On behalf of our members in Western Australia the Atheist Foundation of Australia Inc makes this submission on the subject of ‘Racial and Religious Vilification.’
We begin with some comments on the Short Consultation Paper.
‘Harmony’ requires more than ‘respect and justice.’ ‘Real harmony’ is only possible when the cause of the friction is removed. The alternative is a mutual ‘respect’ for the differing viewpoints. In both cases it can only be achieved through dialogue on the basis of reason. Equal ‘justice’ is presumed to apply in every situation and at all times. It is not peculiar to this issue.
‘Religious freedom’ should imply ‘freedom from religion’ but this aspect is seldom recognised or applied. This is particularly noticeable in Government Schools where parents or guardians must make written application for pupils to be excused from attending Religious Education sessions. There are many areas where religious organisations are granted special concessions which are denied to non-religious organisations.
‘Vilification’ is very loosely defined and will need a much better definition. While ‘racial vilification’ is defined ‘religious vilification’ is not defined. As ‘religious belief’ is defined therefore, to avoid discrimination, ‘non-religious belief’ must also be defined. The A.F.A can attest that vilification is not a one-way street.
The members of the A.F.A have no adverse comment in regard to outlawing vilification on matters of race for equality is a worthy goal at all times in all situations.
Racial differences arise at the moment of conception. The specific aspects, including skin colour and every other feature, remain virtually unchangeable. Therefore racial discrimination is unacceptable. It is as unacceptable as sexual discrimination.
Because race and sex are both determined by genetics they should be treated equally by law and the proposed legislation should be a matter of Racial and Sexual Equality and Non-Vilification. The present Consultation Paper should be withdrawn.
‘Religion’ falls into an entirely different category for it is an aspect of culture. Religion has no intrinsic genetic link. A person’s religion is almost universally determined by infant brainwashing and indoctrination by the parents, carers and culture of the child.
This occurs generation after generation without any evaluation of the validity of the particular religion that is being implanted in the receptive mind.
While there are laws against the physical abuse of children there appears to be none against the far more damaging mental abuse. This should not be and is a serious flaw apparent in the legislation of every country.
Every mature adult has laws which protect and uphold their basic rights but the immature and helpless children are completely at the mercy and whim of their ‘guardians’ in regard to mental abuse.
A very large proportion of infants are bonded at birth to religious organisations and few are ever able to break these ties which are apparently accepted legally. The A.F.A has members who have striven vigorously to have their names removed from the registers of religious organisations and have never succeeded.
This is an issue far more important than any perceived discrimination against any adult on any religious matter.
The A.F.A now draws attention to the definition given in The Australian Concise Oxford Dictionary of the word ‘scam’ for it would appear that religion may well be considered to come into this category.
scam n. & v. (sl.) (perpetrate) fraud, swindle, confidence trick, fraudulent bankruptcy; story rumour, information. [20th c.; orig.unkn.]
Chain letters promise rich rewards if the targeted person responds in a specific manner.
In the Muslim religion it appears that suicide bombers etc. are to be rewarded in Paradise with seventy virgins and life everlasting.
In the Christian religion devotees are promised everlasting life in Heaven providing that they confess to having committed anti-social acts, have repented and believe that the death of Jesus on a cross atones for their misdeeds. Surely this gross immoral concept constitutes a scam of enormous magnitude. Every non-believer is destined for eternal torture in the fires of Hell.
This is the ultimate use of the stick and carrot concept.
We live on a natural planet in a natural universe where every life form goes through the same cycle of beginning, development, propagation, ageing and death. The elements are then recycled.
The A.F.A accepts the scientific viewpoint that there is no evidence of anything supernatural and until some factual evidence is produced this is the logical viewpoint. The onus of proof lies with the proposer of such a concept.
To posit a belief system on presumed or imagined array of supernatural elements, persons, and places yet be unable to produce a shred of evidence, surely must rate as a scam.
Not only do religious systems demand personal commitment to the laws and codes of the organisation but many demand 10% of personal income.
All scams provide some positive benefits for some people but the basic focus is flawed and false.
As the majority of Australians are Christians and Christianity is Bible-based the A.F.A now appends some pertinent facts.
Bishop Ussher worked out that the creation of the planet, the universe and humanity occurred in October 4004 B.C.E. (Note the unique relevance to the present date.) This creation is still credited to the Hebrew divinity, Yahweh, who breathed life into Adam thereby giving humanity life and a supernatural, immortal element.
In contrast Science puts the ‘Big Bang’ as occurring about 15 billion years ago and that the aborigines have lived in Australia for at least 50,000 years.
Two hundred years ago Thomas Paine, who coined the phrase the ‘United States of America’ and produced the draft for the American Declaration of Independence etc., wrote the book The Age of Reason. He wrote it as a deist to stem the growth of atheism but he completely demolished any credibility in the Bible and Christianity. His conclusions have never been refuted and his book is still available.
Historians are now aware that the Hebrews were never slaves in Egypt but were under the control of Egypt in Canaan, for the whole area was part of their empire. Incidentally there was no exodus and the word ‘moses’ simply means ‘son of.’
The first half and probably all of the Old Testament was written while the Jews were captive in Babylon c600 B.C.E hence the similarity to the Babylonian myths of creation and flood.
Today scientists have demolished the last possibility of the idea of a human ‘soul’ by stating that it is theoretically possible to clone another person from almost every cell in a human body. Dead cells are discarded in the thousands every day. Without ‘souls’ all the major religions are empty rhetoric charlatans preying on the ignorant and gullible.
To promote religions on the basis of fabled souls must constitute a massive scam and should be treated in the same manner as all other scams. Religion should not be given specific protection from intense, critical examination and condemnation.
Everyone is free to hold any viewpoint they wish but when action therefrom impacts adversely on society then it warrants the due processes of law.
From the historical record religion generally and Christianity in particular, has a terrible score. It includes the Crusades, the Inquisition, the torture and burning of heretics and witches, the treatment of the natives of the New World and elsewhere, human slavery and suppression of scientific knowledge.
Hitler remained a life-long member of the Roman Catholic Church and almost all dictators were religious or came from religious backgrounds.
It is obvious that today practically all the strife between nations, states and cultures stem from religions based on primitive concepts.
It is time to be free from fables and superstition and apply reason with factual information for the solution of every problem. To introduce legislation, that would in any way, protect religion is unthinkable.
Atheist Foundation of Australia Inc