18 Jan 2013

The Religious Right To Discriminate

By Eleanor Gibbs
Why are religious groups given a special exemption from laws that apply to the rest of us? El Gibbs on how the Gillard Government missed its chance to fix a glaring anomaly in anti-discrimination law

The Federal Government is approaching the end of a long process in reforming anti-discrimination law, one that started in 2009. Currently, a draft exposure bill is before the Senate Legal and Constitutional Committee and hundreds of submissions have been received. Despite the urgings of Labor Senator Doug Cameron, the committee will not accept further submissions.

The committee is due to hear evidence on 23 and 24 January — although exactly who they will hear it from is not public at this stage.

The draft Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill is not anything like an actual human rights charter, but more accurately a consolidation of the five different pieces of legislation that cover aspects of anti-discrimination law. These are the:

Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (RDA)
Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (SDA)
Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA)
Age Discrimination Act 2004 (ADA)
Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 (AHRC Act)

The reasons for this change are varied — from making it easier to make a single complaint that covers several areas of discrimination, to cutting down on the varied rules for business. Importantly also, it is a chance to extend anti-discrimination law, for the first time, to cover areas such as sexual identity and gender diversity. Workplace protection is also extended to cover political opinion and religion. These acts have not been substantially amended since their introduction, so some areas of discrimination, such as sexual orientation, are not covered by the federal law.

Currently, each of these acts has different rules about what constitutes discrimination and on what grounds. This legislation will use a common set of definitions. Those subjected to multiple discriminations will only have to make a single complaint.

Rachel Ball of the Human Rights Law Centre explains the changes like this:

"Discrimination harms individuals, families, businesses and communities. The Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill 2012 will ensure that the law is more effective in preventing and remedying these harms. Overall, the draft Bill constitutes a long-awaited simplification and modernisation of our anti-discrimination laws, which will benefit employees and employers alike." 

However, some are concerned that this consolidation does not go far enough, and some people are still being left out.

Greens Senator Penny Wright says, "Anti-discrimination laws should also cover other aspects like intersex status, religious beliefs or activity, irrelevant criminal records and social status. This would mean people could not be discriminated against, for example, if they are homeless or unemployed."

The Equality Rights Alliance, a network advocating for women's equality, wants the provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act, which ask employers to make reasonable accommodations at work, to be extended to cover family and care responsibilities and for the law to provide protection for people who are survivors of domestic or family violence.

Under both the current and the proposed system, organisations are allowed to discriminate if they can justify doing so to the Human Rights Commission. Groups, such as women's refuges, have successfully argued that they employ only women in certain roles. Exemptions have to be applied for on a case-by-case basis, unless that organisation is a religious one.

While many aspects of the anti-discrimination laws are being updated, there is one area of discrimination that is not only untouched, but has in fact been extended. Under the current laws, religious organisations have a permanent exemption from the requirements not to discriminate, except in the provision of aged care. The proposed bill increases the grounds on which religious groups can discriminate to include gender identity, marital or relationship status, potential pregnancy, pregnancy, religion, sexual orientation.

Various religious groups have raised concerns that any change to this exemption would harm their ability to practice their religion and impinge on their freedom. Christian Schools Australia says that "the "freedom to manifest one's religion or beliefs is internationally recognised as a most significant human right, not lightly to be limited by legislation or otherwise".

However, significant concerns have been raised about the impact of this permanent exemption on the delivery of public services, such as education, health care and welfare. Increasingly, social services are outsourced from government to the not-for-profit and private sector. In many regional areas, they are the only providers of such services in the community.

Under this exemption, a young same-sex attracted person could be legally excluded from accessing a health service, or a single parent refused help from an employment agency that was run by a religious organisation, despite the service receiving public funding.

It is also unclear how the exemption will impact on service delivery under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). In theory, religious groups who are providing services to people with a disability under the NDIS will be able to discriminate against people — and there are no provisions for challenging this.

People in cities are likely to be able to choose service providers but in regional and rural areas, there may only be one service provider available. If that service provider will not support a single parent, an unmarried person, or a gender diverse person, that person will have no recourse under this law.

The key difference between exemptions for religious groups, and everyone else, is that they have a permanent exemption. So, instead of having to argue on a case-by-case basis for an exemption from anti-discrimination law, religious groups just don't have to comply with the law. Arguments, such as this from Kevin Donnelly that draw an equivalence between religious schools, which receive over $6 billion per year of public money, and a women-only swimming session, are completely bogus.

Why are religious groups given this special exemption from laws that apply to everyone else? Is it, as Jennifer Wilson argues, to do with appeasing factional chiefs in the ALP caucus? Or, as social service delivery is dominated by large, religious organisations, is the Gillard Government afraid they will withdraw if they have to comply with the law? Or is the idea of taking on a fight, to extend protection to all Australians, just too much after the battles on other policy fronts. Whatever the reason, this review has missed a chance to fix a glaring anomaly in the law.

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Tim Macknay
Posted Friday, January 18, 2013 - 13:26

I agree that the general provision in the Bill allowing for religious discrimination is too broad, and it should be rephrased so that the discrimination is restricted to employment with a religious organisation, and does not apply to the provision of services. I also think it is worth investigating reducing the scope of religious employment discrimination, for example by disallowing discrimination in cases where the potential employee undertakes in good faith to abide by the precepts of the religious organisation.

I think you're over-egging it, though, in your claim that religious groups are being given exemptions from laws "that apply to everyone else". Clearly, there are many exemptions from the anti-discrimination provisions, to allow for a range of activities where discrimination is considered to be legitimate. That includes voluntary organisations, clubs and societies, sporting associations, single sex schools and schools for the disabled, and so forth. A degree of religious discrimination is necessary to enable religious organisations to function, which is in turn necessary for religious freedom. The question is <em>how much</em> discrimination is necessary in order to uphold that freedom. I suspect that it's probably less than many of the religious organisations would claim to require, but considerably more than what strident secularists would prefer to allow.

nanks
Posted Friday, January 18, 2013 - 14:29

I can't see why religious organisations should have any more or less rights than other clubs and community groups. For example I don't see why the Catholic church shouldn't be able to discriminate against employing people who promote abortion or engage in homosexual acts during the course of their employment. That's not part of the Catholic rule set and would set the wrong tone when prospective new members dropped by to see about joining up.

Similarly, doesn't the Labor party have rules where parliamentary members can be expelled for publicly speaking against party policy? That discriminates against socialists but no-one expects the Labor party to change their whole basis and start supporting socialism.

http://www.well-ordered.com/

asdvox
Posted Friday, January 18, 2013 - 15:51

To my knowledge, no one ever won a disability discrimination complaint against a Government agency. I have no reason to believe the proposed law will change this outcome. This new law will not prevent, let alone remedy, the harms that discrimination causes to people with a disability, despite some people's optimism. In addition to problems with the law, problems with the legal system are not being addressed.

asdvox
Posted Friday, January 18, 2013 - 16:09

Discrimination law must be extremely careful around things like religion, or any distinct subsection of the community. Should the law prohibit an organisation from collect funds from people of religion X to help people of the same religion? Is this morally different from collecting donations to train guide-dogs for the blind; a service, it might be argued, that discriminates against people with other disabilities? Should the discrimination law say people cannot donate or volunteer support to particular subsections of the community?
Is it OK for people to make these distinctions when they volunteer or donate? And is it OK for the Government to do so?

This user is a New Matilda supporter. dazza
Posted Friday, January 18, 2013 - 17:09

If Church groups, including Private Schools, are in receipt of Public Moneys, then the Anti-Discrimination Laws should prevail. This should be an ABSOLUTE.
But because Gillard is sucking-up to Fundamentalist Religions, for reasons that are beyond me, unless it is at the behest of such people as Garrett, Le Bruin and Howes, Religious Nutters who put her in power, and are intent on keeping her there so long as she does their bidding, the Religious Forces will retain and gain further discrimination powers. In fact, if you, look around her, Gillard is surrounded by Religious Nutters. So we need a shrink here, badly.
Support GetUp! and sign the Petition, get on to your computers and send letters and emails to Labor pollies, do something NOW before this Senate Enquiry is closed down.
Time is very short, and Gillard and Co. are trying to make sure that submissions are not accepted in time, or taken note of. Hit them hard, and let us get a little JUSTICE in our Justice system. NOW!
Wallace and is mob are out there fighting to keep their ill-gotten gains, let us remove their freedom to so do, and have Australia;s Laws apply to THEM. Why the Hell should they be allowed, nay, encouraged by GIllard, to consider themselves better than/different to everyone else.

Dazza.

Allie
Posted Friday, January 18, 2013 - 20:59

I too am confused by this Govt and what the heck they are doing.
Equality is equality is equality.
IF you accept public monies from a secular Government then you have to abide by secular rules. If you don't like those rules then fund yourselves.

I am so sick of where this is all leading and will end.

No more 'discrimination' no more exemptions. It is 2013...time to stop the religious power mongerers coming to exploit and overtake the clear equality of all Australians...

Time for churches of all hues to pay their dues.

Tiime for transparency and equality in all aspects of employment.

Enough.

ozjust
Posted Friday, January 18, 2013 - 22:18

Creating different laws for religious organisations violates “Equality before the law”, which is protected by Article 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that constitutes an integral part of the International Bill of Human Rights. Hence, the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill violates international HR law, which Australia adopted.

Rocky
Posted Saturday, January 19, 2013 - 09:21

In practical terms, under this legislation members of a religious organisations can discriminate against individual atheists for example, but atheists can't discriminate against believers.

It's rather difficult to know whether this exemption is a cynical political exercise in pandering to sectional interests or that members of the Gillard government really don't understand the concept of universal human rights, or the application of Mill's "Harm" principle.
Any exercise of "religious freedom' that violates the human rights of individuals or minorities is inimical to liberal democratic principles.

There is no absolute right to religious freedom, even in the most liberal of democracies, limitations are set by the state. It's a scandal that religious institutions receive taxpayers' money, however that's not really relevant to the argument as to whether they have the 'right' to violate others' human rights.

Members of secular societies must be able to interact with others as equals free from the prejudices and superstitions of others.

ozjust,

Agree entirely.

This user is a New Matilda supporter. dazza
Posted Saturday, January 19, 2013 - 21:22

Rocky, you are absolutely correct, religious organisations SHOULD NOT receive public moneys for anything. However, the horse has long bolted, and it would be very hard to put that Genie back in the bottle. Since Howard, who co-opted religious bodies to do his bidding and replace Public Services (the Salvation Army, for an instance) and paid them from the Public Purse, all Governments have continued to do so. Was it Whitlam who started giving Public Moneys to Religious bodies to operate religious schools? This is now deeply ingrained into our Society, and the Churches will fight very dirty and hard to maintain this abomination. No way that a very deeply religious Labor Party will ever change it, and in any case, they do not want to. It is quite incredible the number of people who are still living a lie, giving genuflections to fairy stories. The Churches really do believe that ignorance is bliss, particularly when it applies to their followers. Book banning continues unabated. Book burning is still done.
But really, with our Murdoch owned Media, I do not see how anyone could really worry about the General Public ever being educated. Not going to happen. An educated Public would be considered dangerous to the bodies that control us. Not that the General Public show any inclination to wanting to be educated. They keep buying Murdoch Media. And electing Morons.
Dazza.

Rocky
Posted Sunday, January 20, 2013 - 09:04

dazza,

There's still some justification for optimism that the long term societal trends are towards secularism, a few generations ago this debate would have been inconceivable and there are many institutions and practices that once seemed unassailable that have long since vanished.
However, I agree that successive governments have been hostages to hand-outs to "independent" schools. We can hope that any future Labor government will a large majority would take a more progressive approach.

The underlying problem is the pernicious myth of religious freedom, it doesn't exist, the principle that applies in secular societies is the freedom from the religious persecution of law abiding believers by the state or indeed, adherents of other religions.

Yes, it's amazing how many people think what they read in the Murdoch media is the news.

Dr Dog
Posted Monday, January 21, 2013 - 09:21

I share the disbelief that the Labor Party has fallen so far from its mandate as to think it is OK to pass this legislation.

As to the issue I think it is evident that churches should have the right to require belief in those charged with religious duties - preachers and the like. They should have the exemption for all activities they fund entirely by themselves. Of course they should pay tax like any other corporation to earn the right to use these funds as they see fit.

Where public money is involved though they should have no right to discriminate. If a secular service is being offered they must be forced to accept secular rules, including non-discriminatory employment practices. Any of us who work in social services have many stories of employment discrimination and even worse a refusal or reduction of service provision based on the client's beliefs. This is a repugnant practice.

It is a complex issue because the government relies on the charitable nature of churches to provide social services at a reduced cost. The churches in turn rely on the Christian motivation of their employees to pay them less and require them to go 'the extra mile'.

Of course as Rocky points out atheists are not allowed to be part of this discrimifest because they don't have a right to beliefs, having abandoned one set neither the government nor the church can allow them a new set, especially if that involves reducing the theist's hold on decision making in this country.

fightmumma
Posted Monday, January 21, 2013 - 14:08

My understanding of the origins of religious groups having influence over welfare roles in society, is that this dates back to the beginnings of working with the poor/disadvantaged...with the key point being that poverty and disadvantage was believed to occur due to the individual's lack of righteousness, religious observance, character flaws and genetic inferiority. Going back to Poor Laws of the 1600/1700s. Religious organisations were therefore viewed as most appropriate for dealing with the sinners of the gutters!! Add to this social Darwinism where certain people were simply inferior and almost deserved their poverty (and desirous to die out) and certainly NOT "deserving" of charity (at least without strict supervision to change their evil ways!!) - and this is the back-story for all our religious organisations having so much power over welfare-type roles in modern society.

Add to this governments who consistently do not want to adopt social welfare and real social policies as core responsibilities...so they handball these on to religious organisations in the form of funding from tax dollars...and we end up where we are now. The solution is that government should be adopting greater obligations to create social and health programs that are influenced AWAY from religious groups and their values/beliefs systems, under full democratic and professional influence/opinion and knowledge - ie rather than religious interpretations of the Bible, or any other holy book for than matter!

I think what I am trying to say is that this problem runs deeper than one discrimination act, it is based in the entire formation of how we deliver social and health welfare to our citizens. Comes from sensitivities to our desires to keep away from publicly run services in preference for private enterprise, and in the religious beliefs about causes/solutions of poverty (note that the two are complementary because they both place the individual at blame and responsible). We need to mature past the ideology and the religion and see what our citizens need, what the trends are and simply provide these through more mature/modern institutions.

Religions that for example believe homosexuality is a sin, yes they should have the right to live their beliefs as otherwise this also is a violation of other human rights - however shouldn't this be done on their own funds/time and NOT on societal time/funds?

Tim Macknay
Posted Monday, January 21, 2013 - 15:22

<blockquote><em>Creating different laws for religious organisations violates “Equality before the law”, which is protected by Article 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that constitutes an integral part of the International Bill of Human Rights. Hence, the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill violates international HR law, which Australia adopted.</em></blockquote>

Ozjust, with respect, this is nonsense. BTW, did you forget about article 18? The exemptions under discussion are a straightforward way of balancing the rights under article 7 with those under article 18 (in the case of religious exemptions) and those under articles 19 and 20 (in the case of civil associations and societies).

<blockquote><em>In practical terms, under this legislation members of a religious organisations can discriminate against individual atheists for example, but atheists can’t discriminate against believers.</em></blockquote>

This is simply untrue. Under the proposed legislation (and existing legislation, for that matter), an atheist or secular humanist society (for example), can legally prevent Christians, Muslims or other religious believers from joining.

<blockquote><em>It’s rather difficult to know whether this exemption is a cynical political exercise in pandering to sectional interests or that members of the Gillard government really don’t understand the concept of universal human rights, or the application of Mill’s “Harm” principle.</em></blockquote>

Alternatively, perhaps <em>you</em> don't understand the concept of universal human rights. I'm also not sure why you think Mill comes into it - his 'harm' principle, useful though it is, is essentially a radical libertarian one. Obviously, the Gillard government is not radically libertarian, so why would you expect them to give a fig for his principle?

<blockquote><em>Any exercise of “religious freedom’ that violates the human rights of individuals or minorities is inimical to liberal democratic principles.</em></blockquote>

No disagreement there. But the laws in question are seeking to balance the <em>right</em> to religious freedom with other rights. It is reasonable for a religious school to refuse to employ a militant atheist, just as it is reasonable for a secular humanist association to refuse membership to a fundamentalist Christian.

I think some of the commentators here are letting their hatred of religion blind them to the fact that freedom of religion rights are also <em>their</em> rights.

Dr Dog
Posted Monday, January 21, 2013 - 16:57

Tim,

'It is reasonable for a religious school to refuse to employ a militant atheist, just as it is reasonable for a secular humanist association to refuse membership to a fundamentalist Christian.'

Is it? If they are there to preach the word of God, well I can see your point, although what militant atheist would want that job, or more importantly could describe themselves as legitimately qualified is beyond me.

If they are applying to be a groundskeeper however I think your argument falls flat, and the exemptions proposed simply become a method for that organisation to favor people that are like them, the very sort of discrimination that the legislation is supposed to protect citizens from.

Employment policy can easily ensure that the groundskeeper is not allowed under their employment to promote their atheism, just as I used to ensure Christians working in a secular youth service did not preach in their work hours or use the contacts with young people to promote Christianity.

The proposed exemptions are especially distasteful when the funds to employ that person come from the public purse, since tax is paid by all Australians except the rich. By its nature this must offer equal opportunity for all beliefs that are compatible with employment as a groundskeeper in a school.

Membership and employment are not the same in law or practice and your suggestion otherwise is a red herring.

Rocky
Posted Monday, January 21, 2013 - 17:28

Tim Macknay,

"This is simply untrue. Under the proposed legislation (and existing legislation, for that matter), an atheist or secular humanist society (for example), can legally prevent Christians, Muslims or other religious believers from joining."--that is completely irrelevant.

You've either missed the point of the discussion entirely or you're presenting straw man arguments. I'm sure most commenters here wouldn't object to believers or non-believers forming associations of like-minded individuals. What concerns me, and others, is explained by the following-

"However, significant concerns have been raised about the impact of this permanent exemption on the delivery of public services, such as education, health care and welfare."--If religious organisations are permitted to discriminate because of their doctrinal prejudices.

The Gillard government falls far short of my expectations and I'm entitled to criticise them on that basis, whatever they may or may not give a fig for my opinions.

"I think some of the commentators here are letting their hatred of religion blind them to the fact that freedom of religion rights are also their rights." Drivel.

Religious people cannot claim the prerogative to discriminate against, and therefore harm others, whose lifestyles, sexuality, atheist principles or indeed other religious beliefs of which they disapprove. What the religious are in fact claiming is the divinely given 'right' to treat other human beings as inferiors.

Tim Macknay
Posted Monday, January 21, 2013 - 20:35

Dr Dog

<blockquote><em>Is it? If they are there to preach the word of God, well I can see your point, although what militant atheist would want that job, or more importantly could describe themselves as legitimately qualified is beyond me.</em></blockquote>

I was thinking of scenarios concerning religious educational institutions. A militant atheist may well be technically qualified for a teaching role, but unwilling to adhere to the institution's religious tenets. If a militant atheist with appropriate teaching qualifications did seek a job with a religious school hoping to provide the kids with an antidote to the doctrines they received on a daily basis, which the atheist believed to be malevolent superstitions, do you think it would be reasonable for the school to refuse employment to the atheist on those grounds, or dismiss the atheist if s/he was found to be ‘disconverting’ during school hours?

<blockquote><em>If they are applying to be a groundskeeper however I think your argument falls flat, and the exemptions proposed simply become a method for that organisation to favor people that are like them, the very sort of discrimination that the legislation is supposed to protect citizens from.

Employment policy can easily ensure that the groundskeeper is not allowed under their employment to promote their atheism, just as I used to ensure Christians working in a secular youth service did not preach in their work hours or use the contacts with young people to promote Christianity.</em></blockquote>

Actually, I find that highly dubious. A policy intended to prevent particular categories of employee from discussing particular religious topics or communicating with others in the workplace on such topics would almost certainly count as discrimination, and to do it lawfully would require an exemption. I can't comment on the situation of the particular youth service to which you refer, but presumably the policy applied to all types of religious beliefs, not just Christianity.

I agree that there is scope for the ability to discriminate in employment to be narrowed, and said as much in my first comment in the thread. But most of the comments on this thread strike me as being opposed to <em>any</em> kind of exemption for religious organisations, and seem to be motivated by hostility for religion in general, albeit that the hostility may stem from reasonable anger at reactionary views being promoted by some religious institutions.

<blockquote><em>The proposed exemptions are especially distasteful when the funds to employ that person come from the public purse, since tax is paid by all Australians except the rich. By its nature this must offer equal opportunity for all beliefs that are compatible with employment as a groundskeeper in a school.</em></blockquote>

True, but as I said above, the kind of employment conditions which would prevent said groundskeeper from proselytising in a manner contrary to the institution’s religious ideology would themselves be discriminatory, and would require some kind of exemption to be lawful. Personally, I think a provision which made legal some kind of employment condition mandating reasonable compliance with an organisation’s tenets while in the workplace would a reasonable way to narrow the exemption, and provide the sort of outcome you’d approve of.
<blockquote><em> Membership and employment are not the same in law or practice and your suggestion otherwise is a red herring.</em></blockquote>
Yes, they are different, but my comment was relevant in the context. Rocky, to whom I was responding, didn’t mention employment, but made a blanket claim that the legislation wouldn’t allow an atheist to discriminate against a believer. A side point - as far as I am aware, there are no doctrinally atheist schools, but if one were to be established it is interesting to speculate whether it would fall within the definition of an “educational institution established for religious purposes”. I don’t think the answer is clear-cut.

Rocky:

<blockquote><em>that is completely irrelevant.
You’ve either missed the point of the discussion entirely or you’re presenting straw man arguments.</em></blockquote>
My comment was a direct response to a claim made by you, so I fail to see how it was irrelevant.

<blockquote><em>“However, significant concerns have been raised about the impact of this permanent exemption on the delivery of public services, such as education, health care and welfare.”—If religious organisations are permitted to discriminate because of their doctrinal prejudices.</em></blockquote>

Then these concerns would seem to be a little confused, as the Bill replicates exemptions in existing State and Federal legislation. The more informed criticisms I have seen are mainly critical of the perceived lost opportunity to <em>wind</em> back the religious exemptions to a level that would preserve the ability of religious institutions to operate according to their tenets, while seeking to eliminate the potential for discrimination that isn’t necessary for that operation. I think those criticisms have some substance.

<blockquote><em>Religious people cannot claim the prerogative to discriminate against, and therefore harm others, whose lifestyles, sexuality, atheist principles or indeed other religious beliefs of which they disapprove. What the religious are in fact claiming is the divinely given ‘right’ to treat other human beings as inferiors.</em></blockquote>

The existing and proposed legislation recognises that some forms of discrimination are socially beneficial in various circumstances. This includes the ability of various political, philosophical and religious groups and organisations to discriminate to a limited degree in order to further their political, philosophical or religious aims. There is certainly scope for debate over whether the scope for religious organisations to discriminate is too broad, but in my view a commitment to the idea of freedom of conscience and freedom of religion requires a recognition that <em>some</em> discrimination is necessary to uphold those freedoms.

The extremely broad generalisation in your last sentence tends to reinforce my impression that you're allowing hatred of religion to distort your approach to the issue.

jackal01
Posted Monday, January 21, 2013 - 20:56

Brilliant discussion people.

I haven't had this much fun reading peoples comments in years.

Whats even better I'm speechless, you guys have got it all covered nicely.

Loved fightmumma's input. In other words nothing comes over night, it all came about over years of persecution, meddling and killing. Our problem, we have only just noticed the Elephant in the room.

This user is a New Matilda supporter. Rockjaw
Posted Monday, January 21, 2013 - 21:29

Nice to see how how we are devolving back to a pre-christian era.

Very exciting.

Now all we need to do is to figure out who our dictators will be.

Dr Dog
Posted Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - 09:09

Well actually Tim stopping Christians from proselytising in the workplace (and yes the same applied to communists, we were after all in Glebe) was a simple matter of policy, as it would be for any of the examples you set.

The actual wording of the policy was to do with unsolicited declarations of belief, if the kids asked we were able to tell them what we believed. The policy was designed to weed out people who were there for the preaching and not the non-judgemental service.

It seems quite simple to me. You ask 'do you think it would be reasonable for the school to refuse employment to the atheist on those grounds, or dismiss the atheist if s/he was found to be ‘disconverting’ during school hours?' Obviously the answer to the first part is no - they haven't yet given any reason to be dismissed.

The answer to the second part is yes, if they have been through the dismissal process, warnings and such. It is well within the realms of current legislation to do so, since they are not complying with a reasonable request from their employer, and continue to offend.

A special exemption is not required to ensure 'reasonable compliance with an organisation’s tenets'. This can exist in policy. My issue with the exemption is that churches seek to pre-suppose the behaviour of potential employees, and employ on that basis - clearly discriminatory or they wouldn't need and exemption.

You are on the money when you say I am 'opposed to any kind of exemption for religious organisations, and seem to be motivated by hostility for religion in general, albeit that the hostility may stem from reasonable anger at reactionary views'. I most certainly am hostile to religion. I think it to be an ancient and discredited political system and an active obstruction to sensible thinking and discernment.

Why we would want to privilege this sort of organisation above others simply because their principles exist outside rational thought is beyond me.

Dr Dog
Posted Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - 09:11

Rockjaw surely there is a way to not be Christian and to choose progress instead of devolution.

Jackal01 I am speechless at your speechlessness. ;)

Tim Macknay
Posted Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - 12:46

<blockquote><em>A special exemption is not required to ensure ‘reasonable compliance with an organisation’s tenets’. This can exist in policy.</em></blockquote>

I think you're simply incorrect there, Dr Dog. If the said 'reasonable compliance' effectively only applied to members of some religious/philosophical groups, and not others, or affected different groups differently (which would be necessary in any religious institution, because religious discussion would be part of the organisation's function, but some religious beliefs or stances would be treated less favourably than the institution's preferred one), then it would be discriminatory, and contrary to the law unless an exemption applied. You've confirmed that the policy you applied in your youth centre was not discriminatory, and therefore wouldn't have fallen afoul of the law.

<blockquote><em>It seems quite simple to me. You ask ‘do you think it would be reasonable for the school to refuse employment to the atheist on those grounds, or dismiss the atheist if s/he was found to be ‘disconverting’ during school hours?’ Obviously the answer to the first part is no - they haven’t yet given any reason to be dismissed.</em></blockquote>

My scenario was predicated on the assumption that the institution was aware that the applicant was a militant atheist, and in a position to make a judgement about whether or not s/he was likely to comply with the organisation's tenets.

<blockquote><em>The answer to the second part is yes, if they have been through the dismissal process, warnings and such. It is well within the realms of current legislation to do so, since they are not complying with a reasonable request from their employer, and continue to offend.</em></blockquote>

Sorry, I just don't agree that this is correct. If the request to desist was made only on the basis that the employee's beliefs were contrary to those of the institution's religion, and other employees were engaged in similar conduct, albeit expressing views approved by the institution and were therefore not requested to desist, the employer's request would not be reasonable, it would be discriminatory. Note that in a religious institution such a scenario is not implausible.

<blockquote><em>My issue with the exemption is that churches seek to pre-suppose the behaviour of potential employees, and employ on that basis - clearly discriminatory or they wouldn’t need and exemption.</em></blockquote>

I think you're making unwarranted assumptions about how these decisions are made in practice. I've had some experience working for a religious institution (as a sessional lecturer in international and environmental law), and despite being an atheist, I was not subjected to the type of treatment you're imagining. As I said before though, I do think there is scope to narrow the exemption provisions (which already have caveats) to ensure that unwarranted discrimination does not occur.

<blockquote><em>You are on the money when you say I am ‘opposed to any kind of exemption for religious organisations, and seem to be motivated by hostility for religion in general, albeit that the hostility may stem from reasonable anger at reactionary views’. I most certainly am hostile to religion. I think it to be an ancient and discredited political system and an active obstruction to sensible thinking and discernment.

Why we would want to privilege this sort of organisation above others simply because their principles exist outside rational thought is beyond me.</em></blockquote>

Thanks for being honest. :)

Dr Dog
Posted Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - 14:21

Tim,

While I am uncomfortable with the looseness of the idea of who is 'likely' to comply I think I can agree to disagree without rancour here. Thanks for the respectful argument.

I do want to say that my views on religion do not extend to the religious. I am puzzled by them, but no doubt some of my more unusual thinking is alien to them, since self deception is not limited to the religious.

Enjoy.

rowena
Posted Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - 15:00

The religious are in bad odour. They have abused their privileged role in our social order. Both sex abuse and political extremism are beyond the pale. Time to rein them in. But let's not cut off our nose to spite our face. Freedom of expression is crucial. Do that in and we diminish democracy.

Tim Macknay
Posted Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - 17:24

Dr Dog:
<blockquote><em>I think I can agree to disagree without rancour here. Thanks for the respectful argument.</em></blockquote>

No problem. It was an interesting discussion.

This user is a New Matilda supporter. Marga
Posted Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - 17:31

We still have a long way to go before we are mature enough to archive all religion and acknowledge that what sustains us is our planet.

Einstein, in his last letter before his death, called religion "kindisch" (childish).
He forgot to say that organized religion and religious institutions are self-serving.

Having said that, Gillard's support of discrimination for organized religion is disappointing. She may be an aheist, but foremost she is a politician through and through. Say no more.

Nevertheless, I appreciate the lively debate.

This user is a New Matilda supporter. Marga
Posted Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - 17:31

We still have a long way to go before we are mature enough to archive all religion and acknowledge that what sustains us is our planet.

Einstein, in his last letter before his death, called religion "kindisch" (childish).
He forgot to say that organized religion and religious institutions are self-serving.

Having said that, Gillard's support of discrimination for organized religion is disappointing. She may be an aheist, but foremost she is a politician through and through. Say no more.

Nevertheless, I appreciate the lively debate.

fightmumma
Posted Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - 17:32

Happy new year Dr Doggie...I just wanted to ask, how have you seen discrimination and noticed it manifested through religious means in the workplace? I ask because one thing that puzzles me, is that it is fairly normal for people to want to mix with like-minded people and if the entire basis and philosophy of a particular workplace is one with religious, doctrine-type beliefs - isn't it reasonable that the employer expects those beliefs to not be undermined? I work with dog training and even in that field there are people who use "gentle" methods (Delta) and to be members of that organisation trainers have to declare they will never use harsh training methods on dogs...if you want the right to use a correction chain you just don't become involved in that organisation...it isn't discriminatory is it? What is your distinction between people working within a like-minded environment and people being discriminatory?

I have tried to get teaching jobs in religious schools (with no luck...though this might be a blessing haha!!) catholic ones want me to teach according to "the catholic ethos of education" (whatever the heck that is!!) and wearing a friend's cross on a necklace didn't make the slightest bit of difference...I suppose they could sense an irreverent a mile off!! I actually had an interview at a "christian" school where it became apparent to me that it was a mock interview (ie simply to have an interviewing process when they actually already had the candidate chosen). The principal questioned me that "how could I claim to be a believer if I didn't attend a church?" I was too slow in thinking to ask "How can you call yourself a Christian when you lie to people about the authenticity of this interview?" Although her hypocrisy was evident to ME, I could still understand that if she thought I would be negative to her school's values she wouldn't want me teaching at her school.

Most organisations in social and community welfare have values/beliefs in their charter...such as "client centred" or similar, if I am authoritarian they wouldn't employ me either and rightly so as they have one approach that they prefer and that represents them. So what are you picturing as the difference with religion?

The only thing I can think of, particularly relevant in smaller communities as where I presently live, that Vinnies, Salvos or Anglicare could possess certain attitudes about young single mothers or gay people which affect that individual's access to assistance...because they help (or are supposed to help) not just church members, but take on societal roles. This is also one of my arguments against community groups assisting people who are on Centrelink payments where the argument is that the community should be helping us to get to work, manage single-parenting etc - because it is tainted with religious and class-based values/beliefs and measures of "worth" or "right" and "wrong".

fightmumma
Posted Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - 17:33

marga - wasn't Einstein a communist and thus copying marx's belief of religion being the opiate?

fightmumma
Posted Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - 17:37

ps and can someone explain to me the lived difference between religion and ideology - aren't they all dogma designed for small minded people who cannot apply values flexible enough to adapt to real life - a bureaucratised belief system that requires no human emotion/experience? Don't they all serve the same weakest link in our psychology...the inability to cope with reality and take full responsibility for our own existence and Now? Anti-religion is thus every bit as much a religion as is religion...at least it serves the same purpose IMHO!!

Kevin Charles H...
Posted Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - 19:05

Extreme religious fundamentalist organisations such as those found in Australia's Islamic & Jewish communities and in a few other similar religious sects & cults, of course should be subject to anti discrimination laws.

One would have thought that the application of these laws to such odious groups would be the first step towards ridding our society of them.

Rocky
Posted Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - 19:50

fightmumma

"can someone explain to me the lived difference between religion and ideology",

I agree, there isn't, religion is just another ideology, once religious fairy dust is sprinkled over some poisonous doctrine it becomes acceptable.

There are evolutionary reasons why people have religious beliefs, I don't have any objections as long as "the faithful" don't try to impose their delusions on others.
People who don't have the "gene" for religion appear to be a relatively small percentage of the population but it's still in the interests of believers to protect the secular state from religious subversion for obvious reasons.

This user is a New Matilda supporter. Rockjaw
Posted Wednesday, January 23, 2013 - 03:30

Dr Dog, I am not christian, nor do I "choose" christianity, but I would rather accept christianity if forced to do so than return to any pre christian socio-legal order.

What everyone forgets is that the right to associate is accompanied by an equally powerful and fundamental right not to associate.

When the right not to associate is confused with discrimination, then society is left with no rights.

Ask any extremist and fundamentalist atheist and they will demonstrate to you that extreme fundamentalism is not the exclusive domain of theists.

Now force theists and atheists to "associate" and not to "discriminate" and you will find it impossible to achieve a peaceful and ordered society without applying a great dollop of prejudice to one group or the other.

Secular atheism is not the nirvana which the fundamentalist extremist atheists pompously think it is.

Dr Dog
Posted Wednesday, January 23, 2013 - 08:34

That's cool Rockjaw, and I agree that secular atheism is not the answer to all ills socially. Nevertheless I refuse to believe that Christianity is the apex of human understanding and organisation.

In that context I think it is possible to develop a post-Christian society, not just a return to a pre-Christian socio-legal system. After all when Christianity kicked off as a major force there wasn't even democracy in its current form. Are we unable do you think to keep the best bits (do unto others and suchlike) and jettison the dogma?

Hi fightmumma, yes I have seen employment based on beliefs. That is not so shocking as I agree that it is natural to want to associate with people just like us. There are some problems for me with that attitude, from a belief that diversity creates strength, and that conflict is more possible when are are able to 'other' those that are unlike us in belief or skin colour or sexual practice.

Nevertheless i don't see much likelihood of the militant atheist wanting to go work at a Christian school. I definitely wouldn't want that gig.

Where discrimination really bites is at the service delivery end, and I have plenty of stories from clients who have received limited or no service from religious organisations because of their sexual preference, appearance or religious beliefs. This is of course not a blanket accusation, most workers in religious organisations serve with real humility and love.

Nevertheless the reason churches want to employ like minded people is so that they will reinforce religious beliefs, completing the brainwashing of young people and children particularly. This has been termed abuse and I am not going to disagree.

These organisations are free to do as they wish, but I resent that they do it without being taxed, and in fact use taxes in the form of grants and public education funds to further their aims.

fightmumma
Posted Wednesday, January 23, 2013 - 09:27

Doggie - yes certainly the danger is when a person/group feels justified in treating someone different than them as "other" - it has the condoning effect of it being a god-given right/purpose...very dangerous. I was talking with a friend on the phone who is also an ex member of the cult I grew up in and she mentioned a young family that are now ministers and I shuddered - when I am training for my profession, I have to get qualifications, there is confidentiality, there are professional standards and ethics, I have accountability - this young man/woman - they are doing the same work with none of that except some level of understanding of the bible and one generation of brainwashing in that cult...but then they only "minister" to their own kind...though also seek to do "good works" in "The World". Workers with qualifications working for religious organisations and that are christians ALSO still have all these professional obligations - if they do the wrong thing there is are still certain avenues that can be used to make them accountable for unprofessional behaviour. It is the ones practicing without any training or qualifications that are surely the most dangerous? Like ministers, priests, rabbis etc? Though maybe this is another topic?

This user is a New Matilda supporter. DrGideonPolya
Posted Wednesday, January 23, 2013 - 10:07

This is a further example of gross, spin-driven hypocrisy by the neoliberal Australian Labor Pardy ( aka the Australian Lying Pardy, the Alternative Liberal Pardy) - it is permitting exemptions to enable morally and intellectually challenged religious organizations to egregiously discriminate against all kinds of people. Of particular concern is religious discrimination against CHILDREN that is subsidized by the Australian Government.

Thus adults of all denominations can obtain medical help in State-subsidized religiously-affiliated hospitals and the only religious input would be the offer of religious counseling or a crucifix on a wall in a ward. However CHILDREN attending religious schools are variously subject to horrendous intellectual child abuse involving brainwashing in relation to creationism, intelligent design, sexism, homophobia, sexual guilt and the "rightness" of invading, occupying and ethnically cleansing other countries.

The same callous disregard of CHILDREN'S rights is shown by the Royal Commission into sexual abuse of children that is confined to that in institutions while resolutely excluded from considering the over 90% occurring elsewhere (the "Little Children are Sacred Report" refers to scholarly research indicating that 34% of Australian women and 16% of men, 4.4 million in total, have been sexually abused as children; see : https://sites.google.com/site/mainstreammedialying/australian-msm-ignore ).

Peace is the only way but Silence kills and Silence is complicity.

fightmumma
Posted Wednesday, January 23, 2013 - 10:35

ps Doggie - I have to admit it is difficult for me to be objective with this subject because the horrors within that religious cult were things I witnessed and know people who suffered horribly under the "care" of the ministers. My own father was dis-fellowshipped and when the minister left the house he had a fully-blown panic attack that they thought was a heart attack and he ended up taking an ambulance to the hospital. I have 4 friends who took their own life, 3 of these were under the "care" of the one minister!! He believed mental health issues were demon possession, the church believed misfortune was your fault for sinning, it also protected spousal and child abuse because women and children should be obedient to the male head of the house (one theme was to "beat the will out of the child" (ie so we would be "obedient")...I suppose I would want to know how we protect people from these types of occurrences?

Dr GP - I knew someone who worked in a Catholic hospital where they processed the "products of birth" ie the fetuses that had been aborted elsewhere...they are anti abortion but obviously have no problem with making money out of analysing the dead "baby"!!

This user is a New Matilda supporter. Rockjaw
Posted Wednesday, January 23, 2013 - 17:30

Dr Polya, what is all that drivel about "brainwashing" and "cults" and "creationism"?

Stop it! You're frightening the atheists!

The way you shift blame for the world's horrific wars caused by the secular states of the "Western World" is a fine piece of spin! Edward Bernays would be so proud!

We don't need a particularly intensive study into recent history to verify that secular governments are a whole lot more likely to cause massive wars and human misery than any theist nation.

On the topic of "creationism" and the origins of the universe, I hope that you will not forget, Dr Polya, that while your <b> <i> "enlightened atheist despots" </b> </i> were laughing at the theists and crowing arrogantly on about how their <i> <b>"scientific methods revealed that the universe is flat" </i> </b>, that it was a Belgian theist, from a "creationist" catholic university, who corrected these errors and which prompted Einstein to speak of his <b> <i> "great blunder" </b> </i>.

Yes Dr Polya, it was a theist from a "creationist" background which gave humanity <i> <b> "the big bang theory" </i> </b>and who has left us all with a better understanding of the origins of the Universe and, in particular, with the knowledge that the universe is not "flat".

Your "enlightened despots" are not so infallible on the topic of the origins of the Universe after all Polya, are they?.

Atheism, with all its pompous, holier than thou "my beliefs are better than yours" attitude is becoming a whole lot more vulgar, ignorant and dangerous than any preceding theistic order ever was.

Fundamentalism, be it theist or atheist, can be a disease Polya, and any attempts to force the disease on others will lead to conflict and a whole bunch of human suffering.

For details refer to the history of the 20th Century.

fightmumma
Posted Wednesday, January 23, 2013 - 18:09

rockjaw that's a cracker of a post!! Especially as I only just finished reading a book about the history of civilisation haha!! (and quite by accident have started reading a book I found in a little secondhand book store called Apes, Angels and Victorians about Huxley and Darwin).

This user is a New Matilda supporter. DrGideonPolya
Posted Thursday, January 24, 2013 - 00:51

Whatever the merits of theism as a philosophy or crutch, (it is certainly NOT a scientific hypothesis in the Popperian sense of potential falsifiability) , the indubitable reality remains that CHILDREN attending religious schools are variously subject to horrendous intellectual child abuse involving brainwashing in relation to the dangerous falsehoods of creationism, intelligent design, sexism, homophobia, sexual guilt and the “rightness” of invading, occupying and ethnically cleansing other countries.

It is typical of the egregious hypocrisy of the anti-child, anti-education, anti-science, spin-driven Labor Government that it seeks to curb free speech if it "offends" adults while for political survival reasons it is pouring billions of dollars into the evil brainwashing of innocent CHILDREN by misguided delusionals who believe in things like virgin birth, transubstantiation, changing water into wine, creationism etc etc .

This anti-science, anti-intellectual Labor Government has recently gone even further to restrict the free speech of academics with the passage of the war criminal US-Australia defence-inspired Defence Trade Controls Bill that says that they must have an ADF- or APS-provided "permit" to inform non-Australians about thousands of matters (chemicals, organisms, technologies) specified in a huge Defence and Strategic Goods List (DSGL) or face 10 YEARS IN PRISON.

Thus a submission to a Senate Inquiry drawn up by lawyers for the conservative Universities Australia representing the VCs of 39 Australian universities states that "The Bill will make it an offence [10 years in prison] for universities to supply information, assistance or training in relation to goods listed in the Defence and Strategic Goods List (DSGL) in prohibited circumstances without a permit ... the Bill will significantly impact the training and research conducted by universities" (see: http://www.universitiesaustralia.edu.au/resources/695/1355 ;also see: http://www.universitybargaining.org.au/article/Impact-of-the-Defence-Tra... ).

Sensible Australians will never vote Labor again until it changes it ways from racist neoliberalism and begs for forgiveness for its appalling polices against free speech, academic free speech, scientists, teachers, Indigenous Australians, Iraqis, Afghans, Muslims, Tamils, Palestinians, refugees, single mothers ... and CHILDREN.

Peace is the only way but Silence kills and Silence is complicity.

This user is a New Matilda supporter. Rockjaw
Posted Thursday, January 24, 2013 - 02:41

No Dr Polya, of course theology is not a study of science, why do you introduce this ludicrous notion into the debate? Spin?

Are you attempting to hint that theologists are incapable of becoming scholars of science?

Apart from the Big Bang Theory, the list of scientific contributions from scientists who were also scholars of theology is so long that this one simple fact alone is obviously sufficient reason for you to have added this grand piece of spin to sprinkle to your argument, so that is less unpalatable to your audience.

Would you prefer the "religious" schools to brainwash children into the false belief that the universe is flat? Why? Because a theist proved otherwise?

Would you prefer that children be brainwashed into the false belief that Secular governments did NOT perpetrate the many wars which are destroying our planet?

Even more frightening, do you actually believe that it is theists, and not secular governments, who are engaged in these acts of war which you so justly complain of?

roma
Posted Thursday, January 24, 2013 - 16:03

This amazing conversation has been exhilarating but my attention has wandered. Makes great reading, but brings in a whole lot of stuff I didn't expect.
Can we go back to the beginning please - is it bad practice to give religious organisations exemption from any secular law, whether tax or anti-discrimination, while providing them with substantial amounts of public money?
I think it is.
Why cannot said orgs be required to apply for one-off exemptions as they arise, and each application be treated on its merits?

Dr Dog
Posted Friday, January 25, 2013 - 08:37

That could be true Rockjaw, if my beliefs weren't actually better than yours.

War is a human activity, neither religious or irreligious. The reasons change, the activity stays the same. To claim that the USA is a genuinely secular state is a bit rich, if current wars are your concern Rockjaw. The theism in their war-making is apparent in who they are killing.

It is hard to be objective fightmumma, I too was a cult baby, although the Mormons seem pretty benign compared with your experience. I have always resented to time it took to think past my upbringing and begin to live healthily.

I have always been a live and let live type, but I still don't get why a special type of belief can be favored in law. Even if there is equivalence between theism and atheism (there isn't, because one is made up) that doesn't say anything to me about why churches don't pay tax, or have special powers to evade the laws that apply to everyone else.

Rockjaw when you say that 'Atheism, with all its pompous, holier than thou “my beliefs are better than yours” attitude is becoming a whole lot more vulgar, ignorant and dangerous than any preceding theistic order ever was.' you fail to acknowledge that the power still lies with the churches, or we wouldn't even be having this discussion.

For you to present theism as being under attack simply because some folk want them to be on a level playing field with other organisations is the worst sort of hypocrisy, something I have been getting used to from believers this many years.

This user is a New Matilda supporter. Rockjaw
Posted Friday, January 25, 2013 - 11:43

@ Dr Dog <i>"...you fail to acknowledge that the power still lies with the churches, or we wouldn’t even be having this discussion..."</i>

cool story bro!!!

jackal01
Posted Saturday, January 26, 2013 - 07:00

Rockjaw I have to ask.

What Planet are you from.

Your comment:
Even more frightening, do you actually believe that it is theists, and not secular governments, who are engaged in these acts of war which you so justly complain of?

You could be a bit blinkered here, I mean a bit.

The British Empire achieved all its brutal aims through a powersharing arrangement with its churches.

The Aritocratic Family tree goes back to Arthur and then God, why.

It gives them the right to rule, kill. Remember Adolf and the Pope. Old Adolf wouldn't have gone anywhere without the Pope in his Pocket.

The Aristocracy needed modern Religions more then we did, the Peasants.

The birth od Religion might have been well founded, but just like Marx's Communism and American Democracy it has been Railroaded and used to apply power/control over the many by the few.

Unionism started well, but got Railroaded by the few for its power.

Its always been the same, humans doing human things, playing with their genitals, trying to impress Bimbo's with their Power.

This user is a New Matilda supporter. DrGideonPolya
Posted Thursday, January 31, 2013 - 00:46

If religious people want to gather privately and consensually to do "their thing" then I guess they can pick and choose who joins their private club, seance, voodoo ceremony, exorcism, faith healing, mock witch burning or whatever.

However when it comes to employment, service provision, health and safety etc by any persons or bodies, taxpayer-funded or otherwise, there should be NO exemptions from anti-discrimination and other laws affecting all of us.

I read somewhere of a Latin American country in which in the dim past prostitution was illegal except when run by the Church as a monopoly.

Peace is the only way but Silence kills and Silence is complicity.

This user is a New Matilda supporter. Rockjaw
Posted Thursday, January 31, 2013 - 03:37

Polya, the history of militant atheists such as yourself is not a particularly good one.

When views such as your own were effective in Soviet Russia they led to the loss of circa 60 million lives. The Khmer Rouge in Cambodia caused the death of an estimated 3 million (Le Génocide Khmer Rouge: Une Analyse Démographique, Paris: L'Harmattan, 1995; see Table 11, p. 82). China's death toll caused by militant atheists ranges from lows of around 3.5 million to estimates as high as 25 million.

The secular governments of England and Australia eliminated almost 80% of the entire population of Boer women and children in concentration camps between 1899 - 1902 in their search for stolen wealth.

The rather more famous atheist holocaust, committed by the secular state of Nazi Germany, picked up the idea of concentration camps where England left off by murdering the now famous figure of 6 million theists from another well known religious group of people.

These are but a small sample set of examples.

Total deaths caused by militant atheists in the 20th century alone probably amounts to a staggering estimate of somewhere around 200 - 300 million people, which is a rather more serious problem than your trivial and mean spirited complaints about "the private consensual activities of theists"

It is indeed ironic, or perhaps just usefully idiotic, that many of these very same mass murders form the basis for your own signature comment <i> <b> "Silence kills and Silence is complicity"</i> </b>

Polya, you are obviously unaware of the fact that Australia is in fact a free society and that free societies are entirely incompatible with your specific brand of militant atheism.

In free societies there is no room for this sort of prejudice, no matter what form it chooses to disguise itself.

May I suggest that you get over it Polya, that no matter how much you dislike the idea, it remains a fact of life that free people do not rely on any "state" or "government" to "grant" them the right to associate with whomever they please, be it religious or pagan or atheist organisations.

Unlike circumstances in Soviet Russia, Cambodia's Khmer Rouge, Germany's Nazi state or even in Kitchener's concentration camps, in a free society these rights are inalienable rights which accrue to every human being at birth.

Try to accept that Australians are a free people Polya, and that your rather restrictive views concerning employment, or the provision of service or health and safety, stem from your militant atheist stance.

You appear to be sour in the knowledge that the duties of free Australians cannot be defined so restrictively as to deprive Australians the right to choose where and with whom they elect to work, to heal themselves, to entertain themselves, to learn, to train or to cohabit with whomever the hell they bloody well please without asking the likes of you or any despotic militant state for the permission to do so.

The attitudes of the Khmer Rouge would not last very long over here Polya.

In this discussion concerning discrimination it is perhaps you who should examine your own prejudice towards the 84% of all Australians who publicly choose to consider themselves "theist" when they complete their Australian sensis.

The irony here is that I am certain the majority of Australians tolerate your particular brand of "belief", despite your prejudice and obvious contempt for them.

Lastly, I would be quite interested to see the actual piece of legislation which you referred to in your post, you know the one which makes the claim that a theist organisation controlled a prostitution monopoly in South America.

It would be interesting to compare your legislation with existing legislation which regulates the lives of prostitutes in certain "secular" states where prostitution is monopolistically confined to those few prostitutes who are "granted permits" from the state to participate in the industry, as if the state has the right to decide what they may or may not do with their own bodies.

This user is a New Matilda supporter. DrGideonPolya
Posted Thursday, January 31, 2013 - 09:29

Readers of this thread: my "views" like those one hopes of most Australians are for secular humanism, separation of church and state, democracy, equality under the law, and free speech (for a detailed statement of the social humanism I support see "Review Social Humanism. A new metaphysics" by Brian Ellis", MWC News, 18 August 2013: http://mwcnews.net/focus/analysis/20947-social-humanism.html ).

The assertion that "When views such as your own were effective in Soviet Russia they led to the loss of circa 60 million lives" is utterly false, highly offensive and egregiously defamatory, and the more offensive for being made with the courage of anonymity against a named person. Oh, and not very "Christian".

In addition, the number of people murdered under the Stalin regime is an appalling circa 25 million, of a similar order of magnitude of the number of Soviet citizens killed by the "Christian" German Nazis. (see F. Chalk and K. Jonassohn, "The History and Sociology of Genocide:. Analyses and Case studies" ). John Withington in "A Disastrous History of the World" says that "the figure might be as high as thirty million".

The failure of organized religion to submit to "mandatory reporting" of child sexual abuse (perhaps 40,000 such cases in the last half century; see "Horrendous Australian child sexual abuse. Mainstream media ignore 4.4 million victims", MWC News, 15 November 2012: http://mwcnews.net/focus/analysis/22859-gideonpolya-sexual-abuse.html) is but one of numerous examples demanding insistence on no "special exemptions" for organized religion that continues to betray Australian children and sully Australia.

Thus Australian children sent to taxpayer-funded religion-based private schools variously (depending upon the religion) get a huge dose of utterly false and reprehensible brainwashing in support of sexism, homophobia, sexual guilt, unsafe sex, misogyny, misplaced righteousness, creationism, "intelligent design", a deluge of anti-science rubbish (virgin birth, transubstantiation etc etc etc) , racism, genocide, gross human rights abuse, exceptionalism, exclusivism, and the "right" to invade, occupy, devastate and ethnically cleanse other countries - utterly obscene notions and gross intellectual child abuse outrageously supported by the taxes of decent Australians thanks to power of the Religion Lobby and the dishonesty and utter cowardice of the Lib-Labs (Liberal-Laborals, Coalition-Labor) .

Religious organizations causing so much harm to children should be subject to the same laws of the land as the doctors, psychologists, nurses and social workers who attempt to deal with the awful consequences.

I am reminded of a woman quoted in Professor Richard Dawkins' book "The God Delusion" who contacted Professor Dawkins wanting to contact a psychiatrist of his acquaintance. Her continuing problem was not sexual abuse by clergy (she had got over that awful part of her Christian education) but an intense fear, entrenched by a dozen years of religious education, of "hell fire".

Religion obviously helps a lot of people cope with life. Indeed some of my friends are religious and do good works. However organized religion should with no exceptions obey the law like the rest of us and eschew physical and intellectual child abuse and the primitive sexual morality of a tribe of racist, genocidal , populate-or-perish Bronze Age savages.

According to RationalWiki "Historically, religion and prostitution have often been combined, with church-run brothels being common in many areas up until only a few hundred years ago" (see "Prostitution", RationalWiki: http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Prostitution ). Perhaps Religion Lobby-dominated Labor might go beyond the current taxpayer-funded brainwashing of children and restore this prostitution monopoly to organized religion, plus tax-free sale of Indulgences, outlawing of hymen restoration etc etc. Decent people will vote 1 Green and put labor last (the Libs are just as bad but, unlike neoliberal, religion-perverted Labor, have not actually betrayed decent Labor voters).

Peace is the only way but Silence kills and Silence is complicity.

fightmumma
Posted Thursday, January 31, 2013 - 10:14

rockjaw - now I'm pretty sure somewhere on NM you have said you have a Rabbi so I'm guessing you are not attached to christian values?? I'm not trying to be a smart arse - but from what I understand Judaism actually supports discrimination anyway doesn't it? Isn't it a general teaching that heathens don't deserve the same treatment as Jews? I'm only going from what I've read from Weber's theories on where rationalist capitalism came from - but I'm sure his distinction was that Jews had great moral, honest values amongst their own believers inj terms of business dealings/money etc, but had no obligation to be honest with non-believers? What say you?

DrGP - your list - "sexism, homophobia, sexual guilt, unsafe sex, misogyny, misplaced righteousness, creationism, “intelligent design”, a deluge of anti-science rubbish (virgin birth, transubstantiation etc etc etc) , racism, genocide, gross human rights abuse, exceptionalism, exclusivism, and the “right” to invade, occupy, devastate and ethnically cleanse other countries - utterly obscene notions and gross intellectual child abuse" - yes is a horrible list of horribly abuses, negative human behaviours of some towards others (usually the vulnerable). But it is hardly a list peculiar to Christians or religious people is it? Now, you are a scientist and supposed to understand the concepts of causation and correlation aren't you? Considering these horrible behaviours were around long before christ, what say you? I've just finished reading a book on the history of civilisation (trying to fill in gaps for sociology) and I'm pretty certain all these crimes you mention have been going on for millenia! Thus claims of direct links to religions and Christianity in-particular cannot be firmly supported...

This user is a New Matilda supporter. DrGideonPolya
Posted Thursday, January 31, 2013 - 13:04

@ fightmumma - yes, indeed, all those horrible abuses I listed were around before Christianity but the point I was making is that TODAY these abuses are variously (depending upon the religion) being imposed upon Australian children attending taxpayer-funded private religious schools in Australia - obscene intellectual child abuse and an utterly unacceptable use of our taxes.

Peace is the only way but Silence kills and Silence is complicity.