“The centre needs to be reaffirmed,” says Alister McGrath. “I want to make it clear, I have no doubt there are some very weird religious people who might well be dangerous, but those of us who believe in God, know that, and we’re doing all we can to try and minimise their influence.” I seriously doubt it. All I seem to hear from religious moderates nowadays is bitching and moaning about how the mean and nasty atheists–sorry–“new atheists”–don’t understand religion and how wonderful it is. (There are exceptions, of course). Even McGrath is “doing all he can” to minimise the influence of the religious nutjobs: he’s in Australia “helping evangelicals brush up on their arguments against The God Delusion” (emphasis added).
Meanwhile, the loudest and most influential voices in Australian Christendom belong to the Religious Right. You don’t believe me? Back in August the Australian Christian Lobby was able to organise a National Press Club event, broadcast live across the country, in which both John Howard and Kevin Rudd addressed 200 church figures. That’s influence.
Whither the religious moderates when this was taking place?
Want more evidence? Try this one on: it is actually possible, in a secular liberal democracy such as Australia, for someone who advocates the teaching of faith-based pseudoscience in the science classrooms of public schools, and who considers homosexuality to be a “perversion,” to gain preselection as a candidate in a major political party. Instead of laughing and mocking him all the way back to his megachurch, enough party members consider him a suitable representative of their political organisation.
Whither the religious moderates in the Liberal Party, and why aren’t they doing all they can to minimise the influence of this breed of nutjob, not to mention his supporters?
Now the Australian Christian Lobby has set its sights on Labor. Kevin Rudd wears his love for Baby Jesus on his sleeve, so the ACL is seeking to wedge him on the issues that should be closest to the heart of any Christian. No, not poverty. No, not the environment. I mean the really important stuff, like “family values”–which basically translates as gay marriage, abortion, porn on the intertubes and gay marriage. The Religious Right was able to wedge Labor on the gay marriage issue back in 2004, and Labor of course dropped its pants, bent over, stuffed the ball gag into its mouth and willingly submitted. Will it happen again? Probably.
Whither the religious moderates in the Labor Party? Kevin Rudd marked his ascendancy to the leadership of the Labor Party with a Monthly essay that, with its emphasis on the social-gospel element of Christianity, threatened to pull out the rug from beneath the Religious Right. He had the cojones to stick it to the fundies back then; does he still possess them now, or will he be reduced to shameless pandering? The ACL certainly hopes so.
Meanwhile, Australia’s foremost member of the Spanish Inquisition has offered an apologia for the continued legal discrimination against gays. “Same-sex marriage and adoption changes the meaning of marriage, family, parenting and childhood for everyone, not just for homosexual couples,” says Cardinal Pell, without offering any supporting evidence. His comments have the support, naturally, of the ACL’s Jim Wallace, who says:
[Discrimination] is not something that is necessarily a bad concept, [. . .] I think what we’re talking about here is making sure that while we remove unfair discrimination, that we do not allow a very small part of the population to force their model for relationships to be adopted as the community norm, when it isn’t.
OH NOES!!! Ending discrimination against gays = MANDATORY BUGGERY!!!
[Wallace] says the problem is that equal rights for gay families complicate the definition of family.
“It confuses children and it’s suggested that this is a normal and healthy alternative,” he said.
OH NOES!! Ending discrimination against gay familes = LITTLE CHILDREN BEING SEDUCED INTO A LIFETIME OF BUGGERY!!!
Whither the religious moderates on this issue? Why aren’t they doing all they can to minimise the influence of this Bronze-Age model of morality?
No, I guess it’s easier to whine about the mean and nasty atheists not understanding religion and how wonderful it can be. Meanwhile, the Religious Right’s two-pronged (Protestant-fundie, and Catholic-fundie) assault on secular liberal democracy continues unabated. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it now: we need people in Australian politics who are willing to speak up for the Enlightenment constituency (and religious moderates, frankly, can’t be trusted to do it). We think, and we vote.
P.S. I wasn’t the only one unimpressed with the recent Religion Report interview with Alister McGrath. It is being roundly panned on the ABC Guestbook.