Episode 198 – Samford Atheists, Falou and Assange

A big welcome to all of the Drunks, Homosexuals, Adulterers, Liars, Fornicators, Thieves, Atheists and Idolaters.

2:31 Anzac Day

It’s coming up on the 25th of April.

Paul from Samford Atheists had trouble getting permission to lay a wreath.

He received this email.

Thanks for your interest in laying a wreath on Anzac Day at the Memorial Service. As our service is a religious service and prayers are formally officiated by a priest, it would be at odds with the ethos of our service for us to promote a group that actively shuns this religious basis. So while the group’s name would not be announced you could lay a wreath at the end of the wreath laying ceremony when the public is invited to. Any promotion of your group’s name at the service will not be allowed. Thanks again for your interest in commemorating our Anzacs.

They have since agreed to let him lay a wreath.

5:51 Checkout the Defence Census from 2015

Compared to all Australians

20:21 My collection of Anzac Day programs

Things are getting worse.

27:48 Israel Falou


The Folau family was Mormon before turning to the Pentecostal denomination, Assemblies of God, in 2011. While preaching at The Truth of Jesus Christ Church Sydney, Folau has been critical of “man-made” customs and traditions, including the way Christmas is celebrated and the “sprinkling” of water on babies’ heads at christenings.

How is this different to religious schools sacking a teacher who promotes an anti-christian lifestyle?

From The Law and Religion Report:

Celebrity rugby player Israel Folau is in a complicated legal position. He shared a “meme” on social media site Instagram recently, the text of which was: “Warning: Drunks, Homosexuals, Adulterers, Liars, Fornicators, Thieves, Atheists, Idolators: Hell Awaits You- Repent! Only Jesus Saves.” To this he added his own personal comment: “Those that are living in Sin will end up in Hell unless you repent. Jesus Christ loves you and is giving you time to turn away from your sin and come to him.”

Rugby Australia, …  say that his comments breach a “code of conduct” which presumably forms part of his contract: “He cannot share material on social media that condemns, vilifies or discriminates against people on the basis of their sexuality.” They also allege that being “disrespectful to people because of their sexuality” would justify disciplinary action.

In theory it might have at first been thought that Mr Folau’s post was unlawful under NSW law. Under s 49ZTof the Anti-Discrimination Act1977 (NSW) it is unlawful to “incite hatred towards, serious contempt for, or severe ridicule of, a person or group of persons on the ground of the homosexuality of the person or members of the group”. But s 49ZT(2)(c) exempts from that prohibition any act “done reasonably and in good faith, for… religious instruction”, and the overall theme of Mr Folau’s Instagram account could well be said to be “religious instruction”.

According to the LRR …he does not call for those who choose to disregard God’s purposes for humanity to be hated, or stoned, or treated with contempt. He offers the love of Jesus and a way out of eternal judgment.

In terms of crimes against society, say what you like except you can’t incite violence. Contempt and ridicule are irrelevant and so should be  “religious instruction” as an exemption.

In terms of private defamation law, say what you like but you may be sued for damaging someone’s reputation.

Falou’s case is tricky in the areas of employment (public responsibilities) law and contract (private responsibilities) law.

Usually, in contracts, people can agree to almost anything. But there are restrictions. I can’t contract for someone to kill my enemy. Clearly, that would be against public interest.

Employment contracts are notorious for being heavily regulated. For example, even if both sides want to, you can’t agree to a wage which is less than the minimum wage. You can’t contract for a truck driver to drive 12 hours without a rest.

We have to protect workers from power imbalances and everyone from unsafe practices.

So you can write an employment contract but it must fall within legal limits.

In theory,  you should be able to write an employment contract specifying behavioural conditions provided they are relevant to the job.

You should be able to discriminate in hiring except when it is unfair discrimination. eg basketballers must be tall or a doctor must have a medical degree. These are examples of fair discrimination.

Let’s look at private religious schools hiring staff.

It would be ok to insist that the religious instruction teacher is religious but not ok to insist that the math teacher is religious. The second would be unfair (not relevant to the job).

Regarding Falou. If he was just a C grade player earning $200 per game for Valleys his “employment” could not be terminated. He would be like a Math teacher. It’s not a requirement for a “C” grade player that he be a high-grade role model.

But, Falou is a marquee player. He is paid huge money not just for his performance on the field but for a role as ambassador for the game. His contract fee is reliant on maintaining a marketable reputation and smooching with the sponsors. His job is not just on the field. It is not just to run, kick and catch. Like the religious instruction teacher a marquee player has (to some degree) to line up with or at least not openly contradict, the values of the organisation otherwise he can’t do his job.

If he limited his remarks to private conversations I think he would be ok.

Because of his comments, Falou is not suitable for the role of a marquee player. If he wants to play park rugby for $200 a game he should be allowed to.

This is not a problem for freedom of speech. There are millions of jobs where he could not be sacked for his comments. Unfortunately for him, he chose a profession where, due to the unique importance of a marketable reputation, it is not unfair to discriminate against him when he decides to sabotage his own reputation.

This is not about freedom of religion. If his comments were pro-Nazi, the same would apply.

If it is all too complicated, try this.

If you hear someone suggest this is a blow against religious freedom, ask them if a very publicly avowed atheist or satanist should be eligible to teach religion at a private religious school. They will immediately tell you a religious teacher must respect and live by the ethos of the school.

Getting back to defamation. Imagine if someone had defamed him causing reputational loss. He would’ve gone to court claiming his sponsors or Rugby Australia justifiably dropped him due to reputational issues and would’ve claimed damages for loss of income. In this case, he defamed himself.

This reminds me of the Angela Williamson case we discussed in episodes 158 and 159

Cricket Australia has sacked a female employee after she campaigned for abortion reform on social media, telling the woman that concerns she had insulted the Tasmanian government were central to her dismissal.

The sport’s governing body now faces an ugly legal fight that will include claims that a senior member of the Tasmanian government disclosed the woman’s own pregnancy termination to Cricket Tasmania.

The mother-of-three, who worked as a manager of public policy and government relations at Cricket Australia, was among the first forced to travel to Melbourne for a termination in February after the state’s only abortion provider closed.

Where I said:
Here’s a quick primer on Freedom of Speech:
1. You have, with some limits, the right to say what you want without government intervention, suppression, or prosecution.
2. That is different to intervention or suppression by an employer. Arguably an employer can, with some limits, interfere with free speech rights if the free speech destroys the ability of the employee to do their job.
3. You do not have the right to expect private businesses to give you a platform to say what you want (unless they hold some sort of monopoly power)
Here is another example:
You can be a militant vegan with an active Twitter profile (where you abuse farmers) and work for a meat processing factory as a butcher, accountant, security guard or cleaner but you can’t expect to work for them as head of PR or customer liaison officer. You can’t abuse your employer’s customers and expect immunity relying on “freedom of speech”.
Hugh Harris and others like to quote Christopher Hitchens and how we need to hear bad ideas so we can condemn them. But usually Hitchens and others are speaking about the state preventing free speech. This case is about a private employer wanting an employee to have certain characteristics. The Hugh Harris argument results in a situation where an employer cannot sack an employee for poor behaviour involving free speech because “free speech” is sacred. If Falou was a compulsive drink driver could the ARU sack him? Of course. Bad role model. If he drives sober but advocates for drink driving could the ARU sack him? Of course. Speech can constitute poor behaviour sufficient to warrant sacking.

51:02 Bible Inconsistencies

Can a thief go to heaven?

54:36 Anthony Mundine implores Australians not to vaccinate their kids

Outspoken boxer Anthony Mundine has weighed into the vaccination debate, imploring Australians not to vaccinate their kids.

Mundine took to Twitter to share his controversial views, encouraging his followers to go against what he considered an act of bullying by the Australian Government.

“Don’t vaccine your kids period! The government bully you into vaccine! Do your research on the s**t & watched the documentary vaxxed,” he tweeted.

Mundine then pointed to his Facebook page where he posted a link to a December 2018 video from New York radio show The Breakfast Club where the hosts alleged there was an agenda set by big pharmaceutical companies against African-Americans.

“MRR (Measles) vaccine gives black boys autism at a rate 240 per cent greater than their white counterparts,” one of the hosts said.

“It’s wiping black boys out, not just with autism — so what the pharmaceutical industry is doing is getting a customer for life.”

57:27 ABC Vote Compass

What does the compass say about your humble podcast hosts?




Scott gave Scomo 7/10 !!

59:26 Our views on Indigenous people probably ruined our socially progressive score.

1:09:06 Julian Assange


Julian Paul Hawkins was born on 3 July 1971 in Townsville, Queensland, to Christine Ann Hawkins (b. 1951), a visual artist and John Shipton, an anti-war activist and builder. The couple separated before their son was born. When Julian Hawkins was a year old, his mother married Richard Brett Assange, an actor, with whom she ran a small theatre company and whom Assange regards as his father (choosing Assange as his surname).

Christine and Brett Assange divorced about 1979. Christine Assange then became involved with Leif Meynell, also known as Leif Hamilton, a member of Australian cult The Family, with whom she had a son before the couple broke up in 1982. Assange had a nomadic childhood, and had lived in over thirty Australian towns and cities by the time he reached his mid-teens, when he settled with his mother and half-brother in Melbourne.

Assange founded WikiLeaks in 2006, an international publishing organisation known for revealing war crimes, human rights abuses, and corruption. WikiLeaks came to international attention in 2010 when it published a series of leaks provided by Chelsea Manning. These leaks included the Collateral Murdervideo (April 2010) the Afghanistan war logs (July 2010), the Iraq war logs (October 2010), and CableGate (November 2010).


What is it? According to the WikiLeaks website, its goal is “to bring important news and information to the public … One of our most important activities is to publish original source material alongside our news stories so readers and historians alike can see evidence of the truth.” Another of the organisation’s goals is to ensure that journalists and whistleblowers are not prosecuted for emailing sensitive or classified documents. The online “drop box” is described by the WikiLeaks website as “an innovative, secure and anonymous way for sources to leak information to [WikiLeaks] journalists”

What did it do?

July 12, 2007, Baghdad airstrikes were a series of air-to-ground attacks conducted by a team of two U.S. AH-64 Apache helicopters in Al-Amin al-ThaniyahNew Baghdad during the Iraqi insurgency which followed the Iraq War. The video, which WikiLeaks titled Collateral Murder, showed that the crew encountered a firefight and laughed at some of the casualties, some of which were civilians and reporters.

The Afghanistan War Logs: The New York Times described the leak as “a six-year archive of classified military documents [that] offers an unvarnished and grim picture of the Afghan war”. The Guardian called the material “one of the biggest leaks in U.S. military history … a devastating portrait of the failing war in Afghanistan, revealing how coalition forces have killed hundreds of civilians in unreported incidents, Taliban attacks have soared and NATO commanders fear neighbouring Pakistan and Iran are fuelling the insurgency”

The Iraq War documents leak is the disclosure to WikiLeaks of 391,832  United States Army field reports, also called the Iraq War Logs, of the Iraq War from 2004 to 2009 and published on the Internet on 22 October 2010. The files record 66,081 civilian deaths out of 109,000 recorded deaths.The leak resulted in the Iraq Body Count project adding 15,000 civilian deaths to their count, bringing their total to over 150,000, with roughly 80% of those civilians.[8] It is the biggest leak in the military history of the United States,[2][9] surpassing the Afghan War documents leak of 25 July 2010

The United States diplomatic cables leak, widely known as Cablegate, began on Sunday, 28 November 2010 when WikiLeaks began releasing classified cables that had been sent to the U.S. State Department by 274 of its consulates, embassies, and diplomatic missions around the world. Dated between December 1966 and February 2010, the cables contain diplomatic analysis from world leaders, and the diplomats’ assessment of host countries and their officials.

Kevin Rudd, former Prime Minister of Australia, was described as “generally competent”. Other text described him as a “control freak” and “a micro-manager obsessed with managing the media cycle rather than engaging in collaborative decision making”. Diplomats also criticized Rudd’s foreign-policy record.

My thoughts. War crimes and disasters are public interest but diplomatic spying potentially risks the lives of informants.

Chelsea Manning

Chelsea Elizabeth Manning (born Bradley Edward Manning, December 17, 1987) is an American activist and whistleblower. She is a former United States Army soldier who was convicted by court-martial in July 2013 of violations of the Espionage Act and other offences, after disclosing to WikiLeaks nearly 750,000 classified, or unclassified but sensitive, military and diplomatic documents.

She was sentenced to 35 years at the maximum-security U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth. On January 17, 2017, President Barack Obama commuted Manning’s sentence to nearly seven years of confinement dating from her arrest on May 27, 2010. Manning now earns a living through speaking engagements.

On March 8, 2019, Manning was held in contempt of court by a United States District Court judge and jailed in Alexandria, Virginia for refusing to testify to a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks. Manning said she refuses to testify because she objects to the secrecy of the grand jury process, and already revealed everything she knows at her court martial. The judge ordered her to remain in jail until Manning testifies or until the grand jury concludes its work.

The US government wants Manning to testify that Assange conspired to hack into the US computer system. She did it herself and is refusing to unfairly implicate Assange.

One tough lady.

1:21:41 Japanese Virgins

A quarter of Japanese adults under 40 are virgins, according to a survey that will add to anxiety about the country’s low birthrate and ageing population.

Japanese and Swedish researchers say that the proportion of people aged 18 to 39 who have not had heterosexual intercourse has risen from about one in five in 1992 to one in four today.

Among those aged 35 to 39, 9.5 per cent of men and 8.9 per cent of women are virgins, nearly double the figure in 1992. The trend has been attributed to poor sex education, a decline in traditional matchmakers, the habit of socialising in groups and the rise of hikikomori, or social recluses

However, the latest research suggests that much of the problem is related to money: although salaries have fallen since the 1980s, a woman’s expectation of a potential partner’s income remains unrealistically high.

9 comments on “Episode 198 – Samford Atheists, Falou and Assange
  1. Warren Foster says:

    I’m happy for Australia to amend its constitution to establish a representative Indigenous body to advise Parliament on laws and policies affecting Indigenous people if similar amendments are made for drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, athiests and idolators.

  2. Warren Foster says:

    An idolator is “one who blindly or excessively admires or adores another”
    Think about that …

  3. Nick Warren says:

    Your example of a satanist teaching at a religious school doesn’t work here. One of the stated aims and policies of Rugby Australia is inclusiveness towards religion. The right to freedom of belief includes the right to express that belief. So if Rugby Australia are to be consistent they need to let Falou express his belief.
    Religious schools do not have a policy that endorses satanism. Where as Rugby Australia does have a policy which welcomes people of faith. Thats why your example is flawed.

    • Hi Nick. The right to hold a belief is fundamental but the right to manifest a belief is subject to competing rights (for more see episode 179). Rugby Australia can consider those competing rights and be consistent. The religious right will regret supporting Falou. In doing so they are supporting his claim that an individual’s personal freedom overrides the ethos or interests of the employer. That opens the door for satanists, gays and other sinners to defend termination notices from religious employers. – Trevor

  4. Janelle Carter says:

    I don’t generally agree with employers restricting what their employees can say in their private lives, but there are exceptions when it is relevant to the role they have been employed and compensated for. Although Folau’s abhorrent religious views aren’t relevant to playing football, they are relevant to his role as an ambassador for Rugby Australia’s brand and that of their sponsors. His multi-million dollar contract is clearly not just compensation for playing football, but compensation for his public relations duties and abiding by a code of conduct that he has (apparently) violated. Arguably, it wouldn’t even be possible to pay him this kind of money without the sponsorship money from Qantas that is threatened by letting his stupid tweets go unpunished. If sponsors threaten to withdraw their money from Rugby Australia why shouldn’t the money used to pay Folau also be withdrawn? I might feel differently if he was forced into signing a code of conduct but only being paid an average Australian salary.

  5. Janelle Carter says:

    HOWEVER I was surprised to hear The Fist wondering why “people get so hung up about free speech” and commenting that “people treat speech as some sort of sacred right.” Yes – absolutely, it is. Because free speech is not just a right, it’s an essential mechanism of democracy, which requires the freedom to debate ideas. Our freedom to discuss and express ideas relies on us continuing to draw a clear, bright line between speech and actions. Speech is not violence, despite some modern attempts to say that certain speech does mental and emotional “harm” and is therefore a form of violence.

    Great quote from ex-Muslim activist Sarah Haider “Progress depends on our freedom to express dangerous ideas – a freedom which relies on a strict differentiation between speech and physical acts. Hate-speech policies blur this line; they categorise speech that offends as in itself a form of violence, thereby unwittingly justifying violence as a response to offensive speech.”

    • Hi Janelle. Good to hear from you. True, I probably undersold the importance of free speech (and if I had my chance again I’d add a few caveats) but I was trying to make the point that it is not sacred. It depends on the context. The laissez-faire approach to public speech (which we both agree with) is defended so vigorously by some (with an almost religious zeal) that they will green light almost any behaviour that has some sort of speech component where they normally wouldn’t. I was trying to break that mindset. I think the “compulsive drink driver” or “wife beater” examples illustrate this. Footballers are banned regularly for that sort of behaviour even though it is irrelevant to playing football and “free speech” advocates don’t bat an eyelid. But if a footballer came out and encouraged people to drink drive and beat their wives, free speech right wingers would say you can’t sack him because it’s irrelevant to his job and we have the right to hear his opinion. Anyway, it is a fascinating topic with lots of twists and turns and it’s tricky to navigate through the overlapping contexts. Cheers – Trevor

  6. Squeaky Wheel says:

    Wife-beating is illegal and creates physical harm. Drinking driving is illegal and causes physical harm. Believing that atheists, fornicators or gays will burn in Hell is not illegal (or logical) and doesn’t directly cause physical harm. I can’t believe Fist thinks it’s an equivalent argument. If you elevate “offensive” speech to same the level of actual physical violence, you inadvertently legitimise violence as a response to offence.

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