Kevin Andrews suddenly learns that everyone else knows Catch The Fire are batshit #auspol

Minister for Putting Single Mums in Their Bloody Place Kevin Andrews, among other Team Australians, has recently learned that the people of Australia don’t particularly like that the “World Congress of Families” is run by well-known slavering extremist anti-choice homophobic bigots Catch The Fire Ministries and has decided not to open their adorable little Hatesturbate For Jesus for them after all.

Catch The Fire Ministries, whose head douche Danny Nalliah infamously linked Victoria’s Black Saturday bushfires to that state’s abortion laws (and will now have to find other high-profile fundamentalist scenery-chewers to mix the green cordial [red is SINFUL!] and run the games of “pin Satan’s pitchfork on the eternally burning lesbortionist,”) have since thrown K-Drews under the bus for being a sad wuss. Because how dare any public official in a secular democracy respond to public outcry over lending explicit government support to a pack of fringe-dwelling cultists whose lunacy is only exceeded by their self-importance.

I suspect that, much like a pair of cling-wrap Y-fronts, this is a transparent arse-covering on the part of Kev and his fellow Tory wingnuts, Eric “I Am The Politican Every Sketch Show Bases Their Politicians On” Abetz and Cory “Looky, I Wrote A Book Just Like God Did” Bernardi, who would surely have gone along had the public not had something of a issue with members of our government explicitly validating the dark-ages lunacy of extremist evangelist hooligans.

Not Catch The Fire but close efuckingnough, amirite?

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School Chaplains: why can’t you lot just stick to the pulpit #auspol

It appears the Abbott government still wants to exclude secular workers from the School Chaplaincy program, despite widespread opposition and two High Court challenges.

Religious people have numerous avenues available if they wish to seek spiritual guidance for themselves or their children; this constant push by some of them to have exclusive access to other peoples’ children while in school is distasteful and extremely presumptuous (and possibly even un-Constitutional – while¬†Section 116 has historically not been applied to state funding of religious schools, implementing exclusively religious programs such as this in state schools might be a different basket of loaves and fishes. While the Abbott regime might be able to use the general term “religious” to escape being accused of favouring of one faith over another, the very term “chaplain” has an exclusively Christian origin and I doubt very strongly that we’ll see a great many imams, rabbis or whatever those used-god salesmen-for-Xenu call themselves counselling state school students). ¬†

Apart from the blatant discrimination involved in barring secular counselors from consideration, kids with serious problems (or even mild ones) don’t need Divinity lessons, they need trained professionals. Religious exceptionalism of this sort is highly likely to expose vulnerable children to inappropriate proselytising and unhelpful advice – when compared to the likelihood of a properly trained secular counselor attempting to proselytise their philosophy, it’s practically a stone-carved certainty.

If a counselor is appropriately qualified and experienced they should be hired; their religious status, just like their age, marital status and orientation, should be irrelevant to their practice. It’s not legal for the Commonwealth to refuse employment in any other area of operation on religious grounds; how such a proscription wouldn’t apply to state school counselors escapes me. This appears to be yet another example of a government operating by ideology and working off a checklist, with pragmatism, fairness and perhaps even legality being secondary concerns.

Evangelising students in school is not only preying on an audience that’s legally compelled to be there, it’s also based on the offensive and arrogant presumption that the evangelists have the right (God-given, of course) to undermine whatever religious traditions those kids’ families may already observe in their own homes or places of worship or whatever non-religious philosophies they may subscribe to.

Not only that, but those churches that evangelise more often than not subscribe to fringe conservative and flat-out fundamentalist interpretations of Scripture which have absolutely no place in our public schools, where there frequently is a plurality of ethnicity and culture.

I’m sure we can all imagine the outcry from decent Christian folk if Islamists or JW’s or Mormons were given privileged access to state school students (even if ostensibly to use their powers for good and explicitly not for the purposes of conversion attempts); it’s much better for all concerned (chiefly the kids who’ll need professional advice and support) if preachers (or preachers-by-other-names) stay in the pulpit.

Ruminations on the Great Barrier Reef, asylum seekers and sharks

This is a very odd country. In one corner we have a state government indiscriminately executing sharks on the off-chance that it might prevent the very off-chance that someone might get attacked, apparently in the name of tourism (maybe they’re planning a flake n’ chips festival). In the opposite corner, one of our greatest tourism drawcards, the Great Barrier Reef, is being sacrificed by our federal government – World Heritage listing, already threatened status and vital, unique ecology be damned – so a small group of obscenely wealthy sociopaths can generate a slightly larger profit for a small amount of time. At the top, the feds are so frightened of frightened people in leaky boats that they’ve sent our Navy up there to frighten them some more.

This is all costing lots of money so here’s my solution:

Move the Great Barrier Reef north of Darwin to keep all those scary boats full of scary brown poor people from being able to land in Australia. Move all the sharks to the water between us and the reef (better deterrent value than guard dogs, but slightly harder to train). Have the Navy depth-charge a couple of decent holes in the Reef to let smog-tankers through to that shiny new port in Queensland, then just guard the holes (instead of the whole ocean). Two birds, etc.

Come on, give it a chance – it can’t be any stupider than what’s already happening.

Expelled Redux!

Duped over at Dangerous Intersection.

They’ve started advertising the DVD version of that infernal, mendacious, highly offensive, wilfully ignorant and misleading waste of megabytes known as Expelled. Bay of Fundie has scratched the surface of their advertising and revealed some new information.Now, given that this is the DVD release of Expelled, it makes me wonder what kind of special features they’ll include. Of course noone can know for sure, but I have something of a wish list:

– a complete timeline of all the steps taken & communication entered into to secure the participation of such people as Richard Dawkins and PZ Myers, including a full explanation for the stark deviation from the premise of the original film: it was originally presented to Myers & Dawkins as a documentary named “Crossroads”, detailing the intersection of religion & science, which it clearly did not turn out to be, either by name or nature

– full, uncut, unedited interviews with the abovenamed

– a full explanation from the film’s producers of PZ Myer’s own expulsion from a screening of Expelled by security staff before he’d entered the theatre, despite the fact that he’d registered to attend under his own name and hadn’t attempted any kind of subterfuge, as was alleged early on by the producers (as well as an explanation of how Richard Dawkins, arguably more recognisable than PZ Myers, was allowed to enter unmolested)

– behind-the-scenes segments showing such things as exactly who comprised the audience in Ben Stein’s opening, paranoid address to college “students”and a clear explanation of Adolf Hitler’s alleged use Darwin’s theory of evolution to justify his horrific experiments

– a demonstration that the producers of this film – and Ben Stein himself – actually understand what the theory of evolution says and, importantly, what it doesn’t say: Stein is on record stating that evolution can’t explain certain astronomical phenomena & processes, apparently ignorant of the fact that evolution only applies to terrestrial biological diversity

– an explanation of how “micro-evolution” differs from “macro-evolution”, followed by an explanation of how a lit match can’t start a bushfire

– an actual clear-cut, definitive definition of the theory of Intelligent Design, the predictions made by this theory and why this theory requires equal time in science classes (see below)

– results of any actual research into & testing of ID’s predictions, including such information as the identity or even intent of the “designer” and the reason for the many, glaring inefficiencies, inconsistencies and illogicalities in biological “designs” from all branches of life. This should be presented by one or a combination of (but not limited to) the following high-profile design proponents: Michael Behe, William Dembski, Casey Luskin, Phillip Johnston & we mustn’t (nor will we ever) forget Ben Stein.

– a full explanation of the “controversy” that Stein & co wish to be taught to children, as it appears that the only controversy regarding the veracity of evolutionary theory is the one Stein & his partners in this endeavour have manufactured

– actual, scientific rebuttals of (or even credible challenges to) any aspect or aspects of the theory of evolution – without resorting to paranoid conspiracy theories or sweeping, unsupportable statements about “Big Science”

– an explanation of Stein’s infamous remark from an interview on a Christian TV programme: “Love of God and compassion and empathy leads you to a very glorious place, and science leads you to killing people.”

– an explanation of how Intelligent Design is not based on (or simply is) Biblical creationism & an explanation of the actions of the obviously religiously motivated members of the Dover, PA school board (and their supporters from the Discovery Institute, authors of the infamous and clearly religiously-based “Wedge Document”) which led to the famous trial of 2004

– a justification for singling out Darwinian evolution for special attention, while other fields such as Newtonian physics and Copernican astronomy each contradict Scripture in various ways but are (for the most part) left unmolested and uncontested by religionists

– one good reason why teaching children their parents’ religion shouldn’t just stay in Scripture classes, Sunday schools, churches and the family home and one good reason why it should be taught as fact alongside evidence-based science when, as is repeated often, religion & belief is a matter of faith, which by definition means “accepting a proposition without evidence”

Of course, it’s all wishful thinking on my part. But no more so than Stein & Co’s insistence that “Big Science” persecutes & expels religious professors for dissenting views, that “Darwinism” is a one-way street to concentration camps or, indeed, the insistence of many ID supporters that Big Religion played no part in attempting to usher Bible stories into science classes through the back door in violation of the Establishment Clause of the Constitution of the United States.

I eagerly await my hopes to be dashed.