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Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Australian Christian Lobby is obtuse and wilfully blind

News that former PM Kevin Rudd has changed his views on marriage equality provoked the sensitive petals of the Australian Christian Lobby to invoke the Stolen Generation in an effort to attack him, but finance minister Penny Wong has rebutted the outrageous slur. Wong called a spade a spade: the ACL's take on gay marriage has no place in modern Australia.

Christians often rely for their outdated opinions about homosexuality on words written by one of the flunkies of dead philosopher Jesus of Nazareth, a man named Paul of Tarsus. Paul's contribution to the Bible is well-known. But it's hard to think of the Bible as anything more than a miscellany of popular quotes.

The way it's marketed these days, it is a monolithic set of instructions. But it was actually written over millennia up to about 100 AD, at different times by different people - God knows where all those old stories come from - most of whom probably had tenuous links to the Christian prophet, and whose ideas can hardly be given any more credence than those contained in a novel by Dan Brown, as to such things as conduct, ethics or morality. The popular book, which many Christians allow forms a central part of their identity, was of course one of the first texts to be regularised and retranslated - from ancient Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew, languages noone except experts could understand at the time - in the run-up to the historical period we call the Renaissance. Broader access to the written text in the vernacular Bible combined with higher levels of literacy in Europe in the 16th century - a political step aimed at enabling everyman to read his Bible - were the primary cause of political, artistic and technological changes in Europe that resulted in the continent's global dominance of trade, and in vast improvements in the standards of living of ordinary people living there. A plethora of publications also stimulated debate - often centred on precepts contained in the Bible, commentaries on which remained the most popular type of publication throughout the ensuing period even up until the period of revolutionary politics at the end of the 18th century and beyond - debate that helped maintain our slow progress toward the universal recognition of individuals' rights. And thank God for that.

The question has to be asked whether people in the Australian Christian Lobby are aware of the contribution to the extension of the electoral franchise universally to all adults, for example, that was made by ideas contained in the Bible. In the early 19th century Christians led the push to outlaw slavery on the premise that all people are created equal under God. It defies reason to alienate such hankerings from today's debates about marriage equality, and suggests that the Australian Christian Lobby is merely being selective and obtuse, in fact performing a kind of irrational discrimination that singles out gays and lesbians as if they were not, in fact, people like themselves but members of an entirely different species.

The obtuseness doesn't stop there however. Christians are also often very active in promoting wellbeing overseas, but seem to be quite happy that in some countries homosexuality is still illegal, and carries with it penalties - such as death and stoning - that would be completely unacceptable even for the most bigoted hardliner in a country like Australia. Yet the Australian Christian Lobby wants us to believe that they have the best interests of those in mind whose only fault was to be born in a country where their legitimate sexual preference is not only stigmatised but outlawed. The hypocrisy is breathtaking. How can a devout Christian who takes to heart the messages of peace and fellowship that are embodied in the Bible support laws, in Australia, that leaders in other countries point to as they go about jailing and murdering homosexuals?

The obtuse blindness of people in the Australian Christian Lobby and those who support it is not only distressing, it is also completely infuriating. When will these people stop bullying an innocent minority and accept that their God wishes all good things to all people?

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