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Morality

Because my maternal grandfather was a Minister in the UK Church of Christ – very similar to the Methodist Church – I grew up in a household with a library of moral tales.

Books like Charles Kingsley’s The Water Babies, with its Mrs Do-as-you-would-be done-by and Mrs Be-done-by-as-you-have-done, were the underpinning for developing a conscience and an awareness how our own behaviours affect others.

Like C S Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia, which was read by my children’s generation, there is an implied overtone of Christian values, yet it is actually morality rather than Christianity which is at the core of the message.

IMHO you do not need to believe in a god or gods in order to understand that, living in a community, we need rules for communal living which avoid covertly or overtly harming others.

Where I feel the religious have led us astray, is in planting themselves, as ‘believers’, between us and the goal. And by making the goal an after-life, they avoid a lot of awkward questions!

After all, no one has returned from that after-life to confirm its existence, and to think we can hurt other people, even killing them on too many occasions, say sorry to some omniscient being, directly or through some often self-serving intermediary, and waltz off to paradise when we die, is at the very least naïve. Or so, as a now agnostic, I am inclined to think.

I have my own philosophy on this issue. I try to help, not harm others, and if, after I die, a few people remember me favourably – for however brief a period – then I will have life after death!

I hasten to add, I am no saint, I have many regrets over past behaviours and I try (sometimes successfully!) not to repeat past mistakes.

Ethical or moral behaviour involves empathy and a high degree of selflessness to be truly effective, and leading by example is necessary if the message is to have an impact. If you hypocritically say “Do as I say, not as I do” then your message will fail.

My doubts over Christianity were probably triggered by the religious organisations’ strong linking of morality with sexuality.

When I was growing up, unmarried mothers were shunned and shamed, children born out of wedlock were bastards and would remain so for life, homosexuals who put a toe outside the closet were vilified and chastised, even killed, in many cases, and the fact the Christian missionaries followed closely behind ‘Christian’ colonisers has meant that a totally undesirable legacy for those colonised has been warped attitudes and ignorance about human sexuality.

Any education expert will tell you that what is learned early in life is best remembered and has most effect on future attitudes. The, in my opinion, appalling reaction of religious people – Muslims and Hindus as well as Christians – to the same sex marriage debate, highlighted how hard it is for deeply ingrained beliefs to be cast aside and new knowledge embraced.

In speaking or writing these days, I try to avoid using ‘I believe’, preferring to say ‘in my opinion’ or ‘I accept’ or ‘it appears to me’, because in my mind, to say ‘I believe’ implies acceptance without proof.

The Catholic Church ‘believed’ the Bible was the source of truth, so they accepted that the sun went around the Earth, and fought long and hard against the proof that they were wrong.

Countries like Australia are, IMHO, very slow in accepting that, as a multicultural country with no national religion, government must leave religious issues to individuals and develop Human Rights laws to ensure that people are free to follow a religion – or not – while avoiding adverse effects on others of the choices they make!

The law of Australia imposes on ALL its citizens an obligation to report to police if they know or suspect that an adult is abusing a child sexually, or if an adult is being abused by a present or former partner in a domestic relationship.

It is my understanding that the canon law of the Catholic church requires that anything divulged to a priest in the confessional cannot be disclosed to anyone. Therefore, if, during a confession, the priest learns that the one confessing his sins might be guilty of child sex abuse, the Vatican insists that cannot be reported to police.

The offender can be recommended to self-report, but who, if anyone, polices that?

What is so special about one group of religious believers that they can deny the law of the land?

What is more – what human being is entitled to judge that someone has truly repented of their sins and may then be forgiven?

The history of child sex abuse has clearly revealed that priests who preyed on children for sexual gratification, regularly did so over and over again, and the offender was often moved on by a hierarchy which was well aware of the offending, and of the likelihood of further offending.

What value can you put on a religious organisation which allows damage to children in preference to having its power limited?

So, we now have the Attorney General, Christian Porter, being tasked with over-sighting the drafting of legislation to protect people who wish to practice a religion! He has been so unsuccessful to date that it might be better if he instead drafted a bill to ensure the non-religious were safe from the religious practices of the rest!

Actually, it appears that defining a religion is a precarious business, because many genuinely harmful cults would seem to be covered by the definitions attempted to date.

Please can we have something simple like:

Each and every adult Australian citizen is entitled to worship such gods as (s)he chooses, and live according to the laws which her/his faith has dictated, if and only if, in so doing (s)he does not harm, mentally or physically, any other living being and (s)he continues to obey all laws of Australia.

Feel free to try to re-word that but, in my opinion, it captures the essence of what is required.

Because some cults and religion have practices and beliefs which contradict those accepted by mainstream Australians, it is my opinion that no religion should be taught in schools by religious leaders, but, instead, a syllabus leading discussion on Comparative Religion should form part of a common curriculum, required by all government funded schools, at least at secondary level.

At the same time, I think a group of educators and religious leaders should agree on the content of a course on ethics and ethical behaviour which, again, should be part of the common syllabus.

Whatever our current leaders might have learned during their own paths through education, ethics and morality must have been conspicuously absent or totally ignored by many of them.

There have been fears for many in recent years that we have been moving ever closer to fascism and a police state.

Under an immoral and clearly corrupt governing body, which fails to be bound by ethics, this is a frightening prospect. Given the urgent need for a proper policy to combat global warming and an equally urgent need to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, I am deeply concerned that the current government lacks both the motivation and the skills to lead us effectively – which is why I am exhorting everyone who shares my fears to engage with their local Extinction Rebellion group!

Once more – this is my 2020 New Year Resolution:

“I will do everything in my power to enable Australia to be restored to responsible government.”

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15 comments

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  1. Phil Pryor

    Morality, ethicality, decency, all strange concepts these days, especially to the new revised superstitious idiots, the selfsaved, blessed, anointed, but, shitsmeared, self drenched, egosoaked fools who create a world of fantasy and fraud and live in it shamelessly.

  2. Fergy Nell

    ‘Christians’ act as if morality and ethics are the inventions of Christians. As a non-believer, I have seen more amoral and unethical Christians than atheists. I think it was Hitchens who pointed out that atheists are between 6% and maybe 20% of the US population, but only 0.007% of their prison population.
    Hitchens also makes the point that the basic rule of humanity is surely ‘do as you would be done by’, and it more or less appears in ALL behavioural guides since writing began.
    In a long business career, I learned never to trust or even deal with a person who professed to be a ‘believer’, particularly one with a bible on their desk. I worked out that it was there for the purpose of seeking justification of what they’d done or were about to do.
    I have a fair knowledge of the bible, and I can tell you that you can find justification for just about anything if you look hard enough; murder, theft, and even adultery. Abraham, after all, got his sons from shagging his wife’s maids. And King David was a bandit, a murderer, a wife-stealer, plus not above a bit of same sex shenanigans.
    In his rubbishing of the 10 commandments, Hitchens quite reasonably said ‘Is it feasible that none of these sins went on until Moshe came down the hill with some pavers?’
    ‘Alright you lot, stop coveting Solly’s wife and camels’.
    ‘Why?’
    ‘God says.’
    ‘Yeh, right.’

  3. Carole

    The only thing I am prepared to believe in the bible is that Jesus was a human being. My knowledge of the bible is restricted to what I learned in Sunday School periodically, and Scripture Classes in Primary. But I am still waiting for someone to show me where Jesus made a fuss about sexuality and fornication. In fact I would bet London to a brick, he and Mary Magdalene were up to as much hanky panky as his mum and Joseph the carpenter.
    Religion appears to be the only fairytale adults hang on to. We outgrow the tooth fairy, Easter Bunny and Santa. I can understand the clergy who derive power and control through religion, but intelligent educated men and women? I just can’t fathom.
    Having a Pentecostal Christian heading our government and promoting his fellow travellers to ministerial positions and loading the courts with the same, is making a mockery of our secular society. It is so insidious I am beginning to believe that while there is no god, there might just be a devil.

  4. Pingback: Morality #newsoz.org #auspol - News Oz

  5. Harry Lime

    It is pleasing to see the latest and most egregious example of theft/ misuse of public money,Sportsrorts is closing in on our hypocritical,happy clapping Prime Liar,despite the pile on of gob smacking lies.The adventures of Bridget Mc Kenzie continues apace as it appears she,s more than a little pissed off with Morriscum’s frantic efforts to blame her for the whole fiasco,and this could be yet his undoing.Pentecostalism is nothing more than a twisted cult that justifies being a money grubbing arsehole, and if Morrison’s behaviour is anything to go by,they should be exorcised from our society.
    This fucking idiot is a dangerous pox on our democracy.Religion, my arse.

  6. Kerri

    I too was made to go through the Church of Christ as a child until I told my parents I didn’t believe in god.
    They were not that devout and mum as a lapsed Catholic naturally felt guilty.
    But the hypocrisy at the church is what killed it for me. The gossip, the snobbery the covered up child molestation and the General absence of “Christian values” as were being peddled from the pulpit were astonishing!
    Have people yet worked out that paedophiles talk to each other?
    That the reason there are “clusters” of child molestation in institutions is many know where they will be safe?
    If you want to believe in a god then go ahead but don’t inflict your beliefs on me
    or expect any special considerations for your beliefs.
    And here’s a tip I learned from an observant Muslim mother at my daughter’s school.
    She was baffled as to why Christian faiths require a priest or pastor to come between you and your god?
    She preferred to speak directly with her god during her daily prayers.
    How civilised to remove the intermediary and allow no person to profit from religious control of others.

  7. DrakeN

    I have very basic beliefs in reference to religions:

    a. We need a statutory “Freedom From Religion” Act where any attempt to impose any religious belief, dogma, creed, social behavioural decree etc. on another person or community shall be a crimainal act.
    b. Indoctrination of underage persons into religious beliefs and/or practices shall be regarded as child abuse.
    c. No person of religious conviction shall be considered suitable for public office of any kind.
    d. No Association, Institution, Corporation or similar body, commercial, non-for-profit or social which has religious connections of any kind shall be eligible for grants of monies and/or services of any form from any government body.

    It is money and power, the lust for achieving wealth and status at the expense of the laiety which has created and maintained religions for so long.

    My Mantra:

    “Religions are the most successful, longest enduring confidence tricks ever imposed on humankind.”

  8. Stephengb

    I have become to realise that I am an atheist, a little late in life, but hey I am a slow learner.

    But can anyone explain to me why we have a number of individuals who are kind, and honourable and genuinely care for people, and put ot into practise- but – who are ministers oc some religion or other.

  9. Jack Cade

    Are you suggesting that the people you refer to are ‘kind, honourable and genuinely care for people…’ because of their religion, or despite their religion?
    My opinion is that people do not need to be religious to display those qualities. And if they display those qualities because their religion expects it of them, then they are simply hypocrites.
    Those qualities are neither required by their religion nor in fact are they particularly common in religious people. Hitler was ‘religious.’ Stalin was a seminarian. Pinochet was religious. Franco was religious. Numerous Popes have displayed NONE of the qualities you list. Morrison certainly doesn’t. He MAY in fact be ‘kind’ but he is certainly not honourable and as for ‘caring for people’, I’d say he is as caring as he is honourable.
    DrakeN suggests a sort of constitution that is in contaminated by religion, but the writers of the US constitution thought that was what they had bestowed upon the people.

  10. John

    Religion as I see it is a fairy tale used to control adults by indoctrinating them as children. Unfortunately many of these adults will never be free to think and rely on themselves and take responsibilities for their own actions. The problem is that religion teaches people to rely on some greater power when really each person needs to stand up and take responsibility for their own life and stop hoping it can be fixed by an imaginary person.

    And those who claim to be ‘preaching the gospel’ or ‘born again’ are the ones who out of everyone I cannot trust.

    The stats show that religion will eventually almost disappear but I think they will fight tooth and nail against this all the way.

  11. Jack Cade

    John Lord

    It offers 2 big incentives; life after death, and the promise of dodging blame for anything you do. That is the secret of ‘born-agains’; they are people who are either ashamed of things they have done or afraid of people finding out – I’d plump for the latter, because people like Morrison have no concept of shame. They just feel entitled to say ‘I used to be like that but I’m not now.’
    But they invariably are.

  12. RosemaryJ36

    I see too many religious leaders as people who are grabbing at power over others to boost their sense of self-worth.
    Like Stephengb, I have met some admirable people who do as they would be done by – in the really positive sense. Some are associated with religious beliefs and some are not. But far too many who claim to be better than everyone else are also total hypocrites.

  13. Arnd

    “I see too many religious leaders as people who are grabbing at power over others to boost their sense of self-worth.”

    But isn’t that a set of attributes they share with many non-religious leaders in commerce, finance, politics, the military, and even in academia?

    Maybe this is not so much an affliction that befalls only the religious, but rather a consequence of common ideas about leadership and hierarchy as such?

    That is how things present themselves anyway, from my anarcho-christian perspective.

  14. DrakeN

    Yes, Arnd.
    It is unfortunately just so.
    Religions are only one of many items in the toolbox of human exploitation.

  15. calculus witherspoon.

    Rosemary is spot on. There is a huge difference between morality and religion, which are supposed to be symbiotic but in the form Rosemary describes, become a contradicting mechanism of the one by the other.

    Morrison and co will waffle about talking in tongues and the other sci fi stuff, but the real issues, to do with morality are scorned on a spurious basis of supposed “belief”. They are Xtians when they do happy clappy, but not when it comes to smearing other people, against, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against they neighbour” or more commonly, “Thou shalt not steal”, which they are pathologically inclined to do..

    Marcuse wrote of the link between sexual repression dating back to the Middle Ages in the role of the rise of Capitalism and the WASP class…badly socialised and themselves commodified, the tendency to sexual antics is to do with a built in loyalty to patriarchy, authority and the gang through an alienation from women involving the sexual division of labour, but a self sabotaging conditioning
    .

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