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When the religious bullets hit …

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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20 comments

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  1. John L

    I broadly agree, but it’s at least possible to ditch your ideological brainwashing in time. When it comes to the safety of children and a healthy biosphere my main concern for children today is the upcoming 5G roll-out in 2020.

    Dr Martin Pall described this folly as ‘Putting in tens of millions of 5G antennae without a single biological test of safety has got to be about the stupidest idea anyone has had in the history of the world’ –
    https://www.emfacts.com/2019/02/dr-martin-pall-putting-in-tens-of-millions-of-5g-antennae-without-a-single-biological-test-of-safety-has-got-to-be-about-the-stupidest-idea-anyone-has-had-in-the-history-of-the-world/

    For those interested in the future well-being of all children in Australia, please check this site:
    http://www.ecsfr.com.au

    There is a Class Action on the way:
    http://ecsfr.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Legal-Notice-Of-Request.pdf

  2. Keitha Granville

    thank you, especially the bit about Desiderata – it is my gospel. That and the book about everything I learned in kindergarten, don’t remember the author.

    Now that we have the happiest of clappers in charge the chance that we can separate church and state has gone. I have no clue where we will end up at this point, but it isn’t a good place.

    Maybe when children are forced to pray at the start of every school day and religious ed is a compulsory subject, maybe then people will rebel.

    Let’s hope so

    (I went to a church school too, Anglican nuns. )

  3. Freethinker

    Superb! I share your views 100% and have a similar experience with Catholic education nearly 60 years ago in a Salesian agricultural boarding college.
    Forced to go to mass every day at 5.0 am, and then working on the farm as cheap labor which has costed my health.
    Meanwhile the “princes of God” enjoyed the good life, better food than us and showed a behavior that was contradicting their teaching and what it is in their “book”
    That experience was good enough to show me that religion is a farce, a “tool” used by a minority to control a large part of the majority.
    I remember how comfortable friendship these con organizations have with the ruthless South American dictators to the point that in some cases they were involved with crime.
    A person can be spiritual, and if belief on it they have to realize that their spirit was free and do not need religion.

  4. blair

    great article, Tax the churches while you are at it!

  5. Susan

    Agree wholeheartedly 👏🏼👏🏼

  6. Mr Shevill Mathers

    Could not agree more, make the churches pay taxes and stop funding private schools with taxpayers monies. If those people feel it necessary to have the best in the name of their religion, then by all means let them pay for it. We have a divided educational system in this country which automatically makes for a “I am better than you” system because he/she went to a private school. And like another well known all mans ‘group/organisation’ looks after its own (behind closed doors) through ones career in whatever chosen field. Please, give me freedom from religion-keep state and church well separated and out of government debate, I don’t pay taxes for our leaders to waste time on what are private & personal lifestyles choices.

  7. Hotspringer

    Yes. Let’s not go to Gilead.

  8. Barry Thompson.

    Great article Keith.
    I too was made to go to Sunday school and Church, then to be confirmed in the Church of England by the Archbishop.
    I jacked up about it when I was about 16 and refused any further attendance. I was not impressed by the lack of answers to my logical questioning of the Vicar when he was preparing me for confirmation.
    It is my opinion that those who believe in the sky fairy, have been brainwashed as youngsters, or are easily led people who need something to use as a crutch in times of stress. I consider it all to be superstitious nonsense and that a lot of them, particularly Catholics, live in fear of their God not love of God.
    When I witness the antics of the religious zealots that have sat in Parliament and those who still do, I am content to be an Atheist.
    May I burn in hell.

  9. Stephengb

    Have been saying the same for a number of years- ever since I came accross the late Christopher Hitchens.

  10. TuffGuy

    I wholeheartedly agree with the author and am also a card carrying athiest. I would go further and suggest that tax exempt status should be removed from all religious organisations. I have never been able to discover the reason they are tax exempt. Many religious organisations are owners of very large businesses (eg Sanitarium owned by Seventh Day Adventists) which also pay zero or a very small “special” tax. Why???
    How many religioujs organisations actually give money to those in need? They hold government influence, tax exemption and more yet help nobody but themselves. And let us not get into how churches spend a lot of that tax free money defending and protecting paedophiles. Another thought – what percentage of all the wars throughout history have been based on some form of religious disagreement???
    And now they seek to use their political influence to allow them to discriminate again all who do not have the same beliefs as they do.

  11. Matters Not

    Always admired the thinking of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the father of modern Turkey, for his views on the purposes of education and how it was instrumental in creating and maintaining a modern, democratic secular State. Yes a secular State in a Nation where it is assumed that everyone would be Muslim from birth. In 1934, Atatürk oversaw full universal suffrage, earlier than most other countries in the world.

    From the beginning Atatürk stipulated that all children should be exposed to a common, secular curriculum. Religious schools were a no no. All children would experience a common schooling. It’s not that he was opposed to religion, but he saw that it had no place within the school or within the curriculum. If parents wanted children taught religion that was fine – BUT not in school. School was about preparing future citizens to participate in a secular democracy. Religion was up to the parents to organise in out of school time.

    No need to fund religious schools because they didn’t exist. And all religious leaders were put on the public payroll which, in a sense, made Atatürk their boss. Of course, things have changed, but nevertheless a belief in the secular State took root. Be interesting to see what happens in Turkey, given that the religious Erdogan is no facing some push-back in the big cities such as Istanbul … Ankara etc

  12. Diane Larsen

    Great article totally agree, maybe that’s why I like Julia so much she had the spine to say she was an atheist and a great PM to boot

  13. Matters Not

    Re:

    I don’t pay taxes for our leaders to waste time on ..

    Let’s be perfectly clear, people, corporations etc pay taxes because they have to. It’s not a choice, it’s a legal obligation! Not a donation! Not a personal decision! Simply the Law of the Land. Further once those taxes are paid (the legal obligation fulfilled) the money is NO LONGER YOURS. You have lost control of it completely. You can’t decided on what it will be spent, when it will be spent, how much will be spent etc. IT’S NO LONGER YOUR MONEY. It belongs to the government of the day. Try to get it back and see whose money it now is.

    But many people like to think it’s still their money. So perhaps it’s better that this slumber is not disturbed.

  14. Marlene Lear

    I trongly agree. I suffered through 6 years in a Methodist brain washing boarding school. Full of cruelty and meaness and pretty short on fun or joy. Early twenties, free at last, no religion after a bit of a struggle and still learning several decades latter!

  15. Wayne Ennis

    Defund all Christian/religious schools. A possible outcome would be they all close. Are you willing to buy their property, employ all their staff, and continue to fund them. I once asked a person who was high up in the education system . If this was possible, even feasible? Answer the Education system would totally collapse. Is this the outcome your looking for?

  16. wam

    A great read, Keith.
    Had a great time writing my rubbish.

    The problem lies when you interpret separation of state and religion. Christians believe that means the state must not intrude on religion but not vice versa.
    Religion must be protected from the state.
    This is essential and urgent because to question islam leaves a chance that christianity my be exposed to questions?
    My favourite taunts, as poor as they are:
    1)the one god of Abraham and the bible is the god of jews, christians and muslims.
    2)The orthodox belief in inequality of women allows them to airbrush women out of photos that portray women as equal. The christian and muslim men just believe god gave women a flaw the prevents them from equality. Women now believe the are equal at least 3 weeks each month.
    3)The christians believe their god forgives men who kill women and children(folau knows god needs help as to who to bring into heaven so he tells us god doesn’t forgive gays, drunks fornicators etc). As god provides a penis and vagina are you a fornicator if you bonk your first wife if your second isn’t dead yet???
    4)The muslims believe their god pimps virgin women for the men who kill women and children or just kill anyone really.’

    That aside, the most important aspect of faith is the definition of truth.
    If one believes in religious tenets they are true.
    Once a religious person believes then it is true and cannot be challenged. This is not peculiar to the religions but to humanity what humans believe to be true is true. There needs to be no evidence just faith in what you see, hear or touch??.
    How do you combat a belief that labor wastes the economy and the libs are the economic managers? The only way is to get them to question their faith.
    Anyone who questions faith knows that the god of the bible religions cannot exist. So who is going to risk having their faith tested??

    It seems logical if scummo says his faith determines everything he does, that we should know what he believes and question him on it?
    ps
    Some of us were lucky eg My dad came home from the war an americo/anglophobeand coloured my opinion of the pomms and the septics.
    He saved me from the nuns some of whom were pretty vicious if you hesitated, got caught not intoning or queried an instruction and we went to Yorke peninsula and a state school..
    The clincher came when my aunt left her abusive husband for a gentle ww1 veteran and the priest threw her out of church, even when he know she was being beaten every second day. She was married before god and it was his will. She eventually got back when the old priest died but she had a scary few years. I did dabble with church of christ for a while.as a teenager shifting from the bush to a housing trust area so no friends but the hypocrisy was awful right up to the minister kissing the sunday school teacher in the back of the bus after a sunday school trip..
    However true to the teachings of christianity my little sister, a baby boomer turn 70 this year, was not allowed to see that religion is by men for men and my mum kept dad and I away till she was hooked and safely married.
    She is a great christian always helpful, mostly to a fault, is an island of socialism in a sea of conservatives and labor haters(the police force) Her faith is admirably strong and she end her letters with god bless but I love her.

  17. Rod Bray

    If all private schools had their public funding directed into the public school system, the capacity of that system would need to increase to accommodate all the students and teachers needed. There would be some disruption so the change would have to be staged progressively.

    Removing the tax-free status of the churches and their enterprises would contribute to this.

  18. Matters Not

    Wayne Ennis re your statement:

    the Education system would totally collapse

    Correct. In the same way that if you closed all private hospitals immediately, the Health system would collapse. And if you put all private vehicles off the road immediately, the public Transport system would collapse. And if … you did almost anything (immediately) that radically changes historical arrangements, then for sure and certain, collapse would occur. But to suggest that a public education system needs a private system to survive is simply not true over the medium and longer term.

    Are you aware, for example, that there are an increasing number of (so called) private schools which get more public funds than those allocated to state schools in the same location? Are you aware that government subsidies to private schools, generally speaking, pays all the staff costs of those (so called) private schools? Are you aware that if all private schools were closed and a whole range of subsidies were ended (at all levels of government – local, state and federal), then the resulting economies of scale and direct savings may well produce a more efficient (read cheaper and better) education system, broadly defined? Then there are the obvious social benefits of not creating a school system based on religion, class, wealth etc..

  19. Keith Thomas Davis

    Hi Wam … enjoyed your comments … but I’m still savouring your comment from my Through the Lens of Time Article … “I would like to have a space ship that could catch up with the pictures of history.”

    The general comments on my current article, whether for or against, do show that the followers of AIMN use logic and reason to press their cases … and how refreshing is that when you see how things operate elsewhere.

    I quite agree that the de-funding pin cannot just be pulled overnight. There would have to be a transitional period of funding wind-down. During that period the people who want a religious education system would be faced with the reality of either paying up to keep it going, or deciding not to and letting it go. The churches will still be there if any parents want to have their children exposed to the word of their god so to speak. The idea I propose does not seek to remove religion from the community, it seeks to remove religion from the education system.

    I realise that not all churches are as wealthy as the catholic church, but I do think you’d have to look hard and fast amongst the major churches to find a poor one. Together they possess real estate of incredible value and only their god knows what their ultimate overall wealth really is. Perhaps they could apply the notion of ‘user-pays’ to themselves?

  20. Terence Mills

    Speaking with an overseas visitor recently, he was aware of the discussion going on about religious protections in this country and bemused that we gave substantial amounts of public money to tax exempt religious organisations to run their schools, frequently more on a per head basis than we give to publicly funded schools ; for once in my life I wasn’t able to bring any logic to the government’s rationale for this generosity.

    I then told him that we have a universal healthcare system the envy of the world [so we are told] yet we underfund it and give $6 – $8 billion a year of public money to private health insurance companies to fund their failing business model.

    He found us a ‘weird mob’ !

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