the ACL, now that Jim Wallace decided that tweeting bigotry was a great idea, vanished up it’s own arse, especially as the outrage on twitter and elsewhere has demonstrated that they do not have the wide support of Australia (Christian or otherwise) that they claim they do.
For those that missed it, Wallace tweeted (on ANZAC day no less) that:
Just hope that as we remember servicemen and women today we remember the Australia they fought for – wasn’t gay marriage and Islamic!
He later retracted his statement saying:
OK you are right my apologies this was the wrong context to raise these issues. ANZACs mean too much to me to demean this day, not intended
Note the lack of apologies to the LBGTIQ and Muslim communities… no instead we get a, “Oops, I shouldn’t have said this today of all days, I’ll come out and say this again at some other time and not feel even remotely guilty for erasing LGBTIQ service men and woman, and Muslim service men and women… oh and I’m totes justified in hating all of them because the bible says so.”
The news media picked this up, and didn’t go all out on Wallace as they should have, but they did publish some of the tweets that were made to him by outraged tweeters (see links). Some other responses are also here. Initially I was going to write about this being all wrong, and break-down the wrongness, but so many other excellent bloggers have already done my first response thoughts to these tweets here, here, here, here, and here, so I’ll not do that and go on a bit of a ramble about some things I thought about at lunch (ACL – this is SO not going away).
I thought it was interesting that Wallace was jumping on the Islamaphobia bandwagon, and targeting that religion over any other non-Christian denomination. I get that it’s all the rage to bash Islam, having blogged about it before, but if you’re going to suggest that Australia is a “Christian nation” then perhaps you should suggest that instead of “wasn’t gay marriage and Islamic” you might want to just say “was Christian” (because we get that Christianity and queerdom don’t go together). What about the Hindus, Buddhists, Zoroastrians, Taoists, Baha’i, Animists, Sikhs, Jews, etc? Clearly they’re not Christian, and given the insularity of the ACL brand of Christianity, why just target one religion and not every non-Christian religion?
I can tell you why, they’re just aiming at the racist arsehat xenophobes who Failbook at every opportunity (Trigger warning for racist and violent commentary). And as those xenophobes are called out by those standing against racism and xenophobia, Wallace’s racism and homophobia is being called out by… well a large portion of Australia.
And then you wonder how much Wallace knows about the history of the membership of Australia’s defence forces, as well as their current membership, which is would be why he didn’t use the phrase “Christian nation” because General Sir John Monash was Jewish. We don’t know Monash’s view on Islam or the LGBTIQ community, but given the massive amount of work he did after WW1 on improving the lives of every day Australians and widows from the war I think that this line in the wikipedia article (linked above) best sums it up:
Monash’s success in part reflected the tolerance of Australian society, but to a larger degree his success – in the harshest experience the young nation had suffered – shaped that tolerance and demonstrated to Australians that the Australian character was diverse, multi-ethnic and a blend of the traditions of the ‘bush’ and the ‘city’.
Amazingly, there are members of today’s Defence forces which aren’t Christian… I know, shocking isn’t it. The Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship put together a lovely booklet on Muslim Communities in Australia (pdf file). Pages 61 to 65 list three Muslim service people in today’s Defence Force with a quite bio on each of them (and they sound pretty awesome to me).
I also thought that I’d quote from this beautiful document put together by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade:
Australia has no official state religion and people are free to practise any religion they choose, as long they obey the law. Australians are also free not to have a religion.
Australia is a predominantly Christian country, with around 64 per cent of all Australians identifying as Christians. However, most other major religious faiths are also practised, reflecting Australia’s culturally diverse society.
Religious freedom is safeguarded by section 116 of the Australian Constitution, which prohibits the federal government from making any law establishing any religion, imposing any religious observance, or prohibiting the free exercise of any religion. Individuals are free to express a diversity of views, as long as they do not incite religious hatred.
Australia’s earliest religions or spiritual beliefs date back to Indigenous Australians, who have inhabited Australia for more than 40 000 years.
There was some early contact with Islam when Muslim fishermen and traders from the east Indonesian archipelago visited mainland Australia as far back as the 16th century to fish and to trade with local Indigenous people.
Non-Indigenous religions were introduced to Australia on a permanent basis with the settlement of Australia by Great Britain in 1788. The first group of British settlers and convicts included people adhering to a range of Christian denominations, although only the Church of England (Anglican) was formally established in the colony initially. During the 1800s, European settlers continued to bring their traditional churches to Australia, including the Catholic, Presbyterian, Methodist, Congregationalist, Lutheran and Baptist churches.
Subsequent waves of migrants brought non‑Christian religions to Australia. For example, the discovery of gold in Victoria and New South Wales in the 1850s attracted a huge influx of new settlers, including many Chinese Buddhists.
Since I’ve previously blogged on the ACL and their queerphobia, I’m not going to do that again (and it’s late and I want to go to bed).
Dear ACL, please remember the following lessons from the man you claim was the son of God:
1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:1-5 NIV)
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35 NIV)
I’d also like to link to the following two ABC religion articles, even though I don’t agree with them in their entirety. The first talks about how Christianity should be offensive (by being moral, loving and peaceful) and the second breaks down the wrongness of Wallace’s comments from a Christian perspective.
One day, most Christian denominations will realise that one or two verses prohibiting same-sex relationships are as worth discarding as those relating to dietary requirements, cloth manufacture, slavery, consumption of alcohol, women’s equality and the like.