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Christians don’t want to protect their rights – they want to take yours

Many of the same people that are calling for religious freedom protection are also resisting constitutional recognition of our First People.  They say we are all Australians and no-one should be given special consideration – unless they are religious, in which case they want to be exempt from the laws of the land.

Religious people want protection from discrimination enshrined in law but want to ignore the laws that offer that same protection for people of diverse sexuality.

They want to ignore the marriage equality law and teach their children that it is evil.  They don’t just want religious schools to teach that – they mounted a concerted campaign against the optional Respectful Relationships program in state schools.

They insisted that we have religious chaplains in state schools to reinforce their message.  Parents have to go to the trouble of asking for their children to be excluded from scripture classes rather than the other way around.

One state school principal sent home a note advocating Special Religious Education saying “The potential to develop moral and ethical positions within a framework of Christian values should not be underestimated in today’s world.”

Which kind of implies that the rest of us are incapable of behaving ethically without the fear of divine judgement motivating us.

They want the choice to send their children to religious schools, but they want you to pay for their choice by taking money from the public system which is available to all.  They then want the right to decide who they will accept in their schools whereas state schools must provide a place for all children and cater for the needs of the individual no matter how challenging they may be.

Despite our Constitution insisting on the separation of state and church, Christians resist any call to remove the Lord’s Prayer from parliamentary proceedings.  The juxtaposition of promising to do God’s will on Earth with the dishonesty, greed and cruelty of the proceedings that follow just make the whole exercise a farce.

Christians have an abiding belief in the sanctity of life with seemingly no regard for the quality of that life.  They insist that others must not be given choices about reproduction or assisted dying.  Because of their beliefs, they feel others should have no agency over their own lives.

Charities face deregistration if they engage in political advocacy.  For some reason, this rule seems to be ignored when it comes to religious organisations.

Their tax-exempt status applies not only to their charitable work but also to their profit-making business enterprises.

As was painfully exposed in the Royal Commission into child sex abuse, Christianity does not automatically confer some higher moral status.  It does not guarantee goodness.  The prospect of ‘burning in hell’ did not cause these men of the cloth to repent and seek forgiveness.  On the contrary – they abused the trust placed in them and the power given them.  They protected their reputation at a dreadful cost.  Even now, they refuse to comply with the mandatory reporting of suspected abuse claiming the sanctity of the confessional overrides the law of the land and the protection of innocent children.

To ask now for even greater ‘special protection’ is gobsmackingly arrogant and shows a complete lack of awareness of the dangers of exalted status.

There are many wonderful Christians making practical contributions towards making this world a better place.  I would suggest that is because they are good people rather than a consequence of their worship (or fear) of any supernatural being.

In 1965, Pope Paul VI gave a Declaration on Religious Freedom.

“..all men are to be immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power, in such wise that no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits.

It is in accordance with their dignity as persons-that is, beings endowed with reason and free will and therefore privileged to bear personal responsibility

…men cannot discharge these obligations in a manner in keeping with their own nature unless they enjoy immunity from external coercion as well as psychological freedom. Therefore the right to religious freedom has its foundation not in the subjective disposition of the person, but in his very nature. In consequence, the right to this immunity continues to exist even in those who do not live up to their obligation of seeking the truth and adhering to it and the exercise of this right is not to be impeded, provided that just public order be observed.”

Or as twitter puts it:

Freedom of religion is “Hey, that’s against my religion so I can’t do that”, not “Hey, that’s against my religion so YOU can’t do that”.

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24 comments

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  1. New England Cocky

    A political skeptic could reasonably conclude that “religious freedom” as defined by the current crop of Liarbral Nat$ god squadders is the right to be hypocritical at will, financially rapacious with the Parliamentary Allowances Scheme, conveniently elitist with education funding and generous with tax benefits for their adherents. Somehow the direction to “sell all your possessions, give the proceeds to the poor and follow me” appears to have been lost in the cacophony of happy clapping.

    The ALP politicians of the 1950s and the High Court judges of the DOGS case have a lot to answer for in modern Australia.

  2. Jane Boswell

    not all Christians are like that, however, it is the ones in power, Scomos pentecostals and other fundamentalists that impose their will and therefore “They” feel they have the right to impose their will on others, unfortunately give the rest of Christianity a bad name we truly do not deserve

  3. Kaye Lee

    I agree Jane. People I love and respect in my own life are devout Christians. They are loving, caring people. The church as a community does a lot of good. I also voted for Father Rod Bower in the Senate in NSW. That Jim Molan got more votes than him shows that humility is not rewarded. Father Rod would have been an outstanding Senator.

  4. Christopher J. Ward

    This is a gross oversimplification and an insult to Christian believers. As a practising Anglican (yes that’s rare) I don’t try and force my religion or my beliefs down anyone’s throat. In fact, I’m inclined to think that to do so is a contravention of New Testament teachings. I’m somewhat tired of having my intelligence insulted by cheap polemics.

  5. Kaye Lee

    That is a valid criticism Christopher.

    But consider what has happened of late.

    We have had a very intense public argument about the Safe Schools program and about marriage equality. This has been extremely hurtful to many people.

    We have had court cases where people want to defend their right to harass women outside abortion clinics.

    There has also been intense debate about Victoria’s assisted dying legislation.

    We have had political candidates have their preselection threatened because of their support for the decriminalisation of abortion.

    We have the case about Israel Folau’s right to tell gays they will burn in hell unless they repent.

    We have had people calling for a ban on Muslim immigration, the building of mosques, halal certification of food, and the wearing of certain clothing.

    The public discussion about religious freedom implies that Christians are being persecuted. The point I was trying to make is that they are free to practice their religion as they see fit, it is the overreach of trying to impose those beliefs on others which is causing problems.

    To those whom I have offended, I apologise. Tolerance is important in both directions. People should be free to make their own decisions.

  6. john O'Callaghan

    A true Christian would be Rod Bower who unfortunately is a rarity,the rest just rattle their hypocrisy along with their rosary beads and hate anyone who isnt white and does’nt believe in their cartoon Christ!

  7. Zathras

    According to the Commonwealth Constitution Act – Section 116 – “Commonwealth not to legislate in respect of religion”.

    “The Commonwealth shall not make any law for establishing any religion, or for imposing any religious observance, or for prohibiting the free exercise of any religion, and no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the Commonwealth”.

    There it is already, so what more do they want?

    What Australia’s Taliban are after is to create and maintain a general atmosphere of persecution that they can hide behind.

    Religion is a lifestyle choice. Race, disability, sex and aging are genetic and biological processes and arguments for discrimination laws based on religion are specious.

    Furthermore, until they make a physical contribution to society and pay tax they should have no say in how that society behaves.

  8. Dr Tristan Ewins

    As citizens Christians have the right to present their views and interests along with every other citizen. We are a democracy – although admittedly liberal democracy is ‘on the slide’ in this country and who knows where that will end? This is an opportunity to implement a comprehensive Bill of Rights ; which includes religious concerns. We should take it.

  9. Stephengb

    It would be so easy to ratify the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but that simple legislative remedy is studiously ignored.

  10. Kaye Lee

    Tristan, for the last 230 odd years, it has been the Christian voice that has been the loudest. The humanist voice is still struggling to be heard.

  11. Florence Howarth

    I suspect some extremely religious people feel they have the right to a society that only reflects their values. All others must fall in line. Very much like the 1950s when most did send the kids to Sunday school, attend church. Were married in the church, buried from the church. I suspect many were not real believers. It was the time when children were abused in up to 40,000 different childcare locations. When our orphanages were full of bastard babies along with those of deserted mothers forced to surrender their children because they couldn’t earn enough to keep them. No scarcity of kids, even babies for adoption. Then there were the lives lost in the backyard abortionists. The divorce laws never helped the families then. Father ruled, so did family violence.

    What change this was not the churches but Mr Whitam when one of the first things he did was to introduce a benefit for mothers. Great was the establishment of the no-fault divorce & the Family Court. Something many Christians are still fighting to bring down.

    I seemed to recall religion controlled where one could work. Catholics barred from many jobs & professions. The kid’s wars between the Catholic kids & the rest.

    I have lived a society where the church rules. I have no desire to see the rebirth of the 1950s.

    Nothing I have written is an exaggeration.

  12. Matters Not

    Re:

    until they make a physical contribution to society and pay tax they should have no say in how that society behaves

    Really? Maybe go further – the more (net) tax you pay the more votes you get? Perhaps one vote for each net $10 000 contributed? In which case, I would lose my vote and I suspect a majority of Australians would too, because approximately half of the Australian population are tax burdens – in the sense that they take more dollars from the public purse than they contribute.

    More tax paid – more representation made! What could be fairer? A type of return to the rotten boroughs – and all based on dollars. Big corporations like the Banks could get thousands of votes – based on the (net) taxes they pay.

  13. Florence Howarth

    “As citizens Christians have the right to present their views and interests along with every other citizen. ” Yes, but they are not entitled to demand all lead their lives as they do. Demand that society is in their image.

  14. Phil

    Christianity should be put on trial for high crimes against humanity.

    When I think of the people that have been damaged by this nonsense especially the children I weep.

    The Pentecostal nutters are spreading their nonsense like the bubonic plague. Even in my own Doctors surgery they have a huge TV, where there they show the Hillside church containing hundreds of mostly young people, jumping around to what they call music, whipping themselves up into a what can be best described as a religious drug infused frenzy. They should all be certified.

    I recently watched a young man being knelt down in a public square in Saudi Arabia about to have his head removed his crime, being a homo sexual. I had thoughts of taking a flame thrower to these ignorant religious nut jobs. That these same people are our allies in the possible prosecution of a war with Iran makes me want to puke my guts up thinking about it. Pox on the lot of them.

  15. Michael Taylor

    I have a lot of time for Aboriginal customs (and laws), much more than Christian customs.

    Aboriginal customs and traditions were forged and evolved over 60,000 years and they are for what is best for their society (and environment).

    Christianity is based on what was written in a book 2,000 years ago, and it doesn’t appear negotiable. It won’t change, ever.

    The whole of society is not the winner.

  16. Aaron

    Freedom of religion not freedom for religion

  17. Freethinker

    Michael, the “original” book was written 2000 years ago base on perception and how each writer interpreted the events to suit their agenda or beliefs, then pages were removed and others added, was edited and re-edited by many “Murdochs” (Popes and powerful Cardinals) in different times.
    I agree with your views about Aboriginal customs and I may add the native tribes worldwide for that matter.
    Regarding the present discussion in Australia about freedom of religion, IMHO is one more excuse by the minority to create division in the majority.
    Since Abbott’s campaign in opposition, we can see clearly many laws and policies that dividing us bringing racisms, hate, separation of classes, fiscal policies, environmental issues, and religion now among others that are too many to remember now.
    Religion is a “good tool” for them because creates division between the differnt religions in Australia and with those that do not follow any religion.

  18. Barry Thompson.

    Agree with your comments Florence, well put.

  19. Terence Mills

    Oh Ye of Little Faith !

    If ever you thought that religious groups did not need legislative protections, this should convince you.

    A religious family in Tasmania have been ordered to pay outstanding taxes which, for religious reasons they have been avoiding paying.

    Representing themselves, the pair told the court they had previously paid income tax prior to 2011 but that a deepened spiritual relationship meant they later realised paying tax was “against God’s will”. I have shared this revelation.

    They told the court they sent letters to the Queen and Prime Minister last month calling into question the jurisdiction of taxation and the validity of the legislation.

    They argued that by being made to pay taxes, their dependence on God was being taken away from them, which was causing Australia to be cursed.

    I have no doubt their beliefs will be taken into account with our expected religious protection legislation.

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-07-17/christian-family-ordered-to-pay-2.3-million-tax-bill/11318538?utm_source=sfmc&utm_medium=email&utm_content=&utm_campaign=%5bnews_sfmc_newsmail_am_df_!n1%5d%3a8935&user_id=fc6379dc1bea54cd9fe53082c8870258b5462771ab8d9141474c39b7a1d8db81&WT.tsrc=email&WT.mc_id=Email%7c%5bnews_sfmc_newsmail_am_df_!n1%5d%7c8935ABCNewsmail_topstories_articlelink

  20. Keith Thomas Davis

    Rather than a long comment … all I want to say abut this article is that on many many levels …. excellent!

  21. Zathras

    “Big corporations like the Banks could get thousands of votes – based on the (net) taxes they pay”.

    Unfortunately most big corporations don’t pay tax, preferring to use off-shore tax havens – but they still wield significant political influence so in a way it’s true. The more money you have, the more political influence you can buy so why bother with the middle man “vote”?

    Political parties no longer adhere to ideologies but are at the bidding of controlling interest groups and corporations have no allegiance to the countries that support them, only to their shareholders.

    Likewise, religions who are already subsidised by taxpayers in many ways have no loyalties except to themselves.

    “My religion says I can’t eat pork. Fine.
    My religion says I must prevent you from eating pork as well. Not the same thing”.

  22. Miriam English

    Those Christians who complain about anti-Christian sentiments in wider society need to rethink who their enemy is. It is NOT people who are angered by Christianity, but the Christian extremists who are ruining things for everybody — including for moderate Christians. I am constantly surprised that we don’t have more Christian moderates standing with non-religious people against the Christian extremists. The extremists have an almost impenetrable shield: the bulk of Christian moderates who defend the extremists merely because they call themselves “Christian”.

    The best allies Christians have are the non-religious people in society; they help keep Christians honest. The worst enemies Christians have are the crooked Christian extremists who dirty the name of all other Christians. The sooner Christian moderates understand this, the sooner we can all get back to improving Australia instead of fighting the constant assaults by extremists trying to undermine our society.

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