Monthly Archives: April 2011

Defending the Indefensible: The historical lineage of The Australian Christian Lobby’s Christian ‘values’

This is an article I wrote some weeks ago in response to another outrageous outburst from Jim Wallace of the Australian Christian Lobby.  It got caught up in a queue for publication elsewhere and I subsequently used parts of it to respond to Mr Wallace on Leslie Cannold’s recent article on “Christian Values” on Online Opinion.  I thought it was timely given Mr Wallace’s attack on homosexuals and Muslims today to publish the whole article here.

Update 5 May 2011: Since Wallace’s attack on gay Australians, Victorian MP Geoff Shaw has also revealed the bigotry and extremism of Christian fundamentalism by equating the gay rights with pedophilia and child abuse.  Shaw is a member of the Peninsular City Church (Pentecostal) at Frankston which runs and promotes the Alpha Course which includes significant anti-gay propaganda.  If you read the last link you will see that Shaw’s views mesh exactly with those of the Alpha course teachings.

Around 26AD, so legend has it, a nomadic Jewish preacher defied Jewish law by laying his hand upon a leper. With this simple act, he set an important example of how compassion should override religious tradition, prejudice, fear and self-interest.  I hear a whole religion was built upon the teachings of that nomadic preacher. Sadly, it seems, its adherents remember little of the message he tried to impart. In fact, the Christian church has a very poor record of emulating the man they claim to worship.

Throughout history, those who dared to disagree with the devotees of Jesus of Nazareth have been variously boiled in oil, drowned, dismembered, raped with objects, mutilated, burned, roasted alive, stretched on a rack, massacred with swords and, later, with guns and cannon-fire. The church has never been a great supporter of human rights or social diversity.

In the nineteenth century, when women began agitating for equality and the right to vote, conservative Christians fought them tooth and nail, claiming that women’s subjection to men was founded in ‘natural law’ as handed down by God. Not surprisingly, they quoted Biblical chapter and verse to defend their position.

According to American suffragette, Elizabeth Cady Stanton:

“From the inauguration of the movement for woman’s emancipation the Bible has been used to hold her in the ‘divinely ordained sphere’ prescribed in the Old and New Testaments.

The canon and civil law; church and state; priests and legislators; all political parties and religious denominations have alike taught that woman was made after man, of man, and for man, an inferior being, subject to man.”

While Christians make much of William Wilberforce’s role in ending slavery, less is said about the conservative Christian defence of trading in human misery. In 1823, for example, Richard Furman, a slave holder and leader of the South Carolina Baptist Convention, advised South Carolina’s governor that, “The right of holding slaves is clearly established by the Holy Scriptures, both by precept and example.”

This view was so strongly held that, in 1845, those firmly convinced that slavery was God-ordained formed a separatist group – the Southern Baptist Convention – which survives to this day.  Had the Southern Baptists held the political sway they now hold in the US government, African-Americans may still be totin’ that barge and liftin’ that bail.

In the 1960s, when African-Americans began to fight against their historical oppression and demanded civil rights and an end to segregation, where was the conservative arm of the Christian church? Fighting them every inch of the way.

But surely, not! After all, Martin Luther King was not only a committed Christian but a pastor. So, what was King’s view on the support he received from the church? In 1963, in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”, King wrote:

“I have traveled the length and breadth of Alabama, Mississippi and all the other southern states. On sweltering summer days and crisp autumn mornings I have looked at the South’s beautiful churches with their lofty spires pointing heavenward. I have beheld the impressive outlines of her massive religious education buildings. Over and over I have found myself asking: “What kind of people worship here? Who is their God? Where were their voices when the lips of Governor Barnett dripped with words of interposition and nullification? Where were they when Governor Wallace gave a clarion call for defiance and hatred? Where were their voices of support when bruised and weary Negro men and women decided to rise from the dark dungeons of complacency to the bright hills of creative protest?  Yes, these questions are still in my mind. In deep disappointment I have wept over the laxity of the church.”

In Arkansas, a statement signed by eighty ministers explained the Church’s view on integration:

“This statement is not made with any enmity or hatred in our hearts for the Negro race. We have an abiding love for all people . . . [But] [w]e believe that the best interests of all races are served by segregation …We resent the implication by certain liberal ministers that it is un-Christian to oppose integration. We believe that integration is contrary to the will of God … is based on a false theory of the ‘universal fatherhood of God and the universal brotherhood of man.’ We believe that integration is not only un-Christian, but that it violates all sound sociological principles and is not supported by Scripture or by biological facts.”

Wow!  ‘Contrary to the will of God’, ‘un-Christian’, ‘not supported by Scripture or biological facts’.  Doesn’t this all sound eerily familiar?

In February 2011, Jim Wallace of the Australian Christian Lobby defended the right of religious schools to expel gay students for no other reason except for being gay.  He said he had no qualms about the law and that a church school should have the right to expel any openly gay child.  What an interesting distinction is made here; and how curiously reminiscent of segregation.  “Religious schools should be segregated on the basis of sexual orientation, but we might tolerate you if you can ‘pass as straight’.”

Jim, of course, realizes his stance on this might seem a little … well …  un-Christlike, so he quickly adds a proviso:

“But I would expect any church that found itself in that situation to do that in the most loving way that it could for the child and to reduce absolutely any negative affects … I think it’s a loving response.”

Personally, I’m struggling to understand how you can expel a student, just for being who they are, in a ‘loving’ way;  but then, the religious bigots who opposed racial desegregation also professed their ‘abiding love’ for the Negro people (“But please, just keep them out of our schools and churches.”).

Consider this potted history of conservative Christianity’s record on diversity, human dignity, freedom and tolerance as you read Greens are attacking religious freedom, Jim Wallace’s latest tirade against the ‘homosexual lobby’, published in last week’s Australian. Be careful! Your jaw may shatter as it hits the ground in astonishment at Wallace’s revelation that Christians are being oppressed by homosexuals.

According to Wallace, it is not Christians who seek to inhibit diversity and, through legislation, force all Australians to live in accordance with a particular set of moral values, but homosexuals.  It is an argument of such arrogant audacity and heartless hubris that it left me physically ill and shaking with rage.  It reminded me of a particular quote from another vocal supporter of Christian doctrine:

“If, with the help of his Marxist creed, the Jew is victorious over the other peoples of the world, his crown will be the funeral wreath of humanity and this planet will, as it did thousands of years ago, move through the ether devoid of men.

Eternal Nature inexorably avenges the infringement of her commands.

Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.”

Adolf Hitler (Mein Kampf)

Yes, just as poor old Hitler had to defend humanity against the oppression of the Jews, Jim has to defend Christians against the oppression of the homosexual lobby – and both invoke God as their witness.

It is a time-honoured strategy of bullies and thugs to blame their victims and cast themselves as the oppressed.  It is ‘Religion 101’ to appeal to ‘natural law’ and the ‘will of the Almighty Creator’ in defending the indefensible.

Wallace and the Australian Christian Lobby have tried very hard to portray themselves as religious moderates.  Wallace protests that the ACL is not seeking an Australian theocracy. No! They don’t want a theocracy, they just want laws based on Christian doctrine or, if this can’t be achieved, exemptions to allow Christians to practice the prejudice and bigotry that decent Australians reject.

I thank Mr Wallace for his opinion piece in the The Australian. I hope it will be widely read. For, within this hateful, petty, disingenuous, irrational and self-serving piece of despicable drivel is revealed the true, black and ugly heart of the Australian Christian Lobby andAustralia’s religious right.

Is it only because I don’t believe in resurrection that I am deafened by the sound of Jesus of Nazareth turning in his grave?

Personally, Jim, I think you and your ilk should be expelled from this nation, unless, of course, you can ‘pass’ as civilised human beings. And I mean that, of course, in the most loving way.

Chrys Stevenson

Post Script

Mr Wallace has said today on Sunrise on Seven that Muslims who seek to place their religion above government are ‘extremists’.  Given this statement, it is worth referring my readers to this 2005 article from ACL watcher, Brian Baxter.

A bunch of theocrats: Brig. Jim Wallace and the Australian Christian Lobby – Bruce Baxter

Readers who find the charge that the Australian Christian Lobby’s ultimate goal is an Australian theocracy difficult to believe may find this instructive:

Interview – David Yates, Compass Australia Co-ordinator D.Y: One of the key things that ACL likes to focus on is areas where it can have a disproportionate impact for the Gospel. So, the area of politics and government, where ACL works in, is one particular field. If you can get through government and policy makers then it can influence laws and it can have a disproportionate effect within the culture. 

Related Posts

For a satirical view of this issue, see “Bullets do not  faze me but please don’t call me names”  by Bob Whidon.

Jane Douglas, an ex-Christian, has written a brilliant and insightful piece on Jim Wallace’s tactic (shown above, and also evident in his defence of his indefensibly offensive ANZAC day tweet) of trying to blame the victim.  I have said, above, this is a time honoured tactic of bullies and thugs.  Jane has first-hand experience with ‘bullies and thugs’ and writes, in part:

“… as someone who has close experience of the lasting effect of sexual abuse on children, I feel I need to make this statement:  I warn my kids about people like Jim Wallace in an effort to abuser-proof them. I tell them that bullies and abusers function by fooling us that it not the person who said or did something wrong who is at fault, but rather the poor sod who made an embarrassing fuss about it. I tell them that this is an evil lie.

Abusers harm us, and then slyly try to make us feel ashamed about saying we were harmed. They trick their victims into feeling bad that they spoke up rather than taking responsibility for their own abusive actions. The irony that no fuss would need to have been made had the abuser not acted inappropriately in the first place seems to evade them.It’s this sort of self-preserving manipulation that makes molested children reluctant to disclose the terrible truth of the abuser’s actions for fear of spoiling everyone’s mood and bringing the wrath of the abuser down on their heads. Not that I’m suggesting Jim Wallace is a child molester, but the game is the same. And it should never go unchallenged.”

Extracted from: jim wallace and the despicable tricks of abusers (and arrogant schmucks) by Jane Douglas, Putting her Oar In blog

ANZAC Day Cheapshot from Religious Extremist

See also follow-up article on the Australian Christian Lobby here:  Defending the Indefensible

No matter how much Brigadier Jim Wallace, CEO of the Australian Christian Lobby, may deny his organization’s theocratic ambitions;  no matter how much money the ACL pays a PR company to ‘position’ it in the market-place as ‘moderate’; the undercurrent of extremism keeps shining through brighter than a 60 watt halo on a plastic statue of the resurrected Christ.

Today, ANZAC Day, Brigadier Wallace has chosen to tweet the following message:

Just hope that as we remember Servicemen and women today we remember the Australia they fought for – wasn’t gay marriage and Islamic!

56 minutes ago via TweetDeck

I’m not even going to dignify this with a comment.  I’ll just let the public speak for itself:

authentistic Jeremy McKenna

@JimWallaceACL What they fought for was freedom from prejudice and persecution. For all Australians! #lestweforget
popebrentus Brentus
Oh @JimWallaceACL – you are absolutely pathetic. You make a mockery of the message & love of God & spit in the face of Christ’s sacrifice.
Lesley Dimmock
elldeelosang Lesley Dimmock
@JimWallaceACL Perhaps you need to remember that many gay servicemen and women also fought and died for Australia.
Jason Jordan
jasonjordan Jason Jordan
@JimWallaceACL I think equality and freedom from your kind of low-brow discrimination is what they fought for. Go die in a fire Jimbo.
Not Campbell Newman
Can_do_Campbell Not Campbell Newman

and I’m sorry @JimWallaceACL but being a pompous old windbag is not winning you any friends. Go show some love for your fellow man.
Gavin Miller
gavdanmiller Gavin Miller

Fuck You @JimWallaceACL you ignorant prick – The Australia they fought for was for EVERYONE. That’s what makes our nation great. Turd.
SeeArePe Cameron

please, feel free to join us in the 21st century. Or just fuck off and die @JimWallaceACL
shonias Ariane
@JimWallaceACL @benpobjie The Aus my grandfather fought for also regarded Aboriginal peoples as fauna. I think we can move on.

@JimWallaceACL You’re a right tool. Turning today into another platform for your bigotry? I don’t think the ANZACs fought for that, either.

purserj10:56am via TweetDeckjohnnycau10:56am via web

@JimWallaceACL You are a dill

janek8510:56am via TweetDeckRT @s_bridges: It’s a well-known fact that the Battle of Fromelles pitted Strayans against the evil forces of Islamic gay marriage. (@JimWallaceACL)
jakobein10:56am via Twitter for iPhoneRT @JaneTribune: So @JimWallaceACL wins cocksnap of the day without even breaking a sweat. Go you good thang!
Greybeard310:56am via TweetDeck@JimWallaceACL What a snide, pathetic, mean-minded little jab. So, not one gay serviceman has ever fought (and died) for Australia?
JBAdel10:56am via Twitter for iPhone@JimWallaceACL Congratulations for tweeting the most offensive thing I’ve read in a while. Don’t use ANZAC day to promote bigotry. Vile.
propinqua10:55am via web@JimWallaceACL Although I think freedom did get a guernsey, yes?
dreadpiratemick10:55am via web@JimWallaceACL There are gay and Muslim soldiers fighting for Australia right now, you prat.
GrogsGamut10:55am via HootSuiteRT @canberrajames: +1 RT @macleanbrendan: Best We Forget about @JimWallaceACL and the Australian Christian Lobby.
mjberryman10:55am via Twitter for Mac@JimWallaceACL Just hope you spare a thought for all the atheists who’ve fought & died so you have the right to spout your bigotry & hatred

RT @elldeelosang: @JimWallaceACL Perhaps you need to remember that many gay servicemen and women also fought and died for Australia.

eithniu10:55am via TweetDeckRT @tiffanyff: no @JimWallaceACL, it wasn’t. They fought for freedom, for everyone no matter their sexuality, race or religion

RT @JacobLeigh: We all laugh at the big turd that is @JimWallaceACL but remember our PM thinks appeasing him is more important than meeting gay families.

TheDestroia10:55am via Mobile WebPlease make sure you tell @JimWallaceACL how atrocious his view is. Truly UnAustralian. Total Bigot
eithniu10:55am via EchofonRT @jasonjordan: Please let @JimWallaceACL know what you think of his extremist views. This is the 1st time I have ever called someone UnAustralian.
Deanrizzetti10:55am via webI’m pretty sure @JimWallaceACL has said made the most offensive statement of the year. ACL should sack him#wallacegate
canberrajames10:55am via HootSuite+1 RT @macleanbrendan: Best We Forget about @JimWallaceACL and the Australian Christian Lobby.
sandraom10:55am via EchofonI can’t bring myself to RT it but people should look at what @jimwallaceACL has to say. an appropriate influence on public policy?

@JimWallaceACL For a Christian, what an incredibly unChristian thing to say 🙂 #racism #discrimination

thepatrick10:54am via Twitter for Mac@JimWallaceACL I hope you remember that they fought for an Australia that wasn’t just defined by you.

@JimWallaceACL u and ur christian faith makes me sick 2 the stomach! Dont tell me what my grandparents fought 4. u dont have a fucking clue

Trisha_Jha10:54am via TweetDeck@JimWallaceACL is a disgusting human being.
eithniu10:54am via web@jimwallaceACL if the Christians in the ACL represent real Christianity you will soon be ex-Managing Dir. ACL
popebrentus10:54am via webThis is the disgusting tweet, FYI. RT @JimWallaceACL we remember the Australia they fought for – wasn’t gay marriage and Islamic!

Pretty sure that the Anzacs didn’t fight for trolling lobby groups with more pwer than they really should have. @jimwallaceacl

Thanks to @JimWallaceACL for reminding us the real meaning of ANZAC day. Forget the human cost of war: hate on fags and muslims #douchecanoe

drunkslag10:52am via Twitter for Mac@macleanbrendan does @jimwallaceacl realise that it was also an Australia with a White Australia policy, stolen generations etc.?

@JimWallaceACL I know what my grandmother fought for because she told me: “To keep that totalitarian bullshit in Europe where it belongs.”

no @JimWallaceACL, it wasn’t. They fought for freedom, for everyone no matter their sexuality, race or religion

_Spock10:52am via Twitter for iPhoneRT @benpobjie: thank god for @JimWallaceACL, who reminds us that even on this most solemn of days we can always make time to spread a bit of bigotry
SeanBMcMahon10:52am via Twitter for iPhone@TheDestroia Holy crap. I had to reread twice. Couldn’t believe you’d retweeted it til I saw your tweet before. Shameful @JimWallaceACL
Drive2WorkWeek10:52am via Twitter for iPhone@JimWallaceACL my family fought since the great war against fanatics and bigots like you. I garantee they didnt fight for you! Religeon?!

RT @elldeelosang: @JimWallaceACL Perhaps you need to remember that many gay servicemen and women also fought and died for Australia.

@JimWallaceACL So you didn’t fight for the constitution nor for freedom What a tragedy.

popebrentus10:51am via webP.S. @JimWallaceACL Your entire ‘Christian’ organisation sickens me. You do not speak for me & you never, ever will.
RobLindner8910:51am via Mobile Web@JimWallaceACL You sir, are a cunt. Go fuck yourself.
darkdirk10:50am via Tweetbot for iPhone@JimWallaceACL You really are a fucking arsehole. Jesus said love everyone, dipshit. I guess you preferred the Pharisees
beyondbeeton10:50am via twidroydReally, @JimWallaceACL? My grandfather was shot fighting for freedom, even for bigots like you.
iamjomcmahon10:50am via webRT @amoir: @JimWallaceACL My Gallipoli Grandad didn’t fight for wowserism or for a turd like you to ransack his ghost & imply he was anti-gay & racist
Drive2WorkWeek10:50am via Twitter for iPhone@JimWallaceACL they also didnt fight for the opressive christian views of PC fuckwits like u. BTW God doesnt exist u devisive piece of shit
Can_do_Campbell10:49am via webRT @amoir: @JimWallaceACL My Gallipoli Grandad didn’t fight for wowserism or for a turd like you to ransack his ghost & imply he was anti-gay & racist

@JimWallaceACL What they fought for was freedom from prejudice and persecution. For all Australians! #lestweforget

Oh @JimWallaceACL – you are absolutely pathetic. You make a mockery of the message & love of God & spit in the face of Christ’s sacrifice.
bastardsheep10:47am via TweetDeckRT @koosli: Clearly @JimWallaceACL doesn’t know a thing about the culture of respect btw ANZACs & Turks (ie “Islamics”) at Gallipoli.
elldeelosang10:47am via web@JimWallaceACL Perhaps you need to remember that many gay servicemen and women also fought and died for Australia.

and I’m sorry @JimWallaceACL but being a pompous old windbag is not winning you any friends. Go show some love for your fellow man.

canberrajames10:46am via HootSuite@JimWallaceACL wow. just wow. I didn’t you could be more of an idiot: you proved me wrong.

Fuck You @JimWallaceACL you ignorant prick – The Australia they fought for was for EVERYONE. That’s what makes our nation great. Turd.

SeeArePe10:46am via Echofonplease, feel free to join us in the 21st century. Or just fuck off and die @JimWallaceACL

@_jaytalking unfortunately people like @JimWallaceACL exist.

@JimWallaceACL My father didn’t fight in N Guinea for wowserism or for a turd like you to ransack his ghost & imply he was anti-gay & racist

amoir10:45am via web. @JimWallaceACL Anzac Day: people gave their blood and sanity in those wars so you can be indulgently, hatefully irrelevant.
Can_do_Campbell10:44am via Twitter for iPadits people like you @JimWallaceACL who hijack an event like Anzac Day for your own particular whacko theories, that do damage to religion.

@JimWallaceACL Christians like you give the rest of us a bad name. So much for those silly commandments Jesus gave us – love one another.

GibbotMOL10:44am via web@JimWallaceACL must be looking for his own unique definition of dickwad. I’m sure some nice Muslim man will help him find it.

RT @weezmgk: Unlike bigoted hater @JimWallaceACL, I’m accepting & generous. I would even give him a crowbar to help him get his head out of his ass.

RT @s_bridges: Obviously @JimWallaceACL is a man of God because he loves all of God’s creatures, except for the poofs and the Moooooslems.

RT @erinnish: Wow. @JimWallaceACL So many fought and died so we wouldn’t have to live under fascism. Well done for missing that salient point completely.

Hryelle10:42am via weball the bigots and racists like @JimWallaceACL come out on ANZAC day.

And I would suggest @JimWallaceACL that they didn’t fight for ignorant, bigoted, racist, irrelevant, old men like you.

Trisha_Jha10:39am via Twitter for iPhoneRT @benpobjie: thank god for @JimWallaceACL, who reminds us that even on this most solemn of days we can always make time to spread a bit of bigotry
Can_do_Campbell10:39am via Twitter for iPadCan we pls remind @JimWallaceACL that the diggers didn’t choose who they fought for. They fought for every Australian. Man. Women. Child.
Dawkinsb10:39am via webThese people have influence?MT @JimWallaceACL as we remember Servicemen and women today… they fought for -wasn’t gay marriage and Islamic!

Will the Prime Minister speak out against this?  Will the ACL do the Christian thing and send this homophobic old bigot into early retirement?  Will the Australian Army strip him of any honours for his bigotry towards serving men and women in the ADFS? Don’t hold your breath.

Chrys Stevenson

Post Script

Faced with this onslaught of negative publicity Jim tweeted about an hour later:

“Ok you are right my apologies this was the wrong context to raise these issues. ANZACs mean too much to me to demean this day, not intended.”

Well, of course it was intended!  ANZACS obviously didn’t mean enough to him to stop him from using them to make a cheapshot at homosexuals and Muslim Australians.  Not good enough Jim and the apology is an abysmal fail.

And then, in what is becoming Jim’s typical response to plead ‘victimisation’ when he is the aggressor he says:  he expected people to take “advantage” of his comments on Twitter to “score a point”…

No Jim, it was YOU trying to score points by exploiting dead soldiers and presenting a warped, divisive and bigoted view of what they fought for.   The public just responded to this self-serving assault on our national day of remembrance.  Shame.

And as the day wore on the spin from our friend Jim would have put Warnie to shame.  Now, apparently, Jim is the victim and he was simply ‘misrepresented’.  Keep digging Jim, you’ll soon be in China.

Related Links

I have posted a follow-up article on the historical lineage of the Australian Christian Lobby’s ‘Christian values’ here:  Defending the Indefensible

Jimbo’s bigotry makes the news and blogs:

From 2005 and oldie but a goodie:  A bunch of theocrats: Brig. Jim Wallace and the Australian Christian Lobby – Bruce Baxter

Wallace and ANZAC Day 2011 – Bruce Llama

Jim Wallace and foot in mouth disease strikes the Antipodes on Anzac Day – Loon Pond

Lest we forget – Anzac day’s not for politics – Conscience Vote

Jim Wallace from Australian Christian Lobby causes Anzac Day outrage with anti-gay, anti-Muslim Twitter message – Courier Mail

Rod Swift blog post about Jim Wallace

Prime Minister Gillard, The Australian, Derryn Hinch & Hypocrisy

Well, I don’t get many days like this in my otherwise bucolic life perched on top of a mountain in a crooked little cottage in the Sunshine Coast hinterland.

I was somewhat chuffed this morning to see that my letter to the editor of The Australian regarding this article had been published.  It said:

“I was floored by the breathtaking hypocrisy of Julia Gillard’s assurances to Christian leaders (“Gillard reaches out to churches”, 5/4).

Gillard, an atheist, denies her fellow Australians the right to same-sex marriage and euthanasia because of her commitment to “traditional values” but happily flouts those same “Christian values” by “living in sin” at The Lodge.

It seems our Prime Minister is happy to sell out others’ rights and freedoms to pander to Christian lobbyists, while exercising her own right to live in breach of the “values” she so righteously espouses.

Chrys Stevenson, Qld

So, after that little flurry of excitement, the day settled down to its domestic drudgery and we were just sitting down to lunch when the phone rang.  It was a lovely young lady from 3AW who said Derryn Hinch had read the letter and would I be willing to chat to him on air this evening.

I frantically wondered who I could suggest instead of me, but realized if he wanted to talk about my letter, a substitute ‘me’ probably wasn’t going to get the gig.  So I said breezily, “Sure, happy to chat!” and spent the rest of the afternoon paralysed by fear.  I did wonder briefly whether I should shower, make-up and change out of my tracky-dacks, but decided that might be taking things a little too far for a radio interview.

The phone rang just after 5pm.  Hinch did an ‘editorial piece’ about the article and my letter and then introduced me.  Luckily, as so often happens in these cases, the nerves fell away once I was on air and I just concentrated on the message I wanted to deliver.

I think the interview went pretty well (even if I do say so myself!) and you can listen to it here:

Derryn Hinch interview with Chrys Stevenson on 3AW, 6 April

Hinch was very easy to talk to and it was reassuring that he shared my views, so I knew I wasn’t going to be ambushed!

Chrys Stevenson

Further Reading:

Census – No Religion


If freedom of religion is the question, secularism is the answer

Waaaay back in late 2007,  Australian members from Atheist Nexus’ Aussie, Kiwi and South Pacific Atheists formed a working group to compile a report on Freedom of Religion and Belief in the 21st Century for the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC).  I was the main researcher and writer for the report which you can read here. (Warning – it’s long!)

This issue was of such public interest that the AHRC received nearly 2000 submissions.  A group of academics was commissioned to produce a meta-analysis and this was due out at the end of 2008.  In fact, it has only just been released. You can read it here. (Warning – it’s long!)

My critique of the AHRC report on Freedom of Religion and Belief in the 21st Century has been published on Online Opinion today.  You can read it here. (Please feel free to make a comment and, if you enjoy the article, click ‘like’!)

Here is a short extract:

Initially scheduled for release at the end of 2008, a meta-analysis of the submissions and nationwide public consultation process has only just been published. Given the wealth and diversity of input, the involvement of some of Australia’s leading academics, and the length of time taken to produce the report, I expected something really ‘meaty’ with some decisive recommendations for action. Instead, by trying to please everyone, the result is a disappointingly shallow and, at times, biased, analysis concluding in a number of rather vague and half-hearted recommendations.

I certainly appreciate the difficulty of providing a satisfying synthesis of so many diverse opinions over a very broad range of subjects, but the report prepared by Professor Gary Bouma, Professor Desmond Cahill, Dr Hass Dellal and Athalia Zwartz just seems … well … wishy-washy. After reading nearly 2000 submissions and three years of careful consideration the main conclusions drawn from the research are – ta-dah! – that ‘there is a need to develop appropriate responses to the unique and varied Australian religious contexts and settings’ and that better education about Australia’s diverse religions will help to reduce ignorance and fear. Really? That’s it? …..

Chrys Stevenson