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For purposes of procreation

If you listen to Lyle Shelton from the Australian Christian Lobby, you might get the idea that Christianity teaches that the only legitimate purpose for sex is procreation and that marriage exists to sanction sex. Having children, therefore, is the fulfillment and meaning of marriage.

This is, of course, utter rubbish. It is not procreation that determines and establishes the value of marriage.

Orthodox theologian, Paul Evdokimov, writes, “Both the preservation of the species and selfish sexual pleasure reduce the partner to a mere tool and destroy his dignity. Love alone bestows a spiritual meaning upon marriage, and justifies it by elevating it to perceive the countenance of the beloved in God, to the level of the one and only icon…”

We are not breeding machines.

St. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople in the late 4th century and an important Early Church Father, said: “When there is no child, will they not be two? Most certainly, for their coming together has this effect, it diffuses and commingles the bodies of both. And as one who has cast ointment into oil, who has made the whole one, so in truth it is also here….Marriage is the intimate union of two lives, the sacrament of love.”

Love is the unitive factor in marriage, and not the structure of sexual compatibility nor the capacity to produce offspring.

The 19th Century Russian writer (and friend of Dostoevsky), Vladimir Solovyov, contested the view that the meaning of sexual love was for the propagation of the species.

“…among animals that reproduce themselves solely in the sexual way (the vertebrates), the higher we go in the organic scale, the more limited is the power of reproduction and the greater the force of sexual attraction” and that therefore “sexual love and reproduction of the species are in inverse proportion to each other: the stronger the one, the weaker the other….until at last, in man, there may be intense sexual love without any reproduction whatever.”

On Q&A last night, Lyle Shelton made the bizarre claim that changing the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples would break the “primal bond between a mother and her baby”.

“We did take Indigenous children and babies from their mothers and give them to loving families but the error we apologised for was for taking them from their biological mother and father,” he said. “Through assisted reproductive technology, we are taking the child from their biological father or their mother and giving them to someone else.”

Seriously Lyle? Could you have thrown your net any wider?

As Dr Kerryn Phelps said, “What’s that got to do with marriage?”

Former Speaker Anna Burke was also quick to slap him down.

“I actually sat in the Parliament when [Julia] Gillard gave that very moving speech about those women losing their babies,” she said. “I think to equate that to marriage equality is an absolute abomination for what those women went through.”

Feeding into the weirdness was also a discussion about the Safe Schools program prompted by this question.

CELLA WHITE asked: I’ve taken my children out of Frankston High School because of the content of the Safe Schools program. I have no religious affiliation but I believe it is biology that defines what sex you are, not radical gender theory. I did not feel comfortable with my daughter sharing a toilet with the boys who wish to identify as girls and withdrew her enrolment into year 7. Are my concerns legitimate?

Ms White went on to say that parents hadn’t been informed about the program and later, that the school didn’t in fact have any transgender children there. Her child wasn’t even at the school yet.

Cella, your concerns are a ridiculous confection based on misinformation you have been fed by people like Cory Bernardi and George Christensen about problems that don’t exist.

In one breath, these people are expressing concern for the welfare of the children of gay couples, and then in the next saying they object to a program specifically designed to address the social stigma these kids face, a problem which stems from the intolerance and ignorance of people like Cella White and Lyle Shelton.

Recent studies have shown that children of same-sex parents enjoy better levels of health and wellbeing than their peers from traditional family units. Lead researcher Doctor Simon Crouch said children raised by same-sex partners scored an average of 6 per cent higher than the general population on measures of general health and family cohesion. For these children, as for children who are themselves gender diverse, bullying and stigma are the greatest threats to their well-being.

The ACL is a political organisation based in Canberra who the ABC described as “a conservative Christian lobby group providing Biblical solutions for social issues”.

In 2012, then managing director of ACL, Jim Wallace, suggested that a homosexual “lifestyle” was more hazardous to health than smoking. The ACL also criticised the government in 2010 for working with a gay advisory body to assist its decision making as “disgraceful and pandering to a minority”.

Those opposed to marriage equality and the Safe Schools program would have us believe that the views of the minority are being forced on the majority heterosexual population. What is actually happening is that the views of a very vocal minority of bigots and fundamentalists are purporting to represent Christians. These people are over represented in Parliament and are using their public platform to spread misinformation, division, intolerance and hatred.

Thanks to the cowardice of Malcolm Turnbull, this vitriol will only get worse while our politicians procrastinate and the homophobes get louder and more desperate with their propaganda campaigns.

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  1. Terry2

    After what we heard from ACL on Q&A it is clear that the run-up to the plebiscite is going to be a nasty campaign of misinformation and vilification : just what Abbott wanted.

    Time for Turnbull to knock this on the head, have a parliamentary free vote and if our political representatives truly reflect the feelings of their respective electorates then that’s it.

    Let’s not forget that all we are doing is repealing the misguided 2004 changes to the Marriage Act.

  2. Kaye Lee

    The original Marriage Act purposely did not define marriage so it could evolve to reflect modern society. Howard changed it specifically so they could refuse to recognise same sex marriages from overseas, completely undermining the intent of the original legislation from 43 years earlier.

  3. Kate M

    Kerryn Phelps was impressive last night. She did a great job of highlighting the flaws in Shelton’s arguments.

  4. Miriam English

    Excellent piece Kaye, as usual. Nice point about love being what makes marriage an uplifting thing; that defining it by procreation demeans it as mere animalistic mechanics.

    I am constantly appalled by how the christian extremists are so obsessed with making marriage about hate instead of love. They have got their wires really badly crossed.

    Let’s hope Malcolm Turnbull grows a backbone soon, before too much damage is done to Australian society.

  5. kerri

    Gotta love Anna Burke! Her blood is worth bottling! She will be a great loss to the Parliament.
    It also incenses me that Shelton and his ilk perpetuate the myth that children need both parents.
    A male and a female of direct biological link to the child.
    What crap!
    So no child who loses one or both parents will grow up normal?
    There’s a lot of prominent public figures and politicians who would happily disprove that lie.
    Children in blended marriages will suffer?
    Only the “churchy” couples who stick together right or wrong have the biblical right to parenting?
    Like Jim and Tammy Bakker?
    These narrow minded twerps need to get out more and grow a brain!

  6. Bronte ALLAN

    Are any of these so-called “Christians” for real? All they seem to “preach” is hatred towards any one who does not conform to their inept, bigoted & NOT “Christian” pints of view. And some of these idiots are in our Parliament, God help us!

  7. Peter F

    We have gone from the outright support of these RWNJs by Abbott, to the weak acceptance by Turnbull. I am pleased to see that Shorten has at last started to speak out and show the great gulf which exists between the ALP and the Coalition on many fronts.

  8. diannaart

    Timely article, Kaye Lee.

    Love is something common to all sorts of sentient creatures – my dog who defended me from a couple of rednecks – to my cats who follow me everywhere – I’m pretty sure they are not considering procreation with me – they don’t even care if there is an official document or not – although my local council cares.

    Hopefully, we all get to experience love – dunno about those RWNJ’s, but love tends to strike irrespective of logic or reason it just happens and sometimes it works or even lasts a lifetime.

    As for sex being only for procreation…. seriously? The Bernardi’s and his ilk only have sex to procreate? Oh, pull the other one, it’ll kick ya.

    If these so-called Christians want to clean up according to their beliefs – maybe they should start with every married couple who have completed their families – those couples in middle age or older who are not going to breed, no matter how much rumpy-pumpy – Cory it is time for you to tell these reprobates to stop the rumpy and the humpy and, please, please, please let me watch while you tell these people what to do with their bodies.

  9. John Kelly

    Shelton was mouthing Catholic Church teaching on sex. They still teach that rubbish today. They have a psychological hang up about sex largely because they deny it to their clergy. This has plagued them ever since and a testimony to the current malaise in which they find themselves worldwide.

  10. Kaye Lee

    And they won’t even allow discussion of change John. Also about the role of women. Why? Do they think they already did their Reformation and the current system, devised hundreds of years ago, is fine and dandy for contemporary society?

  11. Damo451

    When it all comes down to it, sex is about procreation for survival of the species.
    Marriage is based on a chemical reaction which has a side effect called love.
    As cold as that may sound, they are the facts.
    But given that sex also provides an amount of pleasure then it can also be used for something else other than reproduction.
    Now as a heterosexual,blokey bloke, i fail to see how 2 men or women having sex together and or marrying has any real impact on my life.
    It hasn’t caused my bills to stop coming in, my car to stop starting in the morning, my wage to suddenly drop from pathetic to unlivable.
    It also hasn’t caused my internet connection to get any worse than Malcolm intended, it hasn’t stopped the cost of living going through the roof or made buying a house more expensive, so my point is, why does it need to be stopped.
    Don’t these trivial morons have something more important in their lives such as the wealth gap, climate change, child slavery, Donald Trump becoming president, to deal with.
    At the end of the day this ridiculous situation should be done and dusted so real problems and issues can be addressed and dealt with.
    Just as a side note i wonder how Cory feels about the saying ” Lipstick on a pig “

  12. Kaye Lee

    As Cardinal Pell is being questioned in Rome as to whether he ignored abuse by priests and brothers, a couple of weeks ago, during a presentation at the Vatican for newly appointed bishops, French Monsignor Tony Anatrella said they don’t have a duty to report abuse because it should be the responsibility of victims and their families to go to the police.

    Anatrella, a psychtherapist and consultant to the Pontifical Council for the Family and the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, is known for his controversial views on homosexuality, including that the acceptance of homosexuality in the West is creating “serious problems” for children. He also helped to write a training document for newly appointed bishops that further spells out the church’s stance on clerical sexual abuse.

    “According to the state of civil laws of each country where reporting is obligatory, it is not necessarily the duty of the bishop to report suspects to authorities, the police or state prosecutors in the moment when they are made aware of crimes or sinful deeds,” the training document, which was released by the Vatican earlier this month, reads. The document says bishops are required only to report the suspected abuse internally.

    And the Christian lobby is telling us to be concerned about gay parents?

  13. Damo451

    Don’t get me started on the Kiddie F$#@ERS Kaye Lee, i went to primary school with a guy who ended up at the infamous Rupertswood School for Pedophiles, he ended up a heroin addict after becoming molested by the notorious Father Fox.
    He received compensation for what happened and ended up dead as he used the money for a heroin binge.
    Google Luke Quilligan Broken Rites.

  14. kerri

    I just read a post on Facebook that sparked a memory for me. When studying genetics at Uni we looked at the curious case of David Reimer. Although in 1977 he was kept anonymous and just studied as a case that was happening at the time we were studying nature vs nurture. Genetics vs environment.
    David was born an identical twin and named Bruce. His twin brother named Brian. The babies, at 6 months had some health issues and circumcision was recommended. The urologist used a rare method involving an electrical wire around the penis tip through which was sent a current which would cauterise the foreskin causing it to drop off and quick healing would follow. Bruce went first. Too much current completely burnt Bruce’s penis to a crisp. Bruce’s penis was irretrievably damaged. Brian was left as is and soon recovered naturally but a Baltimore psychologist suggested a genital reconstruction and the raising of Bruce as Brenda. The parents were not overly educated and were not to know in 1966 that this would not help their child grow to be a normal functioning adult (save procreative ability). It proved extremely difficult for all involved.
    The Psychologist John Money who was well known for work in the field of gender identity, thought this to be a perfect opportunity to test his theories of nurture over nature. As a year 1 Uni student I remember turning to my friend and gasping that one day the twins would study genetics at school and Brenda would realise her situation.
    Needless to say the experiment was a collosal failure and several Psychologists later Bruce became David and spent his entire life struggling more with the enforced gender identity and the perverse sessions with Dr Money than with his physical wounds.
    Later in life he became quite open about his story in an effort to prevent his trauma being inflicted on any other child.
    David committed suicide in 2004 after re establing his gender identity as a male and marrying and adopting his wife’s three children.
    Brian became a schizophrenic so it is doubtful events spared him either.
    A book I later saw and purchased knowing who it was about is still available if you are interested.
    As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl. By John Colapinto.
    Or for a brief summation? Wikipedia.
    This case alone proves Lyle Shelton, Cory Bernardi, George Christensen et al to be completely incorrect in their belief that children can be “talked into” being transgender and I wonder why no one has presented this to them?

  15. gangey1959

    QandA last night just proved, again, that the (mainly religious) nut jobs who keep bringing the marriage equality talk/debate/discussion/argument/fight back to procreation over parenting proves that they haven’t got a f*cking clue. Pun intended.
    That shelton is a moron who makes cpyne sound smrt.
    If sex was only for the safety of the species, the catholic church would not be hogging the international spotlight of shame at present, and porkpie pell could come and go as he pleased.
    On that basis, stuff the plebiscite, and the non binding private conscience vote in Parliament, although that is the place to start, and with a combined House of Reps/ Senate vote at that. Have an Official Referendum on the matter, at the same time as the federal election.
    That will sort the matter out once and for all, without the possibility of some dickheaded polly going mental and changing things again to deflect attention from the real problems.
    It will save us a shitload of $$$s, the fabric of society wont crumble around our ears. And we can all move on.
    If Ireland, after all their sectarian violence can achieve that sanity, SO CAN AUSTRALIA !
    @Damo451 You encapsulate it so well, Sir.

  16. Anon E Mouse

    Something missing here.
    Christian churches, and others, have been put into the spotlight of a Royal Commission, yet we are not hearing them lobby against their fellow church members who have sexually abused children and had it covered up by their church leaders.

    Yet here they are lobbying against discussing homosexuality – ignoring the fact that male priests/pastors molesting little boys is a morally and legally wrong homosexual act that their churches have covered up, thereby giving tacit approval to. This is insanity.

    To take a high moral ground when their organisations covered up the sexual abuse of children is simply obscene.
    How dare the Christian lobby engage in this discussion while they are not speaking out loudly against those within their fold who have done such terrible things to kids.
    How dare they call themselves Christians when, from all that is written, Jesus would never have turned a blind eye or condoned such deviant behaviour towards children.

    Call these clowns out as liars and hypocrites.

  17. guest

    Are the Australian Christian Lobby un-Christian?

    Is their God a god of love?

    Paul speaks about love in Corinthians 13. “So faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

    But people who promote this Lobby are afraid that they will be affected by SSM. Exactly how is not explained, but in schools they reduce the discussion to an argument about who uses which toilet.

    In fact, the majority heterosexual group in society harms the LGBTI group, not just with physical and verbal vilification, but also in more subtle but harmful psychological ways, such as a ‘cold shoulder’, exclusion and denial. The Lobby might pay lip service to the idea of protecting LGBTI students from bullying, but would prefer not to talk about it at all – except to demand that marriage is between a man and a woman.

    To justify marriage by referring to the procreation of children is a narrow view of marriage and of the world at large.

    It is also a narrow view of what love is – and how whom one loves is an important element of identity: who one is as a person.

    The Lobby group denies SSM and at the same time denies love, denies identity, to some people. It discriminates: this group can marry, this group cannot.

    Jesus said (John 15:12): ‘This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you.’

    In the Lord’s prayer, Christians (and others) pray: ‘..and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those that trespass against us.’

    Is this what we see in the Lobby?

  18. gangey1959

    I forgot a bit.
    Following on from Diannaart’s suggestion above.
    How much do I need to pay for front row seats to watch bernardi and his compadres tell their church-going, bible thumping, hellfire-and-brimstone preaching faith-full to the last breath kiddyfiddler mates to stop knocking off the choirboys, but only because they wont “bear any fruit”.

    And am I allowed to super-glue their scrotums together afterwards? I’m not sure if that breaches my non violence order from the Magistrate’s Court

  19. kerri

    Guest you reminded me! So many points to make about the ACL stupidity. Shelton says his daughter would not like to go into a toilet used by boys. Does he have any sons? And do he and his sons use one toilet whilst she and his wife use another? This whole argument about toilets being separated is ludicrous! We all share toilets in houses? If there are separate cubicles then whats the problem? They just can’t get their minds out of the urinal!
    Gangey1959 you make me laugh!

  20. Kyran

    “If Ireland, after all their sectarian violence can achieve that sanity, SO CAN AUSTRALIA !” Thank’s, Gangey.
    The ‘marriage for procreation’ conversation is one that passed it’s ‘use by’ date centuries ago. In Ireland, it manifested in the time of the famine. You had as many kids as you could, because infant mortality was such that, if you had six kids, only one or two would survive to working age to enable them care for their parents.
    I’m still following enquiries in Ireland into the funding for the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ campaigns. The only thing I’m certain of is that when ‘christian’s’ are becoming hysterical, they always seem really well cashed up.
    There are no facts to their arguments. Only hysteria.
    It seems ironic that tiny, an insignificant backbencher, has lent his weight to the likes of un-christianson (who doesn’t need any more weight help), with some corgi yapping about the heels, about ‘Safe Schools’ being the end of the world as we know it.
    There is an Irish drag queen, Panti Bliss, also known as Rory O’Neill, who became a reluctant hero in the Irish marriage equality movement. Now he is invited into the conversation about the Safe Schools program.
    Divorce in Ireland was ratified in 1995. Marriage equality was recognised in 2015. The same arguments were used in both ‘no’ campaigns.
    Divorce in Australia was ratified in 1975. I’m off to check, but I suspect the arguments, way back then, were the same.
    So many good comments.
    “At the end of the day this ridiculous situation should be done and dusted so real problems and issues can be addressed and dealt with.” Thank’s Damo. Always grateful, Ms Lee. Take care

  21. silkworm

    Shame on QandA and the ABC for giving air time to this homophobic bigot.

  22. Zathras

    Bigots like Shelton use religion – not as a reason but as a convenient excuse for their personal hatreds.

    Considering the ongoing matters that are even now being discussed in Rome, perhaps the business of religion itself is a magnet for sexual deviants of various types, homophobes and paedophiles alike.

    Glass houses and stones come to mind.

  23. silkworm

    We are deluding ourselves if we think that having a reasonable conversation with these extremists can in any way change their mind. These arseholes have to be removed from their position of influence.

  24. Mercurial

    Honestly, watching Q&A last night you’d think gender dysmorphia were contagious.

  25. Kaye Lee

    I got that same impression Mercurial. Gay germs no return. This toilet fixation has got me beat.

  26. Ro Bailey

    As a celebrant I just married a couple in their mid 50s. Madly in love but I don’t think they’ll be doing much procreating.

  27. Gilly

    Sad life when the heavenly horizontal is misinterpreted

  28. bossa

    There are billions too many humans on this planet, and, as such, there is no justification for using a reproductive framework for defining the validity of an emotional bond between two people.

  29. Garth

    I’ve come to the conclusion that Shelton is a PR spiv. His faux ‘reasoned’ and ‘understanding’ tone are extremely insulting. He actually reminds me of the lead character in the movie ‘Thank you for smoking’. A sincere sounding insincere twat trying to defend the indefensible.

  30. Mercurial

    Kaye Lee, I get your argument, but gender dysmorphia and ‘gayness’ are two entirely separate concepts.

  31. Kaye Lee

    Yes Mercurial, I understand. When I was little it was boy germs, fingers crossed, no return. It is obvious that these people are uncomfortable with any talk of gender diversity.

  32. Mercurial

    Let’s hope you and I never catch the Christian bigot virus, Kaye Lee – that would be just awful!

  33. Kaye Lee

    Mercurial, after extensive exposure as a child, I am immune.

  34. Mercurial

    Me too Kaye Lee.

    And of course that should be ‘gender dysphoria’. My apologies.

  35. Kaye Lee

    They lost me with the emphasis on worship. I was ok with the bible as a metaphorical guide to ethics in a growing society (with reservations). I quite enjoyed bible studies like discussing the historical/philosophical context for the virgin birth and other such tales. I liked the good work done in the community. But the chanting got to me. The enormous wealth just being accumulated by the church aggravated me. And the final straw was their intolerance.

    I admire many Christians that I know but I feel they are constrained by organised religion. They are good people who want to do good for others but they must abide by edicts from a few hundred old men in Rome who jealously guard their wealth and power.

  36. Mercurial

    They lost me with the guilt trip, KL. Especially the bit about not being worthy to gather up the crumbs under the table.

    I’m worthy. (And I’ve been telling myself that ever since childhood.)

  37. Kaye Lee

    Oh yes….that black dot of sin inside us all. What an atrocious thing to tell little children. My husband, as a little altar boy (about 9) pulled a face at a friend during mass. When they got back to the vestry, the priest punched him full on the face. His first night at boarding school (age 11), the brother in charge of the dormitory threw him onto the bed as he was putting his jammies on and rubbed his unshaven face up and down his back saying “you won’t last here”. These are things we try not to remember.

  38. Kaye Lee

    Just to add to that story, my husband’s female cousin, same age, used to write to him at boarding school. The brothers opened his mail and called his parents to the school. To his mother’s credit, she read what were totally innocuous letters and suggested to the brothers that they were reading in things that weren’t there. Unfortunately, that did not diminish her respect for them.

  39. diannaart

    …she read what were totally innocuous letters and suggested to the brothers that they were reading in things that weren’t there…

    Seems the religious right are very practised at doing this – no doubt by reading into the bible what is not there aided Bernardi to read into an anti-bullying program for children an awful lot that simply isn’t there. What a nasty view he has of other people.

    Another thought that has been worrying me – I stand to be corrected if this has been discussed, I find the lack of respect for our educators reprehensible – the judgement by these politicians who have no training in education, little (if any) understanding of gender dysphoria who proceed to assume the worst. AND that effing traitor Turnbull acquiescing to the demands for a review.

    Have to go and scream.

  40. Kaye Lee


    The interference of politicians and their appointed cronies into education has been a source of huge frustration for us all. We developed a national curriculum with well over 20,000 submissions from experts and stakeholders. Along comes Abbott who appoints two goons and gives them a few weeks to change it all to what they/he thinks should be in the curriculum. In the mean time, the poor schools had just written and were implementing programs based on the course that Abbott and his mates decided to can.

    Politicians need to shut up and listen to experts when it comes to children and their education. I wouldn’t let Bernardi or Christensen anywhere near my kids.

  41. diannaart

    This interference by these goons do not help towards morale either. Anyone in working in science, the arts, education and so on …. words fail….. What is the point of being a professional anything if one’s skills can just be negated by a politician’s personal ideology?

    How can this even be legal?

    I have no doubt in a future Australia, such politicians will be tried for crimes against humanity, as in failure to act on climate change and direct interference in our education system.

    If Bernardi & Christensen were to present their (half-baked) ideas to a panel of professionals – they wouldn’t even get their ridiculous ideas in the public eye – just think how much more intelligent our political parties would appear if they had to work with experienced and knowledgeable people – BEFORE going public.

    Excuse, just going off to belt the daylights out of my Tibetan gong – very therapeutic.

  42. kerri

    Kaye Lee I grew up with a Catholic mother who had been terrorised by nuns and priests as she came from a “mixed marriage”. That being between a Catholic and an Anglican. My uncle had been terrorised by the nuns as he was left handed. Told the devil’s hand led him he was frequently beaten and became ambidextrous as a result. I look back now and wonder what other “punishments” he was subjected to? Mum had some insights into the faith as she told us fish on Friday was because Jesus’ mates were all fishermen. She also saw through the whole contraception thing, you know, more Catholics, but she was raised a Catholic by her guilt ridden mother, so she was adamant we all went to church on Sunday. A local Church of Christ where I watched as one parishioner insisted on her pew every Sunday and woebetide anyone new who dared to sit there. I watched as a very poor family with health issues were shunned because their clothes were not pretty enough. I watched when the new minister arrived with his Lesbian daughter who played songs from Godspell and Jesus Christ Superstar on the church organ as entry music to the Sunday service. (And incidentally the entire family contributed to a huge rise in the teenagers attending church? I am not at all religious but always felt if I had a pressing problem I would ask for counsel from Jack Manallack as he was such an experienced and caring person.) His long haired and bearded son who wore torn jeans and thongs to church attracted many whispers and nasty comments. At age 13 I told my parents I did not want to go to church or Sunday school any more. I just didn’t see that what was being taught matched what was being done. Fortunately I managed to escape, and only learnt later, the attentions of a church elder who molested several of the older girls. I can recall wondering why Mr Crisp no longer led the games at the church picnic? Why Mr Crisp suddenly became quiet, almost withdrawn and looked mentally ill or intelectually disabled as he shuffled behind his wife into church. Many of those girls had ongoing problems. My next door neighbour suffered greatly when first married and required years of therapy to cope with her marriage. He and his family remained as members of the church. He faced no criminal charges. I also look back at a family who were quite prominent in the church but whose children had huge problems. I was exposed to the daughter who always seemed inexplicably unhinged to me? Maybe it was the well known fact of wifey 2, 3, 4 and however many more her father kept on his regular “business” trips to South East Asia. Maybe it was when her unruly older brother was sent to a boarding school in Ballarat, yes Ballarat in the 70’s! Maybe he told her of what he endured? I don’t know for sure but he moved to Adelaide (from Templestowe Melbourne) and changed his name and excommunicated himself from the rest of his family? It couldn’t have been when her younger brother was exposed, (That happened well after we all left the church.) as the Templestowe Drain Bandit. Tried hard but cannot unearth stories on Stuarts adventures but he was blackmailing people and collecting the booty left on the streets at designated points by scuttling along the drains and grabbing the extortion money unseen by the cops and he was only 13! This was back in the 70’s so news articles are not online and cops weren’t all that savvy. It did occur before the movie “Malcolm”. Back to today a friend, an astonishingly successful businesswoman who manages major investment deals by day, chairs the board of her daughters school by night and in between manages to make the many and varied crudites, cupcakes and other perfect delicacies she serves at her regular New Years, wedding anniversary, birthday and what the hell let’s just have a party functions, was also raised a Catholic and swore to the priest who finally allowed her wedding within the church that her children would all be confirmed in the Catholic faith to make up for her marrying a non-catholic! To this day I am amazed at the depths to which Catholicism penetrates the heart and soul of very, very good people and stunts their lives and experiences.
    Needless to say I am an avowed Atheist and preach the completely non-secular existence to my children.
    Thank God they “get it”.
    Sorry but I have raved on a bit!

  43. bobrafto

    They wouldn’t print my comment in the SMH so here it is:

    Am I safe to assume that in years gone by there was an establishment of leper colonies that now the likes of Sheldon and Benardi would like to re-introduce these colonies for gay folks?

  44. Kaye Lee


    Recent events have caused many of us to rave on a bit, including my husband who is telling me things I haven’t heard before in 40 years of living together. He went to a prestigious Catholic boarding school which has not been mentioned to date in criminal proceedings. It should have been. I am so angry about what he and others endured. He told his mother when he was 12 about a brother who had tried to molest him and who had succeeded with other boys. She told him to stop being ridiculous “They are religious men”.

  45. Miriam English

    Believing is religious superstitions should be sufficient reason for a politician to be dismissed from their job. Being governed by a person with malevolent delusions is too dangerous a thing to allow.

  46. Backyard Bob

    And there’s the secular tyranny I spoke of elsewhere. Jesus, Miriam, what an extraordinarily arrogant thing to suggest. Are we including Buddhists in this nifty little view?

  47. Miriam English

    You mean like the good Buddhist priests perpetrating the genocide in Sri Lanka, or the good Buddhist believers who were the kamikaze pilots of World War 2?

    Yes. Religion is a delusion that gives people the power to be unusually callous to other people. It is something that we can do without in our leaders. It is not the only delusion, of course, but it is the largest, most organised delusion with the worst record of offenses against humanity. Anybody who can be taken in by something so clearly erroneous has, in my opinion lost the ability to govern. We need government to be concerned with humanity, not some imaginary sky-daddy.

    What would you think of electing someone who believes in fairies — literally people a few inches tall who have butterfly-like wings? It is no less crazy than the crap that every religion professes.

    Remember, I’m not saying they can’t be musicians, or bus drivers, or electricians. All I’m saying is that I think someone who is subject to a grand delusion, such as religion, should automatically be disqualified from election to a position where their ability for critical thought determines all our futures. I used to think that a religious person could keep their irrational beliefs separate from their work, but I see no real evidence for that. We see over and over again what happens when we allow religion to interfere with policy and it is never good.

  48. Kaye Lee

    Let’s see….what is the result of this “secular tyranny”? Can’t think of one myself. What is the result of “religious tyranny”? Wars, pedophilia, population explosion, homophobia, misogyny ….intolerance and persecution on a grand scale. Are we to sit back politely discussing their beliefs while they inflict them on us through policies? Have you noticed the correlation between religious beliefs and climate change denial?

  49. Terry2

    I see that the Liberal Party are sending Cori Bernardi into rehab. so things are looking up – perhaps.

  50. Miriam English

    By “rehab” you mean the UN?
    Pity the folks at the UN… and pity us. What a terrible advertisement for Australia.
    Still, perhaps he’ll learn the world is not the black-and-white thing his simple mind reduces it to.

  51. Backyard Bob


    Yes. Religion is a delusion that gives people the power to be unusually callous to other people.

    Yes, indeed, it can be, but then so can various zealously held ideological worldviews. Stalin and Mao spring to mind.

    But seriously, what is this nonsense of resorting to the worst possible scenarios and examples, none of which actually apply in a contemporary Australian context, to make an argument? It’s intellectually dishonest. It’s lazy.

    How about we ban any persons from political aspiration based on them holding ideas that we regard as irrational or delusional? I tell you what, if it were me making such decisions there’d be no politicians at all.

    Religious? Can’t stand for office. Believe in astrology? Can’t stand for office. Think picking your own numbers in Keno is better than a quickpick? Can’t stand for office. And so on.

    It’s more than merely absurd, it’s tyrannous and utterly undemocratic. I’d much prefer that such people didn’t seek office, but what you’re advocating is ultimately scarier than the thought of a person with a PhD in Theology, who happens to believe in God, being voted into political office.

    What you’re proposing is nothing more or less than a secular version of a totalitarian, theocratic State where rights are determined by the worldview you hold.

    Yes, religious people are tedious as hell sometimes, and institutionally capable of serious harm, but really…..

  52. Miriam English

    Wow. Overreact much, Bob?

    Yes, there are plenty of other zealously held ideological worldviews capable of doing great harm. I said as much. All I was saying is that religion is historically the most consistently dangerous, and I felt politicians that show themselves unable to think past the absurdity of religion are clearly unsuitable for office.

    Of course, what I say has little effect on what happens out there in the real world. But even if, through some collective epiphany, Australia decided to prevent religious people from holding office, it wouldn’t be the horrific result you seem to envision. All it would mean is that those in politics who were religious would merely see election recede beyond their grasp, and would leave the profession to others. Good result. Those religious people currently in office might have to stand down or perhaps serve out their immediate term, depending on how people felt, I guess, but this wouldn’t be the great bloodletting your overreaction shows you imagine.

    Some religious people might lie that they were in fact atheist or agnostic, but that would be perfectly okay, because it would prevent them contaminating politics with religion, lest they be caught out and lose their job. It would enforce exactly the rule we already have about separation of religion from office, but which is being ignored by many particularly nasty religious people, to the detriment of Australians generally, and at least 2 million (probably more) gay Australians.

    We don’t have interior decorators who are color blind, we don’t have telephone receptionists who are deaf, we don’t have truckies who can’t drive, we don’t have typists who can’t type, we don’t have lifeguards who can’t swim. Why on Earth should we have politicians whose intellectual ability to consider the wellbeing of their people is constrained by absurd, superstitious belifs?

  53. Lee

    It isn’t surprising that children of same-sex parents enjoy better health and wellbeing. Every one of those children is wanted and loved by their parents. There are no accidental pregnancies there, nor resentment about the difficulties faced by the parent(s) due to poor timing. Throughout my life I’ve encountered plenty of hetero parents who are very poor role models for their children, e.g. my neighbour who yells foul language and abuse at his children that is so loud I can hear him above the sound of my lawnmower and there’s a vacant block in between our houses. Why are people like this automatically assumed to be well equipped to be a parent for no other reason than they are heterosexual and married?

  54. Lee

    I agree with Miriam. If you believe in a mythical sky daddy and I know about it, you won’t be getting my vote. Politicians need to make many important decisions based on logic and evidence. If they’re incapable of doing that then they have no business being in politics.

  55. diannaart

    ….and there are many who lie about being religious for reasons of advantage – they abound in conservative political parties – particularly in the USA, where having a religion is virtually compulsory.

  56. kerri

    Religion in the US is scary.
    Studied US history in year 11. The people on the Mayflower were Dutch I think but they were definitely religious exiles who believed God had sent them forth to find a new land andd create a new country.
    Chosen by God?
    Tells you a lot.
    Miriam, I am with you 100%

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