Revealing his stripes

Tony Abbott thinks everyone should be indoctrinated with christianity. Oh, he’s disguised it as educating all school children about christianity, of making sure that they all know one of the great texts of our culture, just as school children ought to have some knowledge about Shakespeare, but if you believe that’s all he wants, then may I interest you in some very lucrative shares, ‘though you will need to deposit eleventy-ten gold florins in my bank account first.

It’s telling that the way he phrases it is:

I think everyone should have some familiarity with the great texts that are at the core of our civilisation … “That includes, most importantly, the Bible.

Most importantly? Most importantly?

I have no problems with education programs about religion in our schools. But that would be comparative education about all major religions, rather than education in one particular religion, and while we’re at it, at least some coverage of why at least some people think there is no evidence supporting belief in any god would be good too. Education about religion would at least give children some understanding of the ideas that have shaped our history, and give them some of the critical thinking skills needed for them to make up their own minds as to which of the claims made by various religions are plausible. Abbott, however, thinks that only christianity is important. And it turns out that it’s more important than say, Shakespeare, or J. S. Mill, or Marx, or Darwin. Sure, include parts of the bible in the list of texts that have had a significant influence on early 21st century Western culture, but to blandly assert that the bible is “most important” without offering any evidence for that claim is absurd. It reveals the coercive nature of Abbott’s thinking; it is a self-evident truth with which all right thinking people will agree, and the rest of us are just plain wrong.

The redoutable Dr Cat has reminded us why women ought to be very concerned that Tony Abbott is even considered to be a viable candidate for senior political office. Now he’s showing that he’s happy to tell people what to believe too. And all this from a man who claims to belong to the ‘liberal’ party.

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5 responses to “Revealing his stripes

  1. ‘but if you believe that’s all he wants, then may I interest you in some very lucrative shares’

    Well indeed. I myself have a nice rainbow-shaped bridge in Sydney I can get a discount on for people who believe him when he says he’s ‘softened’ his stance on abortion, after being a loudly public hardliner about it for 30 years or so.

  2. Dear DrCat, I beg to inform you that the bridge to which you refer was gifted to me 20 years ago by my late husband, his estate is presently tied up in the probate court here in my country and I need your bank account details in order to release the documents that will prove my claim. On receipt of this details I will be able to send you the documents so that you can be the bridge owner forthwith. For this service I only ask that your accounts details be sent to me, and the bridge, presently independently valued at more than three million US$ ($3M) can be packaged and shipped to your country. God send his blessings on you for your kind help for this poor widow, I have been destitute since his death but now I have the means to keep my seven children in food.

  3. I’ve been thinking about this in an incohate (and still incoherent) way since I was asked a couple of weeks ago to get ready a general education course of a theological bent at a university that shall remain nameless.

    So I was toying with the idea of a “what has Christianity ever done for us?” kind of course.

    I don’t want to make it either “apology” (e.g. “children, Jesus is the only reason people are nice to one another”) but I also don’t want to peddle some glib Whig narrative (e.g Galileo vs. the Roman Inquisition, and then as soon as everyone else threw off their silly superstitions, children, they all lived happily ever after!)

    So, for example, I thought I could explore the Christian roots of modern atheism, and the question of whether Christianity, or at least some kind of similar monotheism, is a historical precondition of a rejection of gods as such.

    I think it would be possible to do similar things with the relationship between Christianity and western science or the ‘universality’ of human rights.

    Basically, the question I’m thinking about is: how fully can you understand Francis Bacon and J. S. Mill, let alone Shakespeare or Dali, if you don’t have some sense of their religious and theological context?

    At the same time, I’m genuinely ambivalent about Religious Studies in schools, having seen compulsory RE in operation in the UK.

    On the one hand, it seems to me that understanding another religious tradition (or any religious tradition, if you don’t come from one) is useful in the same way that it’s useful to learn another language. It makes you more aware of how much you take for granted about the naturalness of your own way of doing things, and that can help you use your own language in a much more intentional and skillful way.

    On the other hand, schools only have so much time, so that, in practice, what RE often meant in UK schools was a superficial romp through the more scenic aspects of several world religions: e.g. Sikh men wear turbans, and Muslims fast during the day in Ramadan. The kids never got to engage deeply with a religious tradition. It was sort of like studying Homeric epic by watching “Troy.” Probably better than nothing, but even so…

    So I’d be prepared to argue that, as long as we live in countries with liberal democracies, parliaments, ideas about equality, the western cultural tradition (and, yes, I’m anti-postmodernist enough to think that the latter actually exists) then education will always need in some sense to give some priority to at least some basic knowledge of the Christian tradition. Same with pre-Christian classical antiquity.

    If one wanted to get post-modern about it, I suppose I could be doing a kind of ‘genealogy.’

    Of course, that’s not necessarily to make any claims about its truth or value; it’s just that’s where most of our way of looking at things comes from historically.

    That’s changing, of course, and, ideally, kids should also have an opportunity to learn about other religious, philosophical and literary traditions as well, but practically, they’ll probably only have an opportunity to learn one or two others at most – just as most English-speakers only ever seem to manage their own language, plus a few tourist-book phrases in another.

    And, finally, dearly beloved in God, my late husband, the Reverend Dr Maximilian Botswana III, ex-archimandrite of Côte d’Ivoire, sadly ingested by a crocodile and now of blessed memory, wished me to confide in you the whereabouts of a lucrative cache of diamonds. For more details please contact me urgently, communicating to me both the details of your paypal account and credit card. God’s every blessing on you and yours, dearest one, in this high-holy season of festivaciouness.

    Yours, Mrs Abilene Zoophile Botswana III

    PS. have no truck with the factitious tales of foreign bridge-peddlers. They are common hucksters, each and every one of them.

  4. I agree about the shoes – if men and women are to stand side by side, or compete on an equal footing, it starts with the footwear. Would those female shoes still look “gorgeous” if your husband wore them? or would their inherent grotesque nature reveal itself?

    You may want to think again about the innocence of hair dye. Try Googling “hair dye” + “carcinogen” . Or have a look at http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/hair-dyes

  5. I dread the next election, really. It looks like it’s going to be a choice between the Liberal party’s evangelism or our current party who are planning to censor the internet. What kind of choice is that?