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Sanctioning harm under guise of religious freedom

When Attorney-General Christian Porter proposed to prioritise freedom of religion above all other human rights which are necessary for a fair, just and humane society, he gave an orange light to the most wicked entitlement and privilege. The Australian Government’s proposed Religious Freedom Bills are out for public consultation and if passed, create a plethora of unequal rights, where those who subscribe to religious beliefs are benefited above and beyond the rest of the community. The bills weaken existing protections for LGBTIQ+ people, women, people with disabilities, and those from diverse racial and cultural backgrounds, and potentially legalise hate speech.

However it’s Tasmanian Archbishop Julian Porteous’s statement on 12 September 2019 which provides one of the most compelling arguments as to why the concept of the proposed laws is so repugnant. Archbishop Porteous, when publicly declaring that priests will not obey the new Tasmanian law mandating that priests report child sex abuse, reportedly stated that the law is ‘at odds with the Australian Government’s religious freedom push’.

Translated into layman’s terms, Archbishop Porteous’s position is that ‘religious freedom’ means ‘mates keeping vile secrets for mates’, while children suffer. Archbishop Porteous’s stance that reporting paedophiles violates his religious freedom is an unconscionable response to the Church being exposed as a repugnant organisation responsible for immeasurable human suffering.

Given its past behaviour, it’s no surprise that the Catholic Church, at its highest levels, prioritises the ‘sanctity’ of the church and it’s religious beliefs over the safety of the most vulnerable in the community. The Catholic Church, at its highest levels, has repeatedly demonstrated a propensity to prioritise privilege and entitlement for its clergy, a culture of secrecy, and the institutionalised protection of paedophiles, above the right for children to be safe and free from abuse, despite the scathing report from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse. The church still performs exorcisms on LGBT members despite its documented harm.

Along with other religious organisations, the Catholic Church’s fierce advocacy for religious freedom to the detriment of other rights, goes against the universally accepted balance of human rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (“UDHR”), proclaimed in Paris on 10 December 1948 by the United Nations General Assembly, provides the key principles for a free, just, and peaceful society and sets out the proper balance between the freedom of religion and other human rights.

Article 18, which provides for the right of freedom of religion, is just one of 30 rights and principles in the UDHR; the other 29 Articles are conveniently ignored by the proponents of religious freedom. The right for a person to practice their beliefs must be balanced against the rights of others in the community not to be harmed. This is repeatedly supported when rights are considered in the full context of the UDHR.

The push for greater religious freedom at the expense of the rights of others is a manipulative response to the weakening power of religious organisations in the community. Churches cannot reconcile that it is no longer acceptable to forcefully impose their moral tenets on those who do not subscribe to restrictive and unreasonable codes.

Those of faith argue for religious freedom on the basis it is a human right, yet they fail to recognise that all human rights must be balanced. Where the exercise of one person’s human rights violates another, the line has been crossed. Where one person, in practicing their religion, denies another the ability to participate fully in community life and cultural practices, the line has been crossed.

The religious freedom laws will allow those of faith to treat people as second class citizens essentially on a whim, provided they can somehow tie it in with their religious beliefs.

Allowing greater religious freedom to the detriment of other fundamental human rights violates Article 30: “Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.”

When practicing one’s religion causes harm to other people, it is unacceptable.

If by practising their religion, a person imposes their beliefs on another person and prevents that other person from freely participating in a secular society, it is unacceptable.

Religious freedom is, and must be, subject to the law and balanced with other human rights. Those of faith are free to attend their services, drink the symbolic blood of their prophets or engage in other religious rituals if those participating have freely, voluntarily and willingly consented. They can refuse blood transfusions or medical procedures for themselves, but they must not be allowed to deny them to others. They can prosthelytize and evangelise to their hearts’ content, provided they are not offending, humiliating, intimidating, insulting, ridiculing others or otherwise harming others in the community. They can pray or reflect or honour their gods in whichever way they choose, but must not be permitted to deny others the opportunity to participate fully in public life because of personal religious beliefs.

Attorney-General Porter’s proposed laws recognise that those of faith should not have unfettered freedom to disobey all laws. However he does propose overriding the Tasmanian anti-discrimination law for people of faith, and the proposed laws broaden the opportunities for people of faith to actively discriminate against members of the community in the name of religion.

It is evident from Archbishop Porteous’s public commentary how much ‘freedom’ he wishes the church to be given.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse outed the abhorrent practices of religious organisations in harbouring abusers, the resounding ‘YES’ result in the marriage equality plebiscite stunned opponents after the dedicated, religious-right-led, hate-filled rhetoric of the ‘NO’ campaign, George Pell’s conviction astonished believers after decades of institutionalised protection from prosecution, rugby player Israel Folau’s sacking frightened the proponents of ‘hate speech promoted as free speech’, abortion reform, transgender rights and voluntary euthanesia laws terrified the self-appointed ‘moral superiors’ who believe ‘God’s Law’ takes precedence. And now, with the state’s successively enacting laws mandating priests out their fellow paedophiles, the churches power is shriveling. Their response is to fight back and demand superiority, entitlement and privilege is enshrined in law.

The majority of Australians believe all people are deserving of equal rights and to be treated equally before the law. It is unconscionable to provide people of faith with greater ‘freedoms’, to the detriment of others in the community. Attorney-General Porter must not give the green light to bigotry, social division, exclusion and segregation under the guise of religious freedom.

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56 comments

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  1. Peter F

    The IDEA that the god who allowed its representatives to abuse children should be part of a system which decides whether or not the perpetrators should be brought to justice IS , quite simply, INDEFENSIBLE.

  2. New England Cocky

    The most effective response to Archbishop Porteous would be to immediately withdraw ALL government funding from Tasmanian Roman Catholic dioceses, especially education funding and also remove from ALL CHURCHES the many Federal, state and local governments exemptions for taxes, rates and levies.

    Attendance at churches has rarely exceeded 30% of the population across all denominations since European ‘settlement’, except during the convict era when attendance rose to offset the boredom of incarceration. So, the once a week story-tellers would be required to follow the Scummo dictum of “having a go” to earn their keep rather than be among the economic parasites dependent upon government largesse ….. like the unemployed, the aged, infirm and corporates.

  3. John

    It seems to me that everyone should stop using the phrase “people of faith” when referring to the usual dreadfully sane “religious” true believers. especially as much/most/all of their so called faith and “truth” claims do not stand up to any kind of rigorous investigation. Indeed much/most of it is obviously absurd, little more than childish, even infantile superstition, not much different than believing in cartoon characters such as the tooth fairy, the easter rabbit and santa claus.

    A more appropriate terminology would therefore be to call people who believe in or subscribe to various traditional “religious” doctrines “religious” believers.

    In fact their “religious” beliefs are the product of the historically and politically dominant “great religions”. Both islam-ism and christian-ism originally achieved their cultural and political status as “great religions” via the business end of swords. And, in the case of christian-ism guns and canons. They also maintain their political power via their alliance with various states and the potential violence that such states can and do use.

    The “conservative” varieties of which are now the principal causative vectors of much of the worlds potentially devastating political conflicts. This is especially the case with christian-ism, juda-ism and islam-ism.

  4. Greg

    All I can say is read the Australian Constitution
    COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA CONSTITUTION ACT – SECT 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.

  5. totaram

    NEC: Your ideas are sound, but they have been put forward by many already. The question that arises is: how will you get these ideas implemented?

    When “decriminalisation” of abortion is attracting all our “great politicians” against it in such numbers, who will support your ideas?

  6. Tim Haslam

    Eva, you make some very valid points, notably that religious rights need be balanced against other rights and that there is NO justification for failing to report sexual or other abuse. However, I’m confident you are so ignorant of the views and lives of the vast majority of religious people that you don’t even realise how bigoted, filled with hatred and designed to incite hatred towards innocent people this article is. If you are genuinely interested in the inclusion of and respect towards all Australians, so long as they don’t impose on the freedom, inclusion of and respect for others I, as someone who is actively involved in mutually respectful discussions between representatives of a wide variety of religions and of the LGBTI community on this issue, would be interested to correspond with you. If you are only interested in spreading hatred towards people you don’t understand (which is the basis of most bigotry) then there is nothing I can do to stop you. Up to you.

  7. Eva Cripps

    Hi Tim, I was raised as a Roman Catholic (including weekly attendance at mass) and was educated in the Catholic private school system until I was 18 years old. I am critically aware of the teachings of the church and the hypocrisy of the clergy and many of those who purport to be ‘Christian’. I also hold qualifications in both law and social science, giving me an academic background to religion and religious belief. I am also actively involved in the community and participate in discussions with religious people, LGBTIQA+ people and the broader community. I’m curious as to what you think I don’t understand?

  8. Jane

    After being persecuted all my LBGT+ life by religious crazys, it makes a nice change for them to know what fear is like now. What goes around comes around. They need to be scared because this is just the start. We are coming for their rate and tax free rorts next.

  9. Tim Haslam

    Hi Eva.
    I could tell from your article that you were raised Catholic and are well aware of why you hate religious people. However, the hatred was equally obvious. It’s one thing to object to the shameful behaviour of an organisation and another to assume that everyone that you stereotype as being like them, even if we are extremely different, is guilty of the same crimes. Even your response to my comment was focused on ‘the hypocrisy of those who purport to be Christian’ with no mention of the vast majority who genuinely aim to live, to the best of our imperfect ability, as Jesus did, as Mohammad did or whatever. You seem to be an otherwise open-minded person and I believe if you actually met and got to know some people who are personally genuinely religious you would be less hateful.
    I don’t have time to address all your comments but here are a couple of things:
    1.The push for greater religious freedom at the expense of the rights of others is a manipulative response to the weakening power of religious organisations in the community. Churches cannot reconcile that it is no longer acceptable to forcefully impose their moral tenets on those who do not subscribe to restrictive and unreasonable codes.
    I am a typical religious Australian in that I have no desire whatsoever to weaken the rights of others or force my moral tenets on others. I support the right to same sex marriage, despite it being contrary to my religious beliefs, because I believe others have a right to live their lives as they choose. What I object to is anti-religious people attempting to enforce their majority moral tenets on me, which is increasingly occurring and religious discrimination legislation will do no more than afford to me the same rights that are offered to other minority groups (don’t quote the Census stats to argue religious people are a majority. Think about how religious 50% of the people you know are, yet many are ‘Catholic’ or ‘Anglican’ once very 5 years when the census form goes around).
    I’ll give a couple of examples. In my workplace (a large employer with a diverse workforce) I attended Wear It Purple day, wearing purple, and explained to the leaders of the LGBTI+ group (they prefer to omit the Q as it could be seen as derogatory) that I lead the Christian prayer meeting in the office and wanted them to know that we don’t hate them. I then met with them to ask if they would accept me as an Ally. They assured me they didn’t expect me to personally agree with their lifestyle but simply to respect their right to choose it. I was happy to do that and didn’t expect them to agree with my religious beliefs but only to respect them, which they happily do.
    Shortly afterwards we put up some advertising as many religious people in the office did not know the prayer meeting existed. This was done with management approval and was similar to the flyers advertising Wear It Purple. Within a week nearly all the posters had been torn down and put in the bin and management told us they received many complaints that a Christian group should not be allowed in our workplace because it was against the organisation’s diversity policy (explain the logic of that if you can). Only 1 Wear It Purple poster was removed over several weeks (which is one too many but much less than our 10 in one week). Similarly, a young guy who had a crucifix on his desk was advised to remove it because identifying as religious would be ‘a career limiting move’, although his much larger AFL supporter material was deemed entirely appropriate self-expression. The LGBTI+ people encouraged us to start a group similar to theirs because they recognised we encounter more bigotry and discrimination than they do.
    2. Read the other responses to your article. Do they suggest that your article encouraged mutual tolerance or encouraged hatred.
    3. You argued that religious discrimination legislation would encourage mistreatment of ethnic minorities. Please explain how. I can easily see how the legislation will protect people from ethnic minorities, particularly Muslims, but not the opposite. Islamic people at my workplace consistently confide in me because they feel I understand them and they feel rejected and misunderstood in a society that ridicules a religious lifestyle. We don’t want to force our lifestyle on others but we do want to be able to choose it ourselves. There was little in your article to support allowing us that choice.
    When religious people were the majority (before my time) they did enforce their moral views because everyone thinks their way is best and thinks the world would be a better place if everyone followed it. What concerns me is that now non-religious people are the majority they are doing exactly the same thing. Religious discrimination legislation is no different from any other discrimination legislation. It can’t be used as a sword but only as a shield. The majority won’t allow it to be used otherwise and I doubt the majority will even allow it as an effective shield.

  10. Wendy Moore

    Since Abbott’s tenure in the lodge, Australia has been stuck in reverse. Now the backward speed is about to be cranked up under fundamentalist Scott Morrison who believes a right-wing interpretation of the Bible should supersede the Constitution.
    There is no place for a leader who holds such bizarre and superstitious ideology. He is hostage to the man-made-up fakery of his religious sect which is about as Christian as Scientology. You cannot treat people like garbage and worship God at the same time.
    At best this religious freedom legislation will give lawyers a field day in workplace law agreements, and at worst it will break our secular safety nets to allow toxic and corrosive religiosity to supersede the Anti Discriminatiin Laws possibly creating a type of apartheid.

    “Freedom to profess your religion” is a broad term and who is going to define what is classed as “inciting violence”.
    When Folau provocatively posted the meme labelling homosexual people with liars, thieves and drunkards and then hid behind his warped interpretation of the bible by saying “God’s Word”, of course that incites others to harass, vilify and do physical harm to the LGBTIQ community (sadly still prevalent).

    This legislation has been cobbled together through the lens of white straight male Christians who are impervious, deaf and blind to insult and harrassment. Their throwaway lines of “grow a spine”, “toughen up snowflake” to the LGBTIQ community just highlights their distance and privilege from others in the community.

    Apart from the LGBTIQ community, Australia is now a multi-faith, diverse society where religion and culture are deeply entwined. Many have fled their countries due to religious wars and tensions. It’s a miracle that Australia has been spared this conflict, largely due to our existing laws. This visionless and naive government appears to be on a mission to damage the peace Australia has miraculously enjoyed.

  11. george theodoridis

    Tim Haslam
    May Zeus help us from those who so earnestly want to live “as as Jesus did, as Mohammad did or whatever.”
    Bugger it, I’ve been making that prayer so earn earnestly for so long and still the Jesus and Mohammad-wannabes, like Abbott and Morrison persist!
    They have turned the planet into a jungle overrun by savages who will not allow a single new leaf grow on a plant that is not a parasitic weed.
    Enough with the wannabes!

    My grandfather was a priest (Greek orthodox) and an uncle of mine is one also. Both cautioned me and others not to be a wannabe, an imitator of anyone else, especially the characters in a book, including and especially the Bible. All characters in books are subject to personal and individual interpretation and pretense.

    “I am Jesus” is as valid a statement as “I am Batman!”

    You are neither. You cannot live like either. And most certainly. you cannot expect to be given special consideration over all other considerations because you feel you want to live like either of these.

    With every passing moment we see these Jesuses and Batmans wanting to run the joint with an even tighter, more thunderous fist. The few little acts of kindness they do are completely trashed by the huge damage they cause to the collective of the population on Earth.
    There are no more “freedoms” for them to be had. They’ve got it all and the consequence of this is towering above us like a huge marble tomb stone.

    May the wannabes, like Abbott, Morrison and Israel Follau live the lives of human beings, respectful of each other, equal in rights and dignity as everyone else.

  12. George Theodoridis

    OOPS! Forgive the double post. Somebody please remove the first!

  13. Eva Cripps

    Thanks for sharing your personal opinion and experiences, Tim.

    The High Court has found that the freedom of religion includes the right to criticise religion and religious belief, as without the right to criticise religious belief, one cannot properly exercise one’s right to the freedom. It has also found that the right to exercise one’s religion is not absolute and must be balanced with other rights which are necessary for the preservation of the community.

    You, along with every other person who subscribes to religious belief, are already free to practice your religion provided you do not cause harm to other people.

    I am free to criticise religious belief and religion, and I do so in the light of the proposed laws which will demonstrably cause harm in the community. The proposed laws provide for a disproportionate protection for those with religious belief (which is a choice) to the detriment of others in the community who do not choose to be the way they are.

    The proposed laws explicitly override Tasmania’s Anti-Discrimination Act, which prohibits statements which “offend, insult or humiliate” based on protected grounds including gender, race, age, sexual orientation, disability and relationship status. It’s unacceptable to legislate that people can “offend, insult or humiliate” others in the community because of religious belief, when it is unlawful for others to do.

  14. Tim Haslam

    Theo, thanks for supporting my claim that religious people receive at least as much hate speech as any other minority group. I’m genuinely sorry for the hurt you have suffered from religious people but please don’t blame me for it.

    Eva, to view your article from a perspective you can understand imagine you are in the mid 20th century and the decriminalisation of homosexual sex has just been proposed. Someone with a visible passionate grudge against gays writes and article warning that the ‘wicked’, ‘repugnant’ legislation will increase paedophilia, gay rape and various other evils that will still be illegal under the legislation and is an attempt by gays to take over the world, in order to spread fear and get the outcome she wants, which is the defeat of the legislation.

    Have you read the draft legislation? It is worded similarly to current legislation, like the Sex Discrimination Act, except that it specifically states that any religious expression that is harmful to others or unlawful will not be protected. Currently there is no Australian legislation preventing religious discrimination and the draft Act simply attempts to provide almost as much protection to religious minorities as other minorities.

    You interpreted this to be giving religious rights greater power than any other right. Every example you tried to create panic about will still be illegal (as with the hypothetical homophobic article imagined above). There is no way a Catholic priest could use the legislation to justify not reporting abuse because his religious expression would be illegal and therefore specifically not protected under the act.

    No one is unbiased on this issue, nor can they be. Non-religious people cannot possibly understand the issues, people like yourself who were forced to understand one expression of religion and rejected it are understandably bitter toward that religion, and generally ignorant of others whilst claiming to be enlightened and religious people like me are inevitably biased as well. I’m probably the closest to middle line there is, having been non-religious for many years before changing my view. From that relatively unbiased view point your article is without doubt the most venomous and irrational I have read (the Australian Christian Lobby’s was second). I like to think you are sufficiently open-minded and not too bitter to move towards tolerance of people you disagree with, but that’s your call.

  15. Eva Cripps

    Tim, you miss one key point: religious belief is a choice, like an ideology, which has an underlying set of values, myths, ideas, attitudes, and doctrine which those who subscribe to the religion choose to abide by (or face the consequences within their religious community).

    People do not choose to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex, queer, asexual etc, any more than they choose to be left or right handed.

    Your example is a false equivalency.

    The very fact that you compared the proposed religious freedom legislation to the ongoing fight for the LGBTIQA+ community to have equal rights under the law demonstrates you do not understand the issue at all, and in fact, demonstrates just why the proposed legislation has no legitimacy.

    Thanks for your contribution to the discussion.

  16. Tim Haslam

    Hi Eva. I totally agree that the law needs to be changed to remove any right to vilify. You appeared to oppose the legislation in any form. I totally agree with your right to express your view without fear. However, I have a right to express my disagreement with it. I oppose any form of hatred, whether it is the Australian Christian Lobby hating LGBTIQA people, the comment above saying that Scott Morrison should not be eligible for election because he holds a different religious view from her or you hating Christians. Thanks for the discussion. Feel free to respond if you wish

  17. Eva Cripps

    Thanks Tim.

    Just a note. I don’t ‘hate Christians’; I despise the hypocritical exercise of religious belief which results in vulnerable people in the community being harmed, discrimination based on sexist, homophobic or racist attitudes, and doctrine which promotes exclusion, or the superiority of one group of people above another.

  18. Wendy Moore

    Tim Haslam. When the churches start to accept the science around LGBTQ people and realise that the bible was not referring to an orientation and a loving and committed relationship between 2 consenting adults, but was referring to temple prostitution and pederasty; And when the churches start to realise that God is much bigger than their Pharisee-like interpretations of the bible and who will “ burn in hell”; And when the churches start opening their doors to the homeless, start defending the refugees, start lifting the poor and disabled from their misery, just as Jesus did – then the rest of us have a right to call out their hypocrisy.

    “Unless we are willing to expose religious irrationality, in whatever form and whenever it arises, we will encourage irrational public policy and promote ignorance over education for our children”.

    And to quote Salman Rushdie, “A classic trope of the religious bigot, is while they’re denying people their rights, they claim that their rights are being denied. While they are persecuting people, they claim to be persecuted. While they are behaving offensively, they claim to be the offended.”

    I am also offended that I have to pay my full share of taxes whilst mega-rich churches with their mega-rich pastors remain tax exempt. Btw, I am a Christian and I belong to a progressive church which is non-judgmental, preaches the gospel and is accepting of all people who share in Christ’s love. Jesus was a social justice warrior, a law breaking refugee and he rebuked the Pharisees for their self-righteousness.

  19. Kaye Lee

    “we encounter more bigotry and discrimination than they do”

    Oh brother. I am heartily sick of the victim mentality on display in this “religious freedom” discussion.

    Someone tore down your signs. How dreadful.

    How would you feel if the education system wanted the right to not employ you, or not even let you enrol, because you are an abomination that will burn in hell?

    How would you feel if your children were told that “the material, psychological, emotional, and social welfare of children may be at stake in the marriage debate.”?

    How would you feel if your son was beaten to a pulp or thrown off a cliff?

    How would you feel if you had made the agonising decision to terminate a pregnancy because you are struggling to care for the children you already have, only to have people physically harassing you at a medical clinic?

    How would you feel if, having chosen to send your child to a state school, the government then insists that there must be religious chaplains there at the expense of trained counsellors?

    How would you feel if a priest knew your child was being sexually abused and did nothing about it?

    No-one is trying to force you to do anything. No-one is trying to stop you from doing anything. You don’t want freedom. You have that. You cannot insist that others agree with you and you must stop trying to make laws that impose your morality on others.

  20. Tim Haslam

    Wendy I agree with much of what you said. The word ‘homosexual’ in the Bible does not refer to an orientation but to specific actions. I also agree with many of your criticisms of ‘the church’ (referring to an institution or multiple institutions, rather than the biblical definition of the church to include all genuine followers of Christ and exclude any priest, Bishop or preacher who does not follow Christ).

    Eva, I agree you probably don’t hate Christians any more than Israel Folau and the Australian Christian Lobby hate LGBTIQA people. They also insist they don’t hate, they just don’t care if they upset or offend LGBTIQA people and don’t want them to have reasonable rights. I don’t feel you have gone any further to not upset or offend me than they do to LGBTIQA people, which is why I would prefer if both they and you express their views more respectfully. However, you have a right to accuse me and my tolerant friends with as much venom as you like. I don’t consider your comments vilification. However, as there is no law against vilification or discrimination on religious grounds in most states (so far as I am aware) you are currently welcome to vilify me and face no consequences. You seem to want to keep it that way

  21. Tim Haslam

    Sorry, I missed some comments that were relevant.

    Kaye, I didn’t beat anyone’s son to a pulp and utterly abhor such behaviour. I was talking about discrimination within our employer, not in the wider community. I was also talking about what is legal, not what is done illegally.

    I agree with many of your concerns, but the argument that because people I abhor do things I abhor you should be allowed to vilify me or prevent me following my chosen lifestyle does not follow.

    Eva, I know you won’t understand this but genuine religion is not really a choice. I can, and do, choose not to force my beliefs on others but I can’t choose whether I believe them, any more than you can’t choose to believe the world is flat because you have seen so much evidence that it is round. You have not had the experiences of God that I have had, nor seen all the evidence I have seen, and you would probably deny their existence or validity, but having had them I have no choice to deny them.

    Secondly, I agree a gay orientation is not a choice but it remains that gay sex is a choice, just as heterosexual sex is a choice. Some religions require heterosexual priests or monks to be celibate. Others require unmarried heterosexual to be celibate. They don’t require them to be asexual, but to choose not to have sex. If you don’t want to make the choice you don’t join the religion or apply for the job. There are plenty of religious groups that don’t have that requirement. A gay orientation is not a choice, which is why almost no Christian considers a gay orientation to be a sin or would object to a same sex attracted preacher in their church.

    I realise you will consider it utterly offensive to suggest that anyone should choose not to have sex but it is a common requirement of many religions in certain circumstances.

    If I don’t understand the issues why do I have such good friendships with LGBTIQA people, including activists for LGBTIQA rights? How many devoutly religious friends do you have and actively support their diversity?

  22. Tim Haslam

    Wendy, I militantly oppose priests not reporting abuse and the proposed legislation won’t allow it.

    I should add here that I strongly oppose Church-owned schools that employ teachers who are not personally religious (which is nearly all church-owned schools) or are involved in unmarried heterosexual relationships being allowed to discriminate against LGBTIQA employees or applicants. That would be hypocrisy. If they don’t require all their employees to follow all the religion’s beliefs they cannot apply specifical rules selectively.

    My proposals for the Religious Discrimination Act, which are public on my Facebook page if you would like to see them, are that an Islamic school that specifically advertises that all its teachers are practicing Muslims should be allowed to discriminate against teachers who eat pork or don’t wear Islamic dress, but church-owned schools that employ even one teacher who does not pray regularly or lives with his girlfriend has no right to discriminate against LGBTIQA applicants, atheist applicants or Muslim applicants. Since only a tiny percentage of schools (eg the Islamic example) would qualify, and few if any atheists or LGBTIQA people would want to work in that environment, it allows the Islamic community their chosen lifestyle without significantly imposing on the rights of others

  23. Tim Haslam

    Finally Wendy you don’t understand the issues here. I don’t have freedom when I can’t photocopy a page from the Bible and publish it without being sacked (I militantly oppose Israel Folau’s post but Raelene Castle said he would have been sacked even if he just photocopied the page). I don’t have freedom when preaching from a passage of the Bible could have me sued for vilification just because I read the passage or expressed a belief. My desire for legislation is primarily pre-emptive, before the non-religious majority force their moral views on me. There is no chance of a small minority of religious people forcing our views on others, nor do we want to. We just don’t want you to force your moral views, such as insisting I can’t read a passage of the Bible aloud if you don’t like it, on us, which both your majority status and current legislation allow you to if you choose.

    One example was the 18 year old who was sacked for supporting the No campaign on her private Facebook page. I didn’t support the NO campaign personally but would you think it fair if someone was sacked for supporting the Yes campaign, and why is that any different?

  24. Tim Haslam

    I’m sorry for all the posts but I feel like this is 10 against 1 here. Something the other commentators on this thread might understand, and which I’ve just clarified myself, is why I want the legislation. It’s not that I think the world will fall apart without it, so much as that I am sick of a society that won’t allow vilification, ridicule or stereotyping of anyone, except evangelical Christians.
    In this thread I have constantly felt stereotyped as being a supporter of the Australian Christian Lobby, George Pell and people who bash gay men and throw them off cliffs. I shouldn’t have to even state that I oppose all the above, but even when I did I kept being blamed for everything they have said and done.
    What I really want is not so much legislation as acceptance. If I am a horrible person then go ahead and accuse me of it. However, the fact that everyone who knows me, including my many LGBTIQA friends, doesn’t accuse me of that, whilst everyone who has commented on this thread, whilst you would probably deny it openly, seems to hold an underlying belief that really I support all the things I oppose, really upsets me.
    If you can stop stereotyping all religious people and taking out your anger towards paedophiles, poofter basher and religious nuts on normal, tolerant people who believe in God my comments will have achieved their purpose.

    I’ve had enough love for one day. No further comments

  25. Wendy Moore

    Tim, you sound like you’re accepting of the LGBTQ community (btw intersex people are protected under the legislation) but your acceptance is limited to them abstaining from sexual love. Do you really think God cares about the sex if there is respectful and consensual love? You understand that it’s an orientation, just as being left handed is an orientation, but you are still locked up with your Pharisee like rules about sex. I’m sure God is more concerned about how we treat others and that we obey God’s Word to Love one another as He Loves us. We no longer live in the Bronze Age and have since discovered the Bible is a complicated library of books with antiquated, complicated Greek terminology and social contexts. To deny someone’s rights to a fully loving relationship because it offends your faith just adds to the human wreckage that churches can be accused of over the centuries. No one is asking the church to perform holy matrimony to a same sex couple if they don’t agree, after all, marriage is a state based institution. But the hellfire and judgments, the closed doors to church membership and the fear and loathing heaped on the LGBTQ community has been so damaging it has cost lives, all in the name of faith. Folau is a free man to post his cherry picked verses from the bible, however, as a representative of an Australian Football team, which has an inclusive policy to all people, his social media post to his 360k followers was seem to be a breach of his contract. So freedom to speak in the workplace should not be without consequences. I’m surprised you would wear purple as if in support of the gay community and yet you want the freedom to say it’s against God’s will. I’m glad you are not a hater of gays in general. All the best to you Tim.

  26. Miriam English

    Tim Haslam, I’m sorry if you have copped some backlash at work for displaying your religion, but I think that’s the result of the hateful Christians who have so abused their position of power for so long. While I don’t condone it, I can see how it has come about. Also I think it is very rare. The Ruddock inquiry into religious freedom found no real evidence of discrimination against Christians, or religion generally, in our society, and it was trying very hard to find it, being motivated by a desire to justify special laws.

    Look at it this way: if you were a white person in a company that had a bad record of discriminating heavily against non-white people, but that policy had been, through much pain and trauma largely reversed, you would be right to feel happy about it. But if you then put a poster up for meetings of white people can you see why it would be received with less than happy enthusiasm. Yes, you might have personally fought for the acceptance of black people in the company, but promoting a white group would still not go down well… even if you welcomed people of color to it.

    I doubt Christians and other religious people will be discriminated against by non-religious people in anything like the way religious people have, for so long discriminated dreadfully against others. See the experience of largely atheist societies like the northern European countries and Japan. They don’t mistreat their religious people. As far as I can see, they basically ignore their beliefs. Perhaps in our transition to a mostly non-religious society we might see some overreaction. That’s regrettable, but to be expected, considering the centuries of persecution many people have suffered at the hands of the religious, especially considering the many awful examples still today of religious people doing terrible things to others.

    As for the proposed extensions to “religious freedom” under the law, I don’t see how making religious people immune from the rules against discrimination helps anybody. It will backfire badly against all religious people. You can expect more people to be angry at religious people as a result. I know you’re not specifically to blame, but you will cop some of the fallout — that’s just natural. The hyper-religious people are to blame for provoking the reaction.

    Here is an analogy: Someone keeps poking a dog viciously with a stick and eventually the dog bites its antagonist when it gets a chance. Is it a good thing that the dog bit the person? No. But the person doing the poking is actually to blame. Say the dog bit the wrong person in defending itself. Again, the bite was a bad thing, but the bystander who was bitten should blame the person with the stick, not the dog.

    It is entirely understandable that people are deeply suspicious of any attempt to give religion special exemptions from discrimination law. If religion hadn’t so consistently abused its position over the last 2,000 years and more, then people might feel inclined to be a bit more relaxed.

    I’m glad that you are a good and tolerant person despite your religion. I’ve had the great fortune of having many good religious friends and relatives who were very pleasant people. My much-loved Auntie Daphne was the sweetest person you could imagine. She would never hurt anybody, but she was a lovely person even though she was religious, not because of her religion. Most people are good at heart.

    The big problem with religion is the way it rationalises awful behavior. Religion becomes softer and more gentle as it has its sharp, dangerous edges smoothed off by secular society. You see slavery as abhorrent. Why? It isn’t because of the Bible or anything Jesus supposedly said — they embraced slavery. It is because of secular morality. You presumably see women as having equal to men. Why? Not because of the Bible, which specifically denigrated women in numerous passages, but again, because of secular morality. You are probably against capital punishment, but not because of the Bible, with its numerous death penalties for absurdly minor offences. There are many, many instances where secular morality greatly outshines the Bible.

    You should be rightly proud that you stive for tolerance. Like my lovely aunt, and my very religious closest friend of many years, being a good person is important. But it doesn’t come from your religious convictions. It comes from our increasingly gentle, and morally uplifting secular society.

    I am sorry that you find it uncomfortable, but I have to say, I really think it is for the best that religion is dying out.

    Everywhere we look, concentrations of religion are accompanied by increases in rates of murder, disease, divorce, teen pregnancy, ignorance, shortened lifespans, and unhappiness.

    The most non-religious places are the least violent, enjoy greater health, better education, longer lives and greater happiness.

    Don’t you think, if religion had any genuine value that the opposite would be true? Surely you must wonder how it can be that so much hate and evil is fostered by religion.

    The Chronic Dependence of Popular Religiosity upon Dysfunctional Psychosociological Conditions
    http://evp.sagepub.com/content/7/3/147470490900700305.full.pdf

    New Study Finds That Divorce Rates Are Higher in Counties with a Greater Concentration of Conservative Christians
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2014/01/19/new-study-finds-that-divorce-rates-are-higher-in-counties-with-a-greater-concentration-of-conservative-christians/

    The Negative Association Between Religiousness and Children’s Altruism Across the World
    http://www.cell.com/current-biology/pdf/S0960-9822(15)01167-7.pdf

    Study Links Religious Belief To Poor Understanding Of Physical World
    https://www.patheos.com/blogs/progressivesecularhumanist/2016/10/study-links-religious-belief-to-poor-understanding-of-physical-world/

    Study Shows Children Raised With Religion Find It Challenging To Judge Fact From Fiction
    http://churchandstate.org.uk/2014/07/researchers-children-exposed-to-religion-have-difficulty-distinguishing-fact-from-fiction/

    Study uncovers how brain damage increases religious fundamentalism
    https://www.psypost.org/2017/05/study-uncovers-brain-lesions-increase-religious-fundamentalism-48860

    World Happiness Report
    http://worldhappiness.report/

  27. Tim Haslam

    Thank you Wendy. I wasn’t going to say more but your kindness warrants my thanks.

    Wear it purple is about telling people they are welcome in the workplace, not telling them we agree with them on every controversial topic (Google it). My LGBTIQA collegues really appreciated my actions and asked nothing more than my acceptance of their view. I understand that my theological view is offensive to you and I apologise for that. I may well be wrong and you would be welcome in my church or my home. I can also see the logic in your view.

    To the extent we disagree it is more like us disagreeing on whether it is appropriate to eat meat from a market that may have sourced its meat from a pagan temple (see Romans chapter 14). To those who believe it is against God’s will it is wrong to do, whereas to others who believe God approves it the same action may be appropriate. I may be wrong but it would be wrong for me to act against my beliefs. It would also be wrong for either of us to force our beliefs on the other, or to condemn each other for the beliefs we hold or lifestyle we choose. God may judge us but I will never judge you or insist that I am right. Best wishes 🙂

  28. Max Gross

    I tolerate the neighbour’s barking dog, I tolerate the weekly racket made by the garbage collection trucks, I tolerate my arthritic foot and I even tolerate people who eat greasy crap on trains that fill the carriage with the stench of what seems like fresh farts. I refuse to tolerate paedophile perpetrators and their taxed-not apologists

  29. Miriam English

    Tim, I wish more religious people thought as you do.
    If they did then religion would be unlikely to provoke negative reactions from people.

    Incidentally, have you noticed the great increase in numbers of people calling for taxing of religious organisations since this “Religious Freedom” nonsense? I think the proposed religious exemptions will backlash badly on religious Australians.

  30. Tim Haslam

    Miriam, thanks for your intelligent and charitable comments. I’ve personally found that faith in God has made me a better, and most definitely a happier, person than I was. Your stats and studies may or may not be biased, I’m sure your opponents could quote biased studies that found the opposite as I have never seen a study on such topics that did not support the predetermined bias of the person who designed it. However, even if they are all correct they won’t change my personal experience of the effect faith has had on me. When I decided to follow the teaching of Jesus the decision was on a basis that the many people who falsely claim to follow His teaching should not affect my decision whether to follow Him. If God does exist (and I believe so) I doubt I will be asked to explain how other people lived, but only how I did.

    My apologies to anyone who responds further but I won’t be replying. I’ve had my say.

  31. Tim Haslam

    Miriam, I am a typical Pentecostal Christian. Most of my Christian friends totally agree with me, although few have the courage to out themselves and cop the sort of flack I have taken in this discussion. Newspapers and A Current Affair report extremes and exceptions.

    Your wish that more Christians think as I do has been granted, even before you asked!

  32. Miriam English

    Tim, I have a lot of good religious friends — not just Christians of many varieties, but also people of many other religions. As I said, most people are good at heart. But my wish still stands: if more religious people felt as you do tensions would be greatly reduced.

    Please try to convince your friends to stand up and publicly disown the wicked Christians. They would be doing themselves and the rest of society a great favor. The evil ones do their damage by pretending they have the backing of most religious people. By not speaking up, good religious people give permission for awful things.

  33. Kaye Lee

    “because people I abhor do things I abhor you should be allowed to vilify me or prevent me following my chosen lifestyle does not follow.”

    There you go again. I did not vilify you in any way. I have never done anything to prevent you following your chosen lifestyle and I am guessing that no-one ever has.

    It may feel like it’s 10 against 1 but that is pretty representative of the population when it comes to religion. People aren’t attacking you. They are expressing their opinion and in no way trying to stop you from having yours.

  34. Tim Haslam

    Kaye, you are heartily sick of my viewpoint, associated me with paedophilia, violence against and murder of innocent people and falsely accused me of trying to make laws that force my view on others.

    Vilify is defined as ‘speak or write about in a disparaging manner’ to ‘spread nasty stories about someone’ or to ‘make a comment about someone that makes the person look bad’.

    Feel free to have the last word

  35. Miriam English

    Sorry to disagree, Tim, but no Kaye didn’t. She compared your feeling of being discriminated against (for having your religious posters removed) with the outrageous, often lethal, attacks on gays, children, and women by other religious people. She was arguing for keeping perspective.

  36. Tim Haslam

    Fair enough comment Miriam and my apologies Kaye if I over reacted. I am not aware of religious people ever being responsible for violence against LGBTIQA people, or of me being responsible for abuse of children but do concede that religion has been behind some of the mistreatment of LGBTIQA people, for which I apologise.

    I agree with the perspective issue and clarified in an earlier response to Kaye that I meant I encounter more discrimination at work than my LGBTIQA colleagues, not in the wider community.

    If Israel Folau’s disgusting statements that a book they don’t believe says homosexuals (and everyone else – no one could claim exclusion from Folau’s list) will go to a place they don’t believe exists unless they repent is vilifying homosexuals I’m still not convinced that blaming me for paedophilia, violence, murder and forcing my beliefs on others (which I never do) is not vilification. However, I agree that what I suffer is negligible compared to the worst things suffered by LGBTIQA people at the hands of predominantly non-religious violence perpetrators, and that suffered by children at the hands of priests who are most certainly not Christian (or they would not commit acts that Christ totally opposed) but I concede are religious.

  37. Tim Haslam

    To avoid any misunderstanding I want to categorically clarify that I totally oppose Israel Folau’s harmful statements. I simply used them as an example of vilification.

  38. Miriam English

    Tim excuse me for commenting further on this, but something puzzles me. You ask that people don’t lump you and other kind and gentle religious folk in with the sort of religious people who hurt LGBT+ people or exclude and limit women. I agree with you. Moderate religious people should not be blamed for the bad things done by religious extremists.

    Later you say the bad Christians are not real Christians. I disagree with this. There are roughly a thousand different varieties of Christian. Each claims they are the only correct one. Each cherry-picks from the Bible what is to be believed and what is not. In the end, they are all Christians — some do harm and some do not, but they all base their beliefs on the Bible and Jesus.

    Still later you apologise for the harm caused by bad Christians. That is a nice gesture, but I don’t believe you have anything to apologise for. They did the evil, not you. But this especially puzzles me because you earlier pleaded to not be included with those bad Christians.

    Please understand my intention is not to be picky here. I think this underlines an important point. Christian extremists derive much of their power from moderate Christians’ habit of seeing Christianity as if it was one thing. If Christian moderates would step away from, and publicly disapprove of the Christian extremists, it would unmask them and take away most of their power.

    While the extremists dominate the public face of Christianity it hastens the death of that religion. The only way for Christianity to survive is for all Christians to be moderate and kind and tolerant.

    In the end, atheists and moderate Christians are on the same side… or we should be. Our common enemy is the intolerant Christian extremist.
    (The same is true of other religions too, of course.)

  39. Kaye Lee

    Tim,

    People I love and respect are devout Christians. I would vehemently oppose any intrusion or impediment that would deprive them of the comfort it gives them.

    I understand what you are saying about your workplace – if gays can ask for a public display of support, advertising a prayer group (depending how it was done) should not cause such a reaction.

    Have you asked yourself, or your colleagues, why it did?

    I am 61. Most people my age were brought up with religious influence in our lives. We don’t come to the discussion ignorant.

    I don’t think it is religious people that commit homophobic violence usually but why is there even such a thing as homophobia? Where did it come from?

    It was a small minority of clergy who committed sexual abuse against children but why was it covered up? Why do they fight against the mandatory reporting that many of us are legally bound to do?

    The anti-abortion rallies that are going on at the moment have degenerated into a rabble of ambitious opportunistic politicians trying to increase their profile. A very noisy minority want to tell women what they must do with the rest of their lives.

    I love the community part of church, I love the helping of those in need, I love the solace it provides to some.

    Let people seek out religion if they so choose. Do not impose it through legislation or education and do not use it as an excuse to tell others they are less worthy.

    I am by no means suggesting you personally do any of these things Tim, just as I haven’t in any other post.

  40. Tim Haslam

    Miriam, that’s an entirely appropriate point. Even when I wrote the apology I felt like I had nothing to apologise for, but I also felt Kaye blames me for all those things I abhor and the only possibility of her feeling anything but hatred towards me was to apologise for what she accused me of, in place of those who committed the crimes. I didn’t feel totally comfortable with it but what I meant was ‘if I could apologise, which you think I should, I would’.

    I totally agree that the moderate majority need to call out unChristian behaviour of people who call themselves Christian. Why do you think I wasted so much of the past 24 hours writing comments that I knew would be attacked, not understood and not change many people. The reason more people don’t is that it seems pointless. The people who need to understand it will continue to insist I am a hypocrite for claiming not to be a bigot when they know I really am. Most are unshakably convinced that tolerance means agreeing with them. Someone who personally supports same sex marriage and condemns everyone who disagrees is tolerant, while someone who doesn’t personally support same sex marriage but totally supports the right of others to choose that lifestyle and not be criticised for that choice is intolerant. I find this sort of conversation wastes lots of time without doing any good. People who get to know me all understand but online forums get the above reaction. Just re read the responses to this thread to see that. Then one bigot says something totally unrepresentative and the media report it across the globe, whilst never reporting the vast majority who disagree. To maximise readers or viewers you need to report what the majority want to hear. Very few people want to watch or read something that challenges their prejudices, they want them reinforced to reassure them they are right.
    Sorry for the poorly explained rant but I hope you can partly understand. So long as people like those on this thread insist that only agreeing with them is acceptable I won’t be accepted no matter how much I try to explain that to accept does not require agreement.

    Similarly the bigoted minority of “Christians’ won’t listen and continue to insist they are right.

  41. Matters Not

    RE:

    ..people I love and respect are devout Christians …

    So there’s the concepts of love and respect now in the discussion. Sounds warm and cuddly. But is there also the (underlying) concept of pity involved? Or shouldn’t one ask such questions? If not, then why …

  42. Tim Haslam

    Thank you Kaye. I REALLY appreciate your understanding. ☺

  43. Tim Haslam

    Kaye, the posters simply gave the date and time and explained it was optional for people who wished to attend. About a year after we tried again to notify new employees. We stated that the meeting was approved by management and added a request that people who found them offensive contact us to explain how we could make them less offensive. No one contacted us but nearly all were taken down within days. I can only guess why, but probably for precisely the same reason that all the early posts on this thread attacked me and it was only once people began to understand me and disassociate me from the media stereotype that anyone started to be more accepting. If you can think of another explanation I would be VERY interested to understand. I don’t want to upset anybody but if I’m hated purely because I’m misunderstood and people won’t meet me to understand me I can’t see a solution.

    PS I do apologise to the extent I misjudged you based on your earlier posts. They did seem aggressive and I’m sorry if I misinterpreted them

  44. Matters Not

    Seems like flirty fishing has crossed the gender divide. Had to happen. Had to be resurrected. (Just jokin …)

  45. Miriam English

    Matters Not, sorry, but your latest comments are so obscure as to be completely impenetrable. I doubt anybody has any idea what you mean… perhaps even you won’t in the morning either. 🙂

  46. Matters Not

    Miriam English, You have an unfortunate habit of implying the worst … when other explanations seemingly beyond you.

    As I’ve said on other occasions – you need to read wider. Particularly in the social sciences.

    Or are you simply projecting? Perhaps, a secret imbiber?

    PS – do a little Googling if certain concepts are not familiar.

  47. Kaye Lee

    Tim,

    You keep saying people are blaming YOU for things when I see absolutely no sign of that and I most certainly have not done so. Throughout the conversation, people have been reasonable. Yet you think it is THEM coming around now that they understand YOU.

    Perhaps people didn’t want religious advertising in their workplace because of the harm that certain religious groups are causing through their strident opposition to homosexuality, gender diversity, Safe Schools, terminations, immigration, action on climate change, and a whole host of other things that people care about. Someone being gay is just who they are. Someone telling them that they are an abomination for it is ridiculous.

    No-one has in any way said they “hate” you Tim – they hate those views being imposed on us by fundamentalists quoting the bible. Which brings me back to the victim mentality and the fact that we have religious freedom in this country. The thing we do not have is the ability to choose freedom from religion for ourselves. Religious people have no right to demand that someone else’s pregnancy must continue. They have no right to tell people who they may love. They most certainly have the right to make decisions for themselves, not for others. Is it you who is being stopped from practising your faith or is it your attempt to make others do so that is being resisted?

  48. Kaye Lee

    And any notion that I pity the people I was speaking of is wildly incorrect. I disagree with them but feel no need to make them change their mind. That does not detract from the love I have for honourable people and the respect I have for their intelligence, their deeds, their compassion and their integrity. We believe differently and we can accommodate that (once they realised that no amount of harassment was going to make me get my children baptised).

  49. Miriam English

    Okay, Matters Not. I googled “flirty fishing” — a term I had previously never heard. You’re right. I should have looked it up instead of immediately commenting on its apparent obscurity. But I’m still no wiser as it how it fits the current discussion. I doubt you could be suggesting Tim is prostituting himself here… though I can’t see any other way you might intend for the comment to fit.

    I know it wasn’t meant to be taken seriously though, because you said that you were just joking. Similarly, I intended my comment to be taken lightly. See the smiley face? Sorry, perhaps that was too obscure. Apologies if my quip hit a nerve.

    Nope, I detest alcohol. It turns people’s finely tuned mental equipment into a blunt tool. I invest considerable effort into trying to make myself smarter because I don’t believe I’m intrinsically particularly bright and I fear a near future of Alzheimer’s. It would be crazy to make myself more stupid using alcohol. I spurn all drugs (though I’m very annoyed at myself that, after years without coffee, I’ve recently fallen to drinking it again — a drug habit I’ll stop as soon as I have a few days where I can afford to have the withdrawal headache).

  50. Tim Haslam

    Kaye, I was aware that no one directly expressed hatred towards me. The attacks were made against Christians who believe the Bible (not ‘a small, unrepresentative minority of Christians who believe the Bible’ but, at least by inference, all Christians who believe the Bible) . I am a Christian who believes the Bible. That is my primary sense of identity. So when ‘Christians who believe the Bible’ are attacked I feel attacked, and I would suggest that is not unreasonable.
    Israel Folau did not condemn any individual. He condemned ‘homosexuals’ yet individual gay, and even transgender people (who he didn’t name) took the attack personally, and reasonably so. They even broadened the definition to conclude that Folau was referring to their orientation. Many referred to an attack on, ‘who we are’ rather than their choice of lifestyle, when the Bible passage Folau misquoted out of context refers to behaviour not orientation. Again, that response was totally reasonable. An attack on a group to which they belong can reasonably be taken as an attack on themselves.
    So why is a venomous attack on all ‘Christians who believe the Bible’ or on everyone who believes that religious people should have the same protection from discrimination that other minorities have not an attack on me? In a workplace that strongly promotes the right of all employees to ‘bring your whole self to work’ and be out about their sexuality, where advertising for LGBTI+ events, meditation classes, Tai Chi classes etc is welcome and a large percentage of employees proudly display rainbow striped Ally posters on their desks, should a sensitive young employee be told he would not be promoted if he identified as Christian. Why should Islamic employees have to legally change their name to remove the word Mohammad, or ask for their first name to be repeated as their surname on the staff directory (both of which do happen) to avoid discrimination and harassment for identification as Muslim.

    I’m not asking for more protection or unequal rights. I strongly support the right of a ‘Safe School’ to dismiss a staff member who personally opposes gay relationships or claims that gender dysphoria is an illness. It’s an important part of providing a Safe School environment that the role models in the school personally support LGBTIQA rights.

    The main reason I’m arguing for this is not me. I can handle the subtly rolling eyes, jokes behind my back and sometimes direct abuse I get for my beliefs, just as older LGBTIQA people can (but should not have to). But do can you imagine how socially accepted young Christians and Muslims feel in non-religious High Schools, including church-owned private schools where most kids, teachers and parents are non-religious. I attended a church-owned school, I was non-religious and we gave the one religious kid in our year group hell. They don’t kill themselves because we provide strong support networks in our churches but these kids feel rejection, isolation misunderstanding and depression. Why do you think we need to provide specific Christian and Islamic schools (as opposed to church-owned schools) to protect these kids, but, despite discounts for poorer families, not everyone can afford it.

    I’m not asking for exclusive rights for myself, my church or these kids that other groups don’t have, just that they be accepted and included in society like everyone should be. No one should suffer discrimination, exclusion, rejection, criticism or self-doubt for who they are and how they choose to live (unless they force their view on others). LGBTIQA kids shouldn’t, Muslim kids shouldn’t and even kids who believe the Bible shouldn’t.

  51. Tim Haslam

    I should add for those who don’t understand that genuinely Christian and Islamic schools have to charge fees because the government dramatically cuts funding for any school that provides any form of religious content. The school my kids attend has inferior facilities and less to spend per child than the local government school, even after I pay $4000 per child per year to make up some (but not all) of the shortfall.

    I’m not asking for that to change. I think it would be fair if it did because I believe in freedom of choice but the non-religious majority won’t support it and I won’t even try to ask for it. I am simply explaining that we don’t provide genuinely religious schools to give our kids a better education (as high fee church schools do). We provide them to bring up our kids in an inclusive environment (LGBTIQA families are welcome and some do choose genuinely religious schools) that aligns with our beliefs and where kids who choose faith (which is about 50/50 or less) feel accepted.

  52. Miriam English

    Tim, you inadvertently raise a very interesting point. It fascinates me that people can identify with a particular idea and feel that to attack that idea is to attack them. I never really understood that.

    I love trance music, but I don’t feel threatened when someone sneeringly describes it as “doof-doof” music. I enjoy the optimism and intricacy of much trance music.

    I read a lot of comicbooks, but don’t feel attacked if someone sees them as trivial and lacking in substance. There are many truly brilliant masterworks in that under-appreciated artform.

    I read and write a lot of science fiction, but it doesn’t bother me if people call it silly ray guns and spaceships. I understand it is mostly philosophical “what-if” writing, though I also enjoy the less serious escapist stuff too.

    I consume a lot of scientific literature, but don’t feel slighted if someone calls it materialistic reductionist nonsense. It is easy to see how people mistakenly think that.

    I enjoy reading technical manuals, but completely understand if people dismiss them as dry and impenetrable.

    My partners have always been women, but I don’t get upset if someone sees same-sex as unnatural. I know that it is perfectly natural throughout the animal kingdom and I know what love truly is.

    In each of these cases I subsequently try to enlarge the other person’s view, if I can, but I don’t take it personally… unless they directly attack me, but even then I try (not always successfully) to remind myself that they are attacking a phantom — they don’t actually know me.

    Why do so many people, and religious people in particular, seem so dependent upon an abstraction?

    I can sort of understand gay people feeling attacked because they have so often been literally attacked following such dismissal of their sexuality, but even then it seems odd.

    But religious people have always had the power. The rest of society has always had to politely put up with people spouting religion at us.

    Why should religious people feel attacked when someone says something relatively innocent? For example, I might mention that out of the 27 books of the New Testament only a maximum of 6 might be genuine. The rest are provably fakes and forgeries. Do you feel attacked or threatened by that truth? If so, why? This genuinely puzzles me.

  53. Michael Taylor

    Tim, if you want to talk about hate and venomous attacks you might want to circle back to your first comment on this thread. Your attacks on Eva didn’t exactly get you off to a good start.

  54. Tim Haslam

    Michael, fair enough comment and I agree I over reacted. However, when she used words like wicked and repugnant, and he whole article seemed to me to spit out hatred in every sentence, I felt like I needed to respond in like manner to be heard. I hindsight my wording was too strong and I apologise to Eva for that.

    Miriam, I don’t find it at all offensive that you consider most of the New Testament to be forged and will militantly defend your right to express that view because you did so respectfully. I believe the evidence does not support your view and I doubt you will object to me saying that, although you will disagree.

    As Michael correctly pointed out my initial post, hastily tapped out on my phone whilst minding my children, was not respectful, for which I apologise.

    What I object to is the tone of Eva’s article, not the points made. Similarly I have no objection to the statement ‘In my personal opinion all people, including lairs, homosexuals and everyone else, are imperfect and will go to hell unless they repent, admit their imperfection and accept God’s forgiveness’, or ‘In my opinion all Christians will go to hell unless they renounce their belief that Jesus is the son of God and believe in Prophet Mohammad (peace be apon him)’, or ‘The proposed Religious Discrimination Act will provide unreasonable rights to religious people not afforded to other groups’. However I do object to Israel Folau refusing to remove a post that others found deeply offensive and replacing it with a more respectfully worded statement such as the first hypothetical statement in this paragraph. Similarly I felt Eva’s article was excessively attacking, illogical and strongly biased by a personal grudge against religious people and a false and unfair association of all religious people with the worst extremists in the Catholic Church. I believed her article would reinforce stereotypes and would promote further hatred and misunderstanding towards a minority who are already falsely stereotyped and condemned and to which I belong. I felt that if I didn’t react in the same manner as many have reacted to Folau’s harmful statements I would be supporting the stereotyping and intolerance by my inaction. As with Folau’s many critics (of which I am one) I was concerned for kids in High Schools who are excluded and ridiculed for their faith and for people who would greatly benefit from understanding God’s love for them, as I have, but avoid any consideration of what Jesus taught because of the way Christian faith is presented in the media as being primarily for the purpose of promoting intolerance and obtaining money from people by deceit and manipulation.

    My posts were written hurriedly and I apologise for any disrespectful wording but Eva’s article was presumably seriously considered. Similarly if Folau had hurriedly reposted someone else’s meme and apologised in hindsight I would have accepted his apology and suspect most others, including his former employer, would have as well.

    I’ll re read Eva’s article later today (I’ve read it several times but from a position where I already felt attacked so would have been influenced by that) and may apologise further, although I’ve done so twice in this post so doubt it will be necessary.

  55. Matters Not

    RE:

    that genuinely Christian and Islamic schools have to charge fees because the government dramatically cuts funding for any school that provides any form of religious content.

    Complete and utter bullshit! There’s any number of ‘non-government’ (or ‘private’ schools if you like) that are completely non-religious and yet are funded in exactly the same manner as the ‘religious’ schools to which you refer. So called private schools in Australia, generally speaking, are funded on the basis of SES (socio-economic status) background of the parent population – taking into account their capacity to contribute in some small way. Religious affiliation, or lack of same, is simply not part of that calculation. And that fact is widely known and understood in the broader educational community. That you advance some unique, crackpot theory says more about you than you realise.

    Seems to me that you have the martyr’s mentality – desperately seeking some issue on which to hang your religious hat.

    PS, this ‘attack’ is not religious – just rational.

  56. Tim Haslam

    Matters not
    I admit I don’t understand the system in South Australia and my assumption may have been incorrect. If so I do apologise. What I do know is that my kids’ school is in the same suburb and economic area as the public school. The MySchool website reports that the local public school receives $12,000 per child per year whilst my kids’ school receives $8000. I understand that refers to revenue account funding and not capital spending on buildings but even if it does not that’s a pretty huge difference based on socio-economic factors for the same socio-economic area. Why does my school receive so much less than government schools in wealthy areas such that the wealthy area schools provide better facilities and no fees?

    Please note that I didn’t argue for equal funding to the government school. My father was Principal of a non-religious, church-owned private school in the 1970s and explained that private schools then received less funding than their public counterparts even in the same socio-economic circumstances, which I admit I assumed, rather than researched, was still the case. If it does not I definitely apologise but the whole school thing was not my main point and probably should have been omitted without research. I’ve never made that comment before but thought of it as I typed the comment on the bus this morning, which probably wasn’t sufficient thought to warrant adding it in hindsight.

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