The Christian church is no longer arbiter of our morals

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FAITH AND THE WIDER WORLD

The Christian church is no longer arbiter of our morals
The Essendon CEO saga highlights the fact that religion is increasingly out of step with the rest of society.

Richard Dawkins, in his book The God Delusion, talks about the Zeitgeist wave, the tendency for societal values to evolve over time but religion lags behind. Issues such as abortion and same-sex relations are now accepted by the majority of people, but religion wants to hang onto its old values, regardless of the fact that they are very much in the minority.

The Christian church is no longer the arbiter of our morals and should cease expecting everyone else to make allowances for it.
Jim Picot, Altona

True conservative Christians are not bigots
Christians have committed themselves to trust and obey God in response to his gracious provision of salvation in Jesus Christ. They are not bigots. A bigot is commonly defined as a person with strong unreasonable beliefs who does not like people of a different persuasion. Neither element applies to true conservative Christians. It is insulting and ignorant to suggest Christians cannot care for people with beliefs or lifestyle different from their own, whether in nursing drug addicts or in their major involvement in the vast charity sector.

We aim to live a godly life in a fallen world and to evangelise in appropriate ways. In fact we are called to be salt and light in it – a city built on a hill if you like (Matt 5:13-14 ). We willingly work with others of diverse views and gifts recognising it is not our role to impose the rules of our community on outsiders: God is the ultimate judge.

We value the democratic freedoms in this country and regret that freedom of religion is increasingly under threat whether from the extreme left or the extreme right and even from some Christians who are letting the world squeeze them into its own mould.
Rev Dr Rowland Ward, Wantirna

Who you are is not a matter of choice
The debate about Andrew Thorburn’s resignation from Essendon Football Club has caused many to hold up the need to be inclusive when it comes to people’s religious views, against that same inclusivity being afforded to various other areas of the community, including LGBTQ people.

The difference, as I see it, is if you are LGBTQ, choose to have an abortion, are of a particular race, those are things inherent to you and about you. If you believe people should not have abortions or be LGBTQ, those are matters that affect other people, not you. The right to be who you are should be given much more weight than the right to tell other people what they can’t be.
Jacob Mildren, Wandana Heights

Whichever way we land, I hope we’re consistent
Haneen Zrieka, a Muslim, has chosen to withdraw from playing in the upcoming AFLW’s Pride Round (“Giants player withdraws from Pride round again”, Sport, 6/10). And she should feel free to do that.

Increasingly however precedents are being set for how we should respond when religion and sport mix (think of the reaction to the Manly Sea Eagles, and, of course, the ongoing response to Andrew Thorburn and Essendon).

Whichever way we decide to land as a society on these issues I just hope we are consistent and the reaction is the same to all religions, not just some.
Andrew Laird, Malvern

THE FORUM

The depth of the divide
Two articles on the same page in The Age (7/10) demonstrate the obscene social and wealth divide in our country.

The first, “Grim pickings for renters as vacancies dry up”, relates to tenants being unable to find a home to live in and having to put up with substandard conditions for fear of losing their rental property if they complain.
In the second, “Grill’d mogul flips old digs for $22m pad”, we are told the house has a kitchen that is “an entertainer’s dream”, a pool and a tennis court.

The gap between rich and poor grows ever bigger as our government agonises over giving huge tax cuts to the most highly paid.
Geoff Selby, Moorooduc

It’s up for debate
Religious people and organisations always demand “respect”, but this is really confusing. I think everybody is entitled to their own opinion, and to act within the law according to their beliefs.

That is to be respected, but religious ideas are debatable like any other idea, if political, spiritual, sport ideas are all amenable to discussion and debate, why not religious ideas? While some have a particular faith, others might have a different one, or none at all, and not all of them can be right given that they often present conflicting ideas about the world.

In this sense, we shouldn’t “respect” religious ideas, they have no privileged position in the universe of discourse. A robust debate about religion and religious ideas may have saved the lives of many over the course of history.
George Fernandez, Eltham North

Unequal values?
The case of Andrew Thorburn and Essendon demonstrates the double standard of many leaders of our established churches.

They demand the right to not employ anyone who does not share their values. Now they rail against the Essendon Football Club for doing the same thing.

Why do these people believe their values are more valuable than anyone else’s?
Ross Williamson, Foster

A delusionary trifecta
In one Tory conference sound bite new UK Prime Minister Liz Truss combined the growth delusion with the trickle-down delusion and rounded it off with the tax delusion. The delusionary trifecta starts with the pursuit of endless growth in producing stuff and services thus defying reality and logic. Then the delusion of trickle down economics and tax cuts ignores evidence and equity.

Thus a combination of interests, ideology and ignorance has created a world of economics, politics and democracy as normal that consistently undermines human and social potential and risks global survival.

Unfortunately the three delusions are not confined to the hyperbole of a conservative party conference. The mainstreams of liberalism and labourism are to varying degree unproductively influenced by the growth, trickle down and tax delusions.

This year is the 60th anniversary of the publication of Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. The book exposed the influence of inertia, interests and the irrational on scientific explanation and understanding. The normal science of Copernicus required a revolutionary overthrow just as the normal science of Hippocrates, Newton and a multitude of others required overthrowing and replacement.

We need a Copernican revolution in the current normal worlds of economics, politics and democracy.
Stewart Sweeney, Adelaide, SA

Scrap them or fix them
Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has laughably claimed that people have made financial decisions based on the stage three tax cuts going ahead and states the stage three cuts benefit all people not just the rich (“Australia at risk of ‘hard landing’ in global slump”, The Age, 7/10).

But which people? This year, the low and middle income tax offset will disappear, which means that people on $126,000 or less a year will essentially just make up lost ground if the stage three cuts go ahead, the only ones who will get a real tax cut are the already well-off.

If the government persists with the stage three cuts it must restructure them so that the main benefit goes to lower paid workers who will spend, not save, the cuts.

The stage three cuts were terrible policy when they were introduced to parliament and are even worse policy now, scrap them or fix them.
Ross Hudson, Mount Martha

Promises, promises
Last year I undertook to buy my son a new car. This year the cost of living, including the price and continued maintenance of cars, has skyrocketed and the savings set aside for the intended purchase have evaporated.

My son, albeit reluctantly, understands that the promised car with its associated running costs, in the present financial climate, is unrealistic and foolhardy. Still, apparently I must tell him, “a promise is a promise!”
Edward Combes, Wheelers Hill

Another interpretation
For some time, I have been of the opinion the Australian Christian Lobby should change its name to the New Christian Right Lobby.

It represents but one interpretation of Christianity – that based on a literal interpretation of the Bible, and seemingly bound by many judgmental and exclusive constraints and rules.

Progressive Christians, on the other hand, embrace the way of living characterised by inclusiveness, acceptance, compassion, caring, forgiveness and love – qualities demonstrated by the person whose way of life they seek to emulate, Jesus of Nazareth.
Barbara Helen Dean, Soldiers Hill

Vote below the line
Thanks to Annika Smethurst for her brilliant account (“Lack of voting reforms is our loss”, Comment, 7/10) of Victoria’s system to facilitate the cheating of voters out of control of their preferences. Upper house voting has become a lottery whereby unrepresentative unknowns gain seats at the expense of candidates with genuine public support – and use their resultant voting power to coerce governments.

But Smethurst also mentions the answer available immediately to all voters. Vote below the line. You only have to number five squares for your vote to be valid. And your preferences will go where you personally put them.
Colin Smith, Glen Waverley

Wildlife in peril
Bob Brown and your correspondent rightly question the authenticity of federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek’s words about the environment (“Plibersek’s actions don’t match words on climate”, Comment, 6/10 and “Where are they on the environment?”, Letters, 7/10).

At the United Nations ocean conference in June, Plibersek stated: “Under the new Australian government, the environment is back – front and centre”. To most, this would indicate that all Labor’s decisions would be made with the environment at the forefront. Thus, no further logging of native forests and no new fossil fuel projects should occur on our shores. The Australian public know it. Scientists know it. Economists know it.

On these vital matters, both federal and state Labor governments need to be consistently “in lockstep”, which they are not (“On different pages”, Letters, 7/10). If they are not, sadly, our extraordinary wildlife doesn’t stand a chance.
Amy Hiller, Kew

Tune in to the loss
It does seem incongruous to me that there was a need to spell out that the “Push for aged care funding should also cover ‘social care’” (The Age, 3/10) and to read that “aged care residents told The Age that social activities were ‘hit and miss’ across the sector”.

Why, in this wide world, would it be thought older people with accumulated years of wisdom and socialisation and energising life experience would cease to crave such experiences on leaving their homes, when less mobile or needing an increased level of personal care on transitioning to a single room with a television set and a few of their personal possessions?

Ageism is alive and well if we cannot, as a society, tune into the sense of deprivation and loss that must accompany an ageing person, stepping over that threshold from “normal” life into the aged care.
Glenda Addicott, Ringwood East

AND ANOTHER THING

Stage three tax cuts
In all of the discussion about stage three tax cuts, has everyone forgotten about the concept of a “non-core” promise? Anthony Albanese, give John Howard a ring, he can advise.
Graham Bridge, Morwell

Credit:

The stage three tax cuts are a millstone around the government’s neck that must be jettisoned for the greater good.
Greg Curtin, Blackburn South

The crime is not in the breaking of pathetic political promises, it is in the making of them.
Robert Niall, Fitzroy North

There is an old saying that goes “when the wind changes, the sails must be adjusted”. Let’s hope that wisdom will be applied by the government so we can all sail off into the sunset.
Ruth Davis, Carrum

One extra slip of paper at the Victorian and NSW state elections might offer the government guidance in resolving the issue.
Ronald Elliott, Sandringham

Politics
Does anyone remember a campaigning John Howard saying “There will never be a GST” and in a matter of week or months we were slammed with one?
Jonne Herbert, Kew East

Cathy Wilcox’s cartoon (6/10) says it all so eloquently. As a fan of Tanya Plibersek I have been very disappointed by her disregard of what is essential for endangered species, including humans.
John Walsh, Watsonia

We might respect our politicians more if they sold us their aspirations rather than promises and avoided big words like always and never.
Clyde Ronan, Yarrawonga

Furthermore
Christian schools argue for the right to hire staff whose values agree with theirs. When a football club does it, it’s religious persecution.
Mark Wilkinson, Brunswick

Finally
Is Daniel Andrews alone on wanting to change the name of Maroondah Hospital? Perhaps it’s time to admit you made a mistake, Dan.
Diane Maddison, Parkdale

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