Home > Oz Politics > The Australian Sharia Lobby

The Australian Sharia Lobby

April 6th, 2015

There were a bunch of demonstrations and counter-demonstrations at the weekend, sparked by supposed concerns about the possibility of Islamic sharia law being imposed in Australia. While the anti-sharia demonstrators were clearly drawn from the extremist fringe, there has been plenty of commentary on this subject from commentators generally regarded as mainstream, and from elected politicians such as Cory Bernardi and Jacquie Lambie.

The prospect of any significant legislation being based on Islamic sharia law seems pretty remote. On the other hand, those who claim to be concerned about sharia law (the Arabic term simply means ‘religious law) might want to consider the much more relevant issue of ‘shar??at al-Mas??’ (the Arabic term for ‘religious law of Christianity’).

Despite the Australian Constitutional prohibition on establishing any religion, lots of Australian laws are derived from Christian taboos, and many more have been in the past. Equally importantly, there is a group called the Australian Christian Lobby which, as the name implies, lobbies for the imposition of shar?at al-Mas??. Its activities are reported as if it is a legitimate political grouping, and not, as concerns about sharia law would suggest, a theocratic danger to our personal freedom.

When you look at the kind of issues being pushed by the Australian Christian Lobby, notably on their signature issue of opposition to gay rights, there’s not much difference from what you might expect from proponents of sharia law.

As I’ve said before, it seems highly likely that Christians will soon be in the minority in Australia. So, my unsolicited advice to the ACL is that they should support tolerance and civil liberties for all, rather than attempting to use the temporary majority status of Christianity to impose their version of sharia law. There’s nothing wrong with political activity being motivated by general religious values, but a lot wrong with attempts to impose your own religious taboos on others.

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  1. Chris O’Neill
    April 6th, 2015 at 18:04 | #1

    An excellent set of comments.

  2. Jim Rose
    April 6th, 2015 at 18:31 | #2

    John, I think is an understatement for you to say this:

    The prospect of any significant legislation being based on Islamic sharia law seems pretty remote

    There is a separate issue of private arbitration in religious courts.

    They already have rabbinical courts or whatever they’re called doing private arbitration among Orthodox Jews in the UK. There is a famous paper about extra-legal enforcement of contracts among Orthodox Jews in the diamond trade.

    The British law society copped a lot of flak for issuing practice notes explaining how to write wills that were compliant with Islamic family law.

    Any will is always subject to various laws about providing for the family and for dependent children and can be overridden on those grounds, no matter how they are written.

    Peter Sellers left each one of his adult children £750 because he wanted to disinherit them.

    Under the case law at that time, if you left your children nothing, the courts somehow persuaded themselves that you had somehow forgotten to provide for them so they amended the will. By Sellers leaving them this small sum of money he made it clear that he wanted the limit how much he gave his children.

  3. Geoff Edwards
    April 6th, 2015 at 18:44 | #3

    From all accounts, the Australian Christian Lobby is stridently opposed to the environmental movement. The scriptural basis for this escapes me. The reality that the Australian Greens Party advocates civil liberties as well as environmentalism no doubt adds petrol to this fire.

    Given the influence that the Australian Christian Lobby seems to have with the current Prime Minister, their dismissal of science-based warnings about the global environmental crisis is highly regressive and of immense long-term significance, more so than any contemporary social issues such as gay marriage or abortion .

  4. Robert (not from UK)
    April 6th, 2015 at 18:48 | #4

    Professor Quiggin writes: “It seems highly likely that Christians will soon be in the minority in Australia.”

    Well, technically Christians are not yet a minority, because if I recall aright from the 2011 census figures (there might be newer figures I’ve not yet located), an actual majority of Australians said that they were Christians in some form (whether they darken a church door more than once per decade is another thing).

    I do have to hand some intra-Christian statistics from that census. They pan out as follows:

    * 25.3% are Catholics
    * 17.1% are Anglicans
    * 5% are Uniting Church
    * <5% adhere to other types of Christianity

    But those data ignore the elephant in the statistical room. Even the figure above for Catholics, though substantially greater than it was a generation ago (when Anglicanism rested surely at the top of the tree, and when the notion of Catholics in a federal Liberal cabinet would have seemed surreal), is less than the "no religion" figure.

    In 2011 the "no religion" figure was a whopping 31.7%. I wouldn't mind betting it will be greater still, when the next census kicks in.

    One big difference between Australia and the USA is that in the USA – in accordance with the tradition of administrative openness – it's comparatively easy to do number-crunching for apostasy levels (thanks to outfits like the Pew Center). Here, it simply isn't.

    We have to depend a lot of the time on anecdotal evidence, though that evidence is interesting as far as it goes. The local Pentecostal brigade (ACL, Hillsong, you name it) seems to have a huge amount of "churn" as far as membership figures are concerned.

    In other words, yes, Pentecostalism in its myriad forms is making converts galore – mostly from Catholicism and mainline Protestantism rather than from atheism – but it isn't nearly as effective in keeping converts as you might think. And since for whatever reason Pentecostalism hasn't mastered the Scientology / Jehovah's Witnesses tactics for ensuring that all the inmates stay put in the gulag, and that they actually can’t quit, I suspect this churn will continue.

    Meanwhile, the official media of mainstream American churches discuss the whole membership issue with a frankness which would make Anthony Fisher and Bill Muehlenberg reach for the Xanax if it were permitted here. Your readers might be interested in the following comment from the National Catholic Reporter of February 11, 2011 (readily Google-able):

    blockquote>“There are now 22 million ex-Catholics in America, by far the greatest net loss for any religious body. One in three Americans raised Catholic have left the church. Were it not for immigration, Catholicism in America would be contracting dramatically: for every one member the church adds, it loses four.

    As a Catholic myself, I take not the slightest pleasure in any of this information. But, as a former US president is supposed to have remarked, “facts are stubborn things.”

  5. Robert (not from UK)
    April 6th, 2015 at 18:50 | #5

    Oops! Something went wrong with the start of my “blockquote” near the end. My apologies for my mistake.

  6. paul walter
    April 6th, 2015 at 19:16 | #6

    We are a Christian nation.

    The benighted heathen in Indonesia thinking on executing a couple Aussie smugglers shopped by our own cops, should learn the lesson of civilised, Xtian justice from our treatment of an Iranian man about to die on a hunger strike for fear of being sent back to his country and its torture chambers.

    Maybe we could have synchronised dying, it is Easter after all.

  7. Sancho
    April 6th, 2015 at 19:31 | #7

    Ironically, if they’d gone three blocks down the road from the Melbourne rally, they could have visited a bank where only the manager speaks English, on a block where Mandarin is the lingua franca.

    While they were protesting because Sharia law has gone as far as our soup labels, the Chinese enjoyed another happy day of gradually taking over Melbourne city. Won’t be long until we get another Lord Mayor who makes it his job to uphold the policies and the beliefs of the Chinese Communist Party.

  8. Sancho
    April 6th, 2015 at 19:37 | #8

    I’ve been commenting here for, I think, three years. I have never used a swear word, posted anything illegal, pornographic or graphically violent, nor attacked or harassed anyone beyond the reasonable bounds of argument over an issue.

    I think by now it’s okay to let my posts go through without moderation until I do something horrific.

  9. Alphonse
    April 6th, 2015 at 19:46 | #9

    @Geoff Edwards
    The Australian Christian Lobby knows that greenies are really Druids pretending to be secular. Pell knew that too, so presumably Tony does as well.

  10. Douglas Clifford
    April 6th, 2015 at 19:48 | #10

    I am unsure if (Roman) Catholic Canon Law fits in to this discussion?

  11. Douglas Clifford
    April 6th, 2015 at 19:54 | #11

    I forgot to mention that heresiarchs and other offenders (homosexuals) were tried by ecclesiastical courts, under Canon Law, and then turned over to “the Secular Arm” to be hanged, drawn and quartered, or pilloried or tortured or burnt at the stake as the case may be.

  12. Geoff Edwards
    April 6th, 2015 at 19:58 | #12

    Thanks Alphonse, yes I think your pithy observation gets close to the heart of the matter.

  13. Megan
    April 6th, 2015 at 20:26 | #13

    the anti-sharia demonstrators were clearly drawn from the extremist fringe

    I wouldn’t say it was so “clear”. The organisers certainly are, but from what I saw – on a brief walk around the perimeter of the Gold Coast one on Saturday – a lot of the participants themselves were simply an angry, disaffected, confused, propagandized sample of “average” white Australians. Whipped into the classic hatred of “the other” by our racist/fascist ALP/LNP political duopoly and its News Ltd megaphone hate press.

    If you searched really hard you might be able to find these mysterious people calling for sharia law but you won’t find them anywhere in the real world experience of 99% of us. They are a non-existent fabrication. A boogeyman dreamed up by bigoted hate-mongers.

    I saw a lot of angry people, and that is worrying and dangerous, but none of them would be able to give you a concrete example of the “threat” they thought they were being called to rally against.

    They opened proceedings with a guy singing the Redgum song “I was Only 19 (A Walk In The Light Green)”. The songwriter, John Shumann, told NewMatilda:

    “All of my work, ‘19’ included, is about understanding, compassion, tolerance and inclusiveness. I am very, very disappointed to see my work co-opted by what I, at my most charitable, consider to be a very confused “patriotic” movement.”

    These people (the ones in the crowd) are much more victims of fascist propaganda than villains, and it is dangerous to fall for the trap of allowing them to be set up as “the bad guys”. Which is exactly the trap the anti-anti crowd fell for.

  14. April 6th, 2015 at 20:45 | #14

    Deleted – Jack, you are absolutely banned from topics like this as you well know

  15. Donald Oats
    April 6th, 2015 at 20:59 | #15

    We make claims about being a secular nation; we also make claims about being a Christian nation. Whatever the case, we certainly don’t act as if we are secular in government: the invocation of God, the saying of prayer, swearing on a bible—by doing these acts, our political class is explicitly stating that it is not secular, that it is Christian, that it asserts Christian claimed beliefs over its dominion.

    The stark hypocrisy is that some of our political class who are the most strident defenders of (their personal) Christian traditions, are also there railing against those who would push an Islamic Sharia code, should the positions be reversed.

    Our legal system has evolved greatly, and as it stands now, has no need of God of any kind, and I doubt very much that a judge or lawyer would be impressed with an appeal to some ancient sacrifice to atone, be it a burnt offering to a deity, or the deprivation of life of the first born son.

    Our political system should purge itself of the goads of the Christian symbols, and scrupulously stick to doing what we pay the political class to do, i.e. administer and steer a democracy based on reason, not on “What would Jesus do?”, or what would Visnu do, or YWVH, or the Great Flying Spaghetti Monster. If, and only if, our political system is truly secular, and seen to be secular, can we reasonably argue against those who would impose severe religious doctrine and its accompanying punishments of religious nature (the punishment of mutilation being an obvious one) which we find abhorrent in first-world democracy.

    Anyway, Christian or otherwise, our political class have made a dog’s breakfast of our policies for dealing with those who seek refuge in Australia. We could be much braver and accept a bigger slice of the refugees, without punitive, anjudicial indeterminate detention in lousy conditions. Our way of life didn’t take a turn for the worse when we opened up to Vietnamese refugees; no Communist peril awaited. I just don’t understand the mentality of using some arbitrary group as an example to others, when there is little or no evidence of any wrong-doing in the first place. It’s wrong on so many levels: if it can rile a life-long atheist like me, why doesn’t it bother the ministers who have overseen this shambles, ministers who take some (public) pride in their Christian traditions and principles? Perhaps it bothers them but just not enough to try an alternative policy out.

    [Must have drunk the red vinegar by mistake…]

  16. April 6th, 2015 at 23:27 | #16

    Jack, sharia law is incompatible with the European Human Rights Act and has been explicitly legislated against by both Europe and the House of Lords. Rather ironically, the only way it can get any traction in the UK is if the UK leaves Europe and repeals the EHRA – one of the goals of the christian fundies driving UKIP and Tory.

    However in the UK a mediator can come to an out of court settlement between two parties, and they can then get the agreement ratified by a court provided it is consistent with UK law (and doesn’t breach the EHRA that UK radical christians want abolished because they’re scared of gay people).

    If you aren’t comfortable with two muslims coming to a mediation agreement under sharia “law”, then getting it ratified by a court, you probably should move to a country with a different legal system since it’s a fundamental part of the law.

    The 85 “courts” your civitas report mentions are running these kinds of mediation processes. These mediators can be set up on any principles you want (even Druids could do it!) The fact that they release a whole bunch of fatwas that go against British law is completely irrelevant, since they can only enforce them by violence, which is illegal (though some British christians probably want to make violence against wives, children and gay men legal again).

    John is spot on on this – the biggest threat to modern liberal rights in the UK or Australia is the christian movement. Although i’m surprised you care – after all, you consider most of modern liberal rights to be an abomination, don’t you?

  17. Patrickb
    April 7th, 2015 at 00:47 | #17

    ” the imposition of shar?at al-Mas??”
    It has been of some concern to me that we are seeing this kind of thing creeping in, too many god bothers in the parliament. Good on you for raising the flag, now, it’s up to our representatives to make good. I’m not holding my breath.

  18. jrkrideau
    April 7th, 2015 at 00:55 | #18

    @Geoff Edwards
    Welcome to Canadian-Style politics. If you think about it, a lot of the wackier “Christian” groups believe what we are living in THE END TIMES, the Second Coming is imminent, and we are a hairsbreadth away from the END OF THE WORLD.{1}

    I think that this is a major, or the major, reason for the Canadian Federal Government’s abysmal performance in the area of climate change. Steven Harper, our PM is a member of a quite fundamentalist Christen church, the Christian Missionary and Alliance Church (http://www.cmacan.org/) who’s view is that “The second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ is imminent and will be personal and visible{2}”and has been described by a prominent Jewish rabbi and columnist as being a Christian Zionist. The rest of the Cabinet, heck, most of the Conservative Party seem fairly religiou although some of the outright nutters seem to be being edged to one side http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/b-c-mp-james-lunney-leaves-tory-caucus-to-defend-religious-freedom-1.3016529

    Why worry about the envirionment—it (and we) won’t be around to worry about it.

    Note1: Please observe inspired use of CAPITALS.

    Note2: Also predicted by St. Paul only about 2000 years ago.

  19. jrkrideau
    April 7th, 2015 at 00:57 | #19

    @Jack Strocchi
    Sharia courts? Oh well as a counterweight the USA has rabinical courts.

    “In exchange for political support, Brooklyn politicians give Hasidim latitude to police themselves. They have their own emergency medical corps, a security patrol, and a rabbinic court system, which often handles criminal allegations.” http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/11/10/outcast-3

    Heck, add in a para-military SWAT team and they are well on their way to nationhood.

    Note that these are not the mediational-type courts as mentioned Faustusnote.

  20. Donald Oats
    April 7th, 2015 at 01:05 | #20

    Maybe our Freedom Commissioner will look into this, Prof Q. [I jest.]

  21. Robert (not from UK)
    April 7th, 2015 at 07:27 | #21

    Any particular reason why after over 12 hours I should still be getting “Your comment is awaiting moderation” as regards my own comment (April 6th, 2015 at 18:48)?

    I’m unaware that I’ve ever violated – either in that admittedly rather protracted observation, or at any other time in my life – Professor Quiggin’s (entirely justified) criteria for what does and what doesn’t constitute legitimate commentary hereabouts. If by my remark I’ve given offence to Professor Quiggin or to anyone else, then I willingly apologise.

  22. James Wimberley
    April 7th, 2015 at 07:29 | #22

    Recourse to mediation, official or unofficial, is encouraged by the adversarial nature of common law civil justice. Each party has their lawyer, and becomes a “side”. This is fair enough in disputes over contracts between businesses, or between consumers and businesses. It’s often destructive in family law: initially amicable divorces can turn into bitter fights over property and custody.. A mediator is trying to find common ground and a basis for compromise. What the UK should do is offer training in mediation to imams, so they can be more effective. I don’t know if mediation is constructive in labour disputes.

  23. Ikonoclast
    April 7th, 2015 at 08:27 | #23

    As a scientific humanist, there are many aspects of the religions, their bizarre thinking and their favoured treatment in our society, that offend me. At the same time, I can see aspects and instances where they do good work. On balance though, religion and faith based reasoning are a negative influence and a danger to the good running of our society.

    The training of the young in faith-based reasoning produces adults who cannot assess matters logically on empirical evidence. Capitalist politics finds this trait very useful. Propaganda in favour of endless growth, denying climate change and ignoring increasing inequality is effective because people have been trained in the habits of believing dogma rather than assessing real evidence. Theocratic thinking and faith-based reasoning are always a threat to democracy, equality and good government.

  24. tony lynch
    April 7th, 2015 at 09:18 | #24

    Maybe a bigger threat to democray is a crass self-interested secularism which sees value only in consumption, celebrity, and wealth. With this mindset in place the temptations to force are unlimited by any values at all. @Ikonoclast

  25. John Quiggin
    April 7th, 2015 at 09:29 | #25

    @Robert (not from UK)

    Nothing you did wrong. Automoderation follows its own logic, with no intervention from me. And I took the day pretty easy yesterday, so I didn’t rescue comments until just now.

  26. Robert (not from UK)
    April 7th, 2015 at 09:36 | #26

    Thanks, Professor Quiggin, for having explained the situation to me at 09:29. I was worried I might have caused offence, since I deliberately didn’t give hostages to fortune by including any URLs (which, I’m told, are apt for technical reasons to muck up the moderation system on many sites).

  27. Moz in Oz
    April 7th, 2015 at 10:35 | #27

    Patrickb :
    ” the imposition of shar?at al-Mas??”
    this kind of thing creeping in

    It’s been there since day one, and it’s getting better not worse for the most part. Half of the stolen children problem was the Christian conviction that heathen savages were not fit to raise children and by “bringing them up as Christians” they could be “rescued”. That didn’t start recently, but it is horrific faith-based activism.

    Abortion is a crime in many parts of Australia and has been for a long time, but recently some states have liberalised the law.

  28. rog
    April 7th, 2015 at 10:36 | #28

    @Robert (not from UK) Perhaps “practicing Christian” might be more apt.

    Census data shows that 61.1% of the population say they are Christian but churches struggle to get more than 8% of that figure.

    I guess when asked people just tick the Christian box, perhaps to keep a foot in the door (Pascalls wage) but usually only enter a church when they, or someone else, dies.

  29. rog
    April 7th, 2015 at 10:41 | #29

    Correction

    National Church Life Survey data shows that over the last four decades the proportion of Australians attending church at least once per month has more than halved from 36% (1972) to 15% currently.

  30. rog
    April 7th, 2015 at 10:46 | #30

    OK, here the Church society maintain 8.8% of the Aust population regularly attend Church.

    http://www.ncls.org.au/default.aspx?sitemapid=2260

  31. J-D
    April 7th, 2015 at 11:57 | #31

    @Jack Strocchi

    The statement ‘Multiculturalists are logically obliged to endorse Sharia Law’ is an indefensible inaccuracy.

  32. Nevil Kingston-Brown
    April 7th, 2015 at 12:09 | #32

    @Jack Strocchi
    Gosh, when a small minority slightly increases in numbers it translates to a huge percentage increase. Whoda thunk. Not you, that’s for sure.

  33. Nevil Kingston-Brown
    April 7th, 2015 at 12:13 | #33

    For similar reasons, the more religious parts of the US Tea Party movement are often referred to as the American Taliban. Indeed, I think many of them would feel more comfortable living in Islamic State than the United States – they could stone all the gays they want, pay jizya to avoid conscription and other state interference, not vaccinate or send their kids to school, and have their fantasies of persecution and martyrdom come true, with one simple move!

  34. jungney
    April 7th, 2015 at 12:45 | #34

    Numerous Australians currently live under Sharia Law. They do so voluntarily within religious communities. Where there is conflict between Sharia Law and criminal law, as there has been recently in the case of the twelve year old girl who was married off to a much older man in the Hunter Valley, then the criminal law predominates.

    There is no problem with people agreeing to live inside communal rules so long as they have the right to independence from those rules when they want it; the right of exit from the chains of tradition is one of the main advantages of enlightened modernity. In a liberal democracy the right to individual freedoms always trumps communal rights. In the above case the state protected the rights of the child although not before she had been repeatedly raped.

    In another life, while working in child protection, I was involved in a case where a sixteen year old Australian Muslim was being forced to return to her parent’s country of origin for an unwanted, arranged marriage. She received advice to place herself on the Airport Watch List as ‘at risk of harm’ and was apprehended at Sydney prior to boarding. She was not content to adhere to her community’s traditional practices and was given an out by state agencies including the AFP. She was then whisked into the (no longer really existing) network of refuges and shelters for women and children.

    Her parents were furious when they were advised to consult with their sheik over the matter!

    Those who protest against Sharia Law in Australia would be well advised to read up on the sexual abuse of children within Australian religious institutions before complaining that ‘these people’ are ‘ruining the nation’.

    All up the weekend counter demonstrations went pretty well: bogan fascist neophytes were outnumbered, out argued and outfought. And it rained. On a whole Aussies don’t like this sort of trouble on the street and associate trouble with those who bring it. In this instance, with the idiot right.

  35. rog
    April 7th, 2015 at 13:36 | #35

    Conservatives like to point to the ALP and say that they are being controlled by trade unions, and these trade unions do not represent all workers and could be classed as a minority group.

    Clearly active Christians are also a minority group.

  36. April 7th, 2015 at 14:02 | #36

    jungney is spot on there, though I would say he’s over-egging the pudding when he says “criminal law predominates.” There is no chance that sharia law will ever get applied to criminal cases – it applies to some aspects of family and civil law at best.

    And to add to his point about sexual abuse of children within mainstream religious institutions, let us all remember the race and religious background of the UK’s most prolific sexual abuser: white, CofE.

  37. Moz in Oz
    April 7th, 2015 at 14:20 | #37

    faustusnotes :
    “criminal law predominates.” There is no chance that sharia law will ever get applied to criminal cases

    In the very narrow sense of “formal Islamic jurisprudence”, no. But in the “religious law applied to non-religious people” sense … it absolutely does get applied right now. We have the “confession exemption” that’s slowly being rolled back, the de facto “pedophile transfer” exemption that applies primarily to Christian and Jewish offenders (especially when they’re sent overseas) and the various nonsenses about homosexual laws (everyone is equal, except gays can’t marry and transsexuals can’t adopt, etc), not to mention the “abortion is illegal, it says so in the bible”.

    There are some issues with rape and Sharia law as well, and it’s difficult to argue that the patriarchal focus on policing women’s sexuality is not fed by Christian (specifically Paulian) beleifs about women. We have a de facto standard that a woman making a rape complaint needs to be “of good character” and there was a specific comment made recently about a rape victim who was not “chaste” which should by rights have been kept within the Sharia legal system it originated in.

  38. Robert (not from UK)
    April 7th, 2015 at 14:37 | #38

    @rog

    I should like to thank “rog” for his observations. The numbers which “rog” mentions about dismal church attendance confirm the anecdotal indications that I’ve seen with my own eyes, in Sydney and Melbourne (though not elsewhere in this country), for a decade.

    Of course you wonder how many of those 8.8% who do actually set the alarm early enough on a Sunday morning to rock up at some church or other have any more than the faintest, most phantasmagorical, square root of the merest suggestion of a clue as to what their church specifically teaches. Not a lot of them, I’ll wager.

    Last time the Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane did a survey of what the little darlings in the pews actually imagined Catholicism was, something like 80% (I can’t re-Google it right now, no time, sorry, but it’ll be on Google still) were completely unaware of the doctrine of the Real Presence. They didn’t deny it. They didn’t say “Well, maybe this Real Presence caper does have legs, but I still reckon it’s much likelier that UFOs landed in Roswell.” They’d just never heard of it.

    Now whether you are a Catholic or a Protestant or a Muslim or an atheist or whatever, one of the real biggies in Catholic doctrine – as a matter of simple history – is the idea that the Real Presence is major-league important for Catholicism. Such doctrine says that if you receive communion, you really do receive the body and blood of Jesus Christ, not “a representation of Christ” or “something vaguely resembling Christ” or “a nice comforting Hallmark-greeting-card-type memory of Christ”.

    But 80% of Queensland Catholics had never even heard of the Real Presence as a theory until they came to the relevant survey question. And as I say, these were the churchgoers. Can you imagine what levels of historical ignorance must be prevailing among the non-churchgoers?

  39. John Quiggin
    April 7th, 2015 at 15:17 | #39

    @Jack Strocchi

    Jack, please take a month off commenting. You are well aware that you are banned from commenting on topics like this.

  40. Moz in Oz
    April 7th, 2015 at 15:33 | #40

    Robert (not from UK) :
    Catholic … doctrine says that if you receive communion, you really do receive the body and blood of Jesus Christ

    Wasn’t there some fuss a while ago when some preist said essentially “if you really believe then it’s meat not wheat” and pushed it as a test of faith, to the detriment of a celiac parishioner? I’ve always wondered why it’s not a problem for vegetarian Catholics rather than wheat-intolerant ones. Or for members of Alcoholics Anonymous who are Catholics, for that matter.

    Just calling it “ritual cannibalism” is enough to go right over the heads of most Christians. But on that note, this is another place that the law takes a swerve to the religious. I thought that for the most part if you genuinely intend to commit a crime, and beleive you have done so, that’s evidence either of criminality or insanity? Viz, “I shot JFK” renders you guilty of some variant of attempted/conspiracy to murder, or nuts to the point where you’ll be locked up unless you’re assessed as not being a danger to yourself or others. Shouldn’t “I ate a dead guy” fall into the same category?

  41. Jim Rose
    April 7th, 2015 at 19:01 | #41

    in the UK, rulings handed down by the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal can be legally binding. This is because the Arbitration Act 1996 allows almost any body to act as a dispute resolution service if both parties agreed to be bound by its decision.

    There is a bill before the House of Lords amending the arbitration act to ensure that the evidence of men and women are weighed equally and penalties to apply to any body purporting to have the powers of a court of law.

    The UK parliament also passed a Forced Marriages Act a few years ago. This law included penalties for people who threaten self-harm if someone didn’t go through with an arranged marriage.

  42. Salient Green
    April 7th, 2015 at 19:28 | #42

    It’s bad enough that evil shlts have infested and are using Christianity for their own perverted and often violent ends. Now we have to endure another major religion, a much more aggressive one spreading throughout Australia and the world which is spawn to even more violent and evil shlts.
    Obviously there are millions of Australians concerned about Islam that wouldn’t be bothered going to a rally. Reclaim Australia are not the group to be conveying those concerns as they are happy to be supported by racists such as ADL, Pickering and Hanson.
    While Australians should be just as concerned about abuse and violence done in the name of Christianity as that done in the name of Islam, it’s natural that people focus more on that which is new to them and they don’t understand.
    Governments are happy to take the perceived economic benefits of immigration from anywhere but not so keen to take responsibility for the social consequences.

  43. Geoff Andrews
    April 7th, 2015 at 22:40 | #43

    @Ikonoclast
    Yep, 10/10 (as usual!)
    I couldn’t quite decipher Tony Lynch’s comment on your posting:

    “With this mindset in place the temptations to force are unlimited by any values at all.”

    Do you think he is saying that secularists ( here, read “atheists”?) are are the sole source of those corrosive values that define our economic democracy i.e. consumption, celebrity, and wealth and that, ipso facto, theists (may god be praised) would be able to improve our current depraved system?

    I’m off to evensong just in case he’s right.
    Where’s my bloody Refidex.

  44. Robert (not from UK)
    April 7th, 2015 at 23:16 | #44

    @Moz in Oz

    There turns out to be a group in the States called the Catholic Celiac Society, rather to my surprise. It has a website, http://www.catholicceliacs.org/, which might be able to deal with the particular issues you cite (I can’t say that I’ve done more than glance at the website myself). Make what you wish of the fact that the homepage has been untouched since 2012.

    Perhaps my own small experience in this matter might be relevant. I myself have no celiac disorders – never have had them – but I know two extremely devout Catholics, both female, who do have such disorders. They haven’t stopped taking communion.

  45. paul walter
    April 8th, 2015 at 12:05 | #45

    Does any one observe the peculiarity with the Staunch Christians in Parliament, so desperate to send Saeed Hassanloo, persecuted minority Christian from Iran, back to the tender mercies of the supposedly dreaded Muslims?

  46. Donald Oats
    April 8th, 2015 at 12:39 | #46

    @Geoff Andrews
    Yeah, I wasn’t sure how to interpret Tony Lynch’s comment. I’d add that there are Christian sects in the USA (and elsewhere too) which hold that ambition and material success are truly divine, that Jesus and God would want that of you. To each their own, I suppose.

    A a life long atheist, I can’t say that material success has ever been a driver for me—I don’t even own a car and have no compulsion to do so. Mind you, participation in modern society makes it difficult not to get caught up in the pursuit of material things: we are bombarded relentlessly with ads which target our innate need to belong, and to be seen to belong, to our in-group, or more to the point, to the slightly higher status group the ads are nudging us to consider. With the rise of big data analytics, and the capacity to narrowly identify an individual on the internet (i.e. to profile them), we are increasingly the target of ads specific to our profiling. If capitalism has one thing down pat, it is how to push that button.

  47. Geoff Edwards
    April 8th, 2015 at 22:04 | #47

    We should keep in mind that the current activities by what are known as “Islamic extremists” is not just a religious movement animated by religious yearnings, but also has a decidedly political element. If the West would cease bombing civilian populations in Muslim countries, it might find less active antagonism from representatives of the populations who have been bombed or whose livelihoods have been destroyed by war. Muslims and Christians are capable of living quite harmoniously side-by-side if they are not stirred up by geopolitics.

  48. Vegetarian
    April 9th, 2015 at 18:58 | #48

    @Jim Rose
    Is there a reference for
    “The UK parliament also passed a Forced Marriages Act a few years ago. This law included penalties for people who threaten self-harm if someone didn’t go through with an arranged marriage.” ?
    The second sentence seems to contradict the implication of the first.

  49. pablo
    April 10th, 2015 at 10:39 | #49

    Try as I might, I have read little of what the political ‘class’ mean be ‘de-radicalisation’ as it currently refers to muslim jihadis. How does one go about getting de-radicalised? Might sound simple and logical, a case of ‘un-learning’ or ‘un-followed’ to put it in an IT context. At least a post like this seems to address the issue without ever using the dreadful word.

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