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May your god go with you

Isn’t it time the majority of Australians told the ultra-religious conservatives that while we understand they have a problem with some social issues, the problem is solely theirs, not ours, writes respected TPS blogger ‘2353’.

It seems that the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) is the keeper of the morals and ethics of a number of conservative politicians in this country. So does the ACL really represent the views of Christian Australia, or is it an attempt to enforce the views of a small group of people upon the majority?

To look at the views of the ACL, we need to do a bit of bible study. Those who will tell you that the bible is an accurate historical document have a fundamental problem in that the New Testament (the bit about Christianity) was written sometime after the events occurred. If we assume for a minute that the subject of the New Testament was actually born on 25 December 0AD, he died somewhere around March or April 33AD – despite the Gregorian calendar that we follow today not being developed until well after the 1000AD mark. While the common claim is that the New Testament was written hundreds of years after the event, this link to the Christian Apologetics and Research Institute argues that the various sections of the New Testament were all written by those who had direct knowledge of the events (or those who knew those with the direct knowledge) so were basically complete by 100AD.

Considering that we are now in 2016AD, it’s likely that in the previous 1900 or so years, various changes have occurred either through the length of time taken to commit the events to a permanent record, translation, intent or error. The Christian Apologetics website argues that while error is possible, the intent of the text remains the same. Given that most of us can’t remember what we had for lunch a month ago, or the exact circumstances and timelines behind an important event that occurred a year ago, the position that the bible text is an exact report of events that occurred years prior to the recording of them is as ‘pure’ today as it was when it was written is a leap of faith (sorry!) that is difficult to justify on a logical level.

For those who believe in a religion, be it Christian, Muslim, Buddhist or anything else for that matter, the book of faith for their particular brand of religion certainly suggests a way to live that is moral and ethical. However, it is doubtful if the books should be taken as an absolute truth. For example, the old testament of the bible, shared between the Jewish and Christian religions, prohibits the eating of products from pigs as it is ‘unclean’. Is there a deep spiritual meaning here or is it something as basic as that unless pig meat is cooked or cured properly, some pathogens survive? Science and modern technology do have their uses.

The ACL’s website will tell you that their work is to ‘see Christian principles influencing the way we are governed, do business and relate to each other as a community’. They also claim to be non-party political or aligned to any denomination of Christianity. It seems that principles in this case is a selected cherry picking of the bits they like out of the Christian holy book, the bible.

The ACL is currently in the news for it’s obsessive opposition to anything to do with acceptance of people who identify as LGBTIQ and by inference, same sex marriage. In their view, even the Safe Schools program, designed to prevent bullying across the spectrum of school students is claimed to be promoting sexual experimentation rather than being a valid response to a number of bullying issues – most of which have nothing to do with gender.

Continuing the biblical theme of this article, the Huffington Post religion site notes:

‘there are really only seven passages in the Bible that refer directly to homosexual behaviour, and none of them are associated with Jesus’

Compare that to the more than 250 verses on the proper use of wealth or more than 300 on our responsibility to care for the poor and work for justice, and you appreciate quickly that homosexuality was not exactly a major theme of the Bible.

The article in Huffington Post goes on to list the passages of the bible as well as discussing how the scholars see the relevance of the passages to the 21st Century interpretation placed on them by conservative commentators.

Jeff Sparrow discussed the historical roots of organisations such as the ACL in The Guardian. He makes these points:

Specifically, the ACL’s distinctive tradition comes not from the Holy Land but from the United States, where the American religious right first took shape in the early 1970s.

As Randall Balmer explains in Politico, Christian conservatism became a political force in the US at tail end of the civil rights era. Indeed, the religious right emerged initially to oppose desegregation – that is, to defend institutionalised racism against African Americans.

In 1971, the US government decided to withdraw tax exemptions from racially discriminatory schools. That included Bob Jones University, a fundamentalist college in South Carolina that claimed a scriptural basis for segregation. The university did not admit black students at all; later, it enrolled married black students but promised to expel any student who engaged in interracial dating (or who even supported an organisation that advocated interracial relationships).

The conservative political activist Paul Weyrich, working closely with the Reverend Jerry Falwell, rallied Christians in support of Bob Jones University’s right to receive tax breaks. Crucially, the campaign was pitched less as a defense of the college’s racism than as a matter of religious freedom: Weyrich roused a Christian constituency by warning evangelical leaders that the government was taking control their institutions. It was only later that Weyrich and Falwell redirected the anger at federal interference in Christian schooling into campaigns around “values” issues such as abortion and pornography.

The Australian Christian Lobby was founded in 1995, in fairly direct imitation of the Christian Coalition of America. There’s no suggestion that the ACL ever embraced the segregationist politics of Bob Jones. Nevertheless, you can still detect traces of that early history in the ACL’s persistent invocation of “religious freedom” when making its case against same-sex marriage.

See the contradiction? Note the number of references in the bible to proper use of wealth and responsibility to care for the poor and work for justice that the Christian conservative movements seem to routinely ignore when you look at their history of supporting segregation, racism and the framing of their arguments as religious freedom or values issues. Certainly conservative Christians have a right to be heard, but you wonder how the ACL can justify their request for exemption from the Discrimination legislation during the lead up to the same sex marriage plebiscite as caring for the poor and working for justice. As The Saturday Paper rightly comments:

This is an outrageous nonsense. If Shelton’s [Managing Director of ACL] arguments depend on vilification, they are scarcely arguments. They are bigotry. They are hate.

While a number of LNP politicians seem to be on the same wavelength as the ACL, others in the commercial world have a greater sense of morals. Mark Allaby, a senior executive with Price Waterhouse Coopers was recently instructed to resign from his seat on the board of ACL.

A spokesperson for PwC said that one in 10 of the company’s staff participate in board or advisory roles outside of PwC, but they’re not given a free pass to join any board they want:
“When it comes to employee participation on external boards, if a conflict arises between an employee’s board role and the best interests of PwC, we would request that they step down from that board”

Interestingly, Allaby continues his directorship at the Lachlan Macquarie Institute. The Institute’s vision includes the following text:

What we seek to achieve by this programme is the transformation of the nature of politics and governance in Australia. By helping develop the character and intellectual foundations of future politicians, journalists, advisors and public policy influencers before they step into public life, we will begin to see more decisions made based on a solid understanding of what is good, true and beautiful in light of the revelation of Jesus Christ.

You have to ask if it is the ‘true’ revelation, or the ‘conservative’ revelation where apparently bullying and vilification of children and adults in our society are considered to be acceptable.

Back in 2014, Eureka Street looked at the rise of the ACL and identified a few reasons why the Lobby has continued to grow. Among the conclusions:

Like most other pressure groups, the ACL, founded in 1995, boosts itself shamelessly in its search for donations and members. It claims to be a ‘Voice for Values’ and boasts 30,000 members. It reckons it has become ‘one of the premier political lobbies in the country’ and that it is ‘growing in size and influence’. These are big claims, but measured by its growth and positioning ACL has been successful.

First it has effectively taken over the term ‘Christian’ in politics, though it does not claim to be the peak Christian voice. The name says it all. The major churches are fading by comparison, their image blighted by child sex abuse and falling attendances.

It is a sleight of hand, of course, to infer that the 64 per cent of Australians who are Census Christians subscribe to the ACL agenda. Half of them are Christian only in name and the other half includes many progressive Christians who do not accept at all any purported representation by the conservative ACL. But church leaders, like the new Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher, also on this year’s program, have enhanced ACL’s image.

Eureka Street is published by the Jesuits, a Catholic religious order.

If your takeout from Eureka Street is that not all Christian groups identify with the ACL, you’d be right. Forty religious leaders, most of them Christian, have written an open letter to the prime minister asking for him to arrange a vote on same sex marriage in parliament in the term of this government. Turnbull has so far refused.

There is evidence that ACL is far from the moral and ethical Christian organisation it claims to be. These people claim to be the interpreters of the Christian faith in today’s Australia yet seem to have completely forgotten the many references to proper use of wealth and responsibility to care for the poor and work for justice while skating around the scholarly interpretation of the few references to homosexual behaviour found in their source document – the bible. Readers of the bible are reminded far more of the responsibility to care for the poor and work for justice as well as use wealth properly than any reference to the material the ACL is so concerned about. We have also seen that as the bible was not written until some time after the event, it is hardly likely to be an accurate record of events as they occurred. In addition, some of the prohibitions in the bible seem to be there for purely physical reasons – such as the prohibition on eating pig meat (routinely ignored by even the most conservative Christians).

Perhaps the real reasons ACL is against same sex marriage is shown in a recent debate on Sky News. Lyle Shelton, the Managing Director of ACL, was asked:

how does, on this Valentine’s Day, my marriage and my relationship with Adrian of 18 years affect your marriage?

The response beggars belief.

“Well,” Shelton replied, “if the definition of marriage is changed, it’s no longer assumed that millions of people like myself who are married… that I’m married to a woman. So that affects me straight away! People no longer assume that I’m married to a woman, I’d have to explain myself.”

So the almighty scare campaign, including a request to exempt the no case from discrimination legislation, is a response to one person’s concerns that he might have to one day explain that he is married to a woman (if that matters anyway). For Pete’s sake!

How about we leave this sordid example of framing a debate so the actual issue is clouded in layers of waffle and misinformation to John Faulkner, a 65-year-old gentleman who asked this question on the ABCTV’s QandA in late February.

“I’m a 65-year-old Australian Christian. At least I try to be,” Faulkner started.

“There are many Australian Christians who support marriage equality but they don’t remember appointing [Managing Director] Lyle Shelton and the ACL to speak on their behalf. The example of Christ is completely contrary to what the ACL is promulgating with its hate campaign.”

Who gave Mr Shelton and the ACL the right to speak for all Christians on the matter of marriage equality?” [bold added]

The response was:

“Yes, our name is Australian Christian Lobby but just as the Australian Labor Party, they wouldn’t claim to speak for all workers.”

If that is the case – they represent a small proportion of a small and declining percentage of the Australian population. Isn’t it time the majority of Australians told the conservative rump that while we understand they have a problem with some issues – it’s their problem, not ours?

This article was originally published on The Political Sword

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73 comments

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  1. archiearchive FCD

    While bacon and ham are mentioned as being seen as “unclean” there is the other class of food which Leviticus bans – chapter 11, v10 “But all creatures in the seas or streams that do not have fins and scales—whether among all the swarming things or among all the other living creatures in the water—you are to regard as unclean.” How many leaders of the ACL enjoyed their Prawns, Crabs and Crayfish during their Good Friday Feasts this year?

  2. kerri

    I often discuss religion with a friend of mine, a progressive Jew. Whilst he is faithful, I am not. He questions, why everyone assumes a benevolent god? Isn’t it possible that there may be a vengeful god? This certainly sounds more likely to me given the Catholic preference for fire and brimstone. He also explains that within the Jewish faith the proscriptions around food etc are today anachronistic but easily explained. Note here this friend is also a dermatologist and is married to a psychiatrist. Whilst faithful, he is, by no means,lacking intellect. Centuries ago, when health and medicine were still somewhat mysteries and hygeine fairly uncommon, the elders of the Hebrews were concerned that their people were falling ill easily and the death rate was high. They endeavoured to educate the common folk to prevent bad food and hygeine practices decimating the populace. The people wouldn’t listen and still carried out unsafe practices. The elders then linked said practices to their faith where it carried greater weight with the people. This was not the only faith or peoples to do so. Ancient practices excluding women from handling food during menstruation makes eminent sense as does the eating of “unclean” foods. Religion, seen in this context, served a purpose which today is irrelevant given the progress of science.

  3. jim

    Great post I’d also like to remind these “Christen Nutters” of Australias constitution which states; 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. Crickey when will they pull their Big Holy heads out of their asses? and out of our business. Please leave LNP squares blank on election day.

  4. diannaart

    Excellent summary of events.

    I appreciated discovering the ACL only started in 1995, as a pallid offspring of the American religious right.

    It is important to distinguish the extremists in any religion.

    For example, I empathise with Muslims whenever ISIL or the Taliban or whichever group of psychopaths murder and maim innocent people. In fact, these extremists cause more harm to their fellow Muslims than they do to others – of course we do not hear a lot about that, any more than we get to hear much detail of the numbers of innocent people slaughtered by our own ‘friendly fire’.

    I would be interested to hear from moderate Christians, how they see the ACL, how it affects their lives. Surely, the political influence of ACL directly impacts on the lives of other Christians just as much as it does on secular people.

    The interesting conundrum caused by these extremists is they cause more harm to others than the causes against which they struggle – such as SSM or autonomy of fertility for women.

  5. Miriam English

    Do the ACL idiots cut their hair, particularly that at the side of their heads? Oops. Forbidden.

    Do they wear cotton-polyester blends? Wool blends? Abomination!

    Do they approach the altar with any kind of defect? Need glasses? Are a bit deaf? Have a bit of arthritis or rheumatism? (They are certainly exhibiting pretty strong character defects.) Forbidden!

    What do they do on the sabbath? If they do any kind of work — even if it is to gather a few sticks of firewood they should be put to death!

    All these are very clear instructions.

    But the Bible actually doesn’t unambiguously denounce gays. The words are open to interpretation and are far from clear. This is especially important when you take into account the gay marriage celebrated between Jonathan and David (1 Samuel 18:1, 3-4) and the pretty clear statement of love by Ruth for Naomi (Ruth 1:16-17).

    Remember the fun Christian tradition of burning witches at the stake? Well, that instruction was pretty clear, at least. “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.” Oh. Oops. No. It was a mistranslation. If you go back to the original language it turns out it doesn’t say anything about witches, or killing them. It says you shouldn’t let poisoners stay in your village. Oh dear. How could the great and just and good god let all those women be burned alive? Was he not listening to all those agonised screams? Did he not think to say something to his agents on Earth to correct their error?

    The Bible is a terrible book. It is riddled with contradictions and inconsistencies. If any god wrote it then he did so in the throes of dementia. Any half-good engineer or lawyer can write a clear, unambiguous document. How could the omnipotent master of the universe get it so wrong?

    You can find a list of more than 200 biblical contradictions and inconsistencies at:
    http://miriam-english.org/articles/biblical_bloopers.html

    So the Bible has lots of little errors. The central and most important part of the Bible and Christianity is the resurrection of Jesus, right? That part would be sure to be clear and correct, right? Uh… no.

    There was but one woman who came to the sepulchre – John 20:1 (the sepulchre is the tomb where Jesus was)
    There were two women who came to the sepulchre – Matt 28:1
    There were three women who came to the sepulchre – Mark 16:1
    There were more than three women who came to the sepulchre – Luke 24:10

    It was at sunrise when they came to the sepulchre – Mark 16:2
    It was some time before sunrise when they came. – John 20:1

    There were two angels seen by the women at the sepulchre, and they were standing up. – Luke 24:4
    There was but one angel seen, and he was sitting down. – Matt 28:2,5

    There were two angels seen within the sepulchre. – John 20:11,12
    There was but one angel seen within the sepulchre – Mark 16:5

    Christ was to be three days and three nights in the grave – Matt 12:40
    Christ was but two days and two nights in the grave – Mark 15:25,42,44,45,46; 16:9>

    Holy ghost bestowed at pentecost – Acts 1:8,5
    Holy ghost bestowed before pentecost – John 20:22

    The disciples were commanded immediately after the resurrection to go into Galilee – Matt 28:10
    The disciples were commanded immediately after the resurrection to go tarry at Jerusalem – Luke 24:49

    Jesus first appeared to the eleven disciples in a room at Jerusalem – Luke 24:33,36,37/ John 20:19
    Jesus first appeared to the eleven on a mountain in Galilee – Matt 28:16,17

    Christ ascended from Mount Olivet – Acts 1:9,12
    Christ ascended from Bethany – Luke 24:50,51

    The Bible can’t even get the little crap right.

    Sure, the Bible is fun and entertaining reading with all its mass murders, and rapes, and incest ,and bashing babies’ brains out, and sending plagues, and endless begatting, and ridiculous directives, but it has very little to do with morality. If someone is so morally bankrupt that they’re desperate to find a moral compass in the Bible, cut out the awful, bloodthirsty Old Testament, remove that horrible prick, Paul’s, writings from the New Testament and drop John’s hallucinatory blood-soaked Revelation crap. You’ll be left with a much, much smaller book (about 250 pages instead of about 2,000 pages) with some far more moral messages. There will be nothing about homosexuality, but unfortunately it will still endorse the one of the most immoral practices of all: slavery.

  6. margcal

    If, for Diannaart’s purposes I count as a moderate Christian, I’ll comment. I identify as Catholic but rarely go to a Catholic church – the only vote I have is with my feet so I stay away because I see attending as signifying acceptance of the way Rome,the cardinals and the bishops are – and I don’t.
    Other Catholics think differently and I admire them for sticking with it and getting on with “on the ground” Christianity, caring for the poor and carrying out the “corporal works of mercy”.

    That said ….. The ACL is so vocal that all Christians are tarred with their brush. Understandably, no one is listening to Catholic ‘leadership’ on account of the abuse scandal for which they are largely responsible in not stopping it in its tracks when they discovered perpetrators.

    So anyone who identifies as Christian is deemed to be a RWNJ when survey and poll after survey and poll show this not to be the case. Significant support for SSM comes from Christians, for example.

    But by branding us all with the ssame label, it brings out the worst in the anti-religionists. There has been atheist bigotry on this site to match anything the ACL can do on their side of the fence. Much of this bigotry is also ignorance. There is an intelliegent case to be made for there being no God but the loudest voices for this position usually have the weakest arguments, if indeed they can be diginified as ‘arguments’ at all. There are some names I see here that I no longer bother to read their comments even though they might make perfect sense on topics where religion doesn’t come into it. But I take the view, if you’re ignorant and bigoted in one area, there’s a chance you are in others.

    Regarding the Bible, it should be noted that it was written over many years (centuries), by many writers, having started as oral tradition. It is a book of books. There is some fact and there is a lot that isn’t – they are stories with a purpose, not meant to be taken literally but to teach principles … akin to Aesops fables if you like. To read it as one book and say it isn’t factual from cover to cover is a statement made in ignorance.

    And for a bit of light relief, here’s where Tony Abbott learned all about women. Get past the cocktail cabinet and there are some classic phrases in there that you’ll recognise.

  7. diannaart

    @margcal

    But by branding us all with the ssame label, it brings out the worst in the anti-religionists.

    That was one point of view, another being that religion extremists bring out the worst in all people whether they are religious or not.

    However, if you believe that you have experienced atheist bigotry as the worst you have ever seen – that is shameful, although I would wonder just what other websites you do peruse – if what is said at AIM is the worst?

  8. Hotspringer

    Regarding the bible, we should disregard it – just a collection of ancient fairy tales from the most ignorant and superstitious tribe of goat herders scrabbling in dirt on the edge of the Roman Empire.

  9. nurses1968

    try atheism, a non prophet organisation

  10. margcal

    Yes, Diannaart, extremists,be they religious or otherwise, or to do with religion or some other topic, invariably bring out the worst in each other. Chicken and egg, I’d say

    No, what is on this site is not the worst of the worst – but for otherwise more-or-less intelligent people, the bigotry and ignorance is pretty bad from a small number here.

    Of course, being safely at home, it’s not like sticks and stones. I can shake it off at a personal level. But it’s just adding to the race to the bottom that Australia is participating in, and that grieves me when better criticisms of religion in general and Christianity in particular can be made.

  11. diannaart

    @margcal

    I thought 2353’s article a fair summation.

    If you did not, I am interested in your reasons.

  12. margcal

    Diannaart, I thought it an excellent summation.

    I was responding to your question, especially the last part …
    I would be interested to hear from moderate Christians, how they see the ACL, how it affects their lives.

    In short, in the vernacular, all Christians are tainted with their crap and tend to get anti-religious crap (rather than intelligent debate) hurled at us in response.

  13. Miriam English

    margcal, I can’t help wondering if my rattling on about religion is one of those that strikes you as bigoted and ignorant.

    Please let me assure you that I count a lot of Christians as good friends and I have no hesitation in stating that Joan Chittister, a Benedictine Nun, is one of my personal heroes. I’ve written some of my stories deliberately from a religious point of view, portraying them as honorable people.

    My emphatic anti-religion writings are meant to be pointed at Biblical literalists and those who would, given half a chance, beat us to death with their Bibles. I have no real quarrel against those who take their religion, like they take their tea, with a bit of sugar, simply because they like it. Sugar is bad for your health, but a tiny bit is nothing to worry about. It is when people let their lives be ruled by it that it becomes a problem.

  14. diannaart

    Fair ’nuff

    I’ll start;

    Religious organisations directly affect me on how I live my life, access to contraception, a broad and factual education for children, my friends who told they cannot marry (and are vilified), school chaplaincy program (which continues to cost way more than Safe Schools ever will), the direct influence of our politicians, tax avoidance by religions, my taxes funding religious schools…

    This is what I meant by how such as the ACL, George Pell, Hillsong or Fred Nile or whomever impacts on non-extremist religious people in simply living their lives.

  15. Kyran

    Aaah, the wonderful Dave Allen.

    “I’m an atheist … thank God.”

    “A man goes to heaven, and St Peter shows him around. They go past one room, and the man asks: “Who are all those people in there?” “They are the Methodists,” says St Peter. They pass another room, and the man asks the same question. “They are the Anglicans,” says St Peter. As they’re approaching the next room, St Peter says: “Take your shoes off and tiptoe by as quietly as you can.” “Why, who’s in there?” asks the man. “The Catholics,” says St Peter, “and they think that they’re the only ones up here.”

    While the ACL (IPA?) agenda is pretty clear, their respective silence on the most unchristian brutality belies their intent.

    https://web.facebook.com/profile.php?id=839867502797443&ref=eyJzaWQiOiIwLjQwODAwMjYyMDAzMDU0MzciLCJxcyI6IkpUVkNKVEl5Um5KbFpTVXlNSFJvWlNVeU1FTm9hV3hrY21WdUpUSXdUa0ZWVWxVbE1qSWxOVVEiLCJndiI6IjlkN2RlYzY1OWIyZTZkMmRhNDY3MzU1Y2FiZWUzY2ExNjI0NjVhY2QifQ

    Having been ‘born’ a catholic, a Christian, complete with original sin (how the heck a child can be born with sin still escapes me), it wasn’t till my mid teens that I worked out these biblical things were fairy tales. Brother’s Grimm, on steroids. In the name of their god’s, they excuse this? So many great comments, too.
    TPS blogger ‘2353’, may your dog go with you. Take care

  16. Backyard Bob

    That said ….. The ACL is so vocal that all Christians are tarred with their brush.

    Only if you’re an ignorant fool, and sadly this sort of article does nothing more than add to that sort of foolishness.

    ACL = extremists of ISIS and Taliban ilk? Cosmic facepalm. I mean, seriously, when did hyperbole become a mainstream element of political discourse?

    Oh, and to the author – “Bible” is a proper noun and ought be capitalised. If you can’t respect the book, which is understandable, then at least respect the English language.

  17. king1394

    Time to remove the privileges enjoyed by religious bodies including paying no council rates, and all other tax free perks. Let us also cut down on the respect given automatically to religious pronouncements such as various Easter and Christmas messages. Religious schools need to be subjected to rigorous inspections, and religious access to schools through ‘scripture classes’ and chaplains stopped immediately.
    Swearing on the Bible is also an empty gesture

  18. diannaart

    @ByB

    Indeed – the ACl are tame in comparison to ISIL – good that this is Australia after all, where the harm these extremists cause is less obvious.

    For example, bigotry instead of beheading… could have something to do with Australia is a relatively safe democratic country whereas the Middle East is a basket case? I don’t think even George Pell would get away with bombing a gay bar.

  19. margcal

    MiriamEnglish, I was going to include comment on your piece in reply to Diannaart but decided against but since you brought it up ….

    As soon as I hear someone say “One of my best friends is a ……”, then I know that friend is being treated as an exception, that they’re part of an otherwise despised group, whatever group they’re from.

    Above, you’re copying the literalists you claim to target. Anyone can get hold of a concordance and line up verses of the Bible that don’t match word for word. You can go back to the start at Genesis and find two different creation narratives, for instance.

    Sticking with the gospels for the moment, the four of them were written some decades from the time of Christ and some decades separates each one of them, by and large written for different audiences. And when I say written, first they were passed on orally. So you get, like Chinese whispers, the differences you highlight. But the bare bones of each remains constant in the re-telling:
    Jesus was crucified, died, placed in a tomb, rose from the dead (believe it or not, that’s the interpretation of the women at the tomb), ascended into heaven and the Spirit came down upon the disciples.
    The points you pick on are way less significant than the bare bones.

    Moving on to Paul, I’m not a huge fan of some of his writings, but you have to realise that he didn’t write every word of what is attributed to him. Mainstream biblical exegetes agree that he has been edited, pieces added in some places to in fact make more harsh what people at the time thought soft.

    One thing worth knowing if you want to throw biblical passages about, before the bit in Leviticus where it says men should not lie with men, there are quite a few verses condemning various sorts of heterosexual coupling. I don’t know about the leading lights of the ACL, but not a few leaders/founders of the AOG (from whence I believe – correct me if I’m wrong – the ACL has come) have been brought down by bed-hopping. They’re really not in a position to condemn same sex couples. He who is without sin etc …. a biblical phrase that all Christians should take note of.

    ……..

    Diannaart – you’re right in all you mention. The chaplaincy programme in particular is a pox on the nation. Most Christians would agree with you just as most Christians support SSM. This is what I mean by all of us being tarred by the same brush.
    You have friends who are told whom they cannot marry. I have family.
    By including people like me, moderate Christians who share your causes, you actually weaken the support those causes have. We will continue to believe society should be as you, and we, want it, but you push your fellow-travellers into unfriendly camps. A house divided …. another biblical phrase. When you criticise what Christians do, make sure you pick the right target.

    As for the effects of extremist atheists, Christian organisations are being targetted for closure, some already having been closed. My knowledge here is of the UK, I know less about the position in Australia.

    No more from me on this.

  20. 2353

    Thanks for the comments all. Just a couple of observations –

    @ archiearchive FCD – surely they would have been too busy in church to contemplate a seafood feast 🙂
    @ diannaat – I agree. Nutters aren’t solely a Christian issue and like the bible, there are a number of different interpretations of the Koran.
    @ margcal – Yes, the Chaplaincy program does cost more that Safe Schools ever will, and while I have seen some Chaplains do some wonderful things, one does wonder how must more assistance they would be to the student and staff at schools if they weren’t appointed by and answerable to religious organisations.

  21. silkworm

    Religion is for dummies. The more intelligent people leave the faith, while those that remain tend to be nutters and fundamentalists.

  22. wam

    I have no problems believing that murderers are rewarded in heaven with virgins because I am a man or that israelis are not terrorists because of the trauma of the alhambra decree, many pogroms, the holocaust and the septic lobby.
    I struggle with the untouchable women a week per month. But women and kerri?? have no problem with women as unclean’ so as a man I should butt out.
    ps The marriage pleb should be great fun with bibles flashing but what a waste of money for not one opinion/belief changed.
    .

  23. Michael

    Before humans, no religion.
    Religion is a human construct
    Human constructs can be re/de/constructed.

  24. Neil Aitchison

    As a Christian, my awareness of a Creator God in my life is as real as the people I meet and the computer I am sitting in front of now – just because non-Christians have not experienced the same thing doesn’t make it less real, it just means that they are missing out on part of life that is available to them, but they don’t want it. That is why the Bible is so important is because it provides us with the knowledge of reality as the Creator God made it and it gives us supernatural insight into human nature by explaining the good and the bad – it acts as the reference point (or measure) to determine “right from wrong”, “good from bad”, “moral from immoral”, “lust from love”, etc….without a reference point, you cannot possibly determine these things other than “what you make them up to be”. The logical implication of making truth whatever we want it too be (ie. “progressive moral relativism”, is that we all contradict ourselves as we all believe that “my truth is better than your truth”. This is the best proof yet that a Creator God exists and that His Word is truth. As creator, God then has the authority to do what He wants with creation including laying out the rules for living. I will therefore never be ashamed of my faith in God and my trust in God’s Word, the Bible. Homosexuality is unnatural because it doesn’t align with the natural order of the biological world as God created things and no “wishing” this away will change anything. God warns us of ignoring Him and He displays great pity on those who rebel against Him – that is why Jesus prayed (and I follow Jesus’ example): “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do”.

    btw, I am loving to homosexuals (the people), but I hate actions that are deceptive, hurtful to people and unnatural (including homosexuality). There is a difference…….I love the person, but hate the sin. Plus I am talking about the “same sex lobby group” and not individual homosexuals. I have met many homosexuals who don’t want same sex marriage laws because they don’t want the association with marriage – it is the same sex lobby group that are stirring the pot and causing so much trouble.

    I am HAPPY to have a plebiscite for two reasons – 1. it will show the true support (or lack thereof) of SSM and 2. it will placate the losing side to accept the outcome because indeed, the people have spoken – that’s democracy. This is why the cost of a plebiscite is worth it. The half-billion dollar price tag for the plebiscite is a make-believe number to try a scare people away from the plebiscite, so it is another example of the sly and devious actions of the SSM people. I don’t think there is any where near a majority of Australians supporting SSM and the SSM advocates are trying to “talk” their way into a law change by trying to say that there is a “SSM majority support” by quoting make-believe, dodgy/skewed polls…..and any dishonest, tricky, sly wordsmithing with the plebiscite question will defeat it’s purpose because the losers will continue to cry foul thereby increasing the animosity. If there is ever an issue that needs to be conducted fair and square, this is it. Already, the SSM side have used name-calling, bully tactics by threats of Anti-Discrimination claims, “shove-it-down-our-throats” programs, swamp the media and social networks, herd mentality, misreporting, pretending it won’t affect heterosexuals, ignore millenia-old principles, target naive young children without parental approval or knowledge (like preying on kindergarten and pre-school toddlers and the “unSafe Schools” for pre-teens), sabotage the public service to make incremental law changes to get their way and adopt the “victim mentality”….and yet they still haven’t convinced the majority of Australians that what they are doing is “good, innocent, safe, loving, tolerant, inclusive and healthy” for our society. Reality points to the opposite.

    ….or you could leave marriage as it is and then the existing married people don’t have to explain their reasons for being married when it is redefined into a pathetic meaningless word…..and can you tell the homosexuals to simply “get guidance counselling” (with a fake sympathetic look on your face) as the sole way to overcome their issues?….oh no….that would have you strung up on the spot. You expect the heterosexuals to cop it in every way possible. This is the problem with SSM advocates – they are being more and more self-centred as the days go by and, of course, they are turning people off their homosexual lifestyle as they do it. If homosexuals are going to act like the SSM advocates, then Australia will be completely in the sewer.

    There is a shameless, unrelenting agenda by politicians that are openly part of the LGBTIQ (is “A” and ”P” being added on the list as well?) community and the same sex lobby group, the latter having sabotaged our public institutions, to “educate” the up-and-coming generation about their “anything-goes” sexual agenda at an early age and quash all objection. They are not content to do their own thing amongst themselves, so they are forcing their agenda on everyone, everywhere – they are getting into everything and no one is safe from their onslaught. They are using innocent sounding statements of “acceptance”, “safety”, “protection”, “equality”, “tolerance”, “respect”, “love”, etc as sly propaganda words for the perverse sexualising of society (the more recent is the attack on our innocent toddlers in kindergarten and pre-schools, in addition to the pre-teen “unSafe Schools” programs) trying to legitimise their sick agenda by quoting make-believe medical studies and authoritatively sounding “experts” – it is all social engineering and deception on a grand scale. Make no mistake, they are trying to steal our children for their own selfish political agenda leaving parents on the outer. Emotive stories from families and experiences are used to ‘put a face’ on their issues and quash any dissent to what is an unnatural lifestyle choice. It is all lies and manipulation. Don’t be fooled. It’s more than time to be vocal and stop the sexually perverted filth from poisoning the minds of our children and society as a whole. Say to your local kindergarten and schools that you don’t want children perverted with the “anything goes” sex agenda and if they won’t listen to you, then vote with your feet (and wallets) and take your children elsewhere. Also tell your local MP how disgusting it all is and that he/she should stop dancing to the tune of the sexually perverted “Pied Piper” – say that you will not give them your vote in the election….and you might even campaign against them.

    It is scientifically proven that there is no “gay gene” that anyone is born with – it is a choice. It is normal for young people to have hormones wash through their bodies, and we decide whether we will handle our sexual drive with appropriate restraint to avoid the incredible damage it will do to us and others or insist we can live as we feel regardless of the consequences and then force others to accept our choice without calling them out. The most recent census states that only 2% of Australian adults have LGBTIQ leanings showing that children adopt their born sexuality once they pass into adult hood. Suicide in the LGBTIQ is because of their relationship issues (not because of people opposing them)….in other words, their lifestyle choice creates impractical relationship issues that lead to a large percentage committing suicide. The take over of our public service by these people allows all sorts of government sanctioned and endorsed materials, support groups and recruitment environments to cement these people into the LGBTIQ community contrary to facts and wisdom (at tax payers expense) – it is deplorable. The world wide LGBTIQ agenda has become coordinated and has honed their labels they use to define themselves, their push for acceptance and their total bigotry in not allowing anyone to have an opposing point of view. When confronted with scientific fact and the logical outcomes of the agenda, name calling with predefined emotive labels like bigots, haters, homophobes and transphobes are reverted to. Their name calling is an admission of defeat because they cannot dispute the arguments against homosexuality. It is emotional “brow-beating”, that’s all.

    The activity that is left behind in the school yard has been allowed to flourish on social media as a tool of social engineering/indoctrination and not innocent social interaction (as all the social websites claim). Dissenting voices are howled down. Dressing up the homosexual agenda with “pretty” colours, like the rainbow and glitter, makes it all look pleasant and fun, but behind the mask is an ugly, deceitful worldview destroying lives, families and society. The clear evidence of the impact of their lifestyle choices is shouted down with online shaming, financial recriminations, indoctrination in our schools as the definition of what is acceptable is broadening. Just a couple of years ago it was only the issue of homosexuality that was pushed at every possible moment in the media and in our schools now it is transgender and sexual fluidity (gender therapy) that you can be and do whatever you want or feel and no one can call you to account on the impact it has on you and others in society around you. Talk about screwing up people’s minds and lives – this is the ultimate “if it feels good, do it” philosophy causing the worst possible outcome. The physical, emotional and psychological damage that is done to LGBTIQ people and the broader community is as extreme as any war-torn or disease-ridden country….and it is all self-inflicted by slick marketing and “overwhelm the opposition” strategies.

    The options of ‘unnatural’ diverse/fluid sexuality that we are all ‘educated’ to accept, tolerate, turn a blind eye to and endorse will only increase and broaden to include untold acts of debauchery…..along with the perverted sexualisation of naive children leading to horrific “child-on-child” sex abuse, child grooming for sexual predators, STIs (sexually transmitted infections) and a new generation of stolen children. The scars will run deep and where will be the same sex lobby group to help all the victims and solve the horror that they cause?…..hiding behind their “love” and “equality” banners living in their dream world of “do-anything-you-want-without-accepting-the-consequences”. Are our political leaders so easily fooled by all this – it seems so…..in fact they are trying to out do each other in the race to the bottom of the abyss.

    Why do I oppose same sex marriage?…Firstly, it denies me my rights – even though you want SSM, you should equally accept that heterosexuals have a right to keep marriage as it’s current definition and the heterosexual’s anguish as a result of the marriage definition being changed is just as valid and serious as the homosexual’s anguish who wants it changed. In other words, all the reasons that homosexuals use to change the definition of marriage can be equally used for the heterosexual to NOT have the definition of marriage changed. You only look at the SSM side and ignore all the valid points that non-SSM people have for rejecting SSM.

    Secondly, having same sex marriage affects me in my home life in a thousand ways:
    – it affects what my child will be taught at schools,
    – it affects the terminology that we use (such as “him, her, boy, girl, mummy, daddy, etc” because these distinctions are not compatible with same sex families),
    – it changes what I mean when I say to people that “I’m married”,
    – my child will be parroting SSM slogans/propaganda at home such as “marriage equality” when there is no such equality (it is actually redefinition of marriage) and “love is love” when there is no such love (it is actually “lust is lust”). I will constantly be needing to correct my child from all the propaganda phrases that the pro-gay schools teach and will need to explain how my child is being used as a pawn/puppet in a political campaign to socially engineer society. The “progressives” always want change, but since when is “progress” always for the better?
    – extra cost will be needed to be spent if my child decides to be a different “gender” from the biological “sex” meaning that all the clothes that were originally bought for my child will be wasted and a whole pile of new clothes will need to be bought for the unnatural “gender” change, plus there are all the sex-change hormone/anatomy treatments needed to be paid for (and then the reverse treatments when my child realises what is going on and wants to revert back to the natural, biological, chromosome-determined self – that’s what approx 80% of same sex people do when they get older),
    – I will have to battle with government authorities over keeping my child because the public service has been sabotaged by the “progressives” and they will do all that they can to steal my child from me.
    – I could go through all the agony of losing a child from AIDS at a young age as well as all the other health problems that are associated with same sex relationships or infected from other same sex people even if my child isn’t practising homosexuality…..and my taxes will be used to help pay for the massive increase in health problems that other same sex people incur as a result of their choice to be homosexuals.
    – my child will be told to reject the clear teachings of God’s Word, the Bible, that I hold dear to be the true words of the Creator God that we teach in our home. The SSM people will make every effort to turn my child off the Bible and try to remove any Bible input into my child’s life – thereby removing the possibility for my child to hear the Gospel and upon believing, receive eternal life. This is the hidden agenda of the humanistic/atheistic “progressives” which is to debunk the Bible and cut off everyone from believing the Gospel to receive eternal life. The SSM is a front to push sinful hedonism in every way possible and in every part of society as possible.
    – Another massive problem for me with SSM is how my child will been sexualised at an extremely young age (along with all the other children in kindergarten, pre-school and then primary school) and I will be constantly battling with the risk and/or actuality of horrific “child-on-child” sex abuse, child grooming for sexual predators, STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) and a new generation of stolen children. These are already the inevitable result of sexualising our children. When children learn about adult-only sex issues, they are too young and immature to handle the information responsibly thereby leading the children to have “play sex” (that’s what the children call it) or doing “pretend sex” (their words) to make out that what they are doing isn’t real sex when it actually is. The result is children getting sexually active at pre-teen ages with devastating results. Connecting the dots between irresponsible child “sex talk” and irresponsible child “sex action” is very easy. And where is abstaining from sex until you get married mentioned in all of this??….it’s never mentioned!….God’s sacred use of sex within marriage is COMPLETELY ignored. The result is widespread hurt by pre-marital, unprotected, (sometimes forced) child sex just to be cool or because they have sexual concepts introduced into their unprepared minds that spark a curiosity to experiment with it. The bully kids can rape other kids and get away with it because they say it is only “play/pretend” sex. Needless to say, the sex acts are in ALL shapes and forms…..PARENTS: please beware of what can happen to your children. This is the inevitable result of sexualising our young people.

    This will be a generation of abused children, poor things.

    Btw, is “abstinence from sex until you are married” ever taught as an option?….no, never.

    …..it is selfish for homosexuals to think that they can get what they want from the redefinition of marriage and yet totally ignore the loss that heterosexuals get from their redefinition of marriage.

    The greatest Biblical truth is in Romans 1:16-32. No honest person can disagree with the passage because it is being fulfilled before our very eyes (for example: “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools”, “vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened”, “uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts”, “God gave them up unto vile affections”….and verses 28-31 describes most of our politicians perfectly). There is plenty in the passage that talks about “dishonour(ing) their own bodies between themselves” and “for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly”…..hmmm….it’s not hard to work out what it says.

    Thanks for reading.

  25. Miriam English

    Poor Neil. Where did you paste that long piece of bigoted garbage in from Neil?

    What a load of unadulterated tripe. It’s not actually worth arguing with you because it’s clear you don’t actually read any of the replies. Your mind is well and truly closed anyway, with actual truth the farthest thing from it.

    Your god is as real as the gods of the roughly thousand other major religions of the world. Your holy book is as true as all the other holy books, and less true than many. As has been observed by others, a casual stroll through any lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything.

  26. margcal

    OK, so I go away for a while then check back in. And there I find from Silkworm the vaccuous ignorance of which I complain.
    Then I scroll a bit further and Neil blows me out of the water.
    Miriam nails it …. unadulterated tripe. Or … verbose vaccuous ignorance.

    What do people like Neil do when they have gay children? Poor children.

  27. Miriam English

    margcal, sorry I didn’t reply to your earlier comment. I understand that the “some of my best friends are…” cliché is often insincere. In my case I honestly do have a lot of dear friends who are every shade of religious/spiritual. I was merely trying to indicate that I don’t despise religious people.

    I consider religion one of the worst blights upon human existence, but it doesn’t bother me if someone has merely a mild attachment to their religion and doesn’t let it dictate their life or blind them to the amazing world around them. In that case having religion becomes only an inconsequential failing. I’m certainly not in any position to look down on them as I’m sure I have far worse flaws.

    This is why I feel Pelagius was such an important person. Sure, he was religious, so he was wrong about that, but he was brilliant and humane. If the Church had adopted his writings instead of Paul’s, Christianity would be a much nicer religion. Unfortunately did choose Paul. He was one heck of a screwed up individual — misogynist, sexually warped, subservient to authority, and utterly convinced the world would end in his lifetime.

  28. keerti

    And man made god in his own image! So please take your man made gods and put them back where you found them.in your tiny, fearfilled mind

  29. nurses1968

    Neil Aitchison
    “This is the hidden agenda of the humanistic/atheistic “progressives”
    I am an atheist and have no hidden agenda.
    I just think worship of imaginary entities is weird and at times downright dangerous
    Most problems in the Middle east stem from those basically killing each other to see who’s got the better imaginary friend

  30. 2353

    Neil – you are correct, there is no gay gene. There is also no government official that is coming to get your kids (assuming you care for them appropriately).

    Regardless of when same sex marriage is finally enacted you kids will be taught tolerance, not to be judgemental and to treat others as they would wish to be treated; all core and uncontroversial ‘teachings’ of the bible and other religious books.

    If you are married to a male, female, or in some other living arrangementl shouldn’t matter to anyone else unless you let it and the majority of the rest of your objections seem to relate to your hip pocket (which is a telling point in itself) rather than actual evidence. As for the sexualisation of kids, kids clothes retailers and pop culture do that to a far greater degree than same sex marriage ever will – have a look at their catalogues and the advertising on the side of buses.

    If devout Christian beliefs rocks your boat, I’m happy for you however you are in a declining minority. Spokespeople for bigoted ultra-conservative groups using Christian values (when it suits them) to push for regressive social change is an issue – especially when they cherrypick the Christian tradition to do so.

  31. diannaart

    By including people like me, moderate Christians who share your causes, you actually weaken the support those causes have.

    @ margcal March 27, 2016 at 8:40 pm

    I was trying to find some common ground FFS.

    By asking you (or any other Christian who considers him/herself moderate) how extremist Christians impact their lives, I was hoping to establish that we are together; atheist, Christian, Muslim, Jew, Buddhist or whatever, harmed by the behaviour of groups like the ACL and other fundamentalist Christian groups.

    You claim I am ‘weakening’ the cause.

    (Shakes head in wonderment) I tried, I really did…. what was that saying about motes in eyes….

  32. Deanna Jones

    As an atheist I am sick of hearing from christians about how oppressive I am to them. A minority group are not able to oppress those from the dominant group. I don’t care how much truer you think your subtle variation of the fairy tale is than that of other similarly superstitious groups, my not believing it and explaining why, does not oppress you.

  33. margcal

    Ah Miriam …. Pelagius is one of my heroes! 🙂

    Happy to debate/ discuss/ compare and contrast ideas with you and Diannaart and a few others.
    From all I’ve said, you’ll recognise utterances I don’t respect. :-/

  34. Deanna Jones

    You are very wrong, Neil. It is straight men who sexualise infants and children, who sexually abuse, rape, traffic and make porn/watch porn using children. It is straight men who make regular porn that straight paedophiles then use to groom child victims, child victims who go on to abuse their younger siblings. Feminists, like me, have been drawing attention to the sexualisation of infants and children for a long time but I’m guessing your warped little brain hates feminists too.

  35. Kaye Lee

    Neil, you need to understand the difference between acceptance and agreement. Just because we accept someone, and choose to be kind and gracious towards him or her, doesn’t mean we have to agree with everything they do, say or believe.

    On the issue of sexuality there are people who, because of religious or cultural reasons or just personal opinion, consider any sexual behaviour other than that between a man and woman in the covenant of marriage to be wrong. Others disagree. We all need to learn respect for other people’s opinions even if they are different to our own.

    To suggest that homosexuality is driven by lust and heterosexuality by love is just ridiculous. In my opinion, there is a certain amount of lust in every sexual act. That does not mean there is no love.

    The threat to marriage is not the gays. It is a lack of loving commitment – whether it is found in the form of neglect, indifference, cruelty or adultery.

    If the threat to marriage today is lack of commitment, then surely other couples making and maintaining that commitment sets a good rather than a bad example.

    Are not the gays who seek the right to marry, to formalise their commitment to each other, holding up a mirror to the heterosexuals who are marrying less frequently and divorcing more often?

  36. Michael Taylor

    Backyard Bob, you really don’t like any of the articles we publish here, do you? You don’t appear to have much respect for any of the writers either.

  37. Miriam English

    2353, that’s really the the most interesting thing, isn’t it: that religious extremists selectively force their beliefs on others. Odd, isn’t it, how closely the things they want to push onto the rest of society only relate to their own prejudices.

    They exhibit a raw and unquenchable hate for homosexuality, yet they don’t feel the same about eating shellfish, cutting their hair, wearing mixed thread clothes, going to church with defects, working on the sabbath.

    They conveniently ignore all the directives to give all their money and possessions to the poor; to help the less fortunate; to not judge others.

    Religious extremists are made sick by their religion.

    It’s a quaint mistake to believe in leprechauns, but it’s harmless enough and doesn’t affect you being a good person. Nobody minds until you let it take over your life and you start dragging other people down.

  38. Carol Taylor

    Backyard Bob, the word bible should only be capitalised when the term Christian Bible is used. Some of the Christian faith choose to capitalise the word ‘bible’ on all occasions as to these people it is to be inferred that the bible to which they refer is the Christian one. It is therefore a personal choice as to whether to capitalise or not, grammatically speaking when the word bible is used by itself.

  39. Kaye Lee

    There are quite a few things for which the Old Testament decrees death including worshipping idols, committing adultery, cursing your parents and ignoring the orders of a judge.

  40. diannaart

    @margcal

    Diannaart and a few others.
    From all I’ve said, you’ll recognise utterances I don’t respect. :-/

    So long as I mind my P’s and Q’s you are happy to debate/discuss…

    hmmmmm….

  41. Michael Taylor

    Bloody hell, Kaye, imagine a bible that decrees all that! Sounds violent.

  42. Kaye Lee

    Hosea 13:16 Samaria shall bear her guilt, because she has rebelled against her God; they shall fall by the sword, their little ones shall be dashed in pieces, and their pregnant women ripped open.

    Which is why it is so silly to quote verses from religious texts like they are law. There is a lot of good stuff in religious texts, and a lot of really scary violence and intolerance for people who think/look/act/worship differently.

  43. Miriam English

    Well said Kaye. Here is another I like to remind Bible-literalists of (though it scares me a little to do so, because I’m never quite sure if they’ll suddenly decide to abide by it):

    Deuteronomy

    13:12 If thou shalt hear say in one of thy cities, which the LORD thy God hath given thee to dwell there, saying,

    13:13 Certain men, the children of Belial, are gone out from among you, and have withdrawn the inhabitants of their city, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which ye have not known;

    13:14 Then shalt thou enquire, and make search, and ask diligently; and, behold, if it be truth, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought among you;

    13:15 Thou shalt surely smite the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, destroying it utterly, and all that is therein, and the cattle thereof, with the edge of the sword.

    13:16 And thou shalt gather all the spoil of it into the midst of the street thereof, and shalt burn with fire the city, and all the spoil thereof every whit, for the LORD thy God: and it shall be an heap for ever; it shall not be built again.

    So, if you find a city of people worshipping another god then you should murder every man, woman, and child, and all the cattle, then burn the city to the ground totally trashing it and everything of value in it — all for your god’s pleasure. Finally you should make sure nothing is ever built there again.

    Not exactly what I would call the words of a loving, kind, and just god… a raging psychopath perhaps.

  44. margcal

    Sorry Diannaart, I thought by agreeing with most of what you said that we had marked some common ground. So I obviously didn’t express myself well with my further comment.

    I meant that it is poor tactics for people in general (as opposed to you personally) to condemn “Christians” (as many here do) when the majority of Christians share their views. You don’t feel like standing shoulder to shoulder with someone or group that covers you in a blanket condemnation that doesn’t fit you.

    (Again, people in general …) Differentiate between various groups of Christians (as article writers here are increasingly doing) or even better, attack specific arguments. For example, attacking “Christians” for being homophobic lets atheist homophobes off the hook.

    And personally, and not something I recall you doing Diannaart, I find references to “imaginary friends” both offensive and intellectually bankrupt. I accept and condemn that major religions have become corrupt in many ways. But religions started out as attempts in different cultures to explain the universe and our place in it and how to live in it well, e.g. the ancient Jewish hygiene laws. Some old rules for living no longer apply. It’s those who refuse to adapt as we learn more (e.g. about sexuality) who cause problems (not discussing power and money here).

    Now I really am going back to the simpler world of Agatha Christie!

  45. margcal

    Quirky? note Miriam re mixed fibres … Maybe they didn’t weave together well and such clothes would fall apart quickly. I do know that today a rockclimber would be risking life and limb if a polyester rope were lengthened by splicing with a hemp rope … Such splices don’t take particularly well. Not that it really applies because these days there are specific climbing ropes but you get my drift… I hope!

  46. Kaye Lee

    margcal makes a very good point. If we are calling for respect and tolerance then we must show it to those who are genuinely and respectfully expressing their view. I am guilty of using language that I am increasingly realising is dismissive and disrespectful of people who think differently and I aim to be more conscious of that and improve.

    When I read Neil Aitchison’ s comment I was offended. I started writing an answer objecting to his hatred and correcting his misinformation but I erased it. Neil is truly scared and that is very sad. How can we allay his unreasonable fears? I suspect it is impossible.

  47. diannaart

    @margcal

    I have, elsewhere, referred to god as an imaginary friend.

    Nor do I understand why many Christians bother with the bible given its many, acknowledged, inconsistencies.

    Maybe I was not clear or honest enough.

  48. Michael

    Religion is a guise created by humans for:
    1. basic predictable understandings to build trust for humans to live together – otherwise known as (a-religious) virtues;
    2. park unexplainable (at any time) phenomena – if I do not understand/know, someone/else (higher intellect eg god) is responsible or his/her will – otherwise known as a black box of ignorance which will always exist and move along the time-frame/line of knowledge; and
    3. those amongst us who see/use how they can satisfy their own existence by contortioning religion to feed their hunger for power and influence.

  49. Möbius Ecko

    Let’s not forget the bible condones slavery yet modern Christians state they have moved on from that. Yet for some unfathomable reason known only to them, as they can never give a rational excuse, they still single out homosexuality for harsh condemnation ignoring those other tenets of the bible that are unpalatable in modern times.

    Attacks on homosexuality on religious grounds are just as unpalatable in modern times as is slavery.

    Religion seems to me to be all about cherry picking and throughout history changing the tree the cherries are picked from to suit the times.

  50. Miriam English

    Kaye, yes. Neil’s mind is closed airtight. No knowledge will make it in through the barriers he’s erected. I suspect he’ll be a lost cause to the day he dies. A pity. What a waste of a human brain.

    I’ve wrestled with the issue of respecting other beliefs. I have no problem respecting people. But respecting wrong information seems counterproductive to me. The Earth is not flat. I can’t ever respect the belief that it is. A belief in leprechauns is always going to be a mistake. There simply are no mischievous, wee, magical folk who guard a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, it doesn’t matter how you look at it. Likewise none of the religions on Earth can be correct. It is completely impossible. (And it’s not hard to show why.)

    I can imagine a flat-earther that I might have respect for if they were a talented musician or painter, or a compassionate person helping the homeless, for example, but I would never let them get away with stating that the Earth is flat. The same with someone who believes in leprechauns or fairies. The brilliant writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle believed in fairies. Was he gullible? Yes — there are no fairies. Was he an amazing writer who has had a continuing good effect upon many generations of people? Definitely. I feel the same about religion. If people don’t let the error of their beliefs take over their lives then I have no problem respecting the people and enjoying their company — even being grateful and admiring of some. Most people are good, honest, well-intentioned, and deserve respect.

    But I can’t say that any religion is respectable. Even Church of England, which is the most watered-down, secular religion in the world is still wrong. And believing it intensely can produce terrible results. (One of my Church of England ancestors was knighted and given land and a manor for killing large numbers of Catholics.)

    Do I sometimes become impatient with religion and religious people? On occasion. I try very hard not to, but I have my flaws too, however I appreciate it when people let me know about my errors.

  51. Kaye Lee

    Miriam,

    I guess what I am saying is that someone else’s belief in god does not harm me unless they insist that I share their belief. As I said before, acceptance does not imply agreement.

    If their belief in god brings them solace, if it makes them think about love and kindness and caring for all humanity, then the result is good. If it is all about worship then I consider that a huge waste of time and money. If it is about imposing their beliefs on me through legislation then I will object.

    My father told me when I was about 16 that it wasn’t always my job to point out when people are wrong. Another dear friend, when advising me about parenting, said “Is this the hill to die for?” I can accept others believing in god.

  52. Backyard Bob

    Michael,

    If you’d been paying attention you’d have noticed that only my final observation addressed the author. Do you want me to show you all the problems that actually exist for this article? Nevermind, that was rhetorical. Generally speaking I don’t give a flying crap who the author is; I care only for the quality of the content and not one bit whether or not if presents me with a “Yeah, me too!!” opportunity.

    Miriam,

    Religious extremists are made sick by their religion.

    Some might argue that it’s extremists that make religion sick. Since extremism is generally not the norm for most religions, I think my version has more cogency, but then it does tend to depend on the nature of the religion. It may be argued that certain religious traditions have more in their canons that might excite, invite and give succour to fundamentalism – and extremism (can we please not use those terms interchangeably). For me Buddhism is the prime example of how persons with an extremist mentality manage to poison a “religion”.

    Carol,

    This article exclusively uses “bible” to refer to the Bible, and therefore it ought be capitalised.

    Btw, Neil is a pastor at Sanctuary Christian Ministries and very Internet active. Don’t expect much from him.

    http://www.users.on.net/~mec/picture.htm

  53. Michael Taylor

    I’m sorry you don’t like the article. I happen to. So do many others.

  54. Carol Taylor

    Backyard Bob, as should be noted, and grammatically speaking, it then becomes the author’s choice. It may not be your choice, but grammatically it is at the discretion of the author. I’ll give you an example so that perhaps you might understand. Example: the dictionary, compared with Webster’s Dictionary, the calendar compared with the Gregorian Calendar, the bible compared with the Christian Bible. A simple Google search onto any Christian site might clarify the issue for you.

  55. Kaye Lee

    I find the articles and comments at the AIMN very informative. They make me think. If it was total rubbish I doubt you would take the time to comment ByB. The article has provoked thought and has grown through the comments. How can this be a bad thing? Surely any article which informs, promotes thought and provides a platform for others to express their view is to be appreciated?

  56. The AIM Network

    I (nameless admin) posted this article. I noticed ‘bible’ did not have a capital but did not believe it warranted changing. If the owner of this site is satisfied with that, then that is the end of the argument.

  57. LOVO

    “I believe in God, only I spell it N. a. t. u. r. e.” FLW
    I like to make paper planes out of pages from the bible and throw them at Christians at abortion clinics……priceless.
    I like to tell Christians that I am the reincarnation of the guy that nailed the nails……..priceless.
    I once ran out of loo paper in a motel at 2a.m….. thank Christ for the Gideon’s 🙂

  58. LOVO

    S-o-o-o that’s why you go for Port, Migs…………. boom,boom 😆

  59. John Delany

    Hi everyone, I’m a newcomer to this discussion and thought I might add a few thoughts from my Christian perspective. I think if I were not a Christian I too would be very supportive of gay marriage. And obviously while this subject is a big issue at present there are many issues in life where the ultimate view we take is an outworking of personal worldview.

    It seems to me that discussions like these often reach a brick wall with the clash of worldviews.

    The truth is if I put myself (as best I can) into the shoes of the secularist, I may likely believe that Christians are not only presumptuous but narrow-minded and that Christianity is itself somewhat far-fetched. A surface glance at the Bible (or even conversation with well-meaning Christian trying to proselytise me) might reveal the following:

    First there is a God who is apparently all-sufficient, yet created a universe because he wanted something. He is eternal yet somehow he has a son… who is also eternal. He created a man and a woman who were perfect, yet were deceived by a talking snake and rebelled against God’s will, and were thereby banished from his presence. Later, as the world was populated with evil people, he would flood the entire planet and save a few people and animals on a boat. Elsewhere in the Bible, it speaks of the earth opening up to swallow people into the realm of the dead (Numbers 16), a man kept alive inside a fish for 3 days (Jonah), a talking donkey (Numbers 22) and a beast with seven heads and ten horns rising out of the sea (Revelation 13). In the Gospels it then speaks of God’s eternal son somehow being born into this world as a baby, and this through a woman who was a virgin. At 33 years of age this man (Jesus) would be killed on a Roman cross and because of this killing, it would be possible for rebellious mankind to be in a restored relationship to God again. Jesus then came alive again after 3 days in the grave and will one day come down from heaven on a horse and rule the world victoriously.

    Sound convincing? I wouldn’t expect it to if being presented in this way.

    People need to understand that the Bible (a collection of 66 books in the protestant canon) is not a book where a quick glance at certain passages will give a clear picture. It needs to be studied carefully with respect to the overall context, which book is being addressed to whom and the style of writing (e.g. historical, wisdom literature, apocalyptic, poetry, letters to individuals or groups).

    And as a Christian, I don’t believe I have the powers of persuasion to bring people to God. Neither would anyone who follows Christ – we’ve simply been tasked with spreading the good news about who Jesus is and what he has done for us. If the God I believe in is true, then he is definitely capable of bringing conviction of his reality to those who sincerely desire. And if you are one of these people – I challenge you – ask God to reveal himself to you. And have a read of the Bible with fresh eyes – I would suggest the book of Genesis and the Gospel of John as a starting point.

    So on the issues of worldview – obviously if we sincerely believe the Bible to be true, and understand it correctly in context, then there are several teachings regarding the very positive nature of marriage as God intended. But I do not expect the secularist to agree or abide by it.

    So there is a certain lament on my part that the word marriage would be expanded to mean something it never has in the past (even though I realise language itself is organic and changing). But I have always appreciated that ‘marriage’ is a term that refers to a valued man/woman committed relationship. Would I be affected by a decision to legislate same-sex marriage? Sure. I wouldn’t be happy with raising my kids in a world that has a different definition of marriage to our own. But obviously whatever occurs in our legislation, those who have a Christian worldview will continue to view marriage as a God-ordained sacred covenant between man and woman, and those who do not are free to believe whatever.

    To be honest I’m not sure who the dominant group really is on the matter of same-sex marriage at present, so I think a plebiscite would be a reasonable ask.

    Lastly, to be fair, I think many Christians do not speak well to the subject. If you’re interested in hearing a Christian articulate reasonably what the Bible says and how we ought to be responding, then I would highly recommend David Whiting’s message series on it (Northridge Rochester Church, NY)

    http://www.northridgerochester.com/messages/the-church-and-homosexuality/what-does-the-bible-say-about-homosexuality/

  60. Michael Taylor

    ByB, you’re correct there. We can’t expect that every article will have a “yeah, me too” response. There will be disagreement. We like it if the issues and differences are discussed.

  61. Michael Taylor

    LOVO, I assume your a Cat’s person. Didn’t God once play for them?

  62. diannaart

    John Delaney

    Thank you for your perspective.

    Most atheists are very well informed about the bible – as many of us started out as children having no choice about attending Sunday School, RE. Only later investigating Christian texts to discover any to believe, as in my case. I and many others before me, reach the conclusion that a comprehensive study of the bible would cause anyone to question the truth and morality of formal religion.

    Nevertheless, we are expected to accept Christianity as worthwhile respecting simply because it is the most common religion in Australia. Even though it is no more valid than any other religion.

    Won’t don’t you try on another’s perspective?
    For example, how do you feel about Hindus forming a political party to gain influence over who should marry whom?

    My point is why should atheists or people of other religions have to do what another religion tells them?

  63. Matters Not

    John Delany you say:

    is an outworking of personal worldview. …. with the clash of worldviews. …. on the issues of worldview

    I think that’s a strong point. But can I ask, what concepts you consider to be ‘essential’, ‘necessary’ if not ‘sufficient’ if you like, in exploring your or indeed anyone else’s ‘worldview’?

    Clearly you think it involves ‘metaphysics’ but does it include ‘epistemology’, ‘axiology’, the nature of ‘man’, ethics and so on?

    Thanks.

  64. Miriam English

    Well said John Delany. I can happily say you are quite wrong in a number of respects, but still have great respect for you and your sincere attempt to explain your feelings and reach common ground. Nicely done.

    However, I must point out that this is not the first time since biblical times that marriage has been redefined. Marriage used to be one man plus any number of women. Polygamy was the norm back then because women were owned by men. You can see this quite clearly in the Bible’s rules of payment for wives. It later changed to one man and one woman, I think, because love became an important part of the definition. The most recent change to incorporate same-sex marriage simply continues that trend, recognising love between people previously considered less-than, just as women were previously considered less-than.

    It dumbfounds me when obviously intelligent people so totally misunderstand the idea of marriage today as to think that it somehow has little to do with love. I really don’t understand how jealously guarding it from those who you might think are undeserving of love makes marriage better. It seems to me that treating marriage in that way fouls it with hatred and pettiness. I have known many same-sex couples who have faithfully, deeply, romantically loved each other for decades. Anti-same-sex-marriage Christians seem to think same-sex partnerships are all about lust, but nothing could be further from the truth. They are about romantic love just as hetero partnerships are. In fact I suspect they need more love than hetero partnerships in order to survive the adversity from intolerant sections of society.

    As dianaart said, honest study of the Bible is the best way to turn a believer into an atheist. I always suggest to religious people that they go and honestly read the Bible — read it all the way through, not just the parts picked out by preachers. The more you honestly study the Bible the more uncomfortable, unanswerable questions surface. There is a very good reason why most atheists know far more about the Bible and religion than the average religious person. We have generally actually read it the book. Religious people think “faith” is a nice thing, but unfortunately, in practical terms, it generally means ignorance. This is why religion blossoms among less well educated people, and why around 93% to 95% of scientists are atheist. It is also why all religions are in decline today. As people learn more the illusions and superstitions fall away.

    I never could understand why so many religious people are ignorant of science. You would think that if they truly believed that a god made the world then they would be the most enthusiastic of all to use their wonderful, god-given brains to understand his most grand work: the world around us. But they generally don’t. Many are given to the most absurd errors, believing evolution is not true, that the world is only bare thousands of years old, that homosexuality is unnatural, that men are superior to women, that a fetus has a soul/mind, that the dinosaurs were killed in Noah’s flood, that immorality is on the rise, and so on. Their lack of understanding causes endless problems around the world that could be solved by simply learning about the real world — their god’s world. The Bible is one of hundreds of books which make the claim to be holy. (The Koran, the Torah, the Book of Mormon…) Whether any of those books were inspired by gods is just one person’s word against another, but if you believe there is a god then there can be no doubt about the authorship of the world around us. I don’t understand why so many religious people would close their eyes to that.

    When you learn about the real world you can see that all intelligent animals have a small proportion of their number who are same-sex attracted. It is entirely natural. If there is a god then he clearly designed it to be so. You can see that evolution is not some complicated mechanism; it is so simple and clear a five-year-old can understand it. All this makes the world infinitely more nuanced and wonderful than a book written by bronze age and iron age people could ever hope to be. The Bible has good things and bad things, but careful, in-depth examination of it shows too many inconsistencies and contradictions, too many deeply evil acts by its god, too many directives to do bad or just plain crazy things, for it to be anything but a book written by primitive, superstitious people groping their way through ignorance toward a better world. By all means enjoy the good things in the Bible, but don’t be surprised when you are confronted with the ugly insanity in there too.

  65. Kaye Lee

    ” we’ve simply been tasked with spreading the good news about who Jesus is and what he has done for us”

    That’s to be your contribution to an evolving society?

    As diannaart and Miriam have pointed out, many of us have done extensive study of the Bible. I chose to involve myself in the church from a very young age and I enjoyed it and learned a great deal. As I approached adulthood, and learned analytical skills and how to research, and became less afraid of questioning, I went to adult bible study classes, but if I strayed beyond their proscribed reading for that session, I found the answers wanting and the practice hypocritical in many ways. I found the chanting in church paganistic (is that a word?), I found the worship such a waste, I found the wealth of the church inexplicable. I learned of the never ending conflicts caused by religions where one group thinks they have the answers, I learned of the judgement passed on people for what some called sin but to me was love.

    I will fight for your right to believe in god but i will absolutely resist your attempt to impose your beliefs on others.

  66. 2353

    Backyard Bob – this article was edited before publication on the original site as well as here, while you seem to have a problem with the lack of capitalisation there are others that don’t. Thanks for the tip on Neil.

    While I have a problem with the ACL’s views, I also have a problem with forcing views down people’s throats. It’s not a logical argument to suggest that if someone performs a legal act (walking to the bus stop, drinking to the stage of drunkenness, choosing same sex partner) it means that everyone else has to perform the act as well. So while members of the ACL,Neil & John Delaney have gone on record here suggesting they do not approve of same sex marriage, when it is eventually legalised it doesn’t follow that they will have to participate – just as I didn’t have to go out and get drunk this afternoon just because someone somewhere in Australia did.

  67. Miriam English

    2353, while some more hysterical anti-same-sex Christians may feel that some indefinable gay lobby is trying to push gayness upon them, I don’t think John Delany believes that. I think he feels nostalgic that some kind of purity of marriage is lost when the impure gays are allowed to have the same legal standing. Stated that way, of course, shows it to be nonsense, but their feelings are genuine nevertheless. It is similar to the revulsion that a white racist feels upon having to shake hands with, and touch the skin of, a black person. The feeling is illogical, but real and visceral to them. They simply need to understand that their feelings are not about holiness or lack of it; they are about prejudice.

    I understand it must be difficult for people to face that in themselves. I expect Neil never will. His mind is too firmly closed. But given the honesty displayed by John, I expect he will eventually understand.

    The people who give me great hope are those like margcal whose religion is not a barrier between her and the world. She is free to understand and enjoy humanity in all its dazzling variety.

  68. keerti

    If a friend is sufferring from living in a delusional world, say one which is based on Lord Of The Rings, we would all recognise it as a problem that we would and probably should want to get help for. The ACL with an apparently unshakeable belief in the bible. Given some parts of the bible were written by sociopaths (what else do you call someone who would disembowel a pregnant woman, others were written by people tripped out on drugs (Revelations) I don’t think that it is appropriate to accept their delusion, I think they should be sent for counselling! These are people who clearly think that the law should allow them to abuse gays and any other “immoral” group. That makes them socially antagonistic to a sane society.

  69. Michael

    You have won me, keerti.

  70. Ken Wolff

    For those who take the bible literally, a little history is relevant. When King James ordered the development of what became known as the King James Bible in English, one interesting debate over translation from the Greek was the use of the word ‘church’ or ‘congegation’. King James decreed that the translation should adhere to the episcopal structure of the then Church of England and so the word ‘church’ was used (so they could keep the bishops). The Presbyterians and other Dissenters favoured the use of the word ‘congregation’. So the translation of only one word had a profound influence on how religion was structured for the next 400 years. How many other words have been translated in a way that has influenced changes in religion?

    And, personally, I think there is a difference between ‘religion’ and ‘the church’. I believe it is possible for a person to live a ‘christian life’ and not be an adherent of any church. You have to remember that originally only priests took part in the sacraments while the congregation looked on from a distance — only priests could approach the altar. Then three things happened. Printing, translations into local languages, and the reformation. As protestanism spread it offered an approach that did not necessarily involve the ‘church’: each individual could find their own path to god. And that became more important as the bible became readily available in local languages, in greater numbers through the printing press, and to more people as more people learned to read. The role of the ‘church’ was diminished and they have been fighting ever since to maintain their relevance. The bottom line is that a person does not need a ‘church’ to be ‘religious’.

    On a slightly diferent note, those who quote the Old Testament for their beliefs are missing the point. In my religious education, I was taught that it is the New Testament that is relevant as that relates to Jesus who is central to modern religion. The Old Testament can be treated basically as an historic document leading to the birth of Christ. The letters of Paul to the Galations, Corinthians, Romans, etc also need to be treated with caution and placed in context. And, of course, the books that are included in the bible came from human decisions, not the hand of God, and modern evidence has uncovered even more ‘books’ that could have been included. So we have seriously to consider, how much of the Bible is man’s work ? — the selection of which books to include, the translation of words, etc.

    But I do like Ecclesiastes:

    “Vanity of vanity, saith the preacher. All is vanity. There is nothing new under the sun.”

  71. Miriam English

    I was thinking this morning about those who are against same-sex marriages and their focus on sex. It is disturbing how heavily those people become obsessed with gay sex, expecially male-male sex. I have heard some anti-same-sex people speak about it and their fascination with anuses is very troubling. In truth, it is not uncommon for male lovers to never have anal sex, and I can understand why. What I don’t understand is why anti-same-sex people so often have this ugly obsession with it.

    The other thing I was thinking about was why anti-same-sex people think gay people want marriage if it is all about the sex. If it was mere lust, and love had nothing to do with it then they wouldn’t be interested in marriage. The only possible reason for wanting marriage is love. Think about it. If all you wanted was sex then the ties of marriage are the very last thing you’d want.

    People who are against same sex marriage don’t realise it, but they are merely making up excuses to let them give rein to their prejudice against gay people and ensure they remain second-class citizens. In the end, that’s really all it is about.

    If you are against same sex marriage then think carefully and honestly about your reasons. You owe yourself honesty at least.

    If you use the Bible to argue for your prejudices, then you must ask yourself why you cut your hair when the Bible expressly forbids it, or why you exert yourself in any way on the sabbath when the Bible’s clear punishment for that is death, or don’t you have slaves when the Bible condones slavery and in fact lays out clear rules on how your daughter may be sold into slavery. If you think none of those things apply then you must ask yourself why you remain so heavily committed to some ambiguous passages supposedly about homosexuality when they have alternative explanations. How is it that this one thing remains so dear to you? Why are you so willing to deny love? What does that say about you?

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