Who’s the Christian here?

After 50 years practising as a Catholic priest, Father Peter Kennedy of South Brisbane is being dismissed from his service for ‘practices are out of communion with the Roman Catholic Church’.

The decision was that of Brisbane Archbishop John Bathersby alone, without advice from the Vatican.

The thing ‘bringing it to a head’ was a statue which Bathersby claimed was on the altar which some Catholics alleged was a Buddhist statue. Bathersby asked the statue be removed, which it eventually was.

Bathersby decided that Kennedy had breached the rules of the church. At issue for the Catholic corporation are possible invalid baptisms, blessings and marriages.

Bathersby also accused the South Brisbane parishioners of selling books ‘that claimed Jesus was not the son of god’.

“It’s awful when Christians fight with each other”, said Bathersby, speaking of letters from people cursing him to damnation and telling him to retire for his decision. Other letters disagreed with Kennedy.

One of the commenters to the news story says:

I’ve been to the St Mary’s church a few times. Father Kennedy allows
-parishioners to sit anywhere they like – including on the altar,
-freely gives communion to practising homosexuals,
-openly acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land the church is built on,
-allows the homeless to sleep in the church when it is not in use,
-openly calls some church leaders power hungry and bigoted,
-welcomes Muslims and Jews into the church and allows them to watch or participate in the church and even in the Mass as a means of lowering barriers (after all, all 3 religions worship the God of Abraham and Isaac)
-lowers ‘property values’ by allowing the homeless to work and help themselves to the produce at an orchard on the Church grounds
-says “there are many paths to God, not just through the Roman Church” and actually means it
-and more….

The trigger for this was that someone complained to the Archbishop that there was something that appeared to be a statue of the Buddha in the entrance hall of St Mary’s church. It’s just a nominal excuse – but was good enough.

Another commenter wryly says:

I think that all decent and right-thinking Christians will want to congratulate The Archbishop for taking this stand against the corruption of the ideals of Jesus Christ. All decent and right-thinking Christians know that Jesus Christ founded His Church on some very simple and profound principles:
1. Love your neighbour as yourself unless he or she is gay or poor or otherwise marginalised.
2. Always strive to accumulate as much money and political power as you can.
3. The is only one way to God and that is by following the teaching and rules laid down by the Church Hierarchy who are His representatives on Earth and who are well versed in God’s Laws.
4. Contribute generously to all Church collections.

Bathersby for Pope!!

Kennedy is considering his options – the church considers he can resign or be dismissed on February 21.

“I’ve been here 28 years and I know this community is solidly behind me, and so we could go elsewhere,” he said.

In the letter, Archbishop Bathersby says parishioners cannot be stopped from breaking away but has warned them they will not be in communion with the Roman Catholic Church.

The parishioners are staunchly with Kennedy:

Parishioners at the Brisbane parish say will continue to celebrate mass in their own way.

Margaret Ortiz from the St Mary’s leadership group says the congregation is staying put and Father Kennedy will continue to say mass.

“They would have to come a physically remove us,” she said.

Vince Knauth, also from St Mary’s leadership group, says it is not right that Father Kennedy is being singled out.

“Statistically this week 4,392 priests and deacons of the United States were subject to allegations of child molestation – that’s between 1950 and 2002,” he said.

“Two per cent of those were actually put behind bars.

“Peter [Kennedy] would be in better books with the Catholic church if he’d molested a child than what we’re doing here.”

Father Kennedy has appealed to the Archbishop to reconsider.

Des Houghton throws a petulant fit over at the spurious Mail, to which one commenter replies:

There was no Buddhist statue – it was a praying monk, unlike any variation of a statue of Buddha. The people I know who regularly attend St Marys are definitely not socialist-lefties. Yes, St Mary’s priests have been imprudently defiant regarding Baptisms & gay union blessings but if every Catholic Church showed the vitality and welcome to all shown there our church would be in a much better state. Perhaps the true test of their Christianity will be the way they treat the new appointee.

Parishioners are so committed to Kennedy they are prepared to pay his stipend themselves ‘from the regular money collection take up during masses’.

Archbishop Bathersby has warned any parishioners loyal to Fr Kennedy will be excluded from the church if they followed the priest to any new venture.

This week the Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell, gave his tacit blessing for the possible excommunication of Father Kennedy.

Some innovative moves could ensue should the sacking of Kennedy proceed.

Father Kennedy says his style of service has attracted many people back to church who otherwise would not attend. Up to 900 people attend weekend Mass at St Mary’s, he says.

The local Aboriginal community has threatened to invoke a “sacred treaty” over the St Mary’s site if the archdiocese sacks Father Kennedy.

Marcus Kuczynski sees other possibilities afoot:

Fr Kennedy and the St Mary’s Community have indicated they will not accept the archbishop’s decision and will continue holding services in the church beyond this deadline.

This sort of protest has been played out in dozens of Catholic parishes overseas, particularly in the United States and England, usually triggered by anger over the closure of a church or parish.

In some places, such as Leeds in England, parishioners have been even known to chain themselves to the church railings and refuse to budge.

Having attended several services at St Mary’s in the past and knowing what a strong sense of social justice they have, I can foresee a similar sort of organised protest emanating from South Brisbane.

Under canon law, St Mary’s Church remains the property of the Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane. But ownership rights could become complicated if native title is invoked. St Mary’s has a close relationship with the original indigenous owners of the land on which St Mary’s is built and the parish community signed a treaty with them last year.

To further aggravate matters, St Stephen’s Cathedral dean Fr Ken Howell has been appointed to also be administrator of St Mary’s in a caretaker role. He is known as a strictly-by-the-book type of pastor, has served as Archbishop Bathersby’s secretary and is one of his closest confidantes. He would not be popular with many of those who currently attend St Mary’s.

Archbishop Bathersby has taken a heavy hand to quash irregular activities within his archdiocese. But, in the process, he risks alienating hundreds of followers who may never step inside another Catholic church again.

Considering Catholic Church census statistics in Australia show it manages to attract only about 13 per cent of people claiming a Catholic identity to Mass each week, the archbishop is effectively dispossessing a sizeable proportion of those who enjoy attending the current services at St Mary’s.

Might we end up with the first Indigenous Church of Australia?

Jesus’s message contained in John 3:17 is clear:

For God sent His Son into the world not to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

Bathersby’s actions undermine Jesus’s position of tolerance. God’s supposed earthly representative, the Pope, usurps Jesus’s power and condemns divorced people and homosexuals amongst others and denies women power within its clergy, in contradiction to the gospels.

Galatians 3:28:

There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Why would one in the first place, want to belong to a discriminatory sect which so clearly departs from logical appreciation of what is after all, only a belief system, with little if any grounding in rational evidence or historical fact?

UPDATE 11 FEB

Recommended – NoCharCom’s cartoon on Christian hate.

Devastation is the Bible’s Fault – the Fringe is Mainstream

TV documentary icon Sir Richard Attenborough can hardly be accused of being an environmental extremist – and now he’s confirming that which we on the Fringe have been saying for donkey’s years – the Old Testament Christian god is an irresponsible, ignorant, environmental vandal. The predominant cause of current planetary environmental devastation has roots in myths inculcated in western unconsciousnesses by primitive idiocies in the Bible, that selective, tarnished collection of fairy stories.

The destruction of the planet is encouraged in the English translation of the book of Genesis. Attenborough points out ‘the devastation of the environment has its roots in the first words that God supposedly uttered to humankind, as detailed in Genesis 1:28: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.”‘

An atheist raised in an academic, non-religious family, Sir David said Genesis peddled untruths about how animals and plants appeared on earth and was also at the root of why there was now serious environmental degradation due to the greedy overexploitation of the earth’s natural resources.

“The influence of the Book of Genesis, which says the Lord God said ‘go forth and multiply’ to Adam and Eve and ‘the natural world is there for you to dominate’, [is that] you have dominion over the animals and plants of the world,” Sir David said.

“That basic notion, that the world is there for us and if it doesn’t actually serve our purposes, it’s dispensable, that has produced the devastation of vast areas of the land’s surface.

“Of course it’s a gross oversimplification, but that’s why Darwinism, and the fact of evolution, is of great importance because it is that attitude which has led to the devastation of so much, and we are in the situation that we are in,” he told the science journal Nature.

How different the planet might have been if Genesis had been translated to say, “live in harmony with the planet and don’t over-populate to the detriment of other creatures with whom you shares its space, for if you do, therein lies your doom.”

Interestingly, the more intellectually advanced New Testament in Revelations 11:18, says: “And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.”

Perhaps not as many people finished reading the book as those who began it.

In contrast, the Koran contains numerous references to the environment, and it’s being used to teach environmentalism in countries like Indonesia.

The Koran, Suaedy says, contains numerous references to environmental protection, including the line: “Don’t do destruction upon this earth.” At one point, the Koran equates a human life with that of a tree: “Do not kill women, elders, children, civilians or trees.”

Saleem Ali, associate dean of graduate studies at the Rubenstein School for the Environment at the University of Vermont, says Islamic environmentalism can be traced back to the religion’s origins in the seventh century.

“The advent of Islam as an organized religion occurred in the desert environment of Arabia, and hence there was considerable attention paid to ecological concerns within Islamic ethics,” he said. “There is a reverence of nature that stems from essential pragmatism within the faith.”

Lo! We offered the trust
Unto the heavens and the
Earth and the hills,
But they shrank from bearing it
And were afraid of it
And man assumed it
Lo! He is a tyrant and a fool

—The Koran 33:72

Buddhism also contains elements of respect for life other than human on the planet.

Environmental efforts based on Buddhism include ordaining selected trees and groves as symbolic members of a Buddhist order.47 With its strong ethical basis, Buddhism has been connected to the Deep Ecology movement, as has Hinduism to a lesser extent.

For atheists like us, science and the history of civilisations more than adequately explain what happens when populations crash after devouring the resources that sustain them.

As recommended by Syd, Bill Hicks gets the last word here:

Australian Net Censorship Catchup

No improvement to be seen, no word on when Conroy’s useless net censorship trials are to commence – and ratbag Christian fundamentalist wowsers are still prancing their absurdities, flopping their limp wobbly bits for all to see.

Refresh yourself with current ultra-conservative blither and far more intelligent anti-filter rejoinders:

Summary: Mark Newton Vs Jim Wallace on ABC Radio National net censorship debate

Unfortunately, Mr Wallace either doesn’t understand what ‘prohibited content‘ consists of or he has outright lied on air as the ACL’s pro filter website states ‘Despite fear-mongering about censorship, adults will be able to opt in to view some forms of legal porn.’ Just some forms of legal porn Jim?

Life Matters Mandatory Internet Filtering Transcript

Syd Walker comments on the Life Matters program followup forum

Stilgherrian at Crikey writes Who supports compulsory Internet filtering, exactly?

The Christian Right continues to be Conroy’s main supporter. Only last weekend the Fairfax news sites carried the Australian Christian Lobby’s Jim Wallace’s argument for compulsory filtering, which I have deconstructed elsewhere.

Curiously, Wallace uses exactly the same two examples of over-the-top p-rnography, r-pe and b-stiality, that Hamilton used in his polemic for the ABC News website in November. Who’s coordinating whose talking points here?

Stilgherrian again – Jim Wallace’s pro-censorship lies and distortions

Since Wallace promotes himself as a representative of good Christian values, I’ll allow that he may just be ignorant rather than a deliberate liar. Ignorance is no sin: it can be cured with knowledge. But he does use the familiar fraudulent propaganda techniques: misrepresenting his opponents; cherry-picking numbers; failing to explore the implications of those numbers; citing the same suspect Australia Institute report; and wrapping it up in the same old “protect the children” cant.

Websinthe contributes a Response to Jim Wallace’s puddle of misinformation

Time and time again, the assertion that ‘this system is not going to stop any adult from viewing anything that is legal’ has been debunked by close analysis of the relevant legislation. The ACMA black-list bans content that, while illegal to broadcast, is perfectly legal for an adult to view. For instance, where the ACMA receives a complaint about foreign internet content. The content isn’t even forwarded to the classification board; if the ACMA ‘thinks’ it might be prohibited, it is classified as ‘potentially prohibited’ and thrown on the ACMA black-list. It is not illegal until it has been classified as such. Only Australian hosted content is forwarded to the classification board.

A clear example of this occurred only a few days ago. An anti-abortion web site was added to the ACMA black-list despite two things. Firstly, there was no pornographic or child exploitation material on the website, and secondly, the DBCDE had previously claimed that political content would not be blocked.

In The Contents of the ACMA blacklist, Websinthe further reveals the nature of the beast:

The Contents of the ACMA blacklist …are not publicly available. You can, however, determine if a site is ON the list.

Vendors of PC based filters that were offered by the Government can be used to determine whether a site is on the ACMA blacklist by the message given when the site is blocked.

I post this mainly to defer questions about whether or not I have a copy of the ACMA blacklist. I don’t, it is not publicly available. The only way I have been able to tell that the above is possible is because I use Integard on my own PC and it blocked a google result whilst searching for the origins of a meme mentioned on Twitter.

Anyone familiar with Memes knows the particular wiki site to which I refer, but I refuse to link it here as I fear it may be illegal to do so despite the site’s frequent mentioning on perfectly legal websites.

When an ACMA blacklisted site is blocked by a Net Alert filter there is no option for a system administrator to unblock the site and the user is informed that the site is permanently blocked.

Given the nature of this site, it is confirmation that the ACMA does not just filter the illicit parts of sites, but the entire site.

Over at Public Polity, Websinthe strikes again with How legal content will be blocked by the ISP filter

In simpler terms, anything that, if it were a print publication, would be classified as RC, X18+, R18+ or MA15+ will be added to the list of prohibited content if it were hosted outside Australia. There are two interesting provisos here as well.

The MA15+ content would only be blocked if it were a video that wasn’t hosted on a news site. Regardless of who’s hosting it, it is prohibited if transmitted for money over a mobile phone network.

Either way, MA15+ and R18+ content is far from illegal in Australia. Just go down to Blockbuster and hire Interview with a Vampire. Even X18+ print publications are legal in some parts of the country.

Currently it is illegal to host anything in the 4 categories above in Australia. Doing so results in a take down notice.

So when Conroy says “the Australian Government has no plans to stop adults from viewing material that is currently legal”, it is entirely deceptive.


No Character Comic (which is ALSO Websinthe), takes the piss out of Conroy superbly

Syd Walker presents Australia’s Holy Man likes a Good War

In satisfyingly satirical pictorial and literary fashion, machinegunkeyboard says

If you think Australians are serious about their beer, as Razer notes, they’re downright bolshie about their porn. Senator Conroy wants to make the internet conform to Australia’s film and literature censorship laws. In the extraordinarily unlikely event that Labor’s mandatory filtering scam is successful, not only will they bolster the business of ‘restricted premises’ to a degree they’ve never before known (does Conroy or other Labor pol own an interest in any porn shops, I wonder?), but will also very likely create a mountainous public backlash that will see both Labor voted out of government after only one term and the dissolution of the OFLC.

Aside from the unproven claims of a few anti-porn extremists, there’s no psychological evidence that use (or creation) of nonviolent pornography by adults as part of a healthy sex life is in any way harmful to anyone. However, as is usually the case with any manner of prohibition, bans force it all ‘underground.’ Everything from pinup cheesecake to violent rape fantasy porn is far away from public scrutiny, thusly making all porn much more available, inclusive of violent and exploitative sorts.

Won’t somebody think of Helen’s sex life?

Have I missed any other recent worthy contributions to the struggle to maintain decent, liberal Australian internet standards? Please let me know.

Boycott Israel & Their Supporters

We have boycotted Israeli products as far as practicable for all our lives – for the oppressive Occupation and brutality perpetrated by the apartheid pariah state has been going on that long. Perhaps at this point we should make it clear that we regard all people as deserving of human rights and justice, regardless of race, religion and culture. The justice we’d prefer for Israel’s arch mass murderers would be long prison terms.

Barghouti illuminates for us how academic freedom in Israel includes the freedom to call for killing of others including mass murder despite declarations of genocide being a war crime, let alone just the illegality of inciting of violence and racial hatred in most western countries.

Despite its substantial Arab-Palestinian student population, Haifa University harbors, or at least tolerates, a culture of racism — against Arabs in general and Palestinians in particular — which manifests itself in the fact that members of its faculty espouse racist “theories,” publish bigoted research papers, and advocate ethnic cleansing with impunity. The university has consistently and systematically failed to censure such academics or to properly investigate accusations of racism raised against them.

It provides institutional support to racist academics and their research activities. The most notorious of these academics is Arnon Sofer, chair of geo-strategy at Haifa University and vice-chair of its Center for National Security Studies. He is also known in Israel as the prophet of the “Arab demographic threat.” He takes credit for the route of the Israeli apartheid wall — declared illegal by the International Court of Justice in the Hague, on July 9, 2004 — saying, “This is exactly my map.”

Prof. Sofer, who views the high birth rate of the Bedouin Palestinian citizens of Israel as a “tragedy,” and has no patience for “democracy and pretty words,” [6] has for many years openly advocated “voluntary transfer” — or soft ethnic cleansing — of Palestinians in the occupied territories as well as Palestinian citizens of Israel, in order to guarantee “a Zionist-Jewish state with an overwhelming majority of Jews.” In one particularly telling prediction, Sofer says, “When 2.5 million [Palestinians] live in a closed-off Gaza, those people will become even bigger animals than they are today, with the aid of an insane fundamentalist Islam. So, if we want to remain alive, we will have to kill and kill and kill. All day, every day. If we don’t kill, we will cease to exist. The only thing that concerns me is how to ensure that the [Jewish] boys and men who are going to have to do the killing will be able to return home to their families and be normal human beings.” [7]

According to Barghouti there are however taboos within academia:

“The Zionist ideology which stipulates that Israel must retain its Jewish majority is a non-debatable given in the country — and the bedrock of opposition to allowing the return of Palestinian refugees. The very few intellectuals who dare to question this sacred cow are labeled ‘extremists’.” Ben-Dor attacks those in the Israeli “left” who opposed the boycott as “sophisticated accomplices to the smothering of debate .”

That antisocial, dysfunctional, racist behaviour is tolerated amongst academic leaders may explain in some way how Israeli politicians have made calls to violence so frequently throughout the short, violent existence of Israel without censure, committal to psychiatric institutions or jail. When leaders express sociopathic murderous intent, they can engender it amongst the populace as well. This promotion of violence as a public ethic may also explain the feelings of Israel’s neighbours toward it. Israel – paranoid, sociopathic and suffering from a bad case of Munchausen’s Syndrome by Proxy.

Boycott calls renewed after Israel bombs University Teachers Assn.

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott learned today from its Steering Committee member Dr. Haidar Eid that the headquarters of the University Teachers Association-Palestine, in Gaza, was bombed by the Israeli occupation forces during their indiscriminate, willful destruction campaign in the Tel al-Hawa neighborhood of Gaza City on Friday.

This latest wanton attack on an academic organization is far from being an exception. It is only the latest episode in what Oxford University academic Karma Nabulsi has termed “scholasticide,” or Israel’s systematic and intentional destruction of Palestinian education centers. In its current war on Gaza alone, Israel has bombed the ministry of education, the Islamic University of Gaza, and tens of schools, including at least four UNRWA [the United Nations agency for Palestine refugees] schools, after having largely destroyed the infrastructure of teaching throughout the year and a half of its illegal and criminal siege of the densely populated Gaza Strip.

Specifically, and as a minimal response to these Israeli atrocities and grave violations of international law and the most basic human rights, PACBI calls on academics, academic unions, intellectuals, cultural workers and institutions the world over to intensify the boycott of all Israeli academic and cultural institutions due to their complicity in the Israeli occupation and other forms of oppression against the Palestinian people. Putting an end to Israel’s impunity and holding it accountable is the moral responsibility of every conscientious human being today.

Here’s some links to assist you to support Palestinian rights when next you go shopping.

Palestinian Mothers

Boycott Israel Campaign

Israel’s attack on Gaza demonstrated clearly the need for Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS)

Israel’s bar code prefix is 729. More information here.

Israeli fruit and veg leave a bitter aftertaste

Finally, in case a hasbaranik tries to convince you to rip out the Intel chip in your computer – Intel has 3 manufacturing plants in China, the US and Israel.

For those who try to tell you cell phones were invented in Israel

Veolia looses 3,5 billion EUR contract in Sweden – this is a significant loss for Israeli industry brought about by concerned citizens in Stockholm.

Oxford City Council boycotts Israel

This is clearly another sign of the importance for commercial actors not to have their brand associated to unethical behaviour, in the case of illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian territory we can already see a trend of international companies who are moving out their operations from settlements, says Joakim Wohlfeil at the Swedish development organization Diakonia.

Get involved with the Global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Program to help Palestine and stop Israeli apartheid.

BOYCOTT ISRAEL! Launched in Marawi City – Philippines

A Moral Choice – Divesting from the Israeli Occupation

International Writers and Scholars Endorse Academic Boycott of Israel

We reject as false Israel’s characterization of its military attacks on Gaza as retaliation. Israel’s latest assault on Gaza is part of its longtime racist jurisprudence against its indigenous Palestinian population, during which the Israeli state has systematically dispossessed, starved, tortured, and economically exploited the Palestinian people.

We reject as untrue the Israeli government’s claims that the Palestinians use civilians as human shields, and that Hamas is an irredeemable terrorist organization. Without endorsing its platforms or philosophy, we recognize Hamas as a democratically elected ruling party. We do not endorse the regime of any existing Arab state, and call for the upholding of internationally mandated human rights and democratic elections in all Arab states.

Why I’m Boycotting Israeli Produce:

Fruit and vegetable exports are crucial to the Israeli economy. A consumer boycott of agricultural produce exerts direct economic pressure where it matters

Israel’s agricultural exporting company, Carmel Agrexco, is one of the biggest suppliers of fresh produce to the UK.

We can use the same tactic against Israel that was so effective in showing up South Africa as the apartheid state it once was. The parallels with South Africa are striking. Writing in the Guardian, Naomi Klein recently reminded us of the words of Ronnie Kasrils, a prominent South African politician, who said in 2007 that the segregation he saw in the West Bank and Gaza was “infinitely worse than apartheid”.

So what, exactly, is he talking about? While we have been munching our way through its avocadoes, Israel has demolished Palestinian homes, evicted their occupants and expropriated their land and water resources. It has illegally colonised productive Palestinian land with waves of settlers. A boycott of Israeli fruit and vegetables, as opposed to other sorts of boycott (academic, sporting), is particularly apt because horticulture has been a major plank of Israeli expansion. Medjoul dates in the Jordan Valley, for example, base their operations on confiscated Palestinian land, in contravention of international law and the Fourth Geneva Convention.

As if that wasn’t enough, Israel has effectively imprisoned Palestinians with checkpoints, an illegal wall and an oppressive system of travel permits and colour-coded identity cards, so scuppering Palestinian economic development. As OXFAM told the House of Commons International Development Committee (pdf), costs for Palestinians who want to export products are up to 70% higher than for Israelis. Settlers in the West Bank get direct access to markets in and through Israel without the disruptive road blocks and transfers faced by the Palestinians who are obliged to rely on Israeli intermediaries. The revenue from taxes and customs goes to Israel, which costs the Palestinian economy 3% of its GDP a year.

By refusing to buy Israeli produce, ethically-minded consumers can be part of the wider Boycott Israeli Goods campaign (BIG) and add to the international condemnation of Israel’s tactics in Palestine. The reasons for a boycott precede the most recent open conflict and are ever-more important. Even if the current shaky ceasefire holds, Gaza will still be an open prison and Palestine will still be a country whose food economy is actively sabotaged by its powerful neighbour. Just at the moment, many people don’t have any appetite for Israeli produce. A boycott gives us something to do about it.