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Christian dominionism in Australia

When the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils made a submission to a government inquiry suggesting that Muslims should enjoy “legal pluralism” by allowing moderate forms of Sharia in divorce and family laws, all hell broke loose.

The organisation’s president, Ikebal Adam Patel, tried to reassure the community that they just wanted the right to practise their own beliefs.

“It is important for someone who is Muslim or a practising Jew that aspects of our religion which can be incorporated within the greater legal system are introduced. This is about personal issues about family, and won’t affect any other Australian. It’s about a system that does not impinge on the rights of any other Australian.”

The AFIC submission said criticisms of Sharia as being biased against women should be considered but so should the choices of Muslim women be respected.

“It is important for Muslims to seriously consider this criticism.

But it is also important for the Australian government to respect the rights of Muslim women who want to keep and maintain the way they dress, eat and interact with others, as long as such behaviour does not inflict harm to others.

Muslims in Australia should accept the Australian values, and Australia should provide a ‘public sphere’ for Muslims to practise their belief. It takes two to tango.

This approach demands a compromise from Islam, which should be open to other values, and also to make a similar demand of Australia.

It is not only Australian Muslims who should reconcile these identities, but all Australians.”

Andrew Bolt was appalled.

“Whoever wants to make their own private or religious arrangements about living together can do so, provided they do not conflict with Australian law. But for the law to specifically endorse verdicts of religious groups is to give them a power and legal standing that seems at odds with not just our notion of one law for all, but with our Constitution’s insistence on a separation of church and state.”

But now we see the anti-marriage equality campaigners asking for just that – they want special laws to accommodate their religious beliefs.

Matt Canavan has made it a crusade in a ridiculously overblown address to the NO camp.

“I’m trying to fight to ensure that we’re not a persecuted minority,” Senator Canavan said. “There is no other country to flee to in the world if we lose … there’s no other planet we can take ourselves to.”

Putting aside the irony of the man who wants the world to burn more coal suggesting there is no other planet to flee to, one wonders if he will fight as fiercely to have Muslim beliefs protected by law. Will he fight for the right of parents to refuse medical treatment for their children if it is against their religious beliefs? How far will this precedent extend?

In November 2003 the National Alliance of Christian Leaders (NACL) held a summit to “develop a strategic blueprint for a discipled Australia.” According to Helen Woodall, the editor of New Life Christian Newspaper, the goals agreed upon included:

“… unity in truth; recognition of Christ’s authority in the church, family, individual and government; … legislature to force Christian values; … the kingdom permeating the structures of society; biblical government.”

Some years ago, Chrys Stevenson wrote about the rise of Christian dominionism in Australia:

Dominionism goes beyond Christians exercising their democratic right to be politically active. Dominionists aim to dominate the political process – to exercise “a disproportionate effect on the culture.”

Lyle Shelton is the son of Ian Shelton, pastor of Toowoomba City Church, a “transformation” ministry which grew out of the now defunct Logos Foundation, a cultish group closely associated with dominionist and reconstructionist theology.

Apparently, Shelton Snr joined Logos in the early 1980s when Lyle was in his pre-teens. When the group folded in the wake of its leader’s sexual indiscretions, it was resurrected by Shelton in the guise of the Toowoomba City Church. Shelton Senior’s vision is for Toowoomba to become:

“a transformed city where all the spheres – sport/arts/leisure, welfare, health, media & information, law/police/judiciary, politics & government, business & commerce, education – … come under the lordship of Christ.”

Compare this with the words of the late American dominionist, D. James Kennedy, from the Center for Reclaiming America for Christ, and it becomes clear that Shelton and Kennedy sing from the same hymn book – although, perhaps, on different scales:

“Our job is to reclaim America for Christ, whatever the cost. As the vice regents of God, we are to exercise godly dominion and influence over our neighborhoods, our schools, our government, our literature and arts, our sports arenas, our entertainment media, our news media, our scientific endeavors – in short, over every aspect and institution of human society.”

“From local parents and citizens associations to regional councils, from our previously secular state schools to state government departments and even within Parliament House, Canberra, this particular clique of evangelical Christian extremists is working quietly but assiduously to tear down the division between church and state, subvert secularism and reclaim this nation for Jesus.”

We have seen it in the hysterical and dishonest campaign against the Safe Schools program, in the voluntary euthanasia debate, in marriage equality, in the abortion debate and RU46 and Gardasil, in stem cell research, in assisted reproductive technology, in the school chaplains program, in the large increases in federal funding for religious schools, and in the increasing education focus on our “Judeo-Christian heritage” whatever the hell that means.

Political opportunists like Scott Morrison, Matt Canavan, Cory Bernardi and James Patterson along with ideologues like Kevin Andrews, Eric Abetz and Tony Abbott are pursuing this goal to make Christian beliefs the laws that govern us all.

This is the slippery slope we are on and it is time to put on the brakes and remind our politicians that we are not, and never will be, a theocracy. We are a secular nation and our laws should be made on that basis to reflect and serve our modern society, not a book about the myths believed in a society thousands of years ago.

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  1. Noel

    I suppose the fact that you refered to a Judeo- Christian heritage with, “Whatever the hell that means” is an indication of that heritage.

  2. pierre wilkinson

    All for religious freedom… as long as it is MY religion

  3. Harquebus

    They still say the Lord’s Prayer at the beginning of each parliament which, I consider to be an insult.
    In my opinion, we should be doing everything to discourage religion and not cater to them. They would not exist for more than a generation or two if they were not permitted to prey on kids. Not much chance of our pollies going along with that one.

    “Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.” -— Lucius Annaeus Seneca (aka Seneca the Younger) – Roman Statesman (b. ca. 5 BCE – d. 65 CE)

    “During the 1890s when the Constitution was being drafted, the colonial churches began a campaign of petitions calling for three things. The petitions read:
    1. That in the preamble of the Constitution of the Australian Commonwealth it be recognised that God is the Supreme Ruler of the world, and the ultimate source of all law and authority in nations.”

    Christian dominionism in Australia

    Search criteria: Australian constitution preamble

    “You can safely assume you have created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.” — Anne Lamott

    “With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil – that takes religion.” -– Steven Weinberg

  4. Arnold Bird

    The SSM campaign started this mess Now the Muslims want Sharia religious freedoms and they will get it as a minority and completely stuff up the Australian way of life enough is enough Parliament should be ashamed of itself Pure weekness of vote application is the only thing they want for themselves democracy hijacked by the minority Sodomy is now legal in Australia, oh how sick are they?!

  5. Glenn Barry

    Fundamentalist intervention when religion is on the decline nationally has all the hallmarks of a fascist takeover

  6. Shevill Mathers

    The thin end of the wedge, a slippery slope to a gradual take over by an ethnic group whose aim is world domination by Islamic faith/way of life, No thank you–don’t like Australia the way it is, you are free to leave anytime and move to a country who lives by your codes. Learn from what has happened to the UK.

  7. Bruce

    This debate is old news. Aboriginal peoples in some parts/states of Australia already have the rite to opt for traditional law. A spear in the leg is a well recorded real event. So why not others if all are in total and “safe” agreement.

    Also the religious discrimination feared by the mad right liberals is a hoot, a cake maker not being able to say no.. WTF. Try getting married in a catholic church is you are a bloke and his female companion, who are practicing Christians, but from another denomination.

    Then the House of Reps not siting for a week. When did Mugabie start advising/directing Turnbull on how to control the masses..

    Things seem to go from bad to worse every day. At least I have solar and a big battery, water, food, capacity to……..

  8. Kronomex

    The bullshit that falls from this objects mouth never ceases to amaze me –

    As many, and “probably” more, Australians want protection of religious freedoms than want same-sex marriage legalised, the treasurer, Scott Morrison, has said.

    The rise of the right wing religious nutters is becoming more and more of a concern. What’s next, a concerted push to have creationism, sorry, intelligent design (when you consider the RWNJ’s running loose it makes the “intelligent” in inteliigent design rather redundant) taught in schools again?

    Shevill, go and peddle your religious and racist crap somewhere else.

  9. Miriam English

    Arnold Bird, how sick? Look in the mirror. The Gays didn’t start this. It was started by the usual religious crackpots.

    You completely missed the point that Kaye was making in her article — you really need to brush up on those comprehension skills. If the Christians want to push their belief systems on the rest of us then that’s the same thing as the Muslims wanting Sharia law… except that the Muslims wanted it only to apply to themselves, not everybody else, whereas the Christians in their extreme arrogance think they have the right to shove their horrible prejudices down everybody else’s throats.

    As for your final loopy comment that “sodomy is now legal in Australia”, what is it with Christians’ obsession with other people’s dicks? Firstly, hetero people widely practice anal sex. Secondly, most gay people don’t do anal sex. Lesbians certainly don’t, and they’re half the gay population, and a large number of gay men don’t either. Most people simply don’t find anal sex pleasant.

    I know you’re not going to believe this, but despite the Christian extremists constantly trying to make marriage all about sex, most of us actually consider it to be about love, mutual admiration, putting the person you adore before yourself, being devoted to another human being. This is why the Christian extremists lost the idiotic vote that they insisted on. They dragged everything through the mud, insulting everybody and making everything about sex. All the gay community and the majority of Australians want is to be able to love each other in peace and not be constantly insulted by a tiny number of very loud, very intolerant of religious hypocrites.


  10. John L

    Arnold Bird, how sick are they? How sick are who? The religious fanatics who are intent on ramming their narrow, twisted view of life down everyone else’s throats come what may? You should know…..

  11. Miriam English

    Damn. Tiny correction: “very intolerant of religious hypocrites.”

    Amazing how two letters can change the meaning.

  12. Glenn Barry

    For the record – the fundamentalists I was referring to is the fanatical right wing Christian whack jobs that inhabit the LNP and various other affiliated extremist religious groups
    Just wanted to get that part straight given the totally misguided, misinformed and miscreant racist slurs which seemed to surround my previous comment

    Scott Morriscum thinks he is lining up for the leadership, that’s a scary thought

  13. silkworm

    It’s the slippery slope argument. If we let the gays marry, the next thing we know we’ll be letting people marry slippery slopes and other playground equipment.

  14. Andrew Smith

    Personally I see it all as a side show, but significant, through nativist and/or conservative deflecting and/or attracting attention by churning out ‘cultural issues’ and filling air time and/or public spaces (Erdogan Turkey does this well). More concerning is the precedent of avoiding parliament (aka Brexit), learning that LNP did not view British as foreign, and using the ABS for a non binding plebiscite or survey then signalling their desire not to follow the outcome.

    I’d suggest there is not much original going on in Oz, tactics imported from the US GOP affiliated think tanks and Christian causes, for their corporate sponsors, who are hidden in background by chaos of cultural and/or nativist issues.

    In the US there is ALEC American Legislative Exchange Council which seems to resonate with the IPA on issues and support (similar global oligarch sponsors), and also has Bernardi listed as an ‘International ALEC Partner’ https://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/ALEC_Politicians

    However, in Oz the IPA has more corporate focus, generally tries to avoid the culture wars and related wedge issues or tactics, which seem to be organic and/or original, but too often they are the same as those in the US aka cake shop example on SSM, and the UK (recently a UK ALEC MP demanded that a university in Manchester hand over details of academics’ EU sentiments and teaching content, although available in the public domain, again suggests need for creating mischief and angst for media or PR?).

    Familiar would be much of the dog whistling we see round ‘(post ’70s) immigration’, NOM and ‘sustainable population’; the prime mover of that nativist anti-immigration movement was also involved with ALEC (nowadays Kochs seem central), John Tanton who was with Paul Ehrlich on Zero Population Growth supported by the Rockefeller & Ford Foundations, was ALEC’s link with the nativist movement (but not public).


    As posted before, according to Chris Hedges (NYT etc.) much of the present day nativism informing the GOP, ALEC etc.comes from a 1930s German style Christianity mixed with eugenics…


    Is this absolutely ‘unethical’ nativist evangelical Christian movement what Australian conservatives and mainstream Christians really want?

  15. @RosemaryJ36

    What seriously concerns me is that all this overdue attention to SSM is distracting us from the really important issues like climate change, emission control, refugees and appalling governance.

  16. Clean livin

    Exactly! The hypocrites we have to put up with……..


  17. paul walter

    Miriam English, aren’t you grateful you have the brains to grasp nuance, that the old bird lacks the capacity for discernment of?

    Pity the blind man

  18. corvus boreus

    Arnold Bird,
    Presumably by ‘sodomy’ you mean sex acts where a penis enters an anus.
    Such penetrations of the posterior are by no means restricted to males of same-sex preference; butt-phuqqing is a sexual activity that also features in many heterosexual relationships and marriages.
    So long as both participants are of legal age and mutually consenting, ‘sodomy’ has been legal throughout Australia for decades.
    Your opinion on such is about as relevant to the topic as your attitude to fellatio.

    More on topic, if my faith/superstition included a dogmatic scriptural interpretation that people with abundant skin melanin were afflicted by god with the ‘mark of Cain’. should I be able to use my religion to justify refusing professional services to black people?

  19. johno

    @Rosemary…Hear hear, and not to mention the waste of 122 million on something we already knew.

  20. Kaye Lee

    Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian Coalition of America wrote:

    “There will never be world peace until God’s house and God’s people are given their rightful place of leadership at the top of the world. How can there be peace when drunkards, drug dealers, communists, atheists, New Age worshippers of Satan, secular humanists, oppressive dictators, greedy moneychangers, revolutionary assassins, adulterers and homosexuals are on top?”

    The Australian Christian Lobby is an offshoot of this organisation. ACL developed a program called Compass Australia which identifies young evangelicals in schools and universities and mentors them into positions of influence.

    In conceiving the idea for the Compass program, the ACL was “thinking about 15 to 20 years down the track, who will be in the media, education, politics, law, and history?”

    They are currently advertising their 2018 conference

    “The Compass Schools Conference is a four day residential conference in Canberra for Year 12 students. Through the Biblical themes of creation, fall and redemption, students will be encouraged to wrestle with how their faith, life and vocation connect.

    The 2018 Compass Schools Conference is aimed at year 12 students (in 2018), particularly those who have demonstrated the potential to be future influencers for Christ in society.

    Our vision is to see young Australians leading just lives.

    The Old Testament notion of justice (and righteousness) is bigger than our modern ideas of fairness, compensation, legal proceedings or revenge. In its fullest sense justice “is the right ordering of relations between God, people and things”. Such a re-ordering of life and relationships requires self-leadership grounded in the greatest story of all.”


  21. thatsmyphilosophy

    Although my work in this area is acknowledged, large chunk of this piece – 7 paragraphs – it taken directly from my article without correct attribution. Please correct this plagiarism immediately. I have sent an email for your “Contact Us” facility. I am available at avalonbythelake@yahoo.com.au

  22. Matt


    Under a democracy anyone is able to hold and promote their ideas. That is part of being a democracy and not an authoritarian state. There is nothing inconsistent with having Christian laws and democracy – if the majority of people support those laws. Right now groups representing minorities are able to push for laws: business people for tax laws, other groups for SSM laws, Muslims for islamic laws, Animal rights people for animal rights laws, why are you so shocked that Christians are pushing for Christian laws? They are completely allowed to do this, and if they somehow managed to convince the majority of Australians (seems very unlikely at the minute) to go along with them, one would expect a democracy to reflect that view of the majority. Perhaps your berating a group of people because they promote views or laws that YOU think are stupid or YOU don’t agree with suggests a totalitarian and intolerant aspect of yourself?

  23. Robert REYNOLDS

    I see Australia as being a kind of ‘half-baked’ secular society. Unfortunately we still give the racketeers who run religious bodies tax-free status and cut them much slack to discriminate and to overtly push their agendas under ‘religious discrimination laws’ and we taxpayers help with the indoctrination of children through government subsidies to their schools.

    Progressives in this country will support moves to push back religious influence, for instance the efforts by Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon to try to have the practice of opening every session of Federal Parliament with a Christian prayer.


    Of course the religious lobby will be pushing for more influence for its own particular brand of dogma. Arguably, it seems that the two main protagonists in this regard are the Christians and the Muslims. Efforts by both of these groups to increase their influence should be strenuously resisted.

    One could easily be excused for thinking that Kaye is seeking to elicit sympathy for Islam by first of all, conveying the impression that Muslims are being discriminated against because “all hell broke loose” when they rather brazenly, but understandably, sought to persuade the Federal Governments to legislate to allow “legal pluralism”.

    Then secondly, Kaye includes a quote from Andrew Bolt, the bête noire of many on the ‘left’, presumably in the hope that this will show not only how unjust this the whole negative reaction to the efforts by the AFIC were, but to actually engender some sympathy and support for them.

    Kaye then goes on to make many extremely valid and important points. I totally agree with virtually everything she says in the latter part of the essay. Although I would say in response to the point made by Kaye when she says in her final paragraph that we should,

    “…..remind our politicians that we are not, and never will be, a theocracy”

    that there are plenty of strong religious believers in this country in general and in our Federal Parliament in particular who would, if they could, turn us into a theocracy. And Kaye has mentioned a few of their names in this article. We should never forget that this has been the agenda of the Catholic Church since the earliest days of Federation. We had people like Daniel Mannix and his protégé Bob Santamaria who left no stone unturned to further the cause of their religion through organizations like The Groupers, the National Civic Council and the DLP.

    The ‘secular’ status that we enjoy in this country has been won through struggle and sacrifice. We should be trying to extend it and not by providing sympathy and support for those who would diminish it.

    Oh and finally, I wonder how those in the Indonesian province of Aceh are enjoying their new life under Sharia Law,


    Some of them do not look all that thrilled to me.

  24. Kaye Lee

    Not at all Matt. I will fight for your right to believe whatever you want but I will remind you that we live in a secular democracy with a separation of church and state. Laws should not be made on the basis of any group’s religious beliefs. The choices you make for yourself on how you live your life are your own business but belief in supernatural beings and the writings from a society thousands of years ago should not be the basis for modern day legislation.

    I do agree that, in general, religions try to promote a moral and ethical code for living but you don’t actually have to worship anyone to set those standards for yourself. Nor should you need the fear of eternal damnation to scare you into being good. It’s kinda like the Santa Claus line about who’s naughty and nice.

    If Christians don’t want to marry someone of the same sex, they don’t have to. If they are against contraception, abortion and voluntary euthanasia, they are not compelled to use them. But, far from protecting their right to choose, they want to impose their choices on others.

  25. Matt

    Actually, not only is democracy consistent with Christianity, but it was Christian nations that introduced democracy to the modern world. It was Christian nations, such as America and other places, that allowed tolerance of different beliefs. It was Christian nations, or nations that inherited democracy from Christian nations, that gave women rights such as they have never had before in history (c/w Islamic nations for example). This religion that you are so scared of is the very one that gave you so many freedoms.

    Can I remind people that tolerance is not supporting minorities, but allowing people to hold opinions and beliefs that you do not agree with.

  26. Harquebus

    My sentiments also.

    Kaye Lee
    “But, far from protecting their right to choose, they want to impose their choices on others.”
    I agree and is why I argue for freedom from religion.

  27. Matt

    And if you want to say that Australia was never a Christian nation, then we do they say the Lord’s Prayer in Parliament? The people that wrote our constitution were predominantly Christians, or at least held to Christian values.

  28. Kaye Lee

    Anthropologists have identified forms of proto-democracy that date back to small bands of hunter gatherers that predate the establishment of agrarian, settled, societies and still exist virtually unchanged in isolated indigenous groups today. In these groups of generally 50-100 individuals, often tied closely by familial bonds, decisions are reached by consensus or majority and many times without the designation of any specific chief. Given that these dynamics are still alive and well today, it is plausible to assume that democracy in one form or another arises naturally in any well-bonded group or tribe.

    The concepts (and name) of democracy and constitution as a form of government originated in ancient Athens circa 508 B.C.

    And just for the record Matt – people dressed up in funny robes chanting and burning incense and bowing to statues whilst drinking God’s blood and eating his body lost the ability to scare me decades ago.

  29. Matt


    Sorry, but this is your great error of thinking: “they want to impose their choices on others.”

    It is not Christians you need to fear, in our society there are many groups who seek to impose their choices on others. I would suggest that the greatest threat to humanity is the ONE PERCENT and their desire to impose their choices on us. These choices, as evidence shows are as follows:

    Environmental destruction
    An impoverished 99 percent
    A wealthy and all powerful 1 percent who control all state apparatus (eg: corporatisation of Universities).
    Constant wars on terror etc, to keep people in fear and justify a police state. Terror activity rises even further as a consequence of the policies of the 1 percent.

    And many other nasties as well.

    So if you want to fear something, then I suggest this is the greatest threat. The SSM issue is perfect for them, the more we bicker about these things, and religion and other matters which they care not about, the more distracted we are from them and the totalitarian state they ARE introducing.

    If you want to fight, that is the real fight. Although a Christian would say that unless we start dealing with our own selfishness, there will always be more people waiting to fill the ranks of the 1 percenters, or hoping to.


  30. Kaye Lee

    “It was Christian nations that gave women rights such as they have never had before in history”

    Crap! Women have fought hard demanding those rights. NONE of them have been given to us without a struggle. Women are seen as vessels and vassals by the Church.

    1 Corinthians 14:34

    Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says.

    Ephesians 5:22-24

    22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

  31. Matt

    Kaye Lee,

    Yes, there were forms of democracy in the ancient world. But women could not vote, It is modern CHRISTIAN democracies that were the first to allow that. And I did specifically say that I was talking about modern democracies, so please don’t presume my ignorance about past democracies and practices.


  32. Matt

    Kaye Lee,

    This demonstrates your misunderstanding of Christianity. Take this phrase:

    ” Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.”

    it says “WIVES SUBMIT YOURSELVES” – there is no command for someone to FORCE wives into submission. Christianity is ABOUT FREE WILL – it says what God suggests – you make the choices!! Thus it is a religion of freedom, not of control.

    You are perhaps mistaking maybe the Catholic and other such churches with Christianity. The Catholic church took over from the Pharisees – Christ would berate the Catholic hierarchy as he did the Pharisees. The CATHOLIC CHURCH DOES NOT PRACTICE CHRISTIANITY, although it does rely on Christian teachings – somewhat! eg: Christ specifically said that in the religious context no one was to be called Father but God. Catholics invented Purgatory, which is never mentioned in the bible.

    I am not even saying I agree with laws against abortion etc. I think God would say that each must make his or her own choices. I am just saying that minority groups will push for whatever they want, and there are many types, not just religious ones.

  33. Kaye Lee

    The Christians who believe in headship disagree with you Matt.

    “in the context of marriage hupotasso is not used in the “voluntary, cooperative” sense of the word, but rather it is used in the context of the military use of the term in which family members are given their various roles and responsibilities.

    Wives are commanded to hupotasso their husbands because their husband is their head(leader) in the same way that Christ is the head(leader) of the Church. Wives are to hupotasso to their husbands in “every thing”.

    A Christian wife’s submission to her husband is not voluntary, it is mandatory and synonymous with obedience. A Christian husband has not only the power to discipline his wife, but he has a duty to do this.”

    Should a Christian husband make his wife submit?

  34. Glenn Barry

    @ Matt – the word submit in that sentence is the imperative, which is precisely a command in linguistic terms.

    How on earth you can think that a word like submit, which pairs with dominate, does NOT form an oppressive power structure is beyond sensible reasoning.

    The passage you have cited proscribes precisely a dominant hierarchical power structure, specifically a male chauvinist dominated one.

    For all of those wives who have chosen, by their free will, not to submit, I see no passages which say, well it was only a suggestion so you can choose to comply or not.

    Following Christianity is your choice, arguing publicly that the Bible is not an abundance of oppressive social engineering is more than a little out of bounds

  35. Terry2

    George Brandis wants to incorporate Article 18 of the ICCPR into the Marriage Act !

    Article 18 of the ICCPR states:

    Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.
    No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice.
    Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.

    The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to have respect for the liberty of parents and, when applicable, legal guardians to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions.

    Seems rather odd that a country that shuns a Bill of Rights should start adopting UN Conventions within pieces of civil legislation. Peter Dutton won’t like this as he has constantly repudiated the the United Nations Convention on the treatment of refugees.

  36. The AIM Network

    thatsmyphilosophy, unfortunately our email is down (Internode is down in the whole state by the looks of it) so we apologise if we do not respond promptly. This was a simple error and has been rectified.

  37. Kaye Lee

    When women were fighting for the right to vote, more than 100 years ago, they were faced with dogged resistance from many of the same groups who are currently opposing the rights of those who wish to marry a member of the same sex. The suffragettes’ most formidable opponent was the conservative religious establishment, just as it is for gay people now.

    Women were told that it was simply unnatural for women to vote. Many fulminated from church pulpits and the benches of parliament that allowing women to exercise suffrage would literally unsex them. Women were told they were not capable of exercising their rights sensibly and thoughtfully. Nasty, misogynistic cartoons were drawn of hideous harridans deserting their husband and families. Women gaining their rights would somehow oppress their husband’s rights apparently. Biblical quotes were dragged up supporting the idea that women participating in public and political life was against the word of God. Thanks for nothing, St Paul.

    Most tellingly of all, opponents exhorted anyone who would listen to “think of the children”. Women at the ballot box, according to them, would destroy the family and unravel right-thinking society.


    I think this shows how Australia is going backwards and becoming more conservative. In the developed world, we were one of the first to give women the vote yet are one of the last to allow same-sex couples to marry.

  38. Chrys Stevenson

    Thank you. It is a very large section of my work that constitutes a fair percentage of this article. It was used (previously) with no proper attribution and no permission sought from either me or, I assume, the ABC. I am a professional researcher and writer. This is my living. That piece took me two full weeks to write and months to research.

    Quoting a sentence or a paragraph here and there is flattering. A 7-paragraph block of text with no permission, attribution or offer of remuneration is very questionable journalism.

    Chrys Stevenson

  39. Kaye Lee


    I do apologise that I missed using the block quote when I referenced your article. I will remove the quote and link if you would prefer.

  40. paul walter


    Elephant in the Room alert.

    How is that there has been no take yet and that cowardly decision of Turnbull to shut parliament down next week. Surely Paul Walter is not the only poster cerebrating on this flaccid, dispirited capitulation; the absolute headlong flight from responsibility on display?

    He is scared of publicity re being forced to confront the banks, is Shorten’s assessment.

    Or is he fearful of yet more attention re Manus?

    The refusal to let go of tax cuts for the rich, or something to do with Adani, or fear that the mere presence of this disgusting government will tip voters in Bennelong over the edge as to that by-election, which is to do with the citizenship farce as Lambie again made clear last night?

    Don’t tell me people will swallow the nonsenses proffered about Equal Marriage, that battle has already been fought and won.

    Come on, surely this is concerning and a tangible issue?

  41. Michael Taylor

    Not necessary, Kaye. It was all fixed. It was a small error of just putting the blockquote in the wrong place. It’s easy to do.

  42. Kaye Lee

    It is a really bad look paul. As Brendon O’Çonner pointed out last night, there are 53 pieces of legislation before the House of Reps at the moment that they could be dealing with. The excuse about priorities is a very lame one. If they can only deal with one thing at a time then our politicians are not up to the complex job of running a country. I very much doubt there are any Australians who think that marriage equality and the citizenship debacle are the most pressing problems facing our nation. The first should have been dealt with as a matter of course long ago and the second is their own internal administrative stuff-up. As others have pointed out, they are both distractions from issues like climate change, inequality, domestic violence, corporate malfeasance, and the tragedy inflicted on refugees on Manus and Nauru.

  43. paul walter

    Of all people, Kaye Lee would be the one to best understand this nonsense. Thanks.

  44. Jack Straw

    (Pissing in peoples pocket’s Allan Jones); called Cory Bernardi a great man this morning or words to that effect.

  45. Miriam English

    It always amazes me the knots religious people tie themselves into trying to square their religious texts with their secular morals. I’m sure Matt is a good person (if somewhat deluded about his religion), but I can’t help feeling that moderate religious people give cover and protection for extremists by rationalising the horrific nature of their religions. It’s hard to argue that a moderate religious person should not be able to maintain and spread their religion; they are, after all, nice people who don’t wish anybody any harm. The extremists then step forward, having been given a place to stand in society by the moderates, and fight to impose what their religious text really says. Along the way they manage to dupe some of the moderates into being more hardline and scary, because the extremists actually do have their religious texts on their side. The Bible really does promote genocide (Deuteronomy 13:12-16). The Koran really does talk about murdering people for Allah. The moderates have contort themselves to ignore inconvenient passages and twist the meaning of other parts into other than what they plainly say.

    Matt, rather than worrying about atheists decrying religion, you should be worrying about those who genuinely believe in the terrifying primitive morality of the Old Testament and want to impose it upon us all. Those people won’t stop to rationalise that some of those rules no longer apply. They want full subjugation of women, slavery reinstated, all the lunatic laws of Leviticus enforced. If you think I’m being alarmist, just read some of their material. Just look at how hard they fought against marriage equality and the gutter-level of their campaign.

    Luckily religion is dying. Matt, you’re still welcome to believe any nonsense you want, but it becomes less relevant by the day. Thank god.

    As for the 99%, we are the 1%. I live below the poverty line here in Australia, but simply because I live in this country I am one of the 1% richest people on Earth. We are the 1%. What you said about the 1% has some truth to it. We are the ones who shield ourselves from our greed, pretending to ourselves that we’re poor and that other people richer than us are the problem, while we’re using throwaway plastic bags, petrol-powered cars to travel just a block, eating so much food that it makes us sick, wanting even more money from coal while ruining the climate, wasting more than half of the food we grow, addicting third world people to drugs like tobacco, caffeine, tranquillisers, etcetera to give us even more money and control. We are to a very great degree the problem.

  46. Miriam English

    Jack Straw, I wonder how much Allan Jones got paid to say nice things about Barnardi. I don’t believe anybody with more than half a brain could see Cory Barnardi as anything more than a snide, nasty bigot.

  47. Kaye Lee


    I will never understand why we cut foreign aid and then spend hundreds of billions on weapons of war. If we spent a small fraction of that lifting people out of poverty, educating them, providing clean water and shelter and backing micro-businesses and small scale or subsistence farming, building schools and hospitals and transport infrastructure, taking action on climate change so droughts and famine and rising sea levels don’t make large swathes of the planet uninhabitable, setting up small scale grids or off-grid power, backing research into sustainablity…so many things we should be investing in rather than wasting billions on bombs and offshore gulags and more and more jails and security forces.

  48. Miriam English

    Kaye, makes you wonder what the banks are scared of.

  49. Miriam English

    Kaye, I guess all those good things don’t slip million dollar bribes into politicians’ offshore bank accounts.

  50. townsvilleblog

    Glenn BarryNovember 20, 2017 at 10:04 pm

    Fundamentalist intervention when religion is on the decline nationally has all the hallmarks of a fascist takeover, I couldn’t agree more mate. The only religion Aussies follow in spades is “apathy” not a declared religion.

  51. townsvilleblog

    Kaye LeeNovember 21, 2017 at 10:50 am


    I will never understand why we cut foreign aid and then spend hundreds of billions on weapons of war. If we spent a small fraction of that lifting people out of poverty, educating them, providing clean water and shelter and backing micro-businesses and small scale or subsistence farming, building schools and hospitals and transport infrastructure, taking action on climate change so droughts and famine and rising sea levels don’t make large swathes of the planet uninhabitable, setting up small scale grids or off-grid power, backing research into sustainablity…so many things we should be investing in rather than wasting billions on bombs and offshore gulags and more and more jails and security forces.

  52. Jack Straw

    Kaye>I will never understand why we cut foreign aid and then spend hundreds of billions on weapons of war.

    Answer: because there is money to be made by Fear and War.

  53. townsvilleblog

    Kaye they call people like us idealists or Greenies, I’m happy to wear either tag. It is the rabid right wing of the Liberal Party re: Abbott who are spending tens of billions of Aussie dollars over the next two decades on the deadliest flying weapons of war, though it is not clear (to me anyway) who we expect the threat to come from?

    If we could only do what you have suggested then perhaps there would be no room left for the various “classes” we imagine in Australia. I am firmly “working class” though I have not worked for a long time. I consider everyone from the rubbish man to the cardiologist working class. Then comes the middle class:? Then the wealthy. One thing that it seems will not change is corporate taxation, 30% of Australian corporate identities pay no tax and the remainder pay between 5% and naught, not a fair go for the working class at all.

  54. Patrice

    Any change to “religious protection” should be put to the public in a non binding, non compulsory postal survey. If Scott Morrison “believes” that the majority of people want that then let him prove it.

  55. Kaye Lee

    lol Patrice 🙂

  56. Jan

    Sorry to be pedantic townsvilleblog.Although I agree with your sentiments. Rubbish man is a bit outdated and sexist’s. I’d prefer Garbage Collector or Refuse Collector or Waste Removalist or Garbologist.

  57. Zathras

    Religious Freedom is the right to criticise or oppress the rights of others based on institutionalised prejudice but if you return the favour it’s very quick to claim “persecution”. The Freedom they want is really the freedom to persecute.

    As for claiming credit for improving society, it’s like the US politician who whined about “white people not getting credit for ending slavery” but failing to see the flaw in his own logic.
    Why not also claim credit for ending witch-burning, stopping the torture of the inquisitions or the countless historical attempts at genocide and the displacement and destruction of several cultures?

    The last real Christian theocracy was called The Dark Ages for a reason and the religious theocracies at work today (such as ISIS and the Taliban) are an indication of what they do.

    At it’s heart religion is simply “nothing” pretending to be “something” and at always at the expense of somebody else.
    It’s also ultimately concerned with only the salvation of the self and for not the good of all.

  58. Robert REYNOLDS

    Mirian, you have put up a couple of posts today with comments and thoughts that I really like. Keep up the great work!

  59. Matt


    I am aware of our role in the global system as I have written about here, but since it is pretty much impossible to live in Australia and not be tied in to the global consumerist system, there is not much we can do. However, I have written much about this and tried to come up with ideas by myself and with others from the Permaculture movement:

    How are are tied in this system and ways to maybe escape, or at least minimise the impacts:


    How can produce food in a more localised (Cuban) way:




    Why the system is so inhumane, and how it doesn’t need to be:




  60. Kaye Lee

    There are Christians for whom I have a great deal of respect, both in my family and in the public sphere. Frank Brennan is one but Father Rod is my hero.


  61. metadatalata

    Kaye, you are not alone in your views of the world as expressed eloquently by you in this article and in the comments by many. And you certainly put into words perfectly my thoughts on nearly every issue questioning where Australia is heading when controlled by a bunch of fraudsters posing as religious followers posing as politicians.

    It is simply amazing that every sitting day in parliament it kicks off with a christian prayer while section 116 of the constitution precludes the federal parliament from making laws for establishing any religion, imposing ANY religious observance, or prohibiting the free exercise of any religion.

    Parliament is a joke but is still the only means currently available of governing Australian people. It is just such a stupid system given how much knowledge we have of better ways in making decisions that will positively improve everyone’s lives and environment in a sustainable way.

  62. silkworm

    In other words, Brandis wants church schools to be able to teach that the new law permitting SSM is wrong! OMFG.

  63. Nearly Normal Frederick

    This 2004 essay was quite prophetic in its description of then then situation in Amerika, and the future scenarios based on that description.
    Since then the 800 pound gorilla in the room has been the emergence of various right-wing outfits which focus on promoting and defending so called religious “liberty” using systematic and even quite aggressive legal maneuvers – for instance the Beckett Fund and the Alliance Defending “Liberty”. Tony Abbott recently gave a speech at the Alliance. He also gave a similar speech 2 or 3 years ago.
    Both Kevin Andrews and Cory Bernadi have close links with such outfits.
    Meanwhile is anyone familiar with the work of the right-wing outfit called The Family which operates all over the world, and has done so for many years now. They hold weekly prayer groups in Washington. Numerous Australian politicians and other persons of power and influence are members of the Family.
    Checkout the book The Family by Jeff Sharlet – scary stuff.

  64. Miriam English

    Blurb for Jeff Sharlet’s book, The Family:

    The Family
    Jeff Sharlet

    Words: 154099

    They insist they are just a group of friends, yet they funnel millions of dollars through tax-free corporations. They claim to disdain politics, but congressmen of both parties describe them as the most influential religious organization in Washington. They say they are not Christians, but simply believers.

    Behind the scenes at every National Prayer Breakfast since 1953 has been the Family, an elite network dedicated to a religion of power for the powerful. Their goal is “Jesus plus nothing.” Their method is backroom diplomacy. The Family is the startling story of how their faith—part free-market fundamentalism, part imperial ambition—has come to be interwoven with the affairs of nations around the world.

    We need to change the way power works — move to something more like democracy. A miniscule organisation of extremist fanatics is trying to control the world, and they are surprisingly effective at it. Religion is very efficient way to control people’s minds. I certainly hope it dies before it gains too much power. Irrational people seeing everything through the lens of delusion, and given to frequent fits of hatred and bigotry are not fit to run a country… or the planet.

  65. diannaart

    Christian extremists demanding freedom of religion – provided the “freed” religion is their interpretation.

    Memo to Christians, “Religious Freedom” means ALL religions – even the ones you don’t like.

  66. Robert REYNOLDS

    diannarrt, I am an avowed atheist. My stomach tightens when I hear people advocating more “Religious Freedom”. How much more “freedom” do we have to grant religions? They already enjoy tax-free status, their schools are subsidized by the taxpayer; they have for decades, no, lets make that centuries, or millennia, used their religious status to cover up sexual molestation of children, psychological and physical abuse of adults and children, amongst other morally indefensible acts.

    Religious spokespeople are experts at portraying themselves as victims who, when they cannot get what they want, love to give the impression that they are being singled out and cruelly persecuted.

    I would resist the pressure to give any religion more ‘freedom’. Give them an inch and they will take a mile.

  67. Patrice

    I see a can of worms opening here. There are many religions represented in Australia. Are they all going to be given equally more “freedom”?When people know how much privilege the christian religious groups (re tax exemptions etc) currently have there might be a backlash.

  68. diannaart


    All religions enjoy the same privileges, which include tax exemption.

    @Robert REYNOLDS

    Indeed. How much more freedom does ANY religious organisation require? After all, they are only limited to MSM, TV, internet, organised lobby groups, regular interviews across MSM as well as their own programs.

    This cry for more attention is the same cry as the bully who has finally been outed in the playground – s/he isn’t happy when all the other kids won’t play to their tune any more.

  69. Harquebus

    I have, fairly recently, complained bitterly to the ABC about them not providing the equivalent time to atheism as they do to religion. Being the fair and balanced media organization that they are. (Cough, cough) No response.

  70. Robert REYNOLDS

    If I were you Harquebus I would not hold my breath waiting for a reply either.

  71. Harquebus

    Robert REYNOLDS
    Thanks. I remember when it was the Australian Broadcasting Commission. Now it is the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. More than just a name change I think.

  72. Robert REYNOLDS

    And down at Quadrant it goes under the name of the “Absolutely Biased Corporation”.


    (Scroll down a little and see on the right-hand side.)

    The ABC has lost a lot of the respect that I used to have for it. But I find that 4-Corners especially and Media Watch are still very good.

  73. Harquebus

    Robert REYNOLDS
    Thanks again and I agree.

    Here’s one for you:
    “Lateline’s ‘sexual slavery in Mutitjulu’ story was a ruse almost from start to finish. ”
    “the story that went out on air was largely a fiction.”
    “Lateline knew Andrews worked for the minister, and chose to deliberately lie about his real identity.”
    “Having thoroughly investigated itself, the ABC found that it had done nothing wrong”

    Bad Aunty: 10 Years On, How ABC Lateline Sparked The Racist NT Intervention (With Introduction By John Pilger)

  74. Zathras

    For your info, there’s more than a name change difference between a Government Commission and a Corporation.

    For example, the Australian Telecommunications Commission (Telecom) had to “provide a basic telephone service to “ninety-something” percent of the population at an equitable price”. In those days everyone paid roughly the same amount for a basic phone service and we had loss-making community-based features such as Payphones in all areas, including remote ones. In fact most private phones ran at a loss and Telecom profits came mainly from the Brisbane to Adelaide coax cable. The Postal Commission and Overseas Telecom Commission (OTC) also had specific defined community-based roles.

    A Corporation is a group of companies working under a single entity and is structured along business lines. It can generate profits or dividends for its owner.

    The main gripe the (so-called) free-to-air broadcasters is that the ABC is TOO successful at what it does but they don’t have to endure the same level of forensic scrutiny and allegations of bias.
    At least the ABC works under its own Charter in the ABC act and is always accountable – private operators can pretty much say what they like and get away with it.

    As for the Mutitjulu matter, why were Howard and Brough allowed to get away with their part in it?

  75. Robert REYNOLDS

    Thanks for the link to the New Matilda article Harquebus. It makes for unsettling reading.

    In a way I kind of regard the ABC as being similar to the Commonwealth Bank. They were once both institutions that were highly regarded and trusted in the community. But that is no longer the case with either of them.

  76. Steven_Kasty

    Some party members of the Liberal and National Party Coalition and the Australian Labor Party also support some of the values of the Christian right on abortion and gay rights. The Australian Christian Lobby argues for opposition to same-sex marriage in state and federal politics.
    By the way! The best essay writing service – https://www.easyessay.pro/
    And Happy New Year!

  77. Matters Not

    What’s with the free ads? And for an immoral service to boot.

  78. Paul Davis

    Yep, for $5 a page, why study, or attend tutorials or lectures. Great for that degree in Western Civilisation at Wollongong Uni.

    Wonder if they’ll write journalist copy for Miranda and Greg at the Aus?

  79. Matters Not

    There are ways around it – ‘marks’ – for tutorial presentations; tutorial and lecture attendance; written examinations; and if in doubt – an interview or two etc. Noted the other day, a candidate for higher study brought a translator to the interview. And so it goes.

    It’s an age of credentialism, after all.

  80. Miriam English

    Become a “success” like Tony Abbott or Whatsisname Morrison, or Barnaby Joyce!
    Gain that important position without having learned a thing!
    Get someone to do all the work for you so you can pretend to be knowledgeable!
    Prejudice delivered with fake conviction is what the voters want (or at least Uncle Rupert wants that, anyway — screw the voters).

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