The bizarre Lyle Shelton, former director of the Australian Christian Lobby, is a Pentecostal Christian, having been brought up in the Toowoomba City Church, which was started by his father Ian Shelton1. He, like many of his ilk, is prone to making very odd statements which demonstrate his obsession with gay people and with sex. One of his latest efforts is in regard to the possibility of expulsion of students from religious schools. Clearly, Lyle opened his mouth before he engaged his brain. Although it beggars belief, this is what he said:
“A school should be allowed to ensure that they can protect their ethos … If individuals are acting in a way that’s not in accordance with the well-known ethos of that school, those schools should be able to do what they need to do to preserve that.” Shelton said schools should “absolutely” be allowed to expel students for having sex with someone of the same sex. So, he believes you should not be expelled for being gay, but should be for having gay sex.
Today, Prime Minister Scott Morrison shot himself in the foot, again, by offering the Labor Party a conscience vote on religious freedom legislation3. As deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek suggested that the government was using similar tactics to those used around the same-sex marriage debate and said: “Every effort to complicate it is designed to delay and prevent this simple reform from occurring”. … Labor members of Parliament do not support discrimination against children, we don’t need to take the temperature of the party to know that, we have had this discussion again and again. Our legal advice … shows that the proposition that the Prime Minister is putting forward swaps one legal form of discrimination with another legal form of discrimination. We thought that we could get this done in the first couple of weeks after the Wentworth by-election, but something changed.
And I think what changed was that the right wing of the Liberal Party said to Scott Morrison, the Prime Minister: ‘That’s not happening – we’re not doing that’.”4,5
This is the most likely reason that Morrison has ‘offered’ a conscience vote; because he knows he cannot get the religious far-right rump of the Liberal Party to vote for it. There are too many religious fruitcakes in the Liberal Party who think discriminating against gay people is just fine.
Morrison was asked several questions during a press conference. One of those questions was: “Should any religion be able to teach in their schools that it’s not alright to be gay?” To this Morrison replied “My understanding of my faith and other religious teachings goes to people’s behaviour, not who they are.” This indicates that Morrison agrees with Lyle Shelton. You can be gay, you just cannot act gay6.
If Shelton and Morrison believe it is acceptable to expel students for indulging in gay sex, how will they find out if a person has indulged? Will they have inspectors prowling behind the bike sheds? Will they employ people to snoop on suspected gay students in their homes or dormitories? This is just a continuation of the bigotry practised by the religious for millennia. As Bertrand Russell said: “You find as you look around the world that every single bit of progress in humane feeling, every improvement in the criminal law, every step toward the diminution of war, every step toward better treatment of the coloured races, or every mitigation of slavery, every moral progress that there has been in the world, has been consistently opposed by the organised churches of the world. I say quite deliberately that the Christian religion, as organised in its churches, has been and still is the principal enemy of moral progress in the world.” And so it remains.