If you are interested in Melinda Tankard Reist’s fundamentalist Christianity you’ll find a biography here with far more detail than I provided, including her affiliation with the Salt Shakers, a Christian fundamentalist organisation founded by, among others, strident anti-homosexual Baptist preacher Bill Meuhlenberg. Meuhlenberg’s latest anti same-sex marriage rant, titled “When darkness descends upon a nation” was written in reaction to the recent ALP decision to support same-sex marriage.
Among other rhetorical gems, you’ll find this comment on Prime Minister Julia Gillard:
And what of Labor’s leader? Did we really ever expect that a fornicating socialist atheist was going to really hold the line on this? Of course not; certainly not when she is in bed with our other leader, a homosexual socialist atheist.
What you will also discover in the Tankard Reist bio is that for 12 years she was employed by Tasmanian Senator Brian Harradine as his bio ethics advisor. During this period Harradine successfully prevented Australian women from accessing the drug RU 486 despite it being available in other Western countries, and the numerous trials that had proven it’s safety and effectiveness as an early abortion drug.
But wait! There’s more! During Tankard Reist’s employment as his bio ethics advisor, Harradine also successfully prevented AusAID,the main Australian government overseas aid organisation, from funding any organisations that provide “abortion training or services, or research, trials or activities which directly involve abortion drugs,” even where it could save the life of a woman.
The Harradine-determined AusAID policy allowed funding for counselling after an abortion, but disallowed the dissemination of advice and education to women in underdeveloped countries who sought safe abortion.
A World Bank Report at that time estimated some 68,000 women in underdeveloped countries died as a consequence of unsafe abortion, and some 5.3 million suffered temporary or permanent disability.
This situation caused Bernard Keane to write this in Crikey, in an article titled “AusAID conservatives have blood on their hands:”
As a consequence of the restrictions, thousands of women overseas have died from unsafe abortions (see Sue Dunlevy’s excellent article from last year for some figures). Those deaths are a direct legacy of Brian Harradine and the Howard Government’s willingness to cater to the medieval delusions of the superstitious.
Tankard Reist’s involvement with fundamentalist Christians opposed to abortion, contraception, surrogacy, and homosexuality are well documented, and I have to wonder why she’s singled me out at this point in time for writing about her religious beliefs.
Throughout her career, Tankard Reist has doggedly described herself as a feminist, despite her anti choice stand, and her willingness to align herself with people such as Meuhlenberg and Harradine, who seek to exert their control over women’s bodies. Tankard Reist appears to be quite comfortable supporting and abetting this urge to dominate and control women, while simultaneously railing against what she considers the objectification, sexualisation, and pornification of women in popular culture.
Tankard Reist apparently has no qualms about having worked for a man whose determination to impose his religious beliefs on government policy prevented women far less fortunately placed than herself from accessing medical help and education about contraception and abortion. It appears to be of little consequence to her that women in underdeveloped countries suffered and died as a direct consequence of Harradine’s religious beliefs, during the period when he was her employer.
Yet show her a Kanye West video or a Brian McFadden clip, or women in Victoria’s Secret lingerie who like pole dancing, and she’s got petitions going every which way to silence and censor. What’s wrong with this picture?
As I think Jesus is reported as having observed, by their friends you shall know them.
(The title of this post comes from a tweet I received yesterday and I think it’s brilliant.)
UPDATE: I received the letter of demand from Tankard Reist’s lawyers on my personal email address. They state that they’ve sent a hard copy to my home address. I am not in the phone directory and I have no landline in my name. My personal email address isn’t available on my blog and neither is my home address. It probably wasn’t difficult to find someone who would divulge my email address, but my home address?