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Stop funding hate!

By Bert Hetebry

The Catholic Archbishop of Tasmania has sent a letter to students of Catholic Schools throughout Tasmania denouncing, no, that word is way too soft, decrying, vilifying, castigating, basically saying he condemns the just about every advance in human rights attained in Australia over the last 30 or so years.

Quoting from the ABC’s news item, The Letter, by Archbishop Julian Porteous, takes aim at a “radicalised transgender lobby”, legal abortion access, voluntary assisted dying and euthanasia, and same sex-marriage, as well as the “woke” movement which he says is “seeking to overturn other traditional values and beliefs.”

I have just a few concerns about this on several levels.

Firstly, it was not long ago that the appalling behaviour of Catholic priests toward children was exposed in the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse, and what was found in that was that the church moved accused priests around from region to region, from diocese to diocese, rather than admit that there was a problem with young children being raped by their clergy, and secondly that when it came to redressing these issues, cases against the church or against specific priests were delayed time and again, hoping the aged priests would die before facing courts, seemingly to not having to face up to the crimes committed against innocent children. Thirdly, when addressing the call for financial awards made against the church they cried poor, and yes, the diocese may have been a bit short of cash, but the Catholic Church is one of the wealthiest organisations in the world and fights tooth and nail to retain, even grow that wealth… oh and need I mention they pay no tax!

Mostly, the priests abused young boys. Priests are sworn to celibacy, but I guess the urges felt against young boys is OK, since they are not women… but could it be that maybe, just maybe such peadophilic behaviour could be considered ‘homosexual’?

So could it be that just maybe, this self-righteous Archbishop is not addressing that issue within the organisation he leads?

The second area of concern is that waiting in the wings of our Federal Parliament, resting, gathering dust, is a Religious Discrimination Bill, ready to present to the Parliament to vote into law when tacit agreement is reached between the political parties. Waiting so that with minimum debate on the floor of the House, in both the Representatives and Senate chambers the bills will be voted into law, making it legal for the various religious school bodies to discriminate against teachers who do not comply with the dogmas of the religious employer, meaning that students will only see teachers and other workers within the schools who conform to those standards. Essentially a rubber stamping the right to discriminate, to continue the hatred of difference, continue to deny basic human rights to be accepted within those organisations.

But of greater concern, is what the teachers are permitted to teach when it comes to cultural issues, when dealing with sex education, when dealing with teaching about laws and how they are made, when teaching history such as the unit which deals with the holocaust where not only Jewish people were murdered but also Gypsies, homosexuals and people who were considered ‘insane’. In other words, how can a teacher be presenting these lessons with honesty and integrity?

Can they present the colonisation of Australia in an honest, truthful way as they extoll the wonderful work of the missions which introduced Aboriginal children to Jesus and his saving grace while stripping them of their cultures, removing them from their families, and their lands, denying them their languages?

Can they teach sex education in the same way it was taught in the 1960s? Basically ignored, but a small focus on how animals reproduce in biology lessons, but at the same time setting up ‘birthing facilities’ at monasteries or other church run facilities, out of sight and out of mind from the community, for pregnant teenagers to be held and the babies adopted out?

Or that teenagers struggling with their sexuality can be bullied with impunity, since these difficulties are not real, you are either a boy or a girl, get over it!

And so the right to discriminate perpetuates the hatreds embedded in the dogmatic teachings of the church, those teachings which allow vilification of difference and yet that same organisation does nothing to redress the very ‘sins’ within their own organisations.

Yes, there is more.

The third are of concern is that the church-based school systems are very well funded by the Federal Government. Much has been written in recent months about the funding, well in excess of what is needed to some of the wealthiest schools, including the Catholic Education system. Churches are tax exempt yet hold vast tracts of land on which they pay no council rates or land taxes, church income is not taxed nor are many of their community-based activities… usually for ‘their’ community. Housing for the clergy is provided by the church and is not subject to the same costs you and I pay in council rates, and so forth. Yet, these organisations hold capital greater many large businesses hold, when they build and use some of the most beautiful, valuable historical building which exist, when they hold art treasures greater than many national galleries and have revenue and cash flows many banks would struggle to come close to, but we pay them more per student at the schools they operate than we are able to pay for children in the public system.

It is absolutely mind blowingly crazy that the letter the Archbishop sent out to apparently all students within the Tasmanian Catholic Schools system can be excused. It reinforces the very prejudices which have been used to criminalise people for being ‘different’, for not to locking themselves in ‘closets’, for not wearing the mask of being ’normal’. But what really grates the very organisation he represents has a record of appalling behaviour when it comes to addressing those very issues within the church he leads, among the clergy he and his organisation have protected from the legal sanctions they should have faced for the crimes committed against innocent children.

I really think we need to address out concerns to our parliamentary representatives before the Religious Discrimination bill resurfaces for a vote.

And we need to address the funding of these organisations which demand taxpayer funding for undermining the basic human rights we have written into law over the past thirty or so years, the legal right to safe abortions, the legal right to be who we are in our sexual self-definition, the legal right to determine that when our end of life suffering becomes unbearable (a friend recently passed, having gone through the legal process to end life when she could no longer endure her pain. Although she did not use the process, she found comfort in having signed, so she had a measure of control over how her passing could be).

We need to urge our representatives to reject that bill, to not wind the clock back to a time when religions suppressed human rights, criminalised those who for no fault of their own were different.

We need to deny funding to schools which do not uphold the human rights we have fought for and have enshrined in our laws.

 

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14 comments

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  1. Dalron

    I remember when we were looking at schools for our children more than once we heard the saying, “if you want your kids to be atheists send them to a Catholic school.”

  2. Bert

    Yes, I get it, my children are all athiests, attended a church based school.

  3. leefe

    I have no doubt that the recent election of Erica Betz to the Tasmanian parliament has encouraged the bloke in the dress to do this. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was degree of collusion.

  4. Andrew Smith

    Also implicit RW influence from the US e.g. SCOTUS over populated by trad Catholics influenced by 19thC i.e. church doctrine over US constitution, i.e. like Evangelicals and Pentecostals they view their beliefs, Israel and time from the year zero or the birth of Jesus as more important that their own community, society and nation.

  5. Cool Pete

    I attended religious classes at primary school and my journey towards atheism began in Year Nine when I read about the Inquisition and Reformation. I remember seeing depictions of people being burnt to death for translating the Bible into the vernacular.
    More recently, I was disgusted with the revolting Fred Nile when he used Charlotte Dawson’s tragic suicide as an attempted justification to stop abortions. A right-wing potty accused me of disregard for freedom of speech for attacking the bastard.
    One thing that the Church needs to get through its collective head is that priests sexually abusing underaged boys is NOT repressed homosexuality due to vows of celibacy; it is an attempt to have power over them. And for all the transphobic crap of the right-wing, if they want to see true grooming, look no further than this. A priest or a teacher or somebody identifies a target (maybe a child from a split family, or a gifted child) and starts spending time with them building up their ego, or buying them presents, and then they abuse them. What happens with trans kids is that they reach out to someone who has been on that journey.

  6. Douglas Pritchard

    Perth ABC radio news today featured a whistle blowing Jewish father making the hate speech point.
    His 12 year old child had finished a soccer match, and 2 of the opposing players said “Hail Hitler” in a private conversation to the lad who had worn a kipper on his head the entire match as the team apparently does.
    Father was keen to point out the opportunity to express complete outrage, and was in the business of coaching his 12 year old how to detect things that can be used to call out antisemitism.
    The kids were not old enough to recall Hitler, but there was no chance that they would be allowed to forget.
    Personally I think the kid was lucky to get an hour on the soccer pitch with a team prepared to play them at this time in our history.
    But his father had a saisfying end to his day watching soccer.

  7. Andyfiftysix

    who listen to them anyway, I’d like to know. A dick in a skirt having a go at transgender people , right.
    With that attitude to the world, he should be made to pay his own way

  8. David O'Neile

    It is beyond time to nationalise education

  9. frances

    Thank you for your timely piece Bert.

    There has been great suffering in my extended family resulting from the as yet undisclosed rape of a vulnerable family member by two long-deceased clergy. The toxic impact on secondary family victims is impossible to quantify yet still radiates from the cause. The Royal Commission came and went without any disclosure by the ‘survivor’ (a term in dispute in relation to this victim as far as I am concerned), which naturally begs the question as to how many others were also too intimidated or terrified by the prospect to take the steps needed to find justice and some measure of peace when the historical opportunity arose. Perhaps it was our Irish spirit which forged a friendship as kids sufficient to inspire entrusting the shocking facts to me decades later, but with no further disclosures public or private it led only to a painful burden to carry, knowing how many of the victim’s puzzling, out-there, hurtful behaviours could have been readily explained with the measure of insight that only disclosure can yield.

    Your point that wealthy private Catholic schools are still presided over by hypocritical Church leaders persisting in unhinged hate speech whilst receiving massive government subsidies at the expense of the rights of children to a basic public education is nothing less than scandalous. Porteous’s latest bull reveals a Church still so supremely confident of its power, immunity and political patronage as to be incapable of reading the zeitgeist, which asserts that true Christianity is based upon universal love and acceptance.

    It seems repeat offender Porteous – consecrated Bishop by George Pell in 2003 – reckons there are some in our society who would seek to silence the Church and prevent Christians from expressing their (hateful) views in the public square.

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-09-29/anti-discrimination-complaint-an-attempt-to-silence-the-church/6810276

    Silencing the Church? The same powerful, corrupt Church who intimidated vulnerable sexual assault victims into terrified silence?

    ‘Tis lucky for Porteous the stocks have long gone from Hobart’s public square.

  10. Ross

    I’ll stick my two bob’s worth in on this one.
    Since being “gay” is no longer illegal, a move opposed by the Catholic Church, recruitment numbers to the Catholic Church priesthood have crashed. You may wonder if the two are connected. You could conclude that young men in general just don’t want to be Catholic priests in this modern world or maybe now young “gay” men don’t need the lifelong protection of the super wealthy politically connected organisation that is the Catholic Church.
    You may also conclude that said organisation has been and still is primarily a gay organisation for gay men, with a bit of religion thrown in on the side.
    Tassy kids taking home a letter from the boss cocky of a church seems like a sad cry for help and an attempt to regain some form of influence and relevance in the face of rapid decline of religion in the local populace.
    The Catholic Church ain’t what it used to be, that letter probably binned after a quick parental scan.

  11. Clakka

    Yes Bert, well said.

    It seems all religions espouse themselves as vehicles to consolidate faith (where science is missing). But the jiggery-pokery of connection to gods has been anything but deserving of faith. In the main they have been vehicles for self-aggrandisement, corruption, thievery, oppression, the promotion of supremacy, othering and acts of brutality, war, cultural and environmental devastation and perversion on a grand scale.

    IMO religions have been the most significant obstruction to common folk’s understanding of the realities of the world, to science, and to proper education and politics and governance by and for the people.

    It is not insignificant that the matters they mostly predate upon are matters psychological, especially understanding of onesself, matters of reproduction, sexuality and sensuality, not only within humanity but also animalia as a whole.

    Unstitching the power of religions is an enormous task, which it appears of late, has been met with a divisive backlash by those with vested interests. An area where so-called secular politicians are afraid to tread, so it appears that we are left to wrangle the wiles of what should rightly be called the death cults.

  12. John C

    More sincere reasons why the “church” as an institution should be banned from existence entirely. People who are believers don’t need to go to horrid buildings built with wasted tax payer money to listen to paedophile priests praise fictional beings. If they believe that a He, She or IT exsts it is in their hearts. The ‘church’ has been nothing but a bane on society throughout the ages and the most hypocritical business in the world. Lets be truthful, it IS nothing more than a business designed to suck money out of the gullible and uneducated, used and abused by the greedy and corrupt to keep the masses downtrodden. It is and always will be nothing more a financial drain to every society and sadly there seems no shortage of indoctrinated people who will follow it in to oblivion.

  13. paul walter

    This is a thing with religious groupings in Oz- the retreat over this century into a defensive, don’t want to know, laager-mentality… reaction rather than the effort of thinking about an operating world they can’t quite comprehend.

    Like everyone else they’ve been spooked by tabloid media and politics as change, often negative, continues in indecent haste. Once sacred shibboleths have been cast to the side

    The churches are no longer “go to” for many, they dashed their reputations in the eighties of last century with that persistent trail of child abuse cases and cover -ups.

    The Archbishop’s fundamentalist drivel indicates they still haven’t recovered their mojo- so lazy and unimaginative.

    More Xtian to have offered a decisive comment on Gaza.

  14. Clakka

    After the original good intent of liberalism to bring change from the iron grip of the aristocracy and churches and to see power transferred to ordinary folk via a democracy that brings no harm by commission or omission, we have seen its progressive subversion through the press of individualism and ‘right’ to freedom of expression coupled with entanglements of ‘truth’.

    Invariably matters of equity became subject to power extant, wealth and poverty, cultural ethos, dogma and vituperation. Regardless of universal theories, cliques were formed that pressed against liberalism and liberty. Regardless of democracy, the ideals collapsed giving rise to the brutal wars and depravations of the 20thC

    Rather than revert to the original intent of liberalism, particularly following mass post-war migrations, multi-cultural cliques manifest, and for a while had their expression in an open marketplace where it could be seen openly as live and let live. But not for long, as the wiles of the surveillance state brought on paranoia, and beyond Thatcher and Reagan, a new corporatised, divide and conquer fascism.

    It spread wildly as a reactionary response, at first concealed within various cliques until political / industrial absolutism brought economies and ecology to to their knees. The bourgeoning cliques brought uncompromising division and hate boldly to the surface, after providing an excuse and a hideout for individual ‘rights’ to be imposed en masse despite harms that may be borne.

    Never mind the bon vivant of lofty ecumenicalism, its the goings on in the marketplace that count. But the face-to-face reason, discourse and compromise of the marketplace has now been subverted to the wiles of the endless cliques on-line and the divisive fascist strains of their supremos, and their march to absolutism, authoritarianism, brutality and bloodshed.

    So we see such irresponsible and ignorant boldness emerging in Oz . John Howard and Pauline Hanson, together setting off the weaponising of racial / cultural difference in politics. And recently, the fundamentalist jibber-jabber of the Tasmanian Archbishop, the hate-filled diatribe of the bishop at the Assyrian church at Wakeley and subsequent attacks and riots, and the book banning by the Cumberland Council in Sydney (today thankfully overturned).

    None of these acts meet the test of discourse through reasoned debate, and doing no harm, and should not be given shelter under the blanket of democracy.

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