Clearly the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) has not been feeling the love recently, so they decided to come out punching today and publicly declared (covered in The Age at least) that they were against Labour’s plans to fund a “gay rights advisory body”. Before I delve too deep into the ACL, I want to cover a little bit about who they are and what they want to achieve. From their website (link not provided deliberately):
The vision of the ACL is to see Christian principles and ethics accepted and influencing the way we are governed, do business and relate to each other as a community.
There is no sense in this vision of our wishing to see Australia a theocracy, but merely wanting to reestablish the rightful influence of those who believe in our Christian heritage.
Wow, I could spend this entire post and the remainder of time before I go to bed for my well deserved night’s sleep deconstructing that “About” page, but I’ll save that for another time (note to self – make sure you do that eventually).
So, the ACL… focused on Christian principles, not surprising, but want them to influence government, business and interpersonal relationships, not as a theocracy… no, no, no… but to “reestablish the rightful influence of those who believe in our Christian heritage” (emphasis mine). Doesn’t that sound scary. Those who do not believe in the Christian heritage of Australia (and I think the Aboriginal nations might have something to say about that), should not have influence, so no influence (or less) for Muslims, Buddhists, Atheists, Hindus, the Christians that aren’t affiliated with the ACL, etc.
Anway… back to the article at hand now that I’ve provided a quick background on the ACL, though as things are relevant, I’ll probably dive in and out of their website to find useful factoids.
Sadly, the ACL is an incredibly vocal lobby group with very little transparency. There is no clear record available (that I could find with a quick search) as to who funds them, how many members they have, which Christian Churches they work with/through. Their board is a massive sausage fest, but that’s hardly surprising given it’s a Conservative Christian business. They do come out and state that they are a “political lobby representing individual Christians and is neither denominationally nor politically aligned”, which means that they act on stuff that they are specifically interested in, versus what the Bible recommends, or what Churches want, or potentially even what their probably rather small (“Consistently maintained a growth rate of 50% annually in membership over its first three years as a national organisation” – much easier with smaller numbers) membership desires. Though as I believe that only Conservative Christians would join this group (an en-masse sign up of everyone else would be funny), they probably are interested in what the ACL pushes.
But again, back to the article:
THE Labor Party’s plan to fund a gay rights advisory body is a disgraceful act and shows that the government is pandering to a small minority, says the Australian Christian Lobby.
Because listening to minority groups and ensuring their full participation in society is such a bad thing (and yes, we suck at racial minority groups, listening to them and helping them fully participate in society for the most part). I do love how ACL completely ignores societal support for increased rights for the LBGTIQ members of society and family support that many TIQLBG have, who would also want the rights of their family members recognised.
”Most people treat abortion as a done deal [but] for us and for many Christians it is still a very topical issue and where candidates sit on that is very important,” Mr Ward said. [ACL chief executive]
Citation needed Mr Ward. How many Christians is this an issue for? Why is it an issue? Which Churches? Are the views of your Board (5 white men) actually relevant here? What about for people who aren’t Christian? Why does your belief system get to walk all over theirs? (That last statement is going to be a recurring theme here).
He said it was a ”disgraceful act of undemocratic process” by Labor to fund a government advisory committee that would advise cabinet on issues affecting the gay community.
”What Labor has done has identified a small minority, a very vocal minority with one issue, their issue: gay rights, and they have said ‘we will cater to your needs’,” he said.
Yes, because 10% of the population is a “small minority”, much like the ACL which would appear to be even a smaller minority, and the ACL is also “a very vocal minority”. I’m beginning to see parallels. So, Mr Ward and the ACL, are you going to stop now and go away like you’d like the BLGTIQ community to?
And stop with conflating all the issues that the QITLBG community has into a broad, brush stroke, pithy phrase. Because the GLBITQ community has many issues that we’d like addressed and yes, they do relate back to human rights, that is true, that doesn’t make them any less valid than anyone else’s rights though. I’m actually rather pleased that the Labour Party has committed to having a BLGTIQ advisory body. It means that the issues that my fellow queer and trans* have may actually be addressed, such as bullying and suicide of queer and trans* teens, appropriate medical access for trans*, recognition of relationships, no discrimination on the basis of gender identity or presentation, hate crime legislation strengthened, and gender mutilation of intersex babies ceasing. See, these issues are pity and can easily be summed into two words that are meaningless on their own.
”If they have got money to throw around, why don’t they throw it at child protection? Why aren’t they setting up a group too that will defend freedom for religion?”
Because Mr Ward, child protection and freedom of religion are already legislated. Most of the rights I’ve listed above, and other issues faced by the LBIQTG community are not. See, that really is very simple. And since when did YOUR religion need protecting. Christianity is privileged and has far more status in society than any other religion.
Mr Ward said more than 100,000 people used the Australian Christian Lobby’s site during the 2010 federal election.
And this is the most telling about the small size of the ACL, despite their very loud (and annoying) voice. There are approximately 13.6 million voters in Australia (in 2007). Of those 13.6 million voters, at the Federal Election in August ONLY somewhat more than 100,000 people visited ACL’s website. That’s 0.735% of voters. That’s sweet-fuck-all. That last admission by Mr Ward really does show how irrelevant he and his lobby group are. Though why they continue to get airtime and be seen as a source for “balance” is beyond me.
Now, back to the point of forcing me and anyone else who isn’t the same type of Christian or even Christian to live under your rules. From ACL’s website:
Do you know?
That 12.7 million, or 64% of Australians declared themselves as Christians in the 2006 ABS Census.
That over 2 million Australians attend a place of worship every Sunday.
So although approximately 64% of of Australians declared themselves as Christians only somewhere over 2 million of them, or 15% of Australian Christians actively participate in their places of worship. In the 2006 Australian Census, I marked myself down as Catholic, but I do not, and never would have, supported the ACL’s stance on GLBTIQ rights, abortion or euthanasia (well I probably would have when I was younger and not as well educated). It’s a HUGE reach for the ACL to claim that they represent all Christians, where there are about 10 different grouped denominations who don’t agree on most things. The ACL doesn’t represent the Catholics or Anglicans who have various Bishop Councils advocating on their behalf. I have no idea about the Orthodox Churches but I imagine have their own lobby methodologies. So who, really, does the ACL claim to represent other than conservative Christians?
And given that only 64% of Australia declares themselves Christian and only 15% of those who declare themselves Christian regularly attend Church services, why on earth does the ACL think that it can dictate to me and all the other non-Christians and non-ACL style Christians how we should live? If they are so threatened by the GLBTIQ community, why don’t they just put their head in the sand and leave the rest of us alone to live our lives to our full potential? For my sake, the sake of the GLBTIQ community, for the sake of women who should be trusted to make up their own minds about the suitability of an abortion, for the sake of people who want to die with dignity, please STOP giving these people a voice until they are at the very least:
- transparent about their membership
- transparent about their finances
- transparent about their decision making processes
Maybe then, as we’ll all be a bit more educated about their agenda and relevance, they might be allowed a voice, but right now, they’re a harmful distraction to important issues.