I saw the anti-gay-rights protest outside Parliament House today. Part of me was amused by the spectacle, and part of me deeply saddened that the representatives of Christianity, whose message is one of hope or redemption for *all*, actually believe their own garbled form of the message. Margaret Court (former champion tennis player) of Victory Life Centre, and Barry Hickey, the Catholic archbishop of Perth, were among the speakers. For those not aware, the WA Catholic Church has its own skeletons – in particular with regard to their treatment of orphans and others at the Christian Brothers schools.
For the record, I used to be a member of one of the more extreme Protestant churches (used to be known as Rhema) – Margaret Court went to this church before starting her own ministry. I left in 1995 because I became very concerned at the way things were going, some sections of the group were very cult-like in the way they operated.
Anyway, my letter:
I was quite bemused to see the protest rally outside Parliament House yesterday, holding signs up like “Protect our young boys” and denouncing gay relationships.
Equally so that the representatives of a church which have paid millions in legal fees for their clergy’s defence against some of the worst abuse cases WA has ever seen against young boys, were among the speakers at this rally.
I challenge the movements at the head of this protest to explain why they are so opposed to gay relationships being regarded the same as heterosexual defacto relationships, without using the word “immoral” or the words of the Bible. After all, the church regards these defacto relationships as being immoral and sinful too, so why single out gays?
Update: predictably, The West didn’t print it. Oh well. Some interesting letters did get published however:
1. Hooray, Kabul is free from the mob of vicious extremist thugs who have used their religious fundamentalism as justification for telling everyone else how they should live their lives.
Meanwhile here in WA, we have Margaret Court and her mob of fundamentalists, including the usual suspects among your letter writers, insisting that what God has told them on their personal hotline must override policies which our secular Government clearly declared before its democratic election [State election in Feb 2001].
– Nick Suess, Bayswater
2. I see that religion, once again, is being touted as an excuse for humans to inflict pain and suffering on others by forcing everyone to try to bend to their way of thinking.
How are these so-called Christians who voice their opinions against gay law reform on these pages any different to Osama bin Laden? He, too, wanted to make the world think as he does and he didn’t care who was hurt or killed in the process – supposedly on orders from his god. At least bin Laden has an excuse – he is a madman. What excuse do they have?
– Ryan Nicholas, Maylands
Responses: I got some very interesting responses to this article, and some informed discussion arose. A person who worked nearby reported that the small core of protesters “were yelling the most hateful and horrible things about gay people” and that in their opinion, “basic Christian charity/sympathy is beyond these so-called Christians, who would probably ditch their children on the street to fend for themselves given half a chance”.
Another pointed out that the millions the church spend comes from the faithful who believe they are giving the money to God. They credited the Uniting and Anglican churches with holding more progressive views in line with Jesus’s own: “the God I have come to know, who is described by Jesus in the Gospels, loves me for everything that I am. Throughout Jesus’s lifetime he promoted tolerance, compassion and understanding. Love as described in 1 Cor 13 and as preached by Jesus in the form “love thy neighbour”, doesn’t seem to include the hatred expressed at that little meeting last week. I’m glad McGinty isn’t swayed by them.”
The consensus was that “Christians, to me, are like any other large group – fractious and widespread in their opinions. Everything from liberal, tolerant and ethical through to the sort of fundamentalism being complained about in the letter at the top of this page.”