Passing Bull 130 – Religion and nuts


The Roy Moore fiasco brought the term ‘evangelical’ to a new low, at least in the U S.  Sadly, the disease is not limited to the U S.  The Murdoch press went into a funk over marriage equality.  Here is some vintage bull from Jennifer Oriel.  She denounced ‘the Smith bill’ as being too short.

In a two-party system, the left is expected to promote equality while the right prioritises freedom.  The freedom of the political right is distinctive.  It is not anarchy.  It is the form of freedom that provides the spiritual, social, economic and political foundations for the flourishing of Western civilisation…..

The Smith bill represents the worst of conservatism and progressivism; it reserves freedom for the clergy while binding freethinkers under a state regime of political correctness.  There is no substantive protection for freedom of speech.

There is no protection against the lawfare used internationally to silence dissenters and purge them from public life.  There is no protection from the state forcing people’s speech to conform to central tenets of queer ideology.  And this is a bill for queer marriage, not same-sex marriage….

Dear, dear, dear.  Just think of all those demons, all those tigers out there with their eyes burning bright in the forest of the night, while the IPA stokes its paranoia about Stalinist queers.

On the same page, Greg Sheridan, who rarely misses a chance to get it wrong, hymned a mate.

Australia is very fortunate that Tony Abbott insisted on a plebiscite.

The paranoia is not confined to the IPA.  The Australian reeks of secular antagonism that died half a century ago.  In one column, Angela Shanahan said:

The political landscape is verging on chaos because of the ambition of Malcolm Turnbull and his lefty acolytes in the Liberal Party.

In their desire to prop up a failed government and a hubristic Prime Minister who wants to make his mark on history, they have proved, by opposing the amendments for religious liberty in relation to the introduction of same-sex marriage, that they are small political creatures who know no history.  They leave conservative voters nowhere to go.

That’s not quite right.  There is always Cory Bernardi, and the hard core reactionaries on Sky News and The Australian – not to mention Greg Sheridan’s mate.

But in another column, Ms Shanahan showed her grasp of history.  The Reformation was a serious mistake.

Christendom, which had existed beyond and above the state, was no more.  Kings, who like all baptised people great or small had been subject to the teaching and law of the church and part of the body of Christ, elevated themselves as the ultimate authority…..

The so-called Glorious Revolution of 1688 was really a product of religious antagonism to see a Catholic off the throne and remove Catholics from public life……

Freedom of religion – of thought, of conscience – must be based on an informed conscience, which is not just for the elite….Today, ironically, it is threatened by the secularism sparked by that Reformation.

It reminds you of the time a guest and psychiatrist looked Basil Fawlty right in the eye and said ‘We could devote a whole seminar to you.’

To the extent that you can see something that Jennifer Oriel calls ‘Western civilisation,’ it depends in large part on the separation of Church and State.  The English got there largely through the Reformation and the Glorious Revolution of 1688-1689, both of which Ms Shanahan regrets.  The French got there by more messy means.  The Americans thought they had got there, but Roy Moore and Donald Trump show that they have missed.

We are many centuries past the time where the State could be viewed as ‘subject to the teaching and law of the church and part of the body of Christ.’  Such an idea now could best be described as madness.

We are also well passed the time when a religion can claim a veto over either the parliament or the people.  If the plebiscite celebrated by Greg Sheridan established anything, it showed that a clear majority of Australian regard the separation of Church and State as fundamental to our way of life.  The suggested issue about religious freedom was always a furphy from the start.  The issue was always about the power of the Church to stick its nose in where it doesn’t belong – the way we make our laws and govern ourselves.

You might expect that those of a reactionary cast of thought might understand all this.  The opposite result – where religion remains paramount, or at least claims a right of veto – is that which obtains in nations subject to their ultimate bête noire – Islam.

On another point about religion, one correspondent to The Sunday Age reminded us that the infant Jesus spent time as a refugee in Egypt.  How would his parents have got on if they had knocked on the door of Mr Morrison, who is bewailing the ill treatment of Christians in this country, or Mr Dutton?

Anyway, to the extent that a God-fearing lapsed Prot has any standing to say so – have a very happy Christmas and all best wishes for the New Year.