Umm, can anyone else see the elephant in the room?

It’s a particularly big elephant. It appears whenever discussion turns to IS, Iran, Iraq, Syria, terrorism and any number of international conflicts.

Commentators often talk about compromise, tolerance, education and humanitarian assistance. There are calls for punishment of the truly evil and protection of the innocent. Discussions often centre around how far our aid should extend and in what circumstances we should act.

At some stage we need to stop and look at the fundamental issue. Is there a root cause of all of these problems? The answer is yes.

The driver of these problems is religious faith and it is time that as a civilised and educated society we recognise religious faith as unfairly influential and very dangerous.

Religious faith is a powerful tool that enables a small group of leaders to effectively control a large group of followers. At its most innocent this results in people getting together to chant slogans and waive incense around but at its most dangerous it leads to people picking up guns to shoot each other.

We have to recognise that religions practice a form of mind control. Religions instruct their followers how to think and behave in certain situations. They are unfairly influential because they are given access to young children and are permitted to indoctrinate them into religious beliefs. Given enough control and access to young impressionable minds, religious leaders can make people believe almost anything and unfortunately that sometimes includes that in certain circumstances it is a good idea to chop someones head off.

We do not allow hypnotists to enter our schools and fill young minds with crazy ideas but by allowing religions to indoctrinate young children we are essentially permitting the same thing.

I read with interest the press release of the Australian National Imams Council (ANIC) dated 15 September 2014. It says “ANIC warns all Muslim Australians not to trust the internet and social media as some material may have dangerous influences on vulnerable minds. Instead Muslims must get proper religious advice from knowledgeable, respected and qualified Imams”.

I agree with the sentiment that young minds are vulnerable to bad influences. I reject the notion of a knowledgeable, respected and qualified Imam. I’ll return to that later.

Now I accept that in 2014 most religions are not explicitly imploring followers to kill people, but they are still promoting many dangerous ideas.

The most obvious is that their particular religion has been in conflict with some other religion and being a member of Religion A means you automatically adopt a 2000 year old grudge against Religion B. Now that may not mean explicitly that followers of Religion A should kill followers of Religion B but that is often the practical result. Don’t believe me? Look at Israel and Palestine.

Religions create situations of “them” and “us”. We are Muslims or Jews or Roman Catholics and we cannot marry anyone who is not one of “us”. It even causes division within religions. Think Sunni and Shiite or Catholic and Protestant.

Religions use their coercive powers to influence members on a range of issues that cause enormous harm to billions of people. For example, the subjugation of women, discrimination against gays and disapproval of birth control to name just a few.

So what can we do?

Unfortunately, we have billions of adults who have been hard wired by religious indoctrination, some of whom are now programmed to want to kill each other. Our options are limited. In the short term, the best we can do is keep them away from each other.

But let’s look long term. Let’s look at the next generation. If we can keep religions away from children until they are 18 then they will be much less likely to take up religion and importantly less likely to take on the ancient grudges and outdated and discriminatory policies.

So if we are going to give aid to Iraq, Syria, Israel or the Palestinians let’s make it conditional on or aimed at secular government and policies. The best aid we can give these regions would be to remove the infection of religion from the next generation.

In our own back yard to help prevent the creation of home grown terrorists and misogynists and homophobes let’s restrict or prohibit religious indoctrination of children.

And let’s stop the favourable tax treatment that religious organisations enjoy. Why are they exempt from taxes? If they do enough charitable work to qualify as a charity then they can be tax exempt under that category but make them prove it. Is there anyone who seriously thinks the Church of Scientology should not pay taxes? Religious organisations are running all sorts of businesses from breakfast cereal to insurance and if they aren’t using it for charitable purposes they should pay taxes. We should not be giving special benefits to such dangerous and irresponsible groups. It only makes it easier for them to peddle their poisonous messages.

At the same time can we treat religions as the charlatans they are?

I mean really, it is just nonsense. There is no all powerful being judging us in preparation of an afterlife. There was no ark. No Adam and Eve. There are no virgins waiting for you. It’s OK to eat bacon. Prayers are a waste of time. It is gobbledegook and mumbo jumbo.

So the notion of a knowledgeable, respected and qualified Imam is just rubbish in the same way that there is no such thing as a knowledgeable, respected and qualified snake oil salesman. Our media is littered with the comments and opinions of Imams, Priests and the like. They are treated as experts but they are not. One cannot be an expert on unicorns. These “fairyologists” are afforded far too much respect. The media and government defer to them too readily.

So please, when you next read of a large scale conflict or terrorist act step back and ask whether there is a long term religious battle in play. When a cleric offers prayers or theological advice, remember they are peddling nonsense.

The Iron Fist




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Only just found this podcast. LOVE IT

Really great to see some honest conversation, that doesn’t seem concerned with making the truth more palatable for the fair of heart. I think we really need a lot more of this.


Great listen

Fantastic podcast and gets better every episode. BUT if you can’t handle the truth about the dismal state of Australian politics give this one a miss.

The Happy Dog

Look forward to this podcast every week

This is an entertaining and intelligent discussion of politics, religion, education and other important issues in Australia. If you’re not interested in politics or if you’re confused by it then you need to listen to these guys. They remove the mystery and put forward an analysis of the issues that will entertain and inform you.


Ep 81, one of the best and most enjoyable

Wel done Trevor and Hugh, one of the best Eps to date. Professional delivery by both.


Episode 68 right on the mark

This episode was just the right length, but more importantly, was a little more measured in addressing the topics. I admire the Iron Fist in the way he can craft rational statements about appalling behaviour in the topics discussed, and I found the 12th Man to be a good balance to the Iron Fist. I wish the Velvet Glove wouldn’t giggle at important topics or when religious thinking is described – we already find them ridiculous, but laughing every time is a bit much after hours of listening to episodes. This is a fun but semi-serious podcast that everyone should listen to, and I thank them for making the time to produce it.


Keep it going…

A refreshing podcast. Rational discussion on topics many won’t tackle honestly. I don’t agree with everything you say but I love the way your subject matter is explored and sometimes debated. Great work guys.


Making baby Jesus cry

Don’t listen to these baby eating heathens, God will kill an angel for every episode that you listen to.


Presenting the Inconvenient Truth

These guys are at the forefront of challenging religious privilege. If you want to be up-to-date on all the wacky goings-on by the religion pushers in this world and their attempts successful or otherwise to influence the political and social spheres of our lives then this is your podcast. We need more of this advocacy for a secular world view. Be like me or Bill and don’t miss an episode.


Christmas Special

All podcasts are great but the christmas special takes the cake. Excellent show guys.


Australian Centred Debate

This podcast is great for those looking for debates about secularism, religious power structures and Western liberal democratic ideals, all with a focus on the Great Southern Land. The two main protagonists bounce ideas off each other and occasionally guests are brought in to give different perspectives (I love to hate Right Wing Tony!). These are not Left Wing Nutters, I know as I tend to that description too often myself and disagree with them at times. Rationality and free thought rule! The boys don’t mind if you throw in your two cents, in fact, I think they love to hear from the public. Very worth a listen.


Great Job

I look forward to this show each week. So informative! Thank you.


Stumbled upon

I stumbled on this podcast and enjoyed a number of podcasts. I love the deconstruction of the arguments and the range of topics. The input of the 12th man, right wing Tony and in particular Hugh Harris and Objective morals and Moral relativism. I am a atheist/secularist and would love to see you guys on Q&A keep up the great work. Secularism is a fight worth fighting for.


Not getting any worse

I’ve been listening for a year now and you haven’t gotten any worse. It’s nice to hear a good Australian perspective with varying views. Keep it up.


Always well worth the time

The Fist and crew do a great job of debating and dissecting a range of secular topics. Great work, and always an amusing listen.


Well balanced podcast

I’ve been listening since the first episode and it has proven time and again to be my favourite podcast. The guys have a balanced view of the world and politics. Well worth a listen.


Back catalogue

Greeting Fist, Glove and Man. I’m working my way through the back catalogue and enjoying it immensely. Your discussions contain the kind of intelligence and fluid thinking with a touch of irreverence that I have been looking for in a local content podcast. Keep up the good work.

Tony W

Love your work

Love your work, your podcasts are excellent and your political commentary and general banter really improve my day! Thank you!


Sensible Secularists

A provocative and informative discussion of current affairs at the intersection of religion and politics. The perfect antidote to religious privilege and snowflake culture. Best listened to at 1.5x speed.


Episode 139 Comedy Classic

G’day Iron and Velv. When I found you blokes, I had finally found some Australian voices of reason and common sense. After listening to a chunk of the back catalogue and keeping up to date with the podcasts, I became a patron, you fellas should be on the Senate. Anyway, episode 139 was a little strange at first, until the nutter came out. And then, oh mate, it became comedy. Where did you dig up that crazy nutter? Thanks Fist and Glove. Watley


Hi guys, many thanks for

Hi guys, many thanks for your podcast which I have just discovered. I am looking forward to exploring the back catalogue. It’s great to hear Australian voices doing such a podcast. One thing though – it’s a bit blokey. Ever thought of having some women on?

Ms McIntosh


Possibly my favourite Aussie podcast. Nice one to do the gardening to!


Great Aussie Secularists..

Finally found some Aussie voices speaking about our issues with Australian accents and with Aussie guests from a secular point of view. Great work guys!



Congrats on 3 years! I’m a fairly new fan (thanks to Caitlin Langley) and this is becoming one of my favourite podcasts. Keep up the great work. – Andy Dowling, Andy Social Podcast / Self Starter Podcast / Bass Player in LORD (don’t worry, we’re not a Christian band!).

Andy Dowling

Glad I found it!

Finally! So glad to find other like minded people in Australia! You’ll be pleased to know I joined the Labor Party just before discovering your podcast and yes, I am as secular as they come!

Matt Chalk

An Enjoyable and Engaging Listen

I’ve been listening to the Iron Fist and Velvet Glove Podcast for a while now and have found it really engaging. The discourse is most often very intelligent and insightful. I often feel like I’ve learnt something when I’ve finished listening. However, I think that sometimes the hosts can be limited in their perspective and that can limit the depth of the discussion, but overall a great podcast you should all listen to.


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