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Sodomy and Pell

By John Haly


Has the cover-up of sexual abuse by the religious leaders in this country ceased, or is a culture of concealment still entrenched and showing up in new forms, as art (or what occurs to art) reflects life?

There is a pub in Newtown I walked past last week, in which the artist, Scott Marsh, was on a small scaffolding rig painting a multi-storeyed image of Abbott and Pell.

It was being painted in a rear alleyway at the back of a local pub. I could not recognise the characters as the painting had only recently started and thought to return later to see how it turned out.

Unfortunately, within 6 hours of it being completed – according to the staff at the Botany View Hotel – Pell’s image had been defaced with a paint splatter leaving only Abbott recognisable.

Sometime after that, it was entirely painted over in black allegedly by members of a right-wing Christian religious group, offended at the portrayal of Tony Abbott in a wedding dress beside a half-naked muscular Cardinal Pell.

The initial and ironic “whitewashing” of the lampooning alleyway mural of Pell’s image by Conservative Christian protestors.

An interview with a local resident revealed that earlier on, people had gathered to protest over the wall’s image on Friday night. While initially claiming to be Catholics complete with incense burners waving ceremoniously at the wall, my catholic informant noted some discrepancies in their “Catholic” behaviour. Upon befriending them – to seek further information – he learned they came from three separate Christian churches and were not the “Catholics” they initially pretended to be.

The vandalism of Scott Marsh’s work didn’t stop at the image of Abbott and Pell. A Facebook group called “Christian Lives Matter” instigated and provoked “Christians” to continue attacking Scott Marsh’s work which included a privately commissioned image of George Michael on Devine Street Reserve, painted by private commission a year ago. One person has been arrested for defacing that image, and another lost his job, when he was filmed defacing the mural while wearing his employer’s logo on his shirt. They are both facing fines for vandalising private property.

Christian Lives Matter Facebook post calling for the removal any further images painted by Scott Marsh and referencing his year-old as yet undefaced image of George Micheal shown on private property.

Graffiti over the blackened and defaced mural of George Micheals by locals incensed at its disfigurement but promoting love and an end to bigotry.

Social media from the “No” and “Yes” vote campaigns reacted. Abusive phone calls were received by the hotel staff and licensee. Lyle Shelton defended the vandalism equating either Pell and/or Abbott to religious leaders such as Mohamed. One might understand if it was an offensive image of Christ, but Cardinal Pell? All these factors have made me aware, that the fight for Equality for the Newtown’s community of diverse gender, sexuality and race, is far from over. (The Newtown electorate of Grayndler had a 79.9% “Yes” vote) An associate on Facebook titled his long opposing proclamation against the images with “Sodomite Nation!“.

Lyle Shelton from Australian Christian Lobby comparing Cardinal Pell to be the spiritual equivalent of the prophet, Mohamed.

Sodomite Nation” is an interesting turn of phrase. It is more interesting to note – like the word “gay” – how the meanings of words change over time. Religious concerns about homosexuality are often based on the fallacious belief that sodomy, as it was expressed in the Bible, was about homosexuality – a word that didn’t emerge in English till the 19th century. The biblical text, although, had no such connotation. Even Robyn Whitaker from Trinity College pointed out that Sodomy, as it was revealed in the biblical literature, is about rape and sexual abuse. Sodom and Gomorrah is a story about people rocking up at your door wanting to break it in, to have their way with you or your guests. It’s not about love or sex; it’s about abuse, it’s about rape. If what happened to Lot and his family occurred today outside your house, you would phone the police, scream for your neighbours to help and load your shotgun in defence. It is not about sexual preferences it is about RAPE and SEXUAL ABUSE. It’s sure as hell not about LOVE – gay or otherwise!

That the church has illegitimately changed the meaning of the word is understandable if you’re in the Catholic priesthood, as you wouldn’t want the bible to be condemning your particular predilections towards activities you’re infamous for, concerning small children. Two men who defended Sodomy (in its original biblical meaning) were adorned in effigy on the back-wall of a Hotel at the end of Newtown. One representative guarded the other via enormous political power, while the other defended and hid perpetrators of a crime only to be rewarded by the Vatican, while the biblical God allegedly destroyed a city over that evil. Pell was himself accused of sexual abuse and although an unproven accusation, his defence and lack of concern for sexual predators in the church have been well established. The church whose original role as defenders of the poor and disenfranchised has been co-opted to enrich and protect the wealthy and powerful and further disempower the class it once served. Abbott content to safeguard this rising new religious force in the world, and set about bringing about changes in the political system to achieve more significant protections for this conservative “Christian” force. Abbott redirected funding from the Royal commission into sexual abuse which attacked his religious friends, to the probe into Labor’s insulation scheme which effectively attacked his political enemies.

These examples of this corruption of:

  1. language to misdirect people about the real sin of sodomy,
  2. identification and prosecution of sexual predators,
  3. justice by seeking to de-funding abuse investigations,
  4. the mission of the church to protect the poor, marginalised and our children, are becoming more efficient.

When considering what harm has been done to children generally by religious and political leadership, we need to consider the broader scope of injury.

These include:

  1. Attempting to protecting Pell and the church from an investigation into sexual abuse. Abbott and his support for Archbishop Pell’s character and redirection of funding belies Australia’s apparent repulsion for child abuse.
  2. Immigration detention and abuse of children which both Morrison and Dutton oversaw. This refugee child abuse was even confirmed by their own instigated investigation by Philip Moss confirming the abuse, as did the one by the Human Rights Commissioner.
  3. Increasing entrenched poverty for children by “attacking” single parents such as did Kevin Andrews by defunding of single parents via a thinly disguised excuse to rebuke their choice of children, over attempting to acquire rare full-time work. The examples of further political child abuse are numerous from cutting aid overseas, or locally by reducing the Child Care Subsidy, or removing access to the affordability support element under the Community Child Care Fund, or slashing $930.6 million so that family day care educators cannot receive Commonwealth child care fee assistance. These are just some of a list I have referenced before.

These actions are all being instituted by people who publicly claim a religious affiliation. To be fair, both the religious and political classes are acting entirely consistent with one another to attack what Christ most vehemently opposed. “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.”(Mark 9:42).

Christ said nothing about homosexuality. Although he did indicate that being a “born eunuch” (an ancient reference to homosexual men – Matthew 19:11-12) was a gift from God. On the other hand, Christ had a lot to say about abuse of children and the marginalisation of the “least” of people, as well as about Loving one another, which seems to be points that many in this conservative evangelical community appear to have missed. That anyone in the church could mount any defence for either Pell or Abbott speaks, in my mind, volumes about the person they choose to be.


Chalk graffiti protests by locals who were proclaiming love overcoming religious hate over the blacked out artwork by Scott Marsh in the alleyway behind the Botany View Hotel.

So a local artist chooses to celebrate “love” as opposed to “abuse” by having painted two of the figureheads of “child abuse” on a wall in the back alleyway of a Pub in a manner that would be “offensive” to them. Scott Marsh recognised that both these men are offensive to the Newtown community. Art is supposed to challenge society, and it certainly seems to have been challenging to some. “Christians” from churches defended Pell and Abbott by painting over the image that apparently offended, despite that the wider community finds these two men, offensive! Who, pray tell me, stands on the higher moral ground? Is “art” and even the “obscuring of art” reflecting society or in this case segments of the church. It seems to me that the conservative church would still prefer, the sins of these men, were covered up.

This article was originally published on Australia Awaken.


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  1. Robert REYNOLDS

    Well, for what it is worth (and I readily acknowledge that will not be much), as far as I am concerned, artist Scott Marsh and the Manager and staff at the Botany View Hotel are to be applauded as modern-day heroes for showing up religion in general, and Catholicism in particular, for the sham that it is.

    Here is yet another example of what the despicable Catholic Church is capable of, courtesy of the New York Times. I doubt that this article will surprise many,

  2. paul walter

    The idiot brutal Right have done it again. They have made Marsh a hero, the exact opposite to what they would have wished for.

    Thanks for reminding us of Abbott and Pell. They had almost slipped my mind, distracted as I’ve been by other events.

  3. Robert REYNOLDS

    In a way you are right, paul. I am not an ‘arty’ person and I had never heard of him. But now, well, he certainly ‘gets my vote’!!

  4. king1394

    The elements of the ‘no’ brigade who committed this vandalism obviously believe that they, and only they, can judge either morals or art. If one doesn’t agree with them, if one puts forward contrary arguments, it makes no difference to them. They believe that they hold the moral high ground. They don’t care about majority views and social justice. They don’t care about rational viewpoints. They know what they know.

    If they weren’t so obsessed with sex and what some people choose to do in the privacy of their bedrooms within a loving relationship perhaps they could be ignored. But now they are pushing for even more privileges and censoring others’ acts and views. I guess they hold a religious viewpoint and while they believe they are somehow preserving their immortal souls, nothing and no one else matters.

  5. Noel

    So it is OK to trash someone’s reputation by painting them in insulting situations farvr moved from reality, but if you trash the painting it is a hanging offence?

  6. corvus boreus

    If I went into a newsagency and started pouring ink over copies of certain newspapers because they had derogatory photo-shopped images of individuals displayed on the covers, I could/would be charged with committing the offenses of criminal damage/vandalism.
    Similar legislation applies to people defacing any commissioned mural painted on a wall belonging to someone else.
    Would you support my right to vandalise any church signs that I personally found offensive?

    Ps, Nobody mentioned hanging, or any other punishment not sanctioned under current criminal law,.
    In saying such, you are merely indulging in a little bit of hysterical hyperbole..

  7. John Haly

    I wonder if you read the article properly if you believe they haven’t already had their reputations trashed by their actions and inactions in regards to child abuse. Damaging a painting isn’t a hanging offence but the article’s point wasn’t about seeking to punish them. Although two men have been arrested for damaging private property in the case of the George Michael image. The point was a philosophical one that even the covering up of Art was reflective of what was happening in society, as the bequest of the same religious class, to cover up for the support of Child abuse, by these two men. Re-read the article, go to the embedded links if you want more information, and certainly, if you want to, be critical, but do so in the context of the story. Don’t add things to my story (i.e. punishments) that aren’t there.
    Thank you.

  8. Glenn Barry

    Amazing that a brilliant provocative piece of artwork is such a source of outrage and display of religious zealotry.

    Yet I have neither heard nor read of any such collective response from the believers when it comes to the half century of institutionally protected paedophilia perpetrated by priests within the ranks

    If they had defaced the painting with puerorum amans ite inferna written one hundred times that would be different

  9. Sir ScotchMistery

    Noel dear, it’s not just reputations ruined. When a child is sodomised by an adult, the child is physically and emotionally damaged. That damage ruins their lives.

    When someone does nothing to prevent that sodomy occurring, that person is complicit in the crime originally committed. Likewise when they obfuscate investigations into the act, they add to their guilt.

    Both Abbott and Pell fall into the category of actively supporting sodomy of children by not stopping it, and Pell is currently charged with the act itself, or some version of it.

    Their reputations are already screwed. Personally I suspect the act of blighting the art, assisted the artist on his road to fame and attracted more interest in his work. In doing so however, they broke the law since the art was commissioned.

    In terms of being hung, I would point out that in the art we can see, only Pell is. The nature of Tony’s frock prevents more than a guess.

    I would note; his predilection for wearing budgie smugglers indicates he isn’t hung or anywhere close to it. It is also why I believe his reputation, never much good anyway, was also screwed well before the art.

    Now Noel we here know there are 11 secret liarberals in the AIMN. Are you the twelfth? If so, can I please have a cup of tea. Milk and one sugar. The only useful liarberal I ever met was a tea lady.

  10. Robert REYNOLDS

    Noel, let me assure you in no uncertain manner, about the order in which events occurred.

    Certain people, by their own actions thoroughly and comprehensively trashed their own reputations and then someone did a painting. It was not a case Noel, of people having impeccable, or even unsullied reputations, and then some dastardly scoundrel painted a rather unflattering picture that damaged the reputations of those individuals.

  11. Noel

    So Pell is already judged guilty before any charges have been spelled out or one word heard in evidence. Hmmm. Some have even accused me and found me guilty of being a LNP troll. Not sure where they studied for their degrees in psychological analysis from afar, but I can only assume they failed miserably because I am very much of the left. There have been huge tragedies in history by religious and anti religious forces attacking people for their beliefs or their non beliefs. I prefer to wait for the evidence before passing judgement or attacking those who disagree with my point of view.

  12. Glenn Barry

    Noel, with repsect, as to the guilt or innocence of Pell on the charges which he is facing – that will be determined by a court, I don’t believe anyone here has prejudged him as guilty.

    I would you refer you to the testimony which he gave to the Royal Commission and his behaviour in response to the paedophilia within his church, perpetrated by priests subject to his authority as the source of his atrocious reputation.

  13. Zathras

    As to Pell’s yet-to-be determined innocence or guilt, I feel the Police would have been very careful indeed to ensure Pell would have a case to answer. They must have evidence of some sort beyond rumour and heresay.

    Regardless, his documented attitude toward alleged matters of abuse that were “of no interest” to him while in a responsible role make him an enabler of abuse and a conspirator to cover it up at the very least.

    Abbott also gave a personal reference to another priest who was later found guilty of abuse.

    The mural may have caused some offence to some people but institutionalised child abuse is far more offensive.

  14. corvus boreus

    The Victorian police obviously thought there was enough supporting evidence for the prosecution to warrant them laying multiple charges of child sex offenses against Cardinal George Pell.
    Whether he is guilty of such crimes or not shall ultimately be adjudged through the proper legal processes.
    All else is merely expression of opinion.

  15. Kyran

    There was a ‘political cartoonist’ a while back who portrayed our First People in a demeaning, belittling ‘cartoon’, using outdated, incorrect and irrelevant stereotypes. Whilst it may not be the same groups or individuals involved on this occasion, it was those of that ilk that rushed to defend the right of the racist under the ‘free speech’ furphy.
    There was an article in September, 2016, that deconstructed much of this ‘reversing of victimisation’, where the traditional perpetrators of the abuse or vilification seek sympathy when they are subjected to the slightest abuse or vilification. The article relates to the first attempt at a plebiscite, but the theme is becoming all too familiar.

    As for ‘The Sin of Sodom’, there was a post attributed to Fr Rod Bower on social media;
    “The Sin of Sodom is the physical, sexual and emotional degradation of human beings for political purposes. What, about Dutton being a sodomite, do you not understand?”
    It appears on his church’s face book page. I can only assume it was a response to an irrational recidivist git. The one who stands out, like a gangrenous cyst on the backside of humanity.

    Andrew Bolt, Herald Sun
    September 30, 2017 9:15am
    What part of the New Testament does Father Rob Bowers consult when he abuses and ridicules people on his church noticeboard? How much hate is in his heart – and how many worshippers left in his pews?
    It is too cute for Bower to supply in his tweet his definition of a Sodomite when he must know that those seeing his sign in the street would in fact think of the normal dictionary definition:
    One who practices sodomy; a sodomist (male homosexual)
    Would Bower ever call those sodomites sodomites?”

    “Who, pray tell me, stands on the higher moral ground? Is “art” and even the “obscuring of art” reflecting society or in this case segments of the church. It seems to me that the conservative church would still prefer, the sins of these men, were covered up.”
    I’m inclined to go a bit further. This is not about art, or the church, or even freedom of speech. This is about stifling opposition to outdated and indefensible institutions. In the absence of any plausible argument, play the victim card. It’s what bullies do. It’s what sodomites do.
    Thank you Mr Haly and commenters. Take care

  16. John Haly

    Probably a futile gesture because who will re-read this (including my detractor, Noel). And even if my detractors does, he won’t reply because he is probably embarrassed by the resulting conviction. But now a year later Pell has been convicted of his sins (as we always knew the creepy bastard would be, even if I was careful not to say so specifically in the article).
    So now what reputation does he have that is worth protecting Noel?

    Vatican’s Third-Most Powerful Official Cardinal George Pell Convicted on All Charges He Sexually Abused Choir Boys in the 1990s

    Expecting …. {crickets}

  17. Roswell

    John, don’t you just love being proven right? 😀

  18. Paul Davis

    Chirp chirp ….

    There is still another trial apparently, next year. Then appeals maybe and so forth… might be some way to go before gags are lifted and we can be told who is on trial, for what and the outcome …

  19. Kronomex

    Rupert (all hail The Murdoch) is having a hissy fit because he can’t print anything about the Pell case at the moment.
    All together now…1…2…3…aaaawwww…

  20. Zathras

    Here’s some trivia about how the word “sodomy” has been hijacked and redefined over time.

    A sodomite originally meant anybody who practiced illicit sex, such as sex outside marriage or adultery as was allegedly common in the mythical city of Sodom.

    It was later commandeered by the Church to refer to those who practiced ANY form of sex that was not the “normal” missionary type as intended for procreation purposes only.

    Later still they redefined again it to the current very specific meaning.

    The Church certainly has an eternal obsession with sex but never seem to practice what they preach.

  21. helvityni

    Zathraz, god only knows what those priest practice behind/between the pews…

    More on ABC News….

  22. Roswell

    helvityni, I fixed up your comment. The system thought you were a new commenter because a letter was missing in your email address. Simple error to make.

    Michael Taylor tells me that next year he’ll be getting the web developer to look at installing a program that eliminates the need for email addresses to be typed in every time someone comments.

    That will be a godsend, in my opinion.

  23. MöbiusEcko

    Overseas news is that Pell has been convicted in Australia on two counts of molesting boys. The first case will be early next year.

    The Telegraph and Australian have been bleating today about not being able to name a high profile Australian figure who has been convicted but overseas news sources have been able to name them.

  24. helvityni

    Thanks Roswell, it has happened before, I tend to be somewhat careless, it does not help either that an impatient Jack Russell stands at one’s feet, eager to be taken for his morning walk….

  25. Diannaart

    No doubt Tony Abbott will rush to Pell’s defence. As people do when their friends or confidantes are found guilty of crimes such as sexual predation.

    New wall mural from Scott Marsh?

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