Category Archives: Relgion

Does Legislated Religious Freedom Lead to Discrimination?

In the public interest.

I did have some confusion around the difference between freedom of religion and religious freedom.  today I am clear.  The former is about people having the freedom to follow a religion without persecution.  The latter is about a specific Religious Freedom to behaviour in ways in accordance with that religion.  Israel Falou would be a case in point. On the one hand he is practicing Religious Freedom believing homosexuals will go to Hell, on the other hand he is discriminating as he is viewing those who are homosexual as abominations in the eyes of God according to the Bible.

I will provide two viewpoints one from homosexuals and one from Christians. The underlying point is that religious observance can cause division in our society and potential discrimination and vilification.

http://www.lovethetruth.com/evils/homosexuality/abomination.htm

I note this statement as general and potentially dangerous to homosexuals as a community.  I do know a homosexual female couple and they certainly are NOT the following:

The homosexual activist movement and organized pedophiles are linked together by a common goal: To gain access to children for seduction into homosexuality.

The other side of perspective:

LGBTQ + Religion

This came into my inbox about the Religious Discrimination Bill.  Below is my video referring to Turning the Tide.

Religious Discrimination Bill threat to inclusive services

Hi susan,

Equality Australia has released a statement calling on the Government to remove unbalanced provisions in the proposed Religious Discrimination Bill, which threaten safe and inclusive workplaces and services.

These provisions would give licence to people to discriminate against others or make demeaning comments if they claim to be motivated by their religion, and would override long standing federal and state anti-discrimination laws.

CHP is committed to the principle that all workers and consumers in our sector should have a workplace, or receive a service, in dignity and without discrimination. That’s why we have signed up to urge the Government not to implement the Bill, and encourage others to join us.
Sign the discrimination statement
or learn more about the Bill and its impacts.

Faith-based organisations, including Anglicare Victoria, Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand, Jewish Care Victoria, McAuley Community Services for Women, Sacred Heart Mission and Uniting Vic.Tas, are also joining this call for action and have developed a dedicated faith-based organisation’s statement to call on Government to not implement the Bill.

To find out more, get in touch with David or Paige from Equality Australia.

My video on YouTube is below.  This reference is the book I am showing.  https://barnabasfund.org/en/news/Our-Religious-Freedom-campaign-booklet-Turn-The-Tide-quoted-extensively-during-parliamentary-debate

I discuss inspiration, direct connection and love.  The challenge is can you love the unloveable?

The video comments do not condone any sexual act that harms adults or children.  Abuse is another matter and has to be confronted and the perpetrator held to account and if possible, reformed.

I raise the issue of religious government. This is a card on the table in Australia likely linked to US far right politics.

This video was inspired.

The Vatican, Illegality and when the Holy Can’t See

In the public interest. What the holy can’t see won’t hurt them hmmmm. Corruption is revealing unethical and criminal behaviour in an institution that preaches moral virtues and humility. This is the lesson for the Catholic church (and others). The trust of the people is what has been betrayed overtime. One can’t just confess sins it is to face what actions have done to innocent people. So a person would have to go to those personally he or she affected. This is how the crime is seen and felt. Forgiveness is then the next step of one’s greed, lust, indifference. The corruption of character.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-vaticans-dirty-money-problem

The Vatican’s Dirty Money Problem

 
FISHY

A mysterious firing and a new report on the Vatican’s creative bookkeeping begs the question: Why does no one ever get in trouble for laundering money at the Holy See?

Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast

 

ROME—In 2015, the Council of Europe’s financial-evaluation arm Moneyval laid down the law for the Vatican Bank, telling the rather unholy financiers who had been accused of abetting money laundering for years that it isn’t enough to just smoke out suspicious account holders and freeze assets. Instead they said the Vatican Bank, formally known as the Institute for Religious Works, or IOR, needed to start actually prosecuting criminal cases.

Two years later, thousands of accounts have been closed or frozen, but Moneyval still isn’t happy. According to its 209-page December 2017 progress report, the Vatican gets good marks for not funding terrorism and for flagging potential illegal behavior. But the holy bank fails once again to actually hold anyone accountable for what are clearly crimes such as “fraud, including serious tax evasion, misappropriation and corruption,” according to the report.

More curious still, a week before the highly anticipated report was released, the IOR Deputy Director Giulio Mattietti was fired with no advance warning and escorted from his office out of fear he might remove files from his desk.

Mattietti was hired in 2007 by Paolo Cipriani, the former head of the bank who resigned under pressure a few months after Pope Francis was elected in 2013, after a Vatican accountant nicknamed “Monsignor 500” for his penchant for 500-euro notes, was arrested for trying to smuggle $26 million to Switzerland. Mattietti’s removal followed the sacking of a lower-level IOR employee days earlier. The Vatican gives no official reason for either of the firings beyond “reforms,” but a source close to the bank says the bank employees who were let go may have been whistleblowers who were alerting officials outside the bank about continuing impropriety.

In fact, despite apparently precise record keeping on the part of IOR, Moneyval evaluators still found 69 actions involving 38 customers that were not in accordance with money laundering and fraud standards set forth by the Council of Europe. None of those suspect cases were prosecuted to the fullest extent under the law, and instead Moneyval investigators point to vague records that imply that the cases were closed.

“Eight money-laundering investigations have been closed formally without any charges, while six additional investigations have been concluded without an indictment for any offense and their formal closure has been requested,” the report states.

And that is a problem.

The report specifically points to the recent Vatican tribunal case in which the chairman of the Vatican’s children’s hospital was accused of serious financial crimes using around a half million euros in funds meant for sick children to renovate a penthouse apartment for the former Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone. The cardinal was never under investigation, but the hospital’s former president and treasurer were tried in a Vatican court for using funds they funneled through the Vatican Bank.

Moneyval is calling foul on the judicial outcome. The chairman was given a suspended sentence and the treasurer was acquitted even though the money clearly was misappropriated. “An immediate custodial sentence was not imposed on the former chairman of the  foundation. He received a one-year suspended prison sentence and was placed on probation for five years,” the report notes, adding the fact that there was “no application for restitution or compensation to the foundation.” That means the half-million that was criminally mishandled will never go to the sick children for whom it originally was intended.

In this case, Moneyval evaluators have advised the Vatican’s “promoter of justice,” or chief prosecutor, to “impose a fine, as foreseen by the law, in addition to the custodial sentence” essentially demanding that the chairman spend his year in prison.

The Moneyval report also outlines a case in which a Vatican Bank customer who was “a foreign citizen” and not a Vatican resident, withdrew more than $3 million from his private IOR account and deposited that money into three separate safety deposit boxes kept in the bank, which was a practice apparently used by Mother Teresa and others who had big sums of money but who lacked the paperwork to move it around legally.

The Moneyval report says that the cash was then subsequently “gradually withdrawn from the safety boxes and transferred to a third country without declarations.” In 2014, the Vatican Bank reported the case and suspended access to the safety boxes, the contents of which, by then, had been depleted. An unnamed foreign country then opened its own investigation into the deposit of the same sum ($3 million) that had apparently come from the Vatican Bank account.

The Vatican tribunal originally levied a sanction of more than $250,000 on the customer, but in a secret hearing in June of this year, the Vatican promoter of justice apparently reduced the fine by more than half. “The appeal against the administrative sanction was heard by the Vatican Tribunal in June 2017, when the fine, was reduced considerably,” according to the Moneyval report. Moneyval then leaned on the Vatican’s promoter of justice to reopen the case and consider reinstituting the original fine for apparent money laundering but found that “So far there has been no indictment in this case.”

The evaluators went further to suggest the promoter of justice is actually complicit in keeping cases out of its courts. “While this review cannot form a view on the quality of the evidence adduced in financial-crime cases that have so far come before the Tribunal, the success rate of the promoter before the tribunal so far is not encouraging,”  the evaluators state. “It is noted that persons have been discharged by the tribunal. That is the tribunal’s prerogative, having heard the evidence in the case. However, if the promoter is dissatisfied with evidential decisions of the tribunal or decisions of the tribunal to convict on lesser charges than those brought by his office, he is encouraged to be proactive in appealing those decisions in appropriate cases.”

The bank once had more than 30,000 account holders, including several religious entities and private citizens who maintained accounts worth millions at the hallowed institution, which is tucked safely within the sovereign state of  Vatican City. The bank has since closed several high-profile accounts, including many held by diplomatic missions and the consulates to Syria, Iran, and Iraq who moved millions of euros around through “vague cash transactions,” but it has never been able to shake its troubled past.

Last June the Vatican’s prefect of the Secretariat of the Economy, Cardinal George Pell was sent back to Australia to face child sex-abuse charges in early 2018, leaving a notable gap in the pope’s efforts to reform the church’s troubled finances, which had been a priority since his election in 2013.

The Vatican had little to say after the recent Moneyval report. “The Holy See is committed to taking the necessary actions in the relevant areas to further strengthen its efforts to combat and prevent financial crimes,” was the only official word from the Vatican press office. Just shortly after he was elected, Pope Francis threatened to close the bank for good after widespread allegations that it was involved in corrupt practices including money laundering. No doubt he has been second-guessing the decision to keep it open ever since.

Is PM Scott Morrison Implementing the Promised Land? For whom?

I found this article.

If The Conversation has analysed Pentecostalism correctly I can see issues for those in material poverty. Yet my inner feeling draws me to those in spiritual poverty. This is divided into them and us, with us or against us, acceptable or unacceptable in the so called eyes of God (if God had eyes).

I will sit with this for a moment as I go to silence to allow illumination.

The Meek Will Inherit the Earth comes immediately. They are the ones who live where need=want or what is popularly coined ‘poor’. There is no other when Love is centre stage. Love is God, God is Love, God is Truth, Love is Truth. These are the same thing. So when anyone moves from love on the basis of belief they move from what they perceive or label God. God in itself is not the truth as it creates in the mind a single being when the essence of a living intelligence permeates all things and non things. It is creation and created. It is science and faith, all One. As live is creative, expressive, expansive and infinite.

Has God appointed Scott Morrison to lead Australia to the promised land? What was the promise? What land? Or is the state of grace a feeling experienced? Land is owned by no-one in truth it is a gift that brings forth life for all. Land does not give to this one and not that one. Land is abundant when we allow nature to regenerate its bounty. Did God appoint Scott. There are no appointments, only realisations, there are no chosen only those who choose themselves to awaken to love as the only truth we can imagine. What is love, it is unconditional acceptance of what is, it lets go of control and allows as this higher power has its own geometric balance, or you can imagine homeostasis that rebalances the opposites as part of the dynamic. Not unlike magnets – attraction, repulsion creating intense pull or repulsion as the dance of opposites or like. the positive and negative play out the same way. When we are positive we tend to have a centrifugal effect when negative a centripetal effect. This is how energy moves. Emotion is energy in motion. That is when we feel the wide array of emotions we experience the negative and positive of life attracting or repelling. Stillpoint is neutrality which is a place of no thought, rest and infinite potential. It is where what is new emerges. So when this is understood we come back to first principles that we as part of this mental, physical, emotional, spiritual dynamic are creating the life and times we move through. Love simply allows as there is nothing to fear. Fear is false evidence appearing real, it is a dark energy as they put it but again the negative as part of the polarity. If we lean in one direction and head in that direction then we create the so called hell on earth. This does not mean do nothing in respect of climate change or wars as it is all God’s will. This is an incorrect understanding of the higher light. Like nature this power gives, experiences and renews. The climate is reflecting the imbalance in humans impacting nature. We have tried to contain this higher intelligence in ‘words’ without integrating the whole as who we are. When we feel fulfilled we are whole. The Christians call this born again. I call it realisation. When you move in life from a position of the whole, you will rebalance what is out of balance. We are co-creating systems that are not aligned with nature and nature cannot lose. The firs, feminine, disasters that many regard as the end times are the outcome of imbalance. Framing our world in an economics of scarcity within a gender imbalance of patriarchy that views its standing as superior rather than equal (not all but many). Equality is not about social justice it is a natural state of balance, not unlike the equilateral triangle. The strength is inherent in the equal sides in balance. That is why the pyramids were designed in a pyramidal structure. Balance can be translated into fairness, where the so-called bounty of nature is apportioned fairly. In the current economic malaise nature is apportioned unfairly as those with the gold rule the world rather than behaving as stewards. The sense of entitlement emerges from the false belief that God is rewarding them confirming a god given right to rule. This is not accurate the so-called God (I call omni [omnipresent]), like nature allows the imbalance as we learn from life rather than having edicts to control us. Love doesn’t control, it allows. It has no preference as there are no favourites, there is only creation creating. Specialness is the ego seeking to be superior, more important, chosen and powerful. Nature is selfless, yielding, allowing, embracing and giving. That is the energy of this higher light. We all get to choose as that is freedom or what I term free dominion. In my world there is no less than or greater than, just one love big enough for all. I live in a state of gratitude as I am labelled the poor, yet spiritually I feel the abundance beyond words.

So let’s turn to The Conversation’s analysis in our economic world of religion and the state in pursuit of the all powerful.

https://theconversation.com/five-aspects-of-pentecostalism-that-shed-light-on-scott-morrisons-politics-117511

 
Prime Minister Scott Morrison sings during a service at the Horizon Church in Sydney in April. Mick Tsikas/AAP

Five aspects of Pentecostalism that shed light on Scott Morrison’s politics

Prime Minister Scott Morrison began his victory speech on Saturday with the words, “I have always believed in miracles”. This was no mere hyperbole. Morrison appeared to be declaring his belief that God had actively intervened in the political process to bring about his re-election.

Morrison’s Pentecostal Christian faith is at the centre of his understanding of political life. He invited cameras to film him while worshipping at his church, Horizon, in southern Sydney. And in his maiden speech to Parliament in 2008, he described Pentecostal Hillsong Church leader Brian Houston as his “mentor” and himself as standing for “the immutable truths and principles of the Christian faith”.

In Morrison, the marketing man joins the evangelical preacher. When he tells his listeners, “I will burn for you”, this references the Biblical text, “Never let the fire in your heart go out,” (Romans 12.11). And, if he stays true to his church’s Pentecostal doctrine, he presumably believes in a personal Devil “who, by his influence, brought about the downfall of man”.

What then, are the key aspects of Pentecostal belief that will likely shape Morrison’s actions as a re-elected Prime Minister commanding huge authority in his party?

Miracles

Morrison’s Horizon Church is part of the broader Pentecostal movement that emerged in the United States in the early 20th century. That miracles happen is a central tenet of Pentecostalism. As a religion, it sees itself as re-creating the gifts of the Spirit experienced by the earliest Christian worshippers. Along with the working of miracles, these included speaking in tongues and healings. They remain central features of Pentecostal belief and worship today.

Divine providence

Morrison’s mention of an election miracle coheres with the Pentecostal belief in the divine providence. Put simply, this is the belief that, in spite of the apparent chaos in the world, as the old song puts it, “He’s got the whole world in his hands”.

According to Pentecostal theology, all of history – and the future – is in the control of God; from creation, to the Fall of humanity in the Garden of Eden, to the redemption of all in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In turn, this will lead to the second coming of Christ, the end of the world and the final judgement.

This is why further action on reducing carbon emissions to counter the environmental damage wrought by climate change may have little intellectual purchase with the PM. If the end of the world through climate change is part of God’s providential plan, there is precious little that we need to or can do about it.

Coral bleaching in the Kimberley region in 2017. If climate change is part of God’s plan, there is precious little we need do about it. University of Western Australia

Prosperity theology

In keeping with his theology, Morrison appears to see himself as chosen by God to lead us all towards his understanding of the promised land, which as we know means, “If you have a go, you get a go”.

This “have a go” philosophy sits squarely within Pentecostal prosperity theology. This is the view that belief in God leads to material wealth. Salvation too has a connection to material wealth – “Jesus saves those who save”. So the godly become wealthy and the wealthy are godly. And, unfortunately, the ungodly become poor and the poor are ungodly.

This theology aligns perfectly with the neo-liberal economic views espoused by Morrison. The consequence is that it becomes a God-given task to liberate people from reliance on the welfare state.

So there is no sense in Pentecostal economics of a Jesus Christ who was on the side of the poor and the oppressed. Nor is there one of rich men finding it easier to pass through the eyes of needles than to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. On the contrary, God helps those who are able to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps.

 
A homeless woman in Brisbane in 2017. There is no sense in Pentecostal economics of a Jesus Christ who was on the side of the poor and the oppressed. Dan Peled/AAP

Exclusivism

That said, in some ways, Pentecostalism is pretty light on beliefs. Rather, it stresses an immediate personal connection with God that is the exclusive property of those who are saved. This leads to a fairly binary view of the world. There are the saved and the damned, the righteous and the wicked, the godly and the satanic.

In this Pentecostalist exclusivist view, Jesus is the only way to salvation. Only those who have been saved by Jesus (generally those who have had a personal experience of being “born again” which often happens in church spontaneously during worship) have any hope of attaining eternal life in heaven. At its best, it generates a modesty and humility; at its worst a smugness and arrogance.

So only born-again Christians will gain salvation. Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, atheists, and non-born-again Christians are doomed to spend an eternity in the torments of hell.

Thus, as the website of the Christian group to which Scott Morrison’s Horizon church belongs puts it, “We believe in the everlasting punishment of the wicked (in the sense of eternal torment) who wilfully reject and despise the love of God manifested in the great sacrifice of his only Son on the cross for their salvation”.

 
Worshippers at Horizon church in April: Pentecostalists are more concerned with the experience of the Holy Spirit than the Bible. Mick Tiskas/AAP

Pietism

In principle, the PM’s faith is “pietistic”. It is about the individual’s personal relationship with God. So faith is focused “upwards” on God in the here and now – and the hereafter. The result is that Pentecostalism is weak on the social implications of its beliefs. Social equity and social justice are very much on the back burner.

So you would not expect from a Pentecostalist like Morrison any progressive views on abortion, womens’ rights, LGBTI issues, immigration, the environment, same sex marriage, and so on.

Pentecostalists are not fundamentalists. Unlike them, they are especially concerned with the direct experience of the Holy Spirit as the key to salvation. But like fundamentalists, they believe in the Bible as the inerrant word of God in matters of ethics, science and history.

Thus, they hold to a social conservatism reinforced by an uncritical approach to the Bible, which reveals everything necessary for salvation. It would be difficult, for example, for a Pentecostalist to reject the Biblical teaching that homosexuals were bound for hell. The Prime Minister recently did so. But only after first evading the question and then through very gritted teeth.

Hillsong, Exclusive Brethren, Scientology and other cults

A brotherhood creates dependency in the system.  I felt the links to control. The consciousness of Christ in my understanding is love and love – shares, cares, reveals and heals.  Unconditional love places no conditions on love. Jesus existed prior to the church. HIs message was love.  I don’t think he would have been into politics as it is the art of perception management.  He was about authenticity as an example. The political system was set up as secular so no religion would impose its doctrine on the people.  In Iran the Ayatollah imposed Islam on a creative and artistic people.  I am not against Islam at all, but when any religion fuses with the State then the people are forced to adopt the religion, that is not freedom. It is women that typically have the most challenges as they are seen as typically less and there are strong beliefs of their place in society.  I am glad I found that higher power in my life, it didn’t come through religion as I was raised an atheist, it actually came through bullying, aggression, hardship and my deep search for truth.  I wasn’t seeking this power, but I found it as truth was my deepest desire, then I was no longer a seeker.  In my world I follow no religion, I just follow my heart and know there are no mistakes.  I am at peace with people following whatever inspires them, it may not be a higher power and I am fine with that as we are all one.  We are indeed the one song singing.  S/he may sing as an atheist, s/he may sing as a Buddhist, or a politician, or a lawyer, a street sweeper, a mother, a child, dancer, plumber, artist, Muslim – such is diversity within unity. The real harmony is smiling at the contrast and knowing we are same same but different and that the contrast is what brings us home. That is the essence of harmony.

I feel to explore this topic as I am singing the one song. 

Exclusive Brethren, Sexual Abuse and Donations to the Liberal Party

In the public interest. This article raises the issue of the link between religious influence and politicians in a secular nation state and how this impacts the larger secular society. 

Courtesy of The Age.

https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/a-plea-for-victims-to-speak-out-about-abuse-20160619-gpmj0g.html

A plea for victims to speak out about abuse

It takes courage to expose scandals, particularly those involving allegations of sexual abuse, which continue to be whitewashed by powerful religious organisations such as the Exclusive Brethren. Michael Bachelard (Good Weekend and Saturday Age, 18/6) is to be congratulated for holding no punches.

I left this secretive sect in 1968 but, decades later, I cannot forget the impact of hearing confessions of sexual misdemeanours broadcast by the perpetrators over a public address system to the captive congregation, which often numbered many hundreds of shocked souls. Witnesses present on those occasions will remember that any notion of reporting these matters to the authorities would not be countenanced. The confessors would be forgiven or not by the church elders at their whim. Everyone in the congregation understood that the Brethren constituted the highest “court” in the land. Victims from those far off days who read this and still bear the shame should take heart from Bachelard’s compelling articles and speak out about their trauma.

Illustration: Cathy Wilcox.

Illustration: Cathy Wilcox.

It is no surprise that the Exclusive Brethren has gone into damage control and employed public relations spin doctors to launch denials and threats. This is proof of their lack of conscience and desperation to retain tax benefits and generous government handouts for their schools. Not all the bluster and bravado in the world, most notably their re-branding to the name of Plymouth Brethren Christian Church and claim to charitable works, can alter their sordid history.

Bachelard reveals the extent of the Brethren’s history of donations to the Liberal Party. Will the Prime Minister follow his predecessors in counting the Exclusive Brethren among his friends and take their tainted money, or will he take the moral high ground and distance his party from any association with this extremist Christian sect? The federal election is in crucial countdown mode. The message to Malcolm Turnbull is clear. He needs look no further than the 2007 election when the sitting prime minister lost his seat of Bennelong, in no small part due to the reaction of voters over revelations of the Liberal Party’s secret dealings with the Exclusive Brethren.

Joy Nason, Neutral Bay, NSW

The underhanded nature of political funding

Politicians clearly have no shame. The fact that the Liberals accepted “secret co-ordinated donations” from the Exclusive Brethren highlights the underhanded nature of political parties, especially when it comes to funding their operations. There appears to be a lack of moral standards, both on the part of donors and recipients. This story should have been emblazoning on page one. The $26.6million in government funding for the Brethren’s private schools is the icing on the cake. This is reprehensible in light of the parlous state that our government schools are in. Anyone who thinks this is acceptable needs to have their moral compass mended because theirs is broken. I am sure that the Labor Party has its cosy arrangements with various organisations, too.

 

David Legat, South Morang

Union funding wrong. Brethren funding OK.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull condemns the Labor Party for receiving money from trade unions yet defends funding to his own party from the secretive Exclusive Brethren. Also, Mafia figures donated tens of thousands of dollars to the discredited NSW Liberal Party fundraising vehicle, the Millennium Forum, as part of an ultimately successful campaign to allow a known criminal to stay in Australia (The Age, 29/6/15). Rather hypocritical, don’t you think?

John Cain, McCrae

Our two-tiered system

 

I retired 10years ago after a long career teaching in government secondary schools. Schools were better resourced under Labor governments (state and federal) than when the Coalition held the reins. The combination of the Kennett government and Howard government broke the state system’s back through the former’s assault on schools, and the latter’s less direct, but just as impactful, unequal funding of elite private institutions.

The last school I taught at touted for international students, and the main motivation was money. Little preparation was made for their educational needs. I felt angry and ashamed. Now, in order to gather more funds, teachers in government schools are being “rented out” to private schools (The Age, 17/6). I am despondent that education in this country has perhaps become the most divisive, two-tiered system in the Western world. Until we have one public education system, fully resourced and invested in by all Australians, we can not mature as a nation.

Meg Stuart, Forest Hill

Educating our youth

Maybe Victoria’s crime statistics (The Age, 17/6) would not be so bad if the young people concerned were in a school or TAFE institute, being educated with a view to getting a worthwhile job, or in an apprenticeship. Labor has pledged to establish 10 new “tech schools” (The Age, 27/4). It should open more. Also, the old technical schools should never have been shut down.

 

Lorraine Bates, Surrey Hills