Tag Archives: Australian Christian Lobby

Has our first female PM legitimised misogyny?

18 Jan

“We all recognise that if there’s one overarching issue for women it’s the way that religion can be manipulated to subjugate women.” Mary Robinson, first female President of Ireland, former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Late in 2012 Australia’s first female Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, made a stirring and globally applauded speech in the House of Representatives, on misogyny and sexism in the Parliament.

Ms Gillard declared “I will not be lectured on sexism and misogyny by the Leader of the Opposition.”

Ms Gillard asked: “What does misogyny look like to modern Australia?”

Ms Gillard deplored LOTO Tony Abbott’s double standards when it comes to misogyny and sexism.

Ms Gillard demanded Tony Abbott apologise to the women of Australia for his misogyny and sexism.

Ms Gillard stated “I am always offended by sexism and statements that are anti women.”

Ms Gillard declared “Double standards should not rule this parliament” and “sexism is always unacceptable” and that “we are entitled to a better standard than this.”

Prime Minister Gillard was absolutely right on all counts, and the stand she took was long overdue.

The Gillard government has undertaken the consolidation of anti discrimination legislation. In the course of this it has decided to preserve existing exemptions that permit religious organisations to discriminate against , as David Marr puts it:  any or all gays and lesbians, single mothers, adulterers – yes, even adulterers! – bisexuals, transsexuals, the intersex and couples such as Julia Gillard and Tim Mathieson.

The practical outcomes for women of these exemptions  are starkly illustrated in this story of an unmarried teacher who became pregnant and was subsequently sacked from her job at a Christian kindergarten in Queensland.

Australian Christian Lobby CEO Jim Wallace claims Julia Gillard “reassured” religious organisations that they would retain their right to discriminate against women in this manner, as well as to discriminate against women who live in de facto relationships, women who commit “adultery,” women who are bisexual and lesbian, and the intersex.

It is unclear how much of this discrimination is directed against men, except in the case of gay men, who it seems are not regarded as “real” men by religious groups such as the ACL and Christians the ACL claims to represent. Women who transgress the ACL’s rigid criteria are demonised by the Lobby’s determination to exclude them from the right to employment, not because they are in any way unable to perform the work required, but because of their “lifestyle.” Whether or not the man who impregnates the single woman is similarly discriminated against remains unclear.

British philosopher AC Grayling in The Guardian:  I leave to you the not very congenial task of totting up the ways in which more enthusiastic forms of religion in general, not just Islam but Roman Catholicism, puritanical forms of Protestantism, and orthodox Judaism, have treated women: all the way from closeting them, covering the up, and silencing them, to sewing up their vaginas: it is a ghastly litany of repression, all the less excusable because discrimination against women which began in these ways persists in our society in modified forms: the fact that a woman earns about 70% of what an equally qualified and experienced man does is a residue in our own society of the attitude which in today’s sharia law states that a woman is worth half a man.

The ACL is anti-abortion, and against the use of the drug RU 486, licensed in Australia only for the termination of very early pregnancies. They strongly object to Australian aid being used to promote family planning in recipient countries. In other words the ACL is keenly interested in controlling and regulating women’s bodies, at home and abroad.

Former US President and Christian Jimmy Carter: The truth is that male religious leaders have had – and still have – an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world. This is in clear violation not just of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of other great religions – all of whom have called for proper and equitable treatment of all the children of God. It is time we had the courage to challenge these views and set a new course that demands equal rights for women and men, girls and boys.

At their most repugnant, the belief that women are inferior human beings in the eyes of God gives excuses to the brutal husband who beats his wife, the soldier who rapes a woman, the employer who has a lower pay scale for women employees, or parents who decide to abort a female embryo. It also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair and equal access to education, health care, employment, and influence within their own communities.

Australia’s first female Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, has chosen to walk a path that is very different from that of Mary Robinson as far as women are concerned. Ms Gillard has, by pandering to the demands of religious bodies for exemptions to anti discrimination law, legitimised the religious misogyny that perpetuates the myth of female inferiority, to the degree that we are not considered capable or worthy enough to retain control over our own bodies. Ms Gillard has legitimised a misogyny that would deny her the right to employment because of her “lifestyle” as a single woman living with a man. Would her partner Mr Mathieson also be denied employment?

Ms Gillard has legitimised a religious misogyny that believes it is righteous to sack unmarried pregnant women, at a time when they and their unborn babies most need support. At the same time, they would if they could deny a single pregnant woman access to abortion, if that was her choice.

Ms Gillard has thrown her support behind a Christian cult with unsettling links to “dominionist organisations throughout the world, not least through its own board and staff.” (I strongly recommend reading Chrys Stevenson’s excellent piece to which I have linked, in which she unpacks the connections between dominionists and the ACL).

The National Alliance of Christian Leaders (NACL) with whom ACL is closely associated, stated their goals thus: “… unity in truth; recognition of Christ’s authority in the church, family, individual and government; … legislature to force Christian values; … the kingdom permeating the structures of society; biblical government.”

Ms Gillard, an atheist, has capitulated to the demands of organisations such as these and has enabled them to enact their stated goal of introducing “legislature to force Christian values” on our secular society.

Dear Ms Gillard

I will not be lectured on sexism and misogyny by you.

Dear Ms Gillard

What does misogyny look like in modern Australia?

Dear Ms Gillard

I deplore double standards when it comes to misogyny and sexism.

Dear Ms Gillard

I am always offended by sexism and statements that are anti women.

Dear Ms Gillard

I agree absolutely that “Double standards should not rule this parliament” and “sexism is always unacceptable” and that “we are entitled to a better standard than this.”

Dear Ms Gillard

What are you going to do about it?

Jennifer Wilson. Woman.

ACL’s Wallace claims PM promised religious exemptions will stay

16 Jan
Wallace & Gillard

Swan & Gillard

( I’ve  just changed the caption on this image. When I put it up last evening I thought at first blush that was Jim Wallace.  Never noticed before how similar they look. LOL. Apologies.)

Jim Wallace, head of the Australian Christian Lobby, claims in this article that Prime Minister Julia Gillard has reassured him that the privileges currently enjoyed by religious organisations that allow them exemption from anti discrimination laws will be maintained.

It’s timely to recall that the day after Ms Gillard replaced Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister, she made a point in her first speech after assuming office of inexplicably announcing that she would not make any changes to the Marriage Act. It’s likely that nobody much cared at that particular moment, reeling as we were from the shock of completely unanticipated events. Was this also an assurance to the ACL, an assurance that gay marriage would not be legalised on her watch?

The article states: The Government says those exemptions apply where the conduct conforms to the doctrines of the religion or is necessary to avoid offending the religious sensitivities of adherents.

On this evening’s ABC PM program, Labor Senator Doug Cameron complained somewhat bitterly that this matter had not been discussed in Caucus, and the PM has offered these reassurances to Mr Wallace without proper consultation. Senator Cameron feels strongly that the way to deal with this situation is for religious organisations to be as answerable to anti discrimination legislation as everyone else, when they are being funded from the public purse. Apparently this is the case in the UK, and it works well.

This book is for sale on the ACL website

This book is for sale on the ACL website

This image gives an insight into the kind of minds and belief systems to which Ms Gillard has astoundingly chosen to pander.

If a religion has to harm others in order to maintain its integrity, there is something seriously awry with that religion.

As for  “offending the religious sensitivities of adherents,” what is so exceptional about religious sensitivity that it must be exempted from laws that the rest of us must observe?

I’m told that Ms Gillard owes a significant debt to some Christians in the ALP who allegedly backed her ascension to the top job. Part of her repayment plan, apparently, is to maintain the illusion of exceptionalism these Christians nurture for themselves and their belief system.

We are faced with the choice between a devout catholic PM in Tony Abbott, and an atheist PM in Julia Gillard. However, given Ms Gillard’s unrelenting commitment to religious sensitivities and values, as opposed to basic human rights, one has to pity the voters who put their faith in the separation of church and state for the paucity of choice available to them.

I think I’m done with you now, Ms Gillard.

5 Sep

After an absolute tosspot of a day negotiating with the galaxy’s most arrogant medical practitioners ever, I come home to find that Julia Gillard is giving the keynote address at the Australian Christian Lobby Conference in October.

I have studiously refrained from criticising the PM over the last few months. I have heeded my grandmother’s caution: “If you can’t say something pleasant don’t say anything at all.”

But now the feckin gloves are off. Any woman who can support the ACL to that extent is not my friend. Keynote speaker at the ACL National Conference?  

SAY IT ISN’T SO!!

Become a school chaplain: no qualifications needed, just believe in God

28 Jun

Here is the description of the School Chaplaincy Program taken from website of the Department of Education,Employment and Workplace Relations:

This voluntary program assists schools and their communities to support the spiritual wellbeing of students. This may include support and guidance about ethics, values, relationships, spirituality and religious issues, the provision of pastoral care and enhanced engagement with the broader community.

School chaplains are not required to have any qualifications at all, in any field. Yet they are charged with the responsibility of “guiding” students through the minefields of relationships, ethics, values and spirituality.

It’s intolerably negligent of the government, and schools participating in this program,  to permit any one in a school community to “provide guidance” to school students in the complex and sensitive areas of ethics, values, relationships, and spirituality, without any training at all in these areas, or any other for that matter.

The provision of these unqualified “support” chaplains in our schools is costing us $165 million over three years.

Do we have unqualified nursing assistants in hospitals? Do we have unqualified teachers’ aides in schools?

The program overview continues:

While recognising that an individual chaplain will in good faith express his or her belief and articulate values consistent with his or her denomination or religious belief, a chaplain should not take advantage of his or her privileged position to proselytise for that denomination or religious belief.

I read this with utter incredulity. The chaplain is not required to have any qualifications, but the chaplain is permitted to articulate beliefs and values consistent with his or her denomination or religious beliefs.

As the school chaplains have no qualifications in the areas in which they are supposed to provide “guidance” for students,one can safely assume the the government doesn’t really expect them to do that. Or if the government does expect them to do that, this is a bigger scandal than that of the unqualified installers of pink batts.

Scripture Union of Queensland is a prominent supplier of school chaplains.From their website:

Working alongside other caring professionals, SU QLD Chaplains care for young people’s spiritual and emotional needs through pastoral care, activity programs, community outreach and adventure-based learning.

Most importantly, SU QLD Chaplains provide a personal point of Christian contact, care and support for students, teachers and their families within their schools.

And there we have it. School chaplains are in public schools to promote Christianity. That’s the only thing they are “qualified” to do. All the job requires is a belief in the Christian god.

It’s dangerously negligent for the government and schools to let  untrained chaplains loose in schools, giving them an entirely unearned privileged position advising students on relationships, ethics, values and spirituality. The only thing they can possibly do is advise students from a Christian perspective. In the wider world, we have a choice about who we go to for guidance and advice. Nobody forces us to go to the Christians or any other religious group. Yet in our public schools students have as their source of guidance the unqualified religious?

What happens to, say, a student struggling with their sexual identity who thinks they might be gay? Given the dominant Christian perspective on homosexuals as articulated by the Australian Christian Lobby’s Jim Wallace, which is to lovingly expel them.

The questions for Minister Peter Garrett are: why isn’t this money being used to provide more qualified counsellors in schools? Why is the government financially supporting religious activity in public schools? Why is the Minister putting children at risk by offering them guidance from people who are totally unqualified to give it?

This is a completely unacceptable situation from every perspective. Our students are entitled to qualified non-religious counselling when they’re in difficulties. To offer them religious proselytising instead is despicable.


Julia Gillard: our First Hollow Woman.

3 Apr

by Debbi Long via flickr

I’ve been in denial about Julia Gillard‘s prime ministership since her first day on the job. I’ve only just decided I’d better examine this unhealthy emotional defense, and my resistance to doing even that is strong.

The most common form my denial takes is whenever I see or hear Gillard I struggle to block her right out of my awareness. I don’t just “switch off,” I wish it was that easy, no, I have to actively deny her entry into my consciousness, rather like a metaphysical turning of not just my back, but my whole being.

If I’m not quick enough, and she gets in despite my lack of hospitality, I find myself swearing without either finesse or coherence, as well as making the medieval hand gesture used to ward off the devil, that one like the “call me” sign but with the first and pinky fingers and facing the other way, usually directed towards the enemy’s third eye.

I used this against John Howard as well, I’m not partisan.

The thought that generally accompanies this bit of theatre is “She’s not really our Prime Minister, someone else is, she’s just a pretend one till the real one comes along, so I don’t need to listen to anything she says, she’s a usurper.”

It isn’t just  question of not believing a word she says. I didn’t like how she acquired the top job. I didn’t like the maternalistic undercurrents revealed in what she told us when she took over, along the lines of: “the government has lost it’s way and I’m here now to get it back on track.” Tickets on herself, is what I thought, an understandable assessment when we recall that hardly anybody in the general population knew what was going on in federal Labor at the time.

I didn’t like her rush to placate the Australian Christian Lobby‘s fears that gay marriage might be legalized. I didn’t like her rush to console xenophobic focus groups with promises of off shore asylum seeker processing in East Timor. These very early comments, when most of us were still in shock and had other things on our minds, signaled that her primary concern was pleasing interest groups the ALP perceived as pivotal to them staying in power, rather than any wider concern for the country.

I didn’t like the “real and realler” Julia idiocy, and instinctively felt that anyone who has to tell the world they’re going to be real now when they weren’t before is probably permanently untrustworthy, and terminally lacking in credibility. I wonder to this day how any self-respecting woman could think it was OK to make such coyly precious announcements about herself, while simultaneously appearing in an airbrushed and highly glamourised state in the Women’s Weekly. I wonder as well, what it says about that woman if she secretly thought the real/unreal Julia thing was crap, but did it anyway because the faceless men told her she should.

I railed vigorously about this at the time and some of my friends told me to shut TF up, anything was allowed because we had to stop Tony Abbott. I didn’t talk to them for a while, on account of what looked to me like their dodgy means to an end morality.

I still can’t get a sense of the “real” Julia. I don’t know who she is or what she stands for, and if she has any wisdom and vision, it’s not apparent to me. Julia Gillard is, as far as I can tell, entirely a product of the ALP machine, and she will do whatever it takes to keep that machine functioning and in power, like all good middle managers should.

It isn’t the country she cares about. It’s the ALP running the country that is her primary concern. In this, Julia Gillard is our First Hollow Woman.

I thought this morning that my emotions on this matter (as opposed to my rational thoughts) are rather like those of the adolescent who suddenly acquires a step-parent. The individual concerned has been around for a while as Mum or Dad’s love interest, and you’ve coped with them because they haven’t actually moved in. But suddenly there’s a marriage, or a move into de facto status, and they’re in the family, taking the place of the real parent who left or died.

You hate the interloper. You can’t help it, they’re not who you want to be there and they wield power you feel they have no right to have. Your life’s mission becomes getting rid of them. In your opinion, they have no authority, moral or otherwise. They got the position because they either pushed the real parent out, or leapt in when there was a sudden vacancy you didn’t have any control over. It’s not fair, you aren’t going to accept it, and anybody who thinks you’ll eventually come round has rocks in their head.

Which is not to say I’m pining for Kevin, because I’m not. I just want somebody I can look up to: it’s lonely when there’s no one at the top to admire.

Gillard is only PM because of those pesky Independents, she doesn’t have a mandate. It is extremely unfair, in my opinion, that we should have been faced with a choice between her and Tony Abbott, no country deserves that fate, although there are those who argue that we get the governments and leaders we deserve.

Taking a step back from my adolescent-like prejudices against the PM, and looking at it woman to woman, I find I still don’t see Gillard as having wisdom and vision. Were I to encounter her in the workplace I would watch my back, keep my distance, and never go for an after work drink with her because she’s not the type who’d consider anything off the record, and watching my mouth when I’m trying to relax is counter productive. She’s a political woman through and through, and she’d give them her life and yours.

To be fair, wisdom is a quality that is sadly lacking across the board in our politics. It seems to have become negatively associated with the ageing process, although some claim to find wisdom in the eyes of the newborn. Either way, it doesn’t have much attraction for the masters and mistresses of our political universe. Wisdom is unfashionable. A choice was made between wisdom and focus groups and the latter won hands down. Common sense was collateral damage.

As for their vision, well, that seems to be entirely restricted to their vision of their own potential power. That has quite possibly always been the case with politicians. I’m scared to posit a past when leaders were really leaders, and the people who elected them were far more deserving of quality and wisdom than are we.

Government’s brand new 12 year plan to end domestic violence is already out of date

20 Mar

by Laurent Fintoni via flickr

 

Kate Ellis, Minister for the Status of Women, launched a 12-year national plan last month that is designed to reduce violence against women and children.

The plan is based on research that indicates as many as one in three Australian women will experience physical, sexual and emotional abuse by men during their lifetimes.

The plan expresses the intention to address social norms and practices, rigid beliefs about gender role expectations and cultural values, all of which contribute to a society in which violence against women and children is endemic.

Currently, there are more reported assaults on women by men.

However, what the plan completely neglects to address is that there is also a great deal of anecdotal evidence that women are the primary perpetrators of the emotional abuse of children, with disastrous and long-lasting effects.

Any 12-year national plan to prevent violence against children should include proper and full investigation into this type of child abuse. Why doesn’t this one?

Paucity of empirical research

While there are studies on female violence against male partners, it’s difficult to find current research on the occurrence and effects of maternal emotional abuse on children, and on the adults they become. Research has lagged behind clinical experience, notes the author of this 2007 study and there is a relative paucity of empirical data.

Yet there is a plethora of anecdotal evidence to be found on the long-term effects of maternal emotional abuse on the development of children, and on their adult lives.

There are thousands of personal stories of emotional abuse – maternal bullying, attacks on the young child’s self esteem, the long-term consequences of being raised by a narcissistic mother for whom one is little more than an accessory in public, and an emotional whipping post in private. This clinical term has been colloquially adopted as shorthand for maternal emotional abuse.

There are 10 Google pages dedicated to the term, and a further 10 pages dedicated to maternal emotional abuse.

The term “narcissistic mothers” sits comfortably with increased societal concerns about the “sexualisation” of young children, specifically when young girls are dressed and made up as if they were adult women.

Campaigners such as the Australian Christian Lobby and Melinda Tankard Reist express profound and I believe legitimate concerns about this increasing practise.

However, the elephant in the room is that mothers and female caregivers overwhelmingly purchase and dress young girls in this manner. Reist, the ACL, and many other campaigners apparently find it easier to lay all blame at the door of various media and advertising outlets.

They neglect to mention the responsibility mothers and female caregivers must bear for purchasing these products, and choosing to dress their little girls like adult women.

It’s reasonable to investigate the possibility that such mothers and caregivers are indeed abusively acting out their own narcissistic and unrealised desires through their little girls.

The stories of maternal abuse are out there

The long-term consequences of maternal abuse

Maternal abuse is a broad predictor of adult dysfunction in the areas of relatedness, identity, affect regulation, abandonment concerns, and borderline and anti-social features. Briere and Rickards found that “high paternal support did not appear to reduce the negative effects of maternal abuse”.

On the matter of childhood sexual abuse the authors note: For example, the current results suggest that childhood sexual abuse, although significantly related to impaired self-capacities, is second to the effects of childhood maternal abuse. (emphasis mine.) Such data does not mean that sexual abuse is less than psychologically toxic, but rather that another form of child maltreatment—one less addressed in the literaturemay be even more traumagenic. Additional study is clearly indicated to determine the reasons (whether biological, attachment-related, or sociocultural) for this specific effect.

The area is almost a professional and wider societal no-go zone – so thoroughly has feminism succeeded in creating the belief that the perpetration of intra-familial abuse is a primarily male phenomenon. Yet there are many, many women and men who experientially know this is not so. Why don’t feminists who are in a position to do so, validate this experiential knowledge, and clamour for empirical research?

W Kierski addresses professional reluctance in his paper ‘Female violence: can we therapists face up to it?” This link appears to come and go, but Google “female violence” and you’ll find this paper, and 11 further pages with both scholarly and anecdotal material on the topic.

The reality many feminists resist

Together with society’s reluctance to consider that mothers are anything but good, as well as the difficulties of identifying what can seem, compared to physical injuries, a nebulous concept of emotional maltreatment, this area of abuse receives far less attention than others. It is described by some mental health professionals as the “hidden” form of maltreatment.

Unpopular as this notion might be, it’s my opinion that feminism has created a simplistic but powerful binary narrative in which men are perpetrators and women are victims. This has now hardened into a rigid gender role expectation.

There is very little room in this story for the reality of female violence against male partners, against other women, and against children, unless a woman murders them or otherwise physically abuses them in a manner worthy of media attention. These women are then cast in the role of the extremely bad mother, and frequently subjected to vitriolic public attacks.

Yet victims can also be perpetrators, regardless of their gender. This is the reality many feminists resist, to the detriment of all of us, and in particular, our children.

The halcyon days of brilliant feminist scholarship and subsequent ground breaking cultural change are over. The once inspirational ideology has degenerated into little more than housework and lipstick cat fights.

The first feminist clique to address the issue of maternal emotional abuse, and lobby for urgent and comprehensive research into its occurrences and effects, will receive my support. Feminists have always led the way in addressing domestic violence perpetrated by men – now it’s time  for women to address intimate partner violence and child abuse by women.

This is not something women would accept being addressed by men. It can only be seriously addressed by women ourselves.

What we know so far is that there is very good reason to investigate. If further study bears out the 2007 Briere and Rickards’ data, we are looking at a profoundly significant determiner of adult well being, one at least equal in its probabilities of long-term damage to male perpetrated domestic violence, and the sexual assault of children.

Facing up to and addressing maternal emotional abuse is quite possibly feminism’s next frontier, and if the sisters baulk at it and stay with the trivia, then what is feminism really good for in 2011?

WHAT THE NATIONAL PLAN SAYS

The definition of domestic violence used in the new 12 year National Plan announced by Minister for the Status of Women, Kate Ellis, last month, does not acknowledge any familial abuse other than that perpetrated by men:

Domestic violence refers to acts of violence that occur between people who have, or have had, an intimate relationship. While there is no single definition, the central element of domestic violence is an ongoing pattern of behaviour aimed at controlling a partner through fear, for example by using behaviour which is violent and threatening. In most cases, the violent behaviour is part of a range of tactics to exercise power and control over women and their children, and can be both criminal and non-criminal.

Read: “in most cases the central element of domestic violence is violent male behaviour” towards women and “their children.”

Female violence against intimate male partners, well researched for quite some years now, and alleged by some researchers to be as common as male violence, and often differently expressed, is inexplicably omitted.

Maternal violence of any kind against children is omitted, though paternal or male violent behaviours against “women’s” children are included in the definition.

Further in the document we find this:

It [the Plan] will look at building positive attitudes and beliefs, social norms and ways for organisations to confront controlling, macho, aggressive and ultimately violent behaviour.

Read: “Violent male behaviour, because with “macho” in there, what else could it be?

The vision of the National Plan is that: ‘Australian women and their children live free from violence in safe communities.’

Read: “free from male violence” as female violence is not acknowledged in the definition.

And then: Values and Principles are: Responses to children exposed to violence prioritise the safety and long term well-being of children.

Read: “Responses to children exposed to male violence’, as female violence is not acknowledged in the definition.

And then: Protecting Children: Physical abuse, emotional maltreatment, neglect, sexual abuse and witnessing family violence are now all recognised as forms of child abuse and neglect. In April 2009, COAG endorsed Protecting Children is Everyone’s Business—National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009–2020. This framework is aimed at reducing child abuse and neglect in Australia over time. The National Plan and the National Framework are designed to work in tandem to bring about positive change for women and children experiencing violence.

Read “ experiencing male violence.”

The linking of the two plans suggests the National Framework might also be based on an interpretation of domestic violence as male violence. I haven’t checked. I hope I’m wrong.

And: The primary objective of perpetrator interventions is to ensure the safety of women and their children.

Read: “Male perpetrator interventions”

The examples are numerous. See:

http://www.fahcsia.gov.au/sa/women/progserv/violence/nationalplan/Pages/default.aspx

We need a plan that addresses violence perpetrated on children by both women and men that includes physical abuse, emotional maltreatment, neglect, sexual abuse and witnessing family violence.

We need research into maternal emotional abuse of children. We need research into female intimate violence. We need a plan that acknowledges the realities of domestic violence, not one based entirely on out-dated stereotypes of gendered violence.

After forty years of treating domestic violence as a male only phenomenon, there has been no significant decrease in violence and child abuse statistics. This indicates that there is something we are not investigating, and female violence against intimate partners and children is very likely it.

How to “lovingly” expel a homosexual student, or, God is in the house.

20 Feb

God hates fags.com via flickr

 

Brigadier Jim Wallace of the Australian Christian Lobby believes that a church school should have the right to expel any openly gay student.

“But I would expect any church that found itself in that situation to do that in the most loving way…I think it’s a loving response,” he says.

It’s legal for religious institutions in NSW to expel homosexual students, and Attorney-General John Hatzistergos, supports that law. While there are churches that oppose it, Jim Wallace gives it his whole-hearted support.

It’s difficult to know where to begin addressing the offensiveness of Wallace’s comments, but perhaps from a human rights point of view, it is most shocking in its reduction of the identity of a young human being solely to their sexual preference.

Nothing else about these students has any apparent value for Wallace, other than their sexuality. The intrinsic worth of the student is reduced to his or her sexual orientation. If the young person is brilliant, gifted, a high achiever – and gay, the Christian school should expel him or her, according to the well known Christian, Wallace.

“Lovingly,” of course.

Would this be another version of “tough love” perhaps?

How does one “lovingly” expel a young person from their school community because of their sexual orientation? Please explain.

Reducing a human being to one aspect of their character is a dehumanising tool used in all propaganda. When we can’t see another’s humanity, we’re far more likely to treat them badly.  It requires a leap of the imagination to make an identification with people who’ve been reduced to stereotypes, and many of us don’t want to/can’t be bothered with that imaginative exercise.

Propaganda ensures that certain lives (homosexual in this case) are not considered lives at all in the fullest sense. Reduced to the issue of sexual preference, and on the sole grounds that they are not heterosexual, gay students are punished by expulsion from their community, their lives stigmatized as deviant by their churches.

Failure to see young people as individuals in their own right leads to serious repercussions for them, and for society. Homophobic religious imperatives are determining the course of some students’ lives, with the support of politicians whose first concern is not the welfare of young people, but winning the religious vote.

Belief systems with discriminatory attitudes are putting young people at risk, and governments are supporting the process. This is described by Hatzistergos as maintaining “…the sometimes delicate balance between protecting individuals from unlawful discrimination while allowing people to practice their beliefs.”

Since he admits homophobia is “unlawful discrimination,” Hatzistergos’ position is that what the rest of the community has declared illegal is acceptable if it occurs within a belief system.  That church schools are granted permission to behave illegally makes a mockery of anti discrimination laws.

If a behaviour is illegal, it is illegal.

Religions in this country should be abiding by the laws of this country.

Around Australia, churches are exempt from anti discrimination legislation that prevents others from dismissing gay, lesbian, and trans gendered people, solely because of their sexual orientation.

Culturally salient beliefs normalize these problematic practices. One of these beliefs is that religious freedom trumps the anti discrimination culture.

But only some religious freedom, otherwise we’d be condoning genital mutilation and the polygamous and forced marriages of ten year old girls.

We’re selective about which religious freedoms we uphold.

Religious beliefs are fluid. Values change, often quite radically. There’s disagreement within religious circles about the expulsion of gay students.  It isn’t the government’s role to legalise these vacillating values, or to give legal validity to one point of view within the churches at the expense of another.

As our law declares discrimination illegal, the government’s role is to support and validate the country’s law.

Religions in this country should abide by the laws of this country. We require this of non Judeo Christians, especially those most recently arrived here. State and federal governments must require it of all religions in Australia, and particularly of all schools.

GOD IS IN THE HOUSE,  Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

Nick Cave, by Ben Houdijk via flickr

 

Homos roaming the streets in packs,
queer bashers with tyre-jacks
Lesbian counter-attacks
That stuff is for the big cities
Our town is very pretty
We have a pretty little square
We have a woman for a mayor
Our policy is firm but fair
Now that God is in the house
God is in the house
Any day now he’ll come out
God is in the house.


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