The un-Christian Christian

When I was doing my psych undergrad I shared a flat for a semester with another student. In the interests of protecting the bigoted, let’s call her Sally. In that awkward flatmate interview, where you have about 20 minutes to work out if you want to live with a complete stranger, she asked me if I was religious. I’m not. She said she wasn’t either, but went to church at Christmas and Easter with her family because it was a tradition they did together. After I moved in I discovered that not only was she intolerant of eveyone who was not like her, but she was also a great big liar: she was a born-again Christian who went to church every Sunday and then, with the other young people at her church, held “house church” on Wednesdays so they could have more church in their lives. That’s their business and I have no problem with it, but why lie about it when it means you’ll only have to search for another flatmate a few months later?

Anyway, one night we were watching an awards ceremony on tv, and we had the following conversation:

Sally: I don’t know why they’re all wearing those red ribbons.
Me: The AIDS awareness ribbons?
Sally: Yes. Because people with AIDS deserve it.

I was speechless. And aware that nothing I could say was ever going to change her mind. That particular Christian would never display so-called Christian values, such as forgiving people for their sins and loving all of “God’s creatures”. (Personally, I don’t believe Christians have a monopoly on the “goodness” values that we call Christian values.)

Anyway, the reason I started with this story is because I was reminded of it when Tony Abbott said this on the weekend:

“This idea that they will take one and we will take five, just risks Malaysia becoming the open back-door to Australia.”

“What works is Nauru, Manus, temporary protection visas and a willingness to turn boats around, where that can be done safely.”

If by “works” you mean that Nauru cost $24 million a year to run; that at least nine asylum seekers who were forcibly returned to Afghanistan were killed when they got there; that the Howard Government spent more than $1 billion to process “less than 1700 asylum seekers in offshore locations” when it would cost $35 million to do it at Villawood in Sydney; that the enormous psychological damage from being held in a remote jail for years (longer than many convicted criminals spend in jail) isn’t our responsibility; that despite offshore processing the numbers of people seeking asylum in Australia doubled from 2004-05 to 2007-08; and that the Government of Nauru said Australia was taking far too long to process people’s claims, then sure, Nauru works.

I am amazed that Tony Abbott identifies himself as a Christian yet consistently pisses on people who need help, and no one thinks that’s weird.

And now Australia will send the next 800 people who arrive by boat to Malaysia, and in return will take 4000 refugees from them over four years. Australia takes just 1.6 per cent of the world’s asylum applications. It’s really shitty that 800 desperate people will be forced to bear the cost of us starting to pull our weight.

26 responses to “The un-Christian Christian

  1. Rhiannon Saxon

    There are a few Un-Christian Christians speaking their nasty minds at the moment – like Geoff Shaw, a member of Baillieu’s government.

    One of the reasons I approve of the Liberal Catholic Church is that one of their philosophies is that all other religions are valid. Another is that they perform full Catholic nuptial Masses for gay couples. Another is that priests are allowed to marry and have children.
    Another is that priests have to have day jobs and are not financially dependent on or advantaged by the church.
    Another is that they do not deny sacraments, whether Communion, funeral Masses, nuptial Masses, whatever, to anyone who asks sincerely. You don’t have to be a member or even be religious.
    (A number of people like to have a religious ceremony for a funeral, even if they and their families were not. I have no idea why, but if it is comforting for them, then great.)
    But they were founded by a Buddhist.

    If only more religious practitioners were like Father Bob! Or Father Peter Kennedy!

  2. Rhiannon Saxon

    Apropos of nothing but being reminded by your Stupid Things I say on Twitter side bar – I had a terrible nightmare last night. I dreamt that I made an appointment to see a new psychologist and when I went into the the office it was ANDREW BOLT. *cue Hammer Horror Scream of Terror*

  3. I’m a Christian of the born-again-attend-midweek-Bible-study variety and I can tell you that most of us want to put our foot through the TV when Tony Abbott appears on it. He’s NOT our poster boy, that’s for sure, and I’m wary of people for whom he is. Because I also happen to be a Christian of the we-have-a-responsibility-to-care-for-desperate-people-who-need-our-help variety.

  4. As an aside to this post, since NWP is not actually picking on any one brand of christianity….I get really mad when people lump ALL Christians under the same homogenous banner. (Which is to say my ire is not incited by this post either. Just a broad observation of life itself that was jolted by this post if that makes sense)

    I spend a lot of time in religious circles since the majority of home schoolers are religious to varying degrees. It’s been eye opening really. What I have found is quite surprising. The group that gets vilified the most are the catholics, and yet with all the different denominations I have come into contact with it’s the other denominations who display the most horrifically narrow minded and bigoted behaviour.

    Many of these women have born the brunt of my extreme mockery. It’s very difficult sometimes for me to control the snark when dealing with women who gently suggest I read [insert book about submission of your choice here] if my husband permits me to. If my husband ever dared to tell me what I can and cannot read I would be wearing his testicles for earrings after having removed from this scrotum with my bare hands. (And a maybe with the aide of a blunt butter knife)

    Which is a shame really because so many of these women have some excellent ideas and insightful things to say on education, but the message falls on deaf ears because they have such extreme views on everything else you just can’t help but dismiss them as putting the mental in fundamentalism.

    And although I whole heartedly agree that most Christians of all denominations are probably far more moderate than the ones I come in to contact with daily it’s a little frightening how many Sally’s and Abbott’s there really are out there.

    • True. I did lump them all together, but mainly because I don’t remember what brand “Sally” was and wanted to talk about values in general. I get annoyed when people suggest there is only one type of feminism (usually radical, because they’re using it to say ALL FEMINISTS ARE BAD), so I’m now just as guilty. Sorry.

      • No don’t be sorry. I wasn’t saying you were doing that at all. (I figured you were going for a generic rant because you didn’t want to single out a particular denomination. Which is totally fine.)

        Most Christian values are actually just good ethics, it’s only when the literal interpretation of the bible is applied to those values that we get the ugliness seen amongst the types of christianity that people like Sally and Abbott subscribe to.

  5. Rhiannon Saxon

    I agree with all your points here. I hear a lot of Christian-bashing because I hang around with either fairly religious people of the pagan varieties, or atheists, some of whom are (in my opinion, tediously) militant.
    One thing that bugs the hell out of me is the use of the phrase, ‘Catholic or Christian’…really. A. Catholics ARE Christians, and b. there are a lot of other types of Christian out there than Catholic Or Other. Very few ‘bashers’ know anything much about doctrinal differences or anything about the various types of Orthodox Church. Many don’t know some of the basic differences between Catholicism and Protestantism for example.

    AND while the Fred Niles etc get the public attention, the Uniting Church is busy supporting safe injecting rooms among other things.

    I am definitely not Christian although I was brought up as a mix of Catholic and Quaker, but sometimes I feel like I’d make a better Christian than many who loudly proclaim their Christianity.
    I also fail to see how ethics classes can truly be a threat to those who genuinely believe that we as a society need more understanding of ethics, and more consideration for others.
    *rant over* *Smug self-satisfaction over, too*

    • As one who was raised as a mix of Catholic/ Anglican/ Pagan/ Wiccan/ Jewish /Aboriginal cultural whatever you want to label it….I so hear you on the differences between denominations and even the divergence within certain denominations.

      Re: ethics classes, that’s it exactly really. Especially in public schools. I object to religious education in public schools purely because it only caters to a few christian denominations. Which excludes all other children. Ethics classes does not exclude anyone. It does the opposite.

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