The internet is all a-twitter tonight with news that 150 Australian doctors, operating under the moniker Doctors for the Family [Senate submission 229], oppose same-sex marriage on the basis that it would be detrimental, both to children and community health.
It all sounds so credible when this kind of nonsense comes from doctors; so credible and, regrettably, so familiar.
The fact is, I’ve exposed this lot of mendacious medicos before and there’s a certain sense of deja vu at having to front up and do it all again.
These people may have medical degrees but they are not speaking as scientists or medics; they are religious bigots using their professional credentials as a smokescreen for their despicable, discriminatory dogma.
So, here we go again.
Dr Lachlan Dunjey is the leader of the pack. Dunjey has priors. According to Dunjey, his anti-abortion ‘Liberty of Conscience in Medicine’ website and associated group, ‘Medicine with Morality’ have ”no religious or faith component”.
As I showed in a previous blog post, “In Good Conscience?” the list of signatories at Liberty of Conscience in Medicine is chock-a-block with religious fundamentalists and evangelists.
Dunjey fails to disclose on both his Liberty of Conscience in Medicine website and his Doctors for the Family senate submission that he was Western Australia’s Christian Democratic Party candidate for the senate in 2004, along with his co-signatory, Dr Norman Gage. When not pretending to be ‘non-religious’ Dunjey describes himself as ‘a church musician of 40+ years’ and a ‘church elder’ at Morley Baptist Church, Western Australia.
Dunjey is also the former president of the Baptist Churches of Western Australia.
Strange, he considers none of this relevant as he rails against abortion, euthanasia and same-sex marriage.
Dr Kuruvilla George has also been in the news for appending his signature to this pestilent piece of pusillanimous propaganda. Dr George is Victoria’s deputy chief psychiatrist and (for now) a member of the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission.
After completing his medical training, Kuruvilla George worked in India as a missionary.
Dr George is known for arguing that psychiatrists should discuss their own spiritual beliefs with their patients. To me, that seems dangerously close to exploiting a position of influence to evangelise emotionally vulnerable patients.
Psychologist, Dr John Mathai similarly argues for a ‘Biblio-centred model of therapy’. Yes, really. Psychiatric therapy based on scripture.
Dr Mathai’s ‘Christian perspective’ leads him to tout the benefits of ‘revelational therapy’.
“‘Revelational Therapy’, he says, “applies to the revelational gifts – the gifts of knowledge, wisdom and discernment as described in one of the books of the Bible, 1 Corinthians chapter 12. These are spiritual gifts that are imparted by the Holy Spirit as the need arises.”
But, of course, it is science, not the Holy Spirit which tells Dr Mathai that homosexuals should be treated as second-class citizens. Who could doubt it?
Another signatory to the Doctors for the Family submission is Dr Teem-Wing (TW) Yip, a member of Kwatja-Etatha Lutheran Church in Central Australia. Helpfully, Dr Yip assists Pastor Basil Schild in the congregation’s ministry with Aboriginal people.
I wonder if Dr Yip knows her co-signatory, Dr Robert Pollnitz. Curiously enough, he’s the chairman of the Lutheran Church of Australia’s Commission on Social & Bioethical Questions and another signatory on Dr Dunjey’s senate submission against same-sex marriage. Quelle suprise!
Signatory, Dr Murray James-Wallace, appears to be under the thrall of the notorious Danny Nalliah of Catch the Fire Ministries. You remember, Pastor Danny – he’s the guy who said the Black Saturday bushfires were God’s retribution for Victoria’s pro-choice abortion laws.
In a ‘confession’ that will horrify everyone but the religiously deluded, Dr James-Wallace writes of an incident which occurred while he was travelling with Nalliah in Israel. As they left their hotel one morning, a woman travelling with them exhibited all the symptoms of a heart attack.
Dr James-Wallace takes up the story:
“We are on the outskirts of Tiberius, I explain that clinically she requires a hospital. She could have had a heart attack, asystole or otherarrythmia, hypoglycaemia or a stroke or seizure. Danny says this is spiritual and has generational links to Freemasonry. John receives a word that this is an attack from Satan to end her life in Israel and that if she can get to Jordan the Lord will heal her.
I have 2 choices, professionally to pull rank and as the only qualified medical practitioner ‘order’ the bus to a hospital in Tiberius. Having witnessed the miraculous recovery of the lady from death to life in that she responded to a verbal command. I explained that this lady is very sick, she ought to go to hospital but ‘I place myself under the authority of the pastor and the Lord Jesus Christ.’
Yes, folks. You heard it right. Instead of honouring his medical training and getting this woman to a hospital, he defers to Pastor Danny Nalliah.
But, of course, we are meant to believe that Dr James-Wallace’s opposition to same-sex marriage is based entirely on scientific evidence – and has nothing whatsoever to do with his religious fundamentalism.
Writing in Sight Magazine (a website covering local and global news from a Christian perspective), Senate submission signatory, Dr Yoke Mei Neoh, tells of being called to a double medical emergency on board a cruise ship.
“Of all times, it had to be now, God, is there a lesson here for me?” she wonders as she struggles to cope.
I remember signatory Dr Lucas (Luke) McLindon from my post on Liberty of Conscience in Medicine. It is rather alarming, but sadly not surprising, to hear that, “As a committed Catholic, at the end of the day” Dr McLindon’s “loyalties must lie with Scripture first and foremost …”
So, when it comes to science or religious propaganda which rules, Dr McLindon? No need to answer. I think we all get the picture.
“As Catholic doctors, we should be foremost inviting Christ into our work, which completely changes the nature of what you are doing.”
It certainly seems to change the nature of interpreting the medical and sociological research on homosexuality!
Dr John Muirden is on the bioethics committee of the Uniting Church.
Dr Tanuja Martin and her husband Wayne were called as missionaries to Nepal because, “People are dying daily in countries without ever having had the opportunity to hear the gospel.”
(Some of us might think good nutrition and proper medical care were greater priorities.)
As with my post on Dr Dunjey’s Liberty of Conscience in Medicine I could go on and on, but I think I’ve made my point.
The submission from Doctors for the Family is no more than religious propaganda masquerading as medical knowledge.
I am delighted to see that the Australian Medical Association has rejected the specious claims made in the Doctors for the Family submission. They are certainly far more qualified to do so than me.
The simple fact is, that the claims made in this deceptive piece of poorly disguised religious propaganda simply don’t hold up under academic scrutiny.
Of course, this group of homophobic medicos has as much right as anyone to state their views in a Senate submission – even if those views are fundamentally false. My objection is that, just like Medicine with Morality and Liberty in Conscience in Medicine, Doctors for the Family fails to disclose the religious agenda behind its propaganda.
If their Senate submission bore the name Christian Doctors for the Family, that, at least would be an honest representation.
I can’t help thinking that Dunjey’s proclivity for setting up Christian lobby groups which deny any link to religion reeks of Peter’s denial of Jesus.
Medicine with Morality, Liberty of Conscience in Medicine and now Doctors for the Family – three times they have denied Him.
It’s not a good look, Dr Dunjey. Not only are you and your cronies deceiving the Senate and the Australian people with your lack of transparency, your denialism fundamentally dishonours the tenets of the religion you purport to follow.
Who are Doctors for the Family? – The Conscience Vote blog
The Doctors for the Family Senate Submission, Translated – Mike Stuchbery
Drs 4 Family “disingenuous” about their religious beliefs says critic – Dr Jennifer Wilson, No Place for Sheep
Ersatz science does not help inform debate about social policy - Dr Michael Vagg, The Conversation
Herald Sun falsely implies that “doctors” think gay marriage a “risk to kids” – Jeremy Sear, Pure Poison on Crikey