My friend, the persecution complex.

christianpersecutionLate last week Lisa Pryor wrote a brilliant opinion piece in the Sydney Morning Herald on gay marriage and the bigotry of those who oppose it.  Most opponents to it behave rather offended and seem to argue as though they feel gay marriage would somehow affect them and their lives.  Lisa put this argument to rest very nicely and in a much more inoffensive manner than I could have ever achieved by proposing rather tongue-in-cheekily that gay marriage be voluntary so that it only affects those who opt-in to it.

Of course, the bigots couldn’t take this.  They had to be offended and so they scoured the article to find something to oppose.  What they found was a mention of one particular religious leaning in the final three paragraphs (out of 11 paragraphs), and responded as though those paragraphs were abusive to this religious leaning (which they weren’t).  This, is a very clear case of persecution complex.

Lisa Pryor writes on the subject of gay marriage in Australia (“Here’s an idea: what if the Government introduced voluntary gay marriage”, June 20-21) and from reporting the results of a Galaxy poll, quickly drifts to a criticism of conservative Christians. Pleasingly, she does recognise that most Christians are not bigots.

However, the survey and the questionnaire behind it do not mention religion. So why did Ms Pryor find it necessary to discuss it in relation to this report? Further, why focus on Christians? I suspect, from conversations with Muslim and Hindu friends, that opposition to gay marriage would be far more pervasive in those religious circles.

Her focus on Christians implies that the main or only opponents to gay marriage are fundamentalist Christians. Such singling out of a minority runs close to “semitising” that group.
(Rev) Peter R. Green Silver Street Baptist Mission, Marrickville

It’s surprising to see the last line of the first paragraph when you consider the rest of his letter.  The questionnaire may not have mentioned it at all however any debate seen on the topic always comes down to the “christian values” of which Lisa speaks.  The most vocal opponents in western society generally start quoting christian teachings to support themselves.  If they quoted muslim or hindu then I’m sure Ms Pryor would have used them as examples instead.  It’s simply a matter of what is mostly seen.

She made it quite clear by a line you yourself quoted when she said most christians are not bigots.  She pointed out quite clearly that it’s only a minority opposed to this, and by not giving the word minority a prefix she left her statements quite secular and encompassing of all beliefs.

Your invoking of Godwin’s Law at the end and trying to somehow link this to the holocaust and anti-semitism is quite horrendous and to be honest the most offensive thing of all.  You’re trying to claim you, one of the people in the majority, are actually the one in the minority having your rights trampled.  I don’t think so, Reverend.

Lisa Pryor seems to be arguing that, as a Christian, I should ignore the clear teaching of the Bible and stop opposing gay marriage because the majority of Australians are for it.

In 2001 I voted against the Howard government because of its Pacific Solution policy towards refugees, a policy that received the clear backing of the majority of Australians. I did so as a Christian, because I felt that it ran counter to the clear teaching of the Bible. Does Ms Pryor think that I was wrong to do so? Or is the majority only right when its views line up with Ms Pryor and her trendy inner-city mates?
Roger Gallagher Merrylands

Roger here seemed to completely miss the second last paragraph where Ms Pryor points out that people everywhere are already picking and choosing which parts of their religious texts to follow and which not to follow.  The bible also has clear teaching of encouraging slavery and murdering those who work on Sundays.  If Roger really did follow his bible as he claims, he would do both of those things.

Roger’s letter also leaves me wondering if he has any morals.  He appears to suggest that his decisions are made not by his moral convictions, but rather through rules and interpretations laid out in a book – quite strongly sounding like someone of an amoral nature.  I cannot answer his question on behalf of Ms Pryor, but I can answer it on behalf of myself.  Yes, you were quite wrong to do so, you should have made your decisions based upon what is right and wrong or at the very least your interpretations of right and wrong, not some book that people (yourself included if your prior text is anything to go by) freely interpret and misinterpret as they will, has been demonstrated on many occasions to be mistranslated and demonstrated on many occasions to be extremely highly redacted.

When I was ordained, I was issued with a certificate authorising me to conduct weddings, according to the Anglican rite, and recognised by the state. There are historic reasons for this dual licensing, but isn’t it time we separated church and state?

I welcome Lisa Pryor’s article. Why not make it compulsory for all who wish to be recognised as married to have a civil ceremony where the papers are signed in an office of the state, as is done in countries such as France? If they want to have their partnership acknowledged by friends and relatives, committing their life together to God, those who wish to can ask for a church blessing. I, together with many clergy I know, would happily relinquish that part of my licence that authorises me to formally marry couples on behalf of the state, if I could bring a blessing appropriate to the couple asking for it.
Rev Susan Emeleus, Hon Assistant Minister, St George’s

Thankfully Reverand Susan Emeleus comes to the rescue at the end as a beacon of sanity, the only published respondent who isn’t a bigot and who does actually look at the world in realistic terms.  I’m very glad I am able to end on this letter as it allows me to end this post on a high, and I think the best thing I can do is just to let her letter speak for itself.

3 thoughts on “My friend, the persecution complex.

  1. I was interested to stumble upon this posting.

    A few explanations.

    First, as a voluntary pastor, I work more hours per week in a research company than in the church, and am sensitive to the misuse of research to imply that it says certain things which it does not say. I took the time to read the report, because I found it surprising that it might say the kinds of thing Ms. Pryor’s piece suggested it said.

    By all means, let journalists write their opinion pieces, but if they use research to support a point of view, let them use research appropriately, as I had to when working as a journalist.

    Second, I am not a fundamentalist and am uncomfortable with fundamentalism. However, in the broad sweep of Australian Christianity, fundamentalists are a minority. I’ve lived through enough attempts to demonise minorities (I think of Asians and the Communist Party in Australia; intellectuals, practitioners of religion in some other places) to be alert to such things. I am sad that far too many Australians either don’t know about it or couldn’t give a damn. If people don’t call it when it begins, it will grow cancerously in our society.

    Third, while I am unsure whether “marriage” per se is the best solution for gay relationships (I am not a lawyer, but have spent sufficient time in their company to beware of pronouncing on legal mechanisms), I certainly believe that there are injustices in the present situation which must be corrected. However, my views were irrelevant to the matters on which I wished to comment.

    Perhaps the bigotry lies elsewhere.

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