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ThesisEdit

For this episode, we are heading Down Under again to look at what happened to religion in Australia after us white folks arrived and took over (if you wanna know what happened before that, see episode 5 of The Second Law (Meat Mutant's gestation podcast) and be prepared for flying uteruses/uteri. But today, from convicts to contemporary controversy, and Federation to fundies, we're gonna talk about the real meaning of Southern Religion.

But first, it's time for.....

JIS OF THE WEEKEdit

As we are focussing on the Antipodes for this episode, it will be Emma's pleasure to share the JIS of the week with the masses. And here it is:

BTW, there is no date on this article, so go roll a dice to decide what year the quoted "data" came from. Before we get to the Jedi thing, this hilariously baffling paragraph:

This is very interesting! What we have are professed "Christians" telling us that God's Spirit is nothing more than "light force" of "breath" that "was active in creation," and we should all get back with the Pope. We find in the Newsweek magazine, August 5, 2002, page 52, that M. Night Shyamalan (Born in Madras, India, on August 6, 1970), Director of “Signs,” "Unbreakable" and “The Sixth Sense,” and the highest paying script writing today, "was raised Hindu but sent to a Roman Catholic grade school for the discipline." You do know what a Hindu has to say about the Spirit of God, don't you? Did I mention that he also writes children cartoons, like Stuart Little"?

Uhh... Wha huh?

Jedi 'religion' grows in Australia

"Jedi" is the faith espoused in the Star Wars films.

As Jedi Master Yoda sorta said (Ems to do her Yoda voice): "Mm, Mutants of Meat, feel the force around you, you must".

Shockingly, more than 70,000 people in Australia have declared that they are followers of the Jedi faith, the religion created by the Star Wars films.

A recent census found that one in 270 respondents - or 0.37% of the population - say they believe in "the force", an energy field that gives Jedi Knights like Luke Skywalker their power in the films.

Most of the 70,509 people who wrote Jedi on their census forms were suspected to have done so in response to an e-mail encouraging all Star Wars fans to get it recognised as an official religion.

Em’s comment: Um no, it was a campaign to take the financial backing and power out of religious bodies and factions, while atheists got jack shit funding and power.

But the majority do not seriously tell each other: "May the force be with you", according to Australian Star Wars Appreciation Society president Chris Brennan.

"When you look at it you probably have got about 5,000 people in that 70,000 that were true hard-core people that would believe the Jedi religion carte blanche," he told ABC Radio.

"Then you would have 50,000 fans that said 'oh yeah we'll just put down Jedi for fun, we don't actually have a religion of our own'.

"Then you probably have 15,000 people who did it just to give the government a bit of curry," he said.

Em's add: "mmm - curry"

Em’s comment: We will discuss the latest on this movement in the body of the podcast, but rest assured the backlash against formalised religion in Australia is very strong and continuing.

This is all followed by yet another "Wha?" section where he talks about an apparently famous and fondly remembered 1981 Yoda as Santa Christmas card. I guess the implication is that that means Jedi really is a religion? Or that (since Santa is evil) that means Yoda is Satanic?

The page also has this to say about Harry Potter:

"Harry Potter Bathes in the Blood of Virgins. The Plot: Harry and his friends return once again to Mephistopheles' School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to study the use of magic. Harry loves life at the school much more than he does life with his non-magical relatives (or "unbelievers" as they're called by the wizards). However, he realizes that once this year is over, he'll be more than halfway through his schooling. With no idea what to do with his life next, Harry starts to wish there was some way he could stay young forever."

Before European ColonisationEdit

We have already explored indigenous Australian beliefs in a prior episode. But, prior to 1788 there was thought to have been contact with Indigenous Australians from people of various faiths. These contacts were with explorers, fishermen and survivors of shipwrecks. The indigenous people of Northern Australia retain stories, songs and paintings of trade (particularly in sea cucumbers) with Macassan people from the north (probably the east Indonesian archipelago or Sulawesi). There is some evidence of Islamic terms and concepts entering northern Aboriginal culture via this interaction. For example, in Arnhem Land in Northern Australia, there is a ritual associated with the ‘Dreaming’ creation figure, Walitha’ walitha, also known as "Allah". This ceremony, known as the Wurramu, is said to be sahred with the people of Macassar.

This ceremony was performed when the mast of a ‘Macassan’ boat had broken or a man was about to die. One historian wrote:

[During the funeral]. . . two or more men pick up the dead body and move it up and down as though they were lifting a mast. The chorus sings ‘Oh-a-ha-la!’ while the mast is laid down. When it is picked up again they sing

‘0-0-0-0-0-a-ha-la!

A-ha-la! ! A-ha-la! !

Apparently, in the Torres Strait Islands (hundreds of small islands which lie between continental Australia and New Guinea), the arrival of the Christian missionaries in 1871 and their introduction of Christianity to the region is celebrated annually through the "Coming of the Light Festival". This is a significant festival for Torres Strait Islanders, who are predominantly Christian. BTW, Torres Straight Islanders are afforded the same legal status as mainland indigenous Australians (indigenous Australians are known collectively as "Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islanders"). The other legal term for them is "Repulsive Shit-for-Blood Sub-Simians," but that designation has fallen out of favor.

European Discovery and ColonisationEdit

The culture of white Australia had its origins at the time when the Enlightenment was bringing widespread disillusionment with religious traditions. As a consequence, religious concerns have never held a prominent place in the nation's identity.

In case you don't know, Captain Cook is generally accepted as the "discoverer" of Australia or New Holland as it was then known (although he wasn't the first one there by any means). Between 1606 and 1770, around 50 ships from a range of European countries (many from the Dutch East Indies Company) made contact with inidigenous Australians. However, Captain Cook's arrival in 1770 is recognised as the start of European Settlement. He claimed the east coast under instruction from King George III of England at Possession Island, and named eastern Australia 'New South Wales', which is still one of the Australian states.

Captain Arthur Phillip and the First Fleet, comprising 11 ships and around 1,000 people, arrived at Botany Bay in January 1788. There were around 350 free persons, and 670 prisoners on board. Governor Phillip carried instructions to establish the first British Colony in Australia.


Denominations represented in the first fleet were mainly Roman Catholic found amongst Irish convicts and Anglican among other convicts and their gaolers. There were at least 15 Jews in the First Fleet. There were also a number of Methodists. Tensions fuelled by historical grievances between Roman Catholics and other Christians came to Australia along with the people of these differing denominations.

Although the original Instructions to Govenor Phillip about occupying Australia have not been located, the search at the Public Record Office in London located a manuscript draft of the Instructions prepared in 1787. This draft shows a number of corrections, such as 'Natives' for 'Savages' and interesting amendments, such as the deletion of two pages referring to the implementation, in Phillip's administration, of tenets and practices of the Church of England. The deleted section begins with the statement that it is the Royal Intention that inhabitants 'should have full liberty of Conscience and the free Exercise of all such modes of Religious Worship as are not prohibited by Law'. A single paragraph is substituted for this long deleted section of the Instructions:

And it is furher Our Royal Will & Pleasure that you do by all proper Methods enforce a due Observance of Religion & good order among all the Inhabitants of the new Settlement and that you do take such steps for the due Celebration of publick Woirship as circumstances will permit.

Between 1788 and 1850 the English sent over 162,000 convicts to Australia in 806 ships.In 1791 Governor Phillip issued an Order for attendance at divine service. Rations for non-attenders were to be reduced, to two pounds of meat for every overseer, and one and a half pounds for every convict, The Order was not enforced nor did any penalty apply to Officers or Marines.

The religion to be observed at the time of colonisation was of course, the Church of England; and nothing was done by the colonial authorities to provide for the religious needs of Catholics. Catholic convicts were compelled to attend Church of England services and their children and orphans were raised by the authorities as Protestant.

In early Colonial times, Church of England clergy worked closely with the governors. The first chaplain, Richard Johnson, a Church of England cleric, sailed with the First Fleet and arrived in Australia in 1788. He was charged by Governor Arthur Phillip with improving "public morality" in the colony, but he was also heavily involved in health and education. He celebrated the first Communion in the colony On February 17 of 1788. The service was held in Lieutenant Ralph Clark's tent, borrowed for the occasion. The event was recorded by Clark in his journal. 'I will keep this Table also as long as I live for it is the first Table that ever the Lords Supper was eat of in this country'.

The Reverend Samuel Marsden arrived in 1794. This Yorkshire chaplain was a man of strong personality and deep religious conviction. He was appalled at the vice and immorality displayed by the convicts in the settlement and was determined to establish moral order in the colony. Marsden's religious activities included the establishment of an orphanage and school in Sydney in 1801, and missionary activities amongst the indiginous population.Marsden had magisterial duties, and so was equated with the authorities by the convicts. He became known as the 'flogging parson' for the severity of his punishments. His childern, along with those of other missionaries, established and taught at the first Sunday school at Parramatta in 1813. Sunday schools in New South Wales taught reading, writing and arithmetic, alongside spiritual subjects.


Three Catholic priests were among the early convicts, and these guys were convicted of complicity in the Irish Rebellion of 1798 against British rule in Ireland. All three returned to Ireland some years later. One, Rev. James Dixon, was allowed for a time to exercise his ministry. An uprising of 400 Irishmen in 1804, however, caused Governor Phillip to withdraw Dixon's authorization and salary. He remained in Sydney for four more years, ministering privately to Catholics. The Catholic faith was kept alive by the laity, who, in 1816, took the initiative of petitioning the Holy See for the services of a priest.

One interesting story is that of Jeremiah O'Flynn, who wanted to spread the Catholic word to the Australian Colonies. He had himself appointed prefect apostolic as a result of the New South Wales petition. Although neither the colonial office nor the vicar apostolic of London endorsed his appointment, he set out for the colony at his own expense, hoping that proper authorization would follow. He arrived in November 1817. When it became clear to the governor that he had no official authorization, a warrant was issued for his arrest. He evaded the authorities for several months, eventually being deported in 1818. O'Flynn's escapade had an unexpected consequence. The matter of his deportation was raised in the House of Commons, and a Catholic mission in Australia was eventually authorized.

During the second half of the nineteenth century, Protestants allied with secularists out of pure spite in order to ensure that Catholics got short shrift, by keeping religion out of schools and public ceremony. Australia became "a society unqiue in the history of mankind, a society of men holding no firm beliefs on the existence of God or survival after death." (http://books.google.com/books?id=i_hjZdbplaoC&pg=PA57&dq=history+of+religion+in+australia&hl=en&sa=X&ei=XuJgT62eI47eggfVw4yfCA&ved=0CEUQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=history%20of%20religion%20in%20australia&f=false)

The Church of England lost its legal privileges in the Colony of New South Wales by the Church Act of 1836: ‘An Act to promote the Building of Churches and Chapels and to provide for the maintenance of Ministers of Religion in New South Wales (29th July 1836)’. The Church Act of 1836 was the most important piece of legislation affecting religion to be passed in the nineteenth century. It established legal equality for Anglicans, Catholics and Presbyterians and was later extended to Methodists. Public funds were allotted for clergy as well as a promise to supply one pound for each pound raised by a congregation for the building of churches.

As society became more industrialised through the 19th century, thousands of people flocked to the cities looking for work. Slum areas became focal points for city missionaries, who saw them as places of spiritual danger. In Sydney, the slum areas around the Rocks, Pyrmont and Darling Harbour were particular focuses for religious outreach organisations such as Sydney City Mission (established 1862), the Salvation Army (1882) and the Central Methodist Mission (1884).

The 19th century also saw around 2000 Muslims come to Australia from Pakistan and Afghanistan. These were mainly "cameleers" who used their camels to transport goods and people through the desert. Around 100 families remained in Australia.

This was the time that Hindus first came to Australia, mainly to work on cotton and sugar plantations.

Buddhists began arriving in Australia in significant numbers during the goldrush of the 1850s, with an influx of Chinese miners.

FederationEdit

Federation occurred in Australia in 1901. Unlike heaps of other countries, we didn't need a war/wars to sort our shit out and create a unified nation.

The Federation of Australia was the process by which the six separate British self-governing colonies of New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia formed one nation. They kept the systems of government that they had developed as separate colonies but also had a federal government that was responsible for matters concerning the whole nation. When the Constitution of Australia came into force, on 1 January 1901, the colonies collectively became states of the Commonwealth of Australia.

In 1901, over 95% of Australians identifed themselves as Christian: about 40% Anglican, 20% Catholic, and 35% "other Christian".

The Australian Constitution has a basic anti-religious discrimination clause: Section 116 establishes what is often called "freedom of religion", by forbidding the Commonwealth from making any law for the establishment of a religion, imposing any religious observance, or prohibiting the exercise of a religion, or religious discrimination for public office.


So The Australian Constitution of 1901 guaranteed Freedom of Religion and the separation of church and state throughout Australia. Australia's first Catholic cardinal, Patrick Francis Moran, refused to attend the inauguration ceremony of the Commonwealth of Australia because precedence was given to the Church of England. He was criticised in The Bulletin for speaking against racist immigration laws and he alarmed Catholic conservatives by supporting Trade Unionism and the newly formed Australian Labor Party.

The Catholic Church was rooted in the working class Irish communities. Moran, the Archbishop of Sydney from 1884 to 1911, believed that Catholicism would flourish with the emergence of the new nation through Federation in 1901, provided that his people rejected "contamination" from foreign influences such as anarchism, socialism, modernism and secularism. Moran thus welcomed the Labor Party and the Catholic Church stood with it in opposing conscription in the referenda of 1916 and 1917.

Another Irish cleric, Archbishop Daniel Mannix (1864–1963) of Melbourne, was a controversial voice against conscription during World War I and against British Empire policy in Ireland. He was also a fervent critic of contraception. In 1920, the Royal Navy prevented him landing in his Irish homeland. Yet despite early 20th century sectarian feeling, Australia elected its first Catholic prime minister, James Scullin, of the Australian Labor Party in 1929. His successor, Joseph Lyons, a devout Irish Catholic, split from Labor to form the fiscally conservative United Australia Party - predecessor to the modern Liberal Party of Australia. His wife, Dame Enid Lyons, a Catholic convert, became the first female member of the Australian House of Representatives and later first female member of cabinet in the Menzies Government. With the place of Catholics in the British Empire still complicated by Ireland's recent wars for independence and centuries of imperial rivalry with Catholic European nations, as prime minister, Lyons travelled to London in 1935 for the Silver Jubilee celebrations of King George V and faced anti-Catholic demonstrations in Edinburgh, then visited his ancestral homeland of Ireland and had an audience with the Pope in Rome.

Another important thing happened in 1901: The Australian government passed an act limiting immigration to those of European descent, and this became known as the White Australia Policy. By default, this policy ensured that Christianity remained the main religion parctised in Australians at this time, and for several years after that. This policy was enacted partly in response to the presence of many Chinese in the Victorian goldfields, and the racial tensions that ensued.

Wars and MigrationEdit

Between the Great Depression which began in 1929 and the end of World War II in 1945, immigration to Australia was very low. At the start of the war, Prime Minister John Curtin (Australian Labour Party) stated: "This country shall remain forever the home of the descendants of those people who came here in peace in order to establish in the South Seas an outpost of the British race."

During the war, many non-white refugees, including Malays, Indonesians, and Filipinos, arrived in Australia, but the immigration Minister sought to have them all deported. In 1948, Iranian Bahá'ís seeking to immigrate to Australia were classified as "Asiatic" by the policy and were denied entry. Encouraging immigration from Europe, Australia admitted large numbers of immigrants from mostly Italy, Greece, and Yugoslavia, as well as its traditional source of the British Isles.

Migration from Europe after World War II led to increases in affiliates of Orthodox churches, growth in the number of Catholics (largely from Italian migration) and an increase in those of the Jewish faith (including Holocaust survivors).

Within this period of history, Australia was growing and establishing itself as a nation. Ambitious post-war development projects like the Snowy Mountains Scheme could only be sourced by diversifying Australia's migrant intake. The Snowy Mountains scheme is a hydroelectricity and irrigation complex in south-east Australia consisting of sixteen major dams; seven power stations; a pumping station; and 225 kilometres of tunnels, pipelines and aqueducts.

In 1966, the Government introduced the Migration Act, 1966. This effectively dismantled the White Australia Policy and increased access to non-European migrants. The immigration Minister announced applications for migration would be accepted from well-qualified people on the basis of their suitability as settlers, their ability to integrate readily and their possession of qualifications positively useful to Australia.

As a result, annual non-European settler arrivals rose from 746 in 1966 to 2,696 in 1971. It's after 1971 that "other religions" and "no religion" started to appear as options or significant numbers in the Australian Census.

We did consult some original research papers regarding religion in Australia during this period, but they said shit like this that we couldn't understand:

"Inglis pointed to questions needing attention in 1958: the dynamics of the education controversy and the relations between Catholics and governments, later ‘Catholic’ political controversies like conscription and the Labor Party split, the ultramontanism or otherwise of the Church in Australia, the ‘social geography’ of the laity."

Good for you, Inglis.

The Vietnam war also brought religion to the fore. At this time, Australia had compulsory National Service for 20-year-old males. In March 1966, the Government announced that National Servicemen would be sent to Vietnam to fight in units of the Australian Regular Army and for secondment to American forces. Men who wanted to avoid National Service could join the Citizen Military Forces and serve only inside Australia, claim a student deferment, or attempt a conscientious objection application. In order to be exempted on the basis of conscientious objection, an applicant needed to demonstrate objection to 'all' war, not merely one specific war.

In a Cabinet Submission in 1970, case studies of 17 men awaiting prosecution for failure to undertake service show a wide range of bases for opposition to conscription including these religious reasons:

  • Religious opposition from Jehovah's Witness viewpoint (JWs have a conscientious objection to military service and refusal to salute national flags)
  • Religious opposition from liberal Christian (Methodist) pacifist viewpoint (The United Methodist Church opposes conscription as incompatible with the teaching of Scripture).


70s, 80s and 90sEdit

During this time, the Hindu population increased dramatically, mainly due to immigration from Fiji, India, Sri Lanka and South Africa.

During this time, Australia became a refuge for many Muslims fleeing conflicts including those in Lebanon, the former Yugoslavia, Iraq, Iran, Sudan and Afghanistan. General immigration, combined with religious conversion to Islam, as well as Australia's participation in UN refugee efforts increased the overall Muslim population.

In the 1996 census, around 25% of the population reported their religion as Anglican, 30% Catholic, 20% other Christian, 5% other religion and 10% no religion. So the Christies were goin' down and the hethans were rising up.

In the midst of this flourishing of diversity and reason, was born the Australian Christian Democratic Party (originally known as "The Call to Australia" party in 1977). This party existed to support Christian representation in every level of government, and was led by the Reverend Fred Nile. Fred is a bit of a legend in Australia (for all the wrong reasons). You see, Fred is a Congregational Church Minister (and current president elect). FYI,

As a bit of background, in 1977, most congregations of the Congregational Union of Australia merged with all Churches of the Methodist Church of Australasia and a majority of Churches of the Presbyterian Church of Australia to form the Uniting Church in Australia.

Those congregations that did not join the Uniting Church formed the Fellowship of Congregational Churches or continued as Presbyterians.

So Freddie was elected to the Legislative Council (the upper house of state parliament) in 1981, and the party has managed to see a candidate elected at every subsequent New South Wales state election to date. Ugh....

The party supports policies that supposedly promote Christian values, are supportive of family values, protective of children and their rights including those of unborn children, and policies that are protective of established Australian values and systems, inclusive of a requirement that immigrants to Australia demonstrate a desire to learn English.

The party opposes abortion, euthanasia, pornography, homosexuality, adultery, incest, and Islam, most notably sharia law.

Keep this in your memory for when we get to "the naughties".

The CDP's website starts with a plea for donations, then moves quickly on to Fred worship with this quote: "CDP’s leader, Rev Fred Nile MLC, is acknowledged for his honest and courageous stands on issues that cause great public unrest and concern."

One of the CPD's beliefs is that "We believe civil government to be under the authority of God. (Romans 13:4)."

Another is that "We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ himself taught that in the beginning God created mankind - male and female, and meant husband and wife to live together honourably in a lasting, loving, lifelong, faithful relationship. Marriage is a sacred relationship which God ordained for mankind so that the human race might be continued through the procreation of children, to be brought up in fear and nurture of the Lord; and for the mutual help, comfort and companionship both in prosperity and adversity."

They also comment on "God's gift of sex: We believe that God has established laws of sexual morality for the well-being of society prohibiting pornography, adultery, incest, homosexuality, and other sexual aberrations which debase man, as well as defile and pollute our nation."

Part of their national charter is also to: "As a free and independent democratic nation to uphold our Federal and State Christian-based Constitutions our Christian-based constitutional monarchy and our Australian flag."

Speaking of the flag, my FAVOURITE quote from their website is this: "Our Australian flag is also made up of Christian crosses – the Southern Cross (which is an astronomical constellation), and the Cross of St Patrick, Cross of St Andrew and the Cross of St George (which make up The Union Jack - coz we're a member of The Commonwealth.")

Fucking idiot. Brush up on your vexillology, Fred.

Check out the Christian Democratic Party website for more comedy gold.


PART 2Edit

Welcome back to part 2 of Australia's religious history.

It's been a few weeks between drinks, but Joe has been very selfishly on holidays and I've been working my arse off. But, thanks to Jeebus rising from the dead around 2010 years ago, I have a day off work and Joe's back home so we can record another episode.

Before we get to the "meat" of the podcast, I would like to wish Joe a happy anniversary.

Yes, on March 28th last year we posted our first podcast on the Irreligiosophy website, and got our arses well and truly kicked to kingdom come with uber negative feedback from many people.

WE SURE SHOWED THEM. We're still having fun, they're still grumbling, and probably comparing penis sizes unfavorably with Google Images queries of naked mole rats.

Now, onto Australia.

For the second part of Australia's religious history, we move into the 80's, 90's, naughties and 10s. This episode will be characterised by focussing on specific, let's say "interestng" events or "religious phenomena" that have recently occurred in Australia. As diversity, tolerance and acceptance have flourished, so has the range of religious experiences and options available to Aussies. And we just HAD to cover some of those options, most of which have come to Emma's attention to watching high quality prime time TV journalism (in between the stories about the latest cures for either back pain, asthma, stuttering or arthritis).

An example of such a phenomenon would be the couple we heard being interviewed in the intro (yes, Mary was there, but darest she speak in the presence of The Lord?) These two apparently do believe they are THE Jesus and Mary Magdeleine. As Jesus says in one of his workshop videos "My name is Jesus, and I'm serious." (lol at the thought of Jesus giving a workshop - I can just see the PowerPoint slide: "OK lepers, if you refer to your handouts, page 2, today our intended learning outcomes are....number 1: "You will retain over 90% of your extremities over a 3 month period, via praying to me and my dad and mum." BTW, in your case, you don't have to put your hands together to pray...actually, it's probs better if you don't......"

Anyhoo, these two have a "cult following" of about 30 people, and they are buying up land in Queensland which is causing neighbours some concern. And, get this. Apparently, there was a forest next door that was cleared, and the clearing was, totally coincidentally, in the shape of a cross. OMG.

So, onto more freaky recent Aussie adventures that have occurred under the very loosely interpreted heading of "faith" or "religion".

Pope Johnny's Visit Down UnderEdit

Now I (Ems) was privvy to an important Australian religious event in 1986 - The Pope came to Melbourne (The MCG in fact).

After his election in 1978, John Paul II had made pilgrimages to 72 countries by 1986, to meet and encourage the faithful and preach the Christian message.

The Pontiff's insanely busy seven-day itinerary took him all over Australia, at a time when the country was experiencing declining church attendances (except for attendances at Jedi Services - going off they were).

He landed in Melbourne late on November 27, and by mid afternoon the MCG (or "The G" as it is known), was filling with excited Micks, hanging out for an evening ecumenical service with Johnny. On the arena, the wicket area was roped off in preparation for Victoria's coming match against Mike Gatting's Englishmen.So, cricket took precedence over The Pope (we will address this later).

Apparently local bands and performers entertained the waiting crowd. I have no recolection of this, but I really really hope the bands in question were ACDC, The Angels, Machine Gun Fellatio (even though they didn't exist then - I just wanted to say that) and TISM. If you don't know about TISM - This is Serious Mum - they were an iconic alternative Australian band who released EPs/albums with titles such as "Great Truckin' Songs of The Renaissance", "It's Novel! It's Unique! It's Shithouse!" and "Defecate On My Face." Perfect local talent to get the crowd "in the spirit" for Pope Paul Preaching.

I was 16 at the time of this visit, and all I remember is sitting there in my duffle coat freezing my arse off so I could see a very far away Pope John Paul II in a very small Popemobile driving around our hallowed ground. That's all I remember. I still have the little card they handed out as a momento of his visit. Apparently there were about 60,000 people there and he talked a lot about Polish people. Whatever.

Pope visits always result in miserable madhouse mosh pits. Nothing's changed since then.

"Sun Worship"Edit

It was around the 80s and 90s that Australia's reputation as a nation of beach goers and "sun worshippers" began to be challenged. I had actually forgotten about the whole "sun worship" reputation of Australia until I heard the phrase used the other day. On a serious side, Australia (and NZ) have the world's highest rates of melanoma. For males the incidence rate has more than doubled from 1982-2008 from 27 per 100,000 to 57 per 100,000. For females the incidence rate has increased by 47% from 26 per 100,000 to 38 per 100,000.

In persons aged 15-44 melanoma and breast cancer are the most common cancers. Melanoma is the most common cancer in persons aged 15-24.

I can actually remember when I was a teenager in the 1980s, that it was the done thing to do everything you could to try and get a tan. If it was a sunny day, you'd whack on your bathers and lie in the sun all day. You'd rotate your towel so that it lined up with the sun and turn yourself over at regular intervals to make sure you got an "even" tan. It was not uncommon for people to cover themselves in baby oil or cocnut oil and use aluminium foil reflectors to try and get a darker tan more quickly. This was all part of the "bronzed Aussie" and "healthy tan" culture that pervaded oour country at the time.

But, thankfully now we are wiser (well, a lot of us are, but some people still go to tanning salons and sunbake all day). Probably the most well known sun protection campaign in Australia was launched in 1981. The campaign was "Slip, Slop, Slap" sung by Sid Seagull (Slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen and slap on a hat). The words "seek" (for seek shade) and "slide" (for slide on some sunglasses) were added later.

Since this campaign was introduced along with advertisements and a jingle, the incidence of the two most common forms of skin cancer (basal-cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma) in Australia has decreased. Vitamin D deficiency has also greatly increased, since sunblock prevents vitamin D production in the skin.

So, be sun smart people and if you wanna worship the sun, then do it on days when the UV index is under 3, and Slip, Slop, Slap.

INSERT GEORGE CARLIN "SUN WORSHIP" BIT HERE

The BurqiniEdit

Australians are no longer sacrificial lambs to the Sun's wicked punishment, and it was because of a female Muslim. I am speaking, of course, about the Burqini.

The burqini is a type of swimsuit for women designed by Lebanese Australian Aheda Zanetti under the company name Ahiida.

Aheda migrated to Australia from Lebanon at age of 2. The following is posted on her Ahiida website:

"I remember growing up in Australia , posted a lot of challenges for a young Muslim / Arab girl. As an active person who liked to participate in community activities and sport, I found myself restricted due to cultural and religious beliefs. As years went by, I noticed there are younger girls and women that are embracing Islam and obeying their Islamic belief in dressing modestly, in turn, having to miss out on opportunities, and taking part in any sporting activities that Australia has to offer. By facing this on a daily basis and seeing girls struggle with what is around presently, we at Ahiida® have found a need to make specialized sportswear to suit the Muslim female......By providing the appropriate clothing for the Muslim woman, who complies with religious, cultural and sports obligation, we are helping to bring out the best in Muslim woman, to prove that a Muslim woman is a role model to other women in the world, not an oppressed, no name, and no face being. "

Good for you, sistah.

The suit covers the whole body except the face, the hands and the feet (enough to preserve Muslim modesty), whilst being light enough to enable swimming. It was described as the perfect solution for conservative Muslim women who want to swim but are uncomfortable with revealing bathing suits.

I think one of the coolest things about the burqini is that a version has been made for lifesavers, so Muslim chicks can be Aussie lifesavers without having to feel immodest.

Only problem is, I want one. Protects from sunburn AND eliminates the need to remove body hair before going to the beach. Win win, right?

I guess Aheda'd hate that the decade that saw the success of her burqini is called "the Naughties"

The NaughtiesEdit

The naughties were/are a time of religious change and challenge Down Under.

Some good things have happened, and some crap things have happened.

Australia has become a lot more diversified in it's religous beliefs. In the 2006 census, The Anglicans were down to about 20% of the population (eat it, Anglicans). The Micks are hanging tough on around 25%. Other Christians are probably about 10%, which is around the same number as "no religion". And, then there's some others that aren't worth talking about like Pagans, Bahá'í and Jainism.

In general, non-Christian religions as well as those reporting no religion, have been experiencing a rise in proportion to the overall population. With fewer classifications, data from 1996 and 2001 shows Aboriginal religion decreasing from 7000 to 5000 while Bahá'í grows from just under 9000 to over 11,000 and the rest of the "Other" category growing from about 69,000 to about 92,000.

Now we've been quoting census figures a lot, and this is where the whole Jedi movement comes in to play. There is actually a Wikipedia page for this entitled "Jedi Census Phenomenon" - lol.

In Australia more than 70,000 people (0.37%) declared themselves members of the Jedi order in the 2001 census. The Australian Bureau of Statistics issued an official press release in response to media interest on the subject.

That included this explanation as to why the religion question was on the census:

"Main purpose of the religion question {C}
The religion question is included in the census as religious organisations are the biggest providers of services, outside of government, in a number of areas such as schooling, health services, aged care services, and community support facilities. The question is not designed to measure the degree of participation in particular religions and philosophies. {C}
Rather, as many people access services in accord with their nominal religious affiliation, the statistics are highly useful for planning these services (eg many Catholics who do not actively participate in their religion send their children to Catholic schools). The religion question has been optional in all Australian censuses; this follows from a requirement in the Australian Constitution."

The ABS announced that any answers that were Jedi-related in the religion question were to be classified as 'not defined' and stressed the social impact of making misleading or false statements on the census.

Now, the fact that jedi was counted as "not defined", actually meant that atheists who reported themselves as Jedi or Pastafarians etc were unintentionally inflating numbers of religious people in Australia by being smart arses.

So, for the 2011 census, there was a huge push from The Atheist Foundation of Australia to state "no religion" if you were an atheist, so that you were "counted" as a non-religious citizen, and that funding for religious based services was not inflated by snarky atheists. This was a huge movement on Facebook - we will wait to see the results.

BUT...

Saint Mary McKillopEdit

While athesists were becoming attention whores, there was another movement growing in Australia that lead to the canonisation of our first Saint - Saint Mary Mackillop (to whom we shall from now on in refer to as "Macca", in true Australian style). BUT - it is important to note that she is also known as "St Mary of The Cross". Which cross? Maybe Fred Nile could choose one for you.....

Macca was born to Catholic Scottish Immigrants in 1842 in Brunswick Street, Fitzroy in Melbourne (they have a plaque there now so you can see where that is).

Apparently her Dad was a drop kick as euphamistically explained on Macca's official website:

"With increasing family needs and a fluctuating income, Mary became the primary provider for her needy family. Her father Alexander's frequent and long absences from the family home and clear inability to provide for his family, resulted in Mary responding to the family needs."

Ems' question: so WTF was up with Dad??????

When Macca was 18 years old, she moved to Penola in South Australia to be a governess. Surprisingly, while there, her work "brought her into contact with Father Julian Woods, a priest at the local Catholic Church."

Macca's official website goes on to say: "Not long after meeting father Julian Woods, Macca found in him a spiritual director and sahred with him her deep desires..........and dreams to serve the poor in greater ways. Father Woods (lol) too, longed to serve better the educational and spiritual needs of the poor............"

"Over time, Mary and Father Woods would share their.........thoughts on the need for education in the Penola area."

As the years passed, Father Woods came closer to realising his dream of a religious order of nuns for Australia, and he composed a set of rules to direct their lives:

1. an emphasis on poverty

2. a dependence on divine providence

3. No ownership of belongings as God would provide.

4. The sisters would go weherever they were needed.

So shazam, Macca became the first sister and mother superior of the newly formed order of the Sisters of Saint Jospeh of The Sacred Heart.

There was some backlash towards Father Woods and his Sisters, due to the way they conducted themselves (e.g. nuns begging in the street so they could support themselves). Macca didn't like some of the recommendations that were made regarding the running of the order (e.g. the creation of "lay sisters" and placing each convent under the authority of a local priest). So, she cracked the shits (that is outlined her concerns), and was subsequently excommunicated in 1871. So what did Macca do? She went straight to Rome to get it sorted out. On return from Europe, Macca called the first general chapter of the congregation and she became Superior General. There was a whole lot more drama after this, but Macca retained her faith and courage.

According to her website: "with all the trials of her life behind she entered her eternal reward on 8th August 1909" (Ems' add: I think this means she died).

In 1925, the Mother Superior of the Sisters of St Joseph, Mother Laurence, began the process to have MacKillop declared a saint . After several years of hearings, close examination of MacKillop's writings and a 23 year delay, the initial phase of investigations was completed in 1973. After further investigations, MacKillop's "heroic virtue" was declared in 1992. That same year, the church endorsed the belief that Veronica Hopson, apparently dying of leukaemia in 1961, was cured by praying for MacKillop's intercession; MacKillop was beatified on 19 January 1995 by Pope John Paul II.

On 19 December 2009, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints issued a papal decree formally recognising a second miracle, the complete and permanent cure of Kathleen Evans of inoperable lung and secondary brain cancer in the 1990s. Macca's canonisation was announced on 19 February 2010 and subsequently took place on 17 October 2010. Over 8000 pilgrims from Australia and New Zealand attended the ceremony at The Vatican.This made her the first Australian to be recognised as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church.

In the week leading up to her canonisation, the Australian federal government announced that it was protecting the use of MacKillop's name for commercial purposes. According to a statement from the office of the Prime Minister of Australia, Julia Gillard, the only other individual Australian whose name has similar protection is Australian cricket legend Sir Donald Bradman.

So, we have a saint and you don't. Suck it.....Seychelles.

Jesus RacingEdit

Ems to read - Jesus racing came to my attention when I was watching car racing on TV the other week, and noticed "Jesus Racing" plastered all over one of the cars, inside and out. Curious, I hit teh interwebs to find out more.

The first thing to say is that yes, Jesus Racing did win the fucking race. It was a God damn miracle.

The second thing to say is, the best part of the Jesusracing.com.au website is the link: "So Who is Jesus?". Just in case you hadn't heard of him, here's his CV. He's on "LinkedIn" apparently.

Another link is "Why do you have Jesus on your ute?" This just reminds me of The Popemobile, but with Jesus sitting in the tray of a ute instead, just blessing everyone with the sign of the cross as the ute races around the racetrack at 250 kms a hour and his hair flies around in the wind. I can just hear as the ute goes racing by the crowd "Bless you my chiiillllddddddd......."

I've got Jesus in my ute. He pops out of the hood like a jack-in-the-box, scaring people straight. To the grave.

Anyway, the quote this dude (Andrew) uses to justify him being a rev head for Jeebus is this:

"Jesus came to give life and life to the full" (John 10:10): "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." Vis a Vis - race utes in my name. Apparently....

BUT - all this attention for being a Jeebus freak is apparently Andrew's wife's fault. He only wanted to put a fish symbol on his ute, she talked him into the whole /www.Jesusracing.com.au/ thing. After all, in his words,

“I was recently challenged as to whether I simply carry my Christianity as a back pack or whether I really pick up my cross each day.This caused me to think about why I am involved in motor racing and what impact I make for the Kingdom. With this in mind I thought it would be a great idea to put a fish on the back of the race car to show that I am a Christian! My wife challenged me and said well if you really want to make a statement why don’t you promote "Jesus. All about life" all over the car, “that will let them know where you stand” !

So I looked up the "all about life" link, and all I could really get from it was "One national organisation, moving forward to lighten hearts" and "creating conversations about Jesus".

Hmm, let me think, I could create some conversations about Jesus.

Such as......

Why are there several very different accounts about Jesus rising from the dead? Which one is true?

What did Jesus mean by this: "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword." Matthew 10:34

Jesus is as accomplished a sword-swallowing festival carnie as he is an accomplished everything else.

Jesus, "children with cancer". Please discuss.

That's obviously for the greater good. I'm surprised there are people who still don't know that cancer in children serves to keep Satan from breaking up the earth's crust and causing massive quakes with his infernal broom (children cause about 90% of the world's noise). Think of the hell worms that would emerge, Satan still hasn't called an exterminator yet.

Anyhoo, I guess if you wanna plaster Jeebus all over your racing ute, then go ahead. But, I'm thinking most of the hits your website is gonna get are drunk yobbos taking the piss out of you.

And, FYI, Jesus Racing came 5th in their most recent race. But, as they say on their website, any publicity for Jesus is good publicity.........

All Eyes on Jesus Racing Team

Published November 21, 2011

If the aim of the Jesus Racing Team is to draw attention to Jesus, then this weekend at Sandown can be hailed a huge success!

A massive crash in Race Two saw the 1850kg Jesus Ute, travelling at 130km./h, lifted four feet off the ground!

It was a spectacular incident that could have been a lot worse, but certainly saw all eyes on the name of Jesus!


Holy God damn fuck........

Set Right MinisteriesEdit

Speaking of Holy God Damn Fuck....

Ems: this headline on News.com.au (a "news" website which Joe questions the quality of - funny about that as half the stories on it are about celebrities' haircuts) caught my attention the other day:

"AMA (Australian Medical Association) warning after Christian group Set Right performs exorcisms on two-year-old" Apparently, in ground breaking journalism, we are informed that "Exorcists who say depression and schizophrenia are demons that can be cast out, are treating children as young as two for possession, a claim the Australian Medical Association has dismissed as unscientific and potentially harmful."

Really?

Perth (the capital of Western Australia) based Set Right is a non-denominational Christian ministry. Their Leader says they’ve seen a “massive rise” in possessions, and now exorcise four or five people a day. She said people find them online and through psychic fairs.

Ems' question: What is a psychic fair? Do you actually go there, or just psychically connect with others who want to go?

Psychic 1: The next fair will take place on 13th March next year!

Psychic 2: Surely not! Is thy mind's eye quite clouded, man!? It will be 23rd August!

Psychic 3: I swear, and you call yourselves prognosticators. The spirits hum in union, it shall be 11th November.

I'm also thinking a psychic fair would be really boring. You know that trick you do when you put a ball under 1 of 3 cups and move them all around and you have to guess which cup the ball is under? At a psychic fair, you'd always be right. Where's the fun in that?

The Set Right website says that depression is a "common low ranking demon" while schizophrenia is "another demon we have met often and evicted". Their leader said "Depression can be a symptom of a demonic power being in there. Jesus dealt with lunatic spirits, they’re real. You can’t get rid of them by medication. You have to renew your mind." Now, this article goes on and on with this shit.

BUT, Set Right Ministries are aware of the recent media attention, and have posted this response:

Now reading our page on “Exorcism & Deliverance” should help you understand how we do it. No strapping, etc…Not like in the movies (sorry). We just command the demons to leave in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (i.e. “Get out in Jesus’ name, check Mark 1:25-26 for reference). Nothing horrendous about it, just a simple command. It can take time and we’ll have to repeat ourselves but that’s about it. Even if the encounter with a demon turns violent (from the demon, not us), we will command the demon out the same way."

About Set Right doing deliverance on young ones, as stated in the “Exorcism & Deliverance” page the process is different than for adults. We will talk with them (those children in the age of understanding), with the parents present and command the demons out only if they manifest. The command is way softer for the demons don’t have strongly established legal rights (hereditary ones which can easily be broken in Jesus’ name) and that makes it easier (check Matthew 17:15-18):

15 “Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water.

16 "I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.”

17 “You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.”

18 Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed at that moment.

Ems' comment: Well if it's WAY softer for toddlers than for adults, than that satisfies my ethical/human rights/child abuse concerns. Phew! Oh, and now that I know that you go through the due process of establishing the established legal rights of the demons, I feel MUCH more comfortable.

Ems' comment: Say, as this ministry is based in Perth, do you think the non-hereditary demons have the right to vote in Australian elections? And if so, do you think "Jedi they vote"?

Set Right do NOT charge for consultations, nor deliverances, nor anything…(Apart from the fiction novel book we sell online). Wspan>e accept donations, yes, but certainly don’t force anyone.

Ems' comment: would that fiction book be The Bible?

Their website also states "Set Right is not a Church nor belong to any".

Ems' comment: The Lord should also start teaching these dudes some morphology and grammar, as well as how to cure depression and schizophrenia in one session. Sons of bitches.

BUT....it is important to note that..........

Set Right is a “non denominational” ministry. We do not belong to any church. We have been grown and built by the Spirit of God, He brought us together and unites us together.'

BUT....they do believe in a triune God (father, son, holy spirit).

Over the past year the Holy Spirit has put us through serious boot camp! We have been trained and equipped in casting out demons, we didn’t ask for this to happen, but the Spirit knows best! We will do as we are commanded. We have become, among other things, a deliverance Ministry. Yes, we exorcise demons.

We are a five fold ministry, we teach, preach, evangelise, prophesy, and are apostolic. We love the Word of God, and stand firm in it.

We believe God is training and equipping the army, we believe that Christ is coming very shortly for His bride, the church, and that there is little time left. We believe that the Church will depart before the coming wrath. We believe God’s wrath is imminent, and the world will shortly see the Anti-Christ (Abaddon, Apollyon, Apollo) rise to power. We are here to serve the bride, to clean her and get her ready. It’s time.

Ems' comment: Clean her.... What the?

SportEdit

Now Australia is known as a nation that also worships sport. The AFL footy season has just begun or this year and Melbourne is going nuts with footy fever. 80,000 people attended just ONE of the first round matches.

In 2011, over 7 million people attended Australian Football League (Aussie Rules) games with an average attendance of over 36 thousand people per match. Two million people atteneded horse racing meetings. Almost 3 and a half million attended national rugby league matches, with an average of just over 62,000 attending each New South Wales vs Queensland State of Origin match. Crowds of over 80,000 have attended cricket matches over the years at the MCG.

I myself have no interest in footy, and thus am a pariah in my home town for 6 months of the year. However, I love the cricket and Joe has had the culturally enlightening experience of "listening in" to Tort and I IM while watching cricket matches.

So Joe, here are some cricket terms we would like you to research and learn in preparation for next summer (thx to Tort for helping out with these):

  1. bowl a maiden over
  2. no balls
  3. a cherry
  4. right up in the blockhole
  5. caught behind
  6. a fine leg
  7. the tail end
  8. Husseys
  9. The Member's End
  10. Going down the pitch

{C}One last comment re sport: Until the 1970s, more than 120,000 people sometimes crammed into the MCG – the record crowd standing at around 130,000 for a Billy Graham evangelistic crusade in 1959, followed by 121,696 for the 1970 Aussie Rules Grand Final.

The FutureEdit

Australia appears to be becoming more secular, but race and religous tensions definately still exist and aren't helped by events such as 9/11 and or our allies' soldiers shooting the crap out of Muslim civilians.......

There are small changes happening, but on the whole I think we are very diverse and pretty tolerant, if not accepting already, so the future seems bright from the perspective of an atheist who really doesn't care what anyone else does as long as they don't shove it down my throat.

Oh, and Skippy The Bush Kangaroo will become our overloard. What could go wrong? She rocks.

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