Episode 221 – Religion, Free Speech and Greta Thunberg

In this episode, we discuss religion, free speech and Greta Thunberg.

2:08 Morrison in America


“The easiest thing for me to do is to say knock out 15 sites in Iran and that would be a very bad day for Iran,’ he said.

Mr Trump said the US had the best military in the world “we have the finest planes, ships and submarines”.

“We have the best missiles and best rockets in the world,” he said.

5:23 Brian Houston

From the Wall Street Journal

Weeks before Mr. Morrison’s arrival in Washington, the standard advance-planning process hit a bump in the road.

Mr. Morrison was determined to bring as part of his delegation Hillsong Church Pastor Brian Houston — the man he frequently refers to as his “mentor” — but the White House vetoed the idea, telling his office that Mr. Houston was not invited, according to a person familiar with the discussions.

Brian Houston in 2015 was censured by the Australian government’s royal commission into child sexual abuse for failing to report his father, Frank Houston, to police for the alleged sexual abuse of children in his church. The highly publicized child abuse commission ran four years. Before his death in 2004 aged 82, Frank Houston confessed to sexually abusing a boy in New Zealand three decades earlier, and was immediately removed from ministry by his son.

Brian Houston defended his behavior at the time of his censure. He didn’t respond to a request for comment for this article.

After several rounds of discussions across the 14 time zones between Washington and Canberra, Mr. Morrison agreed to leave the pastor at home, according to several people familiar with the matter.

Fist: He wanted Houston because George Pell was unavailable.

7:16 Religious Discrimination Bill 2019

Regarding the Religious Discrimination Bill, you have to wonder whether there is any point in writing to the government.

The government’s own Ruddock report said there is no problem with religious freedom in Australia, but they have drafted a Bill anyway. The Ruddock Report also said there is no need for a Religious Freedom Commissioner but … they appointed one anyway. The government sat on the report for 15 months, then produced the legal equivalent of a dogs breakfast and now gives us just 5 weeks to comment. The child abuse commission censured Brian Houston for protecting a paedophile and we now know that Morrison tried to invite him to a fucking meeting with the President.


Morrison will do what he wants to privilege religion and won’t give a shit what we say unless we highlight something that goes against his self-interest. Our only hope is if Labor can be convinced to side with the Greens.

We need to tailor our letters depending on the audience. I’ll be telling my listeners:

If, despite my advice, you decide to write to a conservative then say

  1. The Falou rule is just more red tape for business.
  2. The School Chaplaincy and Military Chaplaincy programs will be contaminated by secular chaplains.
  3. Rural voters with limited choice of doctors or pharmacies may find they can’t get simple things like the pill because of conscientious objections. Rural women will not be happy.
  4. Morrison copped a lot of flak when ordinary Australians learned that gay teachers and students can legally be discriminated against. He will cop similar flak when they understand this Bill.

If writing to a Labor politician then argue

  1. We need more time.
  2. This Bill encourages discrimination and abuse of LGBTIQ people under the guise of religious freedom.
  3. It excuses a religious body from conduct which the religious body decides is within its doctrine. Accordingly, a religious body can virtually write its own laws.
  4. It purports to protect non-believers but provides huge exemptions for the very groups most likely to discriminate against non-believers, namely … religious bodies.
  5. Instead of one law for all, this Bill privileges religious belief and takes away protection for truly vulnerable LGBTIQ communities.
  6. People in small rural communities may have difficulty accessing the pill, the morning after pill or anything medical that might relate to bedroom activities. It allows conscientious exemptions for podiatrists, optometrists and radiologists. What possible religious objections could they have?
  7. We have just had a Royal Commission which exposed horrendous institutional practices of abuse and cover-ups in religious groups but unrepentant Catholic leaders are refusing to comply with new confessional laws. We just had a plebiscite which confirmed Australians want equal rights for the LGBTIQ community. This Bill privileges the wrongdoers exposed in the Royal Commission and penalises the victims we sought to protect in the plebiscite.
  8. Not only is this Bill fundamentally wrong in its moral objectives, as a matter of legal drafting it is a complete mess. A handful of amendments can’t fix it. It should be rejected entirely.
  9. Australian voters will reward a party which votes against this Bill.

We will need a conscientious objectors app where gay, lesbian or simply sexually active people can warn the rest of the community when they are subjected to refusal of a relatively “normal” service due to a religious conscientious exemption.

17:37 Women should be livid

Maybe, no pill in small conservative communities and the NSW government thinks women have abortions for sex selection reasons.

The amendment will require a review into sex selection to include “recommendations about how to prevent terminations being performed for the purpose of sex selection”.

Mr Hazzard described the sex selection amendment as “very significant … to our historic legislation to take termination of pregnancy out of the criminal law”.

“This will mean NSW will lead Australia in establishing guidelines to address sex selection,” he said.

“No other state or territory has even considered doing what NSW will do. And it will be done sensibly and calmly over the next year.”

Greens MLC Abigail Boyd said the amendment was “completely nonsensical” because the review could find sex-selection abortions were not occurring.

“This is a crazy way to make laws,” Ms Boyd told the upper house.

“On the one hand is the possibility of that report saying, ‘Well, it does not happen,’ and on the other hand is the report being obliged to also have to say how to prevent the thing that is not happening anyway.”

22:48 Kyle Sandilands apologises for ‘disgusting’ Virgin Mary comments

Kyle Sandilands has apologised for making offensive comments about the Virgin Mary that angered Christian and Muslim groups online and prompted calls for a boycott.

The controversial radio host described the Virgin Mary as a liar during a KIIS FM segment on Thursday, saying she was probably impregnated “behind the camel shed”.

He then called anyone who believed in the Bible story “dumb”.

“You might believe everything that was written down 2000 years ago to be absolutely accurate. Good on you, you’re dumb,” he said.

The comments angered Christian and Muslim groups online, who flooded the radio station with complaints and demanded an apology. A video of the segment posted on the radio station’s Instagram page was promptly taken down.

“I’m sorry if I offended anyone with my comments,” Sandilands told The Daily Telegraph on Friday.

“Everyone is entitled to their own religious beliefs and I’m fully supportive of that right,” he said.

Sydney man Charlie Bakhos, who manages the Christian Lives Matter group on Facebook, said he and others were deeply offended by the comments.

“You offended Christians, Muslims, people of faith. You called the mother of our lord, Jesus Christ, names. You accused her of having sex,” he said in a video posted from Lebanon.

“You offended many, many people today and we’re not going to let this go.”


24:35 Butcher’s ‘non halal certified’ sign changed after complaint upheld by ad watchdog

An Adelaide butcher at the centre of a complaint over window signage which said the business was “non halal certified” has now made a concession to the advertising watchdog.

Valley Butchers in Adelaide’s north-east was the subject of complaints to Ad Standards which claimed the sign “pokes fun” at Muslim people and “perpetuates a culture of vilification towards religious minorities, that results in harm towards them”.

The majority of the Ad Standards Community Panel agreed that the sign made fun of halal certification and was offensive and “demeaning to people who are of that faith and Muslim ethnicity”, adding that there was no such thing as “non halal” certification.

The Canberra-based watchdog upheld the complaint, finding the sign — which also has images of native Australian animals — breached its code.

When contacted by the ABC, a spokesman confirmed the sign had since been changed by one letter, and now read “not halal certified”.

Ad Standards said this meant the case was now considered closed.

“It would appear from media reports that the advertiser has modified the advertisement in line with the determination of the community panel,” a spokesperson told the ABC.

Ad Standards chief executive Fiona Jolly earlier told ABC Radio Adelaide that changing the phrase’s wording from “non” to “not” made a key difference to the meaning.

“Saying that something is non halal certified is making fun of halal certification because there’s no such thing,” she said.

“Saying that something is not halal certified is a statement of fact.

“This is a self-regulation system and it does really rely on the goodwill of advertisers to follow our rulings.”

Waz – They slaughter all their butchered animals in a humane manner! How offensive!

Keiron – If they were genuinely trying merely to be factual they’d have gone with ‘not halal certified’ to begin with. It is disingenuous to suggest ‘non halal certified’ wasn’t intended as a dig at muslims.

Trissy – Keiron, spot on. There is a world of difference between the use of “non” and “not”. It’s clear as day that the “non-halal” label was a smart arse backhander and yes, it’s disingenuous to suggest otherwise (or in fact, to incite the suggestion otherwise as Secular Party of Australia seem to have done in this post). Having said that, I still think people should be able to make as much fun of religious beliefs as they want.

The Fist: Keiron, I just don’t get it.

Non – from Dictionary.com a prefix meaning “not,” freely used as an English formative, usually with a simple negative force as implying mere negation or absence of something (rather than the opposite or reverse of it, as often expressed by un-1): nonadherence; noninterference; nonpayment; nonprofessional.

32:07 Menstrual Blood is OK

Last month Asaleo Care, which makes Libra period pads, ran advertisements in primetime slots, highlighting a number of ways young girls and women experience menstruation.

Scenes included a young girl removing a blood-stained pad from her underwear, and a close-up shot of a woman in the shower, showing blood and water running down her legs.

Ad Standards, which handles complaints against the advertising industry, received more than 600 objections to the advert, and has dismissed all of them.

A number of people argued that showing period blood was “disgusting”, but the watchdog found the commercial did not break any section of the advertising Code of Ethics.

Dr Elizabeth Farrell, medical director of women’s healthcare service Jean Hailes, said the idea that when a woman is menstruating, she is tainted, or should feel embarrassed when she is having her period, is centuries old, and “absolutely ridiculous”.

“It seems as if there is still a little bit of that attitude prevailing,” she said.

35:24 Still on Free Speech – Jacinta in Coffs Harbour

Jacinta Nampijinpa Price has criticised a regional council for suggesting that she seek permission from the local Indigenous community to hold a speaking event.

“It’s political correctness gone absolutely bonkers to suggest that I have to seek permission to enter what is Australian land and that I should be, you know, ensuring that there is a Welcome to Country at my event.

“I refuse to do any of those things.”

In the lead-up to the event, nine Coffs Harbour’s Aboriginal groups – including the local land council and local NGOs – circulated a joint statement explicitly stating that Ms Price was “not welcome”.

“For years we have observed Ms Price continually vilify Aboriginal peoples and cultures, and ridicule the compounding pain and suffering of our communities,” they said.

“At the end of the day, it is the local Aboriginal community working hard on the ground, taking action and doing the work required to create change within Coffs Harbour. Therefore, we urge people to support our position and boycott this event.”

In a statement, the Coffs Harbour City Council said it was aware that the local Indigenous community had concerns about the speaking engagement.

“In keeping with council’s commitment to the traditional and customary protocols of our Indigenous community members, council suggested to Ms Price’s representatives that she seek permission from the local Gumbaynggirr Aboriginal community to come onto country,” it said.

“Coffs Harbour City Council has not banned Jacinta Price from a speaking event in the city.”

The Indigenous groups opposed to the event have said they have “no interest” in protesting at the event and instead encouraged the community to attend a Gumbaynggirr language class.


38:02 Free Speech Articles

Bear in mind Farenheit 451 (published in 1953) which we mentioned in episode 128.

From Ryan Holiday

Let’s go back to 451, which I found myself re-reading recently. It begins with Guy Montag burning a house that contained books. Why? How did it come to be that firemen burned books instead of putting out fires as they always had?

The firemen have been doing it for so long they have no idea. Most of them have never even read a book. Except one fireman — Captain Beatty — who has been around long enough to remember what life was like before. As Montag begins to doubt his profession — going as far as to hide a book in his house — he is subjected to a speech from Beatty. In it Beatty explains that it wasn’t the government that decided that books were a threat. It was his fellow citizens.

“It didn’t come from the government down,” he tells him. “There was no dictum, no declaration, no censorship, to start with, no!”

In fact, it was something rather simple — something that should sound very familiar. It was a desire not to offend — of an earnest notion to literally have “everyone made equal.” And it’s at the end of this speech that we get the killer passage:

“You must understand that our civilization is so vast that we can’t have our minorities upset and stirred. Ask yourself, What do we want in this country above all? People want to be happy, isn’t that right?…Colored people don’t like Little Black Sambo. Burn it. White people don’t feel good about Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Burn it. Someone’s written a book on tobacco and cancer of the lungs? The cigarette people are weeping? Burn the book. Serenity, Montag. Peace, Montag. Take your fight outside. Better yet, to the incinerator.”

40:08 No Unmarried Sex in Bali

From the SMH

Jakarta: The Australian government has updated its travel advice to warn unmarried Australians they could be jailed for having sex in Indonesia under draconian new laws expected to be passed by that nation’s parliament.

Under the proposed changes to Indonesian law, sex outside marriage – including all same-sex relations – will be illegal and charges can be laid following a complaint to authorities by a spouse, child or parent.

Other changes listed in the bill include making it illegal to criticise the president (a law struck down by the Constitutional Court in 2006), spread communist ideology, banning the display of contraception to a minor, curbing access to abortion and criminalising fake news, bestiality and black magic.

Melbourne University’s Professor Tim Lindsey, who is the director of the Centre for Indonesian Law, Islam and Society, said the current parliament seemed to be in an “insane rush” to pass into law a new criminal code that was “highly regressive”.

“The extra marital sex provision is new to Indonesia, it will create huge problems for foreigners if it’s enforced, though Indonesia is awash with laws that are never enforced,” he said.

Ida Bagus Agung Partha Adnyana, the head of Bali’s tourism board, played down the implications of the new laws for foreign tourists.

“Bali has always welcomed all tourists, we will continue to do so, even with a new penal code.”

42:37 Churchie excludes students with learning difficulties, poor grades

ONE of Queensland’s most prestigious schools is under fire over claims by parents that children with poor grades and learning difficulties are being excluded in a ruthless bid to boost academic performance.

Furious parents, including big financial donors and third-generation old boys, have slammed Anglican Church Grammar School (known as Churchie) as discriminatory and elitist.

Another father said he was “shell-shocked” when his younger boy was “rejected”.

“My older son was already at the school and I, my father, my grandfather and my cousins all boarded there,” he said.

“We were going through the normal enrolment procedure and I said, ‘by the way, this boy has dyslexic tendencies, how do we go forward?’

“Never in our wildest dreams did we think he’d be discriminated against, to be told Churchie was not the school for him; I was in tears.”

Emails seen by The Courier-Mail confirm the parents were told the school could not accommodate the child.

“My boy was devastated,” the father said.

“We know of at least a dozen other families this has happened to, but we are speaking out because we want change.”


45:54 The Environment and Greta


Here’s the estimated ladder, with Melbourne  leading the way:

  • Melbourne – 100,000
  • Sydney – 80,000
  • Brisbane – 30,000
  • Adelaide – 20,000
  • Hobart – 20,000
  • Canberra – 15,000
  • Perth – 10,000


1:06:25 Barnaby

Barnaby Joyce who was the special drought envoy did not provide any written reports.

He was Busy


Bedroom Antics

Raju and Barnaby

Watley attended Friday’s protest.

Eric Abetz compares The Conversation to Nazis over stance on climate change denial

The Liberal senator Eric Abetz has compared the Conversation website to Hitler, Stalin and Mao, after it announced a zero-tolerance approach to climate change deniers.

The academic news and analysis website has said it will remove comments and lock accounts that put forward those views, outraging the Tasmanian senator.

“Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong couldn’t have put it better themselves. They’d be so proud,” he told parliament.

“To so superciliously and arrogantly deny a voice to an alternative point of view is reminiscent of totalitarian regimes.”

The editor of The Conversation, Misha Ketchell, said the academic website was committed to presenting peer-reviewed rigorous science no matter what perspectives they represent.

“We are not silencing commenters altogether,” Ketchell told Guardian Australia. “They have had several years in which they have been able to post those comments on our website.

“They’ve been doing it for a number of years and because the arguments haven’t changed and the evidence hasn’t changed we think they’ve had ample opportunity to have their say.

“We’re really committed to presenting the evidence accurately in a way that keeps readers informed and we believe the evidence comes from accurate experts who know what they’re talking about and not people who are peddling individual opinions.

“We don’t think it’s appropriate to give those opinions similar weight.”

1:14:01 The Christian converts who are setting fire to sacred Aboriginal objects

Christian missionaries are causing a fresh wave of upset in outback Australia, promising to bring people back from the dead, and promoting the idea traditional Aboriginal culture is a type of devil worship.

An investigation by Background Briefing has uncovered dramatic scenes in the Kimberley region, where Aboriginal followers of a Tongan-born preacher have set fire to artefacts considered sacred by many local elders, and dismantled and burned a spiritual law ground.

The approach of some recently arrived evangelists has been slammed by some Aboriginal leaders, including Labor senator Pat Dodson.

“They are a type of virus that has really got no credibility,” he said. “If they really understood the gospel then the gospel is about liberation.

“It’s about an accommodation of the diversity and differences that we have in our belief systems.”

He believes the destruction of traditional culture is “an act of bastardry”.

“It’s about the lowest act you could perform in trying to indicate to a fellow human being that you have total disdain for anything they represent.”

The Aboriginal community of Wangkatjungka has been the site of some of the greatest tensions, after dozens of local people were ‘born again’ and baptised following the arrival of young Tongan preacher Ana Makahununiu in 2015.

Local women called her a ‘prophetess’, believing God spoke through her.

A year after Ms Makahununiu arrived, her followers built a bonfire to destroy ‘satanic’ objects they thought were cursing their community, and filmed the process.

Ms Makahununiu’s followers said they happily paid for her food and accommodation so she could stay in Wangkatjungka for about three years.

She now lives in Sydney, preaching at a Pentecostal church in Homebush and working cash-in-hand jobs, despite admitting she’s not legally allowed to work in Australia due to her visa status.

Pentecostalism rising in the Kimberley

Christian missionaries have a long history of trying to assimilate Aboriginal people in the Kimberley, and discouraging them from practicing their traditional religious beliefs.

Peter Murray is the CEO of the Yanunijarra Aboriginal Corporation south of Fitzroy Crossing and a dedicated born-again Christian.

He thinks some of the new wave Pentecostal preachers don’t understand Indigenous culture and are destroying it, instead of allowing Christianity and traditional culture to live side by side.

“People in the Kimberley are moving onto other churches,” he said. “People are choosing something more exciting that will give them blessings.”

But the Pentecostalism flourishing in remote areas is based on a more literal interpretation of the Bible and focuses on God’s ability to affect real-world change for followers. Practices like being ‘slain in the spirit’, with parishioners collapsing during prayer in religious ecstasy, as well as speaking in tongues are increasingly common.

‘Penetrate the Aboriginal’

Forward in Faith is one of the Pentecostal churches that has entered the Kimberley in recent years.

Founded in Zimbabwe, the church has 68 congregations in Australia, many in largely Aboriginal towns and communities in Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

Mr Chihwayi believes his church is particularly well placed to appeal to the Aboriginal community.

“Generally speaking, Aboriginals mistrust white people,” he said. “They consider Africans as brothers, so they open up to us.”

Aboriginal converts to Forward in Faith believe the church has helped them in their everyday lives, including Bidyadanga resident Sue Mandijello.

“In this Ministry, Forward in Faith, I have found that I changed my life,” she said. “Some years back I was on dialysis for five-and-a-half years and come 2011, I received a new kidney, so just believing God, this is a gift from him.”

1:20:02 Conscription Jacqui Lambie Style

She is suggesting young Australians should be called up for duty with emergency services units across the country.

She wants a Senate inquiry to examine the idea of a national emergency service, not for the military but to encourage more young people to join the ranks of volunteers. She argues we need this to tackle what’s forecast as a greater demand for volunteers, with more frequent and extreme droughts, fires and floods.

Today’s generation “want to show up to a rally once a year and apparently that’s giving back”, the Tasmanian senator says. “That bothers me. It bothers me that kids today wouldn’t know a bloody sandbag, let alone a spade.”

Lambie is worried that the Country Fire Authority, the State Emergency Service and other voluntar­y organisations are struggling to attract recruits.

An EMVP also could assist in retraining long-term unemployed people of various ages. Participants might receive benefits at a higher rate than the Newstart ­Allowance. Some conditions of eligi­bility would be mandatory, such as not being in education, employment or training for six months before an application and being a recipient of Newstart support. It also might be viable to extend­ EMVP opportunities, with appropriate streams of activity, to people on disability pensions.

And the best person to champ­ion the EVMP? Former prime minister Tony Abbott would be a strong contender. He has been a longstanding volunteer with the NSW Rural Fire Service and has served as a surf lifesaver on ­Sydney’s northern beaches for many years. Abbott understands the impor­tance of a more resilient Austral­ian community through volun­teer­ing. His energy and enthusiasm could see him continue to contribute to public service.

Anthony Bergin is a senior fellow at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. Paul Barnes is head of its risk and resilience program.

‘Mean-spirited penny pinching’: Government revives plan to extend wait for Newstart

Single people with personal savings of $18,000 or more will have to wait six months before they can apply for unemployment benefits under changes the Morrison government is trying to get through Parliament to increase welfare applicants’ “self-reliance”.

The Coalition is reviving plans to double the maximum time people with liquid assets have to wait before they can access Newstart and other allowances from 13 to 26 weeks, a move that would save more than $100 million over four years.

1:25:10 Think Tanks

Australian tax laws allow some NGOs to be awarded charity status through an act of parliament. Many think-tanks have become registered charities through this provision, which has the benefit of conferring tax-deductibility without the usual transparency requirements. Groups like the Institute of Public Affairs and the Centre for Independent Studies are able to offer tax deductions to their corporate donors without having to make the relationship public.

“We are in the policy marketplace but unlike politicians, we do not have to get elected next year,” says John Roskam (of the IPA). “Obviously we recognise that political parties face the reality of maintaining broad support, holding marginal seats etc, but these are problems for them to worry about – our horizons can be much longer than the electoral cycle, and that’s good for policy development and good for civil society.”

From Source Watch




1:29:31 The nature of capitalism has changed.

From George Monbiot in the UK.

The political sphere, so dull and grey a few years ago, is now populated by preposterous exhibitionists.

This trend is not confined to the UK – everywhere the killer clowns are taking over. Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage, Donald Trump, Narendra Modi, Jair Bolsonaro, Scott Morrison, Rodrigo Duterte, Matteo Salvini, Recep Erdogan, Viktor Orban and a host of other ludicrous strongmen – or weakmen as they so often turn out to be – dominate nations that would once have laughed them off stage. The question is why? Why are the deathly technocrats who held sway almost everywhere a few years ago giving way to extravagant buffoons?

The reason, I believe, is that the nature of capitalism has changed. The dominant force of the 1990s and early 2000s – corporate power – demanded technocratic government. It wanted people who could simultaneously run a competent, secure state and protect profits from democratic change.

The largest fortunes are now made not through entrepreneurial brilliance but through inheritance, monopoly and rent-seeking: securing exclusive control of crucial assets, such as land and buildings, privatised utilities and intellectual property, and assembling service monopolies such as trading hubs, software and social media platforms, then charging user fees far higher than the costs of production and delivery. In Russia, people who enrich themselves this way are called oligarchs. But this is not a Russian phenomenon, it is a global one. Corporate power still exists, but today it is overlain by – and is mutating into – oligarchic power.

What the oligarchs want is not the same as what the old corporations wanted. In the words of their favoured theorist Stephen Bannon, they seek the “deconstruction of the administrative state.” Chaos is the profit multiplier for the disaster capitalism on which the new billionaires thrive. Every rupture is used to seize more of the assets on which our lives depend. The chaos of an undeliverable Brexit, the repeated meltdowns and shutdowns of government under Trump: these are the kind of deconstructions Bannon foresaw. As institutions, rules and democratic oversight implode, the oligarchs extend their wealth and power at our expense.

The killer clowns offer the oligarchs something else too: distraction and deflection. While the kleptocrats fleece us, we are urged to look elsewhere. We are mesmerised by buffoons, who encourage us to channel the anger that should be reserved for billionaires

Today’s billionaires are the real citizens of nowhere. They fantasise, like the plutocrats in Ayn Rand’s terrible novel Atlas Shrugged, about further escape. Look at the “seasteading” venture funded by Paypal’s founder Peter Thiel, that sought to build artificial islands in the middle of the ocean, whose citizens could enact a libertarian fantasy of escape from the state, its laws, regulations and taxes, and from organised labour.

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