Showing posts with label religion. Show all posts
Showing posts with label religion. Show all posts

Friday, 16 March 2018

With a royal commission having found that all major religions house and protect paedophiles we still find Liberal Party MPs seeking to extend the influence of priests & ministers in the Australian school system in 2018

Dozens of federal Liberal MPs have reportedly signed a petition calling for a 25 per cent funding increase for the controversial National Schools Chaplaincy Program. 

Whether the budget can afford the funding increase or whether the money would be better spent elsewhere are interesting issues. The bigger legal issue is that the way the chaplains program operates is illegal…….

The High Court has struck down the chaplains program as illegal twice already. In 2012, the High Court ruled the program illegal because the federal government was paying for the chaplains program without any legislation authorising the spending. To overcome the High Court decision, federal Parliament quickly passed legislation to authorise the spending.

The chaplains program again was struck down again in 2014. Federal Parliament can only pass legislation dealing with certain subject matters. The High Court ruled that school chaplains do not fall within any of those.

To get around its own lack of power to run the chaplains program, the federal government now grants money to the states for them to run it. Lots of federal government programs operate this way with the states running programs on behalf of the federal government using federal money.

Getting a job as a chaplain requires a person to be recognised as qualified for the role "through formal ordination, commissioning, recognised religious qualifications or endorsement by a recognised or accepted religious institution". In other words, a person has to be religious and endorsed by a religious group in order to get a job as a chaplain. Atheists need not apply.

Individual schools pick which religion they want their chaplain to be a member of and then recruit a person from that religion for the job.

But it makes no practical sense to require a chaplain to have a particular religion. Chaplains are strictly prohibited from religious proselytising, although there are sometimes reports of chaplains breaking the rules. The High Court even commented that despite the religious sounding job title, the actual work chaplains do has nothing much to do with religion. Justice Dyson Heydon wrote that the work of chaplains "could have been done by persons who met a religious test. It could equally have been done by persons who did not".

In other words, there is no genuine occupational requirement for a chaplain to be a member of any particular religion or to be religious at all. The federal government has simply decided that it wants all chaplains to be religious.

Requiring a chaplain to be a member of a particular religion is inconsistent with the nature of public schools……

Requiring a chaplain to be a member of a particular religion is also illegal. Each state has anti-discrimination or equal opportunity legislation making it illegal to discriminate against a person on the ground of religion in employment decisions. These anti-discrimination rules apply to public schools and their hiring decisions.

Public schools cannot advertise a teacher’s job and require that only Hindus are eligible to apply. Public schools cannot advertise a cleaner’s job and require that only Baptists are eligible to apply. The reason is because that would be discrimination on the ground of religion in employment.

It’s exactly the same with chaplains. Requiring a chaplain to be a member of a particular religion is religious discrimination and completely illegal for public schools…..

The state anti-discrimination commissions should do something about public schools breaching religious discrimination laws. If they don’t, someone will eventually go to court and the school chaplains program will probably be ruled illegal for the third, and hopefully final, time.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Does the Catholic Church's great paedophile protection racket continue unabated?


Brisbane Times, 10 March 2018:

The Catholic Church has failed to fully accept the horrific impact of child sexual abuse and its own role in a tragedy of “epic proportions”, a member of the royal commission has said.

In a surprisingly frank speech, Robert Fitzgerald - one of the six commissioners that oversaw the recently completed, five year inquiry - has slammed the church’s approach to abuse survivors, and its failure to tackle practices that contributed to the scourge of abuse and the secrecy around it.

Speaking at a Catholic Social Services Conference in Melbourne late last month, Mr Fitzgerald highlighted the ‘’disease’’ of ‘clericalism’ - the belief that the church’s male-only clergy are mystical beings, accountable to the Pope and to God, not to civil society or church laity.

Mr Fitzgerald, a practising Catholic, described the leadership of the church as "arrogant’’:

"A church that placed its own reputation above the interests of those victims and survivors and did so knowingly and willingly in a way that would cause further harm to those victims.’’

The final report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, delivered last December, made 400 recommendations to secular and religious institutions.

But already the Catholic church has rejected any changes to celibacy or to the seal of confession.

Archbishop Denis Hart said even if a priest admitted to acts of child abuse during confession, the seal was ‘’inviolable’’. Instead he would encourage the abuser to admit their crimes outside confession.

Mr Fitzgerald, in his speech, described a church divided between those that accepted the evidence of abuse and the need for reform - including a greater role for women - and those conservative Catholics who were "yet to fully understand what has just occurred’’.

He said the church was the only institution he’d ever known to have the answers to such major problems "but refuse in fact to look to those answers, look to those solutions’’.

The scale of abuse recorded by the royal commission across all institutions, secular and religious, was immense, affecting countless, tens of thousands of abused children, most of whom were now adults.

But such abuse was particularly prevalent in Catholic institutions. Nearly 62 per cent of all people who notified the royal commission of abuse in a religious setting were abused in a Catholic institution……

MyAJC, 9 March 2018:

The legislation, dubbed the “Hidden Predator Act,” extends the statute of limitations for victims from age 23 to 38, and creates other avenues for adults to sue long after that age. It passed 170-0 on the floor of the House of Representatives, despite what those close to the process say was quiet lobbying by the church, the Boy Scouts and other entities that would face increased exposure to liability….

The bill’s chief author, Rep. Jason Spencer, R-Woodbine, had accused them of working behind the scenes. He blames them for amendments that reduced the exposure of organizations, but he had no evidence of their efforts beyond word of mouth until Friday morning. He shared an email with the AJC from the office of the senator whose committee will determine the bill’s fate.

Sen. Jesse Stone, R-Waynesboro, chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee. His assistant forwarded Spencer an email from Perry McGuire, a lobbyist for the Catholic Church. McGuire’s amendments would strike the extension of the statute of limitations and make it even more difficult than it is now to sue organizations.

“If they adopt that language from Perry McGuire as a substitute bill, then Georgia will continue to be a predator-friendly state,” Spencer said. It shows “that the Catholic Church is continuing to cover up wickedness.”

Archbishop announces opposition to Georgia HB 605

ATLANTA—Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory has released the following letter in response to HB 605, a bill that is under consideration in the current session of the Georgia General Assembly.

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

When I am called to stand before our Heavenly Father to make a full and final accounting of my priestly life and ministry, I will first humbly ask His Mercy for all the times I’ve fallen short in my service to Him and to His people. If I’m asked what I did to bring people to Him, I’ll recall the countless Sacraments I’ve celebrated with so many of you, the faith-filled social interactions we have shared, the remarkable opportunities to teach and to lead and to be present during moments of incredible joy and incalculable sorrow.

And when He asks me that for which I am most thankful in my service to His Church, it will have been my work in restoring trust to His people, assuring safe environments in Catholic settings that serve as examples to the wider community, and helping to bring about healing and hope to those in our faith family who have been sexually abused by members of our Catholic clergy – work I still wish more than anything on earth had never been necessary, work that we can never call complete.

In our Archdiocese of Atlanta, the Office of Child and Youth Protection helps us carry on our Promise to Protect and Pledge to Heal by creating and maintaining safe environments and walking alongside survivors of sexual abuse on their journey to healing. The efforts of this office, along with all dioceses in the United States, are audited on a yearly basis by an independent firm who verifies compliance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. Our Victim Assistance director ministers to those who have suffered abuse without question, no matter when or where the abuse took place. Our Office of Safe Environment ensures compliance of all individuals working with children, youth, and vulnerable individuals by offering comprehensive abuse prevention training and background checks. We continue to operate a 24-hour hotline (888-437-0764) for anyone, Catholic or not, who has been abused by a member of the clergy, a man or woman religious, or a lay associate. I am pleased to say our child and youth protection program is among the most robust anywhere – within the Catholic Church or outside it – and our audit record for the past two decades speaks for itself.

With that commitment to safety and healing in mind, I write to inform you of an extraordinarily unfair bill currently pending in our state legislature. If passed, House Bill 605 could drastically damage our ability to carry out the mission of our Catholic Church in the state of Georgia because of the following:

HB 605 would allow lawsuits against churches, private schools, businesses and non-profit organizations for actions asserted to have occurred many decades ago, potentially as far back as the 1940s, and the accused are very often deceased. 

Recognizing that these lawsuits can be very difficult if not impossible to defend, and risking grave injustice, the vast majority of states simply do not permit them.

HB 605 discriminates between the Church and the state. All governmental agencies – park districts, public school districts, care facilities, and so forth – are inexplicably immune from the potential devastating effects of these lawsuits. Churches, religious and private schools, non-profits and businesses are affected.

We have always fully supported criminal prosecution of and lawsuits against any individual abuser of children, no matter how long ago the abuse is alleged to have occurred. Additionally, for the past two decades the Catholic Church in Georgia has had what may be the strongest safe environment program, non-profit or otherwise, in the state. Our Church and our schools have strict zero tolerance policies regarding sexual abuse of any vulnerable person. HB 605 does not protect anyone. Rather, innocent people and the organizations to which they belong will be radically impacted based on allegations against individuals who may no longer even be alive and cannot speak for themselves.

In short, HB 605 represents a policy that is bad for the citizens of Georgia. As your Archbishop, I implore you to contact your state senator and other elected officials to let them know you join me and over one million of your fellow Catholics in opposition to HB 605. Here is a link that will help you locate the state senator in your district.

Sincerely yours in Christ,
Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory
Archdiocese of Atlanta


Independent UK, 20 August 2017:

The Catholic Church and British local authorities have been accused of using a legal loophole to avoid paying compensation to victims of child sex abuse.
The Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme, a government agency, has denied some children financial settlements because it said the victims had “consented” to the abuse, a group of charities has warned.

Lawyers representing victims have warned that this line of defence is becoming increasingly common…….

 “No child ever gives their ‘consent’ to being abused, and the increased use of this line of defence, although still quite rare, is worrying,” said Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England. "I have contacted the Ministry of Justice previously and again recently about this issue and the Government should look urgently at what can be done to tackle it.”

The Sunday Telegraph reported that it had seen documents regarding two cases where the defence was used. A claimant who was raped at the age of 15 was told by lawyers representing the Catholic Archdiocese of Southwark that his abuse "actually occurred in the context of a consensual relationship (albeit one the claimant in retrospect now appears to regret)".

The victim said "I was below the legal age of consent anyway and there's a grooming element to that kind of situation. It was totally disregarded and it made me feel really small." The case was finally settled, with the Catholic Church paying out £80,000.


The Guardian, 7 March 2018:

Soca is angry about a deal between the Catholic church and the Irish government in 2002 that resulted in the taxpayer footing most of the bill for compensating those abused in religious institutions.

The deal resulted in the church having to pay out €128m of a €1.3bn compensation bill.

Last year, Ireland’s comptroller and auditor general found that only €85m had been paid out of church funds. On top of its criticism of the deal, Soca said the church should at least be forced to pay out in full the agreed €128m.


Newcastle Herald, 11 January 2018:

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse accepted Mr Tapsell’s evidence that for 15 centuries before 1917 church law required child sex offender priests to be stripped of their status as priests and handed over to civil authorities for punishment.

It accepted Mr Tapsell’s evidence that Pope Pius XI in 1922 imposed the first blanket secrecy provisions over Catholic Church child sex cases which stopped reporting to civil authorities; they were expanded by Pope John XXIII in 1962 and Pope Paul VI in 1974, who told bishops there was no room for the exercise of conscience on the matter, and reinforced by the now sainted Pope John Paul II in 1983.

In September, 2014 Pope Francis rejected requests by two United Nations’ human rights committees to abolish the church’s secrecy provisions.

Sunday, 4 March 2018

When a secular public school goes bad......

Parents at a NSW public school say they have been left "horrified" after students were repeatedly placed in scripture classes against their parents' wishes and told they needed to have an interview with a deputy principal before they could attend non-scripture classes.

The NSW Department of Education is making inquiries into a letter sent to parents by the principal of Maclean High School in northern NSW, which strongly advocates for scripture classes and appears to breach the department's policy on religious education in several instances.

Parents also said students with written permission to attend non-scripture had been repeatedly put into scripture classes at the start of every year and parents were told to provide new notes, in breach of the department's policy.

"Updated permission is required each year for your child to access this arrangement [non-scripture]," states a form attached to the principal's letter, dated February 1, 2018.

"In addition, each student wishing to be exempt from SRE [special religious education] must arrange an interview with a deputy principal to discuss the above arrangements.

"NB: If the note above is not returned then the student will attend SRE."
The Education Department's SRE policy specifically states "students are to continue in the same arrangement as the previous year, unless a parent/caregiver has requested a change".

The department's director of early learning and primary education Rod Megahey also recently confirmed that students should be placed in non-scripture "if the parents/caregivers do not return the SRE participation letter", in a letter to the director of the Fairness in Religions in School (FIRIS) group sent in November last year.

One parent, who did not wish to be named, said there was "an inequality" in Maclean High's scripture policy.

"The kids who are attending SRE don't have to have an appointment with the deputy," the parent said.

"I just feel like my voice isn't being heard and my choices aren't being respected."
The parent said they were also shocked by the rest of the principal's letter, in which he strongly advocates for scripture classes.

"I highly recommend the opportunities provided by the SRE program," the letter stated.
"The potential to develop moral and ethical positions within a framework of Christian values should not be underestimated in today's world."

A spokesman for the NSW Department of Education said: "The department is following up with Maclean High School in regards to their letter."…..

Maclean High School newsletters list Mr Greg Court as Principal with Mrs Gaye Kelsey and Mr Scott Dinham as Deputy Principals.

Maclean High School employs the Think Faith SRE curriculum.

On its website the school states:

Maclean High School is a district comprehensive secondary school servicing the educational needs of the entire Lower Clarence geographical area. The drawing area includes the towns and villages of Maclean, Yamba, Iluka, Brooms Head, Lawrence, Angourie, Harwood, Chatsworth Island, Palmers Island, Ashby and Tyndale. Approximately 65% of the school population is bused daily from outlying areas.
The school has a student population of 900 students with a complement of over 100 teaching and support staff. The staff are dedicated, experienced and stable. The school core values are FRESH, standing for FAIR, RESPECT, EFFORT, SAFE and HONEST. All that we do at Maclean High School can be linked to these values
. [my yellow highlighting]

Such a pity it doesn’t live up to this boast.

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Another how low can they go moment courtesy of the Catholic Church in Australia

The Sydney Morning Herald, 12 February 2018:

The Catholic Church in Australia is worth tens of billions of dollars, making it one of the country’s biggest non-government property owners, and massively wealthier than it has claimed in evidence to major inquiries into child sexual abuse.

A six-month investigation by The Sydney Morning Herald has found that the church misled the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse by grossly undervaluing its property treasures in both NSW and Victoria while claiming that increased payments to abuse victims would require cuts to its social programs.
The investigation was based on intricate data from local councils that allowed more than 1860 valuations of church-owned property in Victoria. That showed that across 36 municipalities - including nearly all of metropolitan Melbourne - the church had land and buildings worth almost $7 billion in 2016.

Extrapolated nationally, using conservative assumptions, the church owns property worth more than $30 billion Australia-wide.

This put the Catholic church among the largest non-government property owners, by value, in NSW and Australia, rivalling Westfield’s network of shopping centres and other assets. It dwarfs all other large property owners.

"These figures confirm what we have known; there is huge inequity between the Catholic Church’s wealth and their responses to survivors," said Helen Last, chief executive of the In Good Faith Foundation.

"The 600 survivors registered for our Foundation’s services continue to experience minimal compensation and lack of comprehensive care in relation to their Church abuses. They say their needs are the lowest of church priorities.’’…..

Monetary payments to abuse survivors have averaged just $49,000 under Towards Healing, the national compensation system established by the church in 1996……

The church also has extensive non-property assets including Catholic Church Insurance and its own internal banks - often known as Catholic Development Funds - with nearly $1 billion in assets in Sydney alone.

And it has other investments, including in superannuation, telecommunications and in the stock-market. A Church-owned fund manager has more than $1.4 billion under management.

Friday, 12 January 2018

Australian Politics 2018: and you foolishly thought things might get better this year

Well the democracy canary in the political coal mine fell senseless to the bottom of its cage this month when the Turnbull Government admitted that a high level of secrecy would surround its extra-parliamentary review of religious freedom in Australia.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 3 December 2017:

Public submissions to the Turnbull government's review of religious freedom in Australia will be kept secret, in a marked departure from normal processes, according to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's department.

The department, which has control of the inquiry, said it would not publish the submissions, which is in stark contrast to ordinary parliamentary inquiries, in which most submissions are automatically released.

"Submissions to the Expert Panel will not be published online," a department spokesman said in an emailed statement. "However, where individuals provide consent, submission extracts may be included in public materials."

Late on Tuesday, however, Mr Turnbull's media team sought to intervene by suggesting inquiry chairman Philip Ruddock would decide if submissions were published. The PM's office then instructed his own department to issue a new statement to that effect.

An hour later, the department said decisions on releasing submissions would rest on "whether individuals have provided consent", but that appears impossible, because the online consent form assures people their submission "will not be published in its entirety".

It is expected the high-profile inquiry - prompted by fears about the impact of same-sex marriage on religious practice - will attract submissions from Australia's biggest churches, including the Catholic and Anglican archdioceses of Sydney and Melbourne. It presents an opportunity for religious organisations and other advocates to spell out the exact changes to the law they believe are necessary.

Mr Ruddock said when contacted on Tuesday that the panel had not discussed the publication of submissions and ultimately it was a matter for the PM's department…..

The expert panel - which also includes Australian Human Rights Commission president Rosalind Croucher, Catholic priest Frank Brennan and retired judge Annabelle Bennett - is expected to meet for the first time next Wednesday. 

However, the negative response in mainstream and social media saw the democracy canary revived and placed on life support as the secrecy provisions in the online Consent form have been changed and now only apply to all those submissions received to date.

"The Expert Panel has not yet determined a final approach to publication of submissions. Submissions already provided will not be published without the agreement of the author" 

Which given that the majority of submissions would have been received by now means that it is highly unlikely that submissions made on behalf of religious institutions will ever be published by the Expert Panel.


The submission period for the Religious Freedom Review commenced in December 2017 and ends on 31 January 2018 with the Expert Panel to deliver its findings by 31 March 2018.

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

A professed 'Christian' man named in at least one human rights complaint to the International Criminal Court vows to defend Christianity in 2018

The Sydney Morning Herald, 22 December 2017:

Scott Morrison says he will fight back against discrimination and mockery of Christians and other religious groups in 2018, in comments that position him as one of the leading religious conservatives in the Turnbull government. 

Mr Morrison also promised to play a leading role next year in the debate about enshrining further "protections" for religious freedom in law, which will be informed by a review currently being led by former Attorney-General Philip Ruddock.

For overseas readers who may not know this man, he is enthusiastic Hill Song Church devotee, Liberal MP for Cook, former Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, former Minister for Social Security and current Australian Treasurer Scott John Morrison.

On his ministerial watch alleged human rights abuses occurred in overseas detention centres on Manus Island and Nauru. These incidents included deaths of asylum seekers such as that of Reza Berati.

Alleged abuses continue to be reported to this day.

In a 2016 communique to the International Criminal CourtScott Morrison, along with Malcolm TurnbullTony AbbottKevin RuddJulia GillardJohn HowardPeter DuttonTony BurkeBrendan O’ConnorChris BowenChris EvansKevin AndrewsAmanda VanstonePhillip RuddockBaron Waqa and Rimbink Pato, was named as administrating authority having responsibility in relation to the offence of unlawful confinement.

Monday, 18 December 2017

Five years on and the Royal Commission into Insitutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse formally closes

Then Australian Labour Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced her intention to call a royal commission into child sexual abuse on 12 November 2012.

By 11 January 2013 six commissioners had been appointed and on 3 April 2013 the first of fifty-seven public hearings was underway.

These public hearings conducted 57 case studies, 30 of which examined responses to child sexual abuse in religious institutions.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse formally closed on 15 December 2017 when it presented its final report to the Governor-General.

By that time the Royal Commission had heard evidence from nearly 8,000 historic abuse survivors with 6,875 survivors being heard in private sessions, of whom 4,029 (58.6 per cent) spoke about child sexual abuse in religious institutions. 

There were more allegations of child sexual abuse in relation to the Catholic Church than any other religious organisation, followed by the Anglican Church, The Salvation Army and others.  

ABC News created this graph on 15 December 2017:

During the course of its investigation the Royal Commission referred 2,575 matters to authorities, including to police.

The full 17 volume Final Report can be read here.

It is worth noting that the Turnbull Government has introduced a bill allowing child sexual abuse survivors who experienced abuse in government or participating non-government institutions to claim up to $150,000 compensation. 

The Commonwealth Redress Scheme for Survivors of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse commences on 1 July 2018 and operates for ten years. However it intends to deny compensation to any survivors who have have themselves been convicted of sex offences, or sentenced to prison terms of five years or more for crimes such as serious drug, homicide or fraud offences. A measure likely to exclude thousands of child abuse survivors - if the fact that 10.4% of survivors were in prison at the time they were heard in Royal Commission private session is any guide.

It is further noted that elements within the Catholic Church in Australia intend to resist certain recommendation in the Royal Commission's final report - particularly Recommendation 7.4 relating to reporting of child sexual abuse admissions/allegations heard during confession.

Three days after the Royal Commission's final report was published the Diocese of Ballarat gave up the pretence of empathy it donned for the duration of the inquiry and cut hundreds of brightly coloured ribbons off the fence at St Patrick's Cathedral placed there by abuse victims, their friends, families and supporters.

Friday, 20 October 2017

US President Trump says he is proud to be among so many friends in October 2017

Donald Trump became the first sitting US president to attend and give a keynote speech at the annual Values Voter Summit which this year was held in Washington DC on 12-15 October.

This event included at least nine other misogynistic, anti-Muslim and/or anti LGBTI speakers -  six of whom belong to ‘hate groups’ listed by The Southern Poverty Law Centre - as well as a three-hour long  Values Voter Summit Activist Training workshop for attendees.

Trump previously spoke at this far-right ‘Christian’ summit in 2015 as a candidate and then in 2016 as the Republican presidential nominee.

Excerpt from the White House transcript of Trump’s 13 October 2017 summit speech:

We believe in strong families and safe communities.  We honor the dignity of work.  (Applause.)  We defend our Constitution.  We protect religious liberty.  (Applause.)  We treasure our freedom.  We are proud of our history.  We support the rule of law and the incredible men and women of law enforcement.  (Applause.)  We celebrate our heroes, and we salute every American who wears the uniform.  (Applause.) 

We respect our great American flag.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you. 

And we stand united behind the customs, beliefs and traditions that define who we are as a nation and as a people…..

“When I came to speak with you last year, I made you a promise.  Well, one of the promises I made you was that I’d come back.  See?  (Applause.)  And I don't even need your vote this year, right?  That's even nicer.  (Laughter.)  

But I pledged that, in a Trump administration, our nation’s religious heritage would be cherished, protected, and defended like you have never seen before.  That's what’s happening.  That's what’s happening.  You see it every day.  You're reading it.

So this morning I am honored and thrilled to return as the first sitting President to address this incredible gathering of friends -- so many friends.  (Applause.)  So many friends.  And I'll ask Tony and all our people that do such a great job in putting this event together -- can I take next year off or not?  (Laughter.)  Or do I have to be back?  I don't know…..

So I'm here to thank you for your support and to share with you how we are delivering on that promise, defending our shared values, and in so doing, how we are renewing the America we love.

In the last 10 months, we have followed through on one promise after another.  (Applause.)  I didn't have a schedule, but if I did have a schedule, I would say we are substantially ahead of schedule.  (Applause.) 

Some of those promises are to support and defend the Constitution.  I appointed and confirmed a Supreme Court Justice in the mold of the late, great Justice Antonin Scalia, the newest member of the Supreme Court, Justice Neil Gorsuch.  (Applause.) 

To protect the unborn, I have reinstated a policy first put in place by President Ronald Reagan, the Mexico City Policy.  (Applause.)  To protect religious liberty, including protecting groups like this one, I signed a new executive action in a beautiful ceremony at the White House on our National Day of Prayer -- (applause) -- which day we made official.  (Applause.) 

Among many historic steps, the executive order followed through on one of my most important campaign promises to so many of you: to prevent the horrendous Johnson Amendment from interfering with your First Amendment rights.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  We will not allow government workers to censor sermons or target our pastors or our ministers or rabbis.  These are the people we want to hear from, and they're not going to be silenced any longer.  (Applause.) 

Just last week, based on this executive action, the Department of Justice issued a new guidance to all federal agencies to ensure that no religious group is ever targeted under my administration.  It won't happen.  (Applause.) ….

We are stopping cold the attacks on Judeo-Christian values.  (Applause.)…

We know that it's the family and the church, not government officials, that know best how to create strong and loving communities.  (Applause.)  And above all else, we know this:  In America, we don't worship government -- we worship God.  (Applause.)  Inspired by that conviction, we are returning moral clarity to our view of the world and the many grave challenges we face……

For too long, politicians have tried to centralize the authority among the hands of a small few in our nation’s capital.  Bureaucrats think they can run your lives, overrule your values, meddle in your faith, and tell you how to live, what to say, and how to pray.  But we know that parents, not bureaucrats, know best how to raise their children and create a thriving society.  (Applause.)  

We know that faith and prayer, not federal regulation -- and, by the way, we are cutting regulations at a clip that nobody has ever seen before.  Nobody.  (Applause.)  In nine months, we have cut more regulation than any President has cut during their term in office.  So we are doing the job.  (Applause.)  And that is one of the major reasons, in addition to the enthusiasm for manufacturing and business and jobs -- and the jobs are coming back.  

That's one of the major reasons -- regulation, what we've done -- that the stock market has just hit an all-time historic high.  (Applause.)  That just on the public markets we've made, since Election Day, $5.2 trillion in value.  Think of that:  $5.2 trillion.  (Applause.)  And as you've seen, the level of enthusiasm is the highest it's ever been, and we have a 17-year low in unemployment.  So we're doing, really, some work.  (Applause.) 

We know that it's the family and the church, not government officials, that know best how to create strong and loving communities.  (Applause.)  And above all else, we know this:  In America, we don't worship government -- we worship God.  (Applause.)  Inspired by that conviction, we are returning moral clarity to our view of the world and the many grave challenges we face.”

In this administration, we will call evil by its name.  (Applause.)  We stand with our friends and allies, we forge new partnerships in pursuit of peace, and we take decisive action against those who would threaten our people with harm.  (Applause.)  And we will be decisive -- because we know that the first duty of government is to serve its citizens.  We are defending our borders, protecting our workers, and enforcing our laws.  You see it every single day like you haven't seen it in many, many years -- if you've seen it at all.  (Applause.)  

Please note that statements made by Trump in this speech need to be fact checked for accuracy.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Quote of the Month

“Tony Abbott said to me, ‘You know, I went to a Catholic school as a kid but no one did anything to me. Maybe I wasn’t good-looking enough.’ I’m sat there, like, ‘Is he kidding? Is he making light of this issue?’” [Australian actor Chris Hemsworth quoted in GQ Australia, 4 October 2017]

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

The anti-same sex marriage lobby and below-the-radar bedfellows

There is not much transparency in the same-sex marriage debate ahead of the voluntary postal vote.

Take these websites which appear to have been purpose created in the last twelve months wth the deliberate aim of influencing voters on a specific issue…….

The Big Deal About Marriage at and It’s OK To Say NO at

These sites are registered by the Trustee for Antidote and Dean Millington according to Whois DOMAINTOOLS.

The Trustee for Antidote is a discretionary services management trust which has been operating since 2005 under the trading name ANTIDOTE Marketing and Dean Millington is a director.

The company does not appear to list any individual or anti same-sex marriage lobby group amongst its predominately pharma & health services clients.

According to Antidote website and Millington amongst these clients/business partners are:

Fresenius Kabi
Princeton Health
Princeton Digital
Ergo Advertising
VIVA Communications
Data Jukebox
DCM Partners

I wonder if these companies feel comfortable being (albeit remotely) associated with two anti-gay marriage websites which produce what are essentially simplistic, irrelevant, nonsensical or downright dubious conclusions from sometimes misrepresented data and studies.

For instance Pfizer Australia states on its own website:

Pfizer Australia employs more than 1,700 scientists, chemists, doctors, marketers, machine operators and other professional colleagues. We provide opportunities in a range of fields including medical, research and development, manufacturing, health economics, marketing and sales and regulatory affairs.
Pfizer Australia is committed to the recruitment, advancement and fair treatment of individuals without discrimination based on factors such as race, disability, sex, age, ethnic or national origin, religion, citizenship, family or marital status, political beliefs, sexual preference or other factors included in the Equal Employment Opportunity Legislation. Our Pfizer Values have ensured that this statement is more than a legal obligation. It is a way of life and a business-driven philosophy.

One suspects that this large multinational corporation would perhaps prefer to hold a neutral position on the current same-sex marriage debate in this country.

Given that these linked anti-same sex marriage websites offer site visitors a booklet written by Dr Con Kafataris, a member of the Christian Democratic Party (CDP), who publicly promotes “the case for traditional and Biblical marriage” one might suspect either the doctor or the CDP financed this website.

Either way, at the time of writing this post these websites were careful to make no mention of ownership or funding details.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Australia in 2017 - Violence Against Women

Australia in 2017  - known deaths due to violence against women  -  23 dead by July 12 [Destroy the Joint, 12 July 2017]

A rarely spoken about aspect of domestic violence…………………

"It is widely accepted by abuse experts (and validated by numerous studies) …..that evangelical men who sporadically attend church are more likely than men of any other religious group (and more likely than secular men) to assault their wives." [Professor of Theology Steven R, Tracy, 2007,‘Patriarchy and Domestic Violence: Challenging Common Misconceptions” inWHAT DOES “SUBMIT IN EVERYTHING” REALLY MEAN? THE NATURE AND SCOPE OF MARITAL SUBMISSION]

Research shows that the men most likely to abuse their wives are evangelical Christians who attend church sporadically. Church leaders in Australia say they abhor abuse of any kind. But advocates say the church is not just failing to sufficiently address domestic violence, it is both enabling and concealing it……

In the past couple of years, concern has been growing amongst those working with survivors of domestic violence about the role the Christian church of all denominations can either consciously or inadvertently play in allowing abusive men to continue abusing their wives.

The questions are these: do abused women in church communities face challenges women outside them do not?

Do perpetrators ever claim church teachings on male control excuse their abuse, or tell victims they must stay?

Why have there been so few sermons on domestic violence? Why do so many women report that their ministers tell them to stay in violent marriages?

Is the stigma surrounding divorce still too great, and unforgiving? Is this also a problem for the men who are abused by their wives — a minority but nonetheless an important group?
And if the church is meant to be a place of refuge for the vulnerable, why is it that the victims are the ones who leave churches while the perpetrators remain?

Is it true — as one Anglican bishop has claimed — that there are striking similarities to the church's failure to protect children from abuse, and that this next generation's reckoning will be about the failure in their ranks to protect women from domestic violence?

A 12-month ABC News and 7.30 investigation involving dozens of interviews with survivors of domestic violence, counsellors, priests, psychologists and researchers from a range of Christian denominations — including Catholic, Anglican, Baptist, Pentecostal and Presbyterian — has discovered the answers to these questions will stun those who believe the church should protect the abused, not the abusers.

ABC TV 7.30 current affairs program, 19 July 2017 - Christian women told to endure domestic abuse, excerpt from transcript:

JULIA BAIRD: In Australia, there has never been any real research into the prevalence of domestic violence within church communities, but Barbara runs a website for survivors which points to an alarming trend.

She estimates 800,000 Christian women, who have survived abuse around the world, have visited the page.

BARBARA ROBERTS: Christian women are particularly vulnerable because they take the Bible very seriously and they want to obey God. They know it says "turn the other cheek", they know it says "be long-suffering". 

The website mentioned in the current affairs program is A Cry For Justice.

Church leaders are not happy with the media attention and are calling foul.

The Australian, 21 July 2017:

A spokesman for Sydney Anglican Archbishop Glenn Davies said it was “disappointing when important, public issues are subject­ to selective presentation of information, inaccurate reporting and opinion-based journalism which misrepresents the facts”.

“To make domestic vio­lence­ part of a culture war against evangelical Christianity does no service to the women who suffer this appalling treatment,” he said.

An ABC spokesman defended 7.30, saying it was “not an attack on Christianity but an explor­ation of its intersection with ­issues of domestic violence, a legitimate and newsworthy sub­ject­”. Wednesday’s report was the latest in a series. Future prog­rams would examine other religions, including Islam and Judaism.

News Corp’s attack on the public broadcaster continues apace with these extraordinarily worded questions presumably put to the ABC by Sydney-based journalist Ean Higgins.

Response to questions from The Australian.

1. Why didn’t the ABC report the truth: that Christianity actually saves women from abuse?
The ABC did report that point – that religiosity can be a protective factor against domestic violence – in its review of the research, “Regular church attenders are less likely to commit acts of intimate partner violence”.
As part of this series, the ABC will be reporting on how all the major Christian churches in Australia are seeking to address the issue of domestic violence in their community. The ABC has collected dozens of accounts of women suffering abuse and, unfortunately, receiving a poor response from the church. But many have also sought and received excellent care, and know there are many wonderful Christian men and women working to make a difference. Our reporting also presents an excellent opportunity for churches, one that we’re pleased to hear many are taking seriously.
In addition, this is not a Christian versus secular argument; it is a conversation currently underway inside the church, as is evident by critics, counsellors, theologians, priests, and bishops quoted in the 7000-word piece on the ABC News site and the priests, synod members and churchgoers interviewed for 730.
2. Why did it instead falsely claim — and instantly believe — the falsehood that evangelical Christians are the worst abusers?
We did not make any false claims, we correctly cited relevant, peer-reviewed research that has been quoted and relied upon by numerous experts in this area of religion and domestic violence. Theology professor Steven Tracy is one of, if not the most authoritative and widely cited voice on this topic in America. We do not have the figures for Australia, as pointed out in the piece. We also pointed out that regular church attendance made men less likely to be violent. Again, this has all been included in the reporting.
Professor Steven Tracy found “that evangelical men [in North America] who sporadically attend church are more likely than men of any other religious group (and more likely than secular men) to assault their wives”. Tracy cites five other studies to support his claim: Ellison and Anderson 2001; Brinkerhoff et al 1991; Ellison and Anderson 1999; Wilcox 2004; Fergusson et al 1986.
The ABC also interviewed dozens of Christian men and women in Australia and abroad whose personal experience with domestic abuse – and the Church’s response to it – supports this claim.
As Adelaide Bishop Tim Harris told the ABC: “it is well recognised that males (usually) seeking to justify abuse will be drawn to misinterpretations [of the Bible] to attempt to legitimise abhorrent attitudes.”
Furthermore, since the article was published, many women have contacted the ABC to share similar stories of abuse by men (including religious leaders) who have justified their violence – and / or women’s subordination – with scripture.
However, the ABC agrees with dozens of academics and religious groups interviewed who argue that further research into the prevalence and nature of domestic violence in religious communities is needed – especially in Australia.
3. What does Ms Guthrie say to Bolt’s claim that “the ABC is not merely at war with Christianity. This proves something worse: it is attacking the faith that most makes people civil.”
The ABC is not at war with Christianity. It is reporting on domestic violence in religious communities, which it notes – and as two recent significant inquiries into domestic and family violence reported – has been under-discussed in Australia, particularity in light of the Royal Commission into Domestic Violence.
As part of its investigation into domestic violence and religion, the ABC is also examining other major religions, including Islam and Judaism.
It should be noted that clergy from the Presbyterian, Anglican and Uniting and Baptist churches have written to the ABC thanking them for their reporting.
Mr. Higgins antipathy towards the ABC appears to be well-known.

Realising its first response was not the best response in the circumstances, organised religion began to back pedal a day later.

ABC News, 22 July 2017:

Australian church leaders are calling on Christian communities to urgently respond to women who are being abused in their congregations, with the most senior Anglican cleric in the country arguing victims of domestic violence deserve an apology from the Church.

An ABC News investigation into religion and domestic violence involving dozens of interviews with survivors, counsellors, priests, psychologists and researchers from a range of Christian denominations has found the Church is not just failing to sufficiently address domestic violence but is, in some cases, ignoring it or allowing it to continue.

And a comprehensive survey conducted by ABC News into programs and protocols churches across the country have in place to address domestic violence — the first attempt to compile this information — reveals mixed responses from different denominations.

While many genuine efforts are being made, critics say there are no coordinated national approaches, and that collection of useful data is required along with a commitment to serious cultural change.

Now, senior members of the Church are urging that clergy and pastoral workers must acknowledge poor responses to domestic abuse and work to take meaningful action against it.
The Anglican Primate of Australia, Archbishop Philip Freier, said he supported an unequivocal apology expressed this week by an Anglican priestto victims of domestic abuse in the Church.

"I'm hoping that there will be some words of apology to people who have experienced domestic violence and any failure from the Church at our General Synod, coming up in September," the Archbishop said on The Drum.

The Archbishop said he "was moved" by the words of Father Daryl McCullough, who said in a statement on his website that he condemned men's misuse of scripture to justify abusing their wives.

"As a priest in the Church of God, I am truly and deeply sorry if you or anyone you love has been the victim of abuse and found the Church complicit in making that abuse worse," Fr Daryl McCullough said.