It seems to be mostly
the far-right fruitcakes who are scared of the imposition of Sharia Law in
Australia. People like One Notion’s Pauline Hanson ramble on about it seemingly
interminably, and Jacqui Lambie has been forced to pull her head in a couple of
times because of her ignorance1. These sorts of idiotic attitudes
are simply because Hanson, Lambie and their ilk only seem to think that Sharia
law is all about caning, whipping and severing of hands and heads. It isn’t. It
is simply a religious system that tells you what you should and shouldn’t do if
you are a Muslim1,2. It is much like the Christian list of things
you should and shouldn’t do, although recently, the latter has taken a bit of a
battering at the hands of all the faux Christians in parliament3. From
these people, and from the Coalition, you never hear of anything concerning
Dominionism. You probably will ask ‘What’s that?’.
Dominionism is the
Christian equivalent of Sharia Law. The name comes from the Book of Genesis in
which god tells Adam and Eve to have ‘dominion’ over the Earth and its animals.
It almost goes without saying that the rabid right of Christianity believe this
to mean that they are mandated to control all earthly institutions until the
second coming of Jesus (yes, really). There are two main schools of
Dominionism. The first comprises Christian Reconstructionists, who believe in
biblical law, including stoning as punishment for adultery and other
transgressions, and that this should replace secular law. The other comprises
New Apostolic Reformers which advocate that Christians should reclaim
government, media, business, education, arts and entertainment. In the United
states, the concept has floated to the surface about every four years or so
ever since evangelical broadcaster Pat Robertson ran for President in 19884.
While I can almost
hear you say ‘only in America’, and that nothing like this could happen in
Australia, that would be misguided. Examples are numerous. Here are a few:
Carlingford (Sydney) branch of the Liberal Party has suggested “straightening
out the law and order system” by handing sentencing power to a panel of 20
members of the public. The president of the branch suggested that for stealing
a T-shirt a perpetrator should get 10 lashes; stealing a car would incur 1,000
lashes; punching a police officer, 5,000 lashes; and murder, 20,000 lashes5.
Amanda Stoker is deeply concerned about the possibility of children starting up
gay clubs if they are in Catholic schools. She has already argued against the
recent decriminalisation of abortion in Queensland, and thinks that any moves
to remove the Lord’s Prayer from the beginning of parliament as distressing,
despite the Constitution prohibiting the enforcement any religious observance.
She is also vehemently opposed to voluntary euthanasia6. She is
simply an example and has many colleagues who think the same way.
Shelton, former director of the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL), and one of the
leaders of the ‘No’ campaign in the lead up to the same-sex marriage
plebiscite, joined Bernardi’s political party, the Australian Conservatives,
and nominated for the Senate (for Queensland) in the recent federal election.
Unfortunately for him, but fortunately for Australia, he failed
comprehensively. Prior to the election, he stated that he would keep fighting
‘for decades’ to repeal marriage equality. He also was of the opinion that
parents should be allowed to send their children to gay conversion therapy7.
- The ACL
has tried their hardest to oppose the voluntary euthanasia bill in the
Victorian Parliament, but failed. However, before the election, the Victorian
director of the ACL stated that: “if sufficient clear-sighted MPs are elected
in November 2018, the euthanasia crisis can be averted. The legislation can be
repealed in early 2019, before any wrongful deaths occur under the scheme,
which is otherwise due to commence in June 2019”8.
church leaders warned before the election that a darkness would descend on
Australia and christians would be persecuted if Scott Morrison had not won the
recent general election. Pastor Adam Thompson from the Voice of Fire Ministries
stated at the time that “the Lord woke me at 4.30am this morning….I really see
that the body of Christ is going to have influence in the … political arena of
this nation. Adrian Beale from Everrest Ministries said that the Lord should
“get behind our new leader… and that the next election would be won so that
godly principles would be put into place, rather than the enemy having his way”9.
Who he means by ‘the enemy’ is unclear, but one suspects he means the Labor
- A private
member’s bill repealing the Howard government’s 1997 ban on Australia’s
territories (Northern Territory, Australian Capital Territory) being able to
legalise voluntary euthanasia was introduced to the federal parliament by then
Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm in late 201810. The bill
was voted down. Of course, the ACL were overjoyed. Martyn Iles, their Managing
Director said: “The inherent value of every life must continue to be
maintained”11. After all, suffering is good for people, isn’t it?
- As part of
the failed Liberal Party campaign in the Victorian election, the religious
nutters who run the party in that state thought it would be a “really great”
policy to re-introduce religious instruction into public schools12. Of
course, this is not about religious education (i.e. comparative religion), it
is about instruction and it is only about Christian instruction13.
numerous opinion polls showing the populace was in favour of allowing same-sex
marriage, the resistance of the religious, especially those in parliament, to
the concept of same-sex marriage was extreme. It extended to the point of
forcing the nation to have this unnecessary and expensive voluntary postal vote
purely as a delaying tactic. This was done in the hope it would give the
religious time to marshal their troops and their arguments. Fortunately, it was
to no avail14. However, now their aim is to repeal it (see above).
National School Chaplaincy Programme was begun by the Howard government, and it
is a programme which funds religious chaplains in Australian primary and
secondary schools. These chaplains are to provide “support and guidance about
ethics, values, relationships and spirituality”, and are provided by religious
service companies which are very predominantly Christian (96.5%). At the time
it was set up, no formal qualifications were required to become a chaplain.
During the tenure of the Gillard government, the then Minister for Education,
Peter Garrett announced that new chaplains were required to have a “Certificate
IV in Youth Work, Pastoral Care or an equivalent qualification”. He also stated
that schools had the option to employ a ‘secular student well-being officer’15.
These were in response to a High Court challenge to the programme in 201216.
Previously, this was only allowed if schools were unable to find an ordained
chaplain. In 2014 the Abbott government disallowed schools the ability to fund
secular counsellors, so that all chaplains had to be affiliated with a
religion. Despite a second High Court challenge to the programme succeeding in
2014, the government altered the funding arrangements to circumvent that High
- The big
fear by the religious during the recent federal election was the perception
that their ‘religious freedoms’ were at risk. Now the Morrison government is
considering ‘religious freedom’ legislation. This is a turnaround, as
previously, many conservative churches opposed strengthening Australia’s
religious freedom protections in the Constitution; such as those put to the
populace in the 1988 referendum. Back then, religious freedom meant protecting
religious minorities (e.g. Jews, Muslims) against discrimination18. However,
religion is in rapid decline in Australia, with the 2016 census showing those
professing to have ‘no religion’ is at 30.1%. This is up from 0.8% in 1966. The
concomitant decline in those professing to be christian has slipped from 88% in
1966 to 52% in 201619. When christians were the vast majority in
Australia, the institutional position and power of the churches was assured so
there was no need to legislate for religious freedom18. Now this majority
is rapidly declining and may soon become a minority, they want that position
and power to be legislated lest it be at risk. They are also very frightened
that once their institutional power dissipates, they might have to pay tax like
the rest of us. Religious freedom is guaranteed by the constitution so there
should be no need to legislate such freedoms, until you realise that the
freedom most desired by these churches is the freedom to discriminate, and with
their declining power, that freedom is also at risk.
The religious say they
are afraid of persecution, but as I have said elsewhere, when you have been
privileged for so long, equality seems like persecution20. They
should have no fear of real persecution because that is prohibited by the
constitution21, and that has mostly worked in Australia, despite the
propensity for the Coalition to ignore the bits of the constitution they don’t
like (Section 44, for instance). I suspect the religious are also terrified
that when they become a minority, people will treat them the same way the
religious treated other minorities when the power and privilege lay with the
church. That, and being taxed, like the rest of us.
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