Tag Archives: religion

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

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

NSCP – I’ve had my say

Now have yours.

The Department of Education, Employment, and Workplace Relations has posted an online survey requesting feedback on the National Schools Chaplaincy Program(NSCP), which Godless Business has posted about before. The survey asks 15 questions, some of which are check boxes the remainder require a short written answer.

My responses are as follows:

1 – Yes
2 – No, I think the minimum qualification should be higher
3 – Bachelor / University degree
4 – Youth work, Negotiation skills, Counselling skills, Other: Secular, Non-religious.
5 – Currently there is no requirement for chaplains to be qualified, this is a complete disgrace considering we are talking about vulnerable and impressionable children. Aside from the fact there should NOT be chaplains in public schools in the first place, school counsellors should have appropriate counselling qualifications, such as a Degree in psychology or similar.
6 – Yes
7 – Service providers should be suitably qualified to deal with all problems children may experience. They should, as much as possible, be free from any and all biases. Religious chaplains, due to the dogmas of their respective churches, carry biases, such as anti-abortion, anti-homosexuality, that may make it more difficult for them to provide unbiased information to some children.
8 – Service providers should have qualifications that are recognised by applicable government medical authorities.
9 – Definitely not. The whole NSCP should be scrapped and replaced with a system that employs suitably qualified youth workers and/or psychologists. Counsellors should not be employed solely on the basis that are religious.
10 – Yes. And no. This question is loaded, in fact this whole questionnaire is loaded. It is being presented as though a chaplain is the best/only solution, and offering an option to include a non-faith based support worker is somehow being generous. You are avoiding the whole issue – it should not be about faith based versus non-faith based, it should be about employing the best people for the job regardless of their superstitions.
11 – Having support workers chosen based purely on their religious leanings is discriminatory and does not enable a school to choose the best, most suitably qualified, person for the job.
12 – An administration model that provides as many suitably qualified psychologists as possible, backed up by suitably qualified youth workers, and where requested suitably qualified pastoral care workers.
13 – Pooled funding
14 – The current system is not innovative in any way shape or form, having a system that employs religious chaplains as workers in schools harks back to the dark ages rather than the 21 century.
Computer based delivery systems could be utilised that provide guidance and information for common problems, that then link a child to a suitably qualified psychologist. For rural/remote areas, systems such as skype could be a cheap and effective one-to-one delivery system for initial consultations. A pool of suitably qualified support workers could be on hand to go to areas of need as required.
15 – Why is our government even supporting a chaplaincy program in the first place? Surely this program is both unconstitutional and discriminatory? The concept of “chaplain” implies a very Christian centred program, what about other religions and non-religious children? Doesn’t the current program discriminate against them in some way? The whole NSCP should be scrapped and a new secular program instigated that provides personnel who are suitably trained to look after the needs of all children in a non-discriminatory, non-religious, non-judgemental, non-proselytising, non-evangelising, non-biased way.

Feel free to use my responses as an aid in responding yourself, additional responses can be found at the AFA Forum on this thread, which can also be used to assist you in writing your own responses.

H/T to askegg from Godless Business for the opening paragraph and information about the NSCP and ideas for answers to the survey.

Now go and fill in the survey yourself.

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Not religious now?

The Mark NO RELIGION on the 2011 Census, take religion OUT of politics web site is now live. Check it out for lots of FAQs and reasons why you should mark “No Religion” on the 2011 Census if you are no longer religious, and why you should mark “No Religion” for your children.

The census categorises people into age brackets, the following link accesses the .xls spreadsheet for religion by age for Australia for 1996, 2001, & 2006. As you’ll note the first age bracket is 0 -14 years old. From the Atheist Foundation of Australia’s (AFA) Census No Religion web site:

Generally an adult fills in the questionnaire and may mark young and adolescent children as having a religious belief without their input. The largest percentage of people who hold no religious view are in the adolescence to young adulthood range, which may be as high as 50%.

Many children have not decided which set of religious beliefs they will accept as true, or thought through the ramifications of those beliefs. We therefore believe it is unfair and inaccurate to label these children has belonging to a religion. However, if you are certain the child in question truly believes the tenets of a religion, please select the appropriate option.

Just because your child was born into your religion doesn’t automatically make them a follower or believer of that religion. I’m no expert, but I doubt any child under the age of 5 can seriously make a considered decision, after taking into account all the facts and being provided with all the options, about what religion they are. In fact I doubt most children under the age of 14 can. So please, unless your child seriously claims they are a follower of a particular religion, mark them as “No Religion” on the 2011 Census.

H/T to RealityRules on the AFA forum for the link to the spreadsheet.

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Filed under atheism, atheist, census, census 2011, religion, religious

Census 2011 UK

As stated in my previous post Census 2011, the UK also have a census this year and also have a census campaign. On the AFA Forum member Davo posted this great youtube video from the UK campaign. Apart from some of the items mentioned in the “used to justify the following policies” section, this video is also very relevant to the Australian Census and the AFA’s Census 2011 campaign.

Watch it and leave comments, particularly like to know what an equivalent one should mention in the ‘justify the following policies’ section.

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Census 2011

As readers of my blog may remember, I have discussed the Australian Census several times before (use the search bar to review old posts) and how the religion question is skewed toward people noting they have a religion when in fact many of them are actually not religious. Like many other countries which are having a census this year (UK, Ireland, NZ) campaigns are in motion to get these people to mark ‘No Religion’ on the census form if they are not religious. The Atheist Foundation of Australia are spearheading the campaign in Australia and currently plan to have billboards across the nation in major cities stating “Census 2011: Not religious now? Mark ‘No religion’ and take religion out of politics.”

The billboards will look like this (click pic for full size image):

NOTE: I have changed my Header picture to the above picture and will have it there until after the census, as long as the AFA don’t mind?

They also have a nice round logo (click pic for full size image):

The AFA are asking for donations to help fund the billboards, if you are interested check the AFA’s site for details. Plus they have a range of products for sale on the cafepress site to help raise much needed funds. Why not do your bit? If you can’t afford to spend any money at least spread the word.

There is an active discussion of the Census 2011 topic on the AFA’s forum if you want to keep abreast with news and updates. I posted the following on the site today:

Great to see the Census campaign has started up, but I have an important question.

Has the AFA contacted like minded organisations (eg: Political parties who would be interested such as the Secular Party of Australia or the Sex Party ; or like minded organisations like The Rationalist Society of Australia or the Australian Skeptics; or campaigning organisations like Getup) ?

Whilst I’m sure a Billboard will have some impact to the people who see it and, if we are lucky, a further impact from mainstream media if they pick it up as a story; having more organisations involved would surely help our cause, and assist in reaching the message to a wider audience?

I also agree that a facebook and twitter account should be available for those who like to spread a message via online means.

I have sent a tweet this morning linking to the AFA site.

Apologies if the AFA committee are already in the process of contacting like minded organisations.

Well it looks like the AFA committee are in the process as David replied that they have “an extensive list of media outlets and other organisations. They have been contacted.”

 

So lets spread the message and see if we can’t get a more accurate measure of the non-religious in Australia at this years census. Remember your tax dollars go toward funding various religions and their activities and the government hands out these tax dollars. Perhaps the government wouldn’t be so inclined to spend so much tax money on religions if they found out there isn’t as many religious people as they thought?

Remember mark ‘No Religion’ on your census form this year, and mark ‘No Religion’ for all your children, as Dawkins says children shouldn’t be labelled little christians or little muslims just because that’s what religion their parents follow. Children are too young to have formed a viable opinion as to what religion, if any, they are.

In 2011 you will be able to fill in your Census form online via the eCensus. You can also register to deliever and collect census forms if you are so inclined. Check the ABS Census page for information

More to follow as the Census 2011 and Census 2011 ‘No Religion’ campaign progresses.

 

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