leader Brian Houston for praise as a mentor.  Houston has since been referred to the NSW Police by the Royal Commission for his failure to adequately deal with his father’s sexual abuse of children.

The Royal Commission has exposed in case study 18: conflict of interest, shortcomings and mismanagement by the AOG/ACC executive and its then President, Brian Houston, when handling the Frank Houston child sex abuse allegations.

Stuart Robert is another Pentacostal parliamentarian who said in his maiden speech that his “life has always been guided by a strong Christian faith that has set my moral compass and cemented my values.”

“I am proud of our nation’s common Judaeo-Christian heritage and the values that underpin that heritage and, indeed, underpin our society and way of life.  I am proud of the personal freedoms we enjoy, based on a bedrock of Christian based ethical standards.”

Stuart Robert was demoted for accompanying a Liberal Party donor to China to secure a business deal from which he would benefit financially.  He is also under investigation for electoral funding misdemeanours.

In his speech he named Gary Skinner, leader of the  Ugandan-based pentecostal  Watoto Church , as one of the “great influences over my life”.

Mr Robert was a founding director of the offshoot Watoto Australia.

Gay and lesbian activists say Watoto and Mr Skinner are virulently anti-gay and have contributed to violent homophobia in Uganda. Mr Robert – who was also a member of Watoto’s International Board – has travelled to the Ugandan capital Kampala many times to meet Mr Skinner, who says homosexuality is “degrading” and an “inhuman sin” that brings disease and destroys families.

On at least two occasions Mr Robert charged taxpayers for the travel, with the bill totalling almost $20,000. On two other occasions he declared free travel to Africa on his register of interests, paid for by Watoto.

The Church supported a bill calling for the death penalty for gays.  The bill was eventually passed without the death penalty included, instead imposing a life sentence for homosexuality. The new version of the bill – which also imposes seven-year prison terms for “aiding and abetting” homosexuals – was annulled by the country’s constitutional court but only on procedural grounds. Proponents are agitating to resurrect it.

Scott Morrison said that our Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.  He said Australia is not a secular nation – it is a free nation.

This symbiotic relationship between church and state is costing us a fortune both in lost taxes and inflated state support for very wealthy schools and it entrenches discrimination based on religious beliefs.

And it sure doesn’t seem to be helping our politicians’ moral compass or ethical standards. But that’s hardly surprising when you look at who they choose as “mentors”.


77 comments

  1. Aortic

    having done business with the ruthless Hillsong so called church, if you have snake oil salesmen like Pell and Houston for mentors your moral compass is way skewed.

  2. bobrafto

    Stop the Big Liberal Waste
    We need a list and can I start with:
    School chaplaincy $245M
    NBN Fcukup $800M

    Just 2 items over $1B

    How’s that comparing so far to the Big Labor Waste?

  3. Kaye Lee

    Speaking of snake oil salesmen….

    ” />

  4. Kaye Lee

    bobrafto,

    I had a go at doing The sequel to the Little Book of Big Labor Waste about 18 months ago

    http://theaimn.com/the-sequel-to-the-little-book-of-big-labor-waste/

    Also…

    Mark Thomson, senior analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute and widely regarded as the country’s leading independent defence budget expert, has calculated that the increase will push total defence spending to more than $1 trillion over the next 20 years, accounting for inflation.

    http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/defence-spending-boost-will-put-1-trillion-price-tag-on-next-two-decades-says-expert-20160223-gn1jel.html

    Immigration Minister Peter Dutton’s army of spin doctors and communications staff is costing taxpayers more than $8 million a year, and his department is also spending up on external media consultants.

    http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/peter-dutton-spends-8-million-on-spin-doctor-army-20160901-gr6oas.html

    The Big Four accounting firms have picked up at least $2.6 billion in fees from the Australian government over the past ten years.

    https://independentaustralia.net/business/business-display/pwc-gives-bludgers-a-lesson-in-corporate-welfare,9530

  5. James Sutherland

    So Kaye… what have we actually actually learned in this article? An unbalanced, unreaserched, poorly articulated spew of the same old cheap, free hit, lefty hipster anti faith rhetoric.

    I’m not disagreeing with all your points… but I think we generally get it… you hate the church.

  6. Miriam English

    It is weird that Christians put themselves on a pedestal of high morality when studies show that religion actually correlates with very poor morality. Wherever there are high concentrations of religion you find high rates of murder, divorce, teen pregnancy, abortion, sexually transmitted disease, lower life expectancy for adults, and higher infant mortality. Couple that with the amazing way fervently religious people habitually lie for their god, I’m amazed religion hasn’t been flushed down the toilet as a dangerous delusion long ago.

    And of course, let’s not forget all the burning or drowning of women under suspicion of being witches, not to mention the death-grip the church had on scientific progress for a thousand years, and all the orgies and massive corruption of a long string of Popes during that time. Let’s also remember the way the church backed and excused Hitler and his mass murder. It’s also hard not to notice how many of the brainless climate change deniers are religious. And the disgustingly long record of paedophiles in the church doesn’t help their record on morality either.

    As usual, I have to point out that not all religious people are immoral liars; some are truly wonderful people. I’m talking about averages here, but if Christians want to talk about Christianity’s record of morality then we have a duty to stop them getting away with more lies.

  7. Kaye Lee

    In 1633, the Inquisition of the Roman Catholic Church forced Galileo, one of the founders of modern science, to recant his theory that the Earth moves around the Sun. Under threat of torture, Galileo recanted. But as he left the courtroom, he is said to have muttered, ‘all the same, it moves’.

    In 1992, 359 years later, the Church finally agreed. At a ceremony in Rome, before the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Pope John Paul II officially declared that Galileo was right. The formal rehabilitation was based on the findings of a committee of the Academy the Pope set up in 1979, soon after taking office. It took the committee 13 years to decide the Inquisition had acted in good faith, but was wrong.

    In fact, the Inquisition’s verdict was uncannily similar to statements by modern officialdom on more recent scientific conclusions, such as predictions about greenhouse warming. The Inquisition ruled that Galileo could not prove ‘beyond doubt’ that the Earth orbits the Sun, so they could not reinterpret scriptures implying otherwise.

  8. Kaye Lee

    “I think we generally get it… you hate the church.”

    It depends what you mean by “the church”. If you mean the coming together of people to do good deeds and to support those in need, if you mean forgiveness and inclusion and sharing, then I am all for it. If you mean archaic worship, obscene wealth accumulation, secrecy, misogyny, ignorance, elitism and intolerance, then I have problems.

    And I dispute the assertion that this article was unresearched. Follow the links. As for being a “lefty hipster”, my kids would find that pretty funny. I keep telling them I am so cool I don’t have to show it 🙂 In the 70s they used to call me a communist lesbian – I was one of those feminists Tony Abbott (and his church) seemed/seems so scared of.

  9. Harquebus

    Kaye Lee.

    Well said.

    Religions have the luxury of already being organized, filled with an army of brainwashed minions, have a large pool of potential like mined political candidates and can mobilize readily.

    In my opinion, religions should be R rated. Taking advantage of children’s trust and brainwashing them is child abuse.

    In my case, I relish the opportunity to humiliate and denigrate its practitioners at every opportunity, the only way to combat them, in the hope that others will not be so foolish or to give it up altogether.
    Faith based thinking does not require logic so, logical arguments are a waste of time.

    When I was five, I came home crying because the nuns had told me that I was going to hell. My mum pulled me out of religious instruction the next day.
    Thanks Mum. I am forever grateful.

    Cheers.

  10. Kaye Lee

    “I relish the opportunity to humiliate and denigrate its practitioners at every opportunity”

    Why? Some people whom I love and respect are also very religious. That is their choice. They are still people I admire. I will absolutely defend their right to believe and practice as they see fit. They do a great deal of good. Intolerance is not helpful in either direction.

  11. Bozo

    David Marr, not Mann.

  12. Kaye Lee

    Thanks – I will correct that now. 🙂

  13. Harquebus

    Kaye Lee
    The good that religions do is a human trait not a religious one.
    If one could rationally debate them, I would but, as I said, there is no other way. They do not have the intelligence to realize the absurdity that is theism and do not deserve respect.
    I’d be satisfied with just shutting them up but, they never do.
    Cheers.

  14. Kaye Lee

    For me, what it comes down to is this – I respect a person’s right to hold their own beliefs, I reject their right to inflict them on me.

    How can people like Bernardi and Christensen and Hanson cry wolf about halal foods and sharia law? THEY are the ones who want to make their religious beliefs law for all of us, not the Muslims.

    As for this concern for children, it rings insincere from a government who is actively contributing to the abuse of children as a deterrent to any other person seeking asylum and from politicians who include people who cover up the abuse of children as mentors.

    The church is worried that marriage equality will be bad for children? More than 450 people have made sexual abuse claims or substantiated complaints against Archdiocese of Melbourne priests, employees or volunteers alone since 1980. The Royal Commission, after more than three years, is still actively investigating what has become an unfathomable number of cases.

    http://www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au/public-hearings/case-studies

  15. lawrencewinder

    Good article… tax them.. like everyone else

  16. flohri1754

    Keep up the good work, Kaye Lee ….

  17. Kim Southwood

    Church and Politics: Both can make us angry at times and seriously try our patience.

    Both seem to have inveigled their way into human affairs as a means of organising our lives at an individual level and a collective level.

    Created by man, they have both grown cumbersome, bogged in self-serving dogma and seem to be dragging their feet in keeping up with the unfettered trajectory of human aspirations. We are moving on in spite of them through forces which appear to have no clear directive from either source.

    Both are corrupt in varying degrees. Both reflect our human condition: good and bad in parts. Both have secret agendas which render them less and less relevant.

    They encourage a kind of anarchic element in society today, where the individual is being emboldened to take all. Nothing seems to be working. But we carry on: good and bad in parts, heading somewhere.

    Hospitals, jails and detention centres tell their own story.

    Anyone think that Church and Politics should have brought us a little further by now if they really worked? Have we, of Christian and Democratic heritage, been so divided up as individuals that we have no collective vision of the best way forward?

  18. Harquebus

    Kaye Lee
    “I respect a person’s right to hold their own beliefs, I reject their right to inflict them on me.”
    Inflicting them onto kids? If religions did not do this, I would be closer to your way of thinking. So long as they brainwash children, I will denounce, ridicule and humiliate them in any way I can, all of them.
    Without the brainwashing of children, religions would cease to be relevant within a generation or two.
    Cheers.

  19. Kaye Lee

    Harqebus, I will let David Marr answer that….

    “Having been to a church school myself, I know the wonderful truth about these places: they produce hardly any Christians. Churches tie themselves in knots trying to make the machine more efficient – hiring only Christians as teachers, giving more Bible classes and less sex education – but nothing works to make these schools churn out battalions of faithful. Why? Because all those years of talking about Jesus have, in the end, an inoculating effect. A typical Christian education teaches you hymns and bible stories and lets you get your heady Christian years out of the way by late adolescence. Like acne.”

    Kim Southwood,

    “Have we been so divided up as individuals that we have no collective vision of the best way forward?”

    What an excellent question.

  20. wammm

    Any woman able to stand outside the churchm will see the advantage god gave men by letting them:
    set up the parameters of the church on earth
    make up the rules of the church
    interpret the words of god
    apply such interpretations that suit men and ignore or re-interpret any that don’t.
    They may look at the behaviour of their men in the name of the church and come to the conclusion that christianity began with men and continues for men.
    What they do with the info to educate the women prevented from learning by men or nature, is a moot point.
    But. surely, any religion that is controlled by women will be an improvement.
    As they are a very slight minority group increased with great support from many men, a rally behind the green, white and purple will show how easily the status quo could be overturned.

  21. bobrafto

    This symbiotic relationship between church and state is costing us a fortune

    The symbiotic relationship between the AFP and state is costing us justice, the AFP commissioner is an Abbott plant.

    Then you have Abbott’s Border Force, a version of the SS and personnel and ministers are immune from prosecution for any act of bastardry and they could make people disappear.

    This symbiotic relationship between Murdock and state is costing us a fortune, Abbott made the tax office cave in and refunded Murdock $882M and has now a clear run to rip off that amount forever. It is also costing the nation the right that newspapers have to their audience, balanced reporting and holding the govt. to account.

    It’s as though Abbott was setting us up for a dictatorship, church on side, cops on side, SS Border Force on side, military on side and Murdoch’s propaganda arm.

  22. Peter F

    @ James Sutherland – a bit of projection there, James.

  23. Kaye Lee

    wammm,

    I refer you to 1 Corinthians 14: 34 women are to be silent in the churches. They are not permitted to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. 35 If they wish to inquire about something, they are to ask their own husbands at home; for it is dishonorable for a woman to speak in the church.…

    or 1 Timothy 2:11 A woman must learn in quietness and full submissiveness 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man; she is to remain quiet.

  24. jim

    Considering only 9% of the population attend church regularly, they seem IMOO very,very very very, over-represented in our Parliament.

    . But now there’s a fresh development: a flood of public cash sluicing through the churches and church organisations to provide faith-based delivery of public services… aka priests in schools but what next priests in the social security office?.. The money is simultaneously enriching and silencing the churches. this means they are stealing tax payer monies they wouldn’t be dishonest like that would they?. BTW a good read.

  25. Percy

    History teaches us that in Roman times Bishops came about for the sole purpose of Tax collection and if you could not pay you were destined to eternal damnation

  26. LOVO

    All religions should be taxed…..and mocked. 😛
    If 9% of the people want to be silly twits thats fine with me so long as they pay for the privilege of being silly twits and not get a tax free ride on the backs of the rest of us “normal” tax payers……they should pay… not prey!!!!!!

  27. kerrilmail

    What really gets up my nose is the speed with which religious folk will assert they are being discriminated against and not having their religious beliefs accounted for in legislation and law yet they flatly refuse to acknowledge that their beliefs are being forced upon others? Swear on the bible was around long before making an “affirmation of truth”. Parliament starts with church services and prayers in our allegedly secular land. So many religious overtones are forced upon non believers and no one ever bleats about what would happen to a “person of no faith” who is forced to bake a wedding cake for a heterosexual couple? Or how a civil celebrant may feel if forced to marry a religious couple? Or for that matter why my taxes support religious entities whilst they remain tax exempt? How can atheists tap into this tax exemption?

  28. NFP.

    Kaye Lee.
    You may be interested to know that one the Australian Sex Party Policies is that all churches be made to pay tax and their fair share of it.
    I know this personally as I have been through their policies and also volunteered for them at a couple of elections.
    Having the churches pay their fair share of taxes will also mean, that they will be classed as a business……….which is a side effect of taxing them……….
    With a combined total income from all businesses and such from church owned businesses, that would mean without using a calculator,
    Approx $1.5b in taxes each year just from the churches,, Imagine that money going into government coffers to help the budget deficit???

  29. Kaye Lee

    Australia is one of only three countries in the world where even the commercial enterprises of religious organisations are granted tax concessions. They are not required to report the breakdown of their charitable, business or investment activities.

    Federally, these apply to income tax, fringe benefits tax, and the goods and services tax. State government exemptions cover land tax, payroll tax, stamp duties and car registration fees. Local governments provide exemptions from municipal rates. Concessions may also be granted for some water and power charges.

    In 2008, the Secular Party of Australia made a submission to Treasury where they estimated the government’s financial assistance to religious institutions to be in the order of $31 billion annually.

    As the FBT is exempt to employees who are religious practitioners, eligible employers can provide remuneration packages that are biased wholly in terms of fringe benefits, thereby avoiding any income tax. This device can also create an unwarranted entitlement to social security benefits.

    In relation to the GST, an anomaly occurs in relation to ceremonies for weddings and funerals. If performed by a civil celebrant, GST is payable, whereas if done in a church, it is not. Apart from being grossly inequitable, the situation is of doubtful legality in the light of equal opportunity laws that prohibit discrimination on the grounds of religion.

    From 2008 …they name their sources if you look at the link

    Table 2 – Estimates of Cost to Taxpayers

    Income tax lost (at corporate rate ) $15.122 billion
    Capital gains tax lost (corporate rate) $6.529 billion
    Grants for family counselling $64 million
    Chaplains in schools programme $30 million
    Grants to religious schools (from commonwealth) $5.63 billion
    Grants to religious schools (from states) $1,8 billion
    Grants for abortion counselling $20 million
    Grant for interfaith convention Melbourne $2 million
    Grant for Catholic World Youth Day (state & federal) $140 million

    http://www.taxreview.treasury.gov.au/content/submissions/pre_14_november_2008/Secular_Party_of_Australia.pdf

  30. stephentardrew

    Good one Kaye still watching and enjoying. The screaming banshees should think before they speak. Boring having to endlessly reiterate your stand on religion. I have very similar views.

  31. Miriam English

    Holy cow! Their fraction is only 9%??? It just hit me that there are less church-goers than gays in Australia. Talk about being oppressed by a powerful minority!

  32. Max Gross

    I do NOT “trust Christian leaders” any more than I do those of other equally bizarre cults or superstitious beliefs. The sooner we ban religious “believers” from holding any public office the better off we will be as a society and a nation.

  33. Kaye Lee

    I don’t care what politicians’ spiritual “beliefs” are any more than I care who they love or what their ethnicity is. When it comes to their job they must be advised by experts, not ancient religious texts and rituals.

  34. susan

    Max Gross, I totally agree with you. Experience has taught me that if someone spruiks their religious beliefs I should be on guard.

    Excellent article.

  35. Wombie McWombieface (@TheNakedWombat)

    Speak for yourself. Christians are untrustworthy people who have a long history or committing torture, rape, slavery and murder. We have George Pell in hiding in the Vatican. We have one Christian crises after another but Christians fear halal foods while refusing to rally to end the days of violent Christians.

    Christians must not ever have any trust awarded to them ever again.

  36. totaram

    “I refer you to 1 Corinthians 14: 34 women are to be silent in the churches. They are not permitted to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. 35 If they wish to inquire about something, they are to ask their own husbands at home; for it is dishonorable for a woman to speak in the church.…

    or 1 Timothy 2:11 A woman must learn in quietness and full submissiveness 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man; she is to remain quiet.”

    Wow! Not being well-informed about christianity, or any of the Abrahamic religions, this is truly eye-opening. I suppose this all goes back to the Old Testament (Pardon the ignorance). Thanks for sharing.

    Of course all religious organisations should be taxed except on their charitable arms which can be treated like any other NGO’s/Charities, where incidentally they want to remove the tax-free status of “environmental activists”. Imagine that!

    Excellent article, as usual. Contrary to someone saying it is “poorly researched”, I would say the level of detail and depth of information is impressive.

  37. Kaye Lee

    totaram,.

    The bible is an endless source of interesting quotes. I wonder what Christensen and Hanson would make of these:

    1 Corinthians 11:5
    And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, for it is just as if her head were shaved.

    1 Corinthians 11:13
    Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered?

    I remember having to wear a handkerchief on my head at mass because I didn’t have a mantilla. I remember when Catholics weren’t allowed to marry outside their religion (it’s still frowned upon). Sadly, both Timothy and Corinthians come from the supposedly more enlightened New Testament.

    When Turnbull married Lucy Hughes, in Oxfordshire in March 1980, the ceremony took place in a church – but it was an Anglican church. At that time neither Turnbull nor Lucy was religiously committed. The brash Turnbull, then 25, resorted to lawyerly sophistry to persuade the local Church of England priest to solemnise the union: “You are part of an established church,” he argued. “So you’re like a public servant, and you have a duty to prevent fornication in your parish.” Perhaps we should quote that back to him re the marriage equality debate.

    Turnbull converted to Catholicism some time later, perhaps when he realised the connections his wife’s family offered?

  38. Miriam English

    I think Turnbull turned to Catholicism when his father in law said to him, “Feel the Force, Malcolm. If you only knew the power of the Dark Side….”

  39. Miriam English

    The next time a racist nutter goes on a rant about muslim women and their headscarves I’m going to post a collection of pictures of Hollywood hotties like Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly wearing headscarves.

  40. Matters Not

    If you want to understand Turnbull and his religious journey, here’s ‘a’ history of sorts. Perhaps his marriage to Lucy might be a starting point.

    The brash Turnbull, then 25, resorted to lawyerly sophistry to persuade the local Church of England priest to solemnise the union: “You are part of an established church,” he argued. “So you’re like a public servant, and you have a duty to prevent fornication in your parish.”

    The available evidence suggests he was a ‘smart arse’ then and he remains exactly that now. Always ready to adopt and abandon a supposed ‘ethical’ position when it suites his personal advancement.

    On many social issues, Turnbull is of the permissive left. He is a well-known supporter of state-sanctioned same-sex marriage and voted for the “morning after” abortion drug RU-486 in 2006.

    He once told the ABC: “Australians want to be free. They want to have independence… We [the Liberal Party] err on the side of respecting individual judgement and individual choices.”

    This philosophy – libertarianism – is more or less the opposite of the Vatican’s. And of many Protestant churches also. The former Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen, wrote in his 2008 book The Future of Jesus: “I think that Jesus would dispute all of Malcolm Turnbull’s positions.”

    Read more here.

    http://tma.melbourneanglican.org.au/news-malcolm-turnbull-faith

  41. wammm

    sorry my name is william angus macleod mchattie mxxxxx normally wam but wammm in full I was using my grandson’s ipad and added the extra mm.
    Dear Kaye,.
    I cannot see the difference in your references to the bible written and interpreted by men and my assertion that women should take heart that god created her in his image. Despite the boys tale of a rib, she/he did not just create adam who gives rise to eve ie the first birth.
    All those references are by men for women. Does that not strengthen my argument for women to revolt inside the church for the equality afforded them by god? For my history the green white and purple would put the wind up the pope et al.
    eg the legend of pope joan and, thanks to a learned contestant on QI, the ritual of ‘habet duos testiculos et bene pendentes’

  42. Kaye Lee

    The Hillsong empire Houston founded pulled in tax-free revenues of nearly $80 million in Australia last year and more than $100 million internationally. His wife and three children are all pastors.

    There are bible training colleges, a Hillsong Performing Arts Academy, a Hollywood-produced film in the works, and Brian and Bobbie’s many books, CDs and DVDs. Underpinning it all is the hugely successful and lucrative Hillsong United rock band, fronted by son Joel, which has soared to stratospheric heights on US Christian music charts.

    Houston’s father Frank died in 2004 aged 82, yet despite the gathering storm of abuse allegations, then senior police officer (now NSW police commissioner) Andrew Scipione attended his funeral. Scipione was also spotted at last year’s Hillsong conference,

    Former Hillsong regular Alex Pittaway, now studying theology in the US, says he saw one friend devastated after being told by the church that “we can’t have gay people in speaking or leadership roles”. He says others were left wounded after being directed towards what was known as “ex-gay reparative therapy”, aimed at “curing” them of homosexuality.

    The church’s financial operations are enmeshed in nine different corporate entities registered with the federal government’s Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission

  43. mark

    The great weet bix maker doesn’t pay tax.That is truly crook.mark

  44. mark

    bobbie and brian,enough to put you off new zealand.mark

  45. Kaye Lee

    As a teenager Lucy had a sudden crisis of faith while sitting in her school chapel, but began going to Mass again in the mid-1990s, at Sydney’s St Mary’s Cathedral. Her beloved father, T.E.F. (Tom) Hughes QC, federal attorney-general in the Gorton Government, also returned to the Catholic fold as an adult through the “wise advocacy” of Father Emmet Costello, a legendary Jesuit priest in Sydney (who was also a mentor to the young Tony Abbott).

    When Turnbull rediscovered religion he evidently followed his wife’s lead. During the Catechumenate process he received instruction from a Jesuit priest, Father Michael Kelly, and now attends Mass periodically at the Church of St Mary Magdelene in Sydney’s Rose Bay.

  46. mark

    malcolm T seems to have married into australias’ version of the royle,sorry,royal family.mark

  47. Anomander

    Adults who are incapable of growing out of a childish belief in imaginary friends, should be banned from holding any high office.

  48. Peter F

    When being shown around the base of Uluru about seven years ago I was told that there are three different levels of stories associated with the site. First are the children’s stories , used to identify different locations so that the children can be directed to meet at a particular location as required; second are the women’s stories not avaliable to the children; and third are the men’s stories available only to the men, who were the only ones with access to the top.

    Sadly, with all of the good that the christian churches can do, most of the congregation are stuck in the children’s stories. Most of the clergy moved on over a century ago, but the congregation wont hear of it.

  49. townsvilleblog

    The insidious influence of the church on the state – As a previous taxpayer of 30 years standing, I abhor the ‘god culture’ as far as the lack of taxes paid to our country by these parasites. I believe Sanitarium the maker of Wheat-Bix is owned by the 7th day Adventist Church cult and as such ‘god culture’ applies, Uncle Toby’s also make Vita-Brits only difference is that they pay tax and Sanatarium doesn’t, is this fair?

    When you begin to think of the massive amount of tax dodged by US of A corporations, then think of religious/cult/Church enterprises and the massive amount of taxes that they are dodging, and Australian billionaires like Palmer/ Lowy etc and the massive amounts of tax that they are dodging, what a great country Australia could be. The modern infrastructure that could be built if the federal government were to close the loop holes in the taxation legislation that they leave there so corporations, the ‘god culture’ and billionaires can dodge tax all of a sudden had to pay even 20% in income tax how our roads, trains, transport in general could be built via our federal government

    It won’t happen until or unless the everyday Australian stand together as one and scream “we’ve had enough and we are NOT going to take anymore, we want a “fair go” and we want it now!

  50. townsvilleblog

    The thing about religion is that ‘some people’ really believe in it (poor buggers) but of course all the ‘pastors’ Archbishops and high ranking people know that they are controlling the best ‘con’ business on Earth, bugger all overheads and pay day is on Sunday instead of Friday, what a great scam! Gullible people, some highly educated in the AoG case give 10% of their income to the cult. So in Jared Haynes case the rugby league footballer at the Gold Coast that would be a cool $120,000 per annum, by the way he is a good Christian member of Hillsong, he met a young woman in February whom he had unprotected pre-marital sex with in February, she has recently told him that she was pregnant with his child, so he has moved her into his luxury Gold Coast flat (no talk of marriage) and say’s he will look after her. Some people wonder why I am so angry about hypocrites – this is merely just “another” case in point!

  51. townsvilleblog

    The church’s financial operations are enmeshed in nine different corporate entities registered with the federal government’s Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission Yes Kaye, they are known as different identities in different locations, for example in North Queensland they are known as Calvary Christian Church, it certainly is a multi-headed beast with a host of (Peter Foster-like) pastors who are all seemingly different, some are relaxed, some are fire and brimstone all are charlatans-snake oil salesmen and women.

  52. amethyst3009

    Insidious comes from the Latin word insidiae, meaning an ambush !!

  53. alex

    The church has found a modern way to fleece people of money. Politicians.

  54. Harquebus

    Kaye Lee
    Not entirely related to your article but, I think that you and some others might like to read this.

    “One Palm Sunday, I asked the priest why God chooses to make some kids suffer if they didn’t do anything, and he told my mom I was rebellious and had no faith. So she made me spend Sundays from 12 to 7pm at church for the next nine years.”
    “I’m thankful for all the dresses my grandmother sewed for me while scolding me never to be ashamed if we were called poor because we were raised with dignity and integrity.”
    “The church is raising frustrated adults who in turn end up hurting other people. And the cycle keeps on spinning.”
    http://www.alternet.org/personal-health/i-endured-years-rape-and-abuse-my-stepfather-my-amazing-experience-ayahuasca-deeply

  55. paulwalter

    To me fundamentalist Christianity is about theology morphed to ideology (and vice versa) a similar process to what occurred in a certain European nation in the 1920s and 30s. In the US the brownshirts meet at church and store guns, ready to overthrow the godless.

    But is not the discontent stirred up by the Tea Party and Trump pointing the finger at the wrong enemy?
    Isn’t the real reason for the decline of the USA down to massive tax dodging by the ultra rich, who are incidentally very happy to see the unwashed in church, fearful of the damnation of their eternal souls if they think too deeply about how the world really works?

  56. wammm

    i was lucky Harquebus we lived in a churchless fishing village and I asked why the priest visited each week and my mum said you don’t have to go son and I stopped believing but continued asking which got me into trouble when we shifted to Adelaide.

  57. Harquebus

    wammm
    I am curious as to the trouble you got into. Would you elaborate a little please.
    Thanks.

  58. Alan Baird

    There is often a puzzling conundrum that is attendant upon a churchy (or not) upbringing. Is it better to be brought up in the “firmly comfortable in atheism” household or the “you’d better go ‘cos we did”. I was in the latter and grew to hate it, mostly due to sheer boredom. Later when the bullshit detector became activated with age (teen), I hated it for many and varied reasons. Will the unexposed child drift towards the church having had no earlier negative associations? I’m totally vaccinated. I can still smell that dusty vestry odour and the feeling of dismay when an ostensibly short hymn (you looked at the number on the board and flicked over the hymn book pages and saw four short verses) has double or triple emphases sung on every bloody syllable of every line and takes at least an hour before you can sit down. Te deum… or tedium? My vocal rejection of the church helped my parents lapse. They never returned. They later told me of the very ordinary behaviour of those who lectured us from the pulpit so they were already on the way.

  59. Zathras

    As long as churches continue to avoid making a contribution to society by paying tax they should have no say in how that society should function.

    Likewise they should not be laundering taxpayer payments for their private schools by donating it back to a certain political party via phoney shelf companies (as per The Exclusive Brethren in Tasmania for one).
    Even the Hillsong Church’s $80million plus per annum income is boosted by mysterious suitcases full of cash “love offerings” when it’s leader speaks overseas and even this escapes scrutiny.

    The last time the Christian religion and government became combined was a period known as The Dark Ages and there has been a resurgence of such a system in some Muslim countries more recently.

    The gun-loving, gay hating evangelical lobby has already seized power in the American Republical Party and our own Liberal Party is not far behind.

    It’s time religions were put in their place and kept there.

  60. Kaye Lee

    It was the chanting that did me in. I am all for communities coming together to support each other but worship is such a waste of time and money and very much reminds me of pagan rituals. I knew “God’s blood” was actually McWilliams sherry because my family owned the pub and we donated it. Clergy that I respected were also few and far between though I have met a few good ones.

  61. Alan Baird

    WAY, way up the top of the comments on this worthy piece was an accusation of “unbalance”. NEVER be put off by this stupid accusation as the Religious Right have TOTAL insouciance about balance in ANYTHING they disgorge. Cory Bernardi and his bestiality is a perfect example of how polluted the Religious Right mindset is. Religious? Really? Right? Really? How gauche!

  62. Kaye Lee

    Alan, whilst the name for that poster says James Sutherland, if you click on the pic it says “Vickie Janson Author and Australian Christians Senate candidate”. She is a spokesperson for the Q society and is VERY anti-Muslim.

    She was interviewed by the Australian Islamist Monitor

    AIM: But don’t Muslims have the right to observe their religious laws – sharia law – how does this effect other Australians?

    Vickie Janson: Do people have the right to discriminate? Sharia law is a foreign and discriminatory system of law, which is being imposed upon Australians.

    http://www.australianislamistmonitor.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=4110:aim-interviews-vickie-jansen&catid=310:opposition-to-islam

    Marriage equality anyone?

  63. Michael Taylor

    Don’t worry, Alan. People like that will never put us off. I noticed the comment was only petty criticism. Nothing contributed such as a point of view.

  64. abbienoiraude

    “I am proud of our nation’s common Judaeo-Christian heritage and the values that underpin that heritage and, indeed, underpin our society and way of life. I am proud of the personal freedoms we enjoy, based on a bedrock of Christian based ethical standards.” Stuart Robert

    When I read this quote I immediately thought of the white Invasion of Australia by those good Christian folk from Britain.
    Being an Ancestry nut I have been reading several books both fiction (eg Eleanor Dark/ Colleen McCullough) and non fiction (eg The Convict Women/Damned Whores and God’s Police).
    To think, let alone declare that our ‘Nation has a Judaeo-Christian heritage the values {of which} underpin that heritage and our society and way of life….’etc then it is either said from a purely ignorant or (white) male supremacy perspective.

    No matter what part of history you put a pin in regarding the creation and rise of Christianity you will find horror upon horror, no matter the time, place, language or society.

    It does not speak for me.

    “Scott Morrison said that our Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. He said Australia is not a secular nation – it is a free nation.” KL

    I think this must be fixed asap!
    We must have in our Constitution clearly stated;
    “..a Secular Nation, free FROM religion, but with a right to tolerance for those who must indulge’.

    I am in agreement with those who declare “teaching religion to children is child abuse” and that those who make a business of perpetuating an Imaginary Friend MUST pay tax.

    Thank you Kaye again for a wonderful piece yet again.

  65. Kaye Lee

    “The concept of “Judeo-Christian values” in an ethical (rather than theological or liturgical) sense was used by George Orwell in 1939, and has become part of “American civil religion” since the 1940s.

    The term “Abrahamic religions” is used to include Islam as well as Judaism and Christianity”

    The term is used, as “Judæo Christian”, at least as far back as in a letter from Alexander M’Caul dated October 17, 1821. The term in this case referred to Jewish converts to Christianity. The term is used similarly by Joseph Wolff in 1829, referring to a style of church that would keep with some Jewish traditions in order to convert Jews.

    Use of the German term judenchristlich (“Jewish-Christian”), in a decidedly negative sense, can be found in the late writings of Friedrich Nietzsche, who emphasized what he saw as neglected aspects of continuity between the Jewish world view and that of Christianity. The expression appears in The Antichrist, published in 1895 and written several years earlier; a fuller development of Nietzsche’s argument can be found in a prior work, On the Genealogy of Morality.

    Promoting the concept of United States as a Judeo-Christian nation first became a political program in the 1940s, in response to the growth of anti-Semitism in America. The rise of Nazi anti-semitism in the 1930s led concerned Protestants, Catholics, and Jews to take steps to increase understanding and tolerance.”

    It no longer implies tolerance and inclusion – quite the opposite. Seems the Christians couldn’t convert the Jews so they sided with them – two Abrahamic religions against the other.

  66. abbienoiraude

    Constantly amazed and appreciative of how you fill in gaps in the factual ‘understandings’ of terminology.

    Thank you.

    That information just strengthens my Atheism just that little bit stronger. It took till I was 42 but did finally after much study and many years of guilt sloughed off my family-tribe propaganda.

    Morrison may like to consider the relief I felt;
    “Free at last, I am free at last!”

  67. LOVO

    I believe that I don’t know.
    I believe that you don’t know
    I believe that nobody has ever known
    …..and I believe that nobody ever will. ……….we are…….isn’t that enough…..just sayin’.
    Discuss…. (channeling Bob Elliot )

  68. LOVO

    Umm..”.channeling Bob Ellis….” 😳 typo with a dash…..say no more…wink, nudge…….. 😳

  69. Miriam English

    LOVO, but that’s the thing. The greatest myth religions promote is that you can’t know that they’re not right. And for a long time that has sufficiently confused people that they’ve hornswoggled their way into strong positions in society and swindled people out of vast sums of money. But it’s wrong. It is actually child’s play to show that all religion is a mistake.

    Firstly, all religion depends upon the idea of an immaterial soul that carries your essence and persists after death. That’s easy to disprove. That essence — the consciousness that reads these worlds, and feels love and pain is a function of your brain.

    ♦ Drugs alter your brain’s function and your consciousness.

    ♦ Strokes and brain injuries can not only damage your mind’s ability to do things, but also can radically alter your personality, turning a calm, pleasant person into someone who is suspicious and given to unprovoked rages.

    ♦ Split-brain surgery, which used to be performed on people with disabling epilepsy cuts the corpus callosum, separating the two halves of the brain into two independent people with two separate consciousnesses.

    ♦ Every time you go to sleep at night your brain goes through cycles roughly every 20 minutes or so where consciousness actually disappears, then enters the weird, internally stimulated state of dreaming.

    ♦ A bad blow to the head stuns the nerves which make up the brain, causing consciousness to stop till they recover. (I wish movies wouldn’t show this as a common way to put someone out of action — in actual fact a blow that causes such a blackout has almost certainly caused brain damage and is extremely dangerous.)

    ♦ Anaesthetic chemicals administered during surgery alter a patient’s brain function causing their consciousness to cease for a while.

    Clearly your consciousness is the action your brain performs. It can’t survive death any more than the rolling action of a rock tumbling down a hill persists when the rock has stopped at the bottom.

    At this point religious people usually backpedal and say that the soul isn’t actually your consciousness. Unfortunately, that contradicts everything they say about the soul, but even if it isn’t your consciousness then what is the point of preserving something that isn’t me? It’s like offering to keep one of my fingers alive after I die. It makes no sense.

    The other aspect of religion that’s easy to falsify is their concept of gods. None of their gods make any sense. They are obviously reflections of primitive superstitious minds. Just on their own, gods that are so insecure as to require people to bow down to them, pray to them, and give money(!) to them, with the threat of terrible punishment for people who don’t, these gods are so incredibly implausible and primitive that on their own lack of merit they fail, but when taken all together, with more than a thousand major religions all braying about different gods and different religious myths, each insisting it is the only one that’s right, they all invalidate each other.

    But could one religion actually be the true one? No. Their final refuge, when all the stuff in their mythologies are found wanting, is to say that logic and evidence are not sufficient; that faith is needed, and that it is enough. The trouble is, their actions prove that it isn’t so. They are perfectly willing to point to all the other different faiths and say that it isn’t enough in those cases.

    But could there actually be a god? Well, yes. There is a vanishingly tiny chance that one or more beings made some or all of the world around us, just as there is a vanishingly tiny chance that there is a teapot orbiting Saturn. There is certainly no reason to believe there is a god — the world is increasingly well explained by science. The likelihood of a god or a Saturnian teapot can be comfortably dismissed.

  70. abbienoiraude

    Miriam English;
    I have taken on the persona as one who accepts the ‘Flying Teapot’ as a satyrical sense of the ‘belief system’.
    I have been attacked by the “Flying Spaghetti Monster” apposite position. We are so happily at odds with each other.

    It is our way of saying;
    Prove it!

    In other words;
    We are Atheists at most…

    Those who believe in god are just sad.

  71. LOVO

    Praised be to thee….oh Miriam……..no really 🙂
    Love your “work”…. by the by and by. 😉

  72. Zathras

    Anti-Semitism has been around long before the beginning of Christianity. Even the ancient Greeks persecuted them.

    The Nazi version used them more as political scapegoats as did most other European countries that gladly handed them over and they have been hounded in virtually every country they settled in.

    The reasons for this endless persecution were largely based on the notion that they did not seem to integrate, they showed their loyalty to their religion rather than the country that sheltered them plus the hate-filled disdain they showed to non-believers in their Holy Book.
    (The Torah is as vicious as the Koran).

    It’s quite similar to the treatment the other Semites (the Muslims) are receiving today.

    That’s the beauty of religious intolerance – it just keeps repackaging itself but is always the same product inside.

  73. Mark Needham

    The quicker Pell dies….
    Holding Breath,
    Mark Needham

  74. johnlward010

    Malcolm promised money he cannot access, with the total pledged so far being around $5.0 billion. 

    https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/unlawful-reallocation-of-clean-energy-investment-by-the-coalition,9567

Cabinet

    Ministers have conspired to remove all funds from the CEFC by pledging the total amount left in the CEFC account to other ‘good LNP causes’.
    
At the same time Malcolm Turnbull is subsidising the fossil fuel industry (Oil, Coal and Gas) with (IMF numbers) $1,712 per person a year or $41 billion of taxpayer funds. 

    This includes exploration funding for Geoscience Australia and tax deductions for mining and petroleum exploration.

    The president of the World Bank stated that it was crazy that governments were still driving the use of coal, oil and gas by providing subsidies. “We need to get rid of fossil fuel subsidies now,” he said.

    
In July, Nicholas Stern estimated that tackling climate change would require investment of 2% of global GDP each year.
The IMF work indicates that ending fossil fuel subsidies would benefit governments by the equivalent to 3.8% of global GDP a year.



    Prime Minister Turnbull, Deputy Prime Minister Joyce, Former Prime Minister Abbott, Ministers Pyne, Hockey, Cormann and Hunt are attempting to falsely convince the public that the Cabinet can “re-purpose and re-direct the Act” without going back through the Parliament.



    These attempted changes to the CEFC Act 2012 are yet to be legislated. 


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