Apparently, the Catholic Church's version of "humble" involves throwing its weight around to bully everyone else – as a number of recent examples have clearly demonstrated.

At the start of the week, the Atheist Foundation of Australia (AFA) was both bemused and horrified at media reports that St Francis Xavier College in Berwick (Victoria) herded all Year 9 students into the school hall on the last day of Term 1, and compulsorily detained them there until they had torn a page out of a textbook for their Sex Ed course and thrown it into the bin provided.

The binned page is reported to have covered premarital sex, losing one's virginity and sexual orientations including homosexuality and bisexuality.

In addition, a Catholic priest has offended parents at a Malvern East school by comparing pedophile priests to adulterous women in a school newsletter – a particularly distasteful comparison considering that the Catholic church in Ballarat in the same state has been the centre of one of the largest investigations in the royal commission.

To finish the week, we had the utter arrogance and triumphalism of the Catholic Church on full display, unapologetically threatening Catholic economic retribution against Australian companies supporting marriage equality.

The letter by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney that was sent to many of the organisations involved, including Qantas, SBS, Telstra, the Football Federation of Australia and law firm Maurice Blackburn, read in part:

To redefine marriage to fit an ideological agenda runs directly counter to the belief by every major world religion and civilisation throughout the ages until now. Surely this current debate is more than catchy taglines and logos on a newspaper page, more than a negotiation to be fought out in a cashed-up, activist-driven media campaign.

Atheist Foundation of Australia President Kylie Sturgess responds with:

"Marriage of the kind that is derided by these kinds of statements is indeed recognised in many civilised countries, and its lack of acknowledgement has already resulted in tragic circumstances in this country for a man who lost his husband in Adelaide. It is not some 'catchy tagline' nor 'media stunt', but an acknowledgement of love and legal recognition of a relationship, that religions and communities in general should support."

We note that 70% of Australians are polled as consistently supporting marriage equality – and based on simple demographics, that would necessarily include a significant proportion of Catholic people.

It is notable that with $30+ billion in religious tax concessions, funded by all taxpayers, the choice is to economically blackmail other Australian businesses and people into toeing their sectarian line, rather than properly compensating Catholic abuse victims and survivors, as they promised to do in the Royal Commission.

In response to these examples of Catholic "humility", the AFA calls on Federal and State governments to rescind any religious exemptions from anti-discrimination laws or the National Curriculum, and to hold an inquiry into religious charity concessions – given that they're clearly being used as a weapon against all Australians who don't agree with them.

Kylie Sturgess

Atheist Foundation of Australia Inc
PO Box 1062
Lane Cove NSW 1595

Phone: (02) 8007 4503
Email: [email protected]

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