Author Archives: Barbara

Dear Devout Christians – a reply

 Following is what came to mind when I read Bishop Forsyth’s statements on devout Christian’s fears if same sex marriages were to be made lawful. The article to which I am replying can be found here (http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/sydney-anglicans-fear-devout-christians-will-be-forced-to-celebrate-gay-marriage-20150929-gjwzby.html)

“Dear devout Christian bakers, florists and photographers,
According to one of your bishops you fear that if marriage legislation were to change you could be forced to  “… engage in effectively celebrating same-sex marriage against their conscience”. He also fears for your religious freedom, strange as this may seem, considering that same sex couples wish to marry according to the law, rather than live “in sin” so to speak, and surely their act of commitment is far from a threat to your freedom to follow your Christian beliefs. Citing a possible attack on freedom of religion will instantly gain sympathy for you and gives you the opportunity to claim the status of the victim in a victimless crime. In reality you and your preachers are only concerned about increasing the power of your institutions and enforcing your particular views.
However, should marriage equality ever become a reality, you might want to consider displaying your stance in advance.  The shopkeeper from Royston Vaysey, a true master in scaring off unwanted customers, comes to mind as a suitable example you could follow. You could amend his catchphrase ‘This is a shop for local people’ to “This is a shop for straight local people” and display your new slogan for all to see. If you wish to be more blunt “Same Sexers are not welcome here” could be an option to ensure that your premises would not become a den of complicity against your will.  In doing so, you would not only do yourselves a favour but also keep away those members of the public, who support same sex marriage or who are favourably disposed towards anyone you despise.
At the same time you would be doing the community a service by openly advertising your opposition to marriage equality as it would enable tolerant and accepting citizens to avoid you and the wedding-services you offer. The benefit for you would be no longer having to make decisions affecting your religious conscience, or to give it its real name, bigoted dogma. You would no longer have to interact with customers who do not share your belief system. They in turn would not be forced to  “… engage in condoning or supporting fanatical devoutness against their conscience” as they would no longer feel comfortable about receiving goods and services from you or your fellow self-proclaimed guardians of rather dubious ethics and morals.
You can then cry ‘persecution’ and ‘discrimination’ against you and your faith and will be able to blame the loss of income on those awful, godless non-believers out there and being even more convinced of the righteousness of  your prejudice and fanaticism. You will blame same sex marriage, secular law makers, the anti-Christ, Satan, liberal Christians, Muslims, political parties  and anyone else whom you consider and enemy of your faith, for your misfortune and liken yourself to a martyr bravely facing the lions in a Roman arena.
For decades you and your proselytising lot have imposed and spread irrational belief, rules and dogma, often resorting to vilification and destruction of those who object, dare to disagree or whom you deem evil, dangerous or inconvenient.  You judge others by their belief not their behaviour. Your institutions, as those of other religions, have no qualms establishing a rule of religious law based on nothing more than personal convictions sanctioned by a deity .
You considers it a right to interfere in political decisions, purely because you are convinced your rules are to be followed. You have no scruples accepting government money for your chaplains to get easy access to vulnerable young minds, giving no consideration or thought at all to the damage your subjective and prejudiced advice can cause. But then, your conscience has no room for those whom you consider evil or wrong because you are in no doubt at all that you are right.  You certainty and lack of self-doubt make you a ruthless in your divinely sanctioned mission to destroy whatever you think is a sin or  to demonize whomever you consider an unrepentant sinner.
Considering that you feel the need to voice your opposition to marriage equality as if it were to lead to the destruction of Australian society you ought to put your money were your mouth is. Put up shop signs, carry placards, do what you think you have to. Why would you fear discrimination and persecution?  History shows that you love proclaiming martyrdom and persecution, as this seems to give you instant justification of lashing out or vilifying those who dare to question your beliefs.
Of course usually anyone vilifying and denigrating a person due to their religion, sex or ethnicity, ought to face the consequences, but it is clear that you do not agree with such repercussions as far as you being discriminating is concerned. You are very aware that new laws mean could mean new vilification regulations and as you are not prepared to live by those rules or amend your beliefs you will do everything in your power to give you the right to openly discriminate with impunity.
Hopefully decent, caring, moral and ethical people will recognise your supposed conflict of conscience for what is, namely an attempt to exercise power and control by spreading fear, exploiting prejudices and creating doubt.
Those of you who,  without a moment’s hesitation and with complete conviction, are prepared to use issues such as marriage equality in order to fabricate a campaign to convince people that their freedom of religion is at stake, are unlikely to ever consider themselves in the wrong or question their motives. You demand respect by all for your belief system, yet at the same time you only give respect to those of your choosing. The most disturbing and frightening aspect however is your utter lack of insight that that it is you who are discriminating against others, that it is your attitudes which are discriminatory. Anti-discrimination laws are in place for good reason and are intended to prevent the horrors of persecution. Your bishop says you fear being ‘caught out by these laws’, a statement which indicates that some churches consider themselves to be above the laws by which everyone else has to abide thereby absolving you of all responsibility.
Claiming that you could possibly be asked not to discriminate against a same sex couple does not constitute persecution of your beliefs it constitutes a dangerous and wilful misrepresentation of facts. Should marriage equality ever become a reality in this country, and I sincerely wish that this happens soon, I hope that Australia will be a better, more inclusive place where your disgraceful self-righteousness and your self-serving utterances will attract neither approval nor support but be dismissed with the disdain and disapproval they deserves.”

Listen up, my bearded and veily friends! (by Marcus Brigstocke)

Listen up, my bearded and veily friends!

 

“I’d like to start this week with a request, and this one goes out to the followers of the three Abrahamic religions: the Muslims, Christians, and Jews. It’s just a little thing, really, but do you think that when you’ve finished smashing up the world and blowing each other to bits and demanding special privileges while you do it, do you think that maybe the rest of us could sort of have our planet back? I wouldn’t ask, but I’m starting to think that there must be something written in the special books that each of you so enjoy referring to that it’s ok to behave like special, petulant, pugnacious, pricks. Forgive the alliteration, but your persistent, power-mad punch-ups are pissing me off. It’s mainly the extremists obviously, but not exclusively. It’s a lot of ‘main-streamers’ as well. Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about.

Muslims: listen up my bearded and veily friends! Calm down, ok? Stop blowing stuff up. Not everything that said about you is an attack on the prophet Mohammed and Allah that needs to end in the infidel being destroyed. Have a cup of tea, put on a Cat Stevens record, sit down and chill out. I mean seriously, what’s wrong with a strongly-worded letter to The Times?

Christians: you and your churches don’t get to be millionaires while other people have nothing at all. They’re your bloody rules; either stick to them or abandon the faith. And stop persecuting and killing people you judge to be immoral. Oh, and stop pretending you’re celibate — it’s a cover-up for being a gay or a nonce. Right, that’s two ticked off.

Jews! I know you’re god’s ‘Chosen People’ and the rest of us are just whatever, but when Israel behaves like a violent, psychopathic bully and someone mentions it that doesn’t make them anitsemitic. And for the record, your troubled history is not a license to act with impunity now.

So, when the letters come (and I’m guessing they will), I can gaurantee that each one of those faiths will be convinced that I’ve singled them out for special criticism.

[In mock Arabic accent] Why did it have to be us? Islam is a peaceful faith!

[In upper class British accent] I don’t see what’s wrong with being Christian? We’re a peaceful, loving faith.

[In affronted, huffy voice] How dare you after all we’ve been through! We Jews know how terrible violence can be.

You see, all of them will be convinced that they’re the ones being picked on. The Abrahamic faiths are like scousers: they’re always convinced they [in scouser accent} have it harder than everyone else.

And why is it that all of these faiths claim to be peaceful, when even a most fleeting glance at a history of warfare will tell you otherwise? The relationship between religion and warfare is very similar to the relationship between Ant and Deck: you could have one without the other, but I’m not sure anyone would see the point. I wouldn’t actually like it, but it would be refreshing to hear one of them come out and say [in working class London accent] “Our faith’s violent as you like. We love a scrap, us lot, we do. Our special book says ‘fight fight smash maim murder kill fight fight.’ That’s why I signed up to be honest. I’m a bit naught, know what I mean?” But yet all of them claim to be peaceful religions. Yeah, peaceful right up to the point where someone takes something they think is theirs, or says the wrong thing or looks at them funny. Then it’s fighty smashy kicky punchy all the way. I know this’ll upset a lot of people and frankly I don’t care. I’m getting so sick of religious people screwing it up for the rest of us.

Please don’t kill us, seriously. As far as I’m concerned this is the only chance we get. When we die it’s all over — there’s no virgins and pearly gates waiting for us, no big, beardy man saying [in deep, echoing voice and upper class accent] “Right, so how do you think that went, then? Killed a lot of people in my name I see. Not really what I had in mind. Um, tell you what, have another go as a worm.”

While we’re at it, I’m sick of religious people forcing their children to define themselves by their parents’ faith. A four-year-old is no more a Christian than he is a member of the Postal Workers’ union. [in child’s voice] “We want a fair working wage, decent working conditions, and time allotted to see the new Transformers film.”

This week Lydia Playfoot, who took Millay School in Horsham to the high court so she could wear jewelry to prove she’s staying a virgin for Jesus, lost her case. Good. I’m glad. I don’t care how many times her parents claim it was her idea, rules is rules, and if you want to wear a ring that tells everyone you’re not having any sex you can get married like the rest of us. Now, the lawyer for the chaste Miss Playfoot said the question for the judge was ‘What are the religious rights of school children in the school context?’ Well, I’m no judge (not yet, anyway), but if you want my opinion, none. No rights. No religious rights whatsoever. Schools are for learning. If you want to have a little pray before maths so that Mr. Figures won’t set too hard a test, or prevent the P.E. teacher from being a colossal pervert, then go head, fill your boots. If you want to pop on a feathered headdress and chant and dance and mumble and sacrifice something you can do that on your own time. (Or take a drama course, pretend it’s art, and get a degree in it. That’s what I did.) The lawyer, Mr. Diamond, argued “secular authorities cannot rule on religious truth.” Hmm. Well, Mr. Diamond, I’m going to assume you’re not related to Neil Diamond, because he rocks. Yes, I like Neil Diamond. And Prince. And I’m married — go figure. But the point is “religious truth” is a foxy one, because religion, by it’s very nature, doesn’t tend to concern itself with truth. There simply isn’t time for truth. By the time all the singing and candle-lighting and toadying and condemning and hiding from science is done truth has given up and gone down to the pub for a pint. Here’s the truth: faith is about as interested in truth as I am in hanging out with Anthony Warrel Thompson, ie, not very.

Now, I know that most religious folk are moderate and reasonable and wear tidy jumpers and eat cheese, like real people. And on hearing this they’ll mainly feel pity for me, rather than issue a death sentence. But they have to accept that they are the power base for the nutters. Without their passive support the loonies in charge of these faiths would just be loonies, safely locked away and medicated — somewhere nice with a view of some trees where they can claim they have a direct channel to god between sessions making tapestry coasters, watching Teletubbies and talking about their days in the Hitler Youth. The ordinary faithful make these vicious, tyrannical thugs what they are. See, I get angry that show like Celebrity and Big Brother and insert-title-of-wretched-show-here still fill our lives with vapid, pointless emptiness, and I wish the producers’ development executives would crawl back under the rocks they emerged from, but the truth is they sell stuff that people consume. Without the audience to prop it up, Heat magazine and fundamental religious fanaticism goes away. Imagine what humanity might be capable of if we had that much spare time! We could explore space properly, have decent look in the sea, find a cure for James Blunt, anything!

Thank you very much. Letters to the usual address.”

Marcus Brigstocke – The Now Show, BBC4

 

Bushcare

My first day as a volunteer with Kogarah Council’s Bushcare programme was spent pulling out Panic Veldt Grass, Ehrharta erecta