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PM steps up religious crusade

By Brian Morris

Australia has already been described as a ‘soft theocracy’.  The question is, despite the public showing less religiosity, will a more overtly Christian PM subvert the nation’s preference for secular values?

Australia has continued to move steadily towards progressive policy – most notably to finally legalise same-sex marriage last year.  But that came at a cost. To ensure the law was passed – and to placate the religious right of his party — the then PM, Malcolm Turnbull, set up a review of ‘religious freedom’ which was headed by former Attorney General Philip Ruddock.

Few in the secular community believed any of the 20 recommendations – handed by Ruddock to Turnbull in May – would gain passage through parliament.  Religions already enjoy a swathe of religious privileges.

But elevation to the position of PM – by devout Pentecostal, Scott Morrison – has substantially changed the prospect of new laws to provide exclusive religious benefits – to a dwindling Christian constituency.

Morrison made his Christian worldview quite clear in his maiden speech to parliament and in December last year, as Treasurer, he trumpeted that he was on a crusade to protected religion; “particularly the one I and many other Christians subscribe to.”

In a television interview with Sky News on Monday night, Scott Morrison said he was displeased with the level of free speech given to Christians and freedom of religion generally; “So there’s nothing wrong with a bit of preventative regulation and legislation to ensure your religious freedom in this country.”

Such comments do not augur well for a secular Australia.  The rise of religious conservatism in federal parliament, together with external pressure from groups such as the Australian Christian Lobby, was evidenced during the acrimonious religious campaign against same-sex marriage.

Indeed, manifestations from fundamentalists have been evident since the Prime Ministership of John Howard.  That history was well established by the professor of politics, Marion Maddox, in her 2005 book; “God under Howard; the Rise of the Religious Right in Australia.”

And recent comments by former Liberal MP, Mal Washer, put into stark perspective the degree to which evangelical Christianity has become enmeshed within federal politics.

Washer, who laments the political denial of science, is unabashed in his concern.  He took Tony Abbott to task on religious lobbying to ban the abortion drug RU486, and also on stem cell research.  He said, “I fought this type of religious ideology right through.

He goes on to say the Liberal Party is increasingly influenced by the religious right and becoming more distant on crucial issues, “on climate science, on women’s rights, on freedom of choice on abortion, on new ideas about sexuality … Basically, they are out of date and out of step with community views.”

That is born out by the 2016 census where 30 per cent of the nation said they had “no religion” – the largest cohort among all groups that recorded their religious affiliation. And the level of secular commitment was further established in a national IPSOS poll that showed 78 per cent of Australians thought it important “to separate personal religious beliefs from the business of government.

So a primary concern for the secular community is that the religious right will mobilise under the stewardship of the new PM.  Scott Morrison is one of many parliamentarians known to be Pentecostal — a brand of Christianity that believes the Old Testament (as well as the New) is the “inerrant Word of God”.  That includes the anti-scientific view that the Earth is less than 10,000 years old, that Noah and other Genesis stories, are all true.

Philip Ruddock’s religious freedom review received more than 16,000 submissions – the overwhelming majority coming from pro-forma submissions organised by Christian churches and various religious lobbies.  That is evident from those published on the Review website.

The religious zeal of Christian parliamentarians is now fired by Scott Morrison.  “If you don’t have freedom of your faith, of your belief – and in whatever religion that is – then you don’t have freedom in this country at all.”

This is blatantly false and misleading because Australians do have religious freedom:

  • Moreover, many state and federal laws, including equal opportunity and anti-discrimination laws, explicitly protect freedom of religion through various exemptions.

A “secular Australia” is the best guarantee for a wholly inclusive and pluralistic society where one person’s freedom doesn’t come at the cost of another’s.  This current push for “religious liberty” will have serious, negative implications for Australia’s free, secular and egalitarian future.

———————————————————————————————————

Brian Morris is a director of www.nationalsecularlobby.org which is committed to promoting the full sweep of social issues covered by secular politics.  He is the author of ‘Sacred to Secular’.


24 comments

  1. Jaquix

    Must be explosive if Turnbull and now Morrison are hugging it to their hypocritical little chests? Why hasnt it been released for public to debate it? Morrison thinks he can just spring it on us and “we will all move on”.

  2. Bronte ALLAN

    Wow Sco Mo is just such a happy little “happy clapper” who obviously does not let his views on religion interfere with running the country–NOT!! Australia will finish up being like America, where they all spout religion on every cause in parliament, but the vast majority of “normal” yanks think otherwise. Yet there whole country is influenced by the shouting so-called christians! Australia should not blindly follow down this same (stupid) path. Our parliament already has prayers or similar every day before starting business, & for what good does this does, bloody nothing! Sadly ALL these so-called christians who are trying to run our country are ruining our country with their unproven, out dated, blinkered, right wing outlook on life. Forget all about any religion when in the parliament & just get on with trying to do what is best for all Australians. As for all these bloody “charismatic churches” the sooner they are closed down or at least made to pay taxes–as should even the mainstream religions–the better off this country will be!

  3. Zathras

    Protect his religion from what exactly?

    Like everyone else in Australia, Morrison is totally free to attend Church services anytime he wants, can wear symbols of his religion openly on his clothing and display them on his car and can set up nativity scenes and flashing lights on his house every year. He can submit his children for indoctrination in a religious school/madrasa and hand over any amount of money to such organisations as he wishes. In fact the taxpayer forks over around $30billion in tax concessions to these groups every year.

    He’s just another one of the typical zealots with a perpetual fetish for persecution and martyrdom and sees everything as a personal threat to maintaining his view of reality.

    Morrison is the white Christian leader of a predominantly white Christian culture but like the evangelically controlled Trump, he’s more about putting up walls than building bridges.

    My problem with theocratically inclined religion can be described like this –

    You’re free to believe that tiny unicorns live inside your shoes. Fair enough. However, when you tell me how I must wear my own shoes in order not to hurt those tiny unicorns that only you believe in, it’s another matter entirely.

    However I would then be the one being persecuted – not you, but it seems that some simply fail to see this, or choose not to.

  4. Shaun Newman

    These people consider themselves as ‘the chosen ones’ who lord it over the rest of us, as their right to do so. Basically, because they walk around full of their own importance and believe that the rest of us are going to hell anyway so we don’t matter. This is the reason that he as Treasurer had no qualms about cutting $1.2 billion from the aged care budget and now he has been caught out he is trying to give the general public a snow job.

    This is a crucial time for the Australian public, they must see through the babble about we are elected to represent you (when we are doing the opposite) in truth the Australian people are electing the L’NP to represent the foreign multinational corporations like Coca-Cola, Apple, Samsung and the like 30% of whom do not pay a red cent in income tax on their billion dollar incomes.

    It makes me so angry that the average person is led like sheep to believe whatever the tory media in this country tells them to think.

  5. Max Cook

    Good article.

    The two big christian religions are the biggest land holders here and in many other regions.

    They have so much power, thru the mainstream media, across all corporations, who only hire church, or other “religious” college-educated read “indoctrinated” graduates, to politics, for being branch-offices of the biggie, “Rome”, the world’s most powerful land owner.

    (I suspect that the Protestant split in Prussia centuries ago, could well have been a maneuver by Rome in what Hegel coined “the Hegelian Dialectic”. A deliberate split to present two opposing sides.)

    Judaic and other creeds of course, as well.

    People all over have to drop seeing these as “religions” and more for what they are, land-grabbing crime syndicates, “dressed-up”.

    As long as we have christianity, free to ply it’s propaganda, thru immense media and other mediums, we’ll never have TRUE Democracy.

    That, should be clear to us, once we accept that christians believe that their superzero is the whole world’s king and will one day rule us all.

    Hardly “Democratic”!

    The antithesis of, in truth!

    But, for cults like the pentecostals and all branches, using every method, including Hollywood’s world’s biggest mind control messaging about superheros, (Pentecostals “revivalists” began but miles from Hollywood, be aware) and about the “biblical” stories, true, fable, fiction or not, projecting to hundreds of millions the myths and fallacies, indeed (tho Hollywood never mentions this) the dangers of placing faith in any individual to do all the leading let-alone saving, of the group, nation, or species and planet (when any individual superhero cult figure gets too much of a following, they are eliminated) Secular Folks are up against it trying to bring sanity to the “debate”.

    Mainly because the fanatics are so conditioned to play word-games with every challenger, reducing arguments to distractions from any points which expose them for the fakes they and their beliefs-systems are.

    Until sane, reason-based thinkers can bring to the public discussion the fact that all christian-especially religion is pure and total mind control, of the darkest, subtle and most sinister type, it’s pointless trying to break the spells they are under, for sane and balanced discussions, and for the spells and hexes, they are so enamored of, and in love with their cult’s trances, etc. And “benefits”, such as paying no tax!

    This is one more “rabbithole” Alice (We, the Sheeple) must go down to find the facts, and break the grip religion has on the “faithfools”, chiefly upon them as voters and, and…. therefore the grip all the Abrahamic creeds have on the masses.

    Even the many Secular, who must live within these failing and terminal religion-founded cultures. (Not saying all “religions” are flawed tho’.)

  6. SteveFitz

    @Shaun – Oh so true. The power of the media moguls in influencing the direction of Australian politics is outlined with some clarity by ABC’s Andrew Probyn:

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-09-18/liberal-leadership-spill-rupert-murdoch-kerry-stokes-influence/10262552

    To my way of thinking a belief in God is a belief in doing the right thing. It’s not about using God as a cover-up to do the wrong thing. Or using religion as a pathway to claw some votes out of a pious electorate. That’s just being another religious hypocrite.

    I’d suggest that the collective prayer by the Liberal leadership would be “God help us”. Clearly, they have nowhere else to turn.

  7. Kronomex

    And now he’s “Not into bunch of meetings” so he’s cancelled Coag. He’s too busy wrecking everything to try and leave his filthy mark on the country before he’s gone at the next election. I never thought I’d say this but, “Where’s Trembles?”

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/live/2018/sep/19/coalition-labor-morrison-shorten-super-aged-care

    Pastor Morriscum just can’t stand the idea of anyone standing up to him and making him look like the thug he is.

  8. Terence Mills

    There are already religious exemptions in a number of commonwealth and state laws including the Fairwork Act and the Sex Discrimination Act that allow religious organisations to discriminate in employment practices.

    We know that a teacher in WA who was outed as being gay was sacked by the religious school that he taught at even though he adhered to their religious beliefs.

    The next time that Morrison starts on one of his sermons the media need to pull him into line and ensure that he releases the Ruddock Review. The author of this article has referred to the 20 recommendations – handed by Ruddock to Turnbull in May. Has anybody seen these recommendations ?

  9. New England Cocky

    It is time of the people of Australia to stand up to the bullying of religious “churches” and demand they contribute more to society the kiddie fiddling an economic parasitism.

    Something about the Good Samaritan seems to b missing for the Scat Morriscum philosophy, something about equality of the people appears to have got lost in translation, something about the Reformation could be repeated for the benefit of taxpayers, like making the churches pay their way by contributing rates and land taxes to the taxation revenue other the export it to Rome or other foreign ports.

  10. Doug Pollard

    Turnbull wouldn’t release it because he designed it to be buried and ultimately forgotten. The clock on action would run out as an election loomed and everyone would have more important things to do.
    Scummo won’t release it because he regards it as intolerably weak, suggesting little more than cosmetic tinkering at the fringes and some motherhood statements. He wants red meat, preferably LGBTI meat.
    Which is why he’s starting all these irrelevant hares, jumping at non-existent ghosts, and otherwise trying to whip up a threatening climate which demands his action. It’s all Sound and fury. Nothing will pass the Senate.

  11. Kieran Butler

    Child abuse is integral to Australian culture and there is nothing like a religion to ensure the kids are being properly fucked.
    Morrison is the symptom. Australia is the disease.

  12. wam

    I’d like to launch in a blame the victim post.

    The power of indoctrination of jewish, christian and muslim women results in the belief of the superiority of men in the eyes of the god:of the bible who, amongst other things,:

    deliberately made women inferior to men in all aspects for 1 week out of 4

    gives boys the power over women and girls on their 12th birthday

    gives instant access to heaven for men who kill women and children

    supplies women to men in heaven

    gives priests the power to absolve or protect the identity of priests who abuse children

    I wonder if women ever think why god gave them the same breeding apparatus as a pig and made them equally unclean with pork for their menstrual blood which also renders porcine any man who comes into contact?
    In that context I think all religions agree with the unclean bit with warnings on temples etc throughout Asia.

    Religion is to atheists, an invention of men for men to ensure women have a hard road to success in equality.

    There are snippets like gosford.
    Over the last 25 years women have been ordained.
    There is RCWP.
    So there is hope that women may reform the boy’s clubs of christ.

    Sadly, with morrison batting for hillsong, kevin andrews bowling underarms for the pope and the umpire mike pence, reform will be not in my lifetime.
    These men will awaken the female kraken. Then we will see reform throughout the world.

  13. OPPOSE THE MAJOR PARTIES

    Good luck making any laws about religion Scummo

    Section 116 Constitution:

    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

  14. Al

    Religion divides people, thus liberalism.

  15. Peter F

    Thanks, OTMP : There is one change he could make, he could remove all words after ‘office’ in the section you refer to above.

  16. SteveFitz

    @Kieran – In a few short words you paint it how it is. We need to cure the disease in Australia starting with human rights protection, a federal corruption watchdog, law reform and, a political system that protects our elected PM full term, whether we like it or not.

    It’s frightening to think we could still have Turnbull at the helm when the only time he opened his mouth was to change feet. In the bigger picture though, don’t despair. With people turning away from the church in their droves, the electorate see straight through the Liberal Party ploy. By hanging his hat on the pulpit, Morrison is well on his way to crucifixion at the next election.

  17. Kyran

    The issue, whilst portrayed as the right to religious freedom, is less complicated than that. Had it been motivated by any concern for ‘freedom of religion or belief’, these self-confessed muppets would have targeted the examples of religious persecution or interference already on display in Australia. Fr Rod Bower’s church has been repeatedly invaded by ‘religious extremists’, which is a specific example of denial of the right to peaceful enjoyment of your beliefs. Mosques and proposed mosques are repeatedly targeted by religious extremists. People wanting nothing more than the observance of their religious rights (including dress) are frequently targeted by fools egged on by religious extremists, many of whom occupy our parliament and our media.
    Not a peep from these protectors of religious freedoms.
    So concerned is our government that they sent the cadaver who walks, Ruddock, over to New York to present our case to the UN about the persecution of the Rohingya people. Whilst there, he also canvassed our recently exiled ex-PM to lobby for the party that banished him. There was, naturally, no mention of the persecution of the Uyghurs in China. The extent of the hypocrisy is simply breathtaking.
    The marriage equality survey had nothing to do with religion. That was a conflation, a confusion, a mis-direction, organized by the gits over at the ACL and readily promoted by the equally ignorant muppets occupying our parliament.
    There are some simple facts that will likely derail these misguided Christians and their zealous pursuit of enshrining further protections for the religious institutions they seek to protect over the rights of people to enjoy their religion.
    The Greens are currently trying to force the release of the cadaver’s report. From yesterday’s Guardian;
    “The Greens have released this statement:
    The Senate has today ordered the government to table the Ruddock review by 9.30am Thursday, after a passing a motion from the Australian Greens.
    Greens LGBTIQ+ spokesperson Janet Rice said: “LGBTIQ+ communities have been left in the lurch for months awaiting the release of this report. Our rights are at stake and we’re being kept in the dark.
    “Scott Morrison’s recent anti-LQBTIQ+ comments have ignited fear in our communities that the government is planning to wind back the laws which protect LGBTIQ+ people from discrimination.
    “We need to know to what extent he is planning to further discriminate against everyday LGBTIQ+ Australians in order to shore up the support of powerful religious institutions.”
    Greens justice spokesperson Nick McKim said:
    “The prime minister has already has made it clear that he has plans to dismantle anti-discrimination laws”.”
    “The far right lost the marriage equality debate and now they want revenge and are going to try to entrench discrimination in other parts of society.
    “We will fight them every step of the way.”

    This is a political exercise trying to wedge the religious extremist occupying the PM’s chair at present. The current PM has stated he will “deliver the national apology to survivors of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse: 22 October”. Notwithstanding the current PM is a media guru and marketing strategist of inconsiderable repute, not even he would be that stupid as to allow a debate on further enshrining religious institutions privileges and EXEMPTIONS FROM THE LAW OF THE LAND before that apology. That hypocrisy would be so great that not even his cheer squad in the elite corps of the Press Gallery would be able to obfuscate the reality.
    This exercise is not about religious freedoms, it is about the further exemptions of churches from the law of the land. Given the abuses perpetrated by the churches, the hysteria about sharia law and its insidious insinuation into our governance (sarcasm alert), the obvious limiting of compensation to those already wronged by these institutions, how can they attempt to further protect these religions (as you pointed out “Religions already enjoy a swathe of religious privileges.”) when their transgressions are about to get acknowledgement?
    As so many others have noted, this is not about religious liberty. It’s about protecting certain religious institutions.
    Thank you Mr Morris and commenters. Take care

  18. jimhaz

    Tactically you’d think Morrison will do something around the time of a religious festival when people get public holidays – Christmas or Easter.

    No idea what would be the recommendations. Are there legislative examples elsewhere?

    Personally I do not like schools abandoning or being too PC about things like Christmas and Easter – they are part of our culture. It is not as if most cultural things from everywhere are not based on tripe!

  19. SteveFitz

    Yes, it’s enough to drive us crazy. Until we look outside – It’s still a beautiful planet, possibly the best in the known universe, and we reap the benefits of mans amazing advances in technology. There’s art, culture, philosophy, science, romance and basket weaving. We must be the lucky generation.

    What a shame those greedy self serving bastards do everything they can to stuff it up for us. I will not let them get to me !#@*& I refuse to let the bastards get to meeee!!!! Faaarrrrkk…

    If you’re wondering where they come from, I’m looking at a Liberal Party recruitment poster, right here on the wall, at Morisset Mental Hospital. With John Howard pointing his finger at me saying “We want you!”

  20. jimhaz

    When one looks at those attending church services, whom are so often of advanced age, one has to wonder where all the kids are coming from to attend Catholic schools.

    It would appear to be a case of the sons and daughters of those aged grandparents, who went to catholic schools themselves, wanting the other things from catholic education as opposed to Christian education – in my day that thing was discipline and manners.

    I went to a catholic school to year 10, but my parents decided it was not worth the cost to send me to Years 11 and 12 due to my increasing level of rejection of religion at the time. I know the fees were not cheap back then (60’s-70’s) even for basic Catholic schools and I was one of 8 kids – but somehow they could afford it to Year 10. So now with the modern fewer kids families what Morrison is doing is giving HIS CROWD a massive subsidy that THEY DO NOT NEED. They can afford to pay a premium that is equivalent to the percentage of income my single income parents had to pay.

    It is again the sort of middle class welfare for Christians and right wing minded people (Tiger type parents) + provision of funds to support the future of the Christian religion that our worst ever PM, Howard gave.

  21. John Higgins

    The real problem is … why is 45% of the Australian voting public so determinedly blind, deaf, and dumb? Two weeks into Snot Morriscum’s term and the Ipsos-Fairfax Poll says he rates higher in “trustworthiness” than Bill Shorten. Does Turnbull agree? The slime he obviously emits in Aussie slang terms … the bloke’s a drongo of the first degree. Dishonest, a proven liar, cruel and un-Christian (if you believe the tenets of Christ’s teachings), and a total unashamed hypocrite, and a backstabbing bastard. I only hope Turnbull returns to campaign against them however, I won’t hold my breath, he’s a constant disappointment.

  22. Ken

    Good to read Brian this excellent article. Ken

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