The Wayne LaPierre solution to religious exemption from secular law

15 Jan

David Marr’s excellent piece in the Fairfax press yesterday is a reminder of just how conflicted our anti discrimination legislation is, and has been for some time.

Exemption from the law for religious organisations means they are permitted to behave in ways that are unlawful for the rest of us, because of their beliefs. For example, employing someone who does not engage in a heteronormative sexual life, employing a woman who becomes pregnant outside of marriage (the same rule does not apply to the man who impregnates her, by the way) and  employing people who live together unmarried (such as Prime Minister Julia Gillard, but her partner Tim Mathieson as well? This is not clear, perhaps it is only women religious institutions demand marry) transgresses some religious beliefs about how human beings ought to conduct themselves in their private lives. No religious institution should be obliged to put itself in a situation where its beliefs are insulted, it is argued, therefore they are all exempt from anti discrimination legislation that applies to everyone else.

I might find it difficult to work alongside someone who holds any or all of the above beliefs because they do not accord with mine and I find them offensive and insulting. However, were I to refuse the believer employment, or to terminate their employment because their beliefs trouble me, I will be committing an offence under the anti discrimination legislation and if they complain, I will be punished.

As I am not a religious institution, I must employ the religious regardless of my beliefs. This irrational imbalance continues, for some inexplicable reason, to be legitimised by the Labor government, itself led by an atheist woman living in a de facto relationship. In other words, as Marr points out, Prime Minister Gillard is legislating against herself.

Perhaps the solution is to declare atheism and agnosticism  religions, and apply for exemption from the law. I call this the Wayne LaPierre solution, after  the Executive President and CEO of the NRA. LaPierre recently claimed what is needed to stop bad guys with guns is good guys with guns. By the same reasoning, we might consider allowing the rest of us the privilege of denying employment to religious people as they may do to us. Then we will have achieved the equal right to deny a livelihood to everyone except ourselves and those who think like us. Which of us is good or bad will remain as subjective as it as ever been, but we’ll all have big guns with which to kill each other’s prospects.

On the other hand, the current consolidation of the anti discrimination laws offers a golden opportunity to effect changes that would revoke privileges extended to religious institutions, and level the playing field. Attorney General Nicola Roxon has introduced additions to the bill that now declare offending or insulting someone to be an unlawful act. Unless of course you are religious institution and then you can offend and insult somebody’s protected attributes (if they do not comply with your belief system) to your heart’s content by refusing to employ them, or by dismissing them on the grounds of that attribute, and you will get clean away with it. If we can accept additions, surely we can effect the subtraction of what is a most discriminating practice that makes a mockery of the entire legislation?

What we need to ask ourselves is: why are we prepared to allow religious institutions to behave in ways that are so unacceptable to the rest of the community that we have declared them unlawful?

The religious are entitled to their beliefs, of course. A secular state is not obliged to adapt its legal system to those beliefs, it is especially not required to do that when the adaptation is to behaviours that for the rest of the population are unlawful because they are deemed extremely harmful to others.

If an act is so undesirable that we have found it necessary to administer punishment to some of those who perform it, how can we say that same act is not undesirable because it is ameliorated by the balm of religious “belief?” And why on earth should we?

68 Responses to “The Wayne LaPierre solution to religious exemption from secular law”

  1. Ray (novelactivist) January 15, 2013 at 8:43 am #

    When they say exemption for religious institutions they actually mean exemptions for Christian morality and any mainstream religion that accepts Christian teaching on the family and the role of women, such as Islam and Judaism.

    Non-conformist religions, such as the various pagan and Tantric religions are constrained by various laws (based on Judeo-Christian values).

    So this is NOT about protecting religious freedom but about protecting Christian privilege and power.

    I fully support removing state funding and tax exemptions. If you want to take secular money abide by secular rules.

    Finally, this legislation tells us just how much the Labor party is controlled by the religious right. They wouldn’t pass same sex marriage and now this. And you thought the Labor party was progressive?

    Once again it’s the Greens who represent secular progressivism in this country.


    • Hypocritophobe January 15, 2013 at 12:02 pm #

      More anti-Muslim sentiments finding their way into the legislation,by way of the back door?
      Hanson is a alive and well.
      You are right Ray.The time to worry is when the Christian zealots aren’t on the front pages of every national newspaper, screaming ‘outrage’.
      Because when it comes to politics there are only two portals they use to enter the ‘building’.

      The front page and the back door.

      No doubt the NSW right left the door open when they snuck their girl in.


  2. AnnODyne January 15, 2013 at 9:04 am #

    Bravura post JW – ‘Lapiere’ indeed. and Yes Yes to Ray above “take secular money, abide by secular law”.

    However I would like anti-discrimination laws scrapped completely so all ‘religious’ corporations could be OUTLAWED totally. Their massive real estate surrounded by electric fences and the lot of them imprisoned. The laughingly lovable Salvos were EVIL to unmarried pregnant girls up to the 1960’s, just to start my list of justifications.
    Revoke their government tax benefits now. Their CEO is paid millions.


  3. Colin Mackay January 15, 2013 at 9:38 am #

    Reblogged this on Colin's mind.


  4. Christine Says HiChristine January 15, 2013 at 10:32 am #

    “What we need to ask ourselves is: why are we prepared to allow religious institutions to behave in ways that are so unacceptable to the rest of the community that we have declared them unlawful?” Beautifully put and exactly on point.

    Why? is the big question. I suspect the answer may be “perceived votes”, but I’m just not sure how that happens in a country where until very recently the decline in religious adherence was the envy of the non-religious everywhere. Perhaps, the more correct answer would be “perceived votes in the ALP Caucus”…

    Whatever the reason, this legislation rankles deeply with me. I can’t help wondering if it is all a ploy by the ALP to shear itself of the very last people of conscience who would consider voting for its members?


    • Ray (novelactivist) January 15, 2013 at 11:43 am #

      Hi Christine,

      No, not perceived votes but Labor politicians sympathetic to Christianity using their position to protect the church, regardless of what the public wants.

      This has always been the case. It used to be more sectarian with the Labor party having a strong Catholic base and the Liberal party having a Protestant base. In those days it was about protecting your side. Now it has morphed into protecting Christianity against secularism.

      The various churches have always encouraged the devout to enter politics to further the Christian agenda and protect it from secular reform.


      • Hypocritophobe January 15, 2013 at 12:08 pm #

        The Shooters and Fishers have Trojan Horsed parliaments, as well.
        Although they should be forced to call themselves shooters,because I can guarantee you could get them to put there rods down for five minutes, but not their guns.
        Imagine the mess we will have if the trend continues.Zealots with a God given right to guns.
        Sound familiar?


    • Hypocritophobe January 15, 2013 at 12:05 pm #

      NSW right.
      They are building a tea party.


  5. Sam Jandwich January 15, 2013 at 12:03 pm #

    Um, would it be amiss to point out that the church’s priviledged position and lack of accountability had a lot to do with its ability to escape scrutiny over the large numbers of sexual assaults perpetrated by its members, and its tendency to “deal” with these matters internally rather than through the proper channels?

    it would be interesting to compare this legislation with the TORs of the royal commission…


    • Hypocritophobe January 15, 2013 at 12:10 pm #

      While you are comparing them, do a count on how many times the words “Christian”, “God” or “religion” are used on the TOR.
      Hint, you will probably only need your thumbs.


  6. Christine Says Hi January 15, 2013 at 12:08 pm #

    Agreed, Ray. I recall reading that the makeup of Parliament is very different (religiously speaking) to the general population,w ith a much higher proprtion of ‘devout’ creacalltypes in parliament than out.

    Of course, they see no problem with disadvantaging non-believers and have lots of justifications for it.

    That sort of thing keeps religion in the game, much to my personal (and legally futile) disgust, and regardless, as you say, of what voters actually want.

    Most of us probably won’t write an angry letter to our MP about it, but we should!


    • Ray (novelactivist) January 15, 2013 at 12:27 pm #

      Or you could vote for the one party they can’t influence…

      Which reminds me that this freedom of religion argument is a pile of shit. It is really only the freedom of certain privileged religions to persecute anyone who dares dissent. The simple fact is that the state has a number of laws that constrain various non-Christian religions.

      There is now a significant number of people who adhere to various forms of Tantra (Buddhist/Indian), enough to start a school. But do we think for one moment that the state, under pressure from Christians, would allow that school to formulate a Tantra based curriculum?

      Are you kidding? Yet Tantra is a well established tradition that forms the basis of Tibetan Buddhism.

      Freedom of religion? Ha!


      • hudsongodfrey January 15, 2013 at 2:10 pm #

        Not to mention that Buddhist meditation techniques lay claim to proven medical benefits, albeit that one can also practice them from a secular perspective.

        I think it most important to understand that what lies at the root of this exceptionalism is the major religions’ desire to link the extraordinary claims they make to culturally ingrained privileges as a way of maintaining their brand, so to speak. Any more ordinary philosophy or ideology would have to be actually persuasive. 😉


    • Hypocritophobe January 15, 2013 at 12:41 pm #

      Perhaps a question an our electoral voting paper.
      Do you support your taxes being used to protect/sponsor and immunise from law, hand selected groups for favours,based on their religious beliefs?

      I think if we get another hung parl,with greens as part of it, we may have a chance.Other than that the GetUps etc are your only hope.The only thing which wakes apathy is stimulus spending and ABC blogs on climate change.


  7. Christine Says Hi January 15, 2013 at 12:12 pm #

    Ugh, wish I could edit that last comment, sorry re typos!


  8. paul walter January 15, 2013 at 12:50 pm #

    Others have said Roxon is “trustworthy”, I think she is the most sinister of the lot- Paul Howes in a skirt.


    • Hypocritophobe January 15, 2013 at 1:08 pm #

      That’s interesting.Abbott doesn’t like her either.
      Give us the goss,PW.


      • paul walter January 15, 2013 at 2:07 pm #

        “The goss” is in the thread heading and intro, remember.
        This is also the genius who has been pushing for internet surveillance and data retention.
        What Abbott thinks (if he thinks) is superfluous, because he hates just about anyone any way.


        • Hypocritophobe January 15, 2013 at 2:23 pm #

          Thanks PW.
          So I can cross her off my ever diminishing list of competent Ministers on the grounds of ideologically compromised by forces known, but deals unknown.
          Not too many left of the faux-Labor front bench now, worth re-installing.

          I have not seen or heard Abbott attacking Roxon as he did earlier in the piece.I can only conclude perhaps he(they) have got their way.Isn’t it funny that the politicians (even Labor to my surprise,too)think that by garnering the churches so called electoral support(and I doubt it actually transpires to a single vote,if the ‘flock’ voters were disinclined initially) they are somehow the winners when they(politicians) install the churches wish list.Talk about Friday FWits.

          “Here take my house and car and credit card, but can you tell Jimmy I’m a good bloke?”


          • paul walter January 15, 2013 at 2:38 pm #

            As I’ve said so many times before, its the lesser of two evils. About the best you can hope for from the Labor alternative is a shot of anaesthetic before the execution. But, even a cent back in the dollar must be better than nothing at all?


            • Hypocritophobe January 15, 2013 at 3:00 pm #

              I think they are now equally evil.


  9. hudsongodfrey January 15, 2013 at 1:01 pm #

    Discrimination is always a difficult issue in hiring people because basically it is what the task of interviewing candidates is meant in a positive sense to be all about. You wouldn’t want to hire a maths teacher who couldn’t count, nor would there be too many dyslectics on the faculty of most schools. Needless to say, a priest who doesn’t believe in god probably needs to rethink his vocation.

    So when it comes down to it we need to discriminate between the forms of discrimination we’re allowed to make and those we distinguish as being unwarranted acts of pure bigotry. In the case of the above observations for teachers being hired into the public school system they would be the same because they’re based on practical considerations rather than ideological ones. Nor do I see any real problem with requiring some form of job description of faith based employers establishing the veracity of claims as to why they’d need a janitor to believe in god in order to work in any of their institutions. I think it may be possible to ask at least that much without being accused of persecution or some other form of reverse discrimination.

    If however the institutions in question want simply to state that their requirements are to provide an immersive religious experience then it very much seems that the only challenge to that is to take on the whole arc of faith and its role in our communities. I don’t know that we’re ready, much less justified, to do that, but as things change by degrees there are aspects of reduced discrimination that can and should now be questioned.

    Employment pretty much always involves aspects of the master servant relationship that carry expectations of a certain amount of deference. I think we have to look, as we should always do, at whether atheists could happily work in a faith based environment any more than believers could in an avowedly atheistic organisation, (supposing such a thing existed). Clearly there may be limits defined in part by what individuals or groups are willing to tolerate that I don’t think we’re likely to emerge bearing any ideological means of avoiding, but the threshold is probably lower than we’re being lead to think. We can try to flip the idea again, by asking whether religious people who are comfortable in their largely secular workplaces really feel that people who aren’t of their faith aren’t capable of fitting into their institutions in ways that would logically be similar.

    The thing I think we’re reacting to with this, and that I find most frustrating about exceptionalism is that it assumes intolerance at the outset and takes permission to proceed in that vein as if to say that anyone outside their circle of faith were incapable of the basic human exercise of tolerance towards anyone else. We may wind up huffing, “the one thing I can’t tolerate is intolerance!”

    I nevertheless don’t think we should give up because the gap that exists between us is I think really far narrower than some people seem to want to make it. And the people who want to widen that gap are doing so for the very divisive reasons that have always fed the narrative of religion being possessed of a special brand of mysticism that sets it apart and has thus come in most cultures to afford its institutions special privileges. How odd then to think that the one thing capable of breaking that down where all manner of oppressive means have failed might well be though extended tolerance. 🙂


  10. Christine Says Hi January 15, 2013 at 1:37 pm #

    There was discussion some time ago re ‘blasphemy’ laws in NSW. Apparently christian churches are currently protected by blasphemy laws, and islamic congergations (I don’t know the correct word for such a grouping) wish to also be included. I am not sure what the outcome was, but it seems religions of all stripes feel the need for a LOT of protection from harsh words, much more than some ordinary person ~ such as myself ~ seems to need to protect my right to make a living.

    Currently in NSW the Crimes Act has an offence of ‘blasphemous libel’, but according to Wikipedia persons cannot be charged with this offence unless they intend to breach the peace. Whatever that means, I guess.


    • hudsongodfrey January 15, 2013 at 2:16 pm #

      I dunno how “blasphemous libel” would work given than in most forms of defamation truth is a defence? The implication is that you’d have to have said something demonstrably untrue in slagging off somebody’s god.

      So I guess “God Hates Figs” would be okay in the light of Mark 11:11 🙂


  11. doug quixote January 15, 2013 at 2:08 pm #

    Perfect : I am offended by the religious, whenever they attempt to proselytise what is inevitably their own one true revelation. It may well be against their religion not to ensure that everyone hears the sublime message!

    The thing is of course that the religious are more driven, certainly more than the agnostics and those who pay lip-service to religion. They will agitate, demonstrate, whinge, organise and if needs be, bankroll lobbyists. Though they have ready-made lobbyists in terms of the political priests who infest the airwaves and the halls of power.

    Perhaps what we really do need is a re-secularisation of society, to root out the influence exerted by the religious.


    • Hypocritophobe January 15, 2013 at 2:26 pm #

      Yay a witch hunt.
      I’ll bring the duck.


      • paul walter January 15, 2013 at 2:40 pm #

        And I bring the stool.
        Come here, Feathers!


  12. Hypocritophobe January 15, 2013 at 2:58 pm #

    Speaking of back room deals to appeal powerful greedy lobbyists.
    It appears Labor has stolen yet ANOTHER Howard trait.
    How dare the electorate ask’ how much of a federal tax’, sold to us as a fair share for the citizens,’has delivered to our economy, for our betterment.’
    Seriously I think people must be brain dead or spineless to defend the faux Labor camp.This is a FUCKING political joke.

    “What we can’t do is breach privacy provisions, and the Australian Tax office has advised we’re not in a position to provide details of the MRRT if that would breach privacy provisions,” she said.”

    Who needs Liberal spin doctors, when faux Labor has so many rooting for them.


    • paul walter January 15, 2013 at 3:50 pm #

      Fair enough, but lets not forget that this would be getting no attention at all in the scheme of things,except that the Tories and the Murdoch press are looking for beat-ups in the absence of more serious stuff.
      Put it this way, Abbott is a without fear or favour campaigner for the enviro, some thing I wasn’t aware of previously, or an opportunist looking for an issue.
      Now perhaps there is no corruption here, merely inefficiency,
      Perhaps. If that’s the case the corruption actually occurred earlier in the strong arming by the Mining lobby of successive governments regardless of whether changes are needed to prevent further global heating,or anything else.
      We saw on the doco last Sunday that Rudd was the last Labor PM to be ousted by daddy mega-bucks and several times in the past the Mining lobby has destroyed governments who opposed their interests.
      Its not JUST Labor, its the SYSTEM, of which Labor is only a component.
      The instructive example came early with the buying of Billy Hughes and half the Labor party, by BHP.
      Everything is traced back to this early crippling of Labor, thus ultimately government itself, by
      the magnates.
      Within the framework left by history before and since Federation, there is little scope for genuine reform.The political parties are more shopfronts,behind which lobbyist get to decide, than any indication of Democracy,that’s just the way it has been designed by those who evolved it.


      • Gruffbutt January 18, 2013 at 2:18 am #

        Don’t forget the further buying of Hawke by Murdoch – only good for an election or two, of course, once media laws had been weakened, before it was back to cheering on the coalition.


        • Christine Says Hi January 18, 2013 at 1:11 pm #

          Yes, doug quixote has it right, I was getting at that, pretty much. My long-ish lost post explained it all, but the gist of my thoughts is that very few people outside the affected sectors have any real idea how thoroughly and profoundly religious organisations of all kinds have benefitted from outsourcing of government services, or how much this has changed the workplace for employees in those sectors.

          For the politically horrible Jim Wallace to claim that he knows of no christian organisation which has sacked people on a discriminatory basis is simply disingenuous. It happens often, but is managed so that people are politely shuffled off to unemployment with nothing to complain of, “officially”.

          No time to write more now, but am very glad to see this issue being discussed so sensibly and thoughtfully here. Some of the guff being peddled elsewhere is simply appalling.


  13. Christine Says Hi January 15, 2013 at 3:19 pm #

    It’s become a bit more complicated than simply being about “tolerance” or “intolerance”, (some might say it has become downright sinister) due to outsourcing and the ways in which religious organisations have positioned themselves within major employment sectors.

    An excellent example is “Human services” and the “Not-For-Profit” (haha) sectors. Both have majority female workforces and lots and lots of religious orghanisations involved at all sorts of levels, some of them surprising.

    These are also also sectors which have seen a LOT of outsourcing (very much more so than the ATO or Defence, for instance). This has significantly benefitted religious organisations, which are able to utilise volunteer and low cost labour and thus undercut other private operators (and keep wages artificially low).

    In a nice twist many, maybe most, employees in these sectors receive ‘salary packaging’, an ATO approved accounting instrument through which employees of organisations defined as ‘charitable’ are able to minimise taxation and ‘boost’ take home pay. It’s a way for low paying employers to attract staff with committment and qualifications who nevertheless need to pay rent and eat.

    And, it should come as no surprise to anyone that the ultimate ‘payers’ of the gap between tax and take home pay in the ‘salary packaging’ equation is … tah dah, the ordinary taxpayer. Yet another way religious organisations are subsidised by the Commonwealth.

    We taxpayers are terribly generous to these organisations, which pay no tax even on profit making concerns in which they are involved, and which have memberships consistently declining from active to passive to uninvolved. It seems a high price to maintain a few suitable venues for attractive wedding photographs (featuring, of course, a man and a woman only) and to ease the consciences of highly placed persons.

    Yes, by all means, let’s re-secularise society. Anytime now would be ideal.


    • hudsongodfrey January 15, 2013 at 4:50 pm #

      So what’s the specific allegation here? Is it that charitable organisations taking government contracts for “Human Services” are providing an inferior service, rorting the system for profit or just artificially depressing wages in the sector by using volunteers? It could also be all of the above, but are we talking about something specifically to do with welfare, social services, education, hospitals or some other branch of charity meets government that I’m not as aware of?

      It’s not that I want to challenge your critique of the situation so much as to say that you seem well informed about the subject so I wouldn’t mind finding out more about the specifics.

      I know that the argument has been made in the past about public versus private schools that although we’re paying a lot of government money to private schools it is still less expenditure per head than public schools require because parents of private school students pay fees which subsidise their children’s education. I might prefer that elements of any kind of indoctrination were removed from society entirely, but since they’d probably occur in some extra-curricular form anyway I’m happy to take a tax cut and avoid providing them with a persecution complex.

      With that in mind I’d very much like to dump school chaplaincy programs as soon as possible, but apart from that, what did you mean by re-secularising society?


      • doug quixote January 16, 2013 at 3:25 pm #

        It seems to me that Christine is taking up my theme from a few posts up : that we are subsidising churches and other religious institutions through the tax system and pandering to their insecurities and sensibilities.

        The re-secularisation of society will involve first of all :

        the removal of subsidies to religious schools

        the removal of tax breaks/exemptions for religious activities

        the removal of exceptionalism for when their sensibilities are threatened eg Anti Discrimination Act, blasphemy etc

        increasing the accountability of the priesthood.

        That will do to go on with; readers may have other suggestions.


        • Hypocritophobe January 16, 2013 at 3:50 pm #

          If Sen Nick Xenophon had any principles left, he would be all over ‘paying religious institutions with tax and simultaneously adapting laws and legislation to protect their narrow agenda’.As it stands, his lambasting and attacking of Scientology can now clearly be seen as nothing but posturing and grandstanding to take the focus of other political players, who were at the time stealing his thunder.And to protect other religious stakeholders, such as his own
          Hypocrite, much, Nick.


        • Hypocritophobe January 16, 2013 at 3:55 pm #

          A good start DQ.
          What shout we call it?
          Accountable Equity?
          Sustainable Consistent Inclusive Community Aspirations?
          Apolitical Justice?

          or on the cynical side
          Holy Grail
          Wishful Thinking
          Ideological madness!


          • Hypocritophobe January 16, 2013 at 4:11 pm #

            ‘what ‘should’ we call it..


        • Anonymous January 16, 2013 at 6:24 pm #


          In answer to you points, more or less in the order they were raised.

          Okay so what if I were to say that the money parents put towards faith based schools more than covers the cost of the religious instruction component of the curriculum. Whereas for reasons that still elude me, chaplains are still being funded in public schools.

          Were we to change those private school funding arrangements then we might have to raise extra taxes to cover the shortfall in the education budget created by shifting the entire private school system to a public footing. Not only that but it also means dealing with the inevitable persecution complex and political backlash we’d create across pretty much the entire religious community. I’ve often said we owe it to upcoming generations to provide an alternative to religious indoctrination, but I can’t see how forcing parents to take that option is going to be politically achievable.

          As for tax breaks I think we have to be careful of what we argue in relation to charities. If we want to end them then it probably has to be done across the board for all charities and replaced by a system of subsidies to take up the slack.Correct me if I’m wrong, but the bureaucratic double handling that would entail may not be worth it. You’d have to start collecting taxes from the very people you’re later quite likely to subsidise because we need the services that they provide.

          It shouldn’t matter what you believe if you want to provide needed assistance to those within our society who genuinely need it most then I don’t know that we need to be erecting too many barriers to that. What we can do is to insist that the tax breaks we afford them makes us all stakeholders and should entitle us to a say when things like family planning services are threatened by their ideology.

          We’re already covering exceptionalism here and I’ve argued that people are within their rights to expect what goes for tolerance of religion elsewhere to extend to tolerance of irreligious beliefs within the employ of religious institutions as long as the employee in question is otherwise up to the task. In general however I think tolerance can undermine exceptionalism whereas forcible repression of it fosters persecution complexes.

          if I take your meaning about accountability of the priesthood then I expect that may be in relation to the Royal Commission looking into institutional child abuse. I think most people would now agree that a recommendation favouring mandatory reporting to secular authorities seems inescapable.

          We’ve already gone from being a secular state, promoting a tolerant, pluralistic and multicultural society with a strong Christian element to one that now features a stronger secular or religiously non-aligned element. I don’t know that the way we do government necessarily needs to change when the faith profile of the community does, or that we’d be any better than fundamentalists of various religious persuasions were we to expect it to do so.

          When I say freedom of religion means freedom from it, I also mean that separation of church and State means separation of non-church and state.


          • hudsongodfrey January 16, 2013 at 6:35 pm #

            That was me Doug! WordPress screwed me coz I released the DNS on the router here to clear a fault.


          • doug quixote January 16, 2013 at 7:09 pm #

            I didn’t have to read your name to know that, O voice of reason! It has “hudsongodfrey” written all over it.

            The removal of school subsidies will see the poorer schools fail; as and when they do the government should take them over, with appropriate compensation. The wealthy ones will no doubt look after themselves, with increases in fees.

            The money saved on subsidies and collected in removal of tax breaks should go a long way towards re-secularising the school system.

            In regard to charities, I see no difficulty in removing the funding from those who engage in proselytising whilst allowing others to prosper, probably with a better share of the available pool of donated funds.

            The rest appears unexceptionable.


            • hudsongodfrey January 18, 2013 at 2:04 pm #


              I didn’t see this reply right away as it doesn’t come up alongside the anonymous identity….

              I think letting private schools fail may still be problematic if it means either justifying higher taxes to cover the cost of expanding the public education to fill that void, or creating the unintended consequence that some schools will find ways to self fund thereby creating an even more divisive set of circumstances.

              Nor do I think we’re advised to enforce secularism as opposed to supporting every opportunity for people to take advantage of its obvious benefits of their own accord. I meant what I said above about the changing prevalence of secular views in society as opposed to separating church and state by simply presuming that one or the other has to be a position of greater authority and presenting the two as if there had to be a choice. I know you didn’t personally present that false dichotomy but I also hope you understand that into any space we create for that which we call freedom there has to be some room for people to make the wrong choices as long as they don’t harm others in so doing.


  14. 8 Degrees of Latitude January 15, 2013 at 5:42 pm #

    I think it’s fair to say we all discriminate in some way (as Hudson Godfrey points out). That’s how we make choices. If one were an unbeliever, for example, it might be better to avoid trying to teach in a religious school. But the central policy point, which David Marr dissects with commendable skill and which the federal government is unbelievably, not to say cravenly, trying to duck, is that religious institutions in receipt of public funding cannot logically be excluded from the force of national law. If religious based schools and other bodies on the public interface want complete freedom to avoid the godless, then they can pay their own way. Of course, in the case of schools, hospitals, care homes and the like, they’d probably then face difficulty getting licences to operate. Still, that would be their problem.


    • paul walter January 15, 2013 at 9:39 pm #

      Yes, It was good article, in contrast to Gerard Henderson’s latest smear, this time aimed at Julian Assange. In contrast, Marr attempted something of substance. It’s as much about robbing the poor to further enrich the few as secular v religious- fundamentalists are amongst the skinflintiest and most miserly people I have ever met.


      • Hypocritophobe January 15, 2013 at 10:46 pm #

        I see Henderson as another fishnet wearer.

        (i) I bet he is the life of the party.Herringbone jacket over mums hand knitted cardigan and all.Mr Bean with a humour bypass.


        • paul walter January 16, 2013 at 1:17 pm #

          Now, that IS well-put.


  15. 8 Degrees of Latitude January 15, 2013 at 5:44 pm #

    Reblogged this on 8degreesoflatitude and commented:
    A good summation of a craven act.


  16. Christine Says Hi January 16, 2013 at 12:02 pm #

    I just finished writing an overlong but nicely phrased reply and comment, and have now four words to say from the depths of my despair ~ SAVE AS YOU GO!


    • Hypocritophobe January 16, 2013 at 12:10 pm #

      Trying recovering from your History?
      (Go back pages? might work)

      If you are Windows install Recuvva free app, for future losses of other data.


    • Jennifer Wilson January 16, 2013 at 2:13 pm #

      LOL! best advice EVER


  17. Hypocritophobe January 16, 2013 at 12:54 pm #

    Good or bad news?
    And I have to ask,who pushed this?


    • paul walter January 16, 2013 at 1:16 pm #

      Looks like, stymied on direct internet intrusion over data collection, they’ve tried the long way around and are trying the back door instead. Two things: it is either a genuine attempt to stop trolling, or the employ of “bullying” as a pretext for further internet intervention and surveillance.


      • Hypocritophobe January 16, 2013 at 1:46 pm #

        (I am not saying the Libs would nt push this agenda either,but)
        Its backdoor control for sure.The invisible zealots have demanded this, and Labor have flinched and then jumped.Anything for a vote.
        There is no way this will stop trolling.I know you probably disagree, but such control threatens anonymity, which is a direct threat to personal safety and true freedom of speech.Anything which stifles the possibility of whistle blowing, or puts information control into the hands of bureaucrats is to be resisted at all fronts.As we all keep saying, this is way too subjective to corral into a nice neat package of someone’s perceptions and prejudices.
        Labor were always going to back door something.They have tried heaps of different angles on this.Conroy tried several times for this control and failed.This is the face saving alternative.His demands by stealth.

        I know you will say here we go again, but PW,it is patently obvious this is NOT the behaviour (in any way/shape/form) of Labor.
        They are running an agenda which is Tea party all the way.

        This will probably account for the required number of votes Labor is clinging to to avert its final death throes.I so hope they (this version of Labor) lose.When they cause their own demise and we end up with Abbott by default we, will know what we will get.Copping the same end result from Labor, just for the sake of saving our electoral ‘face’ is totally unpalatable, and almost immoral.


    • hudsongodfrey January 16, 2013 at 6:43 pm #

      I get frustrated with this. Not because I think protecting kids from bullying isn’t well meant, but because it’s usually so unnecessary if only they’d take the time to ensure that privacy controls are understood and used by these kids and their parents to better effect.

      Jennifer has said in the past that the etiquette of commenting in these pages should be the rough equivalent of coming into someone else’s living room. A sentiment that is both readily understood and oft echoed elsewhere.

      A similar sentiment within the spaces we share when using social media might be that learning where the block and delete buttons are is the necessary equivalent of standing up to a bully in the playground.

      I think that the contentious part is that a lot of parents these days tend to think that even in the playground kids shouldn’t have to stand up to bullies. They have half a point because bullying is wrong, but lets face it the other half of the equation is always that sooner or later having the spine to stand up for yourself in one form or another is a vital life skill that we all need to learn!


      • Hypocritophobe January 16, 2013 at 7:11 pm #

        (i) Come now HG, we can’t have parents being involved in their own kids safety and lives in general.It’s the lobbyists and govts job to parent accordingly!


        • hudsongodfrey January 16, 2013 at 7:14 pm #

          Well at least once we identify the problem as being about the ownership of children maybe we’ll actually begin to get somewhere.


  18. Hypocritophobe January 16, 2013 at 4:56 pm #

    Wallace said:

    “So, I think this is a beat-up in that it’s a problem that doesn’t exist.”

    Does that sound like anyone remotely familiar?


    • hudsongodfrey January 16, 2013 at 6:33 pm #

      That’s because the man in question is unapologetically bigoted!
      Or should I say he uses apologetics to promote bigotry?

      Seems like the result comes out the same either way.

      The only thought that might be worth teasing out though is that being gay doesn’t necessarily make you irreligious. Although it must represent a hefty push in that direction for most same sex attracted people,

      There have also long been rumours and suspicions about the prevalence of homosexuality among the clergy. So it makes me wonder that they’re so very homophobic about these issues.


      • Hypocritophobe January 16, 2013 at 6:41 pm #

        Teasing something else out:
        Do you not think that many of the BACWA campaigns are as Wallace puts it:
        “it’s a problem that doesn’t exist.” ?

        Imagery,billboards,TShirts,pop songs,diets,clothing,txting.
        The list of ‘possible’ (yet to exist) harm is endless.The corresponding level of hypocrisy is breathless.


        • hudsongodfrey January 16, 2013 at 7:00 pm #

          I assume you meant to type sexting?

          Not all these things are completely harmless, but nor are most of them particularly harmful either.

          Even if the only identifiable harm is to people’s sensibilities then polite society endeavours not to gratuitously offend wherever it is reasonably possible to do so. So I don’t think we’re actually taking away people’s right to avoid most offence if they so choose.

          But when we see the usual suspects completely exaggerating harm out of all proportion, or relying on rhetoric that is demonstrably baseless, then I do have to agree their hypocrisy is breathtaking 🙂


  19. Hypocritophobe January 17, 2013 at 3:48 pm #

    Hoop jumping for votes, Gillard style.


    • hudsongodfrey January 17, 2013 at 3:52 pm #

      Doug Cameron for PM!

      And Pope!

      can we do that? 🙂


      • Hypocritophobe January 17, 2013 at 4:15 pm #

        So many boiled lolly jokes go bidding, while the lawyers circle the skies…..


  20. paul walter January 18, 2013 at 10:38 pm #

    Taking the bait,,my definition of a misogynist is a man warns a woman something is wrong in what she says or plans and is then blamed when it goes wrong, for the reasons he warned of.


  21. Hypocritophobe January 19, 2013 at 12:57 pm #

    This discrimination tries to harness the ‘idea’ of religious persecution, in order to enable the presentation of negative stereotypes, in order to practise what is no doubt something which infringes Human Rights and UN Conventions.I think it should be legally tested.I think I either should go along with any party who accepts it as a fit and proper concept in modern Australia.That rules out both Tea Parties.


    • Hypocritophobe January 19, 2013 at 1:02 pm #

      Try this)
      “I also think it should go, as should any party which accepts it as a fit and proper concept in modern Australia.”


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