Monthly Archives: June 2012

Australian teachers campaign against SRI (Special Religious Instruction)

Tonight, I was buoyed to hear of a major push by Australian teachers and academics to lobby for an end to the outdated and divisive ‘Special Religious Instruction/Education’ delivered to students in state schools across the nation.

I really don’t need to do more than reproduce a comment from David Zyngier, Senior Lecturer of Education at Monash University, on “The Conversation”.

If you are a teacher or an academic, may I urge you to contact David to add your name to the following statement. And, as David says, please feel free to circulate the statement widely to your own networks.

——————————————–

Academics are running a campaign to end SRI. If you agree with the following statement please email me [David Zyngier] directly.

If you agree to have your name added please email David Zyngier (Monash University) david.zyngier@monash.edu Feel free to circulate this statement.

Special Religious Instruction –

a statement from the teaching profession

The policy of ‘Special Religious Instruction’ (SRI), )*, currently enacted through differing state Education statutes across Australia, is an outdated and flawed model of segregated, unaccountable and unprofessional religious instruction, which caters to the interests of religious organisations and not the needs of students, teachers, educators or families.

Under the system as it stands:

• State government schools must allow non-teacher volunteers from religious organisations into classrooms to instruct students on a weekly basis and the teaching program must be disrupted for SRI to take place.

• In most Australian states, students who do not participate in SRI are barred from completing any meaningful learning. The NSW ‘Ethics’ alternative is still an unprofessional and segregatory option.

• Schools have no option over whether or not SRI is delivered. School principals and school councils must put the wishes of their communities aside and allow religious volunteers into classrooms each week, irrespective of how many students’ parents elect for them to participate.

• Students are segregated according to religious belief. Such segregation contributes to stereotyping and suspicion of minorities and risks promoting religious exclusion as an accepted norm.

• Respect for religious and cultural diversity is not fostered.

• Valuable class time is taken up to enable the delivery of SRI. Against the backdrop of a crowded curriculum and a new Australian Curriculum that makes no mention of SRI, we argue that this is a waste of students’ precious learning time.

• The separation between church and state – a central tenet of Australia’s democracy – is not upheld under the current model.
This system needs to change and the current legislation must be amended.

The 2008 Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians made a clear commitment ‘to nurture an appreciation of and respect for religious diversity’. It is time public education clearly stepped up to that commitment and ended discrimination and segregation in our state schools and focused on promoting cultural diversity instead.

In place of current SRI legislation, we believe that the general approach to values and ethics education currently taught by university prepared and accredited teachers in schools already promotes both social inclusion and intercultural understanding that will best meet the needs of all children and families. Families are in the best position to provide specific religious education and guidance of and for their children either in the home or through special after school organisations.

The secular principle in public education is and remains an indispensible foundation of public education. As stated in the Education Act (2006) guiding principles, the Government will “provide a secular education and will not promote any particular religious practice, denomination or sect”. [1]

Australian government school students are participating in an outdated model of SRI, which presents children with a singular, and in many cases, an exclusivist faith perspective, that is at odds with Australian state and federal governments’ commitment to promoting a socially inclusive society. The Victorian branch of the Australian Education Union has called for the removal of SRI in a special resolution, arguing that it should occur only outside school hours and be provided on a voluntary basis. [2]

We the undersigned call on the Australian Council of Deans of Education to demonstrate leadership on this important education issue by supporting the secular principle and the removal of the exceptions legislated in support of SRI in our schools today.

[1] Principles underlying the government education and training system 1.2.2 p. 13
[2] http://www.aeuvic.asn.au/972896.html
* Some states refer to ‘SRI’ as Special Religious Education (SRE).

If you agree to have your name added please email David Zyngier (Monash University) david.zyngier@monash.edu

Feel free to circulate this statement

Urgent – Lobby Greens to Uphold High Court Challenge Ruling on Chaplaincy

National School Chaplaincy/High Court Challenge Update:

This is urgent. It would be great if everyone could get behind this today and promote it to your own networks. This is the time to mobilise folks.

The Federal government announced last night they are going to pass legislation to circumvent the High Court ruling on funding for the National School Chaplaincy Program. This is a cynical, underhanded move which, I imagine, won’t impress the High Court at all. It is not at all clear that this attempt to snub the ruling won’t end the government back in the High Court, but we have to wait to see their legislation first.

What we can do immediately, although it won’t overturn the legislation, is try to get the Greens to stand up in Parliament and oppose it – or at least demand amendments to the program. This will get publicity about what is going on and shine a spotlight on what the government is doing. But we need *you* and your networks to help.

As a matter of urgency, please send an email to the following list:

senator.milne@aph.gov.au, adam.bandt.mp@aph.gov.au, senator.dinatale@aph.gov.au, senator.hanson-young@aph.gov.au,
senator.ludlam@aph.gov.au, senator.rhiannon@aph.gov.au, senator.siewert@aph.gov.au, senator.waters@aph.gov.au, senator.wright@aph.gov.au, senator.whish-wilson@aph.gov.au

Here is a sample letter. You can use your own words if you like, but please use the three dot points as they appear so we present a cohesive message.

Subject: Funding – National School Chaplaincy Program

Dear Senators and Mr. Bandt

You will be aware the ALP are planning to rush legislation through parliament to subvert the High Court decision in Willams v the Commonwealth and Ors.

This is an opportunity for the Greens to hold the government to account. The High Court has made a ruling which provides a greater level of public accountability and now the ALP – undoubtedly with the support of the coalition – intend to circumvent that ruling through legislation.

This is an opportunity for the Greens to make a public stand for some incredibly important issues, including public accountability, separation of church and state and our children’s right to a secular public education system.

I would be grateful if the Greens would represent my views in respect to this matter. They are as follows:

1) I do not support the Howard-Gillard program that supplies chaplains of any faith in Australia’s public schools, and I urge you to prevent the continuation of chaplains in today’s forthcoming legislation.

2) If we are to have Commonwealth assistance supplied to schools in this manner then I am firmly of the view that they must be fully qualified as school counsellors, which means they are qualified teachers with a degree in psychology and postgraduate qualifications in school counselling, and nothing less can do.

3) It is time to stop outsourcing this work to third party contractors and these fully qualified school counsellors must all be employed as public servants in the relevant Education departments in each state and territory in order to ensure some high level of confidence in their training, integrity and the outcomes.

Yours sincerely

————————————

Fellow bloggers – can you please consider reblogging this – either cut and paste this post or rephrase as you see fit, but please keep the three dot points intact.

PS:  Perhaps Gillard, Garrett and Roxon should listen to Foreign Minister, Bob Carr who said last May that the chaplaincy program was “abhorrent” – Bob Carr slams chaplain funds.

Update:  Greens want tertiary counselors and Bringing down the House? Anne Twomey, a constitutional lawyer predicts the new legislation will see the government ‘clobbered’ in the High Court.

Williams wins High Court challenge against school chaplaincy

Maria Proctor, Ron and me outside the High Court on the first day of the hearing. Photo by Nelson Lau.

Chaplaincy challenge: Trophy for Williams, but ‘poison chalice’ for the states?

We were advised several days in advance that a decision on Ron Williams’ High Court Challenge against federal funding for the National School Chaplaincy Program would be handed down on Wednesday, 20 June 2012.

Anticipating that a decision must surely be imminent, I’d already started drafting an article and conducted an interview with Ron – I knew when the decision finally came down he’d be swamped by media!

The decision was scheduled for 10.15am. At the appointed hour, I was busily working on the article with ABC News 24 playing in the background. And, then, through the background hum came the decision:  Williams had won!

My hand flew to my mouth, my whole body went tingly, then numb and I started to scream, “We won! We won! We won!”

When Maria Proctor, (president of the Humanist Society of Queensland, which donated a significant amount towards Ron’s legal costs) rang we repeated the “We won! We won!” chant in duet.

Next Andrew Skegg (Godless Biz) was on the phone.  Andrew has been a tireless supporter of the High Court Challenge with his Stop the National School Chaplaincy facebook page and #StopNSCP tweets.

When the excitement died down, I felt like someone who’d simultaneously won the lottery and been run over by a truck.  Speaking to Ron, yesterday, I discovered he felt much the same!

Later in the day, I had the opportunity to speak to briefly to Ron and enjoyed a longer conversation with Ron’s  main supporter and ‘trusty side-kick’, Hugh Wilson, later that night.

In a 6:1 decision, the High Court upheld Ron’s claim that funding the National School Chaplaincy Program exceeded the executive powers of the Commonwealth. In short, it was unconstitiutional.

The judges were unanimous, however, that the program did not breach the ‘religious test’ clause of Section 116 of the Constitution.

While some glass-half-empty folks have chosen to see the latter decision as a ‘failure’ it was an ambit claim that Williams never expected to win.

“It was always about the funding,” he told me.

“Of course, we would have loved to have mounted another DoGS (Defence of Government Schools) case and reinstated Section 116 as a separation clause, but every bit of legal advice told us that just wasn’t possible.”

What Ron’s legal team did was to find another avenue to attack the program and he has emerged victorious. I think that’s time for some glass-more-than-half-full celebration.

It was always highly unlikely that the High Court Challenge was going to stop chaplaincy in its tracks. Everyone who followed the case closely understood that. Ron has always been clear that this was the ‘opening salvo’ in a much longer battle.  But what a salvo!

The most likely scenario now is that the government will fund chaplaincy through the states, via a tied grant or special purpose payment (SPP).  But, as I’ve explained in an article for ABC’s Religion and Ethics today, this may be something of a ‘poisoned chalice’ for the states.

When I spoke to Ron yesterday he assured me that if chaplaincy is to be administered by the states, that’s where the battle will move to.  This is, by no means, the end of the fight for the education system our founding fathers envisaged:  free, secular and compulsory.

I hope you’ll enjoy my Religion and Ethics article. I hope that Ron’s thousands of supporters will continue their interest in secular public education through following this blog, subscribing to the Stop the National School Chaplaincy Program Facebook page, and, if you happen to be independently wealthy, through monetary support to help the fighting fund.

There are not many people who get the opportunity to be a small part of making constitutional history. I’m so glad when the opportunity presented itself to work with Ron’s team – specifically Hugh Wilson (SPEL), Maria Proctor (Qld Humanists), Max and Meg Wallace (Australian United for the Separation of Church and State),  Dan Stevens, Nina Pace and Nelson Lau – I ‘seized the day’.

Those interested in the chaplaincy issue should be sure to watch the videos on Ron and Hugh’s Secular Public Education Lobby (SPEL)  website.

Parents experiencing problems with chaplaincy or any other kind of religious interference in public schools can contact Hugh and Ron at asl@australiansecularlobby.com . They really do want to hear from you.

Chrys Stevenson

Chaplaincy challenge: Trophy for Williams, but ‘poison chalice’ for the states?

 

 

When the arse falls out of your arsenal – praise Godwin!

From Wikipedia: Godwin’s law (also known as Godwin’s Rule of Nazi Analogies or Godwin’s Law of Nazi Analogies is an observation made by Mike Godwin in 1990 that has become an Internet adage It states: “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches … there is a tradition in many newsgroups and other Internet discussion forums that once such a comparison is made, the thread is finished and whoever mentioned the Nazis has automatically lost whatever debate was in progress. This principle is itself frequently referred to as Godwin’s law.”

I’ve been thinking quite a lot about “Godwin’s Law” recently. As the Australian Marriage Equality juggernaut forges ahead, the religious right grows increasingly frustrated as their arguments lose traction with the wider community.

“We are comprehensively losing this”, the Australian Christian Lobby wrote to its followers earlier this year.

Meanwhile, there are fears for the health of Bill Muehlenberg as his head appears to ‘asplode’ at each new sign that Australians will no longer accept his brand of bigoted bastardry which fundamentally flies in the face of Australians’ ‘fair go’ ethos.

Last year, Kevin Rudd’s sister, Loree hit the headlines after she accused same-sex marriage advocates of being a “Gestapo”. According to Ms Rudd there is a worldwide gay network feeding ‘propaganda’ to politicians.

“I call them the global gay Gestapo — it is the lobbying movement that is brainwashing people, particularly the young in the community that this [homosexuality] is an optional extra in life,” she said.

Callously disregarding the collateral damage to Jewish Australians,  The Australian Christian Lobby backed Ms Rudd’s comments:

“I suggest Loree Rudd’s opponents visit the museum in Nuremberg and see how important it is that these deplorable tactics be opposed,” said the Australian Christian Lobby’s Jim Wallace.

Holocaust survivor Frederick Weisinger – a gay man with first-hand experience of Nazis – responded to the slurs:

 “I spent three years in a concentration camp as a child, and I am horrified by this comparison between the Gestapo and ordinary citizens like me who just want to be treated equally … Before she makes such offensive comments, Ms Rudd should read about the horrors perpetrated by the Gestapo, particularly how it hounded, persecuted and killed homosexuals in large numbers.”

Bruce Copeland, an ex-military Australian who campaigns against mainstream programs for HIV/AIDS prevention in Papua New Guinea has similarly complained that ‘several churches in Papua New Guinea’ have been severely bullied by the ‘AusAID lesbian gestapo officers’.  Copeland is clearly an A-grade nutter but his rantings are indicative of the depths to which Muehlenberg, Wallace, Ms Rudd and others are prepared to stoop.

Over the last few months, I’ve noticed Australian fundamentalists increasingly resort to Godwin’s law.

Most publicly,  Jim Wallace, recently likened ‘teh’ homosexual lobby and their supporters to Nazi arch-propagandist, Joseph Goebbels. Adding insult to injury, the remark was made in front of (and, partly directed towards) Dr Kerryn Phelps – who is both a lesbian and a practicing Jew.


(Nazi slur at 1:30)

But Wallace isn’t the only one invoking Nazi slurs in a farcical attempt to keep the anti-gay argument afloat.

In January, Catholic anti-abortion campaigner, Victorian Liberal MP Bernie Finn accused the gay community of “rainbow fascism” over protests relating to Margaret Court’s virulently anti-gay views.

Muehlenberg regularly refers to ‘the gaystapo’ on his despicable blog.

“Every day we witness another example of the pink jackboots in operation,” Muehlenberg despairs.

“I better run through some of the most recent examples of this homosexual fascism,” he says elsewhere.

(I won’t link to Muehlenberg’s on principle – google if you must read his filth.)

It’s inflammatory language meant to frighten the community and intimidate gay rights activists. Instead, it’s widely read as last-gasp-Godwinism – the death-rattle of a minority group of religious extremists aghast that they are’comprehensively losing’ the debate.  Ironically, these gutter tactics only function to alienate decent Australians and outrage and embarrass the vast majority of Australian Christians.

As Jim Wallace is a former brigadier, perhaps we should employ a military analogy:

It’s like this Jim. When you have to resort to Nazi slurs, it’s a sure sign the arse has fallen out of your arsenal.

Chrys Stevenson

Gloria Jean’s – Lying for Jesus?

Oh dearie dear, the PR’s just getting worser and worser for Gloria Jean’s!

Here’s a tip. If you’re going to plough money into causes which deny equality to your fellow Australians then you’d better:

a) be prepared to stand up for your beliefs, regardless of the public outrage and economic fallout; or

b) find a really, really good PR company.

Unfortunately, GJ’s has pursued neither of these options.

My dear friend, Dave the Happy Singer from Dave the Happy Singer dot com has been cogitating on the Gloria Jean’s dilemma.  He’s a great cogitator, my friend Dave.  And, during his cogitational revery, he kept thinking about a particular image that just didn’t seem to gel with Gloria Jean’s’ insistence that their $30,000 donation to the Australian Christian Lobby was purely for advertising and that:

“This was a once off donation during the time of the election… in support of the prime ministerial debate only. What’s more, it is important to reiterate that we are not religiously affiliated or affiliated to any other beliefs or preferences, including Hillsong.

By the same token, nor do we discriminate against others based on their beliefs or preferences. We are proud of our culture of equality and embrace diversity across our entire business.

The religious affiliation and preferences of some our management, Franchise Partners or Team Members, is their personal choice and bears no relevance to the way that our business runs day to day.”

As tens of thousands of outraged coffee-drinkers joined the boycott of Gloria Jean’s (this little blog, alone, had almost 30,000 unique views of the Gloria Jean’s material this week), the increasingly desperate company issued this statement on their Facebook page:

“To the community,

Over the last few days there has been a lot of discussion about our company and we would like to take the opportunity to clear the air.

Gloria Jean’s Coffees has a strong culture and belief in respect, equality and diversity. As a brand we comprise of many individuals including our Support Office team, hundreds of Franchise Partners and thousands of coffee house team members, each with the right to hold their own beliefs.

As a company we hold no position on marriage law, and in line with our values support people’s freedom to choose who they love. We are not homophobic and are proud that our team members come from all walks of life and sexual orientations, and we respect everyone’s opinion and the right to freedom of choice – political, religious, marriage or otherwise.

Again we would like to apologise for any hurt or offence which may have been caused by the paid advertising we undertook for the 2010 prime ministerial debate event, hosted by the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL).

The paid advertising was undertaken on a commercial basis only, and it appears that there is now a perception that we endorse the views and values of the ACL. This is not the case. Gloria Jean’s Coffees does not support the independent views and values of the ACL.

There is also still confusion about our relationship with Hillsong Church. Gloria Jean’s Coffees is a privately owned business and not owned by the Hillsong Church.

This misunderstanding often arises because our founders are active parishioners of their local Hillsong Church.

We are not affiliated with Hillsong, however we do support a wide range of charities and churches in the communities in which our coffees houses operate including Hillsong.

We are proud of our contribution to the community so please follow this link to our website where you can see the range of causes that we support.

http://www.gloriajeanscoffees.com/au/Humanitarian/WhoWeHelp.aspx

Yours sincerely,

Gloria Jean’s Coffees Senior Management Team: Nabi Saleh, Angela Saleh, Keith Brown, Gareth Pike, Rudi Selles, Nicole Saleh and Matthew Button

But, despite the spin, it just wasn’t ringing true.  No religious affiliation? How do you explain this little gem, provided by one of Dave’s trusty readers, ‘Shaz’:

click to enlarge

Or this, which washed up on Facebook today:

As  my dear friend, Bruce Llama reveals in Jesus Jean the Coffee is Off, Andrew Fisher, the owner of this car probably put his foot in it when he said that sponsorship from ‘mainstream secular companies’ would ‘confuse’ the Christian message of his enterprise too much.  Indeed!  Thanks Bruce – love your work!

But wait! There’s more!  Following a lead from one of my very astute readers, Kas Grigonis (see Kas’ comment here), Dave did some more digging on Gloria Jean’s parent company, Jireh International Pty Ltd. Cleverly, Dave thought, “If  $30,000 was donated to the Australian Christian Lobby under the name of “Gloria Jean’s Coffees”, what donations might have been made under the parent company’s name, “Jireh International Pty Ltd”.  And what do you know? Bingo!

As Dave explains at Dave the Happy Singer dot com:

“In 2004, Gloria Jean’s holding company donated to the NSW Liberals and an entity called Families Australia. Pulling up the return [PDF] for Families Australia, we see that it received $105,000 in three donations, promptly donating that same sum on to…

Family First.

And whose name do we find next to one of those donations? $10,000 came from:

Jireh.”

See Dave’s blog post:  Did Gloria Jeans donate to Family First, too? for all the tawdry information.

Oh, happy day! Gloria Jean’s – the ‘non-religiously affiliated company’  slipping 10,000 bucks to Assemblies-of-God-linked Family First? Who’d a thunk it?  Was this another one of those ‘one offs’, Gloria Jean’s?

And why does Assemblies of God ring a bell? Oh, yes! It’s because Nabi Saleh – one of the co-signatories to the protestation of innocence above – is the director of Alphacrucis (formerly the Southern Cross College of the Assemblies of God). What an incredible coincidence!

Following the bouncing ball with this lot is so much fun.  Guess who one of the Family First’s senate candidates was? Yes! A gold star for those of you who got it right:  @WendyJoyFrancis – now Queensland director of … the Australian Christian Lobby.

Come on! You remember Wendy. She’s the one whose twitter feed read:

“Children in homosexual relationships are subject to emotional abuse. Legitimising gay marriage is like legalising child abuse.”

But let me stress, Wendy didn’t tweet this herself! It was some unnamed person, tweeting under Wendy’s name. Someone who just happened to have her twitter password. And believe me, those are NOT Wendy Francis’ views and the person who tweeted them HAS BEEN COUNSELED!  Let me restate that, they HAVE BEEN COUNSELED!

In a ham-fisted effort to dig herself out a rapidly deepening hole, Ms Francis told AAP that children used in the “social experiment” of same-sex parenting were open to emotional abuse, like those of the stolen generations.

Wendy, of course, IS NOT HOMOPHOBIC; although, mysteriously, having failed to gain a Senate seat, she is now a senior manager in an organisation which spends the majority of its time  telling us that allowing same-sex couples to marry is not in the best interests of children and that that child rape by clergy is primarily attributable to homosexuals infiltrating churches.

In 2010, Family First disendorsed David Barrow,  a Victorian candidate for the Federal Seat of La Trobe, because it was discovered that Barrow “supports the marriage of any committed partnership and says same-sex couples should have the right to adopt”.

Family First  chairman, Peter Lake, said:

“It came to our attention that he had posted some information on his website and blogs which was inconsistent with the stated position that he had given us as a candidate when we had endorsed him and the views were different to the values that Family First espouses” (emphasis added).

This is the party to which the NON-RELIGIOUSLY AFFILIATED Gloria Jean’s decided to donate 10,o00 smackeroonies.

Geez GJ’s! I’m a little short of cash this week.  If I strap on a sandwich board that reads “God Hates Fags” and walk up and down the Queen Street Mall at lunch time will you throw me a lazy ‘thou’ or ten – in the most unreligiously, unhomophobic way of course!

The thing is, Gloria Jean’s, you are neck deep in the manure of Balaam’s talking donkey. Your company has enthusiastically sponsored a variety of homophobic organisations and now it’s beginning to have negative financial consequences you’re trying to backpedal as fast as Nabi Saleh can mumble in tongues.

I was asked by a Christian this week why I was ‘so angry’ about this.  Well, you know, the social environment created by organisations which deny the scientific consensus on homosexuality causes gay teens to attempt suicide at a rate significantly higher than their heterosexual peers. That tends to get me riled. I guess I’m just funny that way.

The facts are that:

  • homosexuality  is entirely natural in terms of the spectrum of human sexuality
  • it is neither chosen nor changeable
  • children do equally as well with homosexual parents as they do with heterosexual parents
  • homosexuality and pedophilia are not linked – the use of the term ‘homosexual molestation’ does not and should not be taken to imply that the adult molesting the child is a homosexual, only that the molestation was performed by a man upon a male child or teenager.
I also get very cranky about people trying to dig themselves out of bad situation by feeding the public with bullshit.

As Julia Roberts said in Pretty Woman, “Big mistake … HUGE!”

It’s too late now to take a ‘neutral position’ on homosexuality and same-sex marriage, Gloria Jean’s. You guys are going to have to pick a side.

May I make some suggestions?

a) Admit that, under the influence of Saleh (and others?) your organisation has unwisely invested in organisations that have caused great pain and suffering, not only to homosexuals, but to other vulnerable groups.

b) Admit this has been contrary to the interests (both personal and financial) of your franchisees and their staff.

c) Announce that you are now prepeared to put the past behind you; that neither Gloria Jean’s – nor any companies even remotely associated with it – will contribute either financially or in kind towards organisations which view homosexuality, the sexual expression of homosexuality and same-sex marriage as ‘abnormal’ or ‘sinful’.

c) Pledge to compensate for your company’s betrayal of your LGBTIQ customers and employees by contributing the sum of $30,000 plus $10,000 to Australian Marriage Equality.  After all, it’s the least you can do.

OR

Simply come clean and say, “Yes, we contributed that money to organisations which think homosexuality is sinful and abnormal because our company is based on fundamentalist Christian values and as a corporate entity, we endorse those views.  Further, as this is our fervently held position, we are prepared to accept (on behalf of our franchisees) any backlash that might occur because of this principled stance.”

At least that would be honest.

Chrys Stevenson

PS: Oh, and Gloria Jean’s? We know you had the logo promoting your company as a ‘partner’ in the Hillsong Conference removed from the conference website.  Can you confirm if you’re still sponsoring the conference?

Update: Dave Singer tells me that the Gloria Jean’s logo has since reappeared on the Hillsong Conference sponsors list. Despite having ‘no affiliation’ with Hillsong they are listed as a “MAJOR PARTNER”.

Dave shares this photo of a Gloria Jeans Coffee cart.  Note the t-shirt on the barrista and the logo on the coffee cup?

Oh, Gloria Jeans! You’ve done it again!

So, let’s just recap this ongoing saga, shall we?

1. Doug Pollard discovers that Gloria Jeans Coffee donated $30,000 to Australia’s leading anti-gay group, the Australian Christian Lobby.

2. A call to boycott Gloria Jeans Coffee follows.

3.  It goes viral.

4. Gloria Jeans issues a statement trying to play down their affiliation with anti-gay organisations such as the Australian Christian Lobby, Hillsong church, Mercy Ministries and the Salvation Army (we’re still not sure about Kenneth Copeland Ministries).

Here’s the spin:

“This was a once off donation during the time of the election… in support of the prime ministerial debate only. What’s more, it is important to reiterate that we are not religiously affiliated or affiliated to any other beliefs or preferences, including Hillsong.

By the same token, nor do we discriminate against others based on their beliefs or preferences. We are proud of our culture of equality and embrace diversity across our entire business.

The religious affiliation and preferences of some our management, Franchise Partners or Team Members, is their personal choice and bears no relevance to the way that our business runs day to day.”

4. I do some more digging and find that Gloria Jeans charitable foundation donates to Compassion Australia. Compassion (and its global partner Compassion International) appear to be decidedly anti-gay. Compassion is also closely linked to Hillsong Church and sponsors it annual conferences.

5. And then, the brilliant Dave the Happy Singer from Dave the Happy Singer dot com makes an amazing discovery. Three days ago, it seems, Gloria Jeans logo was proudly displayed online as a ‘partner’ of the Hillsong Conference. But, after the boycott controversy – POOF! – the evidence of Gloria Jeans’ close and continuing ‘partnership’ with Hillsong mysteriously disappeared from the site.  Luckily Dave managed to save it with a screen capture!  Bet they’re relieved!

What was it Gloria Jeans said in their statement? Oh yes!

“We are not religiously affiliated or affiliated to any other beliefs or preferences, including Hillsong … The religious affiliation and preferences of some our management, Franchise Partners or Team Members, is their personal choice and bears no relevance to the way that our business runs day to day.”

Hmmmm.

Please visit Dave’s blog for more information!

7. Then comes a most interesting ‘revelation’ from one of my readers, Kas Grigonis, who writes:

The company that is trading as Gloria Jeans is called Jireh International Pty Ltd. Jireh is the Hebrew verb meaning “to provide” and is commonly known in the term “Jehovah jireh”, meaning “God will provide”.

Also, in the book of Genesis, Jehovah-jireh is the place where God told Abraham to offer his son Isaac as a burnt offering,* (Abraham named the place as such after God provided him with a ram to sacrifice instead of Isaac).

The North American affiliate set up for Jireh International Pty Ltd (trading as Gloria Jeans) is called Praise International North America Incorporated.

The links between church and addictive drug peddling… sorry… coffee selling… to the world couldn’t get much stronger.  🙂

What was that, Gloria Jeans? The line’s breaking up, you’ll have to speak louder! Oh, yes, okay, I can hear you now:

” … it is important to reiterate that we are not religiously affiliated or affiliated to any other beliefs or preferences … The religious affiliation and preferences of some our management, Franchise Partners or Team Members, is their personal choice and bears no relevance to the way that our business runs day to day.”

Yeah, sure!

I’ve been mulling on this overnight and it’s brought to mind an amusing incident from many years ago.

I had just bought a coffee at my local (independent) coffee shop. I took my drink to an outside table and sat down. Just as I looked up I saw at the table opposite, a child of about 6 years old, sitting by himself and shovelling sugar out of the sugar bowl into his mouth. Just as the next teaspoonful rose to his lips, I said, “You’re not going to eat that, are you?”

The child looked at me with wide-eyed innocence, spoonful of sugar still poised centimetres from his mouth, and responded with a sing-song, “Noo–oh.”

Oh, how it reminds me of Gloria Jeans with their hand, caught in the Christian anti-gay cookie jar while flat-out denying their religious affiliations.

Wake up, Gloria Jeans! You’re not six and we’re not stupid.

You’re just making the situation worse.

Meanwhile Starbucks Australia have followed their US parent, done the right thing and publicly announced their support for marriage equality.

Chrys Stevenson

*This may explain GJ’s own ‘burnt offerings’!

Who’ll come a-waltzing Matilda with me?

I’m very proud to announce my writing debut on the New Matilda. New Matilda is a crowd-sourced online political journal and I have to say I’ve been very impressed by their professionalism.

I guess that’s one of the reasons they’ve been able to attract such great writers.  Contributors include:

and many more.

My article, The Happy Clappers who run Queensland focuses on the evangelical forces within Queensland’s Liberal National party.

During the Civil Unions debate last year, Anna Bligh said:  “The religious right has taken over the National Party. Bruce McIver and his cronies are running it.”

You might be surprised to read who agrees with her!

I hope you enjoy the article.  While you’re at the New Matilda site, take a look around and consider subscribing. It’s quite reasonable at around $8 a month.

Hopefully they’ll let me write for them again soon.

Chrys Stevenson