Category Archives: politics

A Few Truths

Why do Christians lie so much? What is this “lying for Jesus” all about. A means to an end is not always the morally right thing to do.

There are several Christian lobby groups around these days with The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) and Access Ministries being two very vocal, and apparently quite powerful, examples. The idea of a Christian lobby group should worry every right thinking person, religious or not. Why Christians need lobby groups is a thing to ponder, what ever happened to religious groups just doing what they do best – sings songs in churches and do a little charity work. When did they become so powerful? Are we seeing the march to a theocracy in this country?

ACL wrote this small article titled “A few truths of the religion in schools debate” supporting a Bishop who had written an article in Online Opinion (OO) complaining about The Age’s reporting of Christian Religious Education.

OzAz wrote the following comment in reply to the ACL:

Truth? You wouldn’t know the meaning of the word Truth.

If, as you’d like to portray, Christianity is the predominant religion in Australia (at last census about 60%, BUT only about 20% actual practitioners) then how can you cry “oppression”?

Australians, by and large, aren’t fearful of religion, most just don’t care either way. What we do fear is right wing fundamentalist religious organisations using tax payer funded money (for which they are totally unaccountable for!) to promote their narrow minded view of the world based on, what many believe, to be an out-dated book.

Even adherents of the various holy books do not adhere to everything written in them, so why should the rest of us adhere to anything written in them?

Some may suspect that the only reason your group, and other groups like yours, are so keen to use tax payers and parishioners money to lobby government to spend even more tax payer dollars on allowing CRE, Chaplains in schools and other forms of ensuring you get a foothold into schools and therefore young and impressionable minds is to procure more followers. The more followers the more money you can make. Pity this money isn’t always used for good charitable works.

PS I have copied this and will paste it to various other blogs and forums as I suspect you won’t have the dignity or adhere to freedom of speech and allow this comment to be posted to your site.

OzAz has forwarded this comment to me for inclusion in my blog, as he suspects the ACL will not moderate his comment as the ACL seem to have a habit of not allowing any comment which questions them in any way shape or form.

As usual Chrys Stevenson has written an excellent response to Nicholas Tuohy’s article in OO, I recommend you read it.

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Filed under atheism, beliefs, bible, censorship, christianity, church, politics, religion, religious school, secular

Invoking Religion in Australian Politics

Anna Crabb has produced an article that examines whether there has been a rise in religion, in particular the Christian religion, being invoked by politicians here in Australia. From the site:

Abstract

As religious engagement in the Australian population continues to decline, the apparent increased prominence of religion in Australian politics is puzzling. This article examines the characteristics of 2422 speeches given by prominent Australian federal politicians between 2000 and 2006 to assess whether religion has become more prominent in early twenty-first century Australian politics, and whether or not the explanations provided to explain the increase are compelling. It is argued that the framing of the September 11 terrorist attacks and the subsequent ‘war on terror’ as a religious conflict weakened adherence to Rawls’ (2005) liberal consensus (exclusion of religious beliefs from the public forum) and normalised the use of Christian terminology and ideas in Australian political discourse.

I haven’t read it all yet, it’s quite in-depth (being an Honours thesis), but it looks interesting. You can download the pdf of her thesis from this page.

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Filed under politics, religion

Jesus is the answer…

WTF was the question?

The Atheist Foundation of Australia (AFA) are currently asking people to be on the lookout for any religious adverts; particularly on buses, billboards, or other media managed by APN.

Here’s a sample taken on the Pacific Highway near Hexham/Sandgate, you can also see it on Google Maps (though its a bit out of focus). It is unknown at this stage who the advertising company is that manages these particular billboards. If anyone knows please let me know.

jesus_billboard

As you should be aware by now the AFA was planning on conducting an Atheist Bus Campaign similar to the ones in the UK, USA and Spain. However APN has refused to carry the adverts.  The AFA has decided to pursue redress of the APN Outdoor ‘rejection’ with the Victorian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. If the AFA find any evidence of APN carrying religious advertising then this can be used as evidence in the case. Therefore it would be appreciated if all Australians could be on the lookout for religious advertising carried by APN. If anyone sees any religious advertising please let the AFA know by contacting them on their forum, or by leaving a comment here.

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Filed under atheism, Atheist Bus Campaign, jesus, politics

Bailout

I’m sure by now you all know the American government is going to bailout the US car industry?

Well here’s the advert for the bailout. TIC

Bailout Advert

Bailout Advert

click to embiggen – make sure you read the fine print

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Filed under economy, politics

Will the Senate get it right?

The 7.30 report tonight discussed how the Senate is due to discuss private school funding.

A vote is expected in the Senate late tonight on the Government’s controversial $28 billion assistance package for private schools. The Coalition is resisting key elements of the bill, including a national curriculum and public disclosure of the finances of non-government schools. The nation’s top private schools have condemned the public disclosure provisions accusing the Government of a hidden agenda to cut funding, but the Government strongly denies this.

The transcript should be up tomorrow as well as the podcast if you missed it.

Of course the religious private schools are crying foul and don’t think they should disclose where all their money comes from. The interviewees came up with all sorts of lame reasons why they should be above everyone else when it comes to full monetary disclosure, but it was easy to read between the lines:

We don’t want people to find out how rich we are, because the government might not give us as much tax-free taxpayers money.

May write more once the transcript is up.

From the paper a couple of weeks ago, the private schools complaining why they shouldn’t have to disclose where their income comes from, comes this quote:

… half the present courses being scrapped and possibly prohibit the teaching of intelligent design in Christian schools.

Oh dear, the Christian schools, that get vast amounts of tax-free taxpayer’s money, might not be able to afford to teach ID, how sad. </sarcasm>

By all accounts private schools get 2/3 of education funding but only teach 1/3 of all students, how the heck is that right?

update 3 Dec

The Senate vetoed the bill last night, the main reason being stated is that the opposition are not happy with the national curriculum. from abc.net.au/news

Last night the Opposition and Family First Senator Steve Fielding combined to remove the parts of the bill relating to a national curriculum.

But the Government will not accept the amendments when the bill is returned to the Lower House.

The government wants to have a national curriculum for all schools, but, somewhat unfortunately, the curriculum isn’t finalised yet. Hence the opposition and Senator (right-wing fundamentalist religious party) Fielding are saying they can’t pass the bill not knowing what’s going to be in the final draft of the national curriculum. On the face of it this would seem a somewhat reasonable stance, however (donning sceptical hat) I don’t think this is what it is really about. (donning educated guessing hat) I would assume the government’s national curriculum is going to be conservative and aimed to ensure  students throughout Australia all get taught the same basic subject matter (reading, writing, arithmetic), I can’t imagine it’s going to have any outlandish subjects that have to be taught.

So, even though the final draught hasn’t been released, what could possibly be worrying Senator Fielding and members of the opposition? May I hazard a guess, they are worried that the new national curriculum will ban teaching ID and dedicated religious subjects? Who knows?

As Matt points out in the comments not all religious schools teach ID or Creationism, in fact some have very good biology subjects. However there are some schools that teach these subjects, or whilst teaching evolution also teach that the bible is the ultimate authority, hence confusing young impressionable minds.

Have a look at my post A Christian Education for some further information on this topic.

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Filed under christian, politics, private school funding, public school funding

Aussie Atheist Bus Campaign – an update

A couple of days ago it came to my attention that the AFA’s Atheist Bus Campaign has hit another snag. From the transcript of the Religion Report radio broadcast the other day:

… the Atheist Foundation of Australia, who have been refused permission to buy advertising space on public transport.

You might have read in recent weeks that the British Humanist Association, assisted by crusading atheist Richard Dawkins, have been raising money to put their message on London buses. The ads, planned for January, will read, ‘There’s probably no god, now stop worrying and enjoy your life.’

And in Washington, buses are already trundling around with a Christmas message from the American Humanist Association: ‘Why believe in a god? Just be good, for goodness’ sake’.

Well the Atheist Foundation of Australia wants to mount its own campaign, and says that its members and supporters have pledged $16,000 to fund advertisements on buses in Australia. So they’ve approached APN Outdoor, the company that manages public transport advertising in most Australian capitals.

According to the Atheist Foundation’s president, David Nicholls, APN Outdoor said that they had problems with the wording of the proposed message. But then after the Foundation made two sets of changes to the wording, APN Outdoor said they simply weren’t able to accommodate them.

WHY? Just because. David speculates that APN has rejected any and all atheist bus slogans because of the cultural belief that religion has some sort of privileged status. Even mild criticism of religion is shunned.

I suggest you have a read of the transcript or listen to the podcast, it’s quite interesting, After the host finsishes talking to David he contunes the discussion with Greg Clarke, Director of the Macquarie Christian Studies Institute who is open to allowing the atheist bus slogans “as long as it’s done with a level of civility”, which it was.

The radio show continues with a discussion about a new book, ‘In Your Shoes: Interfaith Education for Australian Religious Educators’, which provides advice for teaching students about different religious traditions. Some interesting comments from the author.

Back to APN censoring advertising, it appears that it’s not just atheist slogans they refuse to advertise. APN has also refused to carry the Catholic’s Respect Life Office (RLO) anti-abortion adverts which were going to display graphic pictures [to scare women into not having abortions]. Whilst I think the idea of showing graphic pictures and trying to scare women into not having an abortion is not very productive and amounts to not much more than psycological warfare against women at a time they can be very vulnerable, I’m not sure it’s really up to the advertisers to be censors? Or is it? Who should be ultimately responsible for what gets advertised?

In the article about the RLO’s advertising ban, I thought it was ironic that the RLO are worried about women’s mental health following an abortion. According to them:

Many women seeking help had experienced substance abuse, anxiety, sleep disorders, suicidal thoughts, psychiatric illness, risk-taking behaviour and relationship problems as a result of their abortion.

Well I’ve heard the same thing about women who had found out they were pregnant and didn’t want the child. I’ve also heard of womens lives that have been completely ruined because they were coerced into having a child they didn’t really want, some of these women have experienced the exact same symptoms the RLO described. So who is right and who is wrong? Should abortion be banned because some women feel bad afterwards? NO, I don’t think so, in fact I think if abortion wasn’t so stigmatised, especially by the religious, and women were provided with non-judgemental guidance before, and afterwards if required, a lot less women would have psychological problems with abortion. What do you think?

One more Bus advert banned by APN, ‘The Chasers War on Everything’ DVD release was going to carry the slogan:

“The only good thing to come out of APEC.”

with pictures of their APEC stunt. However APN has banned the advert for being “too political”.

I’m starting to wonder how APN makes any money, as they seem to not want to advertise anything even remotely political or anti-religious.

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Filed under abortion, activism, APEC, APN, atheism, atheist, Atheist Bus Campaign, billboard, Catholic, censorship, christianity, freedom of speech, politics, religion

I’m taking my bat and going home

The Independent Schools Coucil of Australia (ISCA) has threatened to close private schools if the schools funding bill is not passed by Federal Parliament by the end of this year. This is just a scare tactic by the ISCA to bully the government in to handing over money to predominately religious bodies and to try to avoid being properly accounatble for it.

Not surprisingly the ISCA is not happy about having to reveal their funding sources.

“We consider this to be intrusive and unnecessary and will almost certainly lead to a divisive public debate,”  (from abc.net.au/news)

How is it any more intrusive for other money making companies that have to reveal their sources of funding and submit fully audited records? If you want my tax dollars I want to know your financial affairs.

What is so wrong about a public debate on public spending to private schools anyway? Yes it might be divisive when people finally have the blinds removed from their eyes and see how much taxpayers dollars are being spent in order to further religious dogmas. It might be divisive when people wake up and realise that the very rich religious organisations put very little of their own money into their schools. I think the only reason the ISCA are woried about the “divisive public debate” is because they might lose their golden goose.

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Filed under isca, politics, private school funding, public school funding, religion