The dictionary meaning of ‘to believe’
1 accept that (something) is true, especially without proof.
“the superintendent believed Lancaster’s story”
2 hold (something) as an opinion; think.
“I believe we’ve already met”
I was recently listening to a discussion on radio between members of various religious groups in relation to the latest revision of the proposed Bill to protect the freedom to practice religion.
I know – and you know – that there are much more important issues to be discussing – and so should the government.
Their agenda ignores our best interests and concentrates on keeping their supporters happy while Australia burns.
So, it is clear that our job is to ensure that religion takes a back seat (hopefully, permanently) while the government makes a very late start on guaranteeing the future for our children.
To get the ball rolling, let’s get this pesky subject of religion out in the open and settled, once and for all, and then forget it!
Section 116 of the Australian Constitution states:
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. (My emphasis)
Now I could ‘believe’ that the moon is made of green cheese, and you could point out that mankind’s technology has enabled it to land a spaceship on the moon, and the exploration there did not even suggest the existence of any green cheese.
So other people might not agree with my belief but, as I am unlikely to ever go to the moon, that need not stop me from believing that I am right. And we can still all be happy with our own conclusions. Please note that the definition at the beginning shows that lack of proof or acceptable evidence does not inhibit belief.
Many people all around the world believe in the existence of one or more gods who, the people believe, can somehow act to affect the people’s lives. Some of the people even claim to have had experiences which prove to their satisfaction that their beliefs are well-founded.
They believe they have been given directions as to how their gods expect them to behave and some of these directions were recorded centuries ago, in many cases in languages no longer in common use. Over the years there has been much discussion as to the accuracy of the translations and also as to the meanings of the transcripts.
The major monotheistic religions are Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and, again over the years, followers of these religions have splintered into multiple sects which frequently disagree violently with each other.
That alone would lead me to have grave doubts as to the values of these religions if, despite their claims to the contrary, they are responsible for so much strife.
In the radio discussion I referred to, there were representatives of different Christian sects, and, in my opinion, the one who spoke from the perspective of the Uniting Church made most sense, suggesting that what we need is a Bill of Rights, which incorporates all human rights – including religion – something most other advanced nations have already achieved.
Because the Australian States have retained certain powers following federation, s 116 could be interpreted as meaning that the states can do what they like about religion but the Commonwealth is to some extent restricted.
And until the issue of same-sex marriage, itself a human rights issue – the Commonwealth was not unduly interfering on religious issues. It had allowed schools and other institutions established by religious organisations to have exemptions from some of the sections of discrimination acts – unwisely, in my view, in a country which is supposed to have a secular government, which implicitly overrules canon law!
Now we get to the nitty-gritty!
Our knowledge of our world, the universe, life on earth, evolution – an endless list – is incomplete, and we are making new discoveries and correcting past misunderstandings every day.
Many Christians believe that everything in their Holy Bible is the word of god and is truth which cannot be denied.
Some of them realise that this cannot be true, because we know the sun does not go around the earth and we have discovered a few other errors as well.
Looking back to my reference as to our knowledge being amended and added to as and when new discoveries are made, then rational thinking says that facts, as stated 2 or 3 thousand years ago, might well be open to revision.
And when it comes to human sexuality, it is only in the last few years that we have been able to understand that variations from binary are a natural phenomenon and members of the LGBTIQ+ community are ‘normal’ human beings whose uniqueness as individuals is no more surprising than is true of skin or hair colour.
Now we have come to the nub of the problem!
It people’s religious beliefs are so rigid that they refuse to accept that the Bible got it wrong, homosexuality is not an abomination, and all human beings have the right to love another without being confined to the traditional male/female bonding, then it is the rational non-religious members of the community who need protection from their bigotry and ignorance.
Let’s be honest!
It is no skin off my nose if my best friend is lesbian and she lives with another lesbian.
As long as she accepts that I am a straight female, then live and let live.
The only exception in this area is in relation to paedophiles.
Why? Because, if they follow their predilections and seek a sexual relationship with a child, they are doing a massive amount of harm, and we must ensure that this be prevented or punished.
All of us, if we wish to live in a harmonious community, must respect the rights and needs of others in a reciprocal way. If you want to follow a religion, just please leave me to live my life in my way.
I know when I studied law a decade or two ago, a Bill of Rights was, and remains, a contentious issue. But the lack of a Bill of Rights is now encouraging our government to concentrate on satisfying the minority who opposed same-sex marriage, to assure them that they will be protected if they speak in a derogatory fashion or refuse to employ an individual who does not conform to their definition of ‘normal’ as regards sexuality.
Look at what the Royal Commission exposed of the damage done by religious paedophiles. Think about the resignation of the headmaster of St Kevin’s College, Melbourne for effectively supporting a paedophile and punishing his victim!
When you hide criminal activity beneath a religious cloak, we are all at risk!
What is it about religion in Australia? In 1957 I was employed to teach maths in the Sacred Heart Grammar School for Girls in Hammersmith, and discussed progress with my classes with the Mother Superior, who was the Head Mistress, despite my being a non-Catholic! I was employed for my academic qualifications and was not involved in any way in religion.
Even Eire is divorcing government from religion more effectively that we seem to be doing!
Get this issue off the drawing board and concentrate on trying to prevent temperatures rising to unlivable levels!
Prime Minister: Please forget about protecting those who practice religion, concentrate on implementing an effective plan to phase out fossil fuels while creating new job opportunities for those who will be displaced, and get the lawyers on to developing a really good Bill of Rights which will ensure that I – as an agnostic – am not at risk from religious bigots!
PS: Much of the above applies to other religious groups who cling on to habits founded generations ago, and no longer valid in the modern world. And when it comes to their recognising equality of the rainbow range of genders – there is a long way to go!
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