By Keith Thomas Davis
I’ll likely end up against a church wall because I’m proposing the total de-funding of private religious schools here in Australia. It seems preposterous to me that a secular State should fund an added-on education system under-layered by the proselytising of various forms of god belief. But first a bit of context and background.
Religion means nothing to me. I’m secular and humanist. I don’t follow the dictates of any sort of bible. If I base the flow of my life on anything at all then the Desiderata foots the bill handsomely. But it wasn’t always so. I had to make a conscious decision to escape the clutches of the purveyors of the bi-polarism of eternal damnation and eternal salvation.
I’ll never forget the welcoming speech the Marist Principal gave in my penultimate year in high school in 1969. “Boys” he said, “for the last eleven years our religion has been your guiding principle, but this year we are moving on to the level of teaching you what to think. It will help you make your way in the world.” Ha … I thought his speech was absolute bullshit.
As you can gather, I was raised a catholic. Or to be more precise, they tried to raise me as a catholic. They failed dismally for a number of wonderful reasons.
Firstly, I was not born as a catholic. I was born as a human being. The grab your soul mob moved in after that and tried to convert me to their way of thinking. They wafted their incense and preached their preachings and conducted their archaic ceremonies and strange rituals … all to no lasting avail where I was concerned. I thought it was all so medieval and silly. I also thought that they rarely practised what they preached.
The only question of note I ever asked myself at the masses I was forced to attend was “Why are those men wearing floor length front-buttoned black frocks, how weird and a bit suss is all of that?”
The main reason they failed, and the main reason I dropped religion, is because I think for myself. I don’t need to live my life being told what to do, or how to do it, and I don’t need to be told how or what to think. I heard what the proselytisers had to say, I was a captive audience at the time so to speak, but I thought that their version of how things are was a total load of nonsense. Just made up stuff with some heavy fear overlay.
Some old book cobbled together from the musings of some old zealots who’d obviously experienced far too much alone desert time was never going to supplant A Canticle For Leibowitz from the top of my reading list. Nor were the dictates of that old made-up book, in my estimation, ever going to be any sort of valid underpinning of any proportion of the curriculum of our education system as a whole. Which is why I am for the total de-funding of private religious schools here in Australia.
Faith is a belief. Faith is a private thing. Faith is not a universal given. It is nothing more than a personal choice as far as I am concerned. Anybody has the right to choose and follow a faith if they so desire. Good luck to them if it makes them happy, and I support their right to find happiness in their own way.
However, saying that Australia is a secular nation, which I do, does not light the fires, brimstone or otherwise, of the faithful. We are continually told that Australia is a christian nation, and our politicians continually parade their credentials of faith in order to gain, or not lose, votes. All so tedious, it makes them look like prats and venal happy-clapping gooses.
The ABS Census Figures state that approx 52% Australians profess to be followers of the christian faith. Well, wherever they follow it, they certainly don’t follow it into a church of any kind, because on any given Sunday, rather than plonking their butts on any kind of religious pew, they are far more likely to be found happily pissed on beer or wine at their favourite beach BBQ site. Me too, we probably all say hello to each other.
Also, according to mccrindle.com.au, less than one in seven of the Australians who ticked “Christianity” on their census form regularly attend a church of any sort. In other words, only 1.8 million Australians out of the overall number of over 25 million actively activate any sort of faith. The rest are too busy having a good secular time thank you very much.
All of which shows that statistics of can be fiddled and fudged. I often argue that Australia is a secular nation, and others argue the opposite. The figures to support either argument can always be dredged up from somewhere. But you cannot argue about the lack of bums on seats/pews thing. The majority of Australians wouldn’t know the inside of a church if you paid them.
I simply think that religion is a private matter, and I think that there is no place for it in our schools. I also happen to think that the separation of Church and State is not only a good way to go … it is the only way to go. A very good separation of both of those things protects us from the possibility of some very weird things happening … you only have to have a bit of a guage around the world to see how strange things can get when Church and State are inseparable.
I’m very uncomfortable with the way religion has insinuated itself into the organs of our body politic. I think it stinks that religious politicians have forced the religious proselytising of the Chaplaincy Program into our secular State education system. God does not exist, and the bothersomes of god belief should not be allowed past the school gate.
Such nonsense needs to stop. The children of the overwhelming majority of Australians who are actively non-religious, are continually dudded by, and exposed to, the under-resourced nature of a marginalised State education system.
I am not arguing that private religious schools do not have the right to exist. They do have the right to exist. But religion is a private matter. It should not be a State sponsored matter when the vast majority of citizens of this State vote with their bums and do not attend a church of any kind.
By all means have a private religious school if you wish. But pay for it yourself. Federal education funding should solely go to State sponsored secular schools.
I don’t hate religion. I simply think that god and religion are nothing more than made up stuff. But I can guarantee that some supporters of religion, though thankfully not the majority, will hate me and my secularism and my humanism. That’s a given when you don’t go with the flow.
If I end up against a church wall and you see me there … just before the bullets hit … throw me my last request … and make it a JPS Red. Ha … the filters on those things cut down the damaging long term affects of tar something grand …
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