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No monopolies on bigotry in election lead-up

By Charlotte Harper 23 June 2016 31

Christina Hobbs

“I believe human life begins at conception,” the Liberal Senator said quietly.

Zed Seselja’s response was the last in a line of ACT Federal election candidate answers to the question, “When is an unborn baby a human being?”

It was posed during the Australian Christian Lobby’s Meet the Candidates forum at the Eternity Church in Kambah on Tuesday night.

Senator Seselja’s one-sentence answer to the when life begins question inspired spontaneous applause from the 200 or so attendees. This wasn’t quite rock star fandom in action, but verging on it.

Earlier responses to the same question, from the likes of the Sex Party’s Steven Bailey and Labor’s Katy Gallagher, had expressed the opinion that the question of when human life begins was complex and that decisions in relation to such matters were best left to medical experts and assessed on a case by case basis.

Their take left most attendees on Tuesday night muttering to themselves and shaking their heads.

But are the members of this particular community “a fringe group of bigots and extremists” as Greens Senate candidate Christina Hobbs described them this week?

Or by boycotting the event and calling them names, was Ms Hobbs something of a hypocrite, perhaps even a bigot herself? One definition of a bigot is “a person who is intolerant towards those holding different opinions”.

Wikipedia has a more detailed definition for the word:

“The English noun bigot is a term of abuse aimed at a prejudiced or closed-minded person, especially one who is intolerant or hostile towards different social groups (especially, and originally, other religious groups), and especially one whose own beliefs are perceived as unreasonable or excessively narrow-minded, superstitious, or hypocritical.”

Are the seemingly mild-mannered, ordinary looking Canberrans of the ACL bigots? Are they a fringe group? I guess it all depends of your point of view.

Eternity Church, Kambah

Whether they are or not, surely engaging with them is a better way of gaining an understanding of what has led them to believe what they do than censuring them.

Whether you like it or not, they have influence. They and other Australians with similar views have forced the hand of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on important policies such as the same sex marriage issue and Safe Schools program.

If the Coalition retains government next week, the Christian Lobby and others like them will campaign actively against marriage equality leading up the Turnbull’s plebiscite, causing distress to LGBTIQ people and their supporters in the process.

Refusing to engage with them sends a message of solidarity to those who are hurt by their views, true. It offers a political candidate short term benefits in terms of publicity and leads to pats on the back from like-minded colleagues too.

The trouble is, it also perpetuates an “us and them” mentality.

Why not engage with the ACL, debate the issues and in the process perhaps change some hearts and minds?

Steven Bailey and Katy Gallagher chose to, and one attendee said afterwards that he would now vote for the Sex Party based on Mr Bailey’s responses during the evening.

Perhaps given the deeply held religious beliefs of many supporters of the ACL, the number of hearts and minds that will be changed is small. But surely within each of us is the ability to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes.

To imagine being a 16-year-old girl who was raped and has struggled for weeks with the decision to have an abortion, then becomes a victim again as protesters stare her down at her as she walks into a clinic for the procedure.

To ponder being a middle-aged woman praying outside the same clinic, having been raised and educated in a deeply religious community to believe in her heart that every life is sacred, and that by being there she may save a child and help a woman become the mother she is destined to be.

To consider the young gay couple who have committed to each other for life and want the right to celebrate their union in the same way their straight friends do.

Zed Seselja on the cover of CityNews

Or to view marriage through the prism that our Liberal Senator probably does, whereby the idea of two men or two women marrying each other somehow diminishes the sanctity of his own marriage.

It’s hard, I know. I’m struggling to understand two of those four viewpoints myself, but it was very clear to me on Tuesday night that they are very real views, not held out of spite, and not going away anytime soon. I’ll keep trying to understand them in the hope that at least some members of the Christian Lobby will reciprocate.

Will Senator Seselja’s views of same-sex marriage and abortion impact on your vote next Saturday? Did Greens candidate Christina Hobbs’ decision to snub the ACL forum influence your thinking? Have you decided how you’ll vote in the House of Representatives and the Senate?

Pictured are Greens candidate Christina Hobbs, the Eternity Church in Kambah and Zed Seselja in a paid advertisement on the cover of City News this week.

What’s Your opinion?


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31 Responses to
No monopolies on bigotry in election lead-up
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HenryBG 7:58 am 28 Jun 16

rommeldog56 said :

chewy14 said :

devils_advocate said :

dungfungus said :

However deeply felt their *personal* religious beliefs, there’s no reason the rest of us should be governed by them.

Replace the word “religious” with “progressive” in your sentence. Now replace it with “left-wing”. Now with “right-wing”. Now replace it with “atheist”. The statement remains true every time. That’s why we have government made up of all sorts of people who are elected – to reach a reasonable consensus on what laws to make, rather than just having one group of people running the show. Religious people probably feel the same way about having atheists make laws for them as you do about having religious people make laws for them. Welcome to democracy; it’s a compromise. And they have a right to have their views represented in parliament just as you do.

Very well said.

There is ample evidence of bigotry here – and its not coming from the christians.

If you feel that other people are not entitled to have an opinion about the meaning of the word “marriage” or “life” then there is no question *you* are the bigot.

Wrong. It’s about whether you feel entitled to impose your views on these issues on other human beings. And if you think you have that right, that is arrogant.

Firstly, he’s not wrong. You are.

Secondly, I’m waiting for you to see the hypocrisy in your position. Any moment now….

The Righteous can’t see hypocrisy.

This is why I am more comfortable with the familiar irrational fundamentalism of the god-botherers. These new-fangled dogmatists scare the $#!% out of me.

water_lily 7:07 pm 27 Jun 16

… The majority of the room was filled with people whose ethical understanding of the world is extremely dangerous. But then I thought of the plight of women seeking an abortion, equality of LGBTIQ Australians, and the millions of people who are persecuted in some way by religious extremism; I showed up for them. Even if I only changed the mind of one person, it was my responsibility to show up and stick it to the ACL.

Does it occur to Bailey that when he refers to people with whom he disagrees as ‘extremely dangerous’ he is doing exactly what he accuses them of–bigotry, extremism, hatred? Irony.

I don’t care much for the ACL; I’m not religious. But when I see these left, liberal men like Bailey of the Australian Sex Party pretend to care for the welfare of women my stomach turns. He’s all for the protection of women who need abortions, but is also for the commodification and exploitation of women in prostitution and pornography–industries that the Sex Party represents and lobbies for by way of Eros.

What about the rights of the women in prostitution who are desperate to exit–and the vast majority do want out but don’t have other options. The Sex Party lobbies for decriminalisation of the sex industry, which means more money for brothel owners and pimps; and it means that men can continue to use and abuse the bodies of women they buy.

When will a political party have the balls in introduce the Nordic Model of prostitution? More and more countries are adopting this model which addresses the imbalance of power in prostitution. It gives women a choice; it provides exit programs with housing assistance, education and training, psychological counselling.

Please, Bailey and the Sex Party–stop pretending to care about women.

Oh, and Bailey may want to make public Fiona Patten’s and Robbie Swan’s business interests.

Mysteryman 4:42 pm 27 Jun 16

rommeldog56 said :

chewy14 said :

devils_advocate said :

dungfungus said :

However deeply felt their *personal* religious beliefs, there’s no reason the rest of us should be governed by them.

Replace the word “religious” with “progressive” in your sentence. Now replace it with “left-wing”. Now with “right-wing”. Now replace it with “atheist”. The statement remains true every time. That’s why we have government made up of all sorts of people who are elected – to reach a reasonable consensus on what laws to make, rather than just having one group of people running the show. Religious people probably feel the same way about having atheists make laws for them as you do about having religious people make laws for them. Welcome to democracy; it’s a compromise. And they have a right to have their views represented in parliament just as you do.

Very well said.

There is ample evidence of bigotry here – and its not coming from the christians.

If you feel that other people are not entitled to have an opinion about the meaning of the word “marriage” or “life” then there is no question *you* are the bigot.

Wrong. It’s about whether you feel entitled to impose your views on these issues on other human beings. And if you think you have that right, that is arrogant.

Firstly, he’s not wrong. You are.

Secondly, I’m waiting for you to see the hypocrisy in your position. Any moment now….

HenryBG 12:45 pm 27 Jun 16

rommeldog56 said :

Wrong. It’s about whether you feel entitled to impose your views on these issues on other human beings. And if you think you have that right, that is arrogant.

I agree. Your views are wrong. Please don’t impose them on me.

JimCharles said :

How about a compromise?

The “Christians” allow marriage equality but can still keep their opinion it is wrong, and the marriage equality supporters stop calling the “Christians” bigots.

That way the “Christians” still get to keep their opinion. It is just that their opinion has no impact on the law.

Your opinion is noted, although it is wrong. Luckily, you get to keep it. Hopefully your wrong opinion will have no impact on the law.

As an aside, it is amusing seeing people using the political PR-term “marriage equality”. Marriage isn’t about equality.
As the French say, “Vive la différence”.

devils_advocate 9:26 am 27 Jun 16

Barron said :

Or Marriage stops being defined by law, completely removed from reference.

+1000. The social construct of marriage used to have a valid justification when women were regarded as property themselves, incapable of owning property or participating in the workforce or getting education, and were genuinely imperilled if they were abandoned by their husband.

None of these factors apply in the current millennium, and in any case the welfare state has evolved to relieve women from the adverse consequences of their actions. The state should relinquish its monopoly on choosing which marriages it official recognises and sanctions, and leave it to the religious (or the non-religious) to choose whether they want to enter into that particular institution.

gooterz 10:44 pm 25 Jun 16

JimCharles said :

chewy14 said :

There is ample evidence of bigotry here – and its not coming from the christians.

If you feel that other people are not entitled to have an opinion about the meaning of the word “marriage” or “life” then there is no question *you* are the bigot.

How about a compromise?

The “Christians” allow marriage equality but can still keep their opinion it is wrong, and the marriage equality supporters stop calling the “Christians” bigots.

That way the “Christians” still get to keep their opinion. It is just that their opinion has no impact on the law.

Or Marriage stops being defined by law, completely removed from reference.
Any person is free to follow personal beliefs and not persecuted like they are in the US for not making wedding cakes/doing ceremonies for people they have religious reasons not to support.
People allow others to form their own views on aspects of life without being called a bigot or defamed for being a loony.

At the moment it seems much of the force of what is politically correct is from those that have the least to lose about being vocal about what they want. Stay at home parents / or the jobless. Its easy to publically pull down anyone if you don’t have a job to lose.

gooterz 10:40 am 25 Jun 16

rommeldog56 said :

chewy14 said :

devils_advocate said :

dungfungus said :

However deeply felt their *personal* religious beliefs, there’s no reason the rest of us should be governed by them.

Replace the word “religious” with “progressive” in your sentence. Now replace it with “left-wing”. Now with “right-wing”. Now replace it with “atheist”. The statement remains true every time. That’s why we have government made up of all sorts of people who are elected – to reach a reasonable consensus on what laws to make, rather than just having one group of people running the show. Religious people probably feel the same way about having atheists make laws for them as you do about having religious people make laws for them. Welcome to democracy; it’s a compromise. And they have a right to have their views represented in parliament just as you do.

Very well said.

There is ample evidence of bigotry here – and its not coming from the christians.

If you feel that other people are not entitled to have an opinion about the meaning of the word “marriage” or “life” then there is no question *you* are the bigot.

Wrong. It’s about whether you feel entitled to impose your views on these issues on other human beings. And if you think you have that right, that is arrogant.

So you’d like to choose when society applies to you. You’d like others to not impose their views on others, which in itself is a view you are imposing on others. Such a contradiction isnt valid.

Spiral 8:20 am 25 Jun 16

chewy14 said :

There is ample evidence of bigotry here – and its not coming from the christians.

If you feel that other people are not entitled to have an opinion about the meaning of the word “marriage” or “life” then there is no question *you* are the bigot.

How about a compromise?

The “Christians” allow marriage equality but can still keep their opinion it is wrong, and the marriage equality supporters stop calling the “Christians” bigots.

That way the “Christians” still get to keep their opinion. It is just that their opinion has no impact on the law.

Nilrem 4:04 am 25 Jun 16

chewy14 said :

devils_advocate said :

dungfungus said :

However deeply felt their *personal* religious beliefs, there’s no reason the rest of us should be governed by them.

Replace the word “religious” with “progressive” in your sentence. Now replace it with “left-wing”. Now with “right-wing”. Now replace it with “atheist”. The statement remains true every time. That’s why we have government made up of all sorts of people who are elected – to reach a reasonable consensus on what laws to make, rather than just having one group of people running the show. Religious people probably feel the same way about having atheists make laws for them as you do about having religious people make laws for them. Welcome to democracy; it’s a compromise. And they have a right to have their views represented in parliament just as you do.

Very well said.

There is ample evidence of bigotry here – and its not coming from the christians.

If you feel that other people are not entitled to have an opinion about the meaning of the word “marriage” or “life” then there is no question *you* are the bigot.

Wrong. It’s about whether you feel entitled to impose your views on these issues on other human beings. And if you think you have that right, that is arrogant.

Nilrem 4:00 am 25 Jun 16

dungfungus said :

That the ACL claims that their bigotry is based on “strongly held religious beliefs” doesn’t make it any less offensive. Many such beliefs have no place in the government of a modern, secular society. However deeply felt their *personal* religious beliefs, there’s no reason the rest of us should be governed by them.

I don’t think it’s unreasonable to refer to the ACL as an extremist fringe group, given that many of their views are by far in the minority, not only among Australians in general, but also (despite their name) among Australian Christians.

Agreed. And what makes them offensive is that they want to impose their views of personal morality on other people.

Mordd 11:09 pm 24 Jun 16

chewy14 said :

devils_advocate said :

dungfungus said :

However deeply felt their *personal* religious beliefs, there’s no reason the rest of us should be governed by them.

Replace the word “religious” with “progressive” in your sentence. Now replace it with “left-wing”. Now with “right-wing”. Now replace it with “atheist”. The statement remains true every time. That’s why we have government made up of all sorts of people who are elected – to reach a reasonable consensus on what laws to make, rather than just having one group of people running the show. Religious people probably feel the same way about having atheists make laws for them as you do about having religious people make laws for them. Welcome to democracy; it’s a compromise. And they have a right to have their views represented in parliament just as you do.

Very well said.

There is ample evidence of bigotry here – and its not coming from the christians.

If you feel that other people are not entitled to have an opinion about the meaning of the word “marriage” or “life” then there is no question *you* are the bigot.

Funny, lot of ppl, inc. Christians, professing that Muslims are not entitled to an opinion on marriage or life due to their beliefs (shariah law for example). Doesn’t this work both ways?

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