What’s the big deal people? Churches, religions and their various offshoots want the freedom to discriminate. That’s fair enough I reckon. Let them discriminate.
Let them say no to gays and lesbians. Let them say no to divorcees, adulterers, single parents and gluttons. It’s their right as religious organisations to only hire people destined for the glory of heaven, or paradise, or whatever eternal reward they’re spruiking.
And the rest of us sinners, who are quite clearly going to hell, or whatever eternal punishment they’re scaring believers with, should just shut up and let them get on with it. Here’s the thing, religion is based on discrimination.
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Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced the appointment of six royal commissioners and the terms of reference for the inquiry into child sex abuse. See all the details here. Below, Cathy Kezelman gives us her analysis.
“Child sexual abuse is an evil crime. Anyone who has ever suffered child abuse deserves to have their voices heard and their claims investigated.
“The Royal Commission will inquire into how institutions with a responsibility for children have managed and responded to allegations and instances of child sexual abuse and related matters.” These were the words of the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, on announcing the terms of reference for a national Royal Commission into institutional responses into allegations of child sexual abuse today.
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“If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.” (Leviticus 20:13).
The Koran includes similar lines. Flog ‘em, stone ‘em, kill ‘em.
If you took their words as gospel, the Abrahamic faiths’ position on homosexuality is fairly clear. And in some places, some people do still take them literally.
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This weekend one of the country’s biggest fundraisers, the Salvation Army Red Shield Appeal, was in full swing targeting $80 million. I have been a healthy skeptic of them and other faith-based charities.
I learned recently while doing research that little old ladies from the Salvos stay up all night manning the needle exchange on St Kilda’s infamous Grey St. When not reducing the risk of HIV infection, Flo and Dot are next door at the battered women’s shelter. There are thousands of other examples that show Christian workers doing good deeds without prejudice.
My research also took to me to Centrelink. They provide “welfare referrals” for those in crisis. I covered half of Sydney. In nearly every case, the only groups accepting those referrals were Christian. So while church-based charities may offend some people with their contribution to public policy, when it comes to what they do on the ground, it is hard to be offended. I haven’t seen too many secular groups driving the mobile soup kitchens.
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Every time you pay tax or rates you are subsidising other people’s religion. These include mainstream religions, and cult-like groups opposed to the values of normal Australian life.
Put simply, less than 20 per cent of Australians are seriously religious and the rest of us subsidise their religious organisations. There are a lot of wonderful people who do good work in the name of their particular belief, but do we need taxpayer-funded bureaucracies for them to be effective?
Australia is one of the few nations that make all investment earnings by religious bodies tax free, regardless of whether these are spent on charitable activities. And all the property they own is free of rates and land tax. If they sell these assets for a profit they pay no capital gains tax. And often these are properties that were gifted to them many years ago by government.
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Go on , be a good Christian, sign the petition to stop parental choice about ethics classes for kids in public schools.
That’s the message of Christian and Catholic lobbyists in NSW at the moment (I separate the two because I wouldn’t want to offend all those evangelical Christians in Sydney who don’t believe Catholics are real Christians).
Just last Sunday a family member asked what the story was about ethics in schools because an announcement had been made in the morning service about signing the petition.
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The Wayside Chapel in Sydney’s King Cross has always been something of an “edgy” place.
In the 1960s when Australia was very different, The Wayside Chapel was about the only place in Australia where a Protestant could easily marry a Catholic, Hindu or Atheist without much fuss or where you could get a cup of coffee at 3am.
It was a place you could wait for some poet to walk in the door and address a ready crowd with some words that reached beyond the confines of a high structured, fairly unimaginative world; and you never had to wait for long.
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Writing on The Punch yesterday David Gazard bemoaned the left-winged over-righteousness of some parts of the Christian church, who get all hot under the collar about political stuff rather than sticking to the spiritual. This is, I suppose, a change from the attacks on the right-winged over-righteousness of the other parts of the Christian church.
Of course, problems emerge when God and the Church are captured by just one side of politics. The Church may be vulnerable to such temptations in the wildernesses of power, but any God worth his name surely isn’t. It’s a lesson the followers are still learning.
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I keep waiting for the traditional church to launch its campaign against the government’s treatment of boat people.
After all, boats carrying asylum seekers keep entering Australian waters in greater numbers, there are allegations that boats are left to drift and, worst of all, some have perished along the way.
I glance skyward in Melbourne, looking for the immense banner hanging from the spire St Paul’s Cathedral, like there was a few years ago. Instead of “Justice for David Hicks”, it will read “Justice for SIEV 624”.
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