Some months ago, I related a story about the Southern Baptist Convention in the US to demonstrate how Christianity had undergone a great dichotomy1 with one branch being true to the supposed teachings of Jesus, while the other branch had become a venal, vicious, pious, bigoted, amoral, right wing power bloc.
It has been clear for a while that a similar dichotomy has appeared in Australia. The difference between the two branches are perhaps best demonstrated by a couple of examples from either branch of this dichotomy.
From the decent side of this dichotomy, the first is Catholic Father Bob Maguire, who on Twitter, styles himself as ‘the Larrikin Priest…patron of the unloved and unlovely’. Here are a couple of examples of his tweets: “Every Christmas I get the gift of a sixth sense. But different from the kid in the film, I see LIVE people where some others see dead heads, dead losses, dead enders…to the eyes of the heart it’s a beautiful world despite appearances” and “Spare a thought for a family member or friend who lost a partner since last Christmas. They may be walking alone for the first time in ages.”2
The second decent Christian is Anglican Father Rod Bower from the now famous Gosford Anglican Church. This fame comes from the thought-provoking signs which Bower posts outside the church. One of these included: ‘Dear Christians, some people are gay. Get over it, love God’3. Bower has also been active on Twitter, and at Christmas usually has a Christmas tree outside his church but recently the “Christmas Tree [was] replaced by tears for #refugees”4. There are undoubtedly numerous other instances like these decent Christians, spread about the country; I just haven’t met many.
The sort of people who make me glad I am an atheist are people like Senator Eric Abetz, a member of the Christian Reformed Churches of Australia. He is one of those miserable, nasty, bigoted, far right-wing trolls who hate everything about the modern world and given half a chance would have us live in a theocracy, in which of course we would all be under the thumb of his denomination. Of course, he was one of the most strident opponents of same-sex marriage, and is opposed to just about anything else relating to sex5. He is one of those Christians who gets upset and fumes when he thinks people somewhere out in the wider community might be enjoying themselves. He will tell lies as long as he believes that it will further what he perceives to be his beliefs. These lies include assertions that abortion leads to breast cancer (it doesn’t), that homosexuality is a learned behaviour (it isn’t), and that legalising same-sex marriage would lead to polyamory (which is not illegal now anyway)5. Such views as this have made him a laughing stock.
Another of those religious nasties is Treasurer Scott Morrison, who belongs to one of those happy-clappy churches in southern Sydney. These churches are those who are mostly concerned with the inflow of money, just like Morrison’s political party6,7. They are part of ‘Christianity for the greedy bastards’; i.e. what is termed Prosperity Theology. This holds that financial blessing and physical well-being are the will of god for them, and that faith, positive speech and donations to religious causes will increase one’s material wealth8. Of course, it goes without saying that all the self-appointed ‘pastors’ of these churches are extraordinarily wealthy. Scott Morrison seems to have it slightly differently. He seems to think that if you have material wealth, you are in god’s good books. As a consequence, he deems it his duty to hand out even more material wealth to his millionaire and billionaire friends, presumably so they will donate part of it to his political party. The parallels between the happy-clappy prosperity churches and the Liberal Party are striking. No wonder there are so many religious people in the Liberal Party, many of whom seem to have their snouts deep in the taxpayer trough.
People like Bob Maguire and Rod Bower are almost enough to make you think Christianity is about what Jesus is reputed to have said, while those like Eric Abetz and Scott Morrison clearly demonstrate that it isn’t.