This blog looks past partisan politics to find solutions and provide insights into public policy. It is the companion blog to the author's on-line training course in democracy and civic action: www.3ptraining.com.au
It covers a wide spectrum of issues from local to international concerns.
It was previously the support blog for the author's biography "Finding Home, An Autobiographical Account of a Child Migrant Growing on the Edge of the Tasmanian Wilderness” available from Amazon.
Erik is a public policy professional and owner of the online training course in democracy and civic action: www.3ptraining.com.au
…explores ways to create a sustainable and just community. Explores how that community can be best protected at all levels including social policy/economics/ military.
Erik’s autobiography is a humorous read about serious things. It concerns living in the bush, wilderness, home education, spirituality, and activism. Finding Home is available from Amazon, Barnes&Noble and all good e-book sellers.
I am a Christian.
There, I said it. I’m out of the closet. I am part of a marginalised minority
group of around eight to ten per cent of the population. If you think that’s an
exaggeration ask Dawkins. Those are his figures for the UK and they are
generous. I am
assuming the same for Australia though I suspect the reality is half that. That
said, most Australian Christians still think they are important and numerous,
but that’s their problem.
We have been around
for 2000 years, although Christianity is really an extension of Judaism which
has been around for twice that long. That’s a lot of time to make mistakes, and
we have made plenty. It would be nice if the secular world could learn from
mistake we made was to impose our values and beliefs by force on others. This
took many forms. Currently gay rights activists are seeking to remove
(non-technical term) convictions for thousands men convicted of homosexual
conduct in the UK. The church was not judge and jury but religious attitudes
clearly had a role. Most Christians now would prefer that they and everyone
else had the freedom to live by their values and beliefs and would prefer that
nobody when to jail for them. Jesus didn’t impose his values and we have no
mandate to; but Christians do reserve the right to put their views and values
forward in public life. It’s called democracy. It’s the right of people to live
differently, to believe different things, and to say what they believe. It’s
what we fought the Second World War for. It’s worth keeping, but not if you are
an ideological zealot.
‘freedom’ means the right to force your values onto others – apparently. When
rallies against Islamisation occurred in Australia recently counter activists
were proud to declare that they had physically prevented some speakers from
attending. The other term for that is bullying. Apparently these bullies from
the social left also believe in freedom of speech, but only for views they
happen to like. Like all good fundamentalists they have the truth and this
gives them the right to impose it on everyone else (yawn).
administration has taken this a step further and decided who can and cannot be
a victim of genocide. Case in point Iraqi Dominican Catholic Nun Sister Diana
Momeka. Sister Momeka represents the Nineveh Christians who have been killed,
kidnapped and deported by ISIS. She was to testify to before Congress about
ISIS atrocities as part of a broader delegation. Visas were granted to all the
other members of the delegation who were to speak about the massacre of
minority Islamic sects but Momeka was denied entry because…she is a displaced
person … displaced by ISIS.See here In reality the US State Department just doesn’t want to hear that Christians
are being systematically exterminated from the Middle East. The only national
leader who is prepared to even talk about it is Putin who has positioned
himself as a defender of Christian civilization and orthodoxy. In Australia we wept over the execution of two
convicted drug dealers but few people here even know about the quiet
extermination of Papuan Christians by Javanese Muslims in Iryan Jaya/West Papua
but our government knows and tolerates it.
Dominican Nun denied entry to the US - might tell the truth about Christians being slaughtered
It seems when real
tolerance is no longer tolerated the State gets to decide whose persecution is
worthy of attention. For Obama, gay marriage rates higher than the genocide of
Middle Eastern Christians. The same is true in Europe.
Now I get it that
some gay people want to give up a life where they can have as much sex as they
want with as many people as they want as often as they want, in favour of a life
of faithful monogamy, and they wish to call that marriage. And I get it that
many of their supporters feel that heterosexuals should not be the only ones. I
also get it that the primary reason why civil unions are not sufficient is
because some people within a minority group of 2-4 per cent of the population
want to adopt. I also get it that some people see that as the thin end of a
bigger wedge to remodel society and redefine human relationships. It’s a
complex issue – at least for people who are not into group-think. Of course
people are going to have divergent views. In Australia we tolerated communism –
an ideology that sought to overthrow civilisation and replace it with a
totalitarian state. We seem pretty OK with importing people from countries
where apostasy carries the death penalty. We even tolerate Tony Abbott (heck we
voted for him). Can we tolerate divergent views on difficult social issues?
Well, they don’t
in France. In France refusing to marry a gay couple can land you in jail for five years. Simply attending a rally against gay marriage can land you in
prison. So 40 years ago the State imprisoned people for sodomy and now the
State will imprison people for basically not being cool with sodomy…. here’s a
thought: how about nobody gets thrown into prison and people live how they want
to live? Apparently that’s now bigotry and intolerance.
And this is where
it gets nasty. In many US States you can be fined and sued for refusing wedding
services or accommodation to gay couples. You may also be targeted by LGBT
activists who will seek to close down your business. So let’s be clear. There
are ten florist shops in your city. One shop refuses to supply flowers to your
gay wedding. Why would you give them your custom anyway? Why not buy flowers
somewhere else? Sure you might say some hard words. You might make some
statements about where they can put their flowers. You and your friends might
do a consumer boycott. They don’t have to sell to you and you don’t have to buy
from them. That would be tolerance. That would be respecting people’s right to
have and live by their values.
But no, you can
now sue the owner and go after their personal assets and the State can fine
them and compel them to sell flowers. You can also attack and vilify the
business owner on social media, and physical vandalism is OK too so long as you
don’t get caught. That is forcing other people to adopt your values. It’s ugly
and it doesn’t end well. Case in point, a 70 year old florist who after 40
years in the business now faces financial ruin because she referred a gay
couple to other florists but for reasons of personal conviction, refused to
supply flowers for their wedding.
Britain State censorship now extends to which chapters of the
Bible you are allowed to quote in public. Britain has a tradition dating back
to the middle ages in which any person can say whatever they like from a
designated 'street corner'. One person did so recently and was duly prosecuted under the
Public Order Act of Great Britain. The learned
judge ruled that he had offended by quoting a particular verse from the Bible.
Perhaps in the
future Christians imprisoned for not supporting gay marriage will have their
convictions annulled. It would be rather ironic.
Freedom of speech means saying things others don't like
Demanding that the
State force your views on someone else and give you a monopoly in the market
place of ideas is pretty wimpy. If those are your values you have them in
common with Islamic State, the religious fringe, and some on the social left who have no sense of irony.
There are better ways to do business. Civilised people don’t need to lock one
Civilised people don't need to lock one another up
I happen to live
in a part of town where guys drive utes with hunting stickers on the back. Said
utes often have the sticker “Shoot Ferals”. It’s a tongue in cheek reference to
a particular subculture among environmentalists and it is also an incitement to
violence. There are others in the genre. “Greens tell lies” is a favourite. I
don’t like it, but I would rather live in a society where ignorant people can
put dumb stickers on their cars than one in which there is an ‘office of
sticker control’ that fines people for their bumper stickers. Fact is, if I
bought the guy a beer we would probably get on OK.
Some time ago I
was approached by a guy called Andrew who wanted to start a Christian based
green party. It sounded intriguing so we caught up and shared ideas. The next
thing I heard he had been charged with a Federal offence for sending hate mail through
the mail service. In actual fact he had done a leaflet mail-out opposing same
sex marriage. The leaflet itself was poorly written, angry, and highly
offensive to many people. It is however a statistical fact that most adults in
developed countries live within walking distance of a rubbish bin. It is also
a fact that some of the content was true even if the delivery was regrettable. Andrew was duly charged and the usual
line up rushed to condemn him. Andrew who is sensitive, nerdy and very
likeable was clearly out of his depth so I took him out to lunch where I
suggested politely but firmly that there are better ways to engage in public
life. It’s what friends do. Others don’t seem to get it that yelling ‘hate
hate’ at anyone who doesn’t share their agenda is in itself a hateful thing to
Can there be
tolerance in Australia? I think there can but only if we discover a greater
sense of decency and adopt a more generous spirit. The greater danger is that
when a given ideology captures the State others inevitably suffer. It is no
coincidence that the Nazi’s banned home education in Germany in the 1930’s, and
it is still banned. The Nazis persecuted both Christians, homosexuals and Jews.
I like to think that there is a place for all of us.
is based on a comparison of figures. 54 per cent of UK census respondents
identified as Christians. Of those the number that identified with actual
definitional beliefs – the physical resurrection of Jesus, accepting him as
‘Lord and Saviour’, belief in his teaching, the power of prayer, and regular
gathering with other believers – is around 15 per cent. By their nature these
figures are rubbery and Australia is arguably a more secular culture that
Britain. I suggest the number of adults in Australia who Jesus, the apostles or
the early church would recognise is around four per cent of the adult