I knew it would not be long before some one tried to claim religious persecution in association with Marriage Equality and along stumbles none other than John Howard himself, the very man who started this whole fiasco by unilaterally changing the definition of marriage without consulting the Voters.
So lets do a deep drive on this extraordinary claim and look behind Howard’s motivations because he has form when it comes to religion and he should be held to account. Unfortunately we can’t send John the bill for this plebiscite, but we can hold him up to scrutiny.
Firstly, how does the claim that religious folk need protection stack up?
- Do Churches still retain their Tax Free status? They most certainly do.
- Does the government allow them to still deliver education with time set aside for their religious studies? Absolutely and they get government money to do so.
- Do they still get to deliver Aged care? Yes. Plus more government funding.
- Are they allowed to openly practice their Faith and wear the garments associated with their religion? Sure can. Even to the point of full body covering in the case of Moslems although I’m pretty sure John’s not planning on defending non-Christian religions.
- Are they allowed to celebrate Xmas and use terms like Merry Christmas? Despite some foolish comments on FaceBook, indeed they can.
- Are they allowed to door knock your neighbourhood handing out religious texts? Yep. They are obviously not welcome in most places but that’s a personal thing and no rules exist to keep them off your property.
So what exactly is the loss that so concerns John Howard? A quick look at his history provides a clue.
The only real area of change is holding religious bodies accountable for the wellbeing of children. Keeping them safe from Men of the Cloth, who lack self control and have zero respect for the kids. It’s an area where traditionalists like John prefer the old way of leaving the problem hidden and under the control of the Churches themselves. A system that is totally broken where Churches are incapable of controlling their staff and disinclined to publically display their sordid behaviour. We have even seen pollies actively work to hide the problems as have some lawyers and ranking police officers.
It’s called not rocking the boat and the deaths and destroyed lives are of little consequence to those living in their sheltered world.
How did Howard stack up in this area when he was PM? Not very well if you have any sort of standards in respect of disempowered kids. He decided that Bishop Hollingworth should be the Governor General when Aussies were turning away from religion but decided to stick it out. It was an unpopular move with only one other case of a religious leader holding a governorship. Pastor Doug Nichols in South Australia.
This turned out to be very destructive when the good Bishop outed himself as not very concerned with Child Sexual Abuse within his own Church. The Church of England.
It was an extraordinary thing really. Hollingworth was giving an interview on Australian Story, and offered up some commentary without even being questioned, about Priests being the victims of sexually aware children.
To say this caught the eye of the Public is a massive understatement, but because John (or his missus or both) were mates with Hollingworth, he decided he could just hang in there and wait for the shouting to stop. Quite obviously John was not as upset as the rest of us about child abuse and Aussies were clearly not impressed. Even to this day, Howard claims Hollingworth was hard done by, even though an investigation by the Church later proved he allowed a paedophile to continue working with children.
In the final wash up, Howard stuck by Hollingworth for over a year. A year where the sexual abuse of Children was discussed every other week, but Howard continued to stand up for his increasingly beleaguered friend. Looking back over the history, I don’t believe this did either gentlemen any favours, especially because this was the start of a campaign that eventually led to Julia Gillard setting up the Royal Commission into Institutional Child abuse.
As much as Howard would like to return to the good old days of Churches doing (or not doing) as they please, those days are over and trying to claim practicing Religion needs protection is either disingenuous rubbish, or he seeks to return to those dark times. Even a casual viewing of the Royal Commission should make him realise there is no shadow of a chance of “business as usual” at the Churches.
But there is a positive to John’s input. The confusion in Liberal party ranks gets amplified and I’m sure some of those old dinosaurs will be of the same mind and inadvertently “out” themselves. Keep an eye on Abetz and Kevin Andrews.
John Howard says religious freedom should be protected before marriage equality survey – The Guardian – https://goo.gl/hcfMhf
Transcript – The gilded cage – Australian story – http://www.abc.net.au/austory/transcripts/s479623.htm
Howard still defending Hollingworth 2009 – Sky News – https://youtu.be/Pb2dVKj3ioM
Hollingworth “serious error of judgement” – ABC News – https://goo.gl/v3ypmc