4. Security issues in the aftermath of September 11

4.1 a) Have the changes in federal and state laws affected any religious groups, and if so how?

b) How should this be addressed?

1. As this matter is for religious groups to address, I have no particular comments on this issue.

4.2 How should the Government balance physical security and civil liberties?

2. Civil liberties and the rights of individuals must always be respected. Physical security should be managed within this framework. Perhaps a properly drafted Charter of Rights could help, but it would need to include the elements noted above, namely that people must be permitted to have the freedom of belief and of non-belief, and not be allowed to discriminate or impose their religious values on others.

4.3 Consider and comment on the relationship between law and religious or faith based communities, and issues such as legal literacy, civil liberties, dissemination of law to new immigrant communities, and the role and conduct of judiciary, courts and police.

3. I have no particular comments on this matter.

4.4 a) Is there religious radicalism and political extremism in Australia?

4. Yes.

b) If so, what are the risks to Australia?

5. Some Australians:

  • believe that the earth was created in six days
  • believe in intelligent design
  • believe that those who do not agree with their religious beliefs are evil and should be destroyed
  • condemn abortion, voluntary euthanasia, and homosexuality as evil
  • discriminate against women
  • force women to cover their bodies in dress
  • advocate female and male circumcision (if done without individual consent and for non-medical reasons)
  • oppose research with embryonic stem cells that may lead to a better human condition
  • oppose contraception and the use of condoms.

6. These beliefs are irrational, evil and unworthy of humane, objective people. Our education system has failed those who can so readily be deceived or who are unable to recognise discrimination that causes hardship and misery in our society.

7. Religious freedom cannot occur if religious beliefs are imposed on others, through physical, emotional or legislative means. In addition, true religious freedom cannot occur unless there is freedom of choice in religious beliefs, and this implies that the childhood indoctrination of one religion, sanctioned by state-funded religious schools, must not occur.

8. Religious radicalism between competing religions leads, as it has led over thousands of years, to religion-fuelled conflict. A secular Australia, where no religions and no one religion is favoured, where discrimination is prohibited, and where education and tolerance of others with different belief systems is fostered, is a first step in establishing a more unified and less divisive Australia.

4.5 Can you provide any examples of social exclusion in regard to religion? How and why do issues of social exclusion develop?

9. Religions are divisive by their nature. They teach that their church is the only valid church, not just that each of them is better than the other religions. In 2007, the Pope effectively told Christians that if a church isn’t Roman Catholic then it’s not a proper church[1]. The response was that unity would only be possible if the papacy renounces its errors and pretension. This is typical of the views of all religions: only their religion is the ‘real deal’. Such intolerance cannot lead to harmony.

10. The Christian churches preach that people who do not subscribe to Christian beliefs are sinners and can go to hell (punishment for all eternity is ridiculous for any crime), regardless of how good a person they might be. This is not a reason why people of one religion would want to associate with someone from another religion. It is difficult to believe that homosexuals and women, particularly Muslim women, but also Christian women, can continue to be members of churches that discriminate against them.

11. Australian women have not, and would not, stand for such discrimination against them in the workforce. Australian women and homosexuals should not tolerate any discrimination against them in a church. That they do so shows the extent to which childhood indoctrination has a hold over and controls how people think and behave.

12. Non-religious people, or atheists, are generally unable to win jobs in religious schools (unless they conform to religious norms), homosexuals are discriminated against, atheists are unable to place banners opposing existence of gods on buses, and terminally ill people are denied the option of voluntary euthanasia. All are examples of unacceptable exclusion.

13. Religious groups impose themselves on others by trying to ‘spread the word’, but do not offer balanced appraisals of their religion. Religious leaders are biased towards their religion, and the more proponents they have, the more power, money and credibility flows their way. Religious leaders promote views contrary to evidence in teaching belief in imaginary beings. Why do they do this? They have been indoctrinated and they are deluded. Religion has a geographic and cultural basis because only people within certain cultures could possibly believe in the religious views taught by their elders. Christians and Muslims would think it silly to believe in Thor and Zeus, yet to objective outsiders, their beliefs are just as silly. When religious people understand why they do not believe in other religions, they will understand why other people do not believe in their religion.

14. Religious people have not learnt, or do not have the necessary analytical skills, to consider how their religion may appear to someone outside their religion. A more effective education system would not produce as many people who would believe in imaginary beings and adopt ethical systems that advocate punishment for all eternity. People must be given choice in their education, encouraged to question and critically evaluate what they learn, rather than accepting what they are told on face value. Religious people are individuals, and should be encouraged to form their own views on issues, rather than meekly accepting the values of their religious leaders.