I have a greater knowledge of the Christian faith, in its many sects, than I do of any of the other world’s major religion. Consequently, I shall primarily concentrate on that faith, while much of what I say might also apply to other religions.
The Old Testament is essentially the history of the monotheistic Jewish people and the development of its faith. The Book of Genesis attempts to describe how the earth and all within it was created – and there are sects which solemnly accept this 7-day creation story as fact.
Science begs to differ, and produces proofs that the age of the earth and its place in our solar system most definitely does not accord with the Bible’s claims.
There are, in fact, many versions of the Bible, because multiple translations have produced a corresponding number of interpretations of what was originally recorded.
There are currently disputes over whether there was some confusion in the translations as between homosexuality and pederasty (or paedophilia), which has led to decades – if not centuries – of condemnation of homosexuality, despite a total acceptance of such relationships in the time of the Ancient Greeks!
Either way, some sects which claim to be Christian, cling obstinately to their preferred interpretation and condemn the LGBTIQ community as an abomination!
Again – science differs and accepts the rainbow spectrum of human sexuality as a natural outcome of the gestation process.
Now the main reason that this sticks in my craw is that I grew up in a Christian family, in an officially Christian country and studied the Scriptures in a Church of England secondary school.
And it was very clear that being a Christian meant accepting and following the teachings of Jesus Christ – who was, of course, a Jew, believing in one God.
And first and foremost, Jesus Christ taught people to love one another.
Example after example can be found in the gospels of the way in which he taught that we should look to making ourselves better before criticising others, how all mankind was of equal value, and his message is totally summed up in his encompassing Commandments 2 to 10 into one – “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself”.
The parable of the Good Samaritan perfectly encapsulated exactly what he meant by a neighbour – and it was clear that those who sanctimoniously regarded themselves as superior in their religious observance did not rate highly in his estimation!
Sadly, Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus led him to a career as a proselytiser who had not known Jesus Christ firsthand and whose teachings seemed to stray too often from his Master’s message of love, to the fire and brimstone of the Old Testament!
I have absolutely no regrets about my Christian upbringing because it exposed me to a moral code – do as you would be done by – with which I have no quarrel.
But I was also educated in science with its need for evidence.
I have many queries about the existence of any gods, but have never found evidence that convinces me of their existence, so I remain an agnostic.
But I am scathingly critical of those who claim to be Christian, yet whose refusal to accept facts arising from post-Biblical-times scientific discoveries leads them to behave in ways that are seriously hurtful to others.
In my eyes, the Israel Folaus of this world falsely claim to be Christian because they do not follow his teaching.
The government’s promise – in exchange for ignoring fierce minority opposition and finally legislating for same-sex marriage (a human rights issue) – to pass legislation to prevent religious discrimination, is an appalling derogation of duty. His own behaviour, when compared with his claims to being a Christian, smack (in my eyes) of blatant hypocrisy!
The proposed legislation looks likely to allow carte blanche for people to demonise difference, by calling themselves Christian, in direct contravention of the teachings of the man they implicitly believe was the Son of God!
I was on the verge of admitting to myself that I was an agnostic, when I spent my first year in the UK as a secondary maths teacher – at a government-funded Convent of the Sacred Heart Girls Grammar School. I was one of many non-Catholic lay teachers recruited because of our specialist teaching disciplines. The school authorities had to meet government education standards and religion was a separate issue.
Australia has been led down a dangerous path in allowing schools to promote the idea that education processes can be determined by religious bodies, and this is leading it now down an even more dangerous path of giving to the religious privileges (including the existing tax-free status for religious organisations) which are not available to the secular community.
We have many religions practised in Australia. Their adherents have a Constitutional right to do so without interference as long as they do not breach the laws of this secular country.
And what did the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse reveal?
And how hard has the government worked to assist those survivors of abuse?
And are the religious and religious institutions being protected by governments just as the banking industry has been?
And is that protection desirable in a secular country where religion is a matter of personal choice?
For me, the answer is a resounding “NO!”
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