Author Archives: thatsmyphilosophy

The Narcissism of Margaret Court

“This isn’t about the Margaret Court Arena. This is about the truth,” Margaret Court told her congregation at Victory Life Church, this week.

It’s a point on which Mrs Court and I agree.

The whole kerfuffle about Margaret Court’s unpopular views on the LGBTIQ community and marriage equality has very little to do with her tennis achievements or the name of a tennis arena. It has everything to do with which side of the argument is telling the truth and which is spreading malicious and deceitful misinformation. In a nutshell, it’s about who is bullying who.

What is clear is that the “facts” are firmly on the side of the LGBTIQ community. They are the victims of Mrs Court’s campaign of false and misleading propaganda. And it’s not just the LGBTIQ community arguing that Court’s arguments are factually and theologically flawed.

Robyn J. Whittaker, Bromby lecturer in Biblical Studies at Trinity College, sets out a theological argument against Court’s simple-minded fundamentalism, here.

Similarly, Rev. Dr Keith Mascord, a long time priest of the Anglican Diocese of Sydney, notes that Court’s views are not only out of step with the majority of Christians, but are factually unsustainable. He says:

“Conservative opponents of marriage equality express concern that the social fabric of our nation will be undermined, and that children especially will be hurt if we tamper with marriage. But the big problem is that these concerns are proving harder and harder to substantiate, with almost all the accumulating evidence suggesting that far from undermining society, marriage equality will strengthen the bonds and extend the reach of an institution with a proven track record of helping us all to flourish.”

We’ve heard a lot about narcissism in recent times. Inadvertently, President Donald Trump has brought much needed attention to this malignant personality trait. Coincidentally, I’ve had my own personal run-in with a narcissist. I know, first-hand, how their avaricious egos feed on attention (positive or negative). I know how they adorn themselves with lie upon lie until whatever was authentic, human and caring within them suffocates and dies. I know how they feign love and empathy, but have the capacity to feel neither. And, I know, when challenged, or caught out in a lie, how they puff out their chests, turn the argument around to make you the ‘bad guy’ and whine loudly about how they are the victim and you, the aggressor.

I understand, first-hand,  how destructive narcissism can be. Narcissists are ruthless. They are parasites, intent on self-aggrandisement and the preservation of their exoskeleton of falsehoods. They have nothing else. They are empty vessels.

Not all liars, of course, are narcissists. It’s one thing to base one’s entire existence on easily disproved falsehoods. But, to constantly seek public attention through the promotion of these lies and to reject out-of-hand the evidence that your lies are hurting – possibly even killing – people, reeks of a malignant form of pathological narcissism.

Is Margaret Court a malignant narcissist with delusions of grandeur? I’m not a psychologist, nor do I know her personally, so I can’t say. I can say her behaviour reminds me strongly of someone with this personality disorder.

As a tennis champion, Mrs Court attracted a great deal of attention and adulation. It’s quite clear part of the reason for her success was her single-minded focus on what was best for Margaret Court.

When other athletes boycotted South Africa because of their policy of apartheid, Mrs Court cheerfully played in a segregated tournament. She was unperturbed by the fact her doubles partner, Evonne Goolagong, was only spared discrimination because she was deemed to be an ‘honorary white’. Indeed, at the time, Mrs Court praised the South African government’s policy.

“South Africans have this thing better organised than any other country, particularly America. I love South Africa. I’ll go back there any time.”

Sensing, perhaps, that this quote may come back to haunt her, Mrs Court alluded to it in her 2016 autobiography:

“… when I accepted the invitation to play in the South African Championships I truly didn’t understand the fuss because I had not bothered to educate myself about the iniquities of apartheid.”

Despite hundreds of other leading sportspeople standing firmly against racism, Mrs Court was so focussed on what was best for her, it didn’t even occur to her to look into what the ‘fuss’ was all about. She didn’t bother to consider what it might mean for her young Aboriginal doubles partner. She gave no credence to any argument that might interfere with her own interests, ambitions and quest for attention. If it wasn’t in the best interests of Margaret Court, she simply didn’t want to hear it.

Importantly, that is exactly what she is doing in this current debate. The overwhelming majority of medical and mental health experts assert that homosexuality is a natural, unchosen and unchangeable expression of human sexuality. It is proven beyond any doubt that attempts at ‘gay conversion’ (as practiced in Mrs Court’s own church) are cruel, dangerous and often lead to self-harm and suicide. Psychologists agree the toxic culture created by those who suggest homosexuality (and gender dysphoria)  is perverted and unnatural causes untold psychological and physical harm to members of the LGBTIQ community, particularly teens. The evidence is overwhelming, indisputable and freely available. Yet, Mrs Court obstinately refuses to be ‘bothered’ to educate herself about the ‘iniquities’ of discrimination against LGBTIQ people.

Yes, she resiled from her former racist stance. But, only because racism is now so socially unacceptable it would irreparably taint her reputation were she to maintain her support for apartheid today. But, in the current climate, the LGBTIQ community are still a soft target. Tolerance for homophobic views is diminishing, but homophobia still carries some social currency.

“Margaret is entitled to her opinion!” we hear, from people who would never use the same defence against someone who suggested our schools should be segregated or that Aborigines should never have been given the vote.

Mrs Court could educate herself on LGBTIQ issues. There is no shortage of people who would help her. But she will not. Why? Because to do so would inflict a terminal wound to the persona she has carefully constructed to ensure continued global attention even as her sporting achievements fade from memory. Mrs Court’s lies are form an armour. They are her means of  self-preservation. Without them, she is merely a faded tennis star of no particular contemporary importance. She has never done anything notable but thwack a ball across a net. With those glory days long gone, the only currency she has left is controversy.

It’s interesting that, as Court’s sporting career faded, she took on the mantle of one chosen by God. What can be more satisfying to an ego, constantly in need of nourishment, than the belief you are in personal communication with, and an emissary of, an omnipotent deity!

But it was not sufficient for Mrs Court to simply become a member of a congregation, nor even to preach from the pulpit of a mainstream denomination. No. Mrs Court founded her own church; a church, in which, incredibly, the opinions of God mesh perfectly with Mrs Court herself! As a Pentecostal pastor, her congregation accepts her as God’s mouthpiece – infallible. It’s almost as if she were God incarnate.

I am not qualified to state that Mrs Court is a narcissist in the clinical sense. But, if one were a narcissist, having a whole congregation of co-dependants would be a very efficient means of ensuring a boundless well of narcissistic supply. (And, the fact their tithes and donations provide you with a very nice living couldn’t hurt, either.)

Mrs Court’s church is not one of those unassuming bodies which toils quietly but assiduously for good causes. Far from humble, Mrs Court’s Victory Life Centre aspires to TOTAL WORLD DOMINATION.

Despite protestations she doesn’t have a political bone in her body, Margaret Court’s personal church is aligned with the dominionist “7 Mountains movement”. This is why she calls Victory Life Centre a “church with a purpose”. The purpose is not to feed the poor, help the needy or comfort the infirm. The aim is firmly and undeniably political. The clearly stated goal of the 7 Mountains mandate is to build a literal army to take over all the governments of the world and install ‘prophets’ like Mrs Court as the new world leaders. Don’t believe me? This comes direct from the church’s website:

“Victory Life centre was founded in May 1995 by Rev Dr Margaret Court following a call from God to establish and Word of Faith/Pentecostal ministry in the Perth area. Our Vision is to Train an army of people who know Christ from within, to take this city and nation for Jesus. This has been the focus of the church since its inception and this has, in part, been accomplished through the establishing of Victory Life International Bible Training Centre and Margaret Court Community Outreach Centre.”

“… The driving force in [Margaret Court’s] call is … the desire to see God’s people equipped and trained to take back the seven mountains of society.”

What are these ‘7 mountains’? You can read about them here. Briefly, the 7 Mountains mandate states that until Godly government (i.e. theocracy) is installed in all the nations of the world, Jesus will not return. The 7 Mountains movement is intrinsically political, in that it seeks to infiltrate, influence and eventually take over the governments and public institutions of the world. Not exactly a humble ambition.

Of course this is a wacky idea and one that’s never likely to be achieved. That is not the point. Dominionists may never achieve their ultimate goal, but they can do a hell of a lot of collateral damage to real and innocent people in the attempt. The fact that Mrs Court’s church reflects the opinion of only a tiny minority of Christians is no more comforting than the knowledge that ISIS reflects the sentiments of only a tiny minority of Muslims.

And, it’s important to note that Mrs Court’s opinions on homosexuality do not reflect the views of Christians as a whole. Indeed, the majority of Australian Christians support marriage equality (an indisputable fact, disputed, nevertheless, by Mrs Court).

It is not necessary for Mrs Court to hurt the LGBTIQ community in order to be a Christian. But her fundamentalist stance is necessary to preserve her status as a Pentecostal pastor, a prophet of the New Apostolic Reformation  and the public notoriety her anti-social views afford her. Her homophobia is strategic and entirely self-serving.

The fact is, while Mrs Court may have to settle for negative attention from the wider populace these days, it is still attention, and it’s offset by the reverence she receives from within her own church. Accordingly, she is reassured she is still ‘important’, still ‘relevant’, still someone whose opinion matters on a global scale.

Margaret Court could have kept her protest letter to QANTAS private. As Russell Jackson pointed out in his Guardian article, she knows full-well what happens when she goes public with her views:  “It is undeniable I was – am – good copy,” Court has said.

Jackson claims Court’s  provocations are ‘calculated’. He notes she was well aware of what would follow her ‘open letter’ to QANTAS, having started a similar firestorm in 2011. As she said of that incident: “My statement was akin to pulling the pin on a hand grenade and throwing it into a crowded room.”

But, she went right ahead; basking in the torrent of negative publicity that followed. Who, but a narcissist feeds on such negative attention?

And, in a response typical of a narcissist, when she received the onslaught of criticism she knowingly invited, she claimed it was she who was being bullied, she who was the victim of a campaign of lies, and she who was the sole bearer of ‘The Truth’.

Margaret Court ‘hasn’t bothered’ to educate herself about the iniquities of her position on homosexuality, gender dysphoria and marriage equality. She doesn’t care that attitudes like hers pollute the culture as surely as toxic chemicals poison our waterways. She is not the least bit concerned that her views fuel discrimination against members of the LGBTIQ community or that the result is alarmingly high levels of mental illness, addiction, self-harm and suicide – particularly amongst young, gay and transgender teens. None of this matters to Mrs Court as much as her own ego and desperate need for attention.

Margaret Court may or may not be a narcissist in the clinical sense. But her behaviour, her attitude, her choices, her hubristic refusal to educate herself and her cold-hearted lack of concern for the consequences of her actions,  are certainly self-serving and narcissistic.

It’s hard to know how one should feel about Margaret Court. It’s all terribly sad really. She is both a comic and pitiful figure, despite the harm she is causing. Whilst reeling from my own experience with a malignant narcissist with delusions of grandeur, I asked a mental health expert whether I should hate the narcissist or feel sorry for him.

“Both,” she advised, “do both.”

Chrys Stevenson

NSW Pollies ‘Keep the Faith’ on Abortion Bill

To cries of “shame” from the pubic gallery, the NSW parliament, this week, voted against a bill which sought to decriminalise abortion. The bill’s other reforms included a requirement for anti-abortion doctors to refer patients to doctors who are willing to help them and called for 150 metre safe-access zones around abortion clinics to protect women from ‘pro-life’ protestors.

As journalist, Tracey Spicer, reminded us on Twitter this afternoon:

“One-in-three Australian women will have an abortion during their lifetime. I did. We deserve better than to be treated as criminals.”

Spicer quoted from her recent memoir, The Good Girl Stripped Bare:

“The ability of women to control their bodies is critical to civil rights. If the government forces you to continue a pregnancy, what about using contraception or undergoing sterilisation? It’s a slippery slope. Bottom line? It’s my body, not yours.”

It beggars belief that Dr Mehreen Faruqi’s (Greens) sensible and humane bill was rejected by the NSW parliament. The views of those who voted against the bill are completely out of step with their constituents.

Polls and surveys undertaken over the last 30 years have consistently shown majority community support for abortion rights.

Importantly,  a 2010 study of practicing obstetricians and gynaecologists in Australia identified  “broad support among responding specialist obstetricians and gynaecologists and trainees for the availability of induced abortion in Australia”.

If politicians are elected to represent the views and interests of their constituents in consultation with experts in relevant fields, why was this bill defeated?

It seems clear there is some other agenda at play.

I looked at the list of politicians who voted against the bill.

I found five (21 percent) of the 24 politicians who opposed it have the dubious honour of being listed on the Australian Christian Values Institute’s  ‘Hall of Fame’: Robert Brown, David Clarke, Shoquette Moselmane, Fred Nile and Duncan Gay.

That was an incentive to explore the religious connection further.

My investigation found 66 percent (16) of the dissenting politicians seem to have some religious affiliation or belief.

I was unable to find no religious connections or convictions for only 7 of the 24 dissenters (29 percent).

Of those who opposed the bill:

  • 25 percent (6) were Catholic: Robert Borsak, David Clarke, Greg Donnelly, Greg Pearce, Ernest Wong and Catherine Cusack.

“My high school years were spent under the guiding influence of the Brothers and the devoted lay teachers at Christian Brothers College in Fremantle … [Pope John Paul II’s] tireless promotion of the innate dignity of the human person and life itself was, and will continue to be, an inspiring example for all of us.” – First Speech – Greg Donnelly (Labor)

David Clarke is a co-operator of the Opus Dei prelature of the Roman Catholic Church, and is considered to have conservative Christian views. His wife is a member of Opus Dei.” – Wikipedia

“Another layer of cultural influence was added by my parent’s choice of a Jesuit senior school in which the additional values of Catholic social justice, ethical thinking and deep respect for education featured prominently.” – First Speech – Ernest Wong (Labor)

29 percent (7) seem to identify with or have connections with various Protestant faiths:  Scott Farlow, Scot MacDonald, Shayne Mallard, Paul Green, Fred Nile, Natasha MacLaren-Jones, Bronnie Taylor

“I enter this place a Christian and wish to acknowledge in this Chamber Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour, the King of Kings. I bring my Christian values to this place, as much as they are the values that define me.” – First Speech – Scott Farlow (Liberal)

Perhaps Farlow should be reminded of the disclaimer he made after making such a strong declaration of faith:  “I believe in Christian values and I seek to uphold them, I do not believe it is my place to legislate them … I do not believe the Bible, Torah, Quran or any religious text should be used as the yardstick for determining public policy.”

“I value our Judea [sic] Christian foundations.”  – First Speech – Scot MacDonald (Liberal)

“… over the years I have also worked constructively with Hillsong and the Salvation Army as an elected local councillor” – First Speech – Shayne Mallard (Liberal)

“… I must acknowledge the Lord Jesus Christ, who has led me to this place to serve the people of this great State … The Christian Democratic Party seeks to support and promote pro-Christian and pro-family policies for the benefit of all Australians, and to ensure that all legislation is brought into conformity with Christian principles …” – First Speech – Paul Green (Christian Democratic Party)

“My parents instilled in me the important values and beliefs of personal responsibility, Christianity … Being part of a very close-knit family myself, based on Christian values ….” – First Speech – Natasha MacLaren-Jones (Liberal)

Two (8 percent) are ‘Christian’ but I was unable to pinpoint a denomination: Lou Amato, Rick Colless.

“It is with a joyful heart that I thank God for granting me the privilege of serving as a member of the Legislative Council. I also ask God to continue to offer me guidance and wisdom so that I may discharge my duties with honesty and integrity. “ – First Speech – Lou Amato (Liberal)

In 2012 Rick Colless refused to vote in favour of a motion to urge the federal parliament to support same-sex marriage on the basis of his “Christian background”

One (4 percent) is Muslim: Shaoquette Moselmane.

I was unable to find any religious connections for Robert Brown, Ben Franklin, Duncan Gay, Trevor Khan, Niall Blair, Taylor Martin, Peter Phelps, or Sarah Mitchell (33 percent) – although that does not mean there are none.

“Given the overwhelming public and medical support for decriminalising abortion, Duncan Gay also seems to have ignored his own guidelines in voting against the bill:  ““My own overriding belief is that Government should reflect the views of the people whose franchise we all hold and most definitely not lead in the direction of our own philosophies. The lessons of history, of what happens when governments do not reflect the true feelings of the people, should be acknowledged.” – First Speech – Duncan Gay (Nationals)

Whether for religious or political reasons, none of these 24 politicians represented the views of the majority of NSW residents, nor the best interests of women. None of them acted in line with expert medical opinion.

As Catholic MLC Catherine Cusack said in her opening speech to Parliament:

“I close by drawing on the great example and words of the Hon. Virginia Chadwick on the occasion of her maiden speech some 25 years ago: It is my hope that I may give account of myself in this Parliament so that at the end I can say, in the words of St Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” – First Speech – Catherine Cusack (Liberal)

You certainly have, Ms Cusack. But, only in a theocracy is ‘keeping the faith’ of St Paul the role of a politician. Your job is not to ‘keep the faith’ but to represent the views of the people who elected you.

In this instance, neither you, nor your colleagues, have kept faith with the people you represent.

Chrys Stevenson

Hillsong Church vs a Woman of ‘Impeccable Character’

Tanya Levin – a woman of impeccable character

What kind of bastardry does it take to for a multi-million dollar enterprise (in league with the NSW Police) to pursue a criminal conviction against a single mother for two years over a minor infringement she had no clue she had committed?

What if that single mother’s career – her only source of income – depended on a clean record?

What if the woman’s only crime was standing in a non-ticketed area, on a public concourse, outside a publicly owned convention venue?

Petty? Nasty? A waste of police resources and precious court time? Lacking in common sense? Yes!  All of these things. But, what if it’s far worse than that?

What if the organisation intent on destroying the life, career and financial security, (not only of this woman, but her teenage son), was a church? Hillsong Church.

And what if this church, which put a woman through hell for two years for the crime of walking on a public footpath, was closely linked to the state’s commissioner of police? What if the commissioner of police was so closely allied to this church and its leadership, he actually attended the conference where she was arrested?

That’s the position my friend, writer and social worker, Tanya Levin, found herself in over the past two years.

When Hillsong held their annual convention at Olympic Park in Sydney in 2015, the television show, A Current Affair, asked her for an interview outside the convention venue.

Tanya grew up in Hillsong Church. In 2007, her memoir, People in Glass Houses: An Insider’s Story of a Life In and Out of Hillsong, was published to great acclaim and wide publicity. Tanya wrote the book critically, but with no malice. As she transitioned from teenager to adult, Tanya’s religious and political views changed and she became increasingly uneasy about the church’s values, priorities and wealth. But, her book (which I’ve read twice) was not a hatchet job. At worst, it was a fair and balanced account of her personal views on a very public and very wealthy organisation. As Hillsong sued neither Tanya nor the publisher, one can only assume any negative claims made in the book were truthful and not defamatory. Yet, hyper-sensitive to any kind of questioning or criticism, the church slapped Tanya with a life-time ban in 2005 for daring to disagree publicly with church leader, Bobbi Houston.

In her book, Tanya describes how she tried hard to do the right thing by Hillsong. She wrote twice to church leaders, Brian and Bobbi Houston, asking for an interview to get their side of the story, but she was refused. She genuinely didn’t want to be unfair. Tanya went back to the church to observe a service in case things had changed since she was a member of the congregation: the Houstons had her forcibly removed by security!

Eight years later, the Houstons’ wrath had clearly not cooled. As Tanya stood with the television crew, outside the convention venue, on a public concourse, they were approached by police and told they were ‘trespassing’. The claim was that Hillsong had rented both the stadium and the area surrounding it. Despite the concourse area being open to passing members of the public, as an outspoken critic of the church, ‘banned-for-life’ Tanya Levin was not welcome. Tanya and the ACA team complied and moved to another area. In fact, the police record states Tanya ran to comply with their request!

After the interview, Tanya inadvertently stepped back into a space designated as ‘private’ (although there was no barrier, marking or other indication to delineate it). Now, she was beckoned back well inside the ‘perimeter’ by a police officer. She was astonished to be told, as this was her second infringement, she was under arrest.

As Tanya said to me privately, “I’m South African and terrified of the police. It’s weird. If a policeman tells me to move, I move!”

There is absolutely no way she would have trespassed intentionally. Anyone who knows Tanya knows that. The irony is that two people who know Tanya best – who have known her since childhood – are Hillsong’s leaders, Brian and Bobbi Houston.

The police record also notes, ominously, that Tanya was seen ‘speaking to children’. The truth is, after her interview, a 15 year old approached Tanya to ask why she’d been moved on by police. Natural curiosity. Tanya, politely, asked the young lady  if she enjoyed attending Hillsong. The girl replied “no”: she was forced to attend by her foster family. She said Brian Houston made disparaging remarks about people suffering from mental illness and it made her uncomfortable because she had ‘mental problems’. That was the extent of the conversation – entirely at the instigation of the young lady. God forbid she should grow up to voice any criticism of the Houstons or their church or she may find herself in the same position as Tanya!

Tanya was removed and interrogated before being allowed to leave. The people at A Current Affair wanted nothing to do with it and gave her no support – certainly, no financial support – to fight the charges.

Tanya was traumatised. And the trauma was dragged out for 2 years as she was forced to find the financial and emotional resources to fight a multi-million dollar organisation and the NSW police in court to prevent being branded a criminal.

At her first hearing, Tanya was found guilty and a criminal conviction was recorded.  It was devastating. The decision severely limited her ability to find a job in her chosen profession – as a social worker – or in any other profession for that matter. She was innocent, but did not have the financial resources to fight it. And yet, her only recourse was to appeal.

Tanya’s friends rallied and helped raise some funds for costs. Through her social network, an experienced solicitor and barrister with a distaste for religious bullies offered to represent her pro bono.

Last week, a magistrate decided, while there was no technical error in her previous conviction, Tanya’s ‘impeccable character’ and previously clean criminal record, together with the fact she could not, reasonably, have known she was committing a crime, warranted the conviction being overturned.

Tanya was deemed to be a person of ‘impeccable character’; it is a great deal more than can be said for the church which pursued Tanya out of fear, spite and raw hatred. Ironically, if Brian Houston had emulated the religious figure he exploits to fund his multi-million dollar empire, he would have stepped in to ask for the charges to be withdrawn. Instead, he did nothing. He certainly never stopped to ask himself, “What would Jesus do?”

And what of the police service which aided Hillsong in this ridiculous, costly and unfair persecution? One can only hope now-retired Police Commissioner, Andrew Scipione, a close friend of Brian Houston and his church,  was not involved in this tawdry and unjust witch hunt.  And what is the relationship between Hillsong and the NSW Police now Scipione is gone? If there is an  alliance between Hillsong and the NSW Police, it seems a hell of an unholy one, to me.

Chrys Stevenson

 

A note from Tanya

 

‘Attack’ Stuff-Up ‘Business as Usual’ for ACL

On Wednesday night there was an incident at the Australian Christian Lobby’s headquarters in Deakin, Canberra.

A van, filled with gas bottles, exploded outside the building that houses the ACL’s offices, blowing out the windows, causing damage to the front of the building and some furnishings within it.  The incident occurred late at night when the building was deserted.

Originally, the ACL’s managing director, Lyle Shelton tweeted:

“A vehicle has rammed our office in Canberra & exploded. All Staff are safe. I do not know the condition of the driver. Prayers appreciated.

Then, a little later:

“A closer view of the car bomb driven into the ACL office in Canberra tonight. Shocked that this could happen in Australia.”

“I’m sure it’s a message to intimidate us and cause us to be silent in the public square and that’s something we’re not prepared to do,” said Shelton in a newspaper interview.

“It’s more important than ever that we have our voice involved in the public discourse.”

Shelton went on to connect the ‘attack’ with ‘multiple threats’  the ACL had received in relation to its opposition to marriage equality and the Safe Schools anti-bullying program.

Shelton blamed left-wing politicians and activists for inciting the ‘attack’. Our sin? Accurately describing an organisation which dedicates  millions of dollars and the vast majority of its time towards attacking the LGBTIQ community as a ‘hate group’.

What has since transpired is that the ACL’s building was not “rammed”. The vehicle appears to have been parked neatly outside in a parking bay.

Nor was it ‘attacked’. After speaking to the driver and his family, Federal Police confirmed the incident was neither politically, religiously,  nor ideologically motivated.

It seems likely the driver’s only target was himself.

Now, I’m no Sherlock Holmes, but, to me, it seemed ‘elementary’ that no self-respecting terrorist was likely to stage a suicide bombing in the dead of night at a deserted building. What would be the point in killing no-one but yourself? It’s a pity Lyle doesn’t even have the reasoning skills to work that out!

And, while we might recount plenty of stories about Christians persecuting, torturing and even murdering members of the LGBTIQ community, celebrating acts of violence against them, assassinating abortionistsblowing up abortion clinics , and even whole office buildings (not enough? see more here), there’s scant evidence the allegedly ‘pink jackbooted’ gays have ever retaliated with more than a glittery parade of semi-clad, spray-tanned hotties samba-dancing down Oxford Street.

There was simply no reason to believe the ACL had been ‘targeted’. Police certainly didn’t make that assertion. But Shelton, predictably, decided the ‘truth’ must be what suited his own carefully constructed persecution complex and this was the narrative he fed to the media.

Even when it became apparent Shelton’s take on the story had no basis in truth, he refused to retract and apologise. And apologies are due.

  • He pre-empted a police inquiry into a serious incident.
  • He made hurtful and damaging assumptions about the motives and character of a person who appears to have some serious mental health issues.
  • He undoubtedly caused additional pain and suffering to an already traumatised family.
  • He slurred members of the LGBTIQ community with his insinuations.
  • And, he blamed supporters of that community for inciting a crime which never occurred.

This, of course, is Shelton’s regular modus operandi and we should not be surprised.

Shelton and the Australian “Christian” Lobby routinely ignore experts and evidence in their assertion that marriage equality and same-sex parenting is harmful to children. It isn’t. 

They routinely rely on dodgy ‘studies’ using patently flawed methodology to prop up their arguments. Or, worse, they misrepresent the findings of legitimate studies or quote outdated studies – much to the horror of the authors.

They simply don’t care about ‘the truth’. They have a narrative in their head that serves their purpose and simply will not countenance any argument (no matter how sound) that contradicts their forgone conclusions.

In his disgusting performance today, Lyle Shelton has simply followed the Australian Christian Lobby’s tried and true formula.

  • Develop a narrative that suits your ideological stance
  • Show no regard for the damage that narrative may cause innocent people
  • Refuse to listen to counter-arguments and contrary evidence from experts and credible academic sources
  • Denigrate anyone who disagrees with your inventive narrative
  • And cast yourselves as ‘victims’ despite there being no evidence to substantiate this claim.

Lyle Shelton has, once again, proven he is unfit to lead a major lobby group, that the Australian “Christian” Lobby should not be taken seriously.

Jesus may well have been “the way, the truth, and the life”, but, in his name, the Australian Christian Lobby have perverted the cause to: “the misdirect, the mendacious and the death of reason”.

Chrys Stevenson

The Race to Irrelevancy – Shelton’s Australian Christian Lobby

horse-raceIt is now clear the Australian public overwhelmingly opposes a plebiscite on marriage equality.  But, even if a plebiscite is held, we know most people will vote in favour of reform. Recent studies show  62 per cent of Australians and all but one electorate believe Australia should have marriage equality.

Despite the millions of dollars the Australian Christian Lobby has ploughed into demonising the LGBTIQ community, it has decisively lost the battle for Australian hearts and minds. As the debate has progressed, the Australian public has moved inexorably towards treating their fellow citizens as equal human beings. The fear-mongering fanaticism of Lyle Shelton’s fundamentalist lobby group (which wants the government to spend $200 million to amplify its message of homophobic hatred) has failed to gain traction.

While children live in poverty, while gay, trans and straight kids continue to face bullying in schools, while elderly people struggle to pay their bills, while the homeless inhabit our streets and parks, while every week a woman is being killed by an act of domestic violence, while Australians continue to die from preventable diseases, while medical research institutes cry out for better funding, while climate change threatens catastrophic environmental and human devastation, while low-income families and pensioners suffer because the government ‘cannot afford’ to fund dental care, while people with disabilities cry out for improved support and facilities, while Aboriginal disadvantage is entrenched by lack of medical and education services, while we keep refugees in disgusting conditions offshore because ‘we cannot afford to have them here’, and while farmers battle to save their farms, Mr Shelton and his merry bunch of “Christians” lobby the government to spend $200 million of tax-payers’ money to fight a battle against human love; a battle they know they cannot win.

The battle is clearly lost. But will Shelton concede gracefully and lobby for those funds to be redirected to any one of a million causes that would actually relieve human suffering? No.

And the reason is this. Despite its name, Shelton does not lead a Christian lobby group. He leads an anti-gay hate group. Opposing marriage equality is a crusade for Shelton whose homophobia was learned in the cult in which he was raised. One might even call it an obsession. Under Shelton, homophobia has become the Australian Christian Lobby’s raison d’être.

acl-graph

Yet, the group does not represent the majority of Australian Christians  (or those of other religions) who support same-sex marriage. The ACL represents only the fringe view of a rag-tag remnant group of a long-since-discredited 1980s cult.

Shelton’s intransigence on this issue will have no effect whatsoever on the inevitability of marriage equality. But, ironically, in flogging this particular, homophobic horse, he has guaranteed the inevitable demise of the Australian Christian Lobby.

The race is not yet finished, but the ACL has already lost. The Australian people want marriage equality and they will get it. What purpose then for the ACL? Shelton’s cultish views have no traction in modern Australia. By holding fast to the values of the not-quite-dead Logos Foundation, he has guaranteed the ACL’s inevitable decline into abject irrelevance.

Under Shelton’s Logos-inspired leadership, the Australian Christian Lobby has lost its fight against marriage equality. It has lost its fight for a plebiscite. It has lost the respect of Australia’s Christian community. Shelton has shown himself to be even more incompetent than his predecessor at prosecuting his indefensible case against love, justice and equality.

Shelton and his ilk have done more to bring Christianity into disrepute than almost any institution outside the Catholic Church and its shameful history of child rape. They are a joke to non-religious Australians and an embarrassment to their fellow Christians.

I doubt that Shelton has the nous, the management skills or the humanity to concede defeat. He’ll carry this tired old nag over the finish line until they both buckle under the weight of public opinion. And who will mourn the passing of the Australian Christian Lobby? No-one. Because, as a “Christian” organisation, Shelton’s tired old hobby-horse is an abject failure. Not one Australian life is better for it ever having existed – and a great many are considerably worse off.

It’s one hell of a legacy, Lyle.

Chrys Stevenson

Gaynor goes gaga over ‘gay sex’

“In its mechanics, to put it politely, homosexual behaviour is like putting nature’s square peg into nature’s round hole. It simply is not what nature intended. The very fact that one has to describe this behaviour so abstractly highlights the inherent revulsion that is part of the nature of homosexual behaviour.” – Bernard Gaynor

Square-peg-copy2In a recent blog post, the virulently homophobic Bernard Gaynor displays an almost touchingly immature understanding of sexual intercourse.

As an older woman, my maternal instincts kicked in. I feel Bernie needs a little tell-it-like-it-is sex education. I want to say:

“You know, Bernie, all that silly chatter you heard in the schoolyard of that Catholic school you went to, isn’t actual ‘sex education’”.

“You’re a big boy now, Bernie, and it’s time someone gave you a few facts about sex.  I know this is awkward for both of us, but it’s time you knew the truth.”

It’s a pity Bernie didn’t have parents like mine. When I was 14 and starting to get curious about sex, my mother procured a copy of The Little Red Schoolbook – a notoriously graphic sex education book being distributed, largely illicitly, in the seventies.

“This book is going to get passed around behind the toilets at school,” my mother told me frankly.

“I think it’s better if you read it, and then we can have a talk about it.”

When, later,  I asked her “What’s a homosexual, Mum?” she replied, “You know how women fall in love with men?”

“Yes”

“Well, sometimes, men fall in love with men.”

“Oh, OK.  What’s for dinner?”

I’m guessing the conversation in Bernie’s house was somewhat different.

So, Bernie, you’re a bit old for “the talk” but, let’s set a few things straight.

  1. Anal sex does not involve putting a square peg in a round hole. I’ve already had cause to write about your penis once, Bernie, and it pains me to have to do it again.  Take a look. Yes, it’s there – you might just have to scrunch over to get a good look.  Try putting your glasses on. That’s right! Got it? Now, see? It’s not square at all, is it – it’s kind of cylindrical shaped – especially when it gets hard. Yes, this is embarrassing and it’s going to get worse.
  2. Homosexuals do not have different shaped penises to you, Bernie. It’s true, theirs may be rather larger than yours but, all up, they’re pretty much the same shape – cylindrical. Only SpongeBob SquarePants has a square peg, and there’s not many gay men lining up to bonk him (although I’ve heard some rumours about him and Patrick the Starfish who has a wealth of round pegs!)
  3. Homosexuality is not ‘unnatural’. At the risk of sounding like a broken record: over 1000 different species engage in homosexual activity. Animals, routinely, engage in non-reproductive sexual behaviour. Bighorn sheep, bison, bonobos and polecats (among others) have all been observed having penetrative anal sex with same-sex partners – for bonding and for fun. Sex is not just about having babies, Bernie. It’s about feeling good, having a laugh, letting off steam, developing trust, and bonding closely and intimately with another person – or member of the same species, as the case may be.
  4. Anal sex – or any other kind of sex – is not ‘immoral’. It’s just sex! it’s a simple connection of body parts – no more moral or immoral than shaking hands. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to have sex, providing there is no lying or deceit involved in either party’s consent to copulate and no breach of trust involving third parties. The ethics and morality lie in the context and the consent – not in the actual act.
  5. Anal sex isn’t ‘dirty’. We’re going to get a bit graphic here, love. People who know what they’re doing anticipate anal sex with some simple hygienic preparation. Let me put this delicately; one cleans out the garage before the Mercedes starts rolling up the driveway. That ‘round hole’ is perfectly capable of being multi-purposed. Believe me, people who enjoy anal sex don’t like dirty sheets and doing the laundry any more than you do. I know you’re Catholic, Bernie dear, but you do have to stop thinking about ‘poo’ and ‘sex’ being as indivisibly linked as ‘pedophile’ and ‘priest’.
  6. Anal sex is not responsible for spreading disease. People (both gay, straight or otherwise) who do not take responsible precautions are responsible for spreading disease. Importantly, the Catholic church’s opposition to sex education for both straight and LGBTIQ youth is deeply complicit in the ignorance that leads to the spread of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.
  7. Now, Bernie, I think you’d better sit down for this last point because it’s likely to shock you to the core. Anal sex is not ‘gay’ sex – it’s just another fun thing that some (but not all) people do. I know you enjoy those salacious homoerotic fantasies of yours, but not all gay men have anal sex. A survey published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine suggests roughly only one-third of homosexual men engage in anal sex. That’s about the same number of straight women engaging in (and enjoying) butt sex. A large survey by America’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention found 44 percent of straight men and 36 percent of straight women admitted to having had anal sex at least once in their lives with an opposite sex partner. And, the straight men may not just be ‘giving’ anal, it’s likely they’re receiving it as well (fingers and vibrators aren’t square either, Bernie, although it’s polite to cut one’s fingernails).

Anal sex is just a ‘thing’. It’s not a ‘gay’ thing or a ‘male’ thing; it’s not a ‘good’ thing or a ‘bad’ thing. It’s not dirty – unless you’re an uneducated, irresponsible idiot. It’s not immoral – unless you haven’t sought and obtained willing permission. It’s just another way that people – all kinds of people – have sex.

For some, anal sex has no meaning beyond a fun frolic – and that’s totally cool. For others, anal sex conveys a hugely deep level of trust and intimacy between two people in a loving, committed relationship. Believe it or not, there’s something deeply spiritual about that, whether or not you are ‘religious’.

Either way, there are no sharp corners involved. It all goes together quite neatly with a little lube. You and the missus should give it a burl now you understand the mechanics a little better.

Bernie? You seem distracted. Oh, I see! You’re still mulling over point one. Yes, dear, that’s your penis and no matter how much you play with it it’s just not going to go square. That would be kind of … unnatural.

Now, just before we go, let me have a last word about what is dirty, immoral and unnatural: That would be closeted same-sex attracted men, so entirely fucked up with ingrained Catholic guilt, they project their internalised anger onto LGBTIQ men (and women) who have the courage to live their lives openly in the way that is natural to them. What is un-Godly, Bernie, are social commentators peddling self-serving, hateful, wildly inaccurate, hurtful propaganda – completely ignoring the wealth of well-researched, peer-reviewed accurate data which contradicts their ideological position.

When this ‘square peg’ propaganda is thrust, without consent, into the round hole of public debate, it tears at the fabric of vulnerable people’s lives and leaves them bleeding. Specifically, it contributes to the toxic environment that leads innocent young LGBTIQ people to alarmingly high rates of mental illness, drug and alcohol abuse, self-harm, suicidal ideation and death.

That, Bernie, is far more offensive to me – and I’m betting to your God – than a little innocent butt-play.

Chrys Stevenson

Orlando Vigil – Charlie’s Speech

Last night, I attended the Sunshine Coast vigil for the victims of the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando, Florida.
I was particularly moved by a speech by a young woman called Charlie Maycraft.
Charlie has kindly given me permission to share her speech with you.
Chrys Stevenson
Vigil Speech for Orlando
Cotton Tree Park, Maroochydore
Tuesday, 14 June 2016
by Charlie Maycraft