Please will someone tell me why we are paying our Parliamentarians? And why is religion in the headlines? And why is the government so ignorant on science?
The Coalition went to the election with only one, 3-stage tax policy, with regular reminders, as soon as they were re-elected, that they had a mandate to get the policy accepted and passed into law by the new Parliament.
Under its new leader, Labor protested at being expected to pass laws affecting the future economy when we were in no position to predict with any accuracy whether that policy would be economically viable at the time. They unsuccessfully sought amendments to change the timeline and omit the third stage.
Having made their protest, and despite having previously been criticised when they indicated that, if in power when the third stage of the policy was to become active, they would repeal it, then instead of honourably abstaining from supporting it, they voted for the unamended policy. In this process, IMHO, they have unnecessarily created a possible problem should they get back into power but that is in the (uncertain) future.
The Coalition, led by an evangelical individual (feel free to replace that last noun by a less respectful one) who seems incapable of distinguishing between fact and fiction, appears to have little more work set down in its agenda.
The only item they see as being of any immediate importance is to ‘honour’ an unnecessary promise to present to Parliament legislation providing religious protection.
I am far from being alone in thinking that this is duplication of effort, because the Australian Constitution, in s116, provides that the Commonwealth government cannot make laws which prohibit the free exercise of any religion.
Importantly, it also ‘precludes the Commonwealth of Australia (i.e., the federal parliament) from making laws for establishing any religion’.
The world has many religions and most if not all of the major ones would be practised by some of the existing residents of this country. Christianity is only one of many, but it tends to be favoured by many of European heritage because, through a variety of guises, it was the religion of most of Europe and many colonised by European countries.
Not all Australians follow any religion at all, many being either agnostic or atheist, and the governments of Australia are all regarded as being secular. Irritatingly, despite this, many Parliaments act as if Christianity was indeed the national religion, by holding prayers at the opening of Parliamentary session. Again, I am not alone in deploring this divisive action.
Few would deny that the ethics which are recorded as having been preached by Jesus Christ during his lifetime, if accepted by all, could provide a basis for a harmonious community. But there is no need to insist that you need to believe in one, or any, gods in order to behave ethically.
The story of the Good Samaritan is a clear picture of the benefit of treating others as you would wish to be treated.
One could list many features of ancient religions which resulted from ignorance and much that we take for granted today would have caused the ancients to either claim a miracle had occurred, or cause uproar and refusal to accept reality.
It is more than 2 millennia since the founding of the Jewish nation was recorded in the books of the Old Testament, and in that time much has changed.
There are many laws and rituals concerning food in Judaism (as well as for Islam and many other religions) which, when first devised, were sensible, given that refrigeration was not yet invented. Now, of course, in the context of kosher and halal foods, they are conscientiously adhered to by the faithful as embedded in religious life, even though they were simply commonsense health rules in the first instance.
Christianity has many branches and some sects seem to rely more heavily on the Old Testament, despite calling themselves Christian, and in consequence they ignore or even warp the message of love for all mankind embedded in the message in the gospels in the New Testament.
Others put more emphasis on the Book of Revelations and the much looked for second coming of Christ and the end of the world. Members of many sects regard it as their duty to bring the word to others so that they can be forgiven their sins and enjoy life after death. In a secular country this is misplaced.
But more importantly, much that was unknown in ancient times has now been clarified by science. Most, if not all, that is now achieved by modern medicine would definitely have been regarded by the ancients as miraculous!
Many anomalous situations associated with birth have been linked by the religious with miracles or manifestations of gods. Conjoined twins, formerly known as Siamese twins, have for some time now been able in many cases to be separated successfully but some of these events have been accorded fame as religious manifestations.
But it’s when fact and ‘belief’ clash that the real problems arise.
We now know as fact that not all babies are born as straight male or straight female. Those classifications exist at either end of a rainbow spectrum which covers the LGBTIQ community.
Some babies, who appear to be ‘straight’, develop into a confused individual whose sexuality does not match their apparent gender. Some actually are born with both sets of sexual organs, and in the past, doctors have operated to remove visible ambiguity, but not necessarily to match the later adult’s mentally-accepted sexual orientation.
We have laws which make it illegal for a child to be sexually abused by an adult or a person in a position of power over the child. This is paedophilia, and science tells us that the mental state of the offending adult is often resistant to re-education.
Until very recently in history, many countries had laws banning sexual relations between two adult males, and such laws still exist and are enforced in some countries, mainly ones which were colonised by Britain and adopted British laws.
Now, the knowledge revealed by science that same sex attraction is not an aberration, but a natural phenomenon for a minority, has resulted in a complete revision of laws in this area and a recognition that many old attitudes and expectations need to be totally revised.
So, if there are a few verses in the bible which appear (the translation has been challenged) to condemn homosexuality as sinful and abhorrent, we can now ignore them as made in ignorance of modern knowledge.
To continue to ‘believe’ homosexuality is sinful on the basis that ‘it is in the bible’, and to condemn those who are gay, is not acceptable in today’s world. It is also harmful to young people who are coming to grips with the apparent mismatch between their body and their sexuality.
Unlearning is always harder than learning. It is really great that so many sporting codes are taking the initiative in requiring their players to be inclusive in accepting as equals fellow sportspeople of any sexual orientation. This is necessary if we are to prevent the continuation of ignorant prejudice.
There are still some problems to be ironed out. Women athletes like Caster Semenya, who naturally produce high levels of testosterone, have been challenged by sporting authorities as having an unfair advantage in competing against other women.
So, making laws to protect people’s religious freedom, when it is already enshrined in the Constitution, is redundant. If anything, we need the non-religious to be protected from those whose ill-founded ‘beliefs’ indicate a refusal to accept the facts of life!
Apart from the polling errors in relation to who would win the election, the polls have for some time been consistent in indicating that at least 60% of the population accepts, as fact, that mankind is contributing to climate change and we need, as a matter of extreme urgency, to take action to reduce emission from burning fossil fuel.
I seriously wonder whether hope for entry into the rapture and the consequent end of the world is at the root of Scott Morrison’s concentrating on religion and ignoring science.
We have wasted nearly 40 years in ignoring the evidence and we are now too late to prevent temperatures from rising to levels which will cause severe problems.
The Coalition would do well to accept the science and work with the Opposition to develop the necessary policies to deal as effectively as possible with the Climate Emergency. Life on earth is seriously threatened and needs priority consideration!
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