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What extremism, Australia?

The Federal Government has made quite clear its belief that Australians are at risk from extremists. It is so concerned about the threat of fundamentalists influencing young minds, it sanctioned the well-publicised anti-radicalisation booklet to be distributed in schools around the country. Whether this belief is founded, rational and based on admissible evidence appears irrelevant to the ruling class.

There is no doubt that fundamentalism, extremism and radicalised youth may, potentially, one day, if all circumstances and opportunities align, be a threat. However while the Government is focussing its attention on examples that conflict with its ideology, organisations of a specific religious persuasion are confidently and quite publicly corrupting and indoctrinating the minds of Australian children.

For not the first time, certain Christian organisations have been caught out inflicting their own warped idea of how society should function, on Australian youth. Under the guise of ‘religious education’ in the classroom, these apparent moral arbitrators are teaching teenagers the kind of stuff that would be funny, if it wasn’t so deadly serious.

According to the latest news, young Australians are being taught to “thank God for cancer” and that cancer is “the result of a mucked-up and broken world caused by sin.”

Religious instructors in New South Wales’ schools are allegedly teaching that “being sick or having your period isn’t a sin — but it reminds us that the body and therefore all of humanity now live with the curse of sin.”

Seriously?

In 2015, teenagers are being instructed that female menstruation is a sign of humanity being cursed with sin?

As if this isn’t extreme (and bizarre) enough, children in state funded, public schools, have been told that “wives should submit to their husbands in everything’’ and to “be prepared to die for God.”

This is not the eighteen hundreds. It is not even 1950. This is the stuff being taught in the twenty-first century.

The latest fundamentalist Christian teachings follow an instance earlier in the year where young teenage students in Victorian state schools were “warned not to have multiple sex partners or risk becoming like overused sticky tape.”

According to these religious instructors, clearly experts in the human body and reproductive organs, “a chemical released in females’ brains made them more needy than boys”, and having multiple sexual partners can break a “special chemical bond”, and “harm a woman’s capacity to form future relationships.”

None of these teachings will be news to those who endured a private Christian schooling. However this is not being taught in Christian schools, where parents and students expect a level of religious indoctrination and propaganda, but in public schools, in many cases without the parents’ knowledge or consent.

Some Christian groups are insistent on their right to teach harmful and dangerous anti-gay and anti-divorce messages. There appears to be no concept of the damage any of these teachings have on the wider community and vulnerable people targeted by the hate messages.

Why are these people not more loudly and publicly condemned?

Is it because these religious instructors are largely white, middle-classed, conservative Australians?

Is it because they share the same cultural heritage as a vast majority of the population?

Is it because we are so attuned to thinking extremism and fundamentalism corresponds with brutal, physical violence that we ignore the damage these disturbing teachings are having on society?

This year, the New South Wales Government demonstrated its full support of Christian indoctrination, inferring that Christian studies were mandatory by including it in a listing of ‘core subjects’. The Federal Government has made it clear that it will only support religious chaplains in schools to ‘support’ young people with ethical and moral dilemmas.

No doubt the supporters of this absurdity proclaim that Christian fundamentalism is not a threat to Australian society. Australia was, after all, founded on Christian principles when the British arrived in 1788 and set about brutally murdering the local Indigenous population in an attempt to annihilate the race.

But these kinds of so-called Christian teachings do immense damage.

These Christian organisations, endorsed in many public schools, are teaching the next generation that women must submit to their husbands, that women are inferior, that living with a partner unmarried is a sin, that basic bodily functions which almost half the entire world population experience or have experienced, is a sign of sin.

These Christian so-called educators, mainly volunteers who have been welcomed into state schools, are instructing that gay people are unnatural, that children will be harmed if they do not live within the confines of a heterosexual marriage with their biological mother and father.

Domestic violence is a massive issue for Australia. So far, 69 women have been murdered in 2015, many by husbands and partners.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has found prolific, repeated and systematic cover-up of rapes, sexual assaults and child abuse going back decades. Many of those exposed as perpetrators and protectors are religious organisations, and many are Christian denominations.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and intersex Australians have the highest rates of suicidality, (the risk of suicide) of any population in Australia. Same-sex attracted people have up to fourteen times higher rates of suicide attempts than heterosexual Australians, with young same-sex attracted Australians having rates up to six times higher than their peers.

Each year, several thousand Australians take their own lives, the vast majority male. The two key factors for whether a person will experience suicidal ideation is if that person is experiencing both depression and if they feel socially undesirable. It is not inconceivable that dangerous messages taught in schools about gender roles, sexual orientation and health play a part in feelings of social desirability.

The Christian values of love, compassion, inclusion, and forgiveness are sadly lacking from contemporary education, and appear to be replaced with socially divisive and grossly biased ideological messages.

Religion and religious influence is an important topic for children to learn about. People, insistent that their personal religious beliefs hold supremacy, are responsible for wars, genocide and brutal massacres of indigenous cultures and races. Religion is used as an excuse for many atrocities, discrimination, and the deliberate exclusion of certain people in society.

All people have a right to religion, but that does not include the right to force religion onto others. It does not include the right to indoctrinate the young and impressionable. It does not include forcing personal spiritual beliefs onto the wider community.

Earlier this year the Victorian Government announced that it had scrapped religious instruction from school curriculums from 2016, instead replacing with classes that address domestic violence and respectful relationships. This is a far more productive way of addressing the real issues facing young Australians.

Extremism has no place in schools, and this includes extremism which complies with the agenda of the Government.

 

Ode to Karen – Lyrics: Eva Cripps, performed by Kim.

 

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25 comments

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  1. David

    Turnbull is so beholding to those Abbott supporters who gave him their vote, it is no surprise Abbotts dirt bag filthy policies are alive and well within the this cowards administration. Turnbull is the neon light of conservatism, with no control over who pushes his on/off switch

  2. Blinky Ewok

    We live in a secular democracy not a religious dictatorship. There is a separation of church and state. Perhaps the GG needs to explain this to the PM and state Premiers. Secular trained social workers and counsellors should be available in state schools; the children should not be subjected to religious indoctrination.

  3. paul walter

    No different to the late sixties when those of us opposed to Vietnam and Conscription were tarred with the Red Smear, positioned in the msm as longhaired naifs and regarded as specimens to be sanitised, much like happens with young middle easteners today.

    The best way to prevent “radicalisation” would be to stop murdering so many mid easteners.

  4. paul walter

    A thought. The thing is, we are almost discouraged from putting ourselves in the shoes of others. How would the average aussie feel if she had to live like a Palestinian or Syrian or Iraqi for six months.

    Edward Said was right about the West’s ideological blinkering and sentimentalisation of itself, but it is a pretend thing encouraged by Oligarchy who know the techniques required for complicity and consent manufacture, because what is really at stake is an alibiing for control, power and wealth, not a bringing of so called “civilisation” to other parts of the world.

    I beleive they are not fools or perverse fanatics, for resenting us trying to bomb them back to the Dark Ages for their oil or stategic location.

  5. Mark Needham

    Spare a prayer tonight for Curtis Cheng and his mourning family and friends. ‘Rest in peace, thy good and faithful servant.’
    Just thinking,
    Mark Needham

  6. paul walter

    Yes. Victims of a political climate brought to the boil by opportunist tabloid media and politics.

    Both he and the lad.

    Many other victims, too. Abya, the woman sent back to Nauru and the poor souls scapegoated on Nauru and Manus, due to unscrupulous politics and media scare campaigns.

    Indeed, I will spare a thought for the victims.

  7. Earthlion Waratah

    The author misses out one very important fact. That being that the Australian Labor Party agrees with this Christian nonsense. The NSW Labor Opposition Leader has embraced this at every step and turn. When both the Government and Oppositon are exactly the same, there is little choice but to revolt.

  8. Colin

    The only opposition in this country are the Greens, Xenophon and some of the other indies.

    As for Christian education, I think the Royal Commission (the one that’s not a political witch hunt) is revealing what harm that has done to a lot of Australians.

  9. jim

    “That being that the Australian Labor Party agrees with this Christian nonsense. The NSW Labor Opposition Leader has embraced this at every step and turn.” you could provide us with a link as I think your statement is rubbish, how is it the in NSW Liebral this evil crap is allowed but in Victoria ALP it is not case in point; (Earlier this year the Victorian Government announced that it had scrapped religious instruction from school curriculums from 2016, instead replacing with classes that address domestic violence and respectful relationships. This is a far more productive way of addressing the real issues facing young Australians.)

  10. corvus boreus

    The current position of NSW Labor under Luke Foley seems to be that they support both the continuation of the option of religious instruction during school hours, and the (openly available) alternative choice of classes in secular ethics taught from an approved carriculum for the non-religious.
    To his credit, Mr Foley (an avowed Catholic) criticised the NSW Coalition government for recently directing that parents were only to be informed of the option of Ethics classes if they specifically vetoed scripture classes for their children.
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-08-21/nsw-should-not-follow-vic-labor-school-scripture-ban-foley/6714388

  11. Stephen

    Well said Mark. Gob smacked in light of recent events that the author of this price so willingly puts her head in the sand with regard to the threat of extremism. The point of the article could have easily been made without being so naive and insulting to the recent victims of extremism. I’ll await the response that it’s everybody else’s fault.

  12. Sen Nearly Ile

    The volume of rubbish spouted by the indoctrinated is ridiculous. A friend of my grandchildren oft repeats how dreadful her mum was at maths and science “and so am I”, we leave all that stuff to dad.
    I know her skypilot dad and is not on the same street as his wife.
    There should be questions that ALL politicians need to answer before an election.
    Do you believe women can be intellectually superior to men(mirzakhani)?
    Is there any political situation where a woman cannot be equal with or superior to a man.
    There are many religious questions that could be posed because the violence is tied to the beliefs surrounding how women should behave, think and act. In relation to how god, a man, decided how men think and act.
    For me how christians and muslims can be taught to believe that in a spiritual world god will procure women for the pleasure of men, especially men who have murded men, women and children. beggars belief.
    It is none of my business, but, rhetorically, are there any here who believe in spiritual sex in heaven? Is there anyone who believes curtis cheng’s murderer is in heaven? In Australia at least 200 000 women believe in the latter and millions believe the former. (shades of grey or barbarella).
    Religion is by men for men???

  13. Itsazoosue

    Mark and Stephen, did you actually read the above piece or understand the meaning of the title? Your comments, which I suspect were pre-loaded, lacked perspective and implied that you missed the point entirely. The topic of the article is Christian extremism which is every bit as dangerous as the Muslim variety. The point, which I believe was made without naivety or insult, is that children should not be subjected to Christian extremism any more than any other religious fundamentalism.

    While you are praying, Mark, perhaps you could include the many victims of domestic terrorism. Oddly these poor souls don’t receive much media attention and the offenders are rarely identified by their religion.

    http://www.businessinsider.com.au/these-new-stats-reveal-the-horrifying-scale-of-domestic-violence-in-australia-2015-9

  14. Matters Not

    What we need in Australia, and elsewhere, is more ‘common sense’. (Just joking).

    Except the ‘common sense’ referred to mightn’t be as ‘common’ as most people believe and the ‘sense’ aspect, when analysed and evaluated, has its difficulties as well.

    By the way I am not responding to Mark. I am simply using him as an example.

  15. Stephen

    Itsa I read the article and didn’t necessararily disagree with most of it. That doesn’t make the early comments any less naive or insulting in the current environment.

  16. Jexpat

    It really is impressive to observe how disproportionately over-represented “avowed” or fundamentalist Christians in federal and state parliaments are an otherwise secular polity.

  17. win jeavons

    Father was a parson, I am still active in the Uniting Church, and I totally agree with this comment. If Christianity dies it will be because of this primitive, pre-scientific thinking. Should have no place in schools, but I would like to see world religions taught in schools as part of history and culture that has shaped us.

  18. paul walter

    Add a little philosophy and it has my vote.

  19. mars08

    “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.”

    -G.K. Chesterton, (What’s Wrong with the World)

  20. paul walter

    Yes, exactly. Brains and nuance.

  21. paul walter

    I think with Christianity, it is possible to identify different “Christianities” being developed across history. We start with the bedrock story, it self edited by the early writers and educated Paul and Luke, which offer a story based on the persecution of dissidents by Imperialist Romans and local kleptocrats, with explanations for the persecution indicated in the relating of certain core philosophies evident in most dissent based theologies and philosophies. My Guess is that Paul and his successors, finding an established small community based movement, sought to embellish the original story with the magic bits to make it more saleable and also validated interpretations which removed control of the early communities, which were often matriarchal. For instance Mary is identified as a key member of the oroginal church, perhaps levered out in favour of the more patriarchal and Jewish James and Peter as th eearliest exampleof this trend.

    By 330AD it had become a state religion and it has remained as a handmaiden to politics ever since, the one legitmating the other, emphasising a conservative approach legitimating succeeding world orders at the expanse of the dissident aspect, until the Renaissance and science blew away the underpinings of the old religion, drawing attention back to the underlying philosophies and narratives and interpretations thereof.

  22. corvus boreus

    paul walter,
    There you go mentioning that ‘p’ word.
    Philosophy.
    The love of learning, or the joy of seeking knowledge in the hope of wisdom.
    Seeking answers to “yes, it is so, but why is it so and what lies beyond?

    It has probably been around since long before the Old Greeks gave it that derivational definition, but it has recently fallen way back out of vogue. Look up the word on google and you will get ads for a brand of cosmetics of that name amongst your first few search answers.

    One setback for philosopher has been the (relatively recently) arrival of science on the scene, which has inexorably pushed back the parameters of the unknown upon which the philosophers can ponder. The philosophical questions are now so much more complicated, which has tended to discourage the practice.

    The other setback to philosophy has been the influence of a creed called theology. This is a study of the questions that assumes a divine nature to the metaphysical, and tends to rely upon ‘answers’ given by people claiming powers of divination and claims of revelation to fill the gaps past plausible knowledge. Unfortunately, this claim of godly gift tends to amass much power and privilege into such hands of when given broad credibility, so questioning of such is often discouraged.
    Added to this is the fact that current theological creeds which dominate the globe are variants of monotheism of masculine aspect.
    This claims sole revelation of the mysteries are contained within a single text, which are variations upon a mythology with a starting story that actively discourages the seeking of knowledge, depicted as a forbidden fruit from which stems all earthly evil and woe.
    This starting attitude tends to to tends to discourage any practice of philosophy in adherents to the Abrahamic branch of Theology.

    I do hope philosophy makes a comeback, starting with the clear and precise definition of terms..

  23. paul walter

    Allright, metaphysics, known unknowns and unknown knowns and conditionality and process..basically, you flesh out the idea, o mystery one.

  24. Matters Not

    starting with the clear and precise definition of terms

    Can only agree. While the ‘philosophy’ pursued by R S Peters, for example, focussed on ‘conceptual analysis’/’linguistic analysis’, and the ‘meanings’ embedded in words, most people now believe time has moved on. (And it has). But that contribution should not be forgotten.

    ‘Meanings’ given to particular words are forever changing and therefore it’s always ‘useful’ in any discussion to outline the chosen meaning.

  25. Jaia

    Some members of my family a Christian fundamentalist – my experience of the doctrine they are preached is extreme right wing. My family member’s Facebook pages littered by anti Islamic, Reclaim Australia hate slogans, anti anything that does not fit the evangelical model. The attitude is ‘if you are not a Christian fundamental like us’ you are ‘an agent of Satan/Evil’. I don’t really give a fig about what other folks choose to believe – what disturb me is that there is no discussion, only absolutes; divisions of ‘us and them’; the ‘them’ being ‘Satanically influenced’ therefore need to destroyed. No discussion, no philosophy.

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