Monthly Archives: March 2011

But would you put your dog down?

There is an ongoing debate in Australia about voluntary euthanasia, or ‘the right to die’. Polls (as much as you can trust a poll) state that up to 85% of Australians support legalised euthanasia, as long as adequate safeguards are in place. Despite this, euthanasia bills keep getting rejected in our parliaments. In fact some years ago the Northern Territory (NT) passed legislation to make it legal but the Federal government stepped in and overrode them. (Territories have slightly different rules when it comes to making laws, I don’t fully understand it, you can look it up yourself if you are interested. You could also look up the case of when the NT legalised, briefly, euthanasia, it’s not really relevant to this particular rant.)

The prime reason, I can deduce, Australia does not have legalised voluntary euthanasia is because the powerful religious (mostly Christian) lobby, in cahoots with right wing Christian politicians, put political pressure on our governments not to pass euthanasia bills.

I’ve seen many reasons expounded why euthanasia is a bad idea, most of these can be over-ridden by ensuring proper safeguards are in place to ensure euthanasia is completely voluntary, and that more than one medical practitioner is consulted, etc, etc (something all supporters of euthanasia want). However Christians expound one more “reason” which goes along the line of “we value human life”.

Well, I’m sure it’s not just Christians that value human life, I value it, especially my own, as I’m certain do most other people of non-Christian faith or those with no faith at all.

But what is a human life that is lived in total abject pain, or with complete mental breakdown? A life not worth living for some people. So why should those in these extreme conditions not be allowed to end their suffering? To voluntarily end their life before it descends into a living nightmare? What right does someone have to tell those people they have to keep living no matter what pain or suffering they are enduring? Family, relative or stranger; no matter how much they love or care for someone do they really have the right to force something on that person just because they “value human life”?

Personally I think it’s very selfish of someone to prevent a person who is in severe pain and dying not to end their own life, if they have considered all the options, and would rather die peacefully than endure years more agony and suffering.

I have only touched on a few basics in the euthanasia, right to die, debate and I’m not really interested in all the ins-and-outs of the debate. Many others better qualified than me have done this before. However I have one question (in two parts), mainly to the Christians who say something like “we value human life” as an argument against voluntary euthanasia:

Have you, or any Christian you know, ever had a pet “put down” (euthanized)? If not, would you consider euthanizing a pet if a vet strongly recommended it?

Yes I understand that a cat or dog is not the same as a human, but the underlying principle is the same. People, after careful consideration (I’d hope), are willing to put an animal out of it’s misery by euthanizing it and often cite the reason for doing so is so the animal doesn’t have to suffer anymore. So if it is more humane to euthanize an animal that is in severe pain and dying, then isn’t it even more humane to allow a human the right to die when they want to if they are in extreme pain and suffering?

As a note, I’m not going to consider the slippery slope argument that the above paragraph might delve into, any comments that go down that path may be summarily deleted. I also strongly emphasise that your comments should stick to answers regarding voluntary euthanasia. I’m sure we can all agree that for humans euthanasia should always be voluntary and I’m sure any legalisation would have plenty of safeguards in place to ensure it is voluntary.

Please stick to the following questions in your response:

Have you as a Christian, or any Christian you know, ever had a pet “put down” (euthanized)? If not, would you consider euthanizing a pet if a vet strongly recommended it?

If you have euthanized a pet, or be willing to do so, explain in a better way than “I value human life” why you wouldn’t let a human being who is in similar circumstances to your dying pet not be allowed to voluntarily euthanize themselves.

Thank you for your participation.

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Filed under christianity, religion

Freedom OF and Freedom FROM

religion, that is.

Today’s Age online had this article: MPs attack Bible ‘madness’, in which several MPs rail against the ban on bibles being handed out at citizenship ceremonies. One quote in particular proves that you can have a law degree, be an MP and still not understand basic principles:

Tasmanian Liberal senator Guy Barnett told the Coalition party room this was ”political correctness gone mad. There should be freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.”

Whether Barnett likes it or not, or whether he agrees with me or not, I think he is absolutely wrong and either has little idea about what freedom from religion entails or is so blinded by his Christianity that he doesn’t care. I however do heartily agree with the response by OzAz posted at March 02, 2011, 1:43PM (comment 130). I have reproduced here it in it’s entirety, with permission.

I hope Tasmanian Liberal Senator Guy Barnett, and the other deluded people who have no clue as to what “freedom of religion and freedom from religion” means, reads this comment if nothing else.

Freedom OF religion means to have the freedom to choose whatever religion you like.
Freedom FROM religion means you have the freedom not to have any one religion forced on you.

A country without freedom FROM religion enshrined in their constitutional system (something Australia doesn’t have) is always in danger of becoming a theocracy.

I’m sure some of the Liberal MPs and Christian’s commenting here would be quite happy with that, if it was a Catholic Theocracy.

But would you be happy with that if we became a Muslim Theocracy, under Sharia Law? Or maybe even a Hillsong, Exclusive Brethren or Church of Scientology Theocracy? I think not.

Get it into your head, Freedom FROM Religion doesn’t prevent anyone practising whatever religion they want. It just prevents any one religion taking over all the others and forcing everyone to practice that one religion.

It also means everyone is perfectly entitled not to be involved with any religion if they don’t want to.

Personal choice, I wants it; Freedom OF and Freedom FROM lets me have it.

I really do hope Barnett reads it, he obviously requires the education.

There are some other excellent comments, particularly the ones pointing out that government at any level should not be handing out bibles in a supposedly secular nation. Several comments also point out the problem with only handing out Christian bibles, especially as many of the new citizens are Muslims and a Koran would be more suitable to them.

As OzAz points out, freedom of religion and freedom from religion is not documented in Australia’s Constitution and probably should be. At least it should be in a Bill of Rights, something that we almost got but government decided we didn’t need, despite many people, myself included, wanting.

Do you agree that “Freedom of religion and freedom from religion” should be enshrined in either our constitution, or at least a Bill of Rights? If not you better have a very good reason, and I’d like to hear it.

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Filed under bible, religion